Kep rightly holds the title of being the crab capital of Cambodia and the truth be told, it is probably the capital of all seafood for the country.
Coming to Kep we had little else on our must-do list other than visit, and of course eat at, the crab markets. As a result we ended up at the crab markets each and every day for a delicious plate full of their famous blue crabs. At around $7.50 US or $10.40 NZD for a plate containing about 5 crabs, it was definitely good value and big enough to feed both Paula and I. The crab markets themselves contain an array of seafood delicacies cooked over open charcoal grills, with prawns (shrimps), squid, clams and fish just to name a few on offer. On the water’s edge locals try to entice you with fresh crabs kept in woven baskets within the sea which get dragged up to the wharf for inspection by any potential customers. The general price for 1kg seemed to be around the $8 US/$11 NZD mark, which they will cook and steam up for you right there and then. Along with the seafood, the markets contain stalls selling fruit, clothes and dry goods like spices and the local Kampot pepper.
There are also 15 or so small family restaurants along the waterline next to the markets where we found ourselves for most dinners enjoying the setting sun over a plate of crabs. Those nights watching the sinking sun falling into the ocean with my family will be something I will always remember and will stay as my everlasting memory of Kep.Thankfully our guest house, aptly named The Boat House (see our review here) was only a short $1 US/$1.40 NZD tuk tuk ride from the markets, which made it easy to get our daily fix of blue crabs. Despite wanting to try crabs cooked each and every way, I am a creature of habit and once I tasted blue crab with Kampot pepper sauce it was hard to go past it on our subsequent visits, so it turned into my staple meal during our time in Kep.We ended up getting so caught up with enjoying the crab markets that on our second to last day we came to the realisation that we had not really seen or done much else. So we hired two scooters for the day ($7 US/$9.70 per scooter per day) to give us some freedom to explore the town and region.
Our first stop was a Kampot pepper farm named Sothy’s, named after the woman who owns it. Although this is a working pepper farm which mainly exports their pepper, it is just as much built for tourism as it is for the actual peppercorns. Here backpackers are paid with free board and meals to work on the farm including taking tourists for free tours. The tour takes about one hour and starts by explaining the different types of pepper produced before moving through the growing and drying process. It was a very informative little tour and was well worth the 30 minute ride on the scooters out of Kep and into the Kampot region.
Along with the blue crab, Kampot pepper is definitely something I will miss when we leave Cambodia. To be honest, after the pepper farm we were not left with many other sights to see as Kep is only a small town and with it being a public holiday our options were very limited. We did however manage to scout out and visit several of the many statues and monuments littered throughout the area, including the “Welcome to Kep” giant blue crab and the Independence Monument.Our stay in Kep also concluded our time in Cambodia with our one month visa now completed. Unfortunately it seems we missed so much of the country and would have loved some more time to really get to explore the road less travelled and venture in the Northern and Western regions of Cambodia. Although even without visiting those areas, it has become my new favourite country visited so far. Vietnam is our next stop on Our Awesome World Adventure where we will spend three months, if it wants to topple Cambodia from the top spot it will definitely have to bring its A game.
Average Daily Spend – Kep: $119.32 NZD ($53.17 under budget per day)
Average Daily Spend – Cambodia: $132.30 NZD ($40.20 under budget per day)