I once, in my younger backpacking days, got crabs from a hostel bed in Malaysia. They weren’t the kind I wanted. They were the kind that required a trip to the chemist to get a pharmaceutical-grade shampoo. Needless to say, me and crabs in Asia have a bad relationship.
So it was refreshing, here in the Cambodian seaside town of Kep, to find the kind of crabs you want to get. Kep is famous for the delicious crustaceans and the best place in town to find them is at the Crab Markets along the shoreline.
Every morning boats arrive from fishing expeditions in the nearby waters and islands off the coast. Their hauls are offloaded at the market and within hours find their way onto the plates of diners. My lunch one day is a pile of fresh juicy crabs cooked with the green pepper corns, which this region is also famous for (although it’s called ‘Kampot pepper’ for the nearby town of Kampot where many of the farms have bases). And for just 3 or 4 dollars, the food is a bargain.
Kep itself is a nice place to stop for a couple of days. The beach is not the best you’ll find along the southern coast of the country but it seems popular with Cambodians on the weekend.
The vendors with food, drink, deckchairs and inflatable toys aren’t so interested in me. They’ve got their eyes set on the local families who are arriving at the beach with cars overflowing with children and holiday supplies.
There are quite a few guesthouses and hotels here but they’re decentralised so there’s no hub of town, as such. Life in Kep is laidback and, like the structure of the town, is based around the beach rather than efficiency or practicality.
A walk around the mountain that overlooks Kep gives you a view out to the ocean on one side and the green fields on the other. It takes longer to walk around the mountain than around the town but it gives you the better perspective of place that only height can provide.
You realise from the mountain that, although it’s a pleasant part of the country, there’s much more to explore. I can see out in the water an island known as Rabbit Island. That’s tomorrow’s destination.
Where should you stay in Kep?
For one of the cheapest places in town, try the Khmer House Hostel.
For something budget but with a nice pool, Botanica Guesthouse is a good option..
For beautiful accommodation with a splash of luxury, you should try Raingsey Bungalow.
And if you want to splurge for somewhere really nice, have a look at Cominsia Lodge.