What to See and Do
The Anlong Pring (not ‘’Anlong Prayng’’, this is a better-known district in Kampong Trach but no Crane birds here) bird sanctuary is located in Kampong Trach district, Kampot province.
This sanctuary is an official IBA (Important Bird Area), along with over 12,000 IBA’s in 200 countries. Birdlife International (www.birdlife.org) is the driving force behind this program. Anlong Pring’s IBA is Cambodia’s 2nd Sarus Crane reserve since 6 January 2011. The 1st reserve was established in Takeo province in 2007.
The Anlong Pring reserve covers 217ha of seasonally inundated grassland. In March 2010, the site held nearly 300 Sarus Cranes, more than 30% of the global population! Still, they can be difficult to spot for visitors.
The Cranes usually arrive around mid-November, to use the wetlands as a feeding ground, and remain until early May when they begin their migration to the wetlands in the northern and eastern plains of Cambodia where they breed. The Sarus Crane (subspecies sharpii) is a large crane found in parts of the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Australia. The tallest of the flying birds, standing at a height of up to 1.8 m, they are conspicuous and iconic species of open wetlands. The Sarus Crane is considered globally Vulnerable.
An entrance booth is being set up to collect a fee (max$5) that will go to the preservation of the reserve and the people living in the surrounding villages.
We recommend your own transportation for this trip. Tuk tuks might take you out to Anlong Pring but be aware that it is a long trip and that this is a new destination, most drivers are still unaware of its existence / location.
If you get lost, ask local people ‘Sat Kreal’, this means ‘Crane Bird’.
From White Horse Kep, drive east on #33. After 29km, #33 takes a sharp left turn. You continue straight onto #31 (gravel road) for 700m. Turn right under an archway, drive through great countryside for 9km until you arrive at a T-crossing. Turn left here, drive past the pagoda and turn right again. Continue 3km and turn left (there is a crane bird sign board here) (if you go straight instead, you complete the loop to the Kampong Trach metal bridge after 15km). After 200m turn left again, continue 1.5km and you arrive at the makeshift Birdlife Centre watch post. The last 500m is not accessible by tuk tuk.
Every year Kep organizes its own water festival with longtail boat races on the sea. A unique event in Cambodia.
Dates are not yet confirmed for this year’s event but the festival usually takes place around the last weekend of December.
A fair is set up in front of Provincial Hall and the event attracts lots of locals and their families.
Come and have a look.
The easiest way to get to this pleasant stretch of forgotten beach is to follow the road to the Ha Tien border crossing – total 26.5km.
Once you arrive at the salt fields ask ch’nay sa’mot Angkoul? (= Angkoul Beach), and they will happily point the way. Alternatively take the shortcut from Kep (20km): east of Kep market is a school on the right, there is two street food vendors with red plastic chairs. Turn right and this dirt road will take you to the salt flats. Directions are a little vague here as there are several tracks leading to the left and right. The general rule is that you are heading for the hill in the distance on the coast. After dirt and gravel you will arrive at a quaint fishing village with lots of traditional orange and green painted boats. A good place to take a break. More salt flats and then a small ditch with a few planks across as a bridge, here turn left and follow the horseshoe road around the hill.
Angkoul Beach is mostly deserted, a few vendors but the rest of this sandy stretch is yours. And that makes the journey worthwhile.
A one kilometer long stretch of sand near the tip of the Kep peninsula. Backed by the hills of the Kep National Park and with Rabbit Island within close distance.
As you venture into the sea, you will notice that there are some pebbles in the water but that it is only for first 20m. Only sand beneath your feet from here and a relaxing swim ahead.
The road behind the beach is lined with dining platforms / hammocks and seafood / fruit sellers. Very little hawking going on here.
Right at the beach you will find the Kep Beach Square.
Guesthouses, restaurants, Internet cafe, tourist information and tour agencies are all looking forward to serving you.
The ‘A-maze-n Kep Butterfly Garden’ is being developed near the end of the Jasmine Valley Trail in Kep.
We raise local butterflies from eggs to caterpillars to pupae to adult butterflies. Six to ten species are displayed in a large netted area with many beautiful flowers producing nectar for their food and specific host plants for each species for egg collection.
The walks are laid out as a maze run periodically to entertain children of all ages.
Please come for a visit.
There are a number of caves surrounding Kep. The most popular of which is what was a large circular cavern now open to the sky, with its roof having collapsed over a million years ago. Access is through a tunnel at the side of the limestone formation. This cave is next to Kiriseila Pagoda in Kampong Trach, 30km from Kep Beach. 4km on the left before KT is Phnom Salei, and 326 steps take you to the top for a spectacular view of the countryside.
Phnom Sorsir has several caves to explore, the path winding its way up the hill to a stupa atop, with stunning views of the Bokor mountain escarpment. This complex is also known as White Elephant Cave, a reference to the shape of a limestone formation at the base of the main cave. It’s 10km from Kep Beach, turn west of the White Horse Statue, signposted Wat archway after 1.5km
Phnom Ch’nork has Pre-Angkorian ruins set within a limestone cave, its brick structures dating back to the 6th century ancient state of Funan. It’s located 24km from Kep Beach. Turn right 8km west of White Horse Statue.
Good footwear and a flashlight are a must when exploring all of the caves, and be aware of broken stairways, low ceilings and slippery rocks.
It is said that no visit to Kep is complete without having a fresh seafood meal, and the best place to have that would be right on the beach, either at the Crab Market or the vendors at Kep Beach.
Stalls are open for orders from 8.30am until 9.30 pm (Toucan serves food until very late). Many places at the Crab Market have imported wines and most seafood vendors have a signature dish. So, indulge in the taste of the ocean at whichever restaurant or from any vendor around the beach, as they all have something tasty awaiting you. The local specialty of fresh fried peppercorns and fresh cracked crab is excellent, and highly recommended. Fresh prawns, squid and several varieties of sea fish are on the menu, grilled, fried, in a soup or steamed, all served with salad, steamed rice, sauces and seasonal fruit.
Note, confirm the price before ordering to avoid confusion when the bill arrives
Until 2 years ago, the Crab Market, the seafood vendors and a few local eateries were the only places to go for food & drinks outside the Kep guesthouses.
The influx in tourism in Kep in recent years has also triggered the opening up of restaurants & bars which cater especially for tourists. So, don’t feel as if there is no other option than the Crab Market or your guesthouse. Check out the food in any other guesthouse or go to Breezes, Sailing Club, Pasta e Basta, Kep Rock Café, Led Zep Café, Mama Zion … These are all places without accommodation but with a nice atmosphere and good food on the menu. Don’t let the darkness withhold you from leaving the guesthouse at night. Kep is a safe place!
The 8km mountain trail through the National Park is definitely recommendable but don’t expect to come across much wildlife as most of the animals do not want to be seen by humans (probably due to that diet again). There are benches along the trail and at the viewpoints to relax for a while and enjoy the sounds and smell of nature. There are many banana, durian and cashew plantations to be found in the national park along with other fruits such as jackfruit, papaya, mango, lime, and dragon fruit, …
Several new trails are now open for nature walks. Check Kep NP mini map, p13.
Maps and yellow-black signs showing you the right directions, altitudes and other useful info have been put up in and around the park. Since September 2010 there is a 4000 riel entrance fee for the National Park. Please respect the National Park, do not litter or destroy any plants and/or trees.
Action Max Asie organizes regular sports activities inside the National Park and around Kep. Obstacle races, thriatlon, abseiling, … for old & young.
Walk around the hills through the Kep National Park and discover this natural oasis before it is too late (serious road developments are on the way as can be seen on a big sign on the road to the old dam). An easy walk for everybody. 8km trek, around 2,5 hours.
Hear the monkeys and try to spot them. Take your own water and snacks or pop in to Jasmine Valley for refreshments.
Alternatively, at the start of the trail is Led Zep Café, they provide take-away lunch packs and drinks.
There are a few benches inside the NP where you can relax and enjoy the views and sounds of nature. Also, garbage bins can be found along most trails, please use them!
There are many wonderful places around Kep to watch the sunset – maybe a beer at the Crab Market, perhaps a gin and tonic at the seafront – but by far the best view has to be from what is known as Sunset Rock, ALT 182m. You can take a moto to the nuns old chapel and then hike up, but take water and a flash light for the hike back down. Follow the yellow signs. Wear good footwear.
Led Zep Café has a number of great hand-drawn local maps, which we sourced information from for Coastal guide and website.
There are 3 markets in Kep.
One at the White Horse statue which is 8km from Kep Beach, one in the old Kep town (Phsar Kep) and a small makeshift one at Damnak Chang ‘Ar, 10km from the beach.
About 8km from the White Horse statue, you can find the so-called ”Secret Lake”, locally known as ”Tomnop Tek Krolar”.
Established through hard labour under the Khmer Rouge regime, this irrigation dam, set perfectly in between the mountains and the rice paddies, provides the perfect location for a lazy afternoon on one of the many bamboo platforms. Tubing, swimming and even water peddle cycles are the leisure activities on offer.
Snacks, food and drinks are available.
Established in 1908, Kep was originally built as a retreat for the French colonialists. For sixty years it thrived as the Khmer’s favorite coastal holiday resort, with its heydays in the 50s and 60s until it fell into ruin – especially after the Khmer Rouge when locals in need of money and food started to dismantle the old villas which you can still visit today.
Some have already been renovated, such as Knai Bang Chatt and Villa Romonea, but most of them are still breathing memories of a different past.
In 2007 a French photographer, Pierre-Yves Brunaud made a serie on the old Kep villas and their inhabitants today.
In 2011, Belgian graffiti artist ROA spray painted 3 giant insects on 3 villas. Ask the tuk-tuk drivers, they can point out the locations.
A selection of some smaller activities in Kep which take a maximum of 2 hours each, depending on yourself:
· Visit the small mangroves and try to spot some birds or head for the small salt fields in Kep town. Both are indicated on the Kep map …
· Cycle into ”Kao Krosang” village (see Kep map) and enjoy the village life, see people climbing palm trees to collect the juice, discover an improvised local rice wine brewery, have an iced coffee, …
· Discover the ruins of Kep‘s glorious past along the main road and in the ”French era ruined villas area” (see Kep map) …
· On Saturdays and Sundays there is always Khmer boxing on TV. Head for any local coffee shop and enjoy this martial art, …
· Buy one of the many properties which are for sale and retire …
· Visit one of the Kep temples, meet and chat with the monks …