Kep is a coastal city and former beach resort, 173 km southwest of Phnom Penh. The city was founded in 1908 during French colonial rule and was originally named Kep-sur-mer. Many of the French-style villas are overgrown and run-down, but Kep is slowly being redeveloped and tourism is reemerging. The colonial influence is noticeable in the city's Provençal-style architecture and French cuisine. Nowadays, Kep is known more for its oceanfront crab shacks and relaxed tropical atmosphere.
A small section of the beach doubles as a regular crab-trading depot and the Crab Market (Psar Kdam) on the water’s edge serves as a popular tourist destination. Fishermen bring in baskets of crabs by the boatload, and waterfront restaurants cook them fresh, usually boiled with a few fragrant sticks of famed Kampot pepper. Fish, squid and prawns are also on offer, often cooking slowly over coals at the front of all the restaurants.
For a relaxing day trip, visitors often travel to a nearby island such as Rabbit Island (Koh Thonsáy), which is only a short boat ride off Kep's coast. Here, you'll find beautiful seaside views, bamboo platforms and basic bungalows, and plenty of rustic charm. A boat back during the evening sunset is not to be missed.
Those looking to take a break from beachside lounging may wish to visit some of the local limestone caves, some of which contain holy shrines.