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History

The French established Kep City during the colonial time in 1908. Today Kep is mainly popular to the domestic tourists, who choose Kep as their holiday destination. What’s more, Kep offers great seafood and magnificent views of the mountains and the beaches. Taking a boat to the nearby islands is also a breathtaking experience. Another itinerary, which must not be missed, is an excursion to the serene waterfalls of ‘Tuk Chhou” situated about 10 km from Kampot. Kep City is located in the Southwest of Phnom Penh. The city is accessible by the National Road No 3 from Phnom Penh via Kampot province (173 km) or by the National Road No 2 from Phnom Penh via Takeo province.

Especially during the Sixties, during the time of Sang Kum Reas Ni Yum the city was developed as a beautiful seaside tourist resort for the rich and government. The story related to the name of Kep said that there was a king named Sa Kor Reach, who had a mighty spell. He put a sleeping spell on a commander at AngKor Thum, than stole the commander’s white horse and fled together with his troop to the Southwestern seaside. When he took a rest at the seaside, he was overhauled by the commander’s troops, who chased him from behind. Suddenly, he got on the horseback; the horse reared, and made him fall down on the ground together with the saddle. Then, he got on the horseback again and fled away without picking up the saddle, because the commander’s troops almost approached him. So that’s why this area was called ‘ Kep Seh ‘ meaning ‘ the saddle ‘, nowadays it’s only called ‘ Kep ‘.

Geography

Kep is 20 km from the town of Kampot. The eastern limit is some 20 km from the Vietnamese border covering 336 square kilometres big. It’s located in the South of the country and is bordering to the North, East and West with Kampot and to the South with the Gulf of Thailand and Vietnamese Island of Phu Quoc. The province has not so much typical plain wet area like other provinces of Cambodia, as there are some foothills from the Elephant Mountains coming from Kampot province. You can see not so sparse grey limestone hills akin to the Vietnamese ones. Nevertheless there are areas covered with rice fields and other agricultural plantations.

Kep City is a municipality in Cambodia with the status of a province. Kep is just a few kilometres from the border with Vietnam located and used to be Cambodia’s most popular beach town but has fallen on hard times in recent years (especially due to the Khmer Rouge). Many of Kep’s, mostly French villas are abandoned, but some of the town’s former splendour is still apparent. The see is lined with huge sidewalks and some large statues that now seem largely out of place. The king built a palace overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, but it was never furnished and now sits empty. A good, paved road connects the small town with the 15km far away Kampot. The slightly darker beaches than in Sihanoukville are mostly scattered with mangroves and black rocks, but Koh Thonsáy (Rabbit Island) is just a short boat ride away (approx. 1/2h). Kep appears to be experiencing something of a renaissance, with several mid-range and luxury guesthouses and bungalows recently opened or still under construction. The seafood is cheap, plentiful and delicious – particularly the quite famous crabs. Kep is also home to an extensive national park covering some mountains with deep green jungle.

Distances between Kep and other main Cambodian provinces

  • Phnom Penh: 164 km (102 mi) to the north (from Kep town).
  • Sihanoukville: 130 km (81 mi) to the west along the coast.
  • Kampot City: 25 km (16 mi) to the west.
  • Bokor Hill Station: 67 km (42 mi) to the west.
  • Vietnamese border: 25 km (16 mi) to the east.
  • Siem Reap: 478 km (297 mi) to the north.
  • Battambang: 455 km (283 mi) to the northwest.
  • Koh Kong Province and Thailand’s border: 364 km (226 mi) to the west.

Population

The current population in this province is about 619,088 people or 4,31% of the country’s total population (14,363,519 person in Cambodia, 2007, provincial government data), with 299,814 male and 319,274 female. The population density is therefore 127 people per square kilometre.
Various actors, according to the needs of the most important target groups, implement rural development measures effectively and efficiently. Above all, the rural population should be able to sustainably better satisfy their basic needs.

Beside the profitable fruit cropping such as durian, mango or coconut Kampot Pepper has been renowned for decades as one of the best peppers in the world. This pepper has a very distinct flavour and smell, especially when its fresh harvested. It develops an enthralling aroma, strong, delicate and aromatic. Therefore it is famous in the world and exported to many countries.

Administration

It is subdivided into two districts (srŏk):

  • Damnak Chang’aeur: It is the largest of the province and divided in three sections (sangkat) – Angkaol to the west, Ou Krasar at the center and Pong Tuek at the east – and 11 groups (krom). It was the place where Australian David Wilson, 29, Briton Mark Slater, 28, and Frenchman Jean-Michel Braquet, 27, were kidnapped by a Khmer Rouge guerrilla unit led by Commander Chouk Rin on June 1994.
  • Kep: The district, located at the center of the Province, is subdivided into two sections Sangkat Kep at the east of the Kep Peninsula and Sangkat Prey Thum at the west, and five groups.

Weather

The country enjoy  tropical climate with  warm and humid temperature. In the monsoon season, abundant rain allows for the cultivation of a wide variety of crops. This year-round tropical climate makes Cambodia ideal for developing tourism. Cambodia has sun almost year round. The average temperature is about 27 degrees; the minimum temperature is about 16 degrees. December and January are the coolest months, whereas the hottest is April.

  • Hot season: March- May (27c -35c)
  • Rainy season: May – October (24c-32c.)
  • Cool season: November- March (22c-28c)

The best beach weather begins with the end of the rains in November. The dry, warm, breezy weather that follows lasts through January. Night temperatures can get down to a chilly 20° but the days hover around 28°-30°. Many think December and January are best with their balmy temperatures and blue skies. At the end of January, Kampot begins to warm and continues to get hotter through July (maximum 35°). After February, cool ‘mango showers’ occasionally blow in from the north. December through June is said by some local outfitters to be the best scuba weather with clearer (though cooler) waters than the rest of the year.

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