Home > Travel > Kep, Cambodia: Asia meets France by the seaside

Kep, Cambodia: Asia meets France by the seaside

At the moment only locals and informed travellers visit the town, but the situation is likely to change soon

The sky was deep blue, the sand soft and sugary white, and the only sound to
be heard was the gentle swish of water as small waves hit the shore and then
retreated. White crabs scuttled out of sand holes and back again, and
picture-perfect seashells, the type you normally only find in shops – glossy
and perfectly curved – lay dotted all around.

Lying in the dappled shade of a stumpy tree on a beach on Koh Tonsay – a tiny
island known to locals as Rabbit Island – just a few miles off the Cambodian
coastal village of Kep, I felt an overwhelming calm. After a week in Kep we
had taken a day trip to the island on our penultimate day. Tellingly, it had
taken us this long to muster the energy.

Kep is a tantalising combination of faded French Indo-China glamour, Asian and
French cuisine, and the clear waters and white sands of the tropical
beachside. The village was popular with wealthy holidaymakers from the
Thirties right up until the Khmer Rouge took over the country in the
Seventies, when it faded from view for more than 30 years.

Even locals forgot its existence. “I grew up just 15 miles from here and
I didn’t know there was such a town as Kep until 2002,” Lee Lim, now a
resort manager in the village, told me.


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