Kep is a relaxing southwestern seaside province situated 168 Km away from Phnom Penh. This tiny seaside hamlet is known throughout Cambodia for the beach and its fresh seafood, especially crabs.
Kep (which means saddle) is Cambodia's forgotten resort. During Cambodia's golden years before 1970, this lush coastal region looking out over a myriad of islands was where the wealthy and famous came to relax. Although the beaches are not in the same league as those in Preah Sihanouk, the tranquil atmosphere is what most travelers seek here.
A small section of the beach doubles as a regular crab-trading depot and this busy crab market on the water's edge serves well as a popular tourist itinerary. The Crab Market (Psar Kdam) is the first market as you enter the beach area on the one-way loop road and is right on the beach. Fishermen bring in baskets of crabs by the boatload. Visitors can sit and watch them work while the market restaurants boil them fresh from the sea before your eyes for a small additional fee. Fish, squid and prawns are also on offer, often cooking slowly over coals out the front of all the restaurants.
Several islands, including the popular Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay), lay just a short boat ride off its coast. This coastal province should be included as one of the 'must visits' when in Cambodia.
By the way, about 15 kilometers from the Kep road towards Kampot is a sign pointing down a dirt road to some holy caves. Two kilometers from the turnoff is a school and Phnom Sia Pagoda. Walk up and through the pagoda, you will come to the maze of limestone caves inside Phnom Sia itself. The most famous is the Cave of the White Elephant, named after a rock formation locals say resembles an elephant. This cave is particularly sacred and there is a shrine in front of the rock. Between Kampot and Kep there are a few cave systems worth exploring.