For French colonials of the early twentieth century, ‘Kep-sur-Mer’ was a seaside getaway and weekend retreat. From the mid-1950’s this small settlement on Cambodia’s southeast coast became a popular retreat for the Khmer elite, and in the 1960’s experienced something of a development boom. Tragically, for much of the 1980’s, this inauspicious little seaside town was the site of ferocious fighting between Khmers Rouges and forces loyal to the government.
Today’s Kep consists of rows of gutted and shelled beach villas, spread out in a grid road pattern. The town is also well-known for its couple of excellent seafood restaurants, a busy crab market, and a perfectly-preserved cliff-top mansion belonging to the enigmatic King Norodom Sihanouk. Tourism Union Indochina visits Kep as a day trip from Kampot on journeys to the south coast of Cambodia.