KNAI BANG CHATT, Kep, Cambodia
A leisurely 2 hour drive south of Phnom Penh lies Kep, a small village by the sea, which was once the playground of Cambodia's elite from the mid 50s through the 60s.
These weekend and holiday retreats were modernist inspired masterpieces blending european modernism with khmer features creating a "New Khmer Architecture" style.
The King, whose family had several villas in Kep, boasted that it would become the St Tropez of the East!
Sadly its reign was very short lived. Kep suffered greatly at the hands of the Khmer Rouge in the 70s through to the Vietnamese invasion of 79. The villas were stripped and abandoned and the area was still in Khmer Rouge control until the end of the 90s.
In 2006 Jef Moons and Boris Vervoordt, the new owners, bought several of the most beautiful villas facing the beach and restored them with simple modern khmer style, concrete floors and local wood, to create the current Knai Bang Chatt resort.
Later a new villa was built in sympathetic style to make a total of 4 buildings and an adjoining beach club was also built on the beach to provide some variety of dining and sunset cocktails for both guests and visitors alike.
The Staff are friendly, the food amazing, the sunsets terrific, the other guests intriguing, the beach pretty. A very idyllic escape for a long weekend.
The area is sleepy but nearby is a row of very local restaurants and a small landing/processing area for crab fishermen which is a local speciality. Combined with the spicy pepper, also grown in the area, this makes for a lot of foody fun!
About ten minutes further along the coast road is the town of Kep itself worth a stroll at sunset for sure just to see a glimpse of the ruined villas on the hill side overlooking the bay, and meet the locals enjoying food watching the sunset. There is even the odd khmer wedding party in tents on the village high street to keep you amused!
Once the excitement of Kep village has paled there is a 20 minutes drive away to Kampot, the local provincial capital, which once had a thriving french quartier. This is currently having a revival with various backpacking guesthouses and some good restaurants opening up in the beautiful old colonial buildings.
A bit further afield is the old Bokor Hill Station build in the 20s by the french. Originally a large hotel centered settlement, then in the 60s a casino was added the place was taken over by the Khmer Rouge who held it into the 90s. Currently under redevelopment it is worth a visit up in the high country if you have time.
#beachresort #Cambodia #Kep #unique #travel #interiors #sunsets
The Beach Club
The Beach Club