As the sun slowly sinks in the horizon, Kampotheads and tourists alike find themselves drawn to the riverfront. Luckily, there is no shortage of sunset vantage points thanks to the sunset tours offered by a plethora of boats docked south of the Fish Market down to the Old Bridge. But how do you pick the sunset cruise that’s right for you? In this post I’ll give some suggestions on picking the right Kampot sunset boat cruise, plus some tips for getting the most out of it.
Each boat is staffed with friendly ticket sellers ready to point out the benefits waiting aboard. In the event you don’t see smiling faces seated next to the gangplank that piques your interest, there is sure to be a large board listing all the important information.
Not every boat on Kampot’s riverfront offers tours so keep a sharp eye out so you don’t miss out on a trip. Some boats stay docked and serve as a restaurant and bar for those of us who haven’t quite gotten comfortable in our sea legs. The Floating Garden is one such boat and their menu is displayed proudly on the sidewalk. If you don’t have time to go for a ride, Floating Garden is a great spot to watch the sunset and enjoy dinner or drinks.
Insect lovers will enjoy catching one of the firefly tours. Depending on the time of year, the firefly tours start leaving town at around 5 p.m. so be sure to hit the riverfront early if you want to have the full range of boats to choose from. Others leave around 5:30 p.m. Be sure to ask what is included in the ticket prices. As of this writing, most tours are charging $5 and offering two free beers or soft drinks per person, but in low season it often goes up to $7 with only one beer, so be sure to compare prices and see if anyone is willing to price match. The Lovely Boat seems to keep the same $5/two beer deal (which is undeniably good) all year round.
When you ask about the price, have a look and see who is already on board. While most of the companies are offering essentially the same thing, the crowd on individual boats each night varies. If you’d prefer to be around others in your same age bracket, say, have a look and keep on moving if the crowd is not to your taste.
Something to plan for on a boat tour is the chill factor. That’s right, even in tropical Cambodia you might sprout some goosebumps as you head up the river. A light jumper or wrap should do the trick in keeping you comfy. And those of you who seem to attract every mosquito within a 10 kilometer radius don’t need to worry as the mozzies are no match for your speed on the river. However, once the boat gets to the magical firefly spot, the buggers might come for you so be sure that any bug spray is applied before the tour starts! No one wants to be the person spraying DEET or citronella all over when people are trying to comfortably enjoy nature’s light show.
Tours list themselves as being around 2 hours from start to finish. That doesn’t mean you’re moving the whole time — ticket time frames include time docked for the sunset and the trip up river and back. One the boat arrives back in Kampot town, you are welcome to spend as much time on the boat as you’d like, enjoying the music and atmosphere (and ordering more drinks from the bar!)
Kampot Sunset Cruises
daily cruises, 5 to 5:30 p.m.
various vendors can be found along the riverfront, south of the Fish Market, Kampot riverside
Floating Garden Restaurant
Open daily, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m
Across from the happy pizzas, Kampot riverside
Kampot is sadly changing too fast.
A few weeks ago the Kampot governor deceided that all boats had to move to the opposite side of the river. Apart from that nothing much changed.
Thanks, Gabriela. So are all the sunset boats on the other side now? Where do people go to start the sunset cruises?
Either walk over the old bridge or take a tuktuk to go there. I think when buying a ticket beforehand transport to the boat is provided. Theres a view posters / advertisment and ticket sellers in the old places.
Good. What about the (all night backpacker bar) in front of the Vibola hotel ?
Thanks for your mail. Kampot is close to my heart. But the changes are keeping me away sadly.
Do not use Vibola boat. Bison tours sold us a ticket for $13 which included this sunset tour. One beer or coke included. Yet they charged us $1. I had to argue with multiple people that said they didn’t speak English. Finally a girl translated and they brought us warm drinks. Boat took off late. Staff was rude. I got off the boat and their sign read 2 free beers. Never again. Scammers.
3 years ago we did not have all this.you could actually walk along the riverfront at sunset without all this drama.
Poor Kampot. Heading the same way as all the other tourist traps.
And 19 years ago it was nothing like 3 years ago. It is change, economic activity and putting food on a plate. Locals are living much better lives as a result.
As I said , becoming a tourist trap as everywhere.i lived in Goa India many years
And left when it became unbearable. I experienced businessmen from all over India taking over Goa with ‘Crumbs’actually going to ‘locals’. Today their country has gone from Paridise to literally a cesspool run by forigeners with no regard for the Goans whos land ownership has fallen more than 60 %. Well water was drinkable 30 years ago , today the groundwater is filled with waste from poorly construced hotel cesspools that break up during the monsoons so now everyone must buy bottled water in plastic bottles which are EVERYWHERE.
I read your comment about everyone having it better and know it’s only in the beginning until the Capitalists see little Kampot as a place for profits come what may and not a National Treasure.