Kampot and Kep are two coastal provinces in Southern Cambodia. Kep was actually part of Kampot until it was turned into a province in 2008. Kep is the smallest province in Cambodia (and smaller than Phnom Penh), so I’m not sure of the logic of turning it into a province instead of a city within Kampot.
[Kampot Province (in red) surrounding Kep Province (via Wikipedia).]
The two provinces are neighbours to Sihanoukville, which has been in the news for its rapid growth. Developers are now looking at the coastal areas of Kampot and Kep.
After visiting Sihanoukville, I stayed in Kampot in January 2022 and used that as a base to visit other parts of Kampot and Kep. This construction update covers Kampot and Kep together in a single report.
This map show places mentioned in this article.
[Map of Kampot Province.]
The big story out of Kampot City is the Thai Boon Roong Kampot Building.
This two-tower apartment complex is being built in the historic city centre. An entire city block was demolished to make way for this project, including heritage buildings that give Kampot its character. Cambodia had previously considered listing Kampot as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its colonial architecture, but doing something like this is not how you prepare to apply to UNESCO.
There is one building on this block that didn’t get demolished, and I would like to know the story of this. These are called nail buildings in China, though at least it is on a corner and doesn’t affect the construction of the building.
This project is next to the old bridge, and next to the old bridge is this sign declaring the area as a “heritage conservation zone”.
A more sensible approach would have been to build apartment towers on the other side of the river. There are several large empty blocks of land on the west side of the river that could have accommodated a building as large as the Thai Boon Roong Kampot Building.
There are two smaller apartment towers being built on the west side, including this building next to the Castle Bayview Resort and Spa.
One of the appealing things about Kampot is that it’s on the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville railway line. The railway wasn’t running when I visited, so I walked to the station to have a look around. When the train is running it is a good alternative to getting a minivan to Phnom Penh. The train station has been repainted since I was last here.
Near the station is The Green Residence project.
I saw advertising around town promoting it as “Escape to a Work-from-Home Life”. It’s being advertised in Khmer, English, and Chinese, so the appeal of remote working in Kampot is just as likely to be for a Phnom Penhian as for an international expat.
Next to the railway crossing is the Kampot Mall Project. It is being developed by Furi Corporation, but their website isn’t working. The advertising signs show pictures of Furi Times Square in Sihanoukville, so I’m not sure if this is the same name.
There is a new urban area that is being laid out on the other side of the railway track. I didn’t see any advertising for this, so I will check back on this.
I saw another new urban area on the west side of town named Teuk Chhou Village. It is also being developed by Furi (or broken website fame), so note to self: take more photos and don’t rely on the website being in working order.
Bokor City is a planned new city in Bokor National Park. A city in a national park? I know, right! That is what I first thought when I read this. I thought that they meant within the administrative area of Bokor somewhere outside the park.
Bokor is the mountain that sits in front of Kampot on the other side of the river.
[Bokor viewed from Kampot.]
Bokor is famous for the abandoned French colonial hill station on the plateau of the mountain. There is an old church and a few other structures.
There is also a hotel and casino complex sitting up there by itself that looks just as haunted as the old church.
I rented a bike to have a look around. At the entrance to the park (near sea level), there is a Special Economic Zone and other urban developments under construction.
Once you cross into the park the road begins its climb up the mountain. In total it’s about 25 km from the park entrance to the plateau. I passed some trucks that were on the way to the construction sites.
Once I reached the plateau it was evident something big is going on there.
Land is being cleared for Bokor City.
I haven’t seen any detailed plans of what is being built, so I will post them on the Bokor City page when I find something about it.
After visiting Bokor I’m even more baffled as to the purpose of building a city in a national park. I could sort of understand the reasoning if this was on the way to somewhere else. For example in Vietnam, there are a string of provincial capitals connected in the Central Highlands Region.
The road to Bokor is a dead end though, so it’s not on the way to anywhere else. This road should just be kept for tour buses and day-trippers rather than as an artery to serve a city that didn’t need to be here.
I’m not against Cambodia planning to build new cities, and it appears that there is another new city/SEZ being built at the foot of the mountain.
It would make more sense to have New Bokor City here rather than on top of the mountain. It is on the main highway between Kampot and Sihanoukville, and near to the new port area. The railway line also goes through the middle of this area, so they could build a new station to service the area.
Locations of projects mentioned in this article are on this map. All Kep projects can be viewed at Future Kep.
[Map of Kep Province.]
Kep is famous for the ruined villas that are scattered along the coast and main township. Most of the coastline is mangrove forests, so it’s not considered a beach destination.
To counter this perceived problem of lack of beach, the government is building a 2.7 km artificial beach by reclaiming land along the coast and then dumping sand on the mudflats. I had been seeing news about this project filtering through my news stream.
filling up into the sea near crab market… pic.twitter.com/XuNOVH76BC
— Mech Dara (@MechDara1) January 15, 2022
Half of the road from the White Horse Circle to the Crab Market road has been blocked off for use by trucks carrying landfill. The road is a muddy mess as trucks are continually travelling down the road.
I rode towards the first available road to the sea to see what is happening, and here I could see the land reclamation work in action.
Ironically enough, I parked in front of the Kep Sailing Club. This used to be waterfront property (an important feature for a sailing club), but it is now about 100 metres inland.
Some of the old villas that Kep is famous for can be found along this stretch, and they used to be seafront properties.
There is a saying in the real estate business that “a view is a privilege, not a right”, which is usually said to someone when their view is about to be built in front of. I’m not sure if there is a similar saying for a seafront resort losing a seafront view.
The mayhem continues at the Crab Market, which is a famous tourist destination in itself. The land reclamation begins at the market, and when I visited there were a steady stream of trucks dumping landfill.
The plan is to make the landfill a landscaped public park. There hasn’t been any mention if there will be any hotel or resort developments on this 2.7 km section. Hopefully, these crab shacks will be able to claim their seafront location as well.
After the Crab Market, I continued along the coast to Kep Beach. This is the main beach of Kep, and it is artificial. Time will tell if the new beach looks like this.
I have wondered why Kep Town has not had any serious development proposals yet. It has good bones with an already established street grid. They could turn this into a new city with less effort than having to build a new city from the beginning.
[Empty block on the gridded streets of Kep.]
In the Future Kep report there is a news article that says there are over 200 development projects included in Kep development master plan. I haven’t found any more details about that, though more may be revealed once the artificial beach is opened this year.