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Kep also romanized as Kaeb literally: "Saddle of the Horse") formally known as Kep Province is the smallest province (khaet) of Cambodia covering 336 km2 (130 sq mi), with a population of 40,280. It is one of the newest Cambodian provinces, together with Pailin and Sihanoukville, created by Royal Decree on 22 December 2008, which separated Kep municipality from the province of Kampot, as well as adjusting several provincial borders. The provincial capital is Kep District and the province contains the Kep National Park.


Once Cambodia's most popular and prestigious beach town, Kep has fallen on hard times in recent years. From the early 1900s until the 1960s, it was a thriving resort town for the French and Cambodian elite.
Old building in Kep

A major misconception about Kep is that during the Khmer Rouge years, much of Kep's French colonial era mansions and villas were destroyed. In fact, local residents, being in need of money and food, stripped down the villas so that they could exchange all these valuable parts in Vietnam for rice and cash. Many of Kep's villas are abandoned, but some of the town's former splendor is still apparent.

The ocean is lined with wide sidewalks and large statues. King Sihanouk built a home overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, but it was never occupied and now sits empty.

A paved road connects the town with Kampot. Kep's beaches are mostly mangrove and black rock rather than the white sands of Sihanoukville, although a beach nourishement with the white sand of Sihanoukville has made the beach wider and cleaner.

There are now more than 60 guesthouses, resorts and hotels in Kep. It is currently one of the fastest developing touristic areas in Cambodia with a focus on mid-range to high-end businesses.

Where to visit:

Kep Beach, Koh Ton Say Resort, Phnom Sar Sear, Salt Manufacturing, Veal Lumher, Wat Samot Reangsey, Zoo

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