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.
So you want to take a sunset boat cruise in Kampot?
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.
There are a dozen boat options for your Kampot river cruise (but they’re pretty much the same).
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.
There’s an intense rivalry between Friendly Boat and Lovely Boat.
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