This rustic resort in Kampot, Cambodia, is a perfect place to relax by Kampot river and experience the Cambodian countryside. For adventurers who are looking for a quiet retreat, this jungle hideaway is ideal.
As a full-time traveller, I have stayed in all types of accommodation – luxury boutique hotels, colonial style beach resorts, family friendly bungalows, ultra-hip city hostels, and my fair share of downright dumps, too. I’m a total accommodation nerd, so I love the variety I get to experience.
One of favourite types of accommodation is a charming rustic resort surrounded by nature, where I can kick back and be my laziest self, with no pretensions or expectations.
That’s exactly what I found at Sabay Beach resort in Kampot.
If square corners, enclosed spaces, and hoity toity service are important to you, don’t stay here.
But if you love the idea of getting away from the city, spending time outdoors reading, kayaking or just watching the river flow, while spoiling yourself with excellent food, tasty cocktails and efficient service, then you’ll love Sabay Beach as much as I did.
What I loved at Sabay Beach Resort in Kampot
Countryside location. Many Kampot guesthouses are on the river, but Sabay Beach Resort is immersed in nature about 8km from the city, making it feel like a real jungle retreat. If you haven’t gotten off the tourist trail in Cambodia yet, staying at Sabay Beach is a great way to dip your toe into rural Cambodia.
Life outdoors. Aside from the bedroom and the bathroom, life at Sabay Beach is lived entirely outdoors. The rooms all include hammocks and some have a patio seating area with comfortable bamboo chairs to curl up in.
The restaurant / lounge is open air with a sturdy roof to provide shade and protection from tropical rains. There are swinging sofas, big comfy seats, huge floor cushions, and even a few standard chairs and tables, where you are more than welcome to spend the entire day relaxing.
If you’re looking for the most laid-back Kampot hotels, Sabay Beach should be on your list!
Extensive (and charming) cocktail menu. Whomever created the cocktail menu at Sabay Beach has the soul of a poet. With cocktail descriptions like this:
Kampot River: Let your senses fly over a river of Gin, Let the fresh smell of Cucumber surround you, Let the sharp notes of Rhubarb and Elderflower flatter your tastebuds, Immerse yourself into a land of Nature and Freshness
…you know there will be artistry in the house cocktails. I’m happy to say I sampled a few of them and they lived up to their descriptions! Don’t worry about bootleg Cambodian booze; Sabay Beach stocks high-end spirits like Belvedere Vodka and Hendrick’s Gin.
Unusual extras at Sabay Beach Resort in Kampot
Tarzan in the treetops. As soon as I saw my three-level stilt house, built in traditional Khmer style, I knew I was going to love staying at Sabay Beach. The first floor holds the fully enclosed bathroom, on the second floor is an open-air space with two comfy chairs.
On the third floor, the woven grass roof covers a cosy bedroom with a big comfortable bed, easy-to-manage mosquito net (most aren’t, trust me!), and lots of shelves to hold your belongings. Wide wooden slats form the floors and walls, while the narrow gaps between the slats maximize airflow and allow a little daylight in.
The little extras, like tiny bedside shelves, lots of electrical sockets, a clothes rod, and a tree branch decorated with colourful fairy lights, give the room a cosy charm that made me feel right at home. Outside, there a hammock where you can sit and gaze out over the treetops.
Kayaks, swimming, and yoga. You don’t have to sit on your butt doing nothing all day long at Sabay Beach (but if you want to, that’s perfectly OK!). They have a few kayaks for rent to take out on the river, or you can jump off their dock right into the water. There are also yoga mats available and lots of space in the tree huts to practice!
Environmental and social initiatives at Sabay Beach
Sabay Beach Resort is nestled among the trees of an organic mango farm. They use only water, and no chemicals, on their mango trees. In season, you can pluck mangos off the trees right from your own balcony.
The resort also uses steel straws and recycle all of their recyclable waste. Bamboo toothbrushes are on their way! Glass bottles go to the Red Road Foundation that is building free education centers made of glass bottles for countryside kids.
What we didn’t love at Sabay Beach
Rough road. In dry season, the dirt road to Sabay Beach is probably no big deal. In wet season, it is a bumpy lumpy rollercoaster ride – just like every other Cambodian rural road! My tuk tuk driver was great but there’s only so much he could do to avoid the biggest holes. I felt rattled, shaken, and extremely relieved to arrive after the half-hour journey.
It’s a wild life. When you’re staying in a jungle, it doesn’t matter how luxe the accommodation is, there will be ants, geckos and plenty of creepy crawlies around. I kind of like the complete immersion in nature, but if you are a child of the city, who can’t stand such things, be prepared to confront your fears!
As far as mosquitos go, I never actually saw one during my stay but I did get bitten a few times (they’re a devious lot!), so bring your repellent.
What’s in the neighbourhood?
If you’ve never spent any time in rural Cambodia, taking a walk outside of Sabay Beach Resort may become one of the highlights of your trip. The narrow dirt road winds past traditional stilt houses, small businesses — like the motorbike mechanic where they blast bangin’ club music — local schools, and lush rice fields.
You’ll get to see cows, chickens, and puppies, not to mention boys, girls, and grown-ups who will all stare blankly at you as you go by. Give them a big smile and a happy hello and your greeting will be returned with enthusiasm.
All the little kids can say “hellowasyername?”. The only response they can understand is “My name is _______. What’s your name?” But they never seem to get tired of hearing it!
Need some Cambodia travel advice? We recommend these books:
Where to eat near Sabay Beach Resort
I am always a little reticent to get stuck in a remote place, where the only option is to eat the food at the resort. So I’m thrilled to report that the food at Sabay Beach is exceptionally good – better than anything I managed to get in Kampot itself. It’s also reasonably priced (by tourist standards) at around $5–7 for a main course.
They are happy to remove the meat and add tofu to any dish, so this is a rare chance for vegetarians and vegans to try some local specialities, like Amok Khmer Curry, Fresh Green Kampot Pepper sauce, and Bonlay Char Kreng.
Local eateries. There isn’t much food around for the locals in this area, but you can always head out onto the road and try to snag a snack from a roadside cart or a tiny local restaurant.
Ganesha Kampot. If you feel a burning need to get off the property (I never did), Ganesha Kampot is a short distance down the road. They have a restaurant where you’ll find the standard Khmer foods and Western favourites. If you’re charming enough, you might even be allowed to take a dip in their natural swimming pool!
How to book your Kampot accommodation
Contact Sabay Beach Resort directly to negotiate the best prices for your stay.
Things to do in Kampot
As is usual in Southeast Asia, you can arrange an array of activities at Sabay Beach. But, if you like to plan ahead a little, here are my recommendations for the best Kampot things to do.
I spent a fantastic half-day on Climbodia’s Discovery Tour, breaking out of my comfort zone and taking my first stab at rock climbing.
Climbodia also offers a half-day of top-rope climbing and independent climbers can visit the site for a one-time fee. There are 17 routes at the site of varying levels – enough to challenge most levels of climbers. Climbodia also offers a lead climbing course if you want to take your climbing to the next level.
Read my full review of the Climbodia tour →
I would have loved to join SUP Asia for one of their mangrove paddle boarding trips but didn’t manage to find the time.
Of course, you should save most of your time just to sit by the river and enjoy the view!
♥ Happy mindful adventures, Stephen & Jane
I was a guest at Sabay Beach Resort but as always, I only stay in and recommend accommodation that I think you’ll truly enjoy! Some of the links in this post are our personal affiliate links, which means, if you use them to book something we get a little reward. It helps keep this blog afloat, so thanks in advance!