Where to Stay in Kampot Cambodia: Stylish Hostel & Inspiring Education Project

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The town of Kampot sits alongside a river and is well known for two things: peppercorns and sunsets. We love both, so a stop there was a must on our Cambodia itinerary.

The peppercorns and sunset were not hard to find. We arrived to the Mad Monkey hostel just as the sun was starting to descend, casting a pink glow throughout the sky. And on the tops of all the tables sat pepper grinders. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here…

One of the primary reasons we chose to stay at the Mad Monkey Hostels throughout our 3 weeks in Cambodia is their dedication to bettering the local communities. The location in Kampot supports an education project that will change the lives of countless youth in an area of need.

Before we introduce this inspiring effort, a bit of background information on education in Cambodia is essential.

We learned a troubling statistic upon entering Cambodia: 95% of children in the country are enrollment in primary school (great, right?!). But when it comes to secondary education, the enrollment drops to just 20%. Twenty percent. TWENTY PERCENT.

This hits us where it hurts. I taught for two years in an inner-city high school in Miami, and I could talk for days about the importance of education, especially in impoverished areas. Don’t tempt me. And we both spent a year teaching English in South Korea, which only strengthened our passion. To hear that only a fifth of the country’s youth makes it through high school is heartbreaking.

Photo credit: Tracy Settler

The aspect that’s especially hart to swallow is that the Khmer Rouge (the group that was responsible for the murders of nearly one forth of the country) banned education and executed all of the intellectuals in the country.

It’s painful to see that although there is much progress in Cambodia, education is still an area that reflects the results of the regime that brought demise to this country.

But there are small glimmers of hope. And one of those glimmers is the Sala Monkey School in Kep, a small seaside town just 20 kilometers from the Mad Monkey hostel in Kampot.

Sala Monkey School is still in the creation process, but its founder, Tracy Settler, imagines it to be a place where the poorest children in the region are able to receive a top-notch education. In fact, their website proclaims that the school will set “a new standard in rural education”.

Settler predicts that Sala Monkey will educate some future doctors, engineers and tech entrepreneurs that will change Cambodia as we know it now.

The exterior of the school is nearly finished. Photo credit: Tracy Settler

Settler lists her position at Sala Monkey School as founder, teacher, principal, friend, fundraiser, mother and mentor. And she’s not exaggerating.

Taking on so many roles allows her to make many big decisions for this new school, but she doesn’t make them alone. Settler has invited the local kids to help make many of the important decisions – from the school’s name to the color and design elements of their classrooms.

Allowing the students to be a part of this process gives them ownership of their education and the building in which they’ll be learning.

Photo Captions: Top Left: Many students have put their name on the waiting list to be enrolled at Sala Monkey school. Bottom Left: One of the classrooms that will soon be occupied by many excited students! Right: One student who is very excited to learn! All photos courtesy of Tracy Settler.

Mad Monkey Hostels have played an integral role in making this school a reality. They have raised financial support in creative ways, including Bar Crawls for hostel guests.

To date, they have raised more than $1,500 for Sala Monkey, with goals of raising $5,000 by their anticipated opening in the summer of 2016. Their hope is to encourage more of the country’s youth to continue their education “so that we can give back to Cambodia and help positively impact the children who will one day shape the future of this country”. Powerful goals indeed.

How can I help?

Learn more about Sala Monkey School and the children it will serve by checking the updates on their Facebook page.

Donations to the Sala Monkey School are welcome. 100% of the money goes straight to funding sustainable education projects for underprivileged children in Cambodia.

What’s the Mad Monkey Hostel in Kampot like?

So back to the hostel itself. The Mad Monkey location in Kampot is stunning. Have a look for yourself! Walk past the pool and sunbeds and you’ll find new friends playing darts and billiards.

Then step over to the full service bar and restaurant that serves up a mean wood fired pizza (our recommendation is the Chicken Amok Curry… absolutely piled high with flavorful toppings and – gasp – real cheese). Oh, and the happy hour specials aren’t bad either: $1.50 mojitos every Tuesday? Sign us up!

Rooms fill up fast, so be sure to book Mad Monkey Kampot Hostel before you head out for your trip. 

And what about the rooms?

The dorms are spacious, with comfortable beds and spotless bathrooms. And the plush privates are comparable to boutique hotels with a (much) higher price tag.

This was our third stay at a Mad Monkey, and once again we felt that the facilities and service were above par.

Mad Monkey Hostels invited us to stay with them at their locations around Cambodia and learn more about their dedication to supporting the local communities. This article was written in exchange for our stay at their property in Kampot. As with any sponsored post, all opinions are 100% our own.

Learn more about Mad Monkey and it’s other fantastic locations:

Mad Monkey: Hostels With A Purpose

Koh Rong Samloem: Luxury on a Backpacker Budget

Siem Reap: Boutique Hotel & Clean Water Project


We’re Katie & Ben!

High school sweethearts from Minnesota, USA. We seek adrenaline rushes, good food, authentic experiences, and adventures off the typical tourist path. We think travel can be life-changing, and we’re here to share our best travel tips & inspiration that’ll get you packing your bags!

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Comments (2) on “Where to Stay in Kampot Cambodia: Stylish Hostel & Inspiring Education Project

  1. jeeholim0824@gmail.com says:

    I understand that this is a sponsored post, but I wish it wasn’t. It couldn’t have been very expensive, surely you guys could’ve just offered to pay for your stay, and thank them for their generous offer at the end of the post? Like paid Amazon reviews, sponsored posts make me uneasy and more skeptical about things.

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Hey Brian, thank you so much for taking the time to comment and share your thoughts. I can totally understand where you’re coming from – at times it can seem like everything is an ad these days.

      I do want to point out though that this travel blog is how we make a living. Without ads, sponsorships and affiliate marketing, we wouldn’t be able to put information together on this website. And in this time and age, companies are starting to put more of their advertising dollars into bloggers and influencers. It’s cheaper than traditional ads on TV or in magazines, and can be more creative and authentic.

      I do want to share a little bit more background information with you about how we make these decisions. Whenever we take on a sponsored activity or article, we are very adamant about a few things:

      1) We always are transparent with readers that we have some sort of relationship with the company – whether we were given an experience or product free of charge in exchange for coverage, or whether we make a small commission if someone buys a product/service. We will always be transparent about this.

      2) We research the company thoroughly and never work with businesses or organizations that we feel have bad business practices. We only align with companies we trust that are doing good things in their communities.

      3) We are up front with the company in question that we will be completely honest about our experience – whether that is good or bad. For example, in our review of the Mad Monkey hotel we stayed at in Siem Reap, we share honestly that our dining experience was subpar.

      I want to stress again how much time and effort it takes to put together an article like this one. It is our job. This is the direction of the Internet, and we should all remember this when reading articles online. Any reputable blogger or journalist will be up front in letting the reader know when they receive something for free.

      I hope this helps explain a little bit about how bloggers earn their income and why companies are putting more of their advertising budget into this type of exchange.

      Again, thank you for sharing your candid thoughts and opinions. We truly appreciate it.

      Katie and Ben

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