28 Oct Captivating Cambodia

Having been with World Odyssey a number of years and been fortunate enough to visit most countries in SE Asia at least once, I still always look forward to revisiting again and seeing how we can do things slightly different to the traditional highlights tours.

Cambodia has undergone some big changes in the last year or two, with some of the most exciting hotel openings happening in 2019 – it was the perfect time to return!

I landed into Siem Reap after a brief stop in Bangkok and headed straight for Bensley Collection – Shinta Mani Siem Reap, comprised of 10 luxury pool villas set in shady gardens, just a stone’s throw from the town. Each villa comes with the most superb ‘Bensley Butler’ who can help with anything you may possibly need during your stay. On the same road the brand also have a beautiful 4* hotel, Shinta Mani Shack & 5* Shinta Mani Angkor hotel offering something to suit all budgets.

Credit: Bensley Collection – Shinta Mani Siem Reap

It’s amazing how many new hotels have popped up over Siem Reap and there really is a great choice available. Some of our favourites are the newly renovated Raffles & Belmond hotels and for something a bit away from the hustle & bustle of the town, Phum Baitang which means ‘Green Village’ offers fantastic villas in a beautiful rural setting.

Credit: Phum Baitang Resort, Near Siem Reap

There is so much to do in Siem Reap and it’s easy to escape the crowds and head off the beaten track to the more simple life, whether that be a trip to the countryside by Vespa scooter or bicycle, bird watching on Tonle Sap Lake or exploring some of the more remote parts of the Angkor complex. Mixed up with the iconic sites of course!

Above: Vespa Tour in Siem Reap & Angkor Temple Complex

I took a short flight to Phnom Penh and spent a couple of days exploring. Raffles is the most iconic hotel and currently half way through a full renovation which will restore this historical gem to its former glory. Rosewood Phnom Penh is the highly anticipated ‘new kid on the block’ and offers huge contemporary style rooms with amazing views & a superb roof top bar! There are also a number of local style boutique hotels, which offer fantastic value for money.

Whilst sombre, the Killing fields & genocide museum is such an important part of Cambodia’s history and really gives you a deeper understanding of what the Khmer people have endured.

Credit: Rosewood Phnom Penh

Next up and perhaps the most exciting addition to Cambodia’s recent offerings is Bensley Collection – Shinta Mani Wild, which opened its doors in December 2018. Spread out over 800 acres, Shinta Mani Wild is nestled within one of the last great wilderness areas in South-East Asia. The private nature sanctuary offers the perfect basecamp in which to sample the adventurous activities on offer within Southern Cardomom National Park, including an arrival into the hotel bar by zip line!

With just 15 out of this world luxury tents nestled along the Tmor Rung river valley, the Wild Tents are perched over the swift moving waters hidden deep in the jungle. Each one offers incredible views over the Cardamom forest and every existing tree was worked around to ensure nothing was destroyed during the build. A variety of activities are available and the incredible team are on hand to ensure you have the best possible stay.

Credit: Elise Hassey / Bensley Collection – Shinta Mani Wild

No trip to Asia would be complete without a visit to an idyllic tropical island to enjoy some well-earned rest & relaxation. Just a speedboat away from the town of Sihanoukville lie a cluster of islands, home to a variety of luxury resorts. Thankfully they are all very different and each have their own USP’s to suit every kind of traveller.

Alila Koh Russey opened in December 2018 and boasts one of the best beaches in Cambodia and has a variety of contemporary style rooms &  villas. Six Senses Krabey Island opened earlier this year and is all about the luxury pool villas and an incredible spa. Whilst old favourite, Song Saa is slightly further away from the mainland and offers bare foot luxury in a beautiful and remote spot.

Credit: Alila Koh Russey

Credit: Six Senses Krabey Island

Credit: Song Saa Private Island

Thanks to a new flight routing to Bangkok from Sihanoukville, it’s now possible to head back to Thailand to continue your journey or connect to your international flight.

Returning to Cambodia was as glorious as the first time and it really should be given the time to explore in its own right. The people are kind, genuine and the hoteliers are doing so much to give back to the environment and local communities, which in these times is just what we need to be encouraging.

If you would like help planning your holiday to Cambodia, please contact our Asia team on 01905 731373.