29 Tuesday Jan 2013

Where to stay in Sihanoukville

Chinese New Year is just around the corner.  People living in the cities are planning trips to the beach.  In Cambodia, there are four coastal provinces — Sihanoukville (or Kompong Som), Kampot, Kep and Koh Kong; though Sihanoukville is the most popular destination of the four.  Located only 250 km or 3 1/2 hours drive from Phnom Penh city, Sihanoukville is an easy day trip to do.

Having the longest coastal beach in Cambodia, most popular beaches in Sihanoukville are Sokha beach, Ochheuteal beach, Independence beach, Victory beach, Otres beach, and Ream National Park beach.

Accommodation in Sihanoukville varies from high-end beach resort to bungalow style.  Here are our top choices of accommodation for 2013.

Resort and Hotel:
1. Sokha Beach and Resort
2. Independence Hotel and Resort
3. Holiday Palace and Resort

Boutique Hotel:
1. OC Boutique Hotel
2. Pagoda Rock (on a hill)

Guesthouses and Bungalow:
+ Beach Bungalow (Otres beach)

Sihanoukville

Sihanoukville

29 Tuesday Jan 2013

The Emperors of China restaurant brings the Hong Kong Cantonese specialities to Phnom Penh

The word Dim Sum is not well known to the locals, especially those living in the provinces.  However here in Phnom Penh city, there are a number of chinese restaurants that offers this breakfast specialities.  At the heart of the city and next to the Olympic Stadium sits the infamous Cantonese restaurant – The Emperors of China.

On the weekend, this restaurant is always busy.  Getting a table has became increasingly difficult due to its heightened popularity.  Their Dim Sum are as amazing as those of Yi Sang restaurant (of Almond Hotel).

For Dim Sum, here are our recommendations:  

  • shrimp dumpling,
  • steamed diced pork and shrimp dumpling,
  • steamed chickens’ feet with fresh chili,
  • steamed pork ribs with black bean sauce,
  • sweetened egg paste bun,
  • rice roll with bbq pork,
  • pan-fried radish pudding, and
  • deep-fried taro dumpling. 

Two weeks ago, we stopped by the Emperors of China and had dinner there.   Our recommendations are:

  • xiao long bao (it’s the best. very juicy and steamy),
  • marinated duck’s tongue,
  • Qing dynasty chicken,
  • peking duck with pancake,
  • braised bean curd, and
  • fried noodle.

For dinner, the Cantonese chef did a demonstration of noodle making.  Here’s an image I found on their website.

Emperors Noodle

No.19 St.163, Sangkat Veal Khan 7 Makhara,Phnom Penh, Cambodia
(Reservation) 023 637 6663
(Khmer) 078 774 334
(English) 012 780 667
(Chinese) 097 92 92 699
http://www.emperorschina.com/

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25 Friday Jan 2013

Eclipse Sky Bar – the highest rooftop bar/restaurant in Phnom Penh

Another rooftop bar opens on Monivong Boulevard.  Eclipse Sky Bar is the highest rooftop bar and restaurant in Phnom Penh.  Located on the 23 floor (roof) of Phnom Penh Tower, this bar definitely brings a lot of flare and high to the city.

Although the bar hasn’t really advertised much, its popularity is gaining a lot of buzz.  The rooftop views from all four sides are spectacular and breath-taking.  We think this place will be the hottest spot in Phnom Penh in no time.  Making a reservation will soon be necessary.

Though it is relatively new, the price tag for foods and drinks here are on the high side, more than most bars in Phnom Penh.  This is definitely one of our top picks to check out for both tourists and locals.

Eclipse Sky Bar

Eclipse Sky Bar

Happy Hour: 50% off drinks from 5:30pm to 7:00pm (subject to change)
Tip: take the lift to the 22nd floor, then take two flights of stairs to reach the bar.

Tel: 023 964 171
Address: 23rd Floor, Phnom Penh Tower
www.facebook.com/eclipse.skybar.pp

24 Thursday Jan 2013

Nearest Trendy Boutique Hotels to Old Market/Pub Street, Siem Reap

In the past three years there has been a sprawl of development in the boutique hotel around Siem Reap city center.  Lately the city’s property keeps going up in value, it is sometimes very difficult for hoteliers to invest in any hotel development near the city center.   Although the demand for boutique hotels is still on the rise, there is only a handful of these boutiques near the center of town.

Karavansa Boutique Hotel and Karavansa Residence are among our top choices for boutique hotels in Siem Reap.  Both places are located across from one another.   Walking from the hotel to the Old Market or the Pub Street takes less than 5 min.  The hotel features a sleeping quarter in an old french colonial building, a rustic traditional Khmer house style restaurant, a rooftop pool, and a front yard green garden.  Their service is as superb as any five stars hotels in Siem Reap.  Our experience staying at this hotel has always been very pleasant.

Karavansara

La Niche d’Angkor Boutique Hotel is one of the nearest boutique hotels to the Old Market and the Pub Stret.  It is located on the infamous Wat Bo Road.  By foot this hotel is about two blocks from the Hip Hop club, situated on the roundabout right across from the Old Market.  What we like best about this hotel is its large-size swimming pool.  Since this is a boutique hotel with limited rooms, the pool never feels crowded.

swimming-pool-02

Other Boutique Hotels near the Old Market and Pub Street:

+ Pippeli Pensione

+ Soria Moria Boutique Hotel

+ Frangipani Villa Siem Reap

+ Viroth’s Hotel

19 Saturday Jan 2013

Deco restaurant in BKK1

A great, some-what new, addition opens its door on the corner of Street 57 and Street 352 in BKK1.  If you’re driving along Street 57, you may not able to tell that this cute little colonial french, in black and white color, house is actually a restaurant born to be awesome.

It was a Saturday evening.  My mom and I were sitting on the rooftop of Eclipse Sky bar that I pulled up the Tripadvisor app for Phnom Penh.  A quick browse through the restaurant list, we’ve decided on Deco, that was listed in the top 3 restaurants in Phnom Penh, as our tonight’s choice to dine at.

As we entered the restaurant, the server seated us to one of the empty tables, not too far from the bar.  The lighting was slightly dimmed, giving the room’s atmosphere a warm and cozy feeling.  To our surprise, the menu wasn’t the traditional pamphlet or booklet but instead was a brown piece of paper laying on top of our table.

For our evening, we didn’t bother to order any alcoholic drink but instead made a few selections of their non-alcoholic concoction.  Our orders of a Jasmine Iced tea and a Raspberry fizz were splendid.  A tangy taste of club soda infused with a citric twist was a great combination for our meals to come.

The restaurant offered a few starter assortments– all sounded very scrumptious.  We placed the order for a Beetroot and Citrus Salad, Walnut Dressing; a Kampot Crab Cakes, Sherry Mayonnaise; and a Whisky Cured Salmon with Rye Bread, Honey Mustard & Dill.   My favorite was the crab cakes.

photo-14

For our main course we tried the 136 deg Poached Red Snapper, Potato Rosti, Spinach & Cream Sauce; a Duck Breast with Watermelon, Cashew Nut & Plum Sauce; and an Aussie Steak.   The duck breast was perfectly cooked, showing a slight hint of pink in the middle. The plum sauce was a bit sweet for me but the fresh carved watermelon was just the perfection palette combination as it was so refreshing.

photo-15

All in all I highly recommend Deco to everyone.  This restaurant definitely made a great impression and its ways onto my top list of restaurants of all time and not just the restaurant list from Phnom Penh.

Tel: 017577327
Address: the corner of Street 57 and Street 352
www.decophnompenh.com/

18 Friday Jan 2013

Our top choice SPA for 2012

Recently we have so many requests from readers and friends who are traveling to Cambodia asking us about our choice for spa.   It would only be fair that this topic deserves an article on its own.

It took me a few days to rank these places but my choice on how I rank these places may not be the same as someone else who have been to these same places.   So here are my top massage and spa places for 2012.

1. Bodia Spa in Heritage Hotel, Siem Reap

2. Champei Spa in BKK 1, Phnom Penh

3. Dermalogica in BKK1 in Phnom Penh [facial treatment]

4. Body Tune Spa, Siem Reap

Living in Phnom Penh can be challenging.  Often you are moving from one edge of the city to the next.  Those who do not have a car often take the Remork (a motocycle with a trailer attached) or the moto-taxi to get around the city.  The humidity and the dust found in the city can be overbearing for the body and skin.  Getting a facial done once in a while is a great way to detox the stress from a busy week.  Dermalogica in BKK1 offers an comparable facial treatment that surpasses other spa places in the city.   Bodia Spa in Phnom Penh and Champei Spa in BKK1 are also two great locations for soften those tense muscle due to having done long walks around the city.

17 Thursday Jan 2013

A hot air balloon ride in Siem Reap

After our island excursion in Sihanoukville we took a short flight to Siem Reap.  On day two, we managed to arrange a ride on the first hot air balloon in Cambodia.  I’ve been on a hot air balloon before while traveling in Egypt but riding one in Siem Reap is something that I cannot pass on.

Hot Air Balloon

We made a few phone calls and got ourselves a spot for the sunset slot.   Each reservation includes a free pick-up from the hotel.  About an hour before our scheduled flight’s time, a mini-van came to our hotel and we were greeted by the hot air balloon coordinator, making us felt comfortable that we got on the right pick-up van.  After a few rounds of picking up guests, we made our way to the outskirt of Siem Reap.   The drive was an experience on its own; we were taken to a rice paddy field, not far from the city.

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17 Thursday Jan 2013

Song Saa private island in Cambodia

For the 2013 year, we are excited to present to our customers a private access to the Song Saa Private Island off the coast of Cambodia, in the gulf of Thailand.

The Song Saa Private Island shares the following information.

  • Song Saa Private Island is the first private island resort development in Cambodia. It sets a new benchmark for luxury accommodation in the country.
  • This high-end, world-class resort spans two small, adjacent islands protected by a marine park established to safeguard their natural assets.
  • The resort is located in the Koh Rong Archipelago of the Gulf of Thailand, just 30 minutes by boat from the local airport at Sihanoukville, which at present has connections to Siem Reap only. Flights are provided by Cambodia Angkor Air and are operated on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. International connections to Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Luang Prabang, and Vientiane are available from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports.
  • Most of the Gulf’s 61 islands remain completely undeveloped and many are deserted. Think Thailand 30 years ago.
  • The resort features 27 over-water, ocean view and jungle villas. Each features a private pool, sea views, sundeck, air-conditioning, open style bathrooms, mini wine cellar, Bose sound system, iPod docking station, bath and rain shower.

  • At the heart of the resort is an over-water lounge and restaurant staffed by world-class chefs. It offers 360-degree sea views to take full advantage of stunning sunsets and vivid starry nights.
  • The Song Saa Sanctuary is a secluded amongst our jungle and ocean view villas. The Sanctuary uses locally sourced herbs and plants, as well as Song Saa’s pure white sands and iron-rich stones in bespoke treatments designed by ila around the themes of Blessings, Stillness and Healing.
  • The resort also features an infinity pool; a beachside water-sports centre offering sailing, diving, kayaking and snorkeling; a fascinating ecological program to experience the area’s flora and fauna; and an exclusive boutique to take home a slice of island life.
  • Song Saa Private Island has a strong environmental and social charter to ensure this piece of paradise does not go the way of other locations in Asia. The company has established a team of scientists to ensure the continued health of the marine and rainforest environments.
  • Song Saa Private Island is like no other experience in Cambodia. It is centred on the philosophy that luxury should tread lightly and in harmony with nature.

Song Saa over water villa

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16 Wednesday Jan 2013

Special Offer – Thansur Bokor Highland Resort

thansur bokor resort

Thansur Bokor Highland Resort

iscover the first and only highland resort in the Mekong Sub-Region amid the pristine jungle wilderness and pleasant cool weather on the beautifully landscaped hill on the Bokor Mountain, Kingdom of Cambodia. The resort is 45 minutes drive from Kampot town and 170 minutes away from Phnom Penh. Continue reading

15 Tuesday Jan 2013

Koh Rong excursion

Recently we made an excursion to Koh Rong, a remote island off the coast of Sihanoukville province.  The island is located about 2 to 3 hours boat ride from the coast.  Getting to the island can be challenging but it can be easily arranged by a travel agency.

Boat to Koh Rong island

Our trip began with a bus ride from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville.  We decided to take the Soriya bus, but there is a number of other bus operators that provide transfers from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville. Once arrived to the bus station in Sihanoukville, there were plenty of remork and moto-taxi that could easily take you to any hostel or hotel in the city.  The bus price was reasonable but the remork price for foreigners was much higher than for the locals.

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