Stephanie Williamson Just Back From Cambodia
Name of Advisor
Accommodations and/or DMC/On Site
DMCAsia Concierge Anantara Angkor Resort Maisons Wat Kor Raffles Phnom Penh Shinta Mani WILD Song Saa Private Island
How to get to
No nonstop flights from the US - connections typically in Vietnam via Vietnam Airlines. Main airports are Siem Reap (REP) and Phnom Penh (PNH).
Recommended For (families, couples, corporate, celebrations, etc)
I recommend absolutely anyone and everyone goes to Cambodia. The people are incredibly warm and hospitable - and very happy. The history is important for everyone to learn (or learn more about) and the country's many sites and experiences can be tailored to fit just about anyone.
Not-to-be-Missed Experience or Activity
Siem Reap - Angkor Wat complex. The temples are incredible and standing among these structures that have been around for a thousand years is humbling. Seeing nature take back some of these sites is impressive - trees, roots, and stone all becoming one again. Battambang - a bike tour through the village is a great way to meet villagers, learn more about local life, and to immerse yourself in what it might be like to live here - even if just for a couple of hours.
Phnom Penh - the Russian Market for daytime shopping (be prepared to haggle - it's almost rude not to!), which then turns into a great little night food market in the evening. Go on a street food tour so that you can fearlessly explore the culinary offerings with a guide and friend for the evening.
Cardamom Mountains - Shinta Mani WILD is a destination, activity, and experience all in one. It truly is worth the travel to get here as it is unique, authentic, and just truly embodies Khmer luxury. While here, there are a variety of activities and experiences you can take on, but I would recommend the more daring folks to take part in an anti-poaching patrol with local police and rangers. There's no telling what you may encounter, or not, as it's not a curated experience - but it's entirely worth it.
Cambodian coast/islands - go snorkeling or scuba diving! It's important to pay attention to weather as the Gulf of Thailand is known for murky/unclear waters as soon as there's wind or a storm of any kind, but seeing the variety of coral and sea life is worth it. If staying at Song Saa, spend a couple of hours with the team doing a beach clean-up. I promise it'll open your eyes to just how much garbage is being thrown into the water - and may change your perspective on your own habits.
Favorite culinary aspect of the hotel or region
Khmer cuisine is delicious and fresh. The staples are rice, vegetables, and seafood. You'll find fish quite easily and don't miss the opportunity to try the unofficial national dish - Amok. It's essentially a coconut fish curry, but chefs/restaurants will prepare it differently and while it's all delicious, it is interesting to see the variations. Cambodian rice is incredible (and award winning) - so don't miss out. Pairing with the pepper sauce is a game changer (pepper sauce is just Kampot pepper and lime juice).
Favorite Wellness aspect of the hotel or region
The fresh food makes a huge difference. Being Southeast Asia, massages are easy to come by and are great. There are a lot of wellness rituals around feet and cleansing feet - I would recommend trying one of those.
The krama - a Cambodian scarf. These are given at some hotels as a sign of hospitality, but they are versatile garments with an interesting history. Locals will use them as a scarf or bandanna, to cover the face, and generally protect from the sun/elements. Rumor has it they can be used as a weapon as well...
Kudos to: refers to a guide, chef, member of hotel team, etc. that went out of their way
Every single person we encountered. The Asia Concierge team is Cambodia is top notch. Our guide in Siem Reap, Khet, became a friend by the end of our time with him. We truly didn't have a single bad encounter, whether with locals or hospitality professionals. We especially felt welcomed and cared for at Shinta Mani WILD. David, the GM at Shinta Mani WILD, and the Bensley Adventure Butlers - along with the rest of the crew - really work hard to ensure that you feel at home and leaving that property was actually difficult to do.
Please list the Virtuoso amenities and any other special touches they add for our clients
The only Virtuoso property is Raffles Phnom Penh. While the others aren't Virtuoso, that means nothing in terms of the level of service experienced or the quality of the property/room product. Having since worked with Asia Concierge in a different part of Asia for clients, I feel confident they will accommodate any extras you're looking for.
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