What’s happening on Koh Rong

After a few short years of tropical island paradise, followed by a year or two of debauchery, Koh Rong is an island in flux, as it adjusts to the massive increase in tourism and resulting environmental strain without losing the chilled out character that made it so popular in the first place.

Koh Rong news

Don’t worry, Koh Toch Beach is still beautiful.

So what’s been happening on Koh Rong lately?

Good things! First, there’s been a push for environmental conservation, beach cleanup, and wastewater management. None of these things seemed like a big deal with there were only 20 tourists landing on the island each day, but now during high season there can 1,000 or more people landing on Koh Toch, and it’s put a massive strain on the island’s resources. But now the businesses are banding together to push for sustainable practices and products—you’ll now find bamboo straws and re-usable drinking bottles at the more tuned-in businesses.  Continue reading

Somlor Kakor Cooking Class, Siem Reap

I’m often asked to recommend a cooking class in Siem Reap and I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never actually taken one in temple town. I’ve looked at a few but they all seem painfully tourist-oriented, and the menus are always the same: spring rolls, green mango salad, and amok. You’ll learn as much about Cambodian cuisine from these classes as you’ll learn about local culture by hanging out on Pub Street.

But when I heard that one of my favorite restaurateurs in town had decided to offer a daytime cooking class, I was eager to try it out. Sela has a open-air restaurant on the outskirts of Siem Reap that’s frequented almost exclusively by locals. On the property he has a small organic garden and a few chickens and dogs wander around the place. To my eyes, it’s the perfect spot for a cooking class.

Siem Reap cooking class

We made this! Young banana tree salad with fish marinated in lime juice.

So when I had family visiting, I took the opportunity to try it out. The name of the class is Somlor Kakor Cooking Class, which I took as a good sign. Somlor kakor is a quintessentially Cambodian dish, and one that you’ll never find on the menu at restaurants aimed at foreigners. Continue reading

How to get to and from Sihanoukville Airport

Showing up at a strange airport in a strange country is, for most people, a stressful experience. Luckily, Sihanoukville Airport is so small that there’s almost nothing to worry about. There are limited options for getting from Sihanoukville Airport into town, but it’s best to have an idea in advance of what your plan is.

Sihanoukville Airport Cambodia

The Sihanoukville Airport is small but perfectly formed.

The Sihanoukville Airport is located approximately 12 miles (20km) north of Sihanoukville, on Route 4. Only four planes per week that land there, all of them Cambodia Angkor Air’s Siem Reap to Sihanoukville flights. Continue reading

Review: JC Airlines flight Phnom Penh to Siem Reap

Gone are the days of limited domestic flights in Cambodia. Now, there are any number of options for domestic flights in Cambodia: between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap and Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. JC Airlines is the latest addition to the market, and are offering cheap flights on both of these routes.

JC Airlines Cambodia

JC International Airlines aren’t skimping on the plane size, even between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

JC Airlines are operating two full-size A320 planes — these are not the nerve-wracking propeller planes flown by some of the other airlines in Cambodia. The hard product is pretty basic, with cheap but not uncomfortable seats. If you’ve flown budget airlines like Ryanair you’ll have an idea of what I’m talking about. Continue reading

Kampot Sunday roasts

The Sunday roast, an English staple, has found a home away from home here with the many expats in Kampot. Not one, not two, but three different restaurants fire up their ovens to bring that warm, comforting goodness every weekend. If you’re tempted by the thought of a Sunday roast in Kampot, Bokor Mountain Lodge, Brass Monkey, and Rusty Keyhole Two each offer a slightly different menu with tasty sides and mouth-watering mains.

Rusty 2 roast Kampot

The Rusty 2 Sunday roast offers the choice of lamb, pork, or beef. (This is a lamb mini-roast)

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Ream National Park: Where to stay, what to see, and how to get there

Located just 18km east of Sihanoukville, Ream National Park covers 210 square kilometers of  jungle, rivers, mangroves, and lush tropical islands. The park is also home to an amazing array of wildlife and marine life, including over 155 species of bird, sun bears, gibbons, pangolin, fishing cats, turtles, dolphins, and even dugongs. Here’s our guide to escaping the crowds and exploring the beautiful scenery and natural wildlife in Ream National Park on Cambodia’s southern coast.

Ream National Park Cambodia

If you’re on the coast, don’t miss Ream National Park.

Established by King Norodom Sihanouk in 1993, the first National Park in peacetime Cambodia is also one of the most historically important; its sandy shores and forested peaks providing the perfect location for the Vietnamese insurgence against the Khmer Rouge in 1979. In a way, it feels like Ream has changed little since then. The lush jungle and beautiful beaches are still all but untouched by tourism, and there are only a few villages and guesthouses tucked away within the confines of the park. While there is a bit more industry including oil and gas mines and a big military base, this doesn’t detract from the beauty of the park or of the sense of authentic Cambodia you get as you pass through. Continue reading