Review: Sara Ethiopian Restaurant, Phnom Penh

Even the most well-traveled palates can find little fault with the Model UN-esque breadth of cuisines available in Phnom Penh. From Iraqi to Russian, Taiwanese, Lebanese, Nepalese and Mexican, it is difficult to think of a part of the world that Phnom Penh does not have a great restaurant for… except African. But now, for the first time, Phnom Penh has an Ethiopian restaurant. And it is delicious.

Ethopian food Phnom Penh

Ethiopian food has come to Phnom Penh!

Ethiopian food is best known for injera, a sour-ish spongy bread the thickness of American pancakes and made from fermented teff flour, and for a variety of curries based around either turmeric and ginger or the characteristically dark red berbere spice mix, which features paprika, chili, garlic, fenugreek and a handful of other spices. It’s food you eat with your hands, and made for sharing. Continue reading

Review: Siem Reap Plaza Premium Lounge

Late last year the Siem Reap airport lounge got a complete overhaul. This may not concern many Move to Cambodia readers, but if you, like me, got one of those snazzy new credit cards that includes worldwide select lounge access through Priority Pass, you’re all about hanging out in the lounge, pretending to fly business class when you’re actually going to spend the flight stuck in coach.

Siem Reap business class lounge

Flying biz or just wish you were? Welcome to the Siem Reap lounge.

If you’re a lounge lizard such as myself, you know that the quality of what’s available to Priority Pass members varies widely from airport to airport. Of course they are always better than sitting at the gate the hoi polloi, but some of the lounges haven’t been updated in a decade or two and only serve tiny crustless sandwiches made with semi-stale white bread. Continue reading

How to get from Phnom Penh to HCMC (and vice-versa)

Whether you decide to travel overland or by plane, it couldn’t be easier to get from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City, the city formerly known as Saigon. Just be aware before you go that you may need to get a visa for Vietnam in advance, depending on where you are from (but Cambodia visas are available on arrival for most nationalities). Here’s a run-down of the best ways to get from Phnom Penh to HCMC.

Cambodia Vietnam bus

Heading from Phnom Penh to Saigon (or he other way around)? Hop a bus!

Bus

Buses between Vietnam and Cambodia are relatively quick, comfortable and cheap. Taking the bus from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City (or vice-versa) is straightforward: the buses leave from and arrive in the center of each city, the border crossing is fairly painless, surprisingly scam-free, and usually you will not be required to change buses. Many of the buses have wifi (whether it will be working for the journey in question is another story) and provide water in addition to a meal stop. Continue reading

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