Craft Beer in Cambodia

Craft beer has been brewed in Cambodia for more than a few years, but until recently, it hasn’t gained the traction it has in other countries, including neighboring Thailand and Vietnam. 2019 has seen a real upswing in the Cambodia craft beer scene with more breweries and craft beer bars opening, but also foreign craft beer brands trying to enter the market.

I’m Kimmo, the co-owner of Embargo, and in this introduction to Cambodian craft beer, I’ll be taking a look at the brewers and craft beer bars in Cambodia.

Riel Brewing at Embargo

Riel Brewing’s Coconut Brown Ale and Cerevisia Brewery’s Irish Red Ale at Phnom Penh’s Embargo.

Riel Brewing and Distilling

Probably the most promising brewery in Cambodia, Riel Brewing started brewing in 2015 and their engineering skills, passion for beer, and hard work has seen them constantly producing some of the best beers in the country. Not only do they make solid brews, they have their processes down to a science, so they manage to consistently produce very high quality beers — definitely not an easy task in a country like Cambodia where it can be a struggle to find high-quality ingredients. You can find their kegs in many bars around Phnom Penh, but also in Siem Reap and Kampot. They have recently started selling bottles, which means that even more venues will be able to serve their beers. Continue reading

Review: Ibis Styles Hotel, Siem Reap

Over the last year several large international hotel chains have finally crept onto the outskirts of Siem Reap, but the first to make it to the town center is the new Ibis Styles. Located just a three-minute walk from Siem Reap’s Old Market, Ibis Styles is smack-dab in the center of the action.

Ibis Styles Siem Reap

The pillows in the lobby proclaim “free hugs” at the Siem Reap Ibis Styles.

Part of the larger Accor hotel chain, the Ibis Styles aims to be affordable and hip, targeting a younger audience than its big sister the Sofitel. Despite being part of a major international chain, the Ibis Styles in Siem Reap managed to give a nod to their Cambodian local, in the form of brightly colored modern murals of Angkor Wat in the rooms, and wall installations in the shape of lotus leaves. Continue reading

Mo’ Nom Nyams: Where to eat in Sen Monorom, Mondulkiri

Food options in Sen Monorom are plentiful to the point of intimidation. Despite being a small town, Sen Monorom is the capital of Mondulkiri and there are no shortage of restaurant choices for all budgets and tastes. Here are a few reviews to get you started, but don’t be afraid to strike out on your own food adventures!

Cinnamon Cafe Sen Monorom

The perfect crepes and Sen Monorom’s Cinnamon Cafe.

One of the major perks of dining in Sen Monorom is no matter the distance to a main road, in this case only 200 meters, you will dine among the trees. Cinnamon Cafe dishes out sweet and savory treats that will have you coming back for more. In fact, you can even find their baked goods a little farther in town at Hefalump Cafe. Their crepes manage to come out with that perfect texture that comes with years of experience, both light and rich. Those with a love of American-style cinnamon rolls take note, the cinnamon rolls here are not smothered in sugar and frosting; they showcase the cinnamon and buttery dough with a light glaze. Be sure to brush up on your Khmer before going so you can chat with the owner’s charming mother. Continue reading

Review: Giant Ibis buses, Phnom Penh to Siem Reap (and vice versa)

If you’re skeptical about getting from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap by bus, allow me to assure you that it’s an excellent way to travel in Cambodia! The road from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap is sealed now, which means a smooth rode with views of the Cambodian countryside, and the trip takes between 5 and 6 hours. Giant Ibis, with its onboard powerpoints and WiFi, offers one of the best full-size bus experiences in 2019. In this post, I’ll cover Giant Ibis day buses and night buses between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, both of which I have taken many times.

Giant Ibis bus Cambodia 2019

We took this gleaming Giant Ibis bus in 2019 and it’s still a great ride.

Giant Ibis table of contents

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How to get from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap (and vice versa) in 2019

Has anything changed on how to to get from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap (and Siem Reap to Phnom Penh) in 2019? You bet! There are options to fit every budget, but some are nicer than others. Right now the road is in great condition and it’s a smooth ride, unlike in years past. The journey by road usually takes between 5 and 6 hours, depending on your mode of transport if you go by road.

Giant Ibis bus Phnom Penh to Siem Reap

Check out the view on a Giant Ibis bus between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Ways to travel from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap

  • Taxi: Costs $65-100. Most comfortable option. Best balance of price and convenience. About 5 hours.
  • Bus: Costs $6-15. Smoothest ride and best views. About 6 hours.
  • Mini-bus/van: Costs $9-12. Faster than the bus, but more cramped. About 5.5 hours.
  • Plane: Costs $30-120. Fastest method, but domestic flights are unreliable. About 1 hour.
  • Ferry: Costs $35. Best scenery, if you sit outside. About 8 hours, sometimes more.

Continue reading

Review: Banlle vegetarian restaurant, Siem Reap

The growing ranks of globe-trotting vegetarians and health-conscious omnivores have fueled a noticeable rise in the number of meatless eateries in Cambodia. Now comes Banlle — ”vegetable” in Khmer — the new plant-based project of one of Cambodia’s brightest culinary innovators, Pola Siv. The founder-owner of Mie Cafe, a critically acclaimed and much beloved Siem Reap institution, is venturing into new territory with Banlle, and I’m happy to report that his flair for innovation and attention to detail have not deserted him. In fact, the challenges of his new project seem to have spurred his creativity, and he tells me that he’s “having a lot of fun” in his new space.

Pola Siv Banlle

Acclaimed Siem Reap chef Pola Siv is putting his mind to veggie cooking at Banlle.

The restaurant is beautifully laid out and the service was very warm and welcoming. I chose to sit in the garden, as it was a nice evening, and the staff provided a fan, since Siem Reap is not known for being breezy. As a long-time admirer of Mie Cafe, I wanted Siv’s new place to be good, but a cynical carnivorous voice in my head kept predicting that I would be queueing up for barbecued chicken on Road 60 by the end of the night. Luckily, that cynical voice in my head was soon put to rest. Continue reading

Review: Nattakan direct bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap (and vice-versa)

If you’re looking for the most painless way to cross the Thailand-Cambodia border overland, the direct bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap is the way to go. There are currently only three truly direct buses (meaning you leave your luggage on the bus while you cross the border and catch the same bus on the other side). Not having to switch buses takes a major headache out of the journey. Nattakan, the first company to ply this route, is the least expensive option. It had been a while since I took this trip with them, so I bought a ticket and tried it out.

Here’s the 2019 report on the Nattakan direct bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap:

Nattakan direct bus stop

At a glance…

  • Nattakan direct bus – Bangkok to Siem Reap
  • Price: $28
  • Leaves at: 9 a.m. (8 a.m. from Siem Reap to Bangkok)
  • Duration: 8 to 12 hours
  • Tickets: Buy a ticket online with seat reservation here or here
  • Also consider: Giant Ibis from Bangkok to Siem Reap

Because there are a few segments to this journey, I’ll break this post up into sections to make it easier to digest. Continue reading

Takeo: How to get there, where to stay, and things to do

Looking to get out of Phnom Penh life for a day, or spend a quiet weekend away? Takeo province may not be the most obvious tourism destination, but it offers a host of interesting things to do, and is a short two-hour drive from Phnom Penh (or a longer train journey) . Here are just a few highlights of Takeo province, plus details of how to get there and where to stay.

Small offerings at Takeo’s Wat Phnom Borei.

Things to do in Takeo Province

Operated by the Wildlife Alliance, the Phnom Tamao Zoological Park and Wildlife Rescue Center is just 25 miles (41km) outside Phnom Penh and offers a safe place for the care and rehabilitation of animals that were caught in the illegal animal trade. With animal ambassadors ranging from elephants to gibbons, you can feel good knowing your visit will not only brighten your mood, but also support conservation and education. Tours are available year round; however, the vans are not air conditioned so they may be uncomfortable during the hottest part of the year. There is a fair amount of standing and walking. You also have the option to buy a ticket and guide yourself around at a comfortable pace. Continue reading