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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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

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

Review: Seila Angkor mini-bus, Phnom Penh-Siem Reap

Mini-buses seem to be the preferred method of travel between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh for expats and upwardly mobile Cambodians who are willing to sacrifice a bit of comfort (and safety, they drive fast!) to shave an hour off the trip. Seila Angkor is popular mini-bus company that does the Phnom Penh to Siem Reap route. I’ve taken them several times and have been pleased with their services.

Seila Angkor Khmer Express

Seila Angkor’s Ford Transit vans transport you in style.

The trip takes between five and six hours. With the current road conditions, in order to do the trip in five hours the drivers need to take some hair-raising liberties, and occasionally they can drive faster than I’m comfortable with. Most of the time, though, the trip takes six hours and the drivers go at a reasonable pace. Continue reading

How to get a visa for Thailand in Cambodia

If you’re headed to Thailand after Cambodia, you won’t necessarily need to get a visa in advance. Thailand offers a 30-day visa-free stay for 56 nationalities that can be extended once for an additional 30 days for 1,900 baht, which is about $60.  If you’d like to stay longer, or if you’ve already entered Thailand a few times, you’ll need to get a visa for Thailand in Cambodia.

Bangkok Royal Palace

Heading to Thailand?

How to get a visa for Thailand in Cambodia

If you are planning to get a visa for Thailand while you’re in Cambodia, there are two ways to do it. If it is your first Thai visa, you can take you passport to any local travel agent in Phnom Penh and they can get it for you. Most Cambodian travel agents will not deal with customers with multiple visas who may be trying to live in Thailand illegally. If you are thinking of trying Cambodia for a visa run from Thailand, know that the Phnom Penh embassy has a reputation for being quite strict. Continue reading

Road trip from Kampot to Kampong Trach

No matter how much you love Kampot, sometimes it’s nice to get away for a day and go explore some caves. Kampong Trach is an easy 26 miles (43 km) road trip down National Road 33 past Kep, and is easily accessible from either Kampot or Kep. There, you’ll find the most well-known cave system at the Kampong Trach Mountain Resort, plus the Kampong Trach Water Cave and the Sankar Sana Cave.

Road trip to Kampong Trach

From Kampot, it’s an easy road trip to Kampong Trach.

If you’re traveling by moto, finding the caves on your own can prove a bit of a challenge as there is no signage coming into Kampong Trach town on NR33, for either the caves or the town itself! Just follow the green road signs towards Phnom Penh and Chhuk (neither of which you will pass on the way to the caves). However, if you keep a keen eye, you will notice roughly 25 miles (41 km) out of Kampot town that you are entering Kampong Trach, because the traffic will seem to move a bit more slowly and be more tightly packed. Slow down and watch for the Kirisela Guesthouse on your left, a multi-story building easily recognized by the orange siding and True Money sign. Turn left [here’s the map location of where to turn], and a few meters down the road you’ll see a dentist sign on the left. This is also a great time to check any mapping app on your phone if you happen to be traveling with one, because you probably won’t have phone reception for the entire journey. Continue reading

A guide to Battambang’s art galleries

In the last decade Battambang has experienced something of an artist revival, in no small part thanks to Phare Ponleu Selpak, an non-profit organization there that provides hundreds of students with arts training and education. Explore the town’s art scene with our updated guide to Battambang’s art galleries for 2019.

Lotus Gallery Battambang

Khchao Touch’s work on display upstairs at Battambang’s Lotus Gallery.

Lotus Gallery

In its latest incarnation Lotus Gallery exclusively shows the work of Khchao Touch, a Cambodian artist and the gallery’s co-owner. She and her partner, Darren Swallow, have made Lotus into a local community hub of sorts. “Those that are meant to find us, do,” says Darren, referring to the fact that there’s not a lot of signage outside. Look for the bicycle covered in plants that is rolled out when they are open. Darren, who also mans the downstairs coffee bar, knows everything about the art scene in Battambang and will happily tell visitors about Touch’s art-making or anything else they want to know about what’s going on in town. Continue reading