Tips for taking kids to the temples of Angkor

The ancient temples of Angkor are the pride of Cambodia and a must-see for anyone visiting or moving to the country. Built about a thousand years ago, and scattered over an area of some 115 square miles, the thought of visiting the temples can be a bit daunting to parents with small children. But don’t worry, you don’t have to miss out! Here are some tips for visiting Angkor Wat and the other temples around Siem Reap with kids in tow.

Angkor Wat with kids

Taking kids to see the temples of Angkor

Do a little research to decide which temples you really want to see

You won’t be able to see them all! My suggestion would be Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm with a quick stop at one of Bayon’s Victory gates for a sampling of the different styles of temples. Angkor Wat, the largest of them all, lends its name to the archaeological park and is featured on the kingdom’s flag. It is still a site of religious pilgrimage today. Bayon is interesting in that it comprises some 200 large stone faces, smiling serenely. And Ta Prohm is overgrown with tree roots twisting around the ruins, giving it an Indiana Jones feel. 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

The Phnom Penh airport train

If you’re looking to test out the Cambodian railway system but aren’t quite ready to commit to an 8-hour train ride to Kampot, the Phnom Penh to Phnom Penh airport train offers a manageable slice of life on the rails in the Kingdom of Wonder that takes just 35 minutes.

phnom penh airport train

Monks admiring the new airport train as it arrives at Phnom Penh Airport.

The train is a convenient way to get to the Phnom Penh airport, and although much faster than a tuk tuk or taxi during peak rush hour, it doesn’t necessarily save much time because the train schedule is more of a guideline than a rule, and almost every time I’ve taken it I’ve ended up waiting at the station for at least 30 minutes. Continue reading

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: 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