Escape Phnom Penh at Smiling Gecko Farmhouse Resort

To describe the location of Smiling Gecko Farmhouse as being “in the middle of nowhere” would be unfair to the people and animals who call Samaki Meanchey District in Kampong Chhnang home. And to call it a farmhouse understates just how lovely these boutique bungalows, surrounded by tropical gardens, are. So let’s call it an “approachably posh” resort in a “remote bucolic locale.”

Some might call this the middle of nowhere, but really it’s just a question of semantics.

Which is to say that the 35-odd traditionally-styled wooden houses, the expansive — and mostly organic farm — possibly the nicest hotel pool in Cambodia, and the friendly staff combine to create a charming and quiet nature-filled escape from Phnom Penh, with plenty for adults and kids to enjoy (and maybe even learn from, fancy that!). Continue reading

Updated Cambodia quarantine and tourist visa information

Updated again! (Jump to the new part) After a last-minute announcement, as of today Cambodia is allowing quarantine-free entry for fully vaccinated travelers, and electronic visas are easily available. Partially vaccinated or unvaccinated travels will still need to follow the quarantine rules enacted last month, detailed below. Be aware that land borders are still closed and visa-on-arrival are not being offered (for now).

And…they’re back!

Requirements for fully vaccinated travelers

Passengers are required to take a Covid-19 PCR test in the 72 hours prior, have a vaccination card or certificate, and will be required to take a rapid test on arrival (it’s free!). After they receive their negative results, passengers are free to travel throughout Cambodia.

Note that one official directive says 72 hours before arrival and another says 72 hours before departure, so to be on the safe side, it would be better to get a test no later than 72 hours prior to arrival in Cambodia. Continue reading

Cardamom Tented Camp: Real ecotourism in western Cambodia

In this era of mask wearing and Covid precautions, the fresh air blowing in my face as I sit on a small boat speeding along the Prek Tachan river is refreshing beyond words. After a six-hour journey to Koh Kong province, within minutes of stepping out of the taxi I was on a boat, the dark grey water hemmed on both sides by verdant green. I was headed to Cardamom Tented Camp and couldn’t have felt further from Cambodia’s denatured capital.

Heading to Cardamom Tented Camp

Cardamom Tented Camp (CTC), a joint-venture involving Wildlife Alliance, covers some 18,000 hectares of what was once Botum Sakor National Park in Koh Kong Province. These days, much of the park has been sold for farming or other questionable activities — international airport and casino, golf course, and a planned coal-power station to name a few — and Cardamom Tented Camp’s protected area is quickly looking like an oasis in the desert.

The nine guest tents sit near the banks of the Prek Tachan, named after a local French colonial-era resistance fighter who was believed to be bulletproof (no one could tell me if he had died of old age though), and offer a real taste of luxury: real beds with cotton sheets, hot water showers, fans and 24-hour electricity courtesy of the large solar and battery system. Camping in the mud this ain’t. Continue reading

Phnom Sampeou and Phnom Banan — Battambang’s Tale of Two Hills

Battambang’s main tourist attraction doesn’t feel like it is resting during the pandemic. At least, the poor souls toiling away in front of Phnom Sampeou’s famous bat cave certainly ain’t resting. They’re busy chiseling a giant Buddha into the exposed limestone. And while the ongoing work is an impressive feat, it adds yet another layer of human adulteration to this beautiful rocky protuberance in the middle of otherwise (mostly) flat Battambang province; for Phnom Sampeou offers an architectural, archeological and zoological slice of humanity in Cambodia.

Monkey atop Phnom Sampeou

A monkey on top of Battambang’s Phnom Sampeou.

The top is covered in an eclectic variety of Buddhist temples, shrines, stupa, and sculptures in Chinese and Theravada Buddhist styles…dotted among the trees with no apparent plan other than to provide a blast of color at every turn. There are military remnants — in the form of two rusting field guns — of Cambodia’s protracted efforts to defeat the Khmer Rouge, now simply another plaything for a bold macaque colony that calls the hilltop home. Continue reading

Phnom Penh activities for kids: Swimming, playgrounds, and play spaces

In the last two posts about fun things to do for kids in Phnom Penh we covered arts and sports activities. This time, we’ve got a round-up of swimming pools, playgrounds, and play spaces for kids and teens in Phnom Penh. We’ve tried to include the most up-to-date information, but because of the pandemic it’s always best to confirm the details.

House Boutique Pool Phnom Penh

Cool off at House Boutique Eco Hotel in BKK1.

Swimming pools

A great way to cool your children off in the warmer months is by taking advantage of one of the beautiful local resort pools, or letting them take a dip in one of the customized child-friendly pools in Phnom Penh. Continue reading

Phnom Penh activities for kids: Sports and active play

In the last post about fun things to do for kids in Phnom Penh we covered arts and crafts activities and performing arts activities. In this installment, we’ve got a round-up of sports and active things younger kids and teens can do in Phnom Penh to burn off some extra energy. We’ve tried to include the most up-to-date information, but due to the pandemic some businesses may have other restrictions.

Coconuts Park Phnom Penh

Kids can explore and play at Coconuts Park after-school and weekend programs.

Explore and Play

Coconut Park has an “Explore and Play” after-school or weekend program for kids 6 to 8 and 9 to 12 going on now. The sessions include lots of physical activity as well as arts, and will give kids the chance to try lots of different sports and activities rather than focusing on just one. Spaces are limited, and can be reserved online. Continue reading

Getting the COVID-19 vaccination in Cambodia

Updated August 9. The vaccination process is in full swing in Cambodia, and the country is committed to vaccinating their foreign residents and visitors as well as Cambodian citizens. It is now possible for residents of both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap to get vaccinated at no cost. Read on for more information.

Getting vaccinated in cambodia

Wondering how to get the covid-19 vaccine in Cambodia? You’re not alone!

Continue reading

Phnom Penh activities for kids: Arts and crafts, music, and performing arts

Despite the pandemic, there is never a shortage of fun activities for kids in Phnom Penh. While Covid-19 has certainly had a huge impact on businesses and families, it has also seen the creation of a plethora of new child-friendly activities. In this series we’ll cover some of the new and exciting things to do, as well as some long-time kid favorites. In this first post, we’ll cover arts and crafts activities and performing arts classes in Phnom Penh.

art in Cambodia

Art in Cambodia! (Admittedly this is a photo of work exhibited at Kampot Art Gallery)

Arts and Crafts

Fun and messy arts and crafts activities and classes have popped up around Phnom Penh catering for toddlers and older kids alike.

Kids Art Club by Sra’Art was created to help little ones improve their social skills, make new friends, and nurture their imaginations. Classes are for ages 3 to 12, and all materials are included in the fee. Continue reading