Why you need travel insurance in Cambodia and what to look for

Whether you’re a short-term expat or just visiting, having travel insurance in Cambodia is crucial. (Long-term expat? More info on health insurance here). If you’ve read my friend’s horror story, you’re probably already convinced. If not, read on.

Here’s why you need travel insurance in Cambodia

Even healthy people get sick and have accidents

Just because you’re young and healthy doesn’t mean you won’t need medical care. Accidents (often of the traffic variety) happen with astonishing frequency. Last year, nearly a dozen of my friends in Siem Reap contracted dengue fever. I got bitten by an unvaccinated puppy and had to get rabies shots in Sihanoukville. Even if you’re a low-risk traveler, that’s no guarantee that you won’t get sick or hurt.

Cambodia medical care

The clinic in Sihanoukville where I had to get an overpriced rabies shot.

Medical care isn’t cheap

Many people traveling around Southeast Asia think that they don’t need to buy an insurance plan because medical care in the region is cheap; they figure they can just pay out of pocket if an emergency comes up. And that’s true for minor complaints, but if you need to stay overnight or have surgery, the cost can be in the thousands and even higher if you need to leave the country for care. Most expats familiar with the state of medicine in Cambodia wouldn’t dream of having even minor surgery here, and neither should you.
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Review: Jomno Street Food, Siem Reap

Another newcomer on the Siem Reap restaurant scene is from one of Siem Reap’s up-and-coming young chefs, Seiha “Rat” Chomnab. At this point Chef Rat is pretty much a Siem Reap restaurant veteran, having previously worked as the head chef at Por Cuisine, the executive chef at Riversoul Design Hotel, and the culinary instructor for EGBOK. Now he’s finally opened his own place, Jomno Street Food, and it’s already getting rave reviews.

Around the Tonle Sap Jomno Street Food Siem Reap

Around the Tonle Sap at Jomno Street Food

The restaurant describes itself as “modern Cambodian,” and the menu draws inspiration from street food and traditional dishes, mixing up flavors and combining them in unexpected ways.One example that we tried is the crispy chicken amok salad, a breaded ball of chicken amok surrounded by slices of beef tenderloin and banana blossom, all topped with a “lok lak dressing,” which is unexpectedly tasty, if not perfectly executed.

Jomno’s style may have been influenced by the nearby Cuisine Wat Damnak, the only restaurant in Cambodia to ever make it onto the “Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants” list. One of Jomno’s standout dishes is “Around the Tonle Sap,” a dish of pan-grilled fish, frog legs, water lily stems, krosang fruit, with a tangy coconut broth poured over it. This dish is remarkably similar to one originally served by Cuisine Wat Damnak’s chef, Joannès Rivière, under the name “Tonle Sap Rising.”

Jomno Street Food restaurant Siem Reap

Jomno Street Food on Siem Reap’s Wat Damnak Road

But because Chef Rat is Cambodian, he can take more risks with local cuisine than Rivière, who is French, might feel at liberty to. Where Cuisine Wat Damnak firmly sticks to local ingredients and flavors, Jomno Street Food fuses elements of European cuisine with Cambodian, no doubt drawing on Rat’s experience at Por Cuisine, which bills itself as an “East and West Restaurant.” For example, the grilled river prawn and ambarella salad with num banh chok noodles and coconut is delicious, all the more so for the unexpected addition of crispy chunks of bacon.

The menu also contains a vegetarian and vegan section, with several traditional Cambodian dishes adapted to suit non-animal-eaters. A sign posted in the restaurant says “vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian – do not worry we can help you.” Another sign outside mentions lacto-vegetarians. In a country where even simple vegetarianism can be confounding to some restaurants, seeing this level of specification is encouraging, (And perhaps a trend in Siem Reap? See our recent review of Banlle.)

Seiha Rat Chomnab Jomno Street Food Siem Reap

Seiha “Rat” Chomnab, the chef behind Jomno Street Food

Dishes are plated beautifully, as if it’s a restaurant charging much more than it actually does — with dishes priced between $2.75 and $6.50, even the thriftiest backpacker will have a hard time complaining about the prices. The restaurant is cash only, so hit the ATM before you go.

What I appreciated most was the chef’s creativity and willingness to try new things and take chances on different dishes and different flavors. Not all of them worked, but the experimentation is what will set this restaurant apart from the long list of Cambodian eateries in Siem Reap all serving the exact same menu, with almost no variation. Jomno Street Food and Chef Rat show a lot of potential and are definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Jomno Street Food

Open daily, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Wat Damnak Road, Siem Reap [map]
T: +855 (0)92 762 539
jomnostreetfood.business.site

Review: Chantra Computer, Phnom Penh

As Phnom Penh becomes increasingly more developed its computing and tech needs are growing too. Although there are many places to pick up computers and tech accessories around town, you would be hard pushed to find a more well stocked computer shop than Chantra Computer.

Chantra Computer Phnom Penh

The Chantra Computer flagship store in Phnom Penh, home to untold computer delights.

Chantra Computer has expanded from their original computer store in Toul Tom Pong to another two locations in Phnom Penh, one on Kampuchea Krom, and another on Street 315 in Tuol Kork. They also have a small shop on Charles De Gaulle (also known as the Temple Road) in Siem Reap.

Chantra Computer is a reliable supplier for computers, laptops, monitors, and gaming equipment in Phnom Penh, carrying a wide range of name-brand equipment at reasonable prices (I’m typing this on a Logitech keyboard that’s hooked up to a Dell monitor, both of which I purchased at Chantra Computer). Continue reading

Chilling in Chhlong: A weekend in Kratie Province

When friends from home visit and we remember that not everyone is quite so enamored with the sustained bustle of Phnom Penh life quite as much as we do, we like to plan a few days of respite outside of the city. We’ve visited Kampot, Kep, and Koh Dach; Otres, sadly, is no longer an attractive option, and travel to the islands takes too long for a short stay. This time, we headed to the lesser known destination of Chhlong, located in Kratie province, often referred to as the Cambodian home to the Irrawaddy dolphins.

Le Relais de Chhlong hotel Kratie

Le Relais de Chhlong, a newly restored grand hotel that was built in 1916.

Where to stay

When deciding where to go, our criteria was a hint of luxury without the associated price tag, and a degree of ‘wow’ that doesn’t involve arriving via zip-line (with all due respect to Shinta Mani Wild). Searching for a destination for an early New Year getaway, I settled on a review of Le Relais de Chhlong, a rather grand-looking colonial retreat by the Mekong between Kampong Cham and Kratie that promised comfort, quiet, and cooling river breezes. Continue reading

How to get from Siem Reap to Battambang (and vice-versa)

Battambang and Siem Reap are two of the nicest spots that Northwestern Cambodia has to offer, and each is worth visiting. Battambang and Siem Reap are only 48 miles (77 km) apart, but the trip can take as long as four hours due to the fact that there’s no direct road–all of the buses route through Sisophon and up to eight hours by boat. Here we cover how to get from Siem Reap to Battambang (and vice-versa) in 2020, including boat, taxi, and bus.

Heading to Battambang? Check out our expat guide to Battambang with hotels, activities, transport and more. 

things to do in Battambang

Seen Siem Reap? Now it’s time for Battambang.

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Review: Krousar Khmer’s Home Guesthouse, Siem Reap

Krousar Khmer’s Home is definitely one of Siem Reap’s budget accommodation gems. Tucked away down a red dirt road in the quiet Phum Triang neighborhood on the north side of town, this unassuming guesthouse offers travelers very reasonable rates: $10 to $12 per night or, if you’re planning to stay longer, the monthly rate starts at $150.

Krousar Khmer's Home Siem Reap garden

Get out of the tourist center and relax in a local Cambodian neighborhood.

The quiet location is ideal if you want a respite from the noise and tourists in the town center, and offers the opportunity to relax in a homey environment in a laid back Cambodian neighborhood. There are friendly faces everywhere, plus laundry service and a convenience store right across the road that sells, among other things, drinks and phone top-ups. It’s also incredibly convenient to the temples, and is just a few kilometers to the Angkor Archaeological Park. Continue reading

Medical care in Siem Reap

Good healthcare can be hard to come by in Siem Reap. Many doctors don’t speak English and you can’t always be sure if they’ve had proper medical education or whether clinics have safe hygienic practices. That’s why it’s important to have a list of recommended clinics. The following includes Siem Reap’s medical clinics and doctors that are favored by local expats.

Royal Angkor International Hospital Siem Reap

Arguably the best care you’ll get in Siem Reap, but you’ll pay for it.

Hospitals, Clinics, and Doctors in Siem Reap

The Royal Angkor International Hospital offers the highest quality care in town, although the prices are on par with what you’d find back home (depending on where home is, of course. Bottom line: it’s expensive). Doctors here generally speak excellent English and have access to a wide variety of equipment. This is the most popular hospital in town with tourists, but if you live in Cambodia and can prove it with either a work permit or a long-stay visa, they do offer discounts. A standard appointment costs $35 for expats. 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 2020. 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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