Cambodia 30.01.2019 David Abram
With a superbly rich mix of experiences within easy reach of each other, Cambodia offers the perfect recipe for a relaxing, inspirational holiday. Here are six of our consultants’ top tips. All may be slotted neatly into a two-week tailor-made trip.
1. Meeting the Gods: Angkor
The greatest of all the shrines created by the Khmers, Angkor Wat stands as vivid testament to the power, ambition and unbridled narcissism of the region’s ancient rulers. We find it’s always better to explore the complex in the afternoon when the crowds have thinned. For the wonderful view it reveals over the surrounding fields, Pre Rup is our preferred spot for sunset. Its name – ‘Turning the Body’ – suggests the temple may originally have served as a royal crematorium.
2. Discover the Border Temple of Preah Vihear
On the border with Thailand, Preah Vihear occupies a natural rock platform beside a dizzying, 525-m (1,722-ft) cliff in the Dangrek Mountains. The view over the Cambodian plains below is magnificent, and must have added an epic feel to rituals conducted in the shrine. The temple is approached via long, stepped causeway, punctuated by five gopura towers which each conceals what lies beyond until you pass through, adding greatly to the sense of expectation as you climb towards the main sanctum.
3. Sleep in a floating tent camp
Four Rivers Floating Lodge comprises rows of luxury canvas tents erected on platforms at a picturesque bend in the Tatai River in southern Cambodia. Surrounded on all sides by greenery, you can savour the sounds and sights of the forest from the privacy of your own private sundeck or wooden Hinoki bathtub. No need for plunge pools: simply climb down the ladder in front of your tent and dive into the glassy water of the river.
4. Jungle Walks in the Cardamom Mountains
With guidance from an American NGO, locals from the village of Chi Pat have opened up a network of trails that allow visitors to experience the majestic landscape and forest of the Cardamom Mountains. Treks of varying lengths string together remote villages, bat caves and enigmatic jar burial sites dating from the Khmer era. You can also embark on kayaking trips, join early morning birdwatching parties on misty rivers and swim in pools below thundering waterfalls on the Tatai River.
5. Boat Trips to Rabbit Island
By far the loveliest coastal retreat in Cambodia is Kep, a town originally founded by the French in 1906, and which has since become popular among wealthy city dwellers, who travel here on weekends in search of the famous local peppered crab. There’s no beach to speak of, but visitors may catch an excursion boat out to nearby Rabbit Island, whose palm-fringed shoreline is scalloped by coves of white sand and turquoise water. Guided trips to hidden cave shrines and rock formations in the dramatic karst hills nearby are options should you wish to extend your stay.