When I came back from Cambodia, a lot of people asked me how I liked it and, likely surprising to most, I had a hard time articulating my feelings. I know lots of people absolutely love Siem Reap and for good reason – there was certainly many things I really enjoyed while I was there; the temples are beautiful, the history is rich, the food is great, and the people are lovely. But, as with any area (especially here in Southeast Asia), once it becomes popular with tourists, it tends to lose a lot of its authenticity. Essentially, the reasons why people originally fell in love with that place have been stripped away and replaced (ie westernized). This is how I feel about Siem Reap.
When I travel, I love to immerse myself in as much of the local culture as possible. One way I do that is through my stomach. I love local food and always look forward to trying regional dishes throughout the countries I visit. Everyone knows a handful of Thai and Vietnamese dishes, but I was less familiar with what Cambodian food was all about before my flight to Phnom Penh. I certainly ate my way through the country at various night markets, little hole-in-the-wall shops, and street stalls, and really came to appreciate the local food scene here. Though not necessarily my top choice for Southeast Asian food, I really loved all the local food I ate in Cambodia while I was there. If you’re wondering what to eat in Cambodia, here is a list of my 10 favorite dishes. Continue reading What to eat in Cambodia: My top 10 picks
The first thing people said to me after I told them I would be travelling to Phnom Penh was that I had to visit the Killing Fields. My response: a concerned look followed by a mumbled, “I’m not so sure I want to visit somewhere so sad on my holidays”. Most people followed up by telling me that, despite it being difficult, the whole experience was exceptionally well-done and moving. After getting a similar response from so many other travelers, I knew that I should stop Googling “should I visit the Killing Fields in Phnom Penh?” and just experience it for myself.
This is a continuation from my previous post on the first two temples (Banteay Srei and Preah Khan) I visited during the second day of my temple-hopping adventures in Siem Reap. After having seen five temples in the last 24-hours (I went to Angkor Wat, Bayon, and Ta Prohm the previous day), I had three more temples to tackle: Neak Pean, Ta Som, and Pre Rup. Despite being hot, hungry, and tired, I was looking forward to cramming in a few more temples before my Cambodian adventures were over.
Most of you have probably heard about Angkor Wat (in fact, it’s probably the only temple – aside from the one from the movie Tomb Raider – that most people know of) in Siem Reap, Cambodia, but there are actually hundreds of temples scattered throughout the area. It’s not surprising that one of the main reasons people flock to Siem Reap is to witness and walk through these temples first hand. I would recommend spending two days touring the temples – the first of which you’ll get to visit Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom (specifically, Bayon), and Ta Prohm (the temple from Tomb Raider). Below is a guide of what you can expect on this tour; everything from hiring a driver, paying for your entrance fee, what to wear, and what the three temples are like.
Rambutan Resort Phnom Penh is located in the BKK1 district of the city; about 4 km south of the Night Market. The resort is gay-friendly, and exudes a mix of modern and local Khmer design with bright colors that really make the place pop. The staff are incredibly friendly and the rooms are large, equipped with beds so comfortable you’ll have difficulty getting up in the morning. Overall, the resort is quite quaint and there’s a certain charm about the whole place that I still can’t quite put my finger on.
Understated luxury might be the best way to describe Templation Hotel Siem Reap. This hotel sticks out among the hoards of accommodation choices in Siem Reap thanks to its unique and indulgent atmosphere without that feeling of pretentiousness you might get at other big name hotels. From the moment you step into Templation Hotel Siem Reap, you’ll be surrounded by a sense of tranquility; a true escape from the noise and crowds of the city center and the perfect place to retreat to after a long day touring the temples around Angkor.
Continue reading Templation Hotel Siem Reap: Humble luxury steps from Angkor Wat
Bondi is arguably Australia’s most popular, well-known beach, so paying a visit to this long stretch of golden sand and crystal blue water is a given when in Sydney. While spending the day basking in the sun on Bondi would be a day well spent, putting your walking shoes on and doing the Bondi coastal walk to Coogee should not be missed. This scenic walk takes you along the coast, past six beautiful beaches, and a number of other Instagram-worthy viewpoints. I did the Bondi coastal walk twice while in Sydney and would have done it again if I’d had the time.
The Spit to Manly hike is a well-known route to any Sydney local and is the perfect day outing if you’re looking for something similar to the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk, but less touristy and crowded. The walk is a relatively easy 10 km and should take about 3 hours, depending on whether you stop at some of the beaches. As you go on your hike, you’ll walk past over six beautiful beaches, some of which are quite secluded, that you can go for a quick dip to cool off before continuing the hike. This was one of the highlights of my time in Sydney and I would highly recommend it if you have the time.
The Blue Mountains of Sydney is a world heritage area and natural park, consequently making it a very popular tourist destination. Located about 1.5 hours from central Sydney, it’s relatively easy to get to and, once there, you can spend the night in one of the many Blue Mountains hotels, go hiking, explore caves, ride a cable car, see The Three Sisters, and much more. Though I didn’t exactly find the Blue Mountains to be overly impressive (perhaps because, as a Canadian, I’ve grown up surrounded by vast greenery), it was a nice day trip to get out of the city center and explore the outlying areas of Sydney.