The Angkor Sangkran Festival that has just taken place in Siem Reap, Cambodia welcomed more than half a million visitors to the festivities held amongst the Temples of Angkor, and the massive Khmer New Year crowds witnessed two world records. A 3.2 tonne sticky rice cake made it into the Guinness Book of World Records, and so did a 2,015-person Madizon line-dance (pictured), as Cambodia made their new year celebrations even more memorable with two records.
Archive for the ‘Festivals’ Category
The Phnom Penh Post Weekend edition’s Will Jackson spoke to Hanuman’s General Manager Patrick Chase.
Patrick Chase’s job is to put together custom travel experiences, so with the Khmer New Year break looming, Will Jackson quizzed him on some lesser-known, last-minute getaway options for the less organised among us.
They’ve just built these new chalets and villas at Starling Ridge Plantation Resort and it’s just a great place to stay. There’s a main house where you can use the pool. The chalets are really, really nice, and from there you escape the crowds at Kep and Kampot but you’re only a 20-minute drive from both. It’s got a nice restaurant there, too. Obviously, they have the pepper, but they grow a lot of other organic produce down there as well. We sent some very high-end clients there for lunch who raved about it. They loved the journey from Kep through all the little dusty roads, paddies, sugar palms. The countryside is so beautiful down there.
Rooms start from $35 per night. Web: starlingridge.com.
If you want to go see the escarpment temple at Preah Vihear – while tensions with Thailand are at a low ebb – the new Preah Vihear Boutique Hotel is the first decent place to stay in Sraem which is about 20 minutes away. It’s four-star and has air-conditioned rooms, a swimming pool, pool table and bar. It’s really nice. It would fit in in Siem Reap no trouble. And that could be something a little bit different.
Standard rooms start from $30 per night. Web: preahvihearhotels.com.
If you actually decide just to stay in Phnom Penh, a lot of the hotels put on some great specials because the city’s just empty. The five-star Raffles Hotel Le Royal is doing “staycation” packages all through April with rooms starting at $125 including a buffet breakfast, three hours complementary babysitting and they will double the credit if you spend $50 or more on a restaurant, bar or spa voucher. La Rose Suites and Boutique Hotel and Spa is offering 50 per cent off its public room rates and bonuses like free massages and free use of the minibar. And Villa Sovanna, which is another nice little boutique place, is doing rooms starting at $50 with a free upgrade plus 15 per cent off food and 50 per cent off cocktails. Again, if you spend at least $5 on food and drinks, they will let you use the pool.
Web: raffles.com/phnom-penh, larose.com.kh and villasovanna.com
If you want to see an Angkorian temple I guarantee a lot of people haven’t and don’t mind a bit of a bumpy ride, then driving north of Battambang to Sisophon and then continuing on a bumpy road about an hour north from there, you get to Banteay Chhmar, where there’s a full-blown, Jayavarman VII temple. It’s magnificent. The main structure is crumbling stone surrounded by jungle with huge towers everywhere, and there are several satellite temples to boot. If you want to stay up there, this really interesting community which looks after the temples – all the entrance fees and everything go directly to the community; they also do home stays.
Home stays cost $7 per room. Web: visitbanteaychhmar.org
I just love Battambang, but it’s often forgotten. Last year at Khmer New Year, there was space at the best hotel in town, Bambu. It has a really airy, open-plan feel and combines contemporary design with a colonial feel. They have a lovely big swimming pool, nice informal outdoor bar/restaurant area and a great location. Great value for money.
Prices over KNY start from $90 for a standard twin or double. Website: bambuhotel.com.
We recommend you come to Cambodia in the Green Season. We list below a few reasons why coming to this beautiful country in what is considered the low season, but what we like to call the Green Season, is a great time to visit.
- A temple to yourselves. Angkor is considerably quieter in the green season, which is great for visiting the temples. Most of the big tour groups have vanished, the temples are often deserted, especially early in the mornings and even the Bayon and Angkor Wat are quiet. If you head out to Koh Ker and Beng Mealea you will not see many other tourists at all and our guides can take you to some lesser known temples like the isolated Ta Nei where you may be lucky to see some recently released Gibbons in the vicinity of the temple.
- The scenery. Cambodia is at its most beautiful in the green season. The rice paddies are gorgeously green and verdant, the moats and Barays near the temples are full and when conditions are just right, you can expect spectacular sunsets.
- It’s cooler. The rains break up the heat, it’s easier to explore and spend longer at each site and for much of the time it is still cloudless and sunny in the mornings.
- Value for money. Cambodia is pretty unbeatable value for money compared to most other destinations, but in the green season, we offer seriously competitive rates and lots of special offers.
- The Tonle Sap Lake. The green season is the best time to visit the floating villages of Kompong Pluk and Kompong Khleang. Water levels are getting higher, making it much easier to navigate through the villages by boat. Travel in June and July and see the water levels rising, but still appreciate the height of the bamboo skyscraper houses on stilts. Visit in August and September and the water levels completely flood the mangroves, which is a beautiful sight and it laps at the front steps of the stilted houses.
- Flights. They are much cheaper in the spring and summer months, both from the United Kingdom and Europe, and internally within Cambodia.
- Pick of the very best guides. Our tour guides are not as rushed off their feet as they are in the high season, so take a look at our customer feedback and request the guides who appeal to you.
- A second visit? Many first time visitors travel to Cambodia in the high season. The country takes on a different look and feel in the green season. The landscape changes, the Mekong River reverses its flow into the Tonle Sap Lake which expands, and there are less tourists. It’s a perfect time to return and visit some new and interesting areas like Battambang, Kampot, Kep, Kratie and even venture up to Mondulkiri in the Northeast.
So there you have it, 8 great reasons to visit Cambodia now. Contact the Hanuman sales team for the special offers and competitive rates we will be happy to provide.
Enjoy our fantastic value Green Season discounts at HanumanAlaya until 31 October 2015.
Once again we offer superb Green Season Discounts for the HanumanAlaya and HanumanAlaya Villa in Siem Reap, the gateway to the Temples of Angkor, from today through until 31 October 2015, where we have discounts of up to 50% on room nights.
Stay minimum 5 nights get 50% Discount including breakfast.
Stay minimum 4 nights get 40% Discount including breakfast.
Stay minimum 3 nights get 30% Discount including breakfast.
Stay minimum 2 nights get 20% Discount including breakfast.
Stay 1 night get 10% Discount including breakfast.
It’s easy to book online @ http://www.hanumanalaya.com/
The homecoming premiere of Hanuman Films’ The Last Reel was a huge success on the opening night of the Cambodia International Film Festival at Major Cineplex, Aeon Mall, Phnom Penh.
Many of The Last Reel team were there to enjoy the moment, including Director Sotho Kulikar (pictured above), actors Ma Rynet (Sophoun), Dy Saveth (Srey Mom/Sothea), Sok Sothun (Vichea) and Rous Mony (Veasna), Writer/Producer Ian Masters; Producer Murray Pope, Nick Ray and many more. Ma Rynet scooped the CIFF Talent Award 2014 reflecting her commanding performance as the lead actress in The Last Reel. Meanwhile some of the team from the Tokyo International Film Festival and the Japan Foundation flew in to Cambodia especially to present The Last Reel Director Sotho Kulikar with her engraved Spirit of Asia Award, with the Japanese Ambassador on hand to welcome them in the kingdom. Two festivals and two awards for those involved in The Last Reel, what an achievement.
Our sincere thanks go out to everyone involved in making the Cambodia premiere a special night, including the Cambodia International Film Festival team, the organisers, the sponsors and all those who turned out in force to make it so memorable. Particular thanks to the Minister of Culture H.E. Phoeurng Sackona (pictured below with the The Last Reel team) and the Minister of Information H.E. Khieu Kanharith for attending the opening night. There were many other VIPs and faces from the filmmaking community there and we hope everyone enjoyed the film. Our thanks to our supporters Sabay for some great photographs on the night.
Hanuman named as the top South Coast tour operator.
With the 3rd Sea Festival looming large in Koh Kong Province, Cambodia in December, Hanuman are proud to have received an award from the Cambodia Ministry of Tourism as the No 1 inbound tour operator for the South Coast region, at the recent Coastal Tourism Development 2014 ceremony held in Koh Kong. The Tourism Minister, HE Thong Khon presented the certificate of appreciation to Hanuman’s Managing Director, Mrs Tan Sotho. With the South Coast presenting so many opportunities for relaxation and recreation for visitors, from the revival of the resort of Kep, the waterways of Kampot and Koh Kong and of course the beaches and off-shore islands of Sihanoukville, the rewards of spending time in this part of the country is being enjoyed by more visitors to Cambodia each year. The Sea Festival is expected to attract 200,000 people to Koh Kong between 12-14 December with a number of sports and entertainment events included in the festivities.
The Water Festival, known as Bon Om Tuk in the Khmer language, is one of the most eagerly-awaited festivals of the Cambodian calendar. It is celebrated every November and marks a unique reversal of the flow of the Tonle Sap River into the Great Lake. It also commemorates the end of the rainy season. Nearly every town and province joins in the festival with boat races, though by far the biggest festivities take place in Phnom Penh with the best of the country’s boats taking part in races for three days in front of the Royal Palace, and attended by the King. The races draw an enthusiastic audience from the provinces, who use the opportunity to pour into the capital and the celebrations, which include concerts, fireworks and general merriment, attracts several million people each year. Hanuman Films caught some of the festivities at the 2014 festival, held last week, after a three-year hiatus.
The success of the six-nights per week Plae Pakaa performances from the artists of Cambodian Living Arts at the National Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia during the tourist high season, will now extend to Siem Reap, the gateway to the majestic Angkor temples. Starting from 17 November, the Wat Bo Pagoda in the heart of Siem Reap will host one-of-a-kind experiences for visitors allowing them to connect to Cambodia’s rich heritage through arts and music dating back to the 8th century. Over 40 local artists from the Wat Bo Shadow Puppet Troupe and the Sounds of Angkor – 15 centuries of Khmer music – will be involved, providing the artists with much-needed regular income. Performances will last 45-60 minutes and be available Monday-Saturday at 6:45pm.
The Plae Pakaa shows in the capital of Phnom Penh have become a major attraction for tourists, who are able to watch Cambodia’s artistic traditions thrive and flourish, all thanks to the foresight and hard work of Cambodian Living Arts. The six-nights a week shows in Phnom Penh have already started their high season run again and are recommended viewing and start at 7pm. The Phnom Penh program is as follows:
CHILDREN OF BASSAC – A Snapshot of Cambodia through Dance (Mondays & Thursdays)
MAK THERNG – The Quest for Love & Justice (Tuesdays & Fridays)
THE SPIRIT WITHIN – Rediscovery of Cambodian Identity (Wednesdays & Saturdays).
Laos remains one of the most authentic locations in Asia. See it soon.
According to Lonely Planet writer Nick Ray, Laos, long a forgotten backwater, combines some of the best elements of Southeast Asia in one bite-sized destination. If you want a guidebook that does the same, get a copy of the Lonely Planet guide to Laos, which came out earlier this year, and is filled with detailed information on what to see and enjoy in this charming and authentic country. Over 340 pages with great tips, maps, photographs and recommendations that will help make your visit so much more enjoyable. The LP Laos Top 10 is a listing of what you must not miss. Here it is:
1 – Luang Prabang. 2 – Si Phan Don. 3 – The Gibbon Experience. 4 – Vang Vieng. 5 – River Trips. 6 – Trekking & Homestays. 7 – Vieng Xai Caves. 8 – Bolaven Plateau. 9 – Tham Kong Lo. 10 – Vientiane.
So what makes Luang Prabang the No 1 attraction? Hemmed in by the Mekong and Khan rivers, this timeless city of temples is a travel editor’s dream: rich in royal history, saffron-clad monks, stunning river views, world-class French cuisine and the best boutique accommodation in Southeast Asia. Hire a bike and explore the tropical peninsula’s backstreets, take a cooking class, go on an elephant trek or just ease back with a restful massage at one of the many affordable spas. Prepare to adjust your timetable and stay a little longer than planned.