Archive for March, 2012

Fantastic HanumanAlaya Promotion

Friday, March 30th, 2012

HanumanAlaya Green Season Promo - right click to enlarge

We urge you not to miss out on the fantastic Green Season Promotion for 2012 at our very own boutique residence in Siem Reap, HanumanAlaya.

It’s a better-than-ever 50% discount from our published room rates for all new bookings. This is our most enticing offer to date and is in addition to two new extra family rooms, upgraded room amenities including new bathrooms, and an improvement in services and the Reahoo menu under our new General Manager Jan-Niklas Hoffmann.

The promotion begins on 1 April and will run through until 30 September 2012.

To round off the good news from HanumanAlaya, we will keep our room rates unchanged for the third consecutive year and will even carry these rates over into 2013. This represents incredible value at one of Siem Reap’s favourite boutique hotels, offering a perfect blend of traditional Khmer design with sophisticated international amenities.

Do not hesitate to contact us at sales@hanumantourism.com to ensure availability. Find out more about Angkor’s Boutique Residence at www.hanumanalaya.com.

Back to Battambang

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Long considered Cambodia’s second city, Battambang has really taken off in the past few years. No longer a sleepy backwater, there are several new boutique hotels, and the number of foreign visitors is rising fast. As a glimpse of real Cambodia, beyond the tourist centres of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, it is a very attractive destination thanks to its well-preserved architecture and lifestyle experiences in the countryside beyond.

The Hanuman team takes a look at some new attractions and activities in and around Battambang which are helping to put the second city back on the map.

Battambang Architecture Tours

KA Architecture Tour (www.ka-tours.org) of Phnom Penh have come up with two heritage architecture tours of Battambang for visitors. Maps are available online, including a Walking Map Central (http://www.ka-tours.org/MAP2%20bb%20central.pdf) and a Walking Map South (http://www.ka-tours.org/MAP3%20bb%20south.pdf) and each tour takes from 1 to 2 hours. They can be combined together for a half day experience from Psar Nat to the Governor’s Residence. For those with less time available, it is also possible to cycle either route or combine them together in half the time. Hanuman will introduce these tours to our guides in the run-up to guide training in September and will operate a practical visit as part of the tour guide training workshop.

Old architecture abounds in Battambang

Heritage House and Homestay

The Wat Kor area of Battambang to the north of the centre on the road to Wat Banan includes some one hundred-year old wooden houses. One of these is open to the public for a small donation and is known as the Heritage House. The family still lives here and is happy to show visitors around. The mother is very friendly and speaks French, although our tour guide will need to interpret in English for non-French speakers. It is a large wooden house with lots of antique furniture. Overnight homestays are also possible in two basic rooms with fan and mosquito net. The clean bathroom is shared. Meals are also available, making this a good option for a home-style group meal for larger parties.

The Bamboo Train

Currently, the Bamboo Train is still operating, but it may come off the rails at any time, as the Australian contractor Toll is currently rehabilitating stretches of the line between Phnom Penh and Battambang . Our Operations Team is in regular contact with our Battambang network for the latest updates. There are rumours that the Battambang Tourism Department may try to reconstruct a 5km stretch of line to allow these Bamboo Trains to keep running for tourists. Hanuman will keep you posted on developments here.

Battambang's unique Bamboo Train in action

Soksabike

Soksabike (www.soksabike.com) bicycle tour is a social enterprise offering people an insight into the traditional livelihoods of the Cambodian countryside. They place an emphasis on educating guests in the realities of life in rural Cambodia, and ensure that the visit makes a positive impact on the local communities – economically, socially and ecologically. The cycling guides are all Battambang locals. Soksabike have created a unique bicycle tour that provides an imaginative insight into the Cambodian countryside and daily life but also supports local the local economy and culture. The trip stops at a rice paper making village, a wine making village, a village that makes Prahok (fermented fish paste) and a cake making village. The trail follows quiet, flat, partially shaded country roads and the total distance travelled is 25-30 kms. This will be a good alternative to the Bamboo Train as and when this finally stops running.

Explore the Battambang countryside on two wheels

Smoking Pot Cookery Class

As an alternative to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, it is also possible to do a cookery class in Battambang. Long-established Smokin’ Pot offers a half-day course that is notably cheaper than those on offer in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Designed more with backpackers in mind, it might be fun for guests that want something a bit more informal.

Accommodation in Battambang

There has been a real boom in accommodation in Battambang in the past few years. Many of the new hotels are tall, modern buildings without much personality and not really suitable for discerning clients. However, there are some excellent boutique hotels that work really well. Here are the current hotels we recommend:

Bambu Hotel (http://www.bambuhotel.com) Best top-end place with tasteful rooms and spacious outdoor areas.

La Villa (http://www.lavilla-battambang.net/) Another top choice for colonial atmosphere, sadly some tall buildings now surround them.

Sanctuary Villa (http://sanctuaryvilla.derlengtours.com/) French-run resort in quiet backstreets, popular with  French clients.

Maisons Wat Kor (http://maisonswatkor.com/) Styled like a boutique village in the attractive suburb of Wat Kor.

Banan Hotel (http://www.bananhotel.doodlekit.com/home) Good budget option that now includes a rooftop swimming pool.

Dining in Battambang

Gecko Cafe: Set in a gorgeous colonial-era building, the menu covers all stops and it’s an atmospheric place to linger for a bite.

Pomme d’Amour: Classic little French bistro with tender steaks and sophisticated sauces.

La Villa: The most impressive dining room in town, with fine Asian and international dining in cultured surrounds.

Fresh Eats Cafe: NGO restaurant to help HIV/AIDS affected families. Cambodian and international food.

Sunrise Coffee House:  Fantastic selection of international comfort food, including homemade cakes.

White Rose: Old favourite with the best fruit shakes in town.

Road conditions

Battambang is now well-connected to all major destinations in the region. The road to Phnom Penh has some bumpy stretches around Krakor in Pursat Province, but is otherwise fine, taking about four to five hours. The new road to Pailin (83km, one hour) is excellent and on to the Thai border. The road to Sisophon (69km, less than one hour) is also very good, allowing for a two to three hour transfer to Siem Reap.

Along the Mekong

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

The Ramsar Wetlands near Stung Treng

The profile of the Mekong Discovery Trail has been rising over the past few years, with the intention of improving living standards in rural areas along the Mekong River through sustainable tourism. Under the auspices of the Cambodian government and other aid agencies, lots of effort has been put into creating a series of experiences to enable visitors to interact with local families, enjoy a variety of adventurous activities such as kayaking, cycling and trekking, as well as a chance to see the rare Irrawaddy dolphins and birdlife that inhabits the Mekong River. There is a wealth of information at the new Mekong Discovery website http://www.mekongdiscoverytrail.com which provides details on the adventures to be found in and around Kratie and Stung Treng and all points in-between. Hanuman has been taking visitors to this region for many years and recommends some of the highlights of the Mekong Discovery Trail, particularly if you are thinking of going overland to or coming from Southern Laos. The area will certainly give visitors a different perspective on Cambodia, away from the Angkor Temples and the bustling cities and is the gateway to the northeast provinces of Cambodia. Please contact the Hanuman team for more details and our recommendations.

Unique Safaris

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

We take a quick look at Hanuman’s signature Temple Safari at the ancient temple complex of Koh Ker, just to give you a taste of our very own unique temple experiences. Temple Safari was originally conceived to take visitors off-the-beaten-path to encounter the magnificent jungle temples beyond Angkor, far from the madding crowds.

Temple Safari delivers the Angkor experience of old, timeless temples with not a visitor in sight. Witness the most atmospheric temple ruins on earth, forgotten in the forests for almost a millennia. See sunrise inching over the horizon, the temple ruins lost amid the jungle canopy, the modern world forgotten for a moment in time. Temple Safari is an original Hanuman creation and although it may sometimes be copied, it is never rivalled, as we are the only company with many years of experience in this sort of trip.

Koh Ker is a popular option as it includes a visit to the jungle temple of Beng Mealea en route. Koh Ker was a 10th century rival capital to Angkor and is home to a prolific array of temples from this era. The Mayan-esque step pyramid of Prasat Thom is most impressive, but other smaller temples are also striking, including Prasat Bram with its suffocating strangler figs.

If Temple Safari is for you, please contact our team at Hanuman for more details.

The Eyes Have It

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Mekong Delta's Dragon Eyes

Cruising the frenetic waterways of the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam has been a wonderful attraction for many travellers in recent years. A rich diversity of landscape awaits from lush green jungle to rice harvesting and the ever-present flow of feverish humanity, on and off the water, that is a hallmark of the Delta. Tours usually start from Saigon and extend through the Delta, which you can combine with extensions to Phnom Penh in Cambodia or the holiday-island of Phu Quoc. There are a variety of cruise boats available though one of our favourites is The Mekong Eyes, a converted traditional rice barge which hosts fifteen twin and double rooms, each with a private bathroom, and allows you both comfort and flexibility during your two or three-day cruise. For a much more private experience, The Dragon Eyes river cruiser has just two cabins, whilst the brand new Gecko Eyes houseboat boasts just one spacious luxurious cabin, which with its shallow draft, can take you anywhere you want to go amongst the small tributaries and canals of the Delta. These boats provide an unrivalled personal experience of the popular floating markets of Cantho and Cai Be and much more besides as you discover the full riches of the Mekong Delta. Contact the Hanuman team for more details.

Wildlife on camera

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012


Hanuman are big fans of the Bear Keeper for A Day programme at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Center, where the Free The Bears project is home to more than 120 rescued bears and the world’s biggest sanctuary for Sun bears. The center is south of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital city and if you want to get closer to the Kingdom’s wildlife, this is a fantastic opportunity to do just that. Contact us for more information.

Cruising in style

Friday, March 9th, 2012

Cruising in style aboard the Amalotus

Luxury cruising on the Mekong River has never been more popular and to experience it in the best possible style, you can now choose the eight-day, seven-night cruise from Saigon to Siem Reap or vice versa with the RV Amalotus, sister ship of the RV La Marguerite, already a firm favourite around the Mekong Delta waterways. The Amalotus, larger and with more cabins than La Marguerite, took its maiden voyage at the end of last year and is already posting ‘sold out’ signs for the next high season with its downstream voyages from Cambodia’s Siem Reap to Saigon in Vietnam. Of its 62 spacious balcony cabins, it hosts ten junior suites and two larger suites, a swimming pool and other classic amenities and a personalized service second to none, designed to provide you with memories to last a lifetime. That special feeling is also at the forefront of the 46-cabins and services offered by RV La Marguerite, a favourite amongst the cruise-ship loving fraternity for the part two years as it winds its way amongst the gorgeous scenery and fascinating lifestyles along the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia. Savour an unparalleled cruise experience in either of these beautiful ships.

Party time

Thursday, March 8th, 2012


Here’s a look at the Hanuman team enjoying their staff party at our own HanumanAlaya boutique hotel in Siem Reap. The annual party is a thank you from the management team to everyone working in the Hanuman Group of companies.

This week a five-man team from Hanuman is attending ITB in Berlin, Germany and we hope to see you at our stand number 204 in Hall 26B if you are visiting ITB.