The Water Festival in Cambodia is to return to Phnom Penh this year for the first time since 2010, when a stampede on a bridge packed with revellers killed more than 350 people. Officials announced recently that the traditional event, which marks the end of the rainy season and the reversing course of the Tonle Sap, will be held over three days. 5, 6 and 7 November have been earmarked for the festival, which will be held in front of the capital’s Royal Palace. With its longboat races, colourful atmosphere and the presence of royalty, the Water Festival has long attracted packed crowds to the city, creating a shoulder-to-shoulder party that can number more than a million people. After the disaster of 2010, in 2011 the government cancelled the festival due to mass flooding. In 2012, the reason given was the death of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk, who died in October, just weeks before the event is usually held. Last year, flooding was again cited as the reason. A smaller version of the event is also held in Siem Reap.
Posts Tagged ‘Phnom Penh’
Life on the water at Kompong Luong in rural Cambodia is a world away from the frenetic streets of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. See for yourself.
Everything in Kompong Luong floats on water – houses, cafes, shops, chicken coops, fish ponds, karaoke bars, you name it, even the local pagoda. This picturesque partly ethnic-Vietnamese floating village is located around 40km east of Pursat, and lies just off national highway 5 between Battambang and Phnom Penh. It’s one of the largest of the Tonle Sap lake floating villages and is much less visited than the ones closer to Siem Reap. Enjoy this video from Hanuman Travel TV and ask for more information from the Hanuman Sales Team if you want to visit Kompong Luong or any of the unique floating villages in Cambodia.
The latest Lonely Planet guide to Cambodia has just been published. Read on.
Despite having the eighth wonder of the world in its backyard, Cambodia’s real treasure is its people, says the introduction to the brand new Lonely Planet guide to Cambodia, that hit bookshops this month. Hanuman agrees. Siem Reap and Phnom Penh may be the heavyweights, but to some extent they are a bubble, a world away from the Cambodia of the countryside, it continues. Well you can see for yourself by getting a copy, whether its the print edition or online. There are 370 pages of great tips, maps, photos and recommendations that will enhance your visit to Cambodia and here is LP’s Top 10 of what you must not miss:
1 – Siem Reap & Temples of Angkor. 2 – Phnom Penh. 3 – Sihanoukville. 4 – Battambang. 5 – Kampot & Kep. 6 – Mondulkiri. 7 – Ratanakiri. 8 – Kratie. 9 – Prasat Preah Vihear. 10 – Khmer Cuisine.
It’s obvious why Siem Reap and the Angkor Temples made it to the top spot. LP confirms why: One of the world’s most magnificent sights, the temples of Angkor are so much better than the superlatives. Choose from Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious building: Bayon, one of the world’s weirdest, with its immense stone faces: or Ta Prohm, where nature runs amok. Buzzing Siem Reap, with a superb selection of restaurants and bars, is the base for temple exploration. Beyond lie floating villages on the Tonle Sap lake, adrenalin-fuelled activities like quad biking and ziplining, and such cultured pursuits as cooking classes and birdwatching.
Khmer cuisine made it into the Top 10 so its worth hearing why LP included it: Everyone has tried Thai and Vietnamese specialities before they hit the region, but Khmer cuisine remains under the culinary radar. Amok (baked fish with lemongrass, chilli and coconut) is the national dish, but sumptuous seafood and fresh-fish dishes are plentiful, including Kep crab infused with Kampot pepper. It wouldn’t be Asia without street snacks and Cambodia delivers everything from noodles (mee) and congee (bobor; rice porridge) to deep-fried tarantulas and roasted crickets. With subtle spices and delicate herbs , Cambodian food is an unexpected epicurean experience.
Hanuman will be working closely with UK-charity Golden Futures to offer an insight into what we do, for two young Cambodians next week. The two teenage girls, Lay Lily and Sorn Sreychom, will spend the week with Hanuman getting to see what life is like in an office environment and whether working in the tourism industry is a possible future career path for them. They are both living at a children’s center in Phnom Penh, called New Future for Children and their time with Hanuman is part of the life skills educational training they receive at the center. We were only too happy to help when Golden Futures contacted us.
Lily is just fifteen years old and has been at New Future since she was three years old. She’s keen on coming to Hanuman to see what its like. “I’m friendly and hardworking and responsible and I like working with people. I’m interested in history and English. I’m interested in the tourism industry and I would like to have some work experience because it will show me what the job is like and whether I enjoy it. Hanuman Travel has been established for a long time, has a good reputation and involves local people, ” said Lily. We are looking forward to having her with us.
Her New Futures colleague, Sorn Sreychom, is already 18 years old and has her sights set on becoming a tour guide. “I love history and English and I think I would enjoy being a tour guide because it would give me the opportunity to improve my English, talk to different types of people and have a good relationship with them. Working at Hanuman will help me find out if I am suited to this work, as my future career. I’ve been at NFC since I was seven and they have given me an education, a place to live, friends and family.” Both girls have a great attitude and will be made very welcome.
Phnom Penh’s first capsule hotel opens. And take the opportunity to enjoy the Mekong waterways in style.
The Tama Hotel is perched on the 22nd floor of the Phnom Penh tower, an addition to the already existing chic D22 Restaurant, which serves French-Italian cuisine. The hotel – also known as H22 – is Phnom Penh’s first ever capsule hotel. Hotel guests can squeeze themselves into narrow bunks, which are right next to the glass windows of the tower, to enjoy a stunning aerial view of the city. For those visitors requiring a bit more space, larger deluxe and superior rooms are available. 26 rooms in total. Definitely a room with a view.
Down on the South Coast, the desirability of Kep is showing no signs of slowing down with roads in and out of the resort dramatically improved in recent months. Another new face on the accommodation front in town is a new private beach hotel, Samanea, which is spread over two hectares of natural landscape with 10 spacious and elegant villas, a sea-front infinity pool, al fresco restaurant and spa. Well worth checking out.
Cruising the waterways of Cambodia and Vietnam, is becoming increasingly popular for many visitors. With that in mind, Haimark are keen to expand their operations along the Mekong River and will introduce the 68-guest Mekong Navigator in September, a few days after they launch the 56-passenger Irrawaddy Explorer in Myanmar. In twelve months time, they will also set sail with a 24-guest, all-suite, “spa concept” ship named Mekong Princess. The company says it will have “the most extensive spa menu of any ship on the Mekong River” with several types of massages, facials, scrubs, and body wraps. Each guest will receive one free hour-long spa treatment during the cruise to begin the week-long rejuvenation.
Also gearing up for a luxury river-cruise launch is the Aqua Mekong in September. They will be offering a truly personalized, enriching and unique life-on-the-river experience, on board a five-star floating boutique hotel. Their itineraries have been customized to allow guests to get up close to life on the river and experience first-hand the colorful and varied cultures, religions and timeless traditions. After the excursions each day, guests are able to return to an elegant river facing suite on their floating sanctuary, and enjoy the comforts of the ship, like the plunge pool, indoor and outdoor bar, observation deck and gym, private screening room, games room, library, and last but not least, the spa. The cuisine will be taken care of by Chef David Thompson who has just been named a top ranked chef in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards.
Parties finally agree to end the political impasse in Cambodia.
Today, the 55 opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party politicians who won office in last year’s disputed election will officially take their oaths as lawmakers in front of King Norodom Sihamoni, ending more than 10 months boycotting parliament. The ceremony at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh comes two weeks after the CNRP and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party agreed a deal to end the year-long political deadlock that began after the opposition rejected last July’s election result.
The CNRP decided to officially join parliament after finalizing constitutional and legal amendments that will be pushed through the assembly as part of agreed-upon reforms between the parties, officials said yesterday. The agreement saw the CNRP win, among other concessions, an overhaul of the National Election Committee – which it has maintained is a partisan institution that needs to be reformed in order to make the next election free and fair – in exchange for joining parliament.
The mighty river Mekong flows from the Tibetan Plateau through China, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia into Vietnam’s Mekong Delta and the South China Sea. You can experience the fascinating and varied river life along the Mekong between Vietnam and Cambodia on a river cruise aboard the RV Mekong Pandaw. Pandaw River Expeditions operates weekly departures between Saigon and Siem Reap/Angkor. You will pass from the vibrant French colonial port of Saigon, through the vast delta so rich in human life and endeavour, to travel along the main channel into the rich countryside of Cambodia. With a full day in charming Phnom Penh, you will then explore remoter waterways on the way to the great monuments of Angkor.
The RV Mekong Pandaw received a full refit in September 2013. In their spacious state rooms, guests can find finest teak wood, new bathroom, new air conditioning and new sliding French windows leading to the promenade deck. The numbers of cabins have been reduced to just twenty-four making way for a much enlarged spa, new gym, lecture and movie theatre, art gallery, fair-trade-shop and library on the lower deck.
Pandaw is providing pre-programmed iPads with new one-touch-applications to its guests on the RV Mekong Pandaw: itineraries, meal and spa menus, gather information on rivers tops, weather forecast, skype, send e-postcards, watch movies, read e-books and surf the internet. This ship has the largest public space to passenger ratio of any cruise ship in the world. Pandaw is preserving the classic yacht atmosphere but enhances service and facilities. On all Pandaw ships you will experience Asian hospitality and enjoy the highest staff – guest ratio afloat ensuring sensational service.
For July and August sailings the prices are reduced by up to 20%. Fantastic deals, contact the Hanuman Team today for more details.
An unusual aspect of a new hotel that has partially opened in Phnom Penh is the creation of an open-air cinema within the hotel’s main restaurant.
Part of the newly renovated Le Palais des Anges Hotel was previously known as Cine Hawaii, and it’s now been converted into a three-storey restaurant, called Phkar Romyool, which doubles as a dine-while-you-watch theatre. The only original feature that remains after renovations is a floral emblem above the space where the screen stood. Tables and chairs face a blank white canvas onto which films are projected after dinner. Everything is open to the sky – an extendable roof can be closed if there’s a threat of rain.
The hotel will host 70 rooms and a roof-top swimming pool and sky-bar when its finalised in a few months time. At the moment, thirty rooms have been completed and are open to the public. Le Palais des Anges is located a stone’s throw from the Cambodian capital’s recently renovated Central Market. Both buildings exude the yellow-painted charm of the French colonial style.
A newcomer to the slew of boutique hotels opening their doors in Phnom Penh is the iRoHa Garden Hotel, tucked away in a quiet, secluded street in the Chamkarmon district of the capital city. Set in a renovated 1950s villa, with extensive gardens and a large swimming pool, iRoHa has 27 rooms in seven categories, with their good-sized superior and deluxe rooms with or without a balcony of particular interest. They also have two suites. A restaurant and bar is part of their offerings, alongwith a Samata Spa room, all tastefully furnished in a contemporary Khmer style. Some great opening room deals can be had too, so consider this quiet retreat in the heart of the city on your next visit to Cambodia.
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 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.