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.
Posts Tagged ‘Phnom Penh’
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.
We spent an hour of culture at the National Museum last night in the company of a full house who turned up to watch The War of Indrajit, the first showing of a large shadow puppetry performance, that will begin its run of shows on Sunday evenings from June thru til August at the Museum in Phnom Penh, courtesy of Cambodian Living Arts’ Plae Pakaa program. It’s a slice of the Reamker, the Cambodian version of the Ramayana starring gods and demons, monkeys and drunken soldiers, all manipulating the traditional large leather sbaek thom puppets. You can also watch a sbaek thom show in Siem Reap at Wat Reachbo Pagoda every Saturday too. This truly Cambodian art form was recognised with World Patrimony Status of intangible culture by UNESCO in 2005. Cambodian Living Arts, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the transformation of Cambodia through the arts, hosts a range of traditional art forms under its Plae Pakaa program at the National Museum in Phnom Penh. Check their website for details @ http://www.cambodianlivingarts.org/.
Recommended viewing in Phnom Penh. Contemporary classical Cambodian dance at its best.
Art and culture lovers are in for a real treat in Phnom Penh from 12-15 March when the Sophiline Arts Ensemble will put on a performance of contemporary classical Cambodian dance at the Chaktomuk Theatre on the riverfront in the capital city. Their performance of “The Lives of Giants” is expected to attract big crowds for this rare run of shows at the city’s top venue.
The story is based on the “Reamker,” or the Cambodian version of the Sanskrit epic, the “Ramayana,” but more deeply informed by the legacy of a traumatized Cambodian civil society. Sophiline Cheam Shapiro, the founder and artistic director of the Arts Ensemble, was only eight years old when Pol Pot’s regime took over the Cambodian capital in 1975, establishing an authoritarian order that resulted in the deaths of around two million Cambodians. Shapiro survived, and became the first generation to be trained by the remaining masters of classical Cambodian dance, part of millennium-old Khmer traditions nearly stamped out by the Khmer Rouge.
Now a significant leader in teaching traditional Khmer arts and pushing its experimentation, Shapiro’s passion to advance Cambodian dance in the wake of national devastation and loss shines through in this production. The drama focuses on the corruption of power, in which the giant Akaeng Khameaso, picked on by angels in the heavenly realms since childhood, begs the local divine ruler, Preah Eyso for help. Given a magic finger for self-defense, the abused becomes the abuser, and soon Khameaso wreaks havoc in the heavens.
Ticket prices for the 4 shows, which begin at 7pm, except the final day, when it starts at 4pm, are priced between $3 for students up to $15. Call 011 594 673 or email email@example.com to reserve your tickets. It’s a show that is definitely worth watching.
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.
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).
So what does Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, have to offer for children?
With chaotic traffic, a lack of green spaces and sights that are predominantly morbid, Phnom Penh would not seem like the most child-friendly city. Thing again. There are plenty of little gems to help you pass the time with your children in the capital. Plus, what kid doesn’t like a remork ride? One rule of thumb is that kids also love Buddhist temples – especially colourful temples like Wat Langka or Wat Ounalom, and hill temples like Wat Phnom, or outside of town, Oudong. Shimmering gold Buddhas, shiny stupas, animal statues and the occasional monkey give children plenty of visual stimulation (just keep their eyes averted from potentially scary demons). The Royal Palace is similarly rich in Buddhist iconography.
If your kids ride two-wheelers, consider renting bicycles and crossing the Mekong by ferry from the dock behind Imperial Garden Hotel. On the other side, smooth roads and trails lead 15km or so north to Smango, a guesthouse with decent food and a refreshing swimming pool. Phnom Penh has decent public play spaces, including a playground northwest of the Cambodian-Vietnam Friendship Memorial in Wat Botum Park, and another playground just south of Wat Phnom. To escape the heat (or the rain), Kids City on Sihanouk Boulevard, is a vast indoor play palace, with a first-rate climbing gym, an elborate jungle gym, a science gallery and an ice rink. Other indoor playgrounds (bring socks) with elaborate slides, bouncy castle and the like can be found at amusement park Dream Land, which also has a ferris wheel and other rides; and for younger children, Monkey Business, which has wi-fi and a cafe for adults. Many of the restaurants and cafes are child-friendly, but there are a few specifically aimed at families, including Le Jardin. The most interesting attraction is beyond the city limits and makes a good day trip: Phnom Tamao Wildlife Sanctuary, a rescue centre for Cambodia’s incredible wildlife.