Cambodia: The LUXE Lowdown

Home to two World Heritage Sites – magnificent Angkor Wat and beautiful Luang Prabang – Cambodia and Laos have emerged as must-see destinations on the Wonders of the World circuit. And though the tomb raiders, Brangelina, and coachloads have descended, here’s how to dodge the khaki’d legions...


Overview


Once compact, now sprawling and busy, Phnom Penh’s (PNH) hub is Sisowath Quay, where the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers meet, with most points of interest radiating south. Siem Reap (REP) is smaller, with venues within or walking distance from the Old Market, and Angkor Wat an easy car ride away.



Need to Know

  • Weather: INov-Feb is the cooler, peak season (pack a cardi and prepare to jostle). March-April is filthy hot. Jun-Oct is moist and monsoon-y, but free of the hordes

  • Etiquette: Don’t touch the men in saffron robes or point your feet at them, and don’t touch kids on the head (Cambodia). Dress modestly for temples – so no bare shoulders or Kylie hotpants 

  • Foreigner = $$$: Don’t flash your cash, hang on tight to your sac, and leave LV at home. Beggars and street kids are rife. Politely ignore them as one word from you will turn them to velcro, and they also know how to tell you to sod-off in several different languages

  • Cash Up: Cash is king, carry plenty of small notes. Cards are accepted in some high-end establishments, but expect a surcharge

  • Insurance: Medical services are limited – medivac travel insurance is a must, as is always carrying ID with you


Talking Points, 2017 Edition

  • On the Topic of Khmer Rouge: The Cambodian people can be surprisingly open about their suffering under the Khmer Rouge, but be sensitive

  • Events: Bon Om Tuk (aka the Khmer Water Festival) is in November. Mainly celebrated in Phnom Penh, millions will descend upon the waterfront. Sensible locals head out of town or watch on TV instead

  • Drab vs Fab: If you’re keen to stay put and see Cambodia and all its attractions sans the coachloads, why not soar high overhead with Helicopters Cambodia? Or note The Angkor Marathon takes place in Nov/Dec and is a great way to experience the heritage site, albeit alongside a slew of other lycra-clad visitors

  • On The Radar: Phnom Penh Designers Week (Mar), Boun Pi Mai / Laos New Year (Apr), Angkor Photo Festival (Dec)


CONTRIBUTOR

Jane Michael



She's got ten years in Hong Kong and a two-year London stint under her belt, but Jane prefers life on the go, be it whooshing down the ski slopes of Japan, road-tripping along California’s PCH, haggling with Grand Bazaar vendors in Istanbul, or sailing Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast. 

  • Jane LOVES... Food, flowers, a stiff drink, a good book  

  • Jane LOATHES... Pollution, global chainstore-itis, bad service

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