Friday, November 27, 2015

Not Temples Only - What to Do in Siem Reap

1. Street eat: real feasts

Food in Cambodia is also as varied and great as that in Vietnam and Thailand. Whether for lack of familiarity, fear of “prahok” condiment (Cambodia’s pungent fish sauce) or hygiene worries, few travelers to the kingdom indulge. Consuming a morning to wander around the city’s food markets and street food stalls with the Scottish chef Steven Halcrow or the American writer Lina Goldberg on a Siem Riep Food Tour, any doubts will be defeated. Surely gourmets will be pleased after a feast of original dishes like grilled fish paste pancakes wrapped around spicy cucumber pickles, dumplings oozing with coconut cream, jujube fruit stewed in smoky palm sugar and pumpkin, soy milk shakes.

To feel traditionally local savors, be ready to stuff additionally “num banh chok”, cool, slippery rice vermicelli doused with coconut-fish or chile-chicken gravy tossed with vegetables and herbs. You may desire enjoy more after visiting the village where many families still make noodles by hand.
Nom banh chok

2. Shopping: snap unusual items

Growing number of weird boutiques is evident for Siem Riep’s creation and liveliness. Take a street browse, possibly commence your shopping spree in Pop-up shop, where the Australian owner loves Scandinavia style and combine it with Angkorian designs, create not-your-usual souvenirs (watermelon-half pillows and block-print note-cards for instance). Next, pass over three blocks to Kandal Village, a community of shop, café, restaurant and spa. The owner have altered two lines of once-bland storefronts into one of Siem Reap’s coolest mini hoods. Here, adorable items, like silk scarves with modern ikat patterns, boldly colored diamond-quilted cotton blankets, delicate silver spoons and miniatures, plus one-off pieces like geometric 19th-century weaving designs from France, can be seen at Louise Loubatieres.

Continue pacing to uncanny Trunkh, where cotton shirts and pants with daring patterns, dragonfly silk-screened sarongs, primitive animal figurines made of unfired river mud, carousel animal, even old signals drawn by hand, are on display. Sirivan Chak Dumas boutique, owned by the same name Cambodian designer, specially features well-priced but fashionable costumes in bright and neutral-toned linen, silk and featherweight cotton. If tailor-made is your style, drop in Neary Khmer, where you can opt richly hued raw silks and order some sewn stuffs in the spot.
 Trunkh boutique

3. To market: Cambodian products only

Recharge with an iced Cuban (espresso shot, sugar syrup, milk) at Litter Red Fox Espresso, then head northward over two blocks to Oum Khun street for Made in Cambodia market, a showcase for Cambodian design and craftsmanship with Cambodia products only truly made in Cambodia. Inspect more than 40 stalls with diverse products for sales, from silk scarves, wallets and document cases made from recycle materials, Cambodian-styled jewelry, Sombai infused rice liqueur, to beautiful vegetal lacquerware made from natural pigments. Several things is for everyone, such as a delightful march from an orchestra.

4. Frozen treats: house-made cream

Get to Glasshouse Deli Patisserie for Siem Reap’s best house-made ice-cream, a shining cafe on the ground floor of the Park Hyatt. Taste divinely rich, black chocolate ice-cream or confuse yourself by natively inspired flavors such as cinnamon swirl, lemongrass and pandan.

5. Circus: Cambodian style 

No hope to see animal dancing in Phare, but this Cambodian circus will offer a wide range of interesting performances from theater, music, dance, storytelling to circus arts coming together in an elaborate, long show staged by students and graduates of Phare Performing Social Enterprise’s Battambang school. You may spend about $35 for a best seat, nearest to the stage and accompanied a bottle of iced water. Keep your ticket and arrive early to saunter Phare’s small craft shops or grab a juice at the cafe. Shows vary monthly.

6. Cuisine: by special youths

Grab a tuk tuk for a short ride to Marum, a hospitable training restaurant that its members are disabled Cambodian youths, operated by Friends-International, with alike restaurants also in Phnom Penh and Laos.

Dwelling in a lovely teak mansion, Marum has best seats for diners at a stunning garden shaded by trees and strung with fairy-lights. Its menu tends to Spanish tapas style, both original (crisp and creamy silkworms with spicy green mango salad) and creatively Cambodian (rice paper rolls with grilled peppers, goat cheese and tamarind chile dip). The stir-fried beef in a silky sauce soured with red tree ants, over crunchy water spinach leaves, will amaze you, in a great way. Reserve a space in your belly to enjoy thick, spicy chocolate and Kampot pepper cake with passionate fruit syrup.

Source: The New York Times

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA would like to recommend Biking Angkor Cambodia and more tour. This 3-day cycling tour brings you to explore Siem Reap, not only its highlighted Angkor Complex, but also small local villages, markets, pagodas, to have an opportunity to interact with local passers-by and immerse in Cambodian cultures. Particularly, you will cycle deeply through the jungle, where remains a lot of mysterious temple ruins, to have authentic look about Khmer history. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Apsara - The Cambodian Traditional Dance

In Cambodia, it is easy to encounter pretty belles performing Robam Tep Apsara (Dance of the Apsara Divinities) at ancient temples and magnificent palaces or beside rivers.


Apsaras were fairies of cloud and water present in Cambodian folk tales, Hindu and Buddhist mythology. When they frolicked, sang and danced, vegetation and animals multiplied. Therefore, Cambodian people honored Apsaras as Prosperous Goddesses. The most beautiful farriers were Uvasi, Menaka, Ramba and Tilotama, who frequently appeared in Khmer works of poems, music and paintings. The fairies were also the owners of palaces (as they were wives of the Gandharvas, a heaven beings) and specialized in singing and dancing to serve Gods in victory feasts against ghosts and devils. There would be 26 fairies singing and dancing together on every banquet.

Relying on dancing movements of the fairies, Cambodian people created the fairy dance – Robam Tep Apsara to perform on festivals that extolled merits of Gods, Goddesses and Royalty. The dance, which has existed for many years, became the imperial dance. Then now it is into the familiar dance of belles on festivals, gauds and weddings.

Apsara is a classical dance, mild and famous for its elegance and grandeur with gentle postures and gestures. So far Apsara is the national heritage and the spirit of Cambodia. The people who had the greatest merit in conserving and developing Apsara are the Queen Sisowath Kossamak and Princess Norodom Buppha Devi. In the 1940s, Queen Sisowath Kossamak re-created the ancient Apsara dance by educating her first grand daughter, Princess Norodom Bopha Devi, to become an Apsara dancer. Since 8 years old, the prince carried out Apsara dance in the Royal Palace. Later, she brought this fairy dance over the frontier and introduce it to the entire world.

Born in at least 2,000 years ago, the first images of the dance have still been seen on many decorative embossments, citadels and moats over hundreds of meters long in Cambodian ancient temples such as Complex of Angkor as well as many other religious constructions throughout the country.
Postures and curves of the dancer’s arm and body as well as the dancing costume made of gold, silver, jewels, pearls with designs of flowers and leaves were originated from pictures in the old temples, which depicted Indian epic poetry Ramayana or the fight of scrambling for the holy water vase between Demons and Gods that the dance about it includes 100 appealing and meaningful gestures.
Photo by Anders Jiras
By the dance, Cambodian residents wanted to voice their wishes about a peaceful, thriving life, praised the beauty of nature, country, deities and contribution of the ancestors. Besides, the dance also reflects stories about birth, aging, sickness and death - the four periods every person has to overcome - so as that next generations can understand thoroughly, experience in observing and preserving great cultural and mental values of the nation.

Annually, thanks to the patronage of the royalty, the Apsara artists can go on tour everywhere. In order to maintaining and enhancing this traditional dance, steadily there are art groups coming to schools to select small girls for educating, especially orphaned and poor ones. Girls at the age of 8 to 9 years will learn to dance and practice at school and the palace. They drills numerous attractive postures, particularly dancing acts with extraordinarily flexible hands that fingers can bow behind very close to wrist, legs can kick highly and knees can bend behind to the back. In every afternoon, the girls again sing, dance and frolic at temples in front of Apsara embossments, appealing to many travelers to admire.

Today, apart from dancers serving Royalty, there are 300 dancers performing in hotels, restaurants and Chaktomuk Theatre near the Imperial Palace in pulsating melodies with brilliant and graceful costumes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Paradise Island Koh Rong Under Camera Lens Of A Traveler

Koh Rong is renowned as one of paradise islands in Cambodia having retained the pristine feature with rainforests and glorious beaches.

With an area of 78 km2, Koh Rong is the second largest island in Cambodia kingdom, located in Thailand bay. Most travelers reach here are foreigners. 

Many travelers getting to here cannot avoid surprise to beauty of the island. White sandy coasts stretch and surround clear, blue sea, which will bring you a relaxing, comfortable feeling.

Romantic beaches are roused by activities like fishing, surfing and rowing. You can select an active activities to explore the island.

The number of resorts is not many but it is still enough to meet demand of travelers.

Along coasts of the island, you will find a mass of big canvas beds arranged neatly, which are free for travelers to rest. Therefore, you can enjoy agreeable moments as putting down your back here. Besides, let spend a little time to enjoy delicious, fresh sea food from vendors along beaches. In this way, you not only know typical flavours of this island but also obtain chances to discover Cambodian cuisine.

For any inquiry need to be cleared up, let contact to the information section for travelers in a house adjoining to the coast. 

Koh Rong makes a strong impression on travelers not only because of its fresh, windy sea and sky, but also thanks to enthusiasm and hospitality of locals.

Koh Rong island is an interesting, alluring destination with poetic, tranquil beauty. This place is really relevant to travelers to enjoy pure, silent atmosphere and escape from bustling life. 

Before starting this journey, you should plan, book hotel and means of transport two weeks in advance. 3 days and 2 nights are enough for you to reveal totally the island. To reach Kor Rong, firstly you have to arrive Sihanoukville. After that, you take a boat to get in the island. There are two boating options for you. One, slow boat with travel time is 2 hours. Two, canoe, which will take you 45 minutes. 

You can experience active Cambodia adventures to explore hidden parts then relaxing, enjoying an amazing holiday in this lovely island.

Photo: Lamtom

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Best 10 Temples in Siem Reap

With hundreds of temples scattered throughout Angkor - World Cultural Heritage Site in Siem Reap province, you can only select a few priorities of the biggest, most beautiful temples lying in best locations to admire.

Angkor Wat means “Temple City” (Angkor: "city" or "capital city") while Angkor Thom means “Great City”. These are two the most important relics in Cambodia, which are considered as supreme constructions of Khmer art and architecture.

1. Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is the greatest, best beautiful temple and situated in the best location among all temples in Angkor Complex Site. Angkor Wat was constructed under the dynasty of King Suryavarman II in the first half of 12th century, which is the pinnacle of Khmer architecture. This temple is well-known for long passage-ways carved with hundreds of Hinduism epic relievo statues along with thousands of absolutely stunning Apsara woman dancer statues.  

Angkor Wat - Cambodia
To walk and explore Angkor Wat entirely, you will have to spend a whole day. This is also the best place to contemplate sunrise in Angkor. 

2. Bayon

Lying in Angkor Thom ensemble, Bayon is remembered by hundreds of giant, spectacular four-faced-statues. Bayon was built in 12th century by Jayavarman VII, which is the only national temple in Angkor built for Mahayana Buddhism, dedicated to worship Buddha. After the death of King Jayavarman, Bayon was remodeled to Hinduism style.

Bayon - Cambodia
This is the most impressive temple in Angkor Complex thanks to its majesty about scale along with mysterious spiritual emotions when admiring this temple.

3. Ta Keo temple

Takeo temple was made of green sandstones, which is the sole temple not completed in Angkor Thom. Ta Keo was erected by King Jayavarman V, the son of Rajendravarman, as he was 17 years old. This temple is dedicated to worship God Shiva. However, Ta Keo was never accomplished due to the death of the king.

Ta Keo - Cambodia
A legend was related that the temple had been struck by lightning while it had been constructing, and all work had been stopped in the period that primary structures had been newly completed.

4. Ta Prohm

Built in 1186, Ta Prohm is a Buddhism temple dedicated for the mother of King Jayavarman VII. This is one of a few temples in Angkor having proofs which provide information about inhabitants of the temple. Ta Prohm used to be home of over 12,500 people. After the fall of Khmer Empire in the 15th century, the temple was abandoned. Trunks have grown over the walls creating an occult, extraordinary beauty for the temple. 

Ta Prohm - Cambodia
Someone who used to watch the film Tomb Raider of the star Angelina Jolie will specially want to visit Ta Prohm.

5. Banteay Kdei

The temple located next to Ta Prohm is Banteay Kdei, meaning “A Citadel of Chambers”, also known as “Citadel of Monk’s Cells”. This is a Buddhism temple in Angkor, built in early 13th century under the reign of King Jayavarman VII. This Buddhism monastery now decays a lot due to incorrect construction and poor quality of sandstones. 

Banteay Kdei - Cambodia
If you are ones who fancy culture and beauty, you will not miss these ruins with graceful carved motifs on walls of the temple.

6. Pre Rup

Pre Rup temple looks like a miniature Angkor with three towers in the center. The temple was made of grey sandstone, which is less durable than pink sandstone like in several other temples in Angkor. Pre Rup is used as a place to cremate bodies of the Royal lineage.

Pre Rup - Cambodia
Undergoing many centuries it was abandoned, complicated carved details in this temple has been eroded. 

7. Preah Khan

This is one of biggest temples in Angkor, constructed by King Jayavarma VII to offer his father – Dharanindra, was also the temporary residence of this king as Angkor Thom was under construction. Preah Khan was surrounded by a layer of citadel. Many construction categories was connected each other by two plus-shaped-corridors divided the temple into 4 parts. At head of each corridor, there is a temple gate with two colossal statues standing guard.

Preah Khan - Cambodia
This breathtaking temple has retained numerous invaluable masterpieces overlaid by moss through the years. 

8. Phnom Bakheng

This Hinduism temple was constructed in late 9th century, the architectural center of the new capital under the reign of King Yasovarman. The temple faces east, lying in a 6-story-pyramid. After accomplishment, Phnom Bakheng had 108 small towers surrounding the temple on the ground and on the floors. 

Phnom Bekheng - Cambodia
Located in top of a hill, Phnom Bakheng is one of best places to witness dawn in Angkor.

9. Banteay Srei

Located nearly 30 km from Angkor Wat, but Banteay Srei is the temple cannot forget in Angkor. This temple with delicate, charming contours was built to worship Gods of Hindu and Shiva. Banteay Srei or “the temple of women” is a wonderful picture about sculpture art on laterite and red sandstone.

Banteay Srei - Cambodia
The temple is rated as the pinnacle of art with relievo statues and motifs created in a subtle, ingenious way for every small detail.

10. Preah Palilay

Preah Palilay is a very small temple which is little known, situated in the behind precinct of Elephant court. This is a Buddhism temple based on Bayon style, although there are a number of Hinduism carved parts. The temple is striking with the chimney-shaped tower and sculpture statues of God Naga really fabulous from the gate. 

Preah Paliay - Cambodia
The small temple ruins, hiding deeply inside Angkor Thom area but it is really attractive under cool shade of a green tree garden.

TIP: To discover Angkor Complex site, you can trek or bike over Angkor. Animated activities will make your discovery more interesting and bring you new experiences, especially as you go through forests and encounter amazing ruins. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

New Draft Law Banning Travelers from Touching Angkor Wat

The new draft law of conduct, which stipulates prohibitions for travelers like banning from wearing scantily and touching ancient constructions, can be executed by the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA).

Angkor temple site

APSARA notifies that they are completing the new draft law which has been built for 2 years to apply for tourists visiting this historic site. According to Mr. Sok Sangvar, the head of tourist management of APSARA, in this early June, they will send the draft to experts of International Criminal Court to review the code’s legality.

“Basically the code directs to regulations of things that tourists not to do when visiting Angkor Wat like not dressing inappropriately and not touching ancient constructions.” – said Mr. Sok Sangvar. When the process of drafting this new code is coming to the final step, many indecent, illegal actions of some tourists happened as they took “naked” photos inside this sacred, ancient temple site. 

Following to Mr. Long Kosal, the spokesman of APSARA, when being accomplished, the rule books will able to be distributed to people who work in tourism indusstry. “We will propagate this new law widely to related authorities, departments and organizations, and hand the rule books to tourism workers such as tour guides, travel companies, hotels, etc. We need cooperation from them to achieve good results in enforcement of this law.” Mr. Kosal added.

Mr. Sangvar told that APSARA also find all ways to disseminate things must not to do for travelers. The law is mainly about the sustainable development of Angkor. This code will be also executed for other historical sites in Cambodia, but Angkor temple complex is first.   

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Cambodia's Mysterious Beauty in Rain

Under a lens of a photographer, famous destinations in Cambodia like Angkor Thom, Killing Fields and Phsar Toul Tom Poung  (Russian market) unexpectedly become beautiful in an extraordinary way in rains. 

Cambodia in rain season 1
The rainy season in Cambodia runs from May to October. Barnaby Jaco Skinner – a Chinese photographer spent a month to travel around Cambodia and captured stunning moments about Cambodian people and country in wet climate condition. 

Cambodia in rain season 2
“Shooting photos in the rainy season is a big challenge.” – He told. However, looking at works after Barnaby Jaco Skinner’s journey, anyone also praises and admires as realizing enchanting beauty which is created by combination between ancient features of constructions and glitter of rainy drops.

Cambodia in rain season 3
Russian market is located in northern Phnom Penh. The name of the market was given after it attracted more and more interest of expatriate Russian people in 1980s. Here, travelers can choose and purchase craft products, gemstone, all kinds of jewelry, souvenirs and textiles.

Cambodia in rain season 4
Barnaby Jaco Skinner commended: “Russian market is one of the greatest markets in the world, where you can find and buy even motorcycle spare parts.”

Cambodia in rain season 5
Sliver pagoda or Preah Vihear Preah Keo Morakot pagoda lying in the core of Cambodian royal palace is a famous attraction in Phnom Penh. The name of the pagoda has its origin from the fact that there were 5,329 pieces of silver paved on the floor. Every piece is also handmade and weigh 1,125g. 

Cambodia in rain season 6
The memorial for ill-fated victims at Killing Fields, nearly 20km from capital Phnom Penh. This place has still maintained about 8,000 skulls of the people who were massacred by Pol Pot genocide regime. 

Cambodia in rain season 7
Barnaby Jaco Skinner advised travelers that they should hired a small boat to take photos in Mekong river and contemplated the residents who were fishing in the riversides. 

Cambodia in rain season 8
Below the lens of Barnaby Jaco Skinner, an abandoned house in Kampot also becomes attractive thanks to its mystery. 

Cambodia in rain season 9
The moment that dark clouds rolled was shot by the author in the outskirt of Kep city.

Cambodia in rain season 10
Barnaby Jaco Skinner enjoyed a pleasure when he stood in the top of hotel Two Moons in Kampot with several bottles of beer and contemplated patchy rays of light in the sky owning to thunder.

Cambodia in rain season 11
The photo was taken as he was sitting behind a tuk tuk in a heavy rain.

So, if you desire to have unique photos for your own, let be ready on an amazing adventure travel to Cambodia in the rainy season. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Discovering Koh Ker – Ancient Capital of Angkor Civilization

The ancient capital of Angkor under the dynasty of King Jayavarman IV is regarded as the most short-lived capital. This dynasty decided to move its capital to other region as soon as Koh Ker had been accomplished.

Kor Ker - Cambodia 1

Koh Ker belongs to Preah Viheah, 140 km from northeastern Siem Reap city. It had been built for 23 years (from 921 to 944) by Kin Jayavarman IV. The tower in the picture is Prasat Thom, which is dubbed as the pyramid of Angkor Civilization. It stands majestically among blue sky and the ancient forest.

Kor Ker - Cambodia 2

The life in Koh Ker is slow, ordinary and simple, which is truly secluded compared to other famous historical relics in Cambodia.

Kor Ker - Cambodia 3

Like other vestiges in Cambodia, Koh Ker had been hidden in steep forests over thousands of years. Splendor on each detail, architectural lines still remain although dilapidated constructions everywhere due to time and war.

Kor Ker - Cambodia 4

The corner of the ancient rampart wall is soaked with taciturnity and melancholy. Everywhere is covered blurred dust and moss. 

Kor Ker - Cambodia 5

 Travelers can feel the refined talent of people building this construction.  

Kor Ker - Cambodia 6

Space surrounding the temple is highly beautiful with ancient longstanding trees and grass land. The scenery is still and peaceful.

Kor Ker - Cambodia 7

Time, war and people destroyed one of the greatest constructions of Angkor civilization. The buildings adjacent the main temple Prasat Thom have been urgently restored and preserved. Giant boulders was piled neatly on each other that seemed to be ordered by a magic hand in a natural and gentle way. 

Kor Ker - Cambodia 8

The ruin of Koh Ker is show definitely at these adjacent buildings. Cambodian government is trying to keep one of the most unique architectural construction of their civilized history. 

Kor Ker - Cambodia 9

The romantic and sad scenery of the ancient city covers every corner of this temple site. Travelers can choose a slab of stone for self, sit, lean against back to rest, and contemplate scenes surrounding.
 Kor Ker - Cambodia 10

The old capital Koh Ker had been forgotten for a thousand of year. Archaeologists were excavated, restored and has put into visit since 2003. 

Kor Ker - Cambodia 11

From Siem Reap, travelers can go to Koh Ker by tuk tuk (a three-wheel taxi), with the travel time is about 3 hours. Siem Reap is a fantastic destination for Cambodia adventure tours, discovering Cambodian history and spirituality.
Via Vnexpress