BEST OF GUIDE

ELSEWHERE

Satisfy your wanderlust by exploring Cambodia’s lesser-known corners. From Battambang to Ratanakiri, straying from the norm has rarely been so rewarding
HOTEL  |  RESTAURANT  |  BAR  |  ACTIVITIES

HOTELS

Photo of BRIC-À-BRAC
BRIC-À-BRAC

Unabashed quirky charm is the calling card of Bric-à-brac, an eclectic boutique hotel cum bar cum tassel-making workshop nestled on a quiet corner in Cambodia’s second city of Battambang. Character permeates throughout thanks to the flair of the friendly hosts, designer Morrison Polkinghorne and cookbook author Robert Carmack. Visit the ground floor boutique to purchase curios from across the region and then, for a real treat, drop by the Libations bar at dusk, grab some champagne and fine cheese and watch the world trundle by, Battambang-style.

bric-a-brac.asia

Photo of FOUR RIVERS
FOUR RIVERS

Four Rivers Floating Lodge provides a guilt-free luxury hotel experience deep in the heart of the Cardamom mountains, one of Southeast Asia’s most important ecosystems. Well-appointed tents float peacefully on the tranquil Tatai river, with the only sounds piercing the night sky those emanating from the jungle surroundings. In recognition of its marvellous habitat, the resort places a premium on conservation and sustainability and even trains the local community on the importance of preserving their natural environment.

ecolodges.asia

Photo of MAYURA HILL RESORT
MAYURA HILL RESORT

Comfortably the smartest lodgings in wild Mondulkiri province, Mayura Hill Resort boasts a good restaurant, swimming pool and gym – rare luxuries in this part of the country. The views of the surrounding landscape are second to none, while the wonderful flora and small wooden pathways add to the ‘resort’ feel of the place. But it’s the comfortable, modern villas that really set this place apart as some of the best accommodation in the country outside the major tourist hotspots.

mayurahillresort.com

Photo of VKIRIROM PINE RESORT
VKIRIROM PINE RESORT

The tall pine trees that forest Kirirom national park seem more suited to Canada than Cambodia, so it’s no surprise that this cooling microclimate offers a tempting escape from the heat of the Kingdom’s plains. Located about a two-hour drive from the capital in Kampong Speu province, vKirirom provides a welcome base for exploring the hilly, sylvan terrain. City slickers can stay in one of the sleek villas, but if you’re at one with nature, the dedicated camping ground could be the perfect choice.

vkirirom.com

RESTAURANT

Photo of JAAN BAI
JAAN BAI

The colonial streets of Battambang hide a culinary gem – Jaan Bai, meaning ‘rice bowl’ in Khmer. Offering creative Asian cuisine (try the corn fritters with a chilli-ginger-caramel dip), the social enterprise has benefited from training by celebrity chef David Thompson and Australian restaurateur John Fink. The kicker? The kitchen uses locally sourced ingredients complemented by produce harvested from its own garden.

cambodianchildrenstrust.org

Photo of KINYEI CAFÉ
KINYEI CAFÉ

Surrounded by the galleries of Cambodia’s art capital, Battambang’s cute Kinyei Café has a mighty reputation that belies its small size. The employee-owned social enterprise, which is partnered with and operated by the popular Feel Good Group from Phnom Penh, rustles up quality breakfasts and lunches – the eggs benedict is a winner – as well as serving top calibre coffee using beans sourced responsibly in the region.

kinyei.org

BARS

Photo of SORYA CAFÉ
SORYA CAFÉ

Positioned on Kratie’s riverfront and owned by the Sorya Kayaking Adventures tour operators is Sorya Café. The relaxed and scenic establishment is known as one of the few bars in the province to have a wide selection of high-quality wines – certainly something of a rarity outside of Cambodia’s larger cities. The Australian-trained chefs also serve up good quality thin-based pizza and pasta dishes.

soryakayaking.com

Photo of THE BALCONY
THE BALCONY

The unmistakable cry of the resident geckos could quite possibly be the only sound you hear above the faint din of music and chatter at The Balcony. A five-minute tuk tuk ride from the centre of Battambang, this bar ticks all the boxes for tourists who need to remind themselves that they’re on holiday. Kick things off with a pizza and glass of wine. Then order an expertly blended old fashioned and enjoy the remains of the day.

ACTIVITIES

Photo of PHNOM SAMPEAU BAT CAVES
PHNOM SAMPEAU BAT CAVES

Just a 15-minute tuk tuk ride outside of Battambang sits the towering limestone mountain of Phnom Sampeau. A former Khmer Rouge execution site – the skulls of those killed by Khmer Rouge cadres can be found in a glass-walled memorial in one of the caves – the area is now a place of pilgrimage and home to a number of strikingly colourful Buddhist temples. Those who arrive just before sunset will also witness the exodus of, literally, millions of bats from the caves overhead, a mesmerising spectacle that often lasts for 30 minutes or more.

Photo of YEAK LOAM
YEAK LOAM

Take the path less travelled to this deep lake nestled in the jungles of Cambodia’s remote Ratanakiri province. The 800-metre-wide lake forms a near-flawless circle, as if traced by a compass. In fact, its clear waters are thought to fill a 4,000-year-old volcanic crater, though local legend tells that a giant king ordered the hole be dug during a search for his errant, lovesick daughter. Located about five kilometres from Banlung, the capital of Ratanakiri province, it’s a must-see for those touring the hill country.

Discover TIP

Rather than waiting around for buses when travelling long distances not served by air in Cambodia, we’d recommend hiring a private car – a far quicker and more convenient way to travel. Prices are cheap considering the journey times involved, and cars are easy to arrange at hotels or local travel agents.