From Battambang to Ratanakiri, straying from the norm has rarely been so rewarding
vKirirom Pine Resort
Founded on the promise of mountaintop seclusion coupled with modern convenience, vKirirom Pine Resort takes its commitment to environmental harmony and sustainability seriously. From the organically grown vegetables served in the restaurant to their refusal to clear away any tree not already dead or decaying, the secluded getaway – situated more than 600m above sea level on the ancient Kirirom Mountain – is ideal for busy professionals struggling to reconnect with life’s fundamentals.
Tel: +855 (0)78 777 343 Website: vkirirom.com
Mayura Hill Resort
Boasting the only hotel swimming pool in Mondulkiri province, and located on the Vietnam border just five hours northeast of Phnom Penh, Mayura Hill Resort is renowned for its unrivalled views of the surrounding hills. With an air-conditioned gym and a range of private yoga classes, the resort remains the finest option in the province for travellers escaping the heat of the capital for a few days of exploring in the cooler climes of the wild east.
Tel: +855 (0)77 980 980 Website: mayurahillresort.com
A luxury lakeside lodge lost in the wilderness of Ratanakiri province in Cambodia’s northeast, Terres Rouges is a veritable Shangri-La for road-worn travellers returning from their daily bush-walk. The former residence of the provincial governor, the central villa is a superb example of traditional Khmer architecture. The bungalows scattered throughout the sprawling gardens are furnished with warm wooden floors and tasteful Cambodian antiques. Opening onto the expansive pool, the beautifully decorated bar commands an unmissable view of the Boeung Kansaign lake and its surrounds.
Tel: +855 (0)12 770 650 Website: ratanakiri-lodge.com
An oasis of serenity nestled amid the dirt roads and rice paddies on the outskirts of Cambodia’s ‘second city’, Battambang Resort offers a pared-back taste of luxury in the countryside. Ideal for families and couples, the lake-view rooms come with a private terrace looking over the stillness of the resort’s elegantly cultivated lake. Guests can enjoy a reasonably priced mix of Asian and Western dishes in the privacy of their terrace or surrounded by lush green gardens in the resort’s own poolside restaurant.
Tel: +855 (0)12 510 100 Website: battambangresort.com
Beneath the quirky Bric-à-Brac hotel lies a streetside bar perfectly positioned for watching life roll by in the heart of Battambang’s colonial district. With champagne, charcuterie and fine cheeses available, Libations brings a slice of France to northwest Cambodia. Given the chance, visitors should treat themselves to a glass of kir or a freshly baked, rillette-filled baguette.
Tel: +855 (0)77 531 562 Website: bric-a-brac.asia
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 quality wines – certainly something of a rarity outside of Cambodia’s larger cities. The Australian-trained chefs also serve up good thin-base pizza and pasta dishes.
Tel: +855 (0)90 241 148 Website: soryakayaking.com
Its white walls studded with the vibrant work of local artists, Battambang’s Jaan Bai is illuminated by the sunlight pouring in through enormous windows. A rich blend of Cambodian dishes and Asian fusion, Jaan Bai’s menu is brought to life by cooks trained by legendary chef David Thompson, with the restaurant’s proceeds helping the Cambodian’s Children Trust, a local NGO raising at-risk youth from poverty.
Tel: +855 (0)78 263 144 Website: cambodianchildrenstrust.org
Love Café & Pizza
If there’s one thing you don’t expect to find in off-the-track Kampong Thom, it’s tasty pizza, chicken wings and burgers. But Love Café & Pizza, a quiet spot situated by the Stung Sen river, is doing just that. Run by a pleasant and attentive American proprietor, the restaurant is replete with comfortable wicker chairs, weathered books and board games. Highlights include classic treats such as the cheeseburger, potato wedges and homemade cookies and cream ice cream.
Tel: +855 (0)17 916 219
Bou Sraa Waterfall
Considered the most beautiful waterfall in Mondulkiri, Bou Sraa is certainly a sight to behold. The double drop waterfall is slightly off the beaten track but is popular with locals who use it as a picnic and bathing site. The first drop is approximately 10m and is followed by a second, thunderous drop of 25m. For the truly adventurous, the Mayura Hill Resort in town operates a series of ziplines at the Bou Sraa site, with the final one whizzing across the gushing falls.
Kayaking the Tatai
There are several kayaking companies operating along Koh Kong’s Tatai river, offering customers the chance to unleash their sense of adventure while surrounded by some of the country’s most beautiful settings. Against the backdrop of the imposing Cardamom mountains and Southeast Asia’s largest coastal mangroves, a meandering voyage down the river to a soundscape of splashing fish, exotic birds and howling gibbons feels like a lucid dream.