Outside the box: Cambodia’s quirky side

Chomp on a tarantula or channel your inner sherlock holmes with our selection of quirky, fun-fillled activities

Diamonds are forever

Photo: Thomas Cristofoletti
Photo: Thomas Cristofoletti

Sample a taste of local leisure time by following the trail of brake lights to Koh Pich, known as Diamond Island, in Phnom Penh. An enduringly popular hangout for the capital’s coolest motorbike-riding teenagers, it’s the home of buzzing waterfront eateries, a park full of faux classical architecture and a sprawling wedding-reception centre. A veritable entertainment wonderland, the island also features a large amusement park, where children and adults alike enjoy all the fun of a Cambodian fair.

Critter cuisine
The etymology of tapas may be derived from the Spanish word for lid – with snacks traditionally covered to protect them from flies – but in Cambodia this has been turned on its head with insects becoming the main ingredient in the plates served at Siem Reap’s Bugs Café. With ant-stuffed spring rolls, tarantula doughnuts and insect skewers, this top-notch café will agitate your senses and dispel those invertebrate presumptions.

Pump it up

Photo: Vittorio Velasquez
Photo: Vittorio Velasquez

If public displays of exertion are your thing, then why not join in with an outdoor aerobics session. As the sun sets over Phnom Penh, gaggles of men, women and children flock to parks and open spaces to throw some shapes to thumping pop beats. While some of the participants may have the skills of wannabe backing dancers, don’t let that put you off. Join one of the long lines, pay a small fee and copy the moves of the person in front. The city’s riverside promenade, Olympic Stadium and Wat Botum park are exercise hotspots.

Snap happy

Leave your selfie stick and pouting face back at the hotel, and visit one of Cambodia’s many photographic shops to secure the ultimate souvenir: a photo of you and your friends dressed head-to-toe in traditional Cambodian garb, with a backdrop of  a temple floating in the background. These shops can be found throughout Phnom Penh and Siem Reap and, for a surprisingly small fee, an afternoon of costumed tomfoolery awaits.

Great escape

Photo: Sam Jam
Photo: Sam Jam

A little bit Indiana Jones and a little bit Sherlock Holmes is probably the best way to describe The Escape Room in Siem Reap. Head along to this unique little space on the outskirts of town with friends and find yourselves locked inside a room with just your wits and a random selection of objects to help you escape. Scour the browned newspaper clippings on the wall, make use of the traditional musical instrument on the floor and find the code to the padlocked wooden crate, all of which will move you one step closer to freedom. With two different scenarios available, and a one-hour time limit for each, The Escape Room is a genuinely challenging and unique way to spend a couple of hours in Temple Town.

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