Top 5 Travel moments of 2014 – Bring on 2015!

Top 5 travel moments of 2014

2014 is nearly over and 2015 is looming eerily in the future, pulsating with new possibilities. The introvert in me (yes shockingly I do have an introverted side) needs to stop and take a quick breather before I jump head first in the new year, I need time to look back on all of the awesomeness that took place in the last 12 months; to ensure that the memories are firmly lodged in the vast sometimes empty space that is my brain – I don’t want to lose a single second of my favourite moments.

Here are my top 5 travel experiences for 2014! What an amazing year!

1. Climbing Yosemite Upper Falls Hike – 2,600ft in 6 hours in about 28degree heat with only one water bottle. I learnt a lot during my few days in Yosemite. About how to push through the pain, how small negative comments can completely demotivate you, the buzz of exhilaration when you reach the top and most importantly I learnt that coming down hurts WAY more than going up. By the end I discovered a new hobby – hiking really big beautiful things!

Things I learnt while hiking Yosemite Upper Falls Trail2. Exploring Sydney… again – I live in one of the worlds most beautiful cities, but sometimes it is easy to forget.  If you walk from Coogee to Bondi often enough you stop seeing the beautiful cliff tops and only focus on how many calories the stairs are burning, you head out for drinks at Opera bar and complete ignore the sun setting behind the harbour bridge in favour of another mimosa.  This year I have made a conscious effort to see and get to know Sydney again – discovering new underground bars, a sneaky lunch at the fish markets or a walk through the botanical gardens reminds me that I am pretty lucky!

Sydney harbour bridge

Getting a little lost in San Francisco – It’s a city that has spawned some of America’s greatest authors, artists and poets and as you wander through the hilly streets it’s not hard to see why. Breath taking views of fog rolling across the bay swallowing the bridge, ships and Alcatraz juxtaposed against the graffiti alleyways of Mission and culinary gems of all cuisines that are dotted mysteriously through the city. Letting your feet and stomach guide you as you stumble around – it’s much more fun.

San Francisco, Mission, Lonely Planet Walking tour

3. Bushwalking – Tourists flock from all of the world to enjoy Australia’s natural beauty.  Growing up in a place so naturally blessed its easy to forget that its there.  This year I have made a huge effort to get out and do some of the bushwalks around Sydney, including parts of the Great North Walk and the Kiama Costal track.  Not only is it a mini city break but its also a chance to get fit!

bushwalking the Kiama costal path

4. Eating a Japadog hotdog in Vancouver – some meals you forget about before you have even finished the last bite. Other meals you dream about for years to come, you try and re-create them, you tell all of your friends about them and when you meet someone who has had the same experience you feel like you have found your soul mate. Japadog was one of these life changing meals for me. The concept of the Japanese style fused with the New York hotdog was not something that appealed… especially as I didn’t particularly like hotdogs. Two bites in, I knew I would never be the same again!

Japadog - Kobe Beef. Things to do and eat in VancouverLooking back I think that 2015 has a lot to live up to.  How exciting to think of the possibilities of what could happen next year! What were your best travel moments of 2014 – would love to hear them all!???

Things to do in Vancouver

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It’s Time to Pay Mona a Visit!

Mona art gallery

So you are heading to Tasmania for a weekend of great food, amazing scenery and delicious wine. You are struggling to squeeze everything into your already adventure and gourmet gorge fest itinerary.  The question has been posed – should you visit Mona? It’s an Art Gallery, sure… but it’s in Tasmania… is it really worth giving up some valuable wine tasting time for??

The short answer is: Yes! Hell Yes!

If you are a spontaneous person and need no more encouragement, I suggest you stop reading now, jump online and purchase your ferry tickets to Mona.  If however, you want more a more detailed analysis behind the “hell yes” then keep reading!

Mona Art Gallery

What is Mona: It is the Museum of Old and New Art hat was created by Tasmanian Millionaire David Walsh who is a professional gambler with an extreme love of art. The Museum is primarily stocked with pieces from his own collection and is the biggest privately own and run art museum in Australia.  But it’s not just an art museum – on the site there is also a winery, an outdoor theatre and restaurants – it’s basically a one stop shop for all of your cultural needs.

But what makes it sooooo special? Mona is a complete experience. Every part of your journey to, through and from Mona is incorporated in art.  This is what really sets it apart from other museums – the complete emersion in the design of the concept.

Start with the ferry ride from the central Warf in Hobart – a giant catamaran painted in camouflage colours sports a bar that sells delicious wine from the Mona winery. Sit back and relax with a glass of wine while looking at some of the art pieces that are gracing the ferry’s decks.  The fun has started before you even arrive.

Spend some time exploring outside before you head through the Museum.  There are loads of great pieces dotted around not to mention some great views of Hobart. Then get in the elevator and descend through the levels to start exploring the exhibitions.

When you first emerge from the elevator it takes a while for your eyes to adjust.  It helps that there is a bar selling delicious wine right there – I suggest grabbing one, if only because the wine is delicious and heightened by the artful atmosphere.  I also strongly suggest you grab one of the audio tour devices – they are great and they completely change, expand and enrich your whole experience.

Mona Art Gallery

Take your time where you need it – with Mona I think its important to linger over the pieces that are speaking to you, that grab your attention.  Plug into the audio tour and relax as you take it in.  Some of the exhibits are fun hands on experiences, don’t be afraid to take your shoes off and jump on the chimed trampoline.

Some pieces are dark and powerful while others are playful and light.  Some I just didn’t understand and others grabbed me like a powerful jolt to the stomach.  There are paintings and sculptures, performance pieces and statement pieces.

Lunch is a complete continuation of the Mona encounter.  The menu is vast and full of fresh local produce.  Everything that comes out of the kitchen will set your tummy grumbling.  There is also a great wine list with loads of local wines to sample. If its warm sit outside with the chickens and the ducks that roam the yard antagonising your fellow art lovers.  If its cold then definitely sit near a window to admire the view and to still be able to see the previously mention chickens.

Mona Art Gallery

If you have time before your ferry home then take a rest and enjoy some sweets and some more wine at the Mona Winery.  There is usually a hens do or two happening so there is plenty of people watching for those who appreciate their macaroons with a side of the absurd.

Finally relax on the ferry back to Hobart – watch the sun set over the sea and sip that final glass of wine before you head home to dream of blank TVs and model cars!

 

An Underground Ming Experience – Things locals do in Sydney!

Uncle Ming's Things to do in Sydney

Sydney is flooded with awesome underground bars – from Baxter’s Inn a 1920s prohibition bar to Shady Pines a laidback North American Saloon, nearly every block in the city has a nondescript door behind which, a dimly lit room, with period music and wall furnishings is pulsating with the unusual mix of hipsters and suits. To a local Sydneysider the underground bar phenomena has long since merged from being a phase to being the norm, whether you stumble across them by accident or purposely seek them out, the search for that nondescript door has become a part of the going out process!

Uncle Ming’s may be my new favourite underground bar – and not just because they serve dumplings! Like all Sydney underground bars there isn’t much signage to indicate its location, peering into alleyways and pressing your ear up against doors is part of the adventure of finding it… OR you can follow my instructions.

Finding Uncle Ming’s is easy as it’s located at 55 York street underneath a suit shop one block down from Wynyard Station. There is a New York style stairway that leads down below the street where you will find a door covered in beads… this is Uncle Ming’s.

Uncle Ming's Things to do in Sydney

Once you step through the beads you can be forgiven for thinking that you are in the wrong place on account of the very dim lighting. But take a breath and walk carefully (so as you don’t bump into any furniture or people) your eyes will adjust shortly and then through the darkness you will see some of the amazing artefacts and paintings that adorn the walls.

Pull up a stool and spend some time perusing the menu, don’t just hastily flick through it until you find your regular beer. The descriptions of the cocktails that are on offer by the teapot are part of the full Uncle Ming’s experience.

How about a Senor Chang – cinnamon infused espolon + agave + pineapple + mint
Uncle Ming spent time in field of Tequila. Uncle like what he see, Uncle goes on to create the first Margarita! What a guy! Uncle not even Mexican.

Or maybe you feel like a Tokyo Rose – tanqueray gin + rose + yuzu + lemon + soda
Aunty Ming is florist. She put Rose inside teapot one day that Uncle drinks. Uncle once again take credit. This drink has nothing to do with Tokyo.

Uncle Ming's Things to do in Sydney

While you wait for your teapot of cocktails to be delivered snack on the ridiculously Moorish and tasty deep-fried edamame bean chips. Also spend some time watching the crowd, the red dimmed lights make you feel as though you are more isolated from the rest of the room than you actually are.

After a couple of teapots you will feel Uncle Ming’s magic starting to flow to your head – it’s about this time that you should make the sensible decision and order yourself some dumplings. There are more than enough per serve to make sharing an enjoyable experience.  Being completely candid – these are not the best Dumplings around, especially not as Sydney has so many great options, I did enjoy them though and they definitely hit the spot.  In particular, I enjoyed the pork ones, though the chicken ones left a little to be desired, the vegetable ones were great but could have used a little more filling.

Uncle Ming's Things to do in Sydney

Once gorged, sit back and relax, order some more teapots and hope that it isn’t still daylight outside as heading back into the real world will seriously distort your eyeballs!

Cambodia: What to do, What to see, What to eat? Kampot!

Cambodia: things to do Kampot

When travelling through South East Asia it is easy to stick to the main tourist attractions and big cities – they are a tourist attraction for a reason after all! If you are strapped for time in a country jam-packed full of interesting things to do and see like Cambodia, stepping away from the tourist hordes is even more difficult. Kampot near the Vietnamese border is a little town that isn’t quite off the “beaten track” but it’s not on the main tourist route either and is a great way to see something a little different.

Falling off the “beaten track” in Kampot is the perfect way to finish my four-part series on a sample of things to do and see in Cambodia. But if sleepy rural towns are not your thing check out the earlier posts:

PART 4: Kampot

Kampot is nestled up on the Vietnamese border, surrounded by farmland and mountains.  It is a great place to base yourself if you wish to explore Bokor national park.  The town itself is still heavily influenced by the French colonial architecture, combined with the many bakeries that dot the town you would be forgiven for thinking you had somehow stepped into the south of France.

Make sure you look before you cross the road

Make sure you look before you cross the road

How Long: Kampot is a sleepy town, with limited things to do a few days here is usually enough.  If however you want to base yourself some where quiet where you can still easily travel to the other major attractions in Cambodia then this is a great town for a longer stay.

Beware: Cambodia is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world – and I am not referring to gold mining.  During the Khmer Rouge land mines were buried throughout various places in the countryside, killing tens of thousands over the years.  When in any rural area in Cambodia be careful not to stray off the road – there are still huge efforts to clear the country of these horrific bombs but it will still take many more years and a lot more money to give the country the all clear – caution if the key to maintaining your limbs.

Cambodia: things to do Kampot

Things to do:

Bokor National Park is one of the countries largest protected areas and contains many animals and birds that are on the verge of being extinct – including the tiger. You can do one day or multiple day tours from Kampot. The ruins in the centre have a somewhat eerie feel to them as the jungle slowly creeps out to reclaim them.

Explore the local countryside by hiring a tuk tuk or moto driver for the day. Ask them to take you to some of the places that they think are important in the ares, such as the famous Kampot pepper farms which is regarded as one of the finest peppers in the world and a staple on most five-star restaurant tables.

Cambodia: things to do Kampot

Ancient bat filled caves are just a short moto ride from the town.  The climb up to the caves is one of the highlights as you are able to look out at the vast region of fields and mountains below you.  The caves themselves contain ancient shrines and loads of bats – wouldn’t recommend using flash photography in there.

Take a breath while you enjoy a coffee or a meal in one of the many amazing restaurants that line the river bank. Spend some time just collecting your thoughts and admiring the sun setting over the mountains and the eye-popping steel bridge.

Kep is a ghost town just near Kampot. It was once a thriving holiday resort built by the French, but war and famine meant that it was all but deserted until recently.  A new tourist trade is slowly taking hold here. But it is even more sleepy than Kampot so I would recommend just doing a day trip there.  Walking along the seafront that is lined with huge beautiful and opulent white French buildings is simultaneously amazing and creepy as the place feels so lonely and sad.

Cambodia: things to do Kampot

Cambodia is a country that has so much to offer travellers of all interests – from the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat, to the heartbreak of the Killing Fields, to beach time in Sihanoukville but if you want to see a little piece of Cambodia that isn’t a tourist attraction head down to Kampot.

Cambodia: things to do Kampot

South East Asia is a region packed with things to do and see but at times it can be stressful (such as when you accidentally wash your passport) and daunting, sometimes you need to remember to take a deep breath and go with the flow. Once you relax you will create memories that will last a life time as the region is full of history, culture, shopping, amazing food and some of the friendliest people in the world. But if you need a little help working out this amazing region click here for 25 tips on how to survive South East Asia

 

Cambodia: What to do, What to see, What to eat? Sihanoukville!

Cambodia: Things to do Sihanoukville

On a trip to Cambodia you can be mistaken for thinking that it’s all temples and history lessons, yet there is so much more to this beautiful country.  With so many amazing things to do and see it is easy to feel overwhelmed.  This is a four-part series on just a small sample of the amazing things your can experience in Cambodia.  Once you have poured your soul out in Phnom Penh or stubbed your toe on too many ancient ruins in Siem Reap head down to the coastal city of Sihanoukville for some down time.

PART 3: Sihanoukville

The small coastal town of Sihanoukville has really taken off as one of the must visit places in Cambodia and its no surprise with its laid-back atmosphere. The town is sprawled out over a small peninsular but the most popular area is Serendipity Beach.  The roads and infrastructure are still a work in progress but this just adds to the charm and fun of the place. If you are in need of a beach escape this is the place to go! NOTE: Make sure you research what the weather will be like as it does have a rainy season and a hot season.

Cambodia: Things to do Sihanoukville

How Long: Depends on how much time you want to spend on a beach? There are also some great day trips to be done from Sihanoukville so factor in a couple of extra days on top of your lounging to do these.

Beware: There you are walking down the street, minding your own business when suddenly you hear “You want a smoke?” “You buy Marijuana?” “Hash for you?” coming out of the darkness.  Don’t be fooled by the laid-back feel of the place, drugs are illegal and having them on your person is grounds for arrest. Also there are rumours that some of those oh so friendly drug pedlars are in fact undercover cops who will exert bribes after arresting you.  Be sensible and think twice about what a Cambodian jail would be like.

Things to do:

Beach time is generally the number one thought on most people’s minds when they come to sunny Sihanoukville. However the main beach Serendipity has been divided up by the bars that line the shore front, if you sit in one of the many luxurious reclining chairs be prepared to pay for it.  You can walk down the beach to where the bars run out and set up your towel for a good old-fashioned sun bake.

Cambodia: Things to do Sihanoukville

Island hopping is a great way to spend a day feeling like you are doing something when really you are just lolling on different beaches.  You can book a one day tour at most of the tour agencies in town which usually includes some snorkelling, lunch on a nearly deserted island, more snorkelling and maybe another deserted island for some more swimming. Pack sunscreen!

Massages are an even better way to relax than lying on the beach with a cocktail in hand.  With the whole town geared up for relaxation it’s not heard to find a place for a deep relaxing massage.

Happy hour bar hopping is the cheapest and best way to get to know the Sihanoukville nightlife.  At nearly every hour of the evening a different bar will have a happy hour going.  During the day work out which one has the earliest and start there – ending at the one with the latest. NOTE: As mentioned previously the infrastructure isn’t very developed, including street lights, if you are pub hoping to a new place go with a friend as there are many dark alleyways which may not be the safest place for a drunk traveller.

Feeling hungry or need a place to stay? Hit up Mick and Craig’s an institution of Sihanoukville, for affordable food in a clean and homely restaurant. If you are there over christmas they do a great roast turkey dinner.

Ream National Park is another great day trip that you can do from Sihanoukville.  A great way to see the countries natural landscape filled with jungles, mangrove swamps and beaches.  Most tours involve a boat trip down the river to the sea, where you might see flying fish and if you are REALLY lucky – dolphins (I wasn’t lucky), a jungle trek and some beach time to finish up.

Cambodia: Things to do Sihanoukville

Make yourself pretty by getting a pedicure and manicure.  For the low price of $2 you can spend half an hour having your hands and toes preened leaving you feeling sparkly and fancy!

Did you say all you can eat Indian? Head to Tajmahal Indian Restaurant for some of the best Indian you will ever have.  On the night I was there they had a buffet and for the equivalent of $5 you could eat as much as you like! I am not sure if this is a regular thing they offer but it was absolutely amazing. I went back for thirds and fourths… which was a great way to line the stomach for the happy hour pub crawl that happened later. If it isn’t a regular thing I would still recommend it – because it was absolutely heavenly!

Make sure you leave some time for this gem of a beach town as Siem Reap is great for temples, Phnom Penh is full of political history and heart renting tales, but head to Sihanoukville for some sun, sea and cocktails!

Cambodia: Things to do Sihanoukville

Cambodia: What to do, What to see, What to eat? Phnom Penh!

Cambodia: Things to do Phnom PenhCambodia the small palm tree filled country in the middle of South East Asia, full of happy  people, ancient wonders and rivers.  A place that has captivated everyone from your average soul-searching backpacker to the Hollywood Icon Angelina Jolie.  If you are travelling in the region it is a place where taking it slow to absorb everything is a must.

This is the second blog post in a four-part series on things to do, places to see and morsels to sample while exploring this laid-back nation. Part one featured Siem Reap – the launch pad to the ancient capital of the Khmer Empire.

PART 2: Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh is a city that is throwing all of its energy into finding a way to recover from the atrocities of its past.  There is a strange feel about the city, it doesn’t have the comfort and ease of Siem Reap, nor does it have the excitement and energy of Ho Chi Minh – it is hectic, intense, full of colour and the people are friendly and welcoming.

I had a somewhat traumatic time during my stay. I had somehow washed my passport (this is my biggest embarrassment as a backpacker) and so needed to visit the Australian Embassy to get a new one, I also had to visit the Vietnamese Embassy to get new visas for the next stage of our trip.  When I wasn’t standing in lines waiting to speak to someone through a tiny window about how stupid I had been (way to compound the humiliation – explain washing your passport to half a dozen officials) I was able to explore the city but when your passport is not in use you tend to feel stressed.

Cambodia: Things to do Phnom Penh

Cambodia: Things to do Phnom Penh

History is the key in a city like Phnom Penh.  So much of what you do and see is affected by its recent history.  Not reading up on the Khmer Rouge before you go would be like visiting Berlin and not knowing about why the Berlin Wall was erected – and torn down. Spend some time reading books like When the War was Over by Elizabeth Becker, The Gate by Francois Bizot or watch the movie The Killing Fields.

How Long: You could spend as a little as two days in Phnom Penh if history isn’t your thing. I would recommend at LEAST four days as some of the “sights” are rather emotional and if you are like me you may need time for reflection before moving on to the next item on the list.

Things to Do:

The Royal Palace is shrouded with gold gilded roofs and awash with lily ponds, it is an oasis of colour and peace in the middle of the city.  Take your time wandering through the many opulent buildings to absorb the serenity that will take you over the longer you stay within this walled palace. It is also the home of the Silver Pagoda – whose floor is covered with five tons of silver. Napoleon even had a house built here in the French style of the time, but he never stayed in it.  NOTE: Dress respectfully, covering shoulders and legs.

Cambodia: Things to do Phnom Penh

Tuol Sleng Museam was once upon a time, a highschool, it then became a political prison during the Khmer Rouge dictatorship and it is now a museum.  This is where the Khmer Rouge tortured and killed any who they considered a threat to their regime, including several international reporters and photographers. The most compelling room contains the pictures of hundreds of victims who passed through this prison – standing in a room that was once used for torture and looking around at the faces of those who experienced it is overwhelming.

A local bite to eat can be had at the main market in the centre of town – which is also known as the Russian Market. It is full of great souvenirs, clothes for every occasion and a great fresh food market.  Just to the side of the fresh food market are several stalls that are set up to serve lunch – sit at the stall and chat to the owner and other customers as you slurp down a giant bowl of noodle soup. NOTE: Make a note of opening times and days to not miss out

Cambodia: Things to do Phnom Penh

The Killing Fields are by far one of the most emotionally involved places I have ever been.  Located just outside of town you will need to hire a moto driver or catch one of the local buses to get there. I strongly suggest taking advantage of the free guide service that is offered (it is free but please remember to tip, we walked round with another couple who at the end just walked away without tipping – so we tipped double as our guide had been excellent and very attentive to our questions). During the Khmer Rouge regime hundreds of people were killed in this place and others like it throughout Cambodia – their bodies were unceremoniously dumped in these giant mass graves. They can not be identified and returned to their families, instead a giant mausoleum of human skulls has been erected behind glass (photography is not prohibited, and due to the huge number its easy to become detached but please be sensitive)

The Foreign Correspondence Club is one of my favourite places in Phnom Penh.  It is situated right up against the river and the decor inside has been lovingly cared for through the years protecting the giant wood bar. The food is somewhat expensive, but if you are a little homesick you can get some quite good renditions of western food and alcohol. This has always been a place where foreign press would meet and connect – their home away from home and, still is. The walls are adorned with the stories of the famous journalists and photographers who have passed through.

Feeling like a curry? Head to Mount Everest – for some deliciously authentic, well priced, huge portioned indian food. It is also one of the oldest indian restaurants in Phnom Penh.

It is easy to wallow in the dark past of a city like Phnom Penh, but spend ten minutes walking the streets and talking to the people and you will see that despite all of the darkness they are a beautiful resilient people who are working hard at healing the past.

Cambodia: Things to do Phnom Penh

Cambodia: What to do, What to see, What to eat? Siem Reap!

Things to do in Cambodia, Siem Reap and Angkor Wat

Cambodia is universally known as one of the friendliest countries in the world. Full of laughing children, cheeky monkeys and breathtaking views, combined with it’s rich history and ancient architecture, Cambodia becomes a must visit country for all travellers.

As you can rightfully imagine there is so much to see and do, therefore this post is part one of a four-part series on things to do in Cambodia. Stay tuned in the next few weeks for what to do in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Kampot!

PART 1: Siem Reap and Angkor Wat

Cambodia: Things to do Siem Reap and Angkor Wat

Some information: Siem Reap is the launching pad for tourists to explore the giant Angkor Wat temple complex. Angkor Wat was the capital or the Khmer Empire up until the 13th century and it contains many more temples and ancient artefacts in the 400km area than just the iconic Angkor Wat. These ancient temples were lost to the world as border conflicts infused the region, until during the French Occupation the temples were “rediscovered” and protected (I imagine that the local people never lost these spectacular buildings).

How Long: There is a lot to do in Siem Reap and the surrounding area so I would Things to do in Cambodia, Siem Reap and Angkor Watrecommend an extra day or two on top of what you plan on spending at the temples. You need to buy a tourist pass before you enter the Angkor Wat complex. I recommend the three-day pass, as it gives you time to see what you want and come and go as you need. If you are pushed for time you can buy a one day pass and just see the big temples.  There is also the option of a five-day pass – this would be best for ancient history enthusiasts only, as no matter how spectacular the temples are they soon become confused in your mind after a few days.

Beware: There are many scams that are in effect in the area. Some involve your moto driver dropping you off in the middle of the countryside where you will wait long enough to become panicked before a bus comes along and charges you a huge amount of money to take you back to town. On the bus from Phnom Penh there are companies that will drop you off at a specific guest house and tell you that all others are full – I suggest booking your accommodation in advance to avoid this. There are many children who beg around the temples, they are very poor and so will snatch up your bag if you leave it unattended. Like everywhere, be sensible and follow your gut but also be polite.

Things to Do:

Angkor Wat is spectacular in half-light, I recommend sunrise as opposed to sunset as there are less crowds and once you have finish at Angkor you can wander around the rest of the temples near by without the hordes of people ruining your photos or spiritual contemplation.

So many temples, there are three circuits of temples. Circuit one can be walked around and contains the big ones such as Angkor Wat and the Bayon temple. Hire bikes and cycle through Big Temple Circuit, where you will discover loads of little artefacts that you might miss as you whizz past in a moto. Outer Circuit is best explored in a moto with a driver who knows some history about the temples – your guest house should be able to recommend a good driver.

Feeling hungry? A great way to experience the amazing food of Cambodia is to do a cooking class. You will be taken through the markets and shown what ingredients to pick, then taught how to make more food than you can possibly consume (take the left overs back to your home for a midnight feast). My choice is Tigre De Papier.

Things to do in Cambodia, Siem Reap and Angkor Wat

Swimming is a great way to wash away the tension you may have built up from cycling through all of those temples, not to mention a great way to cool down in the humid oppressive heat. You can pay just $5 to most of the major hotels to use their pool and towels for the day.

Still hungry? Give back by eating or drinking for a cause.  Places like the Butterflies Garden Restaurant are a great place to grab a coffee, cake or lunch while supporting Things to do in Cambodia, Siem Reap and Angkor Wat
causes such as reviving the traditional Cambodian performing arts.

Tomb Raider was filmed at the Ta Prohm Temple, so not only is it a movie set but it is one of the most magical and intact temples in the complex. Spend sometime getting in touch with your inner Lara Croft as your scramble over the ruins.

Psar Chaa is the market to go to if you are planning on doing any souvenir shopping. It dominates the old quarter most evenings and it has everything from silver jewellery, slogan T-shirts, place-mats and chopsticks to finely carved furniture and woven rugs. If your feet are a little callused from all that temple walking, stick your feet in a fish tank and have the amphibians eat all the dead skin off your soles.

Cocktail hour is done with style in Siem Reap where a bubbling nightlife ripples through Cambodia: Things to do Siem Reapthe two main tourist streets.  Pub hop from Temple Club to Funky Monkey tasting the rich array of cocktails that can be bought by the jug. Some places even offer a free T-shirt if you buy two jugs!

Siem Reap has so much to offer that you can easily spend a couple of weeks in this laid-back lazy town, just soaking up the history and a few cocktails. The people are constantly helpful and friendly – service is always done with a smile (if a little laid-back). You will fall in love with the people as much as you do the temples.

Final Tip – Educate Yourself: Cambodia has a very chequered past filled with conflict, however, I am not going to delve into that in this post – there is just too much to be said.  If your education, like mine has a few holes in it where this country is concerned then I suggest reading up on the Khmer Rouge, the French Occupation and the Khmer Empire before you get there (seriously when I arrived in Cambodia and learnt all about the history of the area I was shocked that they hadn’t taught us this during school).  In learning about these many complicated aspects of Cambodia’s history you will greatly enhance your whole trip. 

Plate of Deep Fried Tarantulas - a local specialty

Plate of Deep Fried Tarantulas – a local specialty