First, do the trip solo. (I used the word "retreat", after all. 😊)
Sure, it’d be nice to have friends and family around – but I feel that a beautiful destination like Siem Reap deserves to be appreciated and explored on my own. I think I’d be able to achieve a lot more too.
But you can bring your loved ones along, if you wish. 😊
Whatever you decide, though, I believe the following other elements would still apply. They’ll help you create an excellent itinerary and maximise your holiday.
How do I know? I have Joffrey Thin-Gris, the general manager of The Aviary Hotel, to get us started on our perfect Siem Reap experience. He knows how to make an escape or two when he needs to. 😊
#1 Check out underrated sites
Because steering clear of crowded places can be a break in itself.
“When it comes to temples, I’m in love with Sambor Prei Kuk in Kampong Thom. It’s very mystical. You can just spend the day walking around under the tall trees and beautiful temple ruins,” Joffrey says.
“I like to go to the villages in the countryside as well, to do something outside of Siem Reap.”
#2 Dine on Khmer cuisine (of course)
It immerses you in the local tastes and culture.
“It’s full of natural spices, from turmeric to ginger to galangal,” he describes.
But if there’s one dish you should try, Joffrey recommends his favourite, the Knaop Fish. “It’s cooked in a banana leaf with egg, coconut milk, mushrooms, lemongrass, galangal, palm sugar, spices, and a little of grandmother’s secret. It just tastes magical.”
Wash it down with sugar palm juice and coconut water, he adds. “They’re as pure and refreshing as they are healthy.”
#3 Stay at a cool eco-friendly hotel
This is important, as sometimes we forget to follow ethical and sustainable practices when we travel. Choosing accommodations like The Aviary Hotel, for example, can help us maintain them.
“We have many eco-friendly features,” Joffrey begins. “Unused fabric from big batch orders at a local factory are given a new lease on life, as they get weaved into carpets. You wouldn’t be able to tell because they look and feel amazing.
“We also use fabric bags instead of plastic in the toilet bins, which are more eco-friendly and easy to apply,” he continues.
“Our water filters make our tap water drinkable, which is a great alternative to using disposable plastic bottles.”
And it gets better.
“Our takeaway boxes for breakfast, or at The Flock Café, are also made from plants and are biodegradable, as are our straws.
“However, my favourite eco-friendly feature is the recycling of cooking oil into petrol for our backup generator system,” he concludes.
#4 Choose a spot to spend some time alone
It’s one of the best ways to reflect and focus on yourself.
If you want to get away from it all, here’s what Joffrey suggests: “My favourite thing to do in Siem Reap to recharge would have to be visiting the countryside,” he attests.
“It’s my source of energy, with its breathtaking scenery and people who are honest and pure, and whom I’ve learnt so much from.”
Stating that “happiness is a state of mind and less is more”, he finds refuge in Wat Athvear.
“Out of a dozen different villages I’ve been to, this is my favourite,” he relates. “It has a unique, well-maintained temple, and the village is very peaceful.”
If this doesn’t refresh you and give you some clarity, let us know what would. 😊
Found in Siem Reap’s old town, The Aviary Hotel calls itself a “25-room sophisticated urban oasis”.
If you have time and the above tips aren’t enough to fill your days, why not go for The Aviary Escape Package? Available till 31 October 2019, you’ll have a chance to chat with the locals, see what the local life is like, discover their history, and support community-based activities – all while admiring amazing views (like that of Tonlé Sap Lake below, just to name a few). Visit their site and Facebook for details and updates.