A honeymoon in Cambodia
First published 8th September, 2013
You're cosying up with your spouse-to-be, scanning through pages of turquoise seas, fancypants hotels and experiences of a lifetime, trying to decide on a honeymoon destination. Chances are that Cambodia isn't at the top of the list for unforgettable romance, but if you want to stretch your budget without sacrificing the exotic, perhaps it should be.
Imagining photos of you and your newly-hitched frolicking on a white beach with a glass of something fruity in hand, with further fruitiness happening off camera? Smooching as the sun sets into the ocean? Feasting on freshly caught crab? Cambodia's islands make under-populated beaches accessible to the budget-conscious. The most expensive accommodation on Koh Rong Samloem is $45 a night at Saracen Bay Resort, beautifully-made beach bungalows with a view to marry for.
1 happy couple + sunset = honeymoon memory.
Expat favourite Lazy Beach is also worth a look, with sensational sunsets on a private beach. Have a head for heights? Fall asleep to the sound of lapping waves under your treehouse at aptly-named Treehouse Bungalows on neighbouring Koh Rong.
Not too shabby.
Stories for the grandkids
If your honeymoon is setting the tone for your married life together, a bit of excitement should be a given. Rolling around in a small basket attached to a large pachyderm strolling through the jungle is a story for the grandkids. Elephant trekking is possible in the northeastern provinces of Mondulkiri or Ratanakiri; if you have ethical reservations, get up close and personal at the Elephant Valley Project in Sen Monorom instead. You can also get astride a motorbike (faster and with less stops for bamboo munching) and sling your hammock for a overnight jungle experience.
Erm, there's an elephant in the ensuite ...
Battambang's Bamboo Railway is still providing fairground thrills through paddy on improvised 'carriages', although the creeping rehabilitation of Cambodia's railway system means it won't be there for long. Recapture those heady days of whirlwind emotions by racing along over buckled rails -- speed is relative when you're holding on to a slatted bamboo platform and the driver is applying the brakes with a stick.
Life is a rollercoaster.
Cambodian roads are sometimes no less exhilarating, on two or four wheels. Nature Cambodia will take you for the dirt bike ride to remember with an Easy Rider burn around the countryside, rider provided if you prefer watch the scenery from the pillion. Grab hold of the handlebars for a quadbike tour of paddy, forest and villages, with a visit to the Phnom Tamao wildlife centre and a sunset thrown in ($110 per person for a full day Blazing Trails tour, shorter tours also available).
The road to who knows where.
It is almost a crime to visit Cambodia without making a trip to the temples at Siem Reap -- which means they can get a little crowded, especially the must-see Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Phrom (yep, the Tomb Raider one). Think outside the guidebook and head to Banteay Kdei for a peaceful and beautiful daybreak with some genuine romance. When the sun sets, the often missed hilltop temple of Phnom Krom makes a great alternative to the crowds at Bakheng.
Not so far from the madding crowd.
Of course, you can hire a tuk tuk or bicycles and rough it with the rest around the temples, but this is your honeymoon, right? You're high on love, why not get a bit higher? Helicopters Cambodia offer rides to suit most budgets: $90 per person for an eight-minute swoop over Angkor Wat and nearby temples, up to a whopping $430 for 48 minutes, including Phnom Krom. For a more graceful float, you could get airborne at sunrise or sunset for $125 for a 45 minute flight in a hot air balloon; if you like to maintain a connection with the ground, tethered hot air balloon 'flights' are just $15 for 15 minutes throughout the day. Be warned, alas, of safety concerns; consider that you could be brought back to earth with a bump.
Pick up a few new dance moves.
Living in luxury
Chances are you'll spend some time in Phnom Penh, and this is one capital city where you can live it up without taking out a second mortgage. Surrounded by a lush garden inside the high walls of Phnom Penh's Pavilion, create your own colonial fantasy in a 1920s villa built by Queen Kossamak. Make like movie stars in a room with your own private pool (from $100 a night) and indulgent daily massages in the on-site spa. Not swanky enough? Then join the likes of Jacqueline Kennedy and Charlie Chaplin by booking in at Raffles Hotel Le Royal. The old world atmosphere starts with the doorman's outfit and continues through beautiful architecture and attention to detail. Rooms come with silk robes, bathtubs and butler service, but you'll have to bring your own sense of smugness.
Get your swank on.
If the wedding magazines have convinced you that no honeymoon is complete without an over-water hotel, try 4 Rivers Floating Lodge in Koh Kong. This is glamping at its best: luxury tents with private terraces on floating pontoons. There's no WiFi, leaving you free to focus on moonlight swimming, misty mountains and dancing fireflies. The beautiful Tatai waterfalls and a private sunset cruise will provide picture perfect moments that will have you wondering why you didn't get married sooner.
Knai Bang Chatt, also known as The Sailing Club in Kep, is a beautifully simple and tasteful resort in the seaside town made popular by French colonialists. Although not cheap by Cambodian standards, do the currency conversion and you're likely to check the calculator. Private candlelit dinner for two at the end of the jetty? Done. Personal fishing tour to catch your dinner? Can. Stunning sunset previously enjoyed by Brangelina? Of course! Fill your days with seaview massages, yoga in the gardens and cocktails at the infinity pool, or get energetic (tsk, not like that!) with kayaks and windsurfing.
The words you're looking for are 'muoy dtiet' -- one more!
Siem Reap is blessed with a plentiful supply of chic boutiques and luxury hotels in iconic buildings. For an intimate feel, FCC Angkor in the former Governor's Residence is understatedly elegant with consistently good food. Rainfall showers and waterfall bath tubs will have you rushing back for your ablutions. For wow factor with a price tag to match, Raffles Hotel D'Angkor and the Park Hyatt Siem Reap provide supreme levels of comfort after an arduous day of apsaras and architectural appreciation.
In silliness and in heavy makeup.
Before you head home, book in for some alternative wedding photos at a studio in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. These stylised, Photoshopped images are displayed in large scale format at Khmer weddings and take pride of place in many homes. It's honestly the best $15 you're ever going to spend, and you'll treasure the results.
Cambodia has all the ingredients for an exotic, laid-back honeymoon with plenty of romance and dates to rival The Bachelor. It might be time to revise that wedding list. Forget the toaster, add a Khmer phrase book!
For further information
Western side, Koh Rong Samloem
T: (016) 214 211, (017) 456 536
Koh Touch beach, Koh Rong, southeast side
T: (016) 594 177, (015) 207 719, (090) 900 740
Elephant Valley Project
Svay Jek Village, Sen Monorom, Mondulkiri
T: (099) 696041
Choeung Ek, Phnom Penh
T: (012) 676 381
#658 St Hup Quan, Siem Reap
T: (063) 963 316
Sivutha Road, Old Market, Siem Reap
T: (069) 558888
227 Street 19, Phnom Penh
T: (023) 222 280
Related readingBattambang weekend
Elephant riding in Cambodia: Should you?
The best islands in Cambodia
The best places to stay on Cambodia's islands
Read 1 comment(s)
Add your comment
Feature story quicklinks
- Giving back in Southeast Asia (12)
- All stories
- COPE: Helping people move on
- Epic Arts
- Helping Phuket's children in need
- Helping Siem Reap's rubbish dump families
- Helping Singapore's transient workers
- Helping the Karen of Burma
- Humanitarian Services for Children of Vietnam
- Lifestart Foundation, Hoi An
- Swim Vietnam
- Thai Freedom House, Chiang Mai
- The Samui Prison Project
- The SET Foundation
- Burma (7)
- Cambodia (22)
- All stories
- A Cambodian Eco-lodge
- A honeymoon in Cambodia
- Angkorian traffic woes
- Battambang weekend
- Elephant riding in Cambodia: Should you?
- Great places to stay in Siem Reap
- Is Preah Vihear safe to visit?
- Koh Rong: Trouble in paradise?
- Kompong Cham escape
- Northeast Cambodia in photos
- Oh Poipet!
- PEPY:Sustainable Cambodian tourism
- Phnom Tamao Wildlife Refuge
- Sihanoukville beaches lure expats
- Spas, shopping & seers in Siem Reap
- The best islands in Cambodia
- The best places to stay on Cambodia's islands
- The Death Highway
- Trekking in Virachey National Park
- Trekking the Cardamoms in Cambodia
- Which Cambodian island is right for you?
- Why you should go to Cambodia
- Indonesia (13)
- All stories
- A funeral in Toraja, Sulawesi
- Climbing Rinjani
- How to hire a boat in Indonesia: Without drowning
- Learn to surf in Bali
- Medewi: A great Bali getaway
- Mountain biking in Bali: A ride in the woods
- The Gili islands: Which is the right one for you?
- Ubud bird watching: From waterhens to witchcraft
- Ubud shopping guide
- Village trekking in Tana Toraja
- Weekend in Nusa Penida
- Yogya's student scene
- Laos (16)
- All stories
- A breeze through Luang Prabang
- Best budget rooms in Luang Prabang 2013
- Elephant trekking in Laos
- Exploring Laos' Bolaven Plateau
- Huay Xai to Pak Tha by slowboat
- Is Lao Airlines safe to fly?
- Laos' vanishing elephants
- Luang Prabang escape
- Muang Ngoi Escape
- Photos of Luang Prabang, Laos
- Pi Mai Lao in Luang Prabang: In 1999
- Southern Laos by scooter
- Temples in Luang Prabang
- The Gibbon Experience
- The Phonsavan adventure
- Vientiane's Chinatown
- Malaysia (7)
- Singapore (9)
- Thailand (72)
- All stories
- 10 Bangkok galleries worth a look-see
- 10 Thai treks aside from Chiang Mai
- 24 Hours in Bangkok: Sukhumvit to Siam Square
- 5 Southern Thai towns to lose time in
- A Thai homestay in Ayutthaya
- A weekend in Phra Phradaeng
- A weekend on Ko Samet, Thailand
- An extra day in Krabi
- Andaman Sea island hopper
- Ayutthaya temple tour
- Bangkok for art lovers
- Bangkok's Charoen Krung Road
- Bangkok's Thonburi: exploring the west side
- Brilliant Bangkok
- Chiang Dao getaway
- Chiang Mai's temples
- Corruption in Thailand
- Eating on the edge
- Elephant's World Kanchanaburi
- Exploring Lamphun
- Exploring the Lungs of Bangkok
- Far southern Thailand: Go or not?
- Five days in Khao Lak, Thailand
- Floating markets around Bangkok
- Highlights of Chanthaburi province
- How to do Khao Yai National Park
- Khao San Road safety and scams
- Ko Mun Nork: a nearby paradise
- Ko Pha Ngan 7-day detox:Colonic fast
- Ko Pha Ngan's best beaches in 2013
- Ko Phi Phi on a budget
- Ko Tao for non-divers guide
- Ko Yao: the islands you're looking for
- Learning Muay Thai in Bangkok
- Motorcycling the Chiang Rai loop
- Narathiwat: residence of good people
- Navigating Bangkok: The BTS Skytrain
- Phuket by night
- Phuket for Kids
- Phuket heritage walk: Car parts to saris
- Phuket's secret beaches
- Planning around Thailand's civil unrest
- Roll your own Kanchanaburi
- Should I book for the full moon party?
- Should I cancel my Thai holiday? No.
- Should I cancel my trip to Thailand? No.
- Soi Thong Lo, Bangkok
- Sorting out Suvarnabhumi Airport
- Staying at a Thai monastery
- Thai islands for nature lovers
- Thai islands to lose yourself on
- Thai visa FAQ
- Thailand tsunami wrap
- Thailand's Mae Khlong market
- Thailand: Where to from here?
- The best beach on Ko Samui
- The best places to stay on Ko Kut, Thailand
- The bridge over the River Kwai festival
- The road to Sangkhlaburi
- Travelling through north-east Thailand
- Trekking in Thailand
- Trisara -- decadent luxury at its best
- Two days in Kamphaeng Phet
- What is the best beach on Ko Tao?
- What is the best island in Thailand?
- What's a good beach on Ko Pha Ngan?
- What's a good beach on Ko Samui?
- Where to stay at Railay Bay, Thailand
- Where to stay in Sukhothai?
- Where to stay on Ko Samet, Thailand
- Which beach on Ko Samui?
- Which island in Trang?
- Vietnam (31)
- All stories
- A short break in Nha Trang
- A Weekend in Can Tho
- Being fed Fido: Eating dog in Vietnam
- Buying a touring motorbike in Vietnam
- Con Dao escape
- Do nothing and see the best of Hanoi
- Doing the DMZ from Hue
- Exploring Kon Tum
- Exploring Vietnam's Mekong Delta
- Ha Long Bay conclusions
- Ha Long Bay for backpackers
- Ha Long Bay for budget-busters
- Ha Long Bay for flashpackers
- Hanoi escape
- Hanoi or Saigon?
- Hoi An -- Walking over the dragon
- How to do the Dien Bien Phu loop
- How to enjoy your time in Vietnam
- How to pick a good Ha Long Bay cruise
- Is the Hoi An culture tour worth it?
- Motorbike Vietnam's Central Highlands
- One day in Hanoi
- Responsible shopping and eating in Hoi An
- Saigon's top 10 cafés
- Sapa or Bac Ha?
- Saving Vietnam's bears
- Street food safety
- The DMZ: Traveller tactical briefing
- Travel tips for Tet in Vietnam 2013
- Two Wheels & Ricefields: A review
- Which is the best street food tour in Hanoi?
- Accommodation guides (20)
- All stories
- 2005 Top guesthouses in Bangkok
- 2005 Top guesthouses in Chiang Mai
- 2006 Top guesthouses in Hanoi
- 2006 Top guesthouses in Phnom Penh
- 2006 Top guesthouses on Ko Phi Phi
- 2006 Top Luang Prabang guesthouses
- 2008 Top Bangkok airport guesthouses
- 2008 Top Luang Prabang guesthouses
- 2008 Top spots on Phu Quoc Island
- 2009 Top guesthouses in Bangkok
- 2009 Top Phnom Penh guesthouses
- 2011 Best places to stay in Kuala Lumpur
- 2011 Best places to stay on Ko Phi Phi
- Best places to stay in Hanoi 2012
- Cheap Phuket guesthouses & hotels
- Five special hotels in Cambodia
- Ko Lipe's best budget guesthouses 2012
- The best hostels in Bangkok 2014
- The changing face of Khao San Road
- Where to stay on Koh Rong Samloem
- Travel with kids (7)
- Opinion & advice (15)
- All stories
- 10 reasons to do an adventure tour
- 10 reasons to travel independently
- A year's worth of travel for 2013
- Beach hideaways in Asia
- Christmas and New Years in Southeast Asia
- Do I need reservations for my holiday?
- Evil man of Krabi
- Fifteen tips for a great holiday in Asia
- Getting a cheap airfare to Asia
- Hotels should never charge extra for WiFi
- Long distance buses in Southeast Asia
- Mass tourism in Southeast Asia
- Nine Asian upcountry hideaways
- Planning a Gap Year? Some advice.
- Ten Southeast Asian trips for 2008
- How do I? (11)
- All stories
- Bangkok to Ko Samui, Pha Ngan & Tao
- Bangkok to Siem Reap
- Catching a train in Thailand
- Catching a train in Vietnam
- Cheap flights with Discovery Airpass
- Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
- Crossing the Cambodia Laos border
- Ko Chang to Phu Quoc Island
- Siem Reap to Ko Chang
- Stops between Bangkok & Chiang Mai
- Visa run from Thailand to Burma
- Cycling Asia (13)
- All stories
- 24 hours in Bangkok
- An Angkor cycling guide
- An introduction
- Battambang, bamboo trains & guides
- Confessions of a "cheating cyclist"
- Cycles of all sorts
- Ha Long Bay independently
- Ko Samet Vs Pattaya
- Muay Thai night
- Phonsavan and Luang Prabang
- The hills of Vietnam
- The road less travelled
- Tubing in Vang Vieng
- Health and safety (6)
- Money and finance (4)
- Diving guides (6)
- Photo essay (3)
- Guest blog (2)
- General (15)
- All stories
- 10 Christmas days in Asia we're yet to have
- 10 dumb things I've done while travelling
- 34 ways to travel greener
- Asian animal experiences
- Call me Mr Massage Magic
- Chefs Without Borders
- Flying is fun!
- Mr Golden
- On being a travel writer
- Teaching ESL in Asia
- The 211 country honeymoon
- The Boxing Day Tsunami: 5 years on.
- To Teach or Not to Teach
- Travel writing scholarship 2012
- Tuk to the Road Charity ride
- Book reviews (5)
- Interviews (8)
- Explore Bangkok by BTS (16)
- All stories
- Bangkok by skytrain: Ari
- Bangkok by skytrain: Chid Lom
- Bangkok by skytrain: Chong Nonsi
- Bangkok by skytrain: Mo Chit
- Bangkok by skytrain: National Stadium
- Bangkok by skytrain: On Nut
- Bangkok by skytrain: Phaya Thai
- Bangkok by skytrain: Phloen Chit
- Bangkok by skytrain: Phrom Phong
- Bangkok by skytrain: Ratchadamri
- Bangkok by skytrain: Ratchathewi
- Bangkok by skytrain: Sala Daeng (S2)
- Bangkok by skytrain: Sanam Pao
- Bangkok by skytrain: Saphan Taksin
- Bangkok by skytrain: Surasak
- Bangkok by skytrain: Thong Lor
Sign up for Travelfish Burp!
Our weekly wrap on Southeast Asian travel.
Click here to see a recent newsletter.