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Cambodia forum

Self Catering in Cambodia?

Posted by plonker on 3/1/2014 at 11:46

Hey all, first of all thanks for all this information on this site, I've read through it all today - It's all very helpful!

But now onto my question; Me and a friend are wanting to visit Cambodia sometime this year, but she has some very strict dietary needs, so would, much, much rather somewhere self catering so we can buy the ingredients and cook ourselves (Well she would, I'd happily go eat out anyway!) We plan on spending 3 weeks here, without rushing around to see everything, just taking it easy, seaing Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, and then to some beachy stuff to have a few days there as well. Is there much self catering accommodation out there? I can't say I've come across all that much really, everything seems to revolve around restaurants (which is totally understandable).

Anyway, thanks for all replies and thanks once again for the great site full of information.

#1 plonker has been a member since 3/1/2014. Posts: 6

Posted by Geer1 on 3/1/2014 at 13:33

I noticed the same thing you have, ingredients are much harder to find, they don't have the huge supermarkets that bring in food from all over the world like we do back home. I looked through a few markets and supermarkets while in Cambodia and came to the conclusion it was cheaper and I would get better food by eating out at local style restaurants.

Without knowing more about the dietary needs it is hard to say more(what can they or can't they eat?).

#2 Geer1 has been a member since 14/9/2012. Posts: 540
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Posted by plonker on 3/1/2014 at 13:54

Hi, thanks for the reply. I can't remember exactly, but I know she can't have: Milk, Eggs, Peanuts, Wheat and I'm pretty sure some fish. Which is a fair few stuff lol, I can certainly understand why she wouldn't feel so comfortable eating in restaurants etc.

#3 plonker has been a member since 3/1/2014. Posts: 6

Posted by exacto on 3/1/2014 at 15:47

I know how you feel. My wife has Celiac Disease, which means she can't have wheat. She's also sensitive to soy and a few other typical food ingredients. It definitely makes feeding her a bit of a challenge on overseas trips, particularly to places like Cambodia.

One thing you and your friend might try is to get a sense of which ingredients are typically used in Cambodian foods, and come up with a short list of Cambodian dishes that she can have. That way you should be able to order at least those items with a resonable amount of confidence. Rice and veggies come to mind - just make sure they don't spice 'em up with something on the prohibited foods list.

My wife also travels with an emergency back up supply of food, including a few favorite comfort foods, which help span the gap when safe foods are not obviously available. Depending on where you are, there may be some easy-to-carry pre-packaged meals you can take along. One my wife uses is Go Picnic, which includes a main course, side snack, and dessert. There are almost certainly other options out there, and your friend likely already has a go-to food bar or packaged snack that they carry around with them already that they can use while on the road.

These types of food issues are a pain, and as I said can make things difficult, but certainly not impossible. Good luck and let us know how it goes. Regards.

#4 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,659
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Posted by Geer1 on 3/1/2014 at 18:01

Well at least she can eat rice... Almost all Cambodian restaurants will offer a basic meal of rice with vegetables and chicken, pork or beef. She should be able to get by on this and you will likely see other dishes she can have. Just make sure you specify no fish sauce(if that is an issue) and depending on the dishes maybe egg(fried rice for example). Make sure you learn how to say no (insert item here) in Khmer so there isn't any problem with translation. Creating and carrying a printed copy of things you cant eat(obviously translated to Khmer) would also be a good idea.

The nice thing about Cambodian restaurants compared to say Thai is that because people are poorer and there aren't as many ingredients readily available many of their dishes are much more basic.

You can easily buy fruit and even some veggies at markets and eat those as well.

The only reason I can really think to further avoid restaurants is if she is severely allergic to any of these items(peanuts comes to mind).

#5 Geer1 has been a member since 14/9/2012. Posts: 540
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Posted by AbigailatPenhandInk on 5/1/2014 at 00:38 TF writer

In Phnom Penh , there's plenty of places where your friend can eat happily. Try ARTillery, K'Nay and The Vegetarian, which will all be able to feed her according to her limitations.

On Koh Rong, Paradise Bungalows has a commitment to preparing food according to guests' dietary requirements.

The just opening Eden Bungalows in Kampot have a self-catering kitchen, and One Up Banana in Phnom Penh offer rooms with a kitchenette.

Phnom Penh has a few supermarkets that might be useful for buying supplies - try Thai Hout on Monivong, Bayon Supermarket on Russian Boulevard, and Lucky Supermarket (on Sihanouk Boulevard and in the Sorya Shopping Mall, plus a few other locations). Places like Digby's and The Shop are also good for western supplies and eats.

The biggest challenge will probably be egg, fish and peanuts - wheat and dairy don't feature prominently in Khmer cooking. As recommended before, learn the words for these so you can request food without them.

#6 AbigailatPenhandInk has been a member since 9/11/2010. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 179

Posted by plonker on 5/1/2014 at 15:16

Hi all, thank you very much for all the help. I apologise for not replying sooner, I've been having some internet issues, and couldn't access the site consistently enough to post.
Due to the help on here, we've decided we are going to go ahead with the trip to Cambodia! :) Though we aren't going until Christmas/New year time, I wanted to make sure it would be fine before trying to make any plans.

I was thinking for the first 7 days to stay in Phnom Penh , then 5 days in Siem Reap, S'Ville for 1 night, Koh Rong for 2/3 nights, S'Ville for another night, then back to Phnom Penh for the remaining time. We aren't wanting to run around and see everything, the main things for me are the Killing Fields, Tuol Sleng Museum and Phnom Tamao rescue centre - The rest of the time we'd just be strolling around relaxing, just doing as we please. Would this "route" be OK? Or terrible? I don't know, all my holidays were package holidays before this. lol!

Thanks again!

#7 plonker has been a member since 3/1/2014. Posts: 6

Posted by Geer1 on 5/1/2014 at 15:35

Way way too much time in Phnom Penh imo. I know others will disagree with me on this as they always do but to me Phnom Penh was just your average dirty asian city. Most people only bother with 2 or 3 nights if that many.

With your extra time I would look into Kampot/Kep/Koh Tonsay. These places would be far better to spend relaxing doing as you please.

Siem Reap to Sihanoukville either has to be done with an uncomfortable overnight bus or you would be better breaking the trip up in Phnom Penh(maybe even stopping in Battambang either on your way up or back depending on how much time you have in total).

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Posted by plonker on 5/1/2014 at 16:33

Thanks again for the advice :) I'll take it all on board, maybe look at Kampot for Christmas day, as a nice relaxing time. Is the Travel easy enough to sort out there? Like would I need to book travel from anywhere? Or do you just turn up at the bus places or whatever and jump on? Or would travel be able to be sorted at the hotel I would be stopping at?

#9 plonker has been a member since 3/1/2014. Posts: 6

Posted by Geer1 on 5/1/2014 at 17:18

Just show up at a bus station buy a ticket and hop on. If worried about potential availability(shouldn't be an issue) you can go the day before and buy a ticket then, like in most places in SEA buying a ticket doesn't necessarily guarantee you a seat though so show up a little early or be willing to stand. Hotels will arrange travel for you as will any tour agency and if doing it this way it will often include pick up/transfer to bus station but it will cost more obviously(not that much more so sometimes is worth it). Cambodia is nice in that most of the bus companies have offices in central parts of town and you can often walk to them or take short trip tuk tuk rides so that is all I ever did.

#10 Geer1 has been a member since 14/9/2012. Posts: 540
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Posted by AbigailatPenhandInk on 8/1/2014 at 01:41 TF writer

Over Christmas/New Year, I would actually recommend booking your tickets in advance (eg when you arrive in Phnom Penh , get tickets sorted for the next part of your journey). The most comfortable companies to travel with, such as Giant Ibis and Kampot Express, are likely to get booked by expats escaping the city. Ditto for accommodation, especially if there's somewhere particular you want to stay, and especially on Koh Rong.

Hotels or small travel agents can book bus tickets for usually $1-$2 commission, which saves you having to find the bus company office.

Agree with Geer1 - break up the trip between Siem Reap and Sihanoukville in Phnom Penh or Kampot (a personal favourite!). And much as I love Phnom Penh, I'd recommend saving some days to spend in Kampot!

#11 AbigailatPenhandInk has been a member since 9/11/2010. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 179

Posted by plonker on 8/1/2014 at 07:00

Thanks for that. I've already booked the hotel in Kampot, and I'm still deciding what else to do. Thinking about missing S'Ville altogether, and using that time for Siem Reap and Battambang. I don't want to spend too long travelling, so I was trying to keep the amount of places visited as low as I can, while still seeing the main parts we like the look of. I've also just looked at the Giant Ibis site, and it lets you book seats already this far in advance, so once we've decided where we're going to be for each date, I'll get those booked, as it's one more thing out of the way.

It's quite annoying, the more I look up Cambodia, the more I really wish work would let me have longer than 3 weeks off. :(

#12 plonker has been a member since 3/1/2014. Posts: 6

Posted by Geer1 on 8/1/2014 at 09:59

Woah woah woah, hold the horses man. In no way shape or form would I be prebooking anything this early. A lot could happen in the next year, some of these places might go out of business or change ownership etc. Other better places may have opened that would better suit your needs, there could be a major disaster, and much more in the term of a year.

If you even booked only 2-4 weeks in advance you should be able to get every place you want. Normally I would say not to even bother booking but in your case there are certain places I am sure you would want to say so pre-booking makes sense.

And although the higher end companies like Giant Ibis might fill up Phnom Penh Sorya, Capital and others are won't and they are much cheaper and imo more of a cultural experience.

#13 Geer1 has been a member since 14/9/2012. Posts: 540
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Posted by AbigailatPenhandInk on 9/1/2014 at 21:50 TF writer

Some people like to have the assurance of booking ahead. If you do book early in advance, It's a good idea to confirm your booking a few weeks before you travel.

As far as the buses go, it depends what you want. True that Sorya and Capital are cheaper, but they also take longer and are a bit less comfortable. You do get the added bonus of karaoke DVDs, if that's the kind of cultural experience you like!

#14 AbigailatPenhandInk has been a member since 9/11/2010. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 179

Posted by Geer1 on 9/1/2014 at 22:11

Yeah it comes down to preference. Have cheap good enough transport or pay twice as much just so you can be a little more comfortable.

I definitely wouldn't be booking this early. Waiting until at least a couple months before. This will give you more time to research possible places to stay and like I said earlier in a year a lot can change and it would be disappointing to be booked into a place that has gone bad. I am actually surprised many of these places would take reservations this early, definitely check before hand that you are still reserved since a lot of these places have trouble remembering reservations a week or two in advance let alone a year.

#15 Geer1 has been a member since 14/9/2012. Posts: 540
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Posted by plonker on 10/1/2014 at 15:36

Lol! Ok, I'll stop booking stuff! I'll stop looking at Cambodia at all for the next couple of months at least, otherwise I'll just book! I have a habit of getting a little overexcited and booking and buying everything in sight. :(

#16 plonker has been a member since 3/1/2014. Posts: 6

Posted by amnicoll on 12/1/2014 at 04:37

If you are in Kampot for Christmas and want to do something different go to Kep for lunch for the best crabs and seafood in Cambodia

Another idea for you to consider is somewhere like Chi Phat for a different view of Cambodia and either chill out in the village or take a treck/mountain bike in the jungle but may not fit in with your limited stay unless you are crossing into Cambodia by land

#17 amnicoll has been a member since 10/1/2005. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 686

Posted by Jude1974 on 18/1/2014 at 23:41

Hi there, new to forum. My boyfriend and I are desperately seeking self catering for a month in South Cambodia, preferably coastal or Kampot. Anyone know of anywhere?

Cannot locate Eden bungalows on the net as yet!

Many thanks

#18 Jude1974 has been a member since 18/1/2014. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 1

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