Touk Restaurant – Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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Upstairs, overlooking the river and across to the Foreign Correspondents Club is Touk Restaurant.

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Good for happy hour it usually offers 4:30-7:30 pm 50% off Angkor draught beer and cocktails are $4.50 US per glass.

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Not as atmoshpheric as the Foreign Correspondents’ Club and not as good for food as Romdeng, Friends or Mali’s, it is however good value and has a choice of western and Khmer food. It also has a great view at sunset.

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Fish Amok $6                                                Fried rice

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Duck salad with spicy herbs       Salmon fillet and green mango salad

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Vegetarian pizza                                                  Lok Lak

 

Eating fried tarantulas in Cambodia

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Romdeng restaurant in Phnom Pehn is a perfect spot to try the Cambodian famous deep,fried tarantulas and dipping sauce.
The spicy peppery sauce is wonderful and the spiders are crispy and tasty.
The legs are not tough reminded me of well cooked pork crackling.
The body is soft and creamy and reminded me of smoked tinned oysters.

Foreign Correspondents Club – Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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The Foreign Correspondents Club is a must do in Phnom Penh.

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Go for two for one drinks at happy hour $3.40US for two gin and tonics, $4.95 US for two cocktails and watch the sun set over the Mekong while nibbling the complimentary hot roasted peanuts.

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The pizzas also looked good if you’d like a little more.

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The history and heritage is wonderful to share and the furnishings and views worth a visit in themselves.
Service however, is exceptionally slow, so,it’s good to have plenty of time.

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You can also stay here in a standard room for $US 84…

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….or a nicer deluxe room with river view balcony for $100US.

Jars of Clay Restaurant – Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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Near to the Russian Market is Jars of Clay Restaurant which is only 1 1/2 blocks down from the main gate on…. Clearly marked on lonely planets maps, turn right as you come out on Street 155.

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The Lok Lak is exceptional and has a great flavour $4.75 US.

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The Kmer chicken and fish curries $4.25 Us, are also good, a little like Penang curry but with pepper.

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The Khmer beef stew also good very good. The bakery desserts also looked very good.

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Ginger and lime juice.

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Spring rolls

Very lovely clean bathrooms and a large roomy space to eat upstairs.

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Staff are helpful and offer good service. Connected with an NGO helping disadvantaged women, it’s a good spot for lunch.

Russian Market – Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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The Russian market is a $4 US taxi ride from central hotels, but worth a visit for gifts to take home like inexpensive jewellery, scarves, lacquer wear, and also clothes.
However it’s very hot inside even in November and can easily be hard going for non-shoppers.

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Mr Bounnareth at ‘The best iced coffee in Phnom Penh’ is lovely to meet. Larger than life, he enjoys a photo and having fun with customers. He is also honest and caring and advised us against having the ice when we checked. The iced coffee was great and the whole experience a lot of fun, but boy that coffee would have been great with ice.

The Pavilion, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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The Pavilion must be the very best place to stay in Phnom Penh. The setting and staff are exceptional. Centrally located near the riverfront and royal palace and museum, the grounds and pool are gorgeous, breakfast is a poolside highlight……

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….rooms are nicely decorated and it is amazing value.

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And then there is the complimentary 25min massage!!

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The pool rooms at $100US are good is you’d like to swim in privacy. The road facing 31 and 14 are sunnier, but the pool,facing 11 and 12 have more windows. (14)

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However the standard room 24 at $60US is a nicer more spacious room and the main pool is lovely to swim in.

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If you’d like a jacuzzi, in a private garden for $90US take room 20.

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Room 24 at $110 is huge with a private outside area and can sleep 4.

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The complimentary breakfast includes your selection of fruit, bakery items, muesli as well as cooked items like eggs and a porridge which is delicious and more like a soup delicately flavoured with fresh ginger, coriander and other fresh herbs and spices.
The coffee is Cambodian style an excellent.

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The $22US vintage jaguar ride is smooth and seamless and a bit special, but a taxi pick up,is $10US and better value. ( Pre-paid taxi at the AirPrint is $12US).
Staff are very knowledgable , caring and helpful.
The offer excellent suggestions for places to eat and where to go. Nearby ‘Sugar Palm’ is a great spot and good for Khmer chicken and special lacy spring rolls.
Free wifi with good coverage.
Room safe, fridge and tea and coffee making facilities.

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Food Highlights of South East Asia 2014 – Itinerary suggestions

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South East Asia has so many great places to visit and so many food opportunities to enjoy that it’s hard to choose some of the highlights. But here are some ideas of good places to stay,  great places to eat, and interesting things to do, usually food themed, but not always.

Cambodia

Phnom Penh

Book six nights

How to get there

Fly with Thai Airways via Bangkok, or Singapore Airlines via Singapore.

Visas are available on arrival, but so much easier and quicker to get an e-visa on-line before you leave for $US37.

Where to Stay 

The Pavilion Hotel is a great pick. Go for the cheaper rooms as the central pool area is the loveliest place to spend time.

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What to Do and Where to Eat

Day 1

Enjoy your included poolside breakfast and complimentary 25 min massage.

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Then walk to the nearby Royal Palace and National Museum.

Head to Malis for dinner.

Day 2

Get a tuk tuk to the Russian Market early in the day while it’s cooler.

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Lunch at nearby Jars of Clay, (the Lok Lak is excellent).

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Enjoy the pool at the Pavilion in the warm afternoon, then dine at Romdeng Friends International Restaurant. Don’t miss the exquisite icecreams, wonderful cocktails and of course,…this is the best spot to try the famous Cambodian deep fried tarantulas with Romdeng’s amazing dipping sauce.

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Take your swimmers and enjoy a dip in their pool if you’d like which is open for the use of guests.

Day 3

Enjoy the Central Market, especially the fresh produce section .

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Wander the riverfront and enjoy happy hour 5-7pm (two for one drinks) at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club.

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Dine at the original Friends Restaurant.

Day 4 & 5

Join Intrepid’s Cambodian Real Food Adventure later in the day, or book an extra couple of nights at the Pavilion and copy Intrepid’s itinerary ideas:

Visit Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Choeung Ek Memorial (very sad and challenging but a necessary part of understanding life in Cambodia and paying respect to your hosts.)

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Cyclo tour that includes the riverfront and Royal Palace at sunset, and the Independence Memorial after dark.

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Visit the local food stop at Sisovath High School to try deepfried battered frog and ‘special’ duck eggs.

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Try to include Sunday evening in Phnom Penh in your planning so that you can catch the picnicking families on the lawns of the Royal Palace.

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Battambong (with Intrepid or copy their itinerary)

How to get there

Take a local bus or organize a hotel transfer

Stay one or two nights

What to do and where to eat.

Lunch at My Kitchen along the river near Sosabike.

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Soksabike tour of local cottage food industries

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followed by a Home cooked meal

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Early morning or sunset bamboo train

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Banteay Chhmar

One night

How to get there

Contact the Banteay Chhmar Community-Based Tourism, the local organization for a pick up

Where to stay

Banteay Chhmar homestay

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(Ask for

What to do

Kick back and enjoy local village life, close up.

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Watch your meals being prepared in the co-op Kitchen.

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Visit Banteay Chhmar temple and take a sunset drink and snack.

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Siem Reap

Three nights

What to do and where to eat

Explore the temples (don’t miss Angkor Wat at sunrise).

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Visit the Old Market (Psar Chhaa)

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Check ou the Cambodian Circus, Phare

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Stop at the night market

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Eat at Marum Friends International Restaurant

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And at Pub Street, full of good picks like Amok, Khmer Kitchen Restaurant or Cambodian BBQ, followed by icecream at Blue Pumpkin nearby

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Book in for a rural setting cooking class with Beyond Unique Escapes

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Northern Laos

Luang Prabang

How to get there

Lao airlines fly via Pakse in the afternoon, arriving in Luang Prabang in time for dinner.

Luang Prabang

Where to stay

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Villa Santi is a heritage property that has an excellent location on Sisavongthong Street for sharing early mornings with passing monks, for restaurants, sunsets on the Mekong and the night market.

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However, the Apsara is also a good choice and there are a range of lovely, well positioned guest houses that are more budget friendly like Pak Luk Villa, Villa Champa and Villa Saykam.

After checking in, have dinner at Tamnuk Lao across the road from Villa Santi  (the chicken, eggplant and bean curry with sticky rice is sooo good.) Book ahead by email.

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Rise early with the locals to see the monks walk from the northern Wat past Villa Santi  and along Sisavangvong Street, gathering  early morning alms. Check with staff for  the best times.

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Then breakfast on Villa Santi’s balcony watching local life below.

After breakfast, walk along the Nam Khan River road down to the meeting point of the two rivers, enjoying the heritage architecture. Head back along the Mekong River road

to the Morning market before it winds up around 11am.

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Stop for a traditional Lao coffee or mango/pineapple/papaya shake along the way

Head to Mt Phu Si, well worth the short climb to see the great view

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Visit the TEAC Centre (closed Mondays)  to learn a little about traditional Lao life and textiles.

Staff here speak very god English and love helping visitors in any way they can.

Lunch at Coconut Garden

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(the laaps are especially good, and so is the soft serve icecream).

Buy your Hobo map here for 30,000 kip, a great resource for finding your way in Luang Prabang.

After lunch organize a trip to Kuang Si falls trip for day 2. Travel agents along Sisavangvong Street sell tickets for a minibus (seats 11) 4 hour round trip for 50,000 kip per person. However, this can be quite a hot, cramped and uncomfortable trip. Consider going by boat (see the boat captains behind the palace) for 40,000 kip per person. The boat trip is one hour longer and includes a10 min tuk tuk ride at each end. Both options need you to purchase a separate entry ticket for 20,000 kip per person when you get to the falls.

Also possibly:

Enjoy a Lao massage ($8 per hour)

Dip in pool at Villa Santi

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Visit the Ock Tok Pop shop

Or check out the palace.

Get a great photo from the platform behind the Palace and watch the sunset over a Beerlao and Mekong riverweed.

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Dinner at the nearby Riverside BBQ Restaurant (book ahead) then head to the night market for chocolate crepes or coconut cakes for dessert and some open air, friendly market bargaining.

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After enjoying breakfast explore the rest of the peninsula in the cool air and possibly have a longer look at the morning market, help out with conversational English lessons at Big Brother Mouse, wander the temples or just enjoy the French cafes and lovely mix of colonial and traditional buildings.

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Late morning head to the Kuang Si falls for lunch with a great view at the café and a swim in the gorgeous pools.

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Take the pool path both ways (not the road) to the long drop at the top.

Go for another sunset drink along the Mekong.

Then head for dinner across the bamboo bridge over the Nam Khan River (or by boat if the bridge is missing)  at Dyen Sabai. Do book ahead by email, get there in time for two for one cocktails (12noon-7pm) and be sure to order the whole fish (amazing).

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Stop at the night market stop on the way home

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Nong Kiaw

How to get there

Mandala Ou Resort or Nong Kiaw Riverside can organize a 3 ½ hr private air conditioned mini van pickup ($US120 up, $US100 back). It is also possible to travel by local bus or by boat for part of the way (but not all, due to the dams being built).

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After lunch (either at your accommodation or in one of the recommended Indian or Lao restaurants near the bridge (Deen’s, Chennai or Vongmijay) (a 15 min walk from Mandala Ou, but very close to Riverside).

Explore Nong Kiaw by bike or foot.

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Watch the sunset from the bridge and try another recommended restaurant for dinner.

Next day:

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Take a day boat trip to Muang Ngoi further up the Nam Ou gorge and Sop Jam (a smaller weaving village) for 550,000 kip (staff at your accommodation can organize this, but worth emailing them to give them a heads up).

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Lunch in Muang Ngoi on the way back from Sop Jam at the Riverside Restaurant which has a great view. Choose the chicken laap which is their standout dish. Their coffee and mango lassi is also very good. (Or try ‘Ning Ning’ guesthouse, that is also recommended for having a nice restaurant with a great view!)

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Next day:

Take the private minivan back to Luang Prabang

Enjoy another lovely sunset drink on Mekong.

Dine at Tamarind and try their tasting platters

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Last day in lovely Luang Prang

Catch up on things you haven’t yet had a chance to see/do/eat or take a trip to the PakOu caves or visit the Santi Resort and Spa via complimentary shuttle from  the Villa Santi

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Possibly a cooking lesson at Tamarind, Bamboo Kitchen or Tamnak Lao

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Take sunset boat ride (30,000 kip per person) and see the sunset go down over the Mekong, (take your own drinks and snacks)

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After a last Mekong sunset, dine at Café Toui (perhaps the best meals in Luang Prabang)

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Next day

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Fly to Chiang Mai in the afternoon with Lao airlines.

Stay three nights

Where to stay

Rimping Village is great value, has a lovely pool, complimentary transfers, a location that is convenient to the night market, Riverside restaurants and the amazing Rimping Supermarket.

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What to do and Where to eat

Dine at one of the Riverside restaurants and try Chiang Mai’s famous Kow Choy curried chicken noodle soup then enjoy shopping at the night market or the Saturday or Sunday Walking Streets.

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(There are plenty of attractive restaurants at the Sunday Walking Street, but not so many at the Saturday walking Street. There is also plenty or interesting street food at both but stick with freshly cooked foods from busy stalls).

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Rimping supermarket is close by and great for supplies like Gin and Tonic for a drink on the balcony, snadwiches and ice creams.

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Enjoy a cooking lesson with Cooking@Home or Asia Scenic

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Hire a taxi and drive up the mountain overlooking Chiang Mai to the Buddist temple Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.

It is particularly beautiful as the sunsets when the lights come on.

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