THE BEST OF CAMBODIA
With a slew of new hotel openings lined up for this year, Cambodia tops the list of South-east Asian countries to visit. Beat the rush with this eight-night trip, which begins with a rickshaw tour in the old French quarter of Phnom Penh; a local architecture student will guide you round the Chinese shop-houses and colonial buildings. Visit the harrowing Killing Fields before transferring to Kep, a sleepy town on the coast. Bed down for three nights at Knai Bang Chatt, a boutique retreat of modernist villas, with a spa and a seafood restaurant in a former fisherman's cottage overlooking the water (Kep is renowned for its delicious crab). The final three nights are at Phum Baitang in Siem Reap, a Condé Nast Traveller Hot List hotel, where a collection of stilted thatch huts built to resemble the homes of rice farmers are set in eight leafy acres. From here, make a sunrise visit to Angkor Wat and take a private tour of nearby Khmer villages. This is a clever combination of Cambodia's blockbuster sights and the laid-back coast.
Free street food tour of Phnom Penh
Free architectural tour of Phnom Penh
Free trip to the circus
Private tour of Khmer villages
Free room upgrade at Knai Bang Chatt
Complimentary dinner at Phum Baitang
- International return flights
- Private transfers
- Eight nights' accommodation and meals as specified on the itinerary
- Angkor guidebook
- Scheduled activities and excursions
- A dinner for two at Phum Baitaing
Optional extras: meet an S21 survivor of Toul Seng (£35pp); a private boat trip to Tonle Sap and Meachrey floating village with picnic lunch (£180pp); half-day with an archaeologist in Angkor (£120pp); 20-minute helicopter ride over the Angkor temples (£370pp)
ALL TRIPS CAN BE TAILOR-MADE TO ADD IN EXTRA NIGHTS OR EXPERIENCES ALONG THE WAY
Days1-2Street food and sundownersPhnom Penh, Cambodia
Depart London Heathrow on a British Airways flight to Hong Kong.
Fly onwards with Dragonair to Phnom Penh. Check in to Arunreas, a 12-room hideaway in the historic French quarter with locally inspired design. This evening, take a guided tuk-tuk street food tour, starting with sundowners at Eclipse, on the 24th-floor of the Phnom Penh Tower which has fantastic views of the city, and ending with a typical Cambodian BBQ.
'From the urban bustle of Phnom Penh to the ancient ruined temples of Siem Reap - with the verdant countryside and life-supporting Tonle Sap River between the two - you'll be hard pressed to find anywhere else quite like Cambodia.'
Matt Buck, Photographic Editor, Conde Nast Traveller
Day3Explore Phnom PenhPhnom Penh, Cambodia
This morning you will be met by your guide, a local architecture student, who will take you on a three-hour tour of the city by rickshaw. Soak up the fusion of architectural styles which range from Chinese shop-houses to late 19th-century colonial buildings. In the afternoon, visit the harrowing killing fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former high school that the Khmer Rouge converted to an interrogation centre and prison in 1975.
Days4-6Coastal KepKep, Cambodia
Transfer to Kep and spend three nights at Knai Bang Chatt, a hotel comprised of a series of refurbished modernist villas on the coast. Relax by the pool, hike up Kep Hill for views over the Gulf of Thailand and visit the fish market, famous for its live crab.
Day7Circus delightsSiem Reap, Cambodia
Fly to Siem Reap and check in to Phum Baitang for your final three nights. This evening, take your front row seats at the Cambodian Circus with high-flying acrobats, contortionists, musician and dancers who paint a picture of Cambodian life past and present.
Day8Khmer villagesAngkor Wat , Cambodia
Start the day early with a sunrise visit to Angkor Wat (your guide will take you through the east gate to avoid the crowds), a 12th-century temple complex on a grand scale that was originally built as a Hindu temple before later being converted into a Buddhist temple. In the afternoon, head into the country for a private tour of Khmer villages before a traditional dinner of mango salad, fish amok and banana flambe.
Day9Temple tourAngkor Thom, Cambodia
Kick off another early morning with a sunrise visit to Srah Srang, a man-made reservoir opposite the Banteay Kdei temple. Walk through the root-covered Ta Prohm temple, have breakfast at Ta Nei temple and end the morning at Ta Keo temple (known as the 'mountain with bronze peaks'), a sandstone monument dedicated to Shiva that was left unfinished at the start of the 11th-century. The afternoon is dedicated to Angkor Thom, the last capital city of the Khmer empire, plus Preah Palilay, Baphuon and Bayon temples.
Day10Fly back to the UKLondon, United Kingdom
Fly back via Singapore to London Heathrow.
Understated French quarter hideaway with locally-inspired design
This stylish hotel in the heart of Phnom Penh's historic district has a crisp white façade and carved wooden doors. Inside, there are 12 rooms and suites with polished floors, Frette bathrobes and a neutral colour palette (some also come with private terraces and bas relief imagery in the bathrooms, inspired by the temples of Angkor Wat). On the ground floor, the Khema restaurant combines French fine dining with a gourmet café and take-away deli.
KNAI BANG CHATT
Revamped colonial villas on the coast
The Japanese clean-lined concept of Wabi Sabi is behind the look of the remodeled modernist villas at Knai Bang Chatt: teak beds, time-weathered wooden seating, bamboo screens, earthy tones and imperfect lamps and vases. Restaurants include The Sailing Club, in a former fisherman's cottage overlooking the sea, where you can order Khmer chicken curry and pan seared snapper with coconut sauce. There's also a spa, infinity pool, and yoga and meditation sessions on the lawn.
A beautiful countryside retreat, a hop from the temples
Phum Baitang (which translates as green village) is the second hotel from French fashion entrepreneur Roger Zannier. A collection of simple stilted thatch huts, built to resemble the homes of rice farmers, is set in eight acres of lush vegetation; each one has elegant, handmade wooden furniture, rough stone sinks and bathtubs, antique carved headboards and lantern-style lighting. There are two restaurants and two bars (one, a cigar and cocktail lounge, in a century-old farmhouse with rattan wing chairs and oriental carpets), and a sensational spa.