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KEP or SIHANOUKVILLE? Which is better? Which is more peaceful? Which is more dynamic and has various nightlife activities? Which would be more suitable for me? This seems to be a frequent question of many people when they arrange their beach vacation in Cambodia.I have also found that this is also a question that I have received from many clients when assisting them making their traveling plan to Cambodia recently. Hence, I decide to write this post to give you some ideas regarding both beaches. Hope you guys would have the best answer and the best decision for yourself.

Back in the 1960s, when Sihanoukville was just a fishing village, KEP, 25km from Kampot, was already an affluent seaside resort. Subsequent events were unkind to the town and Kep has been fallen to oblivion. Traces of the town’s sombre past remain. The region is dotted with the gutted shells of colonial villas – tragic evidence of the Khmer Rouge’s destruction. Until recently, most were smothered by prolific tropical vegetation and home to squatters; now some have been restored, with more likely to follow, although the difficulty of establishing ownership means this will be a slow process.

You can see more information at: Indochina tours Cambodia

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Sihanoukville also known as Kompong is a coastal city in Cambodia and the capital city of Sihanoukville Province, located at the tip of an elevated peninsula in the country’s south-west at the Gulf of Thailand.

general-information-sihanoukville

In reality, the beach of Kep is quiet narrow and the sand is thin. Though the condition of the beach has been better recently when the local Government imports sand from nearby Kampot, which has the sand but no beach every two weeks and have somewhat changed all that, time and tide wait for no beach, so at the end of the fortnight the gritty black stuff makes a re-appearance.

Sihanoukville is totally different. With a surrounding coastline of white-sand beaches and sun-drenched islands would be Cambodia’s most happening sun-sloth destination for people.

About the restaurant, there are only some small restaurants opposite to the beach of Kep.  The most famous food of Kep is the crab – particularly the offerings at the crab market which attracts Cambodians a lot but I’m sure this is not a really attractive thing to travelers.

In the evening, if you have already stayed in Kep and you would look for more dinner options, you should travel back to Kampot – a small town which is 25kms away from Kep to have more choice.

Things are better when you are in Sihanoukville because there are wide range choices for your meals.

For the best place to stay and best things to do in Sihanoukville, if you are young traveler and you love parties, The Serendipity Beach area would be the perfect place for you.

If you love quiet place, further away from the hustle, in the far south of town, is relaxed Otres Beach, where cheap bungalow joints and bohemian-flavoured guesthouses are now neighbours with rather swish boutique resorts.

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Otres Beach

If you are type of the adventurous can find sandy strips rimmed by casuarina trees and coconut palms to have all to themselves at Beyond Otres.

Sihanoukville is also the jumping-off point to Cambodia’s southern islands, where castaway-cool beckons.

Back to Kep, there is not much adventurous activities in this area. You can choose to visit some pepper plantation in Kampot, check out the crab market, hanging out at the beach or pay a short visit to Rabbit island – known as Koh Tonsay – a lovely little island about 25 minutes away from Kep. It is also one of the least-developed island, with no motor vehicles, no mains electricity and few residents, making it an ideal getaway from the grind.

rabbit island

Rabbit Island

You can also head out to Koh Svay (Mango Island) or Koh Pos (Snake Islan) to escape the crowds on Koh Tonsay. They are, like many Cambodian beaches, quite litter-strewn however. You can hire snorkelling gear on Koh Tonsay to bring along.

To compare about the two beaches, the beach of Kep itself is not that much but quainter and (usually) much less crowded than Sihanoukville. If you’re looking for lazy days of sunbathing or night time bar hopping, Sihanoukville should be ticked in your box.

In general, if you would look for a real beach escape, my recommendation would be: Just go ahead to Sihanoukville.

If you would look for a quiet place for yourself to chill in a short of time(may be a day or 2), then Kep would be for you.

Happy traveling!

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traditional costume of Khmer

traditional costume of Khmer

I am pretty sure that travelers to Cambodia have a dozen of reasons to explain why they immediately fell in love with this country. Apart from spectacular Angkor temples, amazing beaches, lush jungles or crazy nightlife out of the sleepy towns, what will you do to relax for half a leisure day? If you have no plans yet for this question, taking a traditional Cambodian photo shoot will be not a bad idea.

traditional costume of Khmer

traditional costume of Khmer

Why the traditional Khmer photo shoot is the traditional one in Cambodia?

Normally, the traditional Khmer photo shoots taking is a serious pre-wedding part for bride and groom as they will display these beautiful Khmer portraits at their special ceremony. Cambodians also take these shots for children in small-sized costumes of Khmer people. For foreigners, this is the best souvenir anyone can get from Cambodia after visiting this memorable country. Recently, this activity become widely known for expats in their honeymoon to save the joyful memory together.

A lovely couple photo prewedding

A lovely couple photo prewedding

How can I do my lovely Khmer photos?

Anywhere in big cities like  Phnom Penh & Siem Reap and also in many of the smaller town, you can easily find a studio for Khmer photos shoot. The way to recognize them is to see the huge prints advertised outside with the images of Khmer couples in their sparkly costumes and historical sites as the theme.

Upon entering the studio, you may find it a bit challenging to choose from many types of costumes and postures in the sample book. But do not worry, the friendly staff may be very supportive in choosing the best costume for you. After this, do not forget to negotiate about the price to avoid the surprise after finishing your shoot. It can cost about 15 – 25 USD for a set of printed photos of at least 4-5 photos depending on number of people join and includes rental fee for clothes, hair & make-up for women and usually sets of fake eyelashes to transform you to a real Khmer women. As men will not have make up and hair, they will pay less.

When you and the studio both agree about everything, you will be ready to the next step: hair & make-up. Within only 15 minutes, the makeup artists will change you into a masterpiece of stripper eyelid and fake lash. Followed with the work of hairdresser to apply a lot of hairspray to stablize  your carefully combed and twisted hair.

Based on your own interest in colors or styles, you then will get dressed in Cambodian traditional outfits named Khmer Boran.  After around 90 mintues, this process finishes then you may find you a totally new person and will be very eager to start your Khmer photos.

While taking your photos, if you can not find the best position, the photographer may help to look exactly like Khmer people do. Most of the photos will be for your free style and in the end you will have chance to choose the themes that you love then you are done.

The next day or so you can come back the studio and see how you look in a Khmer manner.

Are there any tips for the best Khmer photos?

The answer is surely YES. In this part, I think it is mainly useful for women as they need to be applied too much for a readiness.

Ladies should wear your own makeup if you do not want your sensitive skin to be affected by cheap communal makeup. Moreover, the color intension is suitable for Khmer-colored skin, you may look quite funny in the bold and heavy make up if you are paler than that or just get used to having a light and natural makeup.

One more thing, most of women hate the fake eyelashes as it seem to cover all the sun light and the thick and dark eye shadow that may make your eyes huge and a little frightening.

Be prepared for any shoots as the camera man will give you only 90 seconds in front of the camera. All you should do is to choose your favorite posture before getting dressed and remember the loveliest ones then have a smile always.

If you do not like anything, do not need to follow their requirement as this activity is actually so much fun.

Now do you think this Khmer culture is actually a unique experience while traveling to Cambodia?

Do you like your Khmer portrait?

Do you like your Khmer portrait? 

Happy portraiture and share with me your stunning shoots.

 

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Are you looking for an ideal place for relaxing and enjoying in the uplifting moments spa in Siem Reap?

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If you visit Siem Reap, you have to get a massage. You have to try it because a) they’re incredible and b) they can be SO CHEAP. Come into exotic world of beauty, serenity and pleasure. Choose an individual treatment that is perfect for you. Spend an hour or an afternoon. You will enjoy a complete menu of treatment and therapies: scrub, wrap, facials, reflexology and body massage, Jacuzzi, outdoor shower, steam baths and much more. Indochina tours Cambodia

Spa in Siem Reap was inspired by traditional aspects of Khmer culture

Spa in Siem Reap was inspired by traditional aspects of Khmer culture

I like to think of the massage places/spas in Siem Reap in three tiers – you have your daily massage shops, then places that have a little more class, then the real deal spas that rival anything at home for half the price. The question isn’t if you should get a massage or not, but how many to get and where to go. There are some to be found that offer really excellent massages and other treatments across all of the price ranges:

1. Sokkhak Spa

In Khmer, Sokkhak means ‘tranquility’. They are using the combination of nature inspired décor with a soft, warm and tranquil atmosphere to relax, refresh and indulge our clients. we have carefully chosen products containing botanical and marine home-made ingredients with nature’s very own powerful herbs, to give the skin a vibrant and healthy glow and total body wellness. Don’t miss this place!

Open everyday from: 10am – 10pm

Add: Sok san street, Next to haven restaurant, (Old market area), Siem Reap, Cambodia

Tel: (855) 63 763 797

Web: sokkhakspa.com

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Spa in Siem Reap has been created for your complete relaxation, where tranquility prevails throughout the exquisite, elegant.

2. Frangipani Spa

Frangipani Spa was created in 2000 after discovering that good spa facilities were only available in costly five star hotels. Objective was to provide an excellent day spa service and they have tried to create a calm and comfortable environment, with a personal and relaxing atmosphere. Their staffs are professionally trained and qualified and use only the highest quality natural products. Cambodia travel packages

Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 10am – 08pm. Last appointment at 07pm. Mondays closed.

Add:  No.24 Hup Guan Street, Siem Reap.

Tel:  +855 (0) 12 982 062or  +855 (0) 63 964 391.

Web: frangipanisiemreap.com

Coin VIP Frangipani SPA Siem Reap

Coin VIP Frangipani SPA Siem Reap

3. Bodia Spa

Conceived as a sheltering cocoon and using organic products, Bodia Spa is an absolute sensory experience dedicated to pampering both body and soul in the most natural way possible. The concept of the spa is presented with modern Khmer architecture and also reflects the traditional well-being. The spa itself is a space of physical, mental and spiritual healing. The calming aspect of the healing reflects traditional, non – clinical and holistic based therapies.

Open everyday from 10 am – Midnight, Last booking 10pm

Add: Old Market (Phsa Chas) above U-Care Pharmacy, Siem Reap

Tel: +855(0) 63 761 593

Web:  bodia-spa.com

Bodia Spa in Siem Reap

Bodia Spa in Siem Reap

4. Lemongrass Garden Beauty and Massage

Home of massage in Siem Reap. The wonderful team is fully trained and professional, and it is our aim to offer. After visiting Angkor Watand other surrounding temples, what better way to relax and enjoy more Cambodian culture then by having a traditional massage, or feel reborn with our wonderful health and beauty treatments.

Opening Hours: 11am – 11pm

Add:

– Location 1: 202 Sivatha Boulevard, Siem Reap, Cambodia (near Pub Street)

– Location 2: 105B Sivatha Boulevard, Siem Reap, Cambodia (near KFC)

Tel: (+855) 077 369 025 or (+855) 012 387 385

Web:  lemongrassgarden.com

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At the budget end, there are many good massages in town in a simple, unadorned but clean and air-conditioned set up that perfectly meets the purpose for which it was established.  They offer Khmer and oil massages, with a Khmer massage in a large, communal room with curtained off mattresses.

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Staffs at Frangipany Spa

After massage snack

After massage snack

Step into world of care, where time is left at the door and a new journey begins…

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Do you know which destination I am talking about? A paradise island – Koh Rong Samloem.

 Samloem Paradise Island

Samloem Paradise Island

I’m not a big fan of beaches but  I am always looking for the newest hidden gem and I have found the gateway to the two beautiful Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem islands, paradise in Cambodia. Travel Indochina

While Koh Rong is very underdeveloped and it’s not the cleanest place, the island is constantly under construction, but it has a certain charm lacking in a lot of the very developed Thai islands, Koh Rong Samloem is peaceful and beautiful beach place. It’s very deserted and so far, everything else is sand, sea and hammocks. This made my decision easy to explore Koh Rong Samloem.

Koh Rong island

Koh Rong island

After one flight from Siem Reap, I had a quick stop in Sihanoukville. Through my travels, I kept hearing negative things about Sihanoukville. That doesn’t sound like my kind of town. Just one night staying to take early ferry next morning.

The island is a peaceful getaway destination which is much more tranquil

The island is a peaceful getaway destination which is much more tranquil

Two hours from the coastline of Silhanoukville, the untouched Koh Rong Samloem, where is one of those places that you want to run out and tell the world about, but at the same time keep your own little secret and uninhabited beaches await me.

Saracen bay at main island

Saracen bay at main island

Landing at Saracen bay, I’ve never seen a beach so breathtakingly beautiful. The clear blue waters swirled across the white sands in a snaking pattern that formed tiny circular sandy islands and warm water pools. With just a smattering of low key accommodation, the island is still very underdeveloped, and its pristine beauty is completely unspoiled by tourism. There’s not a lot going on the island except a really gorgeous beach and the opportunity to disconnect from real life. The sea glowed with a range of blue hues under the glorious warmth of the sun and the entire coastline was quiet, except for the soft lapping of the waves on shore. Cambodia travel packages

Relaxing time on white sand beach

Relaxing time on white sand beach

...and beautiful sunset

…and beautiful sunset

 

My only hope is that the serene beauty of this destination does not get ruined and overrun; isn’t affected by the rumble of multiple boats turning up each day to ferry across dozens of passengers; doesn’t succumb to the ugly of waste and other eyesores as a result of booming tourism.  I am longing to return here for a few glorious days next year.

If you’re looking for some ‘me myself and I time’, this is the perfect place to be!

Koh Rong Samloem island Map

Koh Rong Samloem island Map

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Cambodia’s beaches are often neglected in favor of Thailand’s. But slowly, surely, the country’s idyllic islands and shining white sands are becoming known to the world’s beach lovers.

There are five beaches that really stand out, and match up to anything its more popular neighbors have to offer.

1. Southwestern Beach, Koh Ron

Koh Roh Beach

Koh Roh Beach

Koh Rong is easily one of the Gulf of Thailand’s most gorgeous islands, with 43 kilometers of beach. On the southwestern side of Koh Rong the beach stretches for nearly five kilometers — 5,000 meters of untouched white sand fringed with palm trees and dazzling turquoise waters. At the southernmost end of this beach are rocks where snorkelers can watch schools of colorful rabbitfish, sergeant fish and parrot fish. Tours in Cambodia

2. Long Set Beach, Ko Rong

Ko Rong

Ko Rong

The southernmost cove of Koh Rong hosts a beach that the locals call Long Set, after the farmer who lives there growing coconuts, mangoes and cashews.
With nearly empty white sand beaches and placid aquamarine waters, Long Set Beach is just a short walk away from the accommodations on the main part of southeast Koh Rong and is an ideal place for sunning, collecting shells and crabbing.
On nights where the moon is waning, night swimming can reveal bio-luminescent plankton that cause a ethereal phosphorescence in the water.

3. Lazy Beach, Koh Rong Saloem

Ko Rong Saloem

Ko Rong Saloem

All of the beaches on Koh Rong Saloem, an island two hours off the coast of Sihanoukville, will have you gaping in awe, but Lazy Beach is particularly beautiful.
Shaded by pine trees and benefiting from a daily sweep to keep it spotless, the golden sands of Lazy Beach make for excellent daytime sunning.
The waters around the beach have many snorkeling options and other parts of Koh Rong Saloem are a favorite of divers and fishing enthusiasts from the mainland. Evenings, you can watch the deep pink sunsets from the beach with a tropical cocktail in hand.

4. Koh Thmei beach, Ream National Park

Koh Thmei beach

Koh Thmei beach

Ream National Park is home to some of Cambodia’s most exquisite beaches, including those on Koh Thmei, a small island flanked by mangrove forests.
Koh Thmei is uninhabited, except for one set of bungalows and dozens of different species of birds. The beach next to the boat dock is a sea of thousands of glittering shells. The beach to the east of the dock is lovely pine-shaded yellow sand and if you get there early enough, you can catch a gorgeous sunrise. Indochina tours Cambodia

5. Sokha Beach, Sihanoukville

Sihanoukville

Sihanoukville

Privately owned Sokha Beach is the best of Sihanoukville’s beaches, with wide white sands stretching for over a kilometer and shallow, placid waters perfect for swimming.
A small portion of the beach is still open to the public, but the rest is only available to hotel guests or those who pay for a day pass, which also includes access to the resort’s pool.
Although the privatization of Sokha Beach is a loss for the locals, tourists can enjoy the immaculate sand and hawker-free relaxation at this relatively quiet and sedate beach.

Resource: CNN

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