Recently I was bitten by a dog in Siem Reap. It was a dog who was known to me, a dog I had pet with no issue a few days before, and a dog I was fairly certain had received at least one rabies vaccination a couple of years earlier. But the bite broke the skin, there was a little bit of blood, and I was yet again faced with the question, do I really need to get more rabies shots?
Don’t pet strange dogs, even if they are adorable.
This is a question that many people living in and visiting Cambodia have. The hassle of getting a series of rabies shots can seem onerous, and the risk miniscule. But after talking to friends and a few friendly doctors, I quickly came to realize that rabies is one of the few illnesses that you don’t want to mess around with. Continue reading →
For those of us who love a spot of retail therapy there’s only one thing better than a shopping trip — and that’s the opportunity to shop sustainably in the knowledge you’re supporting some of the most eco-friendly brands in Cambodia.
Sandy Kotan at the Be Eco! opening in Phnom Penh.
Be Eco! is Phnom Penh’s new, go-to marketplace for sustainably and ethically produced and retailed goods. The brainchild of Sandy Kotan, eco zealot and owner of the company Only One Planet, it brings together under one roof an array of products — from clothing and handicrafts to kids stuff and homewares — from over twenty very different sustainable businesses with a shared social conscience.
Be Eco! first came into existence last year as a six month pop-up in the Gateway to Khmer language school building in Phnom Penh. In February it held a soft opening in its own, hopefully more permanent and certainly more convenient home on Street 464 in Tuol Tum Poung, followed by an official launch on 17 March.
The vision for the new store is to create a community resource for all things eco-friendly. Customers can expect regular workshops and awareness events, including zero waste Repair Fairs with specialists on hand to mend items like shoes, jewelry and fans. It’s also a collection point for recyclables so you can sustainably discard your unwanted glass, batteries, clothing and textiles, and hard plastics when you shop.
Be Eco! carries a range of cute buys for kids.
Be Eco! is a trove of mindfully-manufactured goodies to browse and buy. Cute and cuddly toys from Cambodia Knits; Bumble Bee Cambodia’s range of deliciously-fragranced natural, hand-made soaps and other beauty products; Domlei’s cool clothing and homewares featuring the brand’s unique hand block printed designs; and funky macrame products made from upcycled materials by Unikh Designs. L’Irresistible’s organic jams and syrups are there, made by the Kampuchea Sela Handicap NGO, and coffees from Three Corner Coffee Roasters who work with local farmers, roasters and brewers. There’s even a gin refill station courtesy of Seekers Spirits, which — because what beats a sustainable sundown G&T? — is as good a reason to head there as any.
Only One Planet’s own product shelves are a colorful tribute to the societal benefits of chemical-free silicone. The company’s range of reusable food and drink containers and storage products are both practical and fun, but Only One Planet has a serious purpose. Sandy, who set the company up in 2018, is on a mission to rid the country of styrofoam and plastic — or at least to encourage and educate as many businesses as possible to use sustainable alternatives. It’s a lofty aim, but with a growing customer-base across Cambodia for the extensive range of fully compostable, biodegradable food packaging that Only One Planet has developed from sugar cane fiber, she’s certainly making headway. Part of this success is due to the fact that the business puts its education drive ahead of profits.
Pre-loved bargains from Clothes Rail at Be Eco!
The back room of Be Eco! is given over to Clothes Rail Resale Boutique, where customers can rummage happily through rails of good condition, pre-loved clothing and accessories and come away with a bargain or several. Many of the items are donated by expats leaving the country and the company’s owners put profits to good use providing small scale but valuable support for local communities in need.
Open Wednesday to Friday 12 to 6 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
House 52A Street 464, Toul Tom Pong
Tel: +855 (0) 96 452 2622 facebook.com/be.eco.cambodia
It’s no secret that Cuisine Wat Damnak is my favorite restaurant in Siem Reap, but I wondered if the Phnom Penh branch, which opened during the pandemic, could possibly be as good. Happily, I only have positive things to report.
Sampling lunch at Cuisine Wat Damnak in Phnom Penh.
Cuisine Wat Damnak’s philosophy is that terroir defines authentic Cambodian flavors — that fish from the Tonle Sap and herbs foraged in the provinces will always produce a superior dish. They use local ingredients to create traditional Cambodian flavors, combined and prepared in creative and non-traditional ways. Continue reading →
Need a caffeine boost? You can’t go wrong in Phnom Penh. Coffee culture is thriving in Phnom Penh, from the bright pink coffee tuk tuks to international chains, not to mention countless cool independent coffee shops that rival those found in any international capital.
All preferences and pockets are catered for in this caffeine-soaked city. Step outside your apartment and there’s likely to be a cute little coffee kiosk within 100 meters, and it’s just as likely to have appeared overnight. In the last few years these small, local coffee stalls have been popping up all over town. A growing industry exists to equip and supply them — Cambodia is, after all, a coffee-producing nation — and operators can buy or rent the often quite sophisticated coffee machines. Iced or hot, the coffee they serve is generally pretty decent, particularly for the price (around 6,000 riels, or $1.50) and the pavement seats are a great place to watch the neighborhood go by. Continue reading →
If you’re skeptical about getting from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap by bus, allow me to assure you that it’s an excellent way to travel in Cambodia! The road from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap is sealed now, which means a smooth rode with views of the Cambodian countryside, and the trip takes between 5.5 and 6 hours. Giant Ibis, with its onboard power points and WiFi, offers the best full-size bus experiences in 2023. In this post, I’ll cover Giant Ibis day buses and night buses between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, both of which I have taken many times.
Giant Ibis is the most popular full-size bus between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Photo from 2023.
Now that Cambodia is back in the tourism swing of things again, you may be wondering how to to get from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in 2023 (and Siem Reap to Phnom Penh).
Check out the view on a Giant Ibis bus between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
There are options to fit every budget, but some are nicer and more comfortable than others. I’ve tried all of these ways to travel between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, some of them many times (unlike most of the other sites who just copy my content, yawn), most recently in February, 2023. The journey by road usually takes between 5 and 7 hours, depending on your mode of transport, traffic, and the ever-changing condition of the road.
For many people Cambodia’s history is synonymous with Angkor Wat and the Khmer Rouge, but the Kingdom of Wonder has another, upbeat story to tell (albeit with a tragic ending). The era known as Cambodia’s Golden Age of Music is still very much a part of the country’s popular culture.
Rock royalty: Surviving records by Sin Sisamouth and Ros Sereysothea. Image courtesy CVMA.
In the 1960s Phnom Penh was one groovy city. The city was a cultural hotspot with its own, distinctive style of modernist architecture; an international playground for an affluent, arty crowd who flocked to its many cinemas and danced at fashionable nightclubs to music from the country’s top recording artists like Sin Sisamouth, Ros Sereysothea, and Pan Ron. Continue reading →
The number and quality of toy stores in Phnom Penh has improved over the years. It’s become easier to find genuine global brands, in part due to the influx of new shopping malls and the demand from the growing middle class for high-quality toys. From brick-and-mortar shops carrying recognizable brands, to local handmade toys and online stores, here is our list of the best toy stores in Phnom Penh. Whether you are looking for a birthday gift, a development toy for your little one or a souvenir to bring back home with you, we’ve got you covered.
Cambodia Knits, a fair trade toy store in Phnom Penh.
Cambodia Knits is a local toy manufacturer carrying their own line of handmade children’s toys such as their popular Apsara and Hanuman dolls, as well as local animals such as sun bears, moon bears, and elephants. They also carry the full range of Beebee+Bongo toys that include multi-use educational and Montessori-inspired toys. CK is a provisional member of the World Fair Trade Organization, meaning all the products are made under fair working conditions and with environmental protection in mind. Their toys are also safety tested to international standards. [Cambodia Knits and Beebee+Bongo are the author’s businesses.]
If you’re looking for Montessori items, check out Forbie Montessori. You can reach them on their Facebook page and easily arrange delivery. They carry a lovely wooden stacking rainbow, wooden puzzles, and cards all with the Montessori method in mind. They also can make Montessori shelves and Piklar Triangle sets to order at reasonable prices and host a very informative and helpful Facebook group. Continue reading →