Review: Cuisine Wat Damnak, Phnom Penh

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

Damn fine coffee! Where to find it in Phnom Penh

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.

Looking for the best coffee in Phnom Penh? In 2023 there are more options than ever.

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

Review: Giant Ibis buses, Phnom Penh to Siem Reap (and vice versa)

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 2023

Giant Ibis is the most popular full-size bus between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Photo from 2023.

Giant Ibis table of contents

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What’s that sound? Cambodia’s Golden Age music still rocks the Kingdom

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.

Two Sin Sisamouth and Ros Sereysothea record covers

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

Where to buy toys in Phnom Penh

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

How to get from Bangkok to Siem Reap

If you’re coming from Bangkok to Siem Reap it’s worth doing your homework. There are several ways to travel from Bangkok to Siem Reap in 2022, and most fall into one of two categories: “fast and expensive” or “cheap and annoying.” Flying is fast and expensive and going overland is cheap and time-consuming (but offers considerable fodder for amusement). In this post, I’ll cover the best ways to get from Bangkok to Siem Reap as well as what you need to know about visas and the border.

At a glance…Bangkok to Siem Reap

Get from Bangkok to Siem Reap on the Giant Ibis direct bus.

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How to get from Siem Reap to Bangkok

There are lots of ways to get from Cambodia to Thailand, and it all depends on how much time, money, and patience you have. In this post, I’ll cover the best ways to get from Siem Reap to Bangkok in 2022 whether you travel by plane, direct bus, mini-bus, or taxi. Flying is always the most convenient, but going overland is less expensive and more of an adventure!
If you’re heading the other direction, how to get from Bangkok to Siem Reap.

At a glance…Siem Reap to Bangkok

The Giant Ibis direct bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap (and vice versa)

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WIG: Connecting women in Phnom Penh

So you’ve moved to Cambodia, you want to meet other women and make some friends, and maybe find a way of giving something back to your new home. Perhaps you’re starting up a business and hope to learn from the experience of other business owners. If this sounds like you, there’s a group of people in Phnom Penh you need to meet — and you can do so every Wednesday morning over coffee!

With good company, good causes – and good coffee! Photo courtesy of WIG.

The Women’s International Group, aka WIG, was set up in 1994 as a social and charitable circle for the capital’s female expats who wanted to connect with other, like-minded individuals, and to make a difference in Cambodia. Since then the group has evolved to reflect the interests and aspirations of its diverse and fluctuating membership that increasingly includes Cambodian women many of whom have careers, families, and juggle busy lives. As well as a means of enjoying good company and supporting good causes country-wide, it provides a valuable networking opportunity for women in business. Happily, the three frequently work hand in hand, especially as many of the small businesses owned by members are social enterprises. Continue reading