Soothing sounds fill the room, warm breezes cross your shoulders, skilful hands massage your back, and you feel all the stress of the day and travelling melt away. Sound sinfully sweet? You’d be right. In Cambodia, pampering yourself is somewhat of an art form. There are a number of resorts that are determined to make sure that even if you come in to their establishments stressed out with tense shoulders, you leave blissfully happy without a negative thought or feeling in your body. And that doesn’t just mean spa treatments (though they are superb)—in Siem Reap you’ll have your choice of hip accommodations, world class dining and luxurious clubs. If you have the time or the means to be pampered (since vacation is all about treating yourself), head to Cambodia for unbelievably relaxing and calming experiences you can’t find anywhere else.
While Siem Reap is home to many luxurious spas where the focus is on relaxing your body from head to toe, one stands out from the crowd. Bodia Spa is one of the best, and they call themselves the Cambodian Cocoon—maybe because you’ll be so comfortable in this space you won’t want to leave, or maybe because it is tucked away from the busy streets of Siem Reap. Whatever the reason behind the name, once you arrive at Bodia Spa you’ll have to make some decisions about the kind of pampering you want to enjoy. Their spa menu offers aromatherapy massages, facial treatments, and special packages (“silk and cocoon”, “refresh” or “detoxifying”) for those who wish to spend a full day enjoying the specialties of Bodia. The spa is open every day from 10am to midnight.
Staying at Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor is a treat in and of itself. The entire hotel is centred on a calm, inky blue pool and a discreet courtyard. Just walking through this stylish space is enough to make your shoulders drop and the stress leave your body. You’ll slow down the pace of your day as you enjoy the open and inviting layout of the rooms, and once you set eyes on the oversized bathtubs available in each room, images of bubble baths and more will pop to mind. If all of that isn’t enough to make you feel like royalty, head to their spa where you can try one of their signature treatments. If you want a more active relaxation, enjoy a private yoga workout or a free meditation class with a Buddhist monk.
The Devatara Spa is a Cambodian-owned spa that has been designed as a sanctuary to refresh yourself from daily stressors. When you walk through the doors of this spa, you can rejuvenate your body and soul through the healing massage and body & beauty treatments. After all, the name of the spa translates to “tranquillity, peace, beauty, honour and light”…and who wouldn’t want to have a little more of all those things in their lives?
Once your spa treatments are finished and you’re walking on cloud nine, it’s time to dine out. There are hundreds of fantastic restaurants in Siem Reap, but for a unique “local” experience try the AHA Wine Bar. AHA serves tapas style starters as well as main dishes – both of which will be complemented by an extensive international wine list. The bottles tend to cost between $25-250AUD and it may be the best list available in city.
The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner. Once you’re seated in their stylish dining room, you can peruse a menu composed of salads and appetizers, main courses, and three-dish tapas-style combo’s, such as cheese, fish, and vegetarian. The meals are reasonably priced, where you will likely pay about $40AUD per person for a full meal with wine.
If you aren’t ready to melt away into a blissful coma after the full day of pampering you’ve just experienced, then head to Miss Wong for your post-dinner drinks and entertainment. The second you enter this establishment you will be carried back to the chic style of 1920s Shanghai. The main draw of this place is the cocktails. They are intricate, delicious and make it a fun place to spend a low-key but luxurious evening. Miss Wong is gay-friendly and extremely popular with the expat crowd living in Cambodia.
While you are focusing on enjoying yourself however you see fit, you don’t want little travel worries to be nagging at you. Instead of crossing your fingers and hoping that nothing goes wrong, buy travel insurance so you can have peace of mind and get back to focusing on the calming, relaxing holiday you have planned.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Tara Angkor Hotel.