Looking for a last-minute, exotic adventure over the Christmas holiday break? I’ve got the perfect spot- Siem Reap, Cambodia! Make a stop in Thailand then take a convenient one hour flight to Cambodia. You can also see my picks for what to do in Thailand here. Want to kick your Cambodian vacation off in style? Be sure to book a stay at a luxury hotel. Ours sent a driver who escorted us past the long lines and right into a private car. Now that is an amazing way to make an impression Cambodia! You will fall in love before you ever see anything!
We booked our stay at the fabulous Belmond La Residence D’Angkor, just a few miles from the heart of the city. On the way there from the airport, we could see the majestic Angkor Wat rising right out of landscape!
There are actually more than 1000 UNESCO world heritage protected temples in the area including Angkor Wat. I would love to explore them all someday. Angkor Wat was a sight to be seen. It was built during the Khmer Empire, between the 9th and 14th centuries, and is the largest religious monument in the world.
The best time to visit Angkor Wat is before sunrise and I would highly recommend hiring a guide. There is nothing more magical or mind blowingly awe-inspiring then watching the sun come up over this magnificent, spiritual fortress. We also loved the fact that there were no crowds and tons of photo ops early in the morning.
You should always pick a hotel with amazing service. Ours sent us with a picnic breakfast on our sunrise adventure. Now that is service! My daughter, Kaya even shared a bit of her breakfast with the temple monkeys. Allow at least 2 to 3 hours to explore this entire complex and, of course, watch the magnificent sunrise.
What better way to spend your holiday weeks and to kick off your New Year than by enjoying special performances during the festive season through the uber luxurious Amansara (Aman Resorts). Celebrate New Year’s Eve with a spectacular dinner and a journey through Cambodian performing arts amid a candle lit 10th century temple.
There is so much to see in Siem Reap and the surrounding area that it’s no wonder Travel and Leisure Magazine ranked it 4th in their worlds best cities survey. Even if you can’t make it for the holidays, be sure to plan your trip soon.
One of the best things to do in Siem Reap is to visit the bustling night markets with great shopping that supports the Angkor artisans. Take a trip down Pub Street with its many American style pubs, bars and an incredible range of gourmet restaurants with fantastic food. The favored mode of city travel? A Tuk Tuk of course! They’re as conveniently ubiquitous as a taxi in New York City.
Nearby are the unbelievable must see temples of Angkor Thom, the Ba Yon and the Ta Prohm Temples (recognizable from the movie Lara Croft Tomb Raider). Or take a helicopter trip to the most remote jungle temples that are unreachable by any other mode of transportation for a picnic in a Jungle Book-like setting! And definitely take a boat tour of Tonle Sap lake, the largest freshwater lake in south east Asia, where you can investigate and photograph the famous traditional floating villages featured in the movie Apocalypse Now.
Don’t leave Cambodia or start your New Year off without receiving a water blessing to cleanse your Spirit at Wat Athvea. A Buddhist Monk performs the purifying ritual at this 12th-century temple. This is the perfect calming way to end your trip and leave you with an undeniable love for the country and its people.