Take a Digital Detox and Destress in Cambodia

It might not be the first place that comes to mind, but the tropical country is ideal for a relaxing vacation. Here are 15 reasons to come, unplug and rejuvenate.
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Cambodia’s Coast

There is nothing more relaxing than sitting on a beach chair listening to the soft waves of the sea, and the Cambodian coast is starting to be recognized for providing just that. As the popularity of the coastal town Sihanoukville swells, heading out to the Koh Rong Archipelago has become the latest escape. Avoid the backpacker crowds on Koh Touch and head around the island to Palm Beach Bungalow Resort for a peaceful stay with snorkeling, kayaking or nightly bioluminescence tours.

Slow Down

One of the most effective ways to unwind from the daily grind is to simply slow down, and that’s inevitable in Cambodia. As the country is still developing, things like daily transportation and simple errands tend to take much longer than travelers are generally accustomed to. It can teach travelers about patience and simpler ways of living.

Yoga and Culture

Both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap have thriving yoga communities, from aerial yoga to Foundation. Nataraj has been bringing yoga as therapy to local Cambodians for more than a decade as well as providing classes with qualified instructors for travelers and residents alike. For retreats, head to Siem Reap’s Blue Indigo Yoga Cottage or Navatu Dreams Resort and Wellness Retreat.

Wellness Centers

Phnom Penh has a fast developing wellness scene with organic grocery stores popping up and specialized wellness centers becoming a city staple. Sâmata Health and Wellness Studio focuses on more clinical practices of pilates and physiotherapy while the newly opened Enso Healing Space has its focus on ancient practices of meditation, sound therapy and Shiatsu.

Banteay Srey Sanctuary

“Kampot is an exceptional place in bustling Asia to experience authentic Khmer culture, natural surroundings, and moments of rare solitude,” says Banteay Srey Sanctuary owner, Freya Metz. These moments of solitude are found at her women’s sanctuary. Started as a way to assist human trafficking victims, Banteay Srey now embodies a holistic approach to healing guests and staff alike. With daily yoga classes, an organic garden and restaurant, and a cozy, over-water reading area, this women-run retreat is one of Cambodia’s gems.

Vipassana in Battambang

The ultimate in unplugging is through Vipassana, a type of silent meditation thought to aid in daily mindfulness and lifelong enlightenment. Situated in northern Cambodia, the Battambang Vipassana Centre is host to a 10-day intensive journey toward the self. The course is guided by professional, experienced instructors and takes place in a peaceful province away from city distractions.

Hiking in Mondulkiri

Nothing heals the soul like spending time in nature, so getting to the mountains of Mondulkiri is one of Cambodia’s best remedies. To fully rejuvenate, the eco-friendly Nature Lodge works in harmony with its surroundings to provide a sanctuary from the fast-pace of modern life. Whether it’s hiking the surrounding mountains or swimming next to waterfalls, the restorative power of Mondulkiri shouldn’t be missed.

River Cruise

The Mekong has long been the connecting force between mainland Southeast Asia, so spending any bit of time on the water gives an even greater perspective on the lives of the people here. Slowing down and making the trip by boat from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap or even into neighboring Vietnam is a welcome change of pace to the moto-filled streets. For overnight adventures, Pandaw and Viking River Cruises provide luxury explorations.

Kampot Train

As a new addition to the transportation system in Cambodia, the old train from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville recently revamped itself and started making the trip. The current running time is about six and a half hours, but with a stop in Kampot it makes for a safer, cheaper way to travel and view the underappreciated, yet impressive Cambodian countryside.

Angkor Wat

Step back in time at the 12th century temples of Angkor Wat. The intricate stone carvings have survived hundreds of years and act as a gentle reminder of the rise and fall of empires. The main temples tend to be heavily crowded so for a more relaxing visit, take time to see the outer temples.

Khmer Cooking Classes

Khmer cuisine is an art. The preparation for meals sometimes takes a full day of market shopping, ingredient preping and patience while waiting for spices and flavors to infuse, but the final tasting is well worth the wait. The delicate, complex flavors of Khmer food aren’t immediately picked up by foreign palates, but taking the time to understand the depth of these dishes begins the process of appreciation.

Kirirom Mountain

Kirirom National Park is a quick escape from the dense Phnom Penh center, and the expansive pine forest provides a reprieve from the city. Taking advantage of the solitude are Kirirom Mountain Lodge and Kirirom Pine Resort. Both have cabin-chic accommodations while still remaining purely about cohabitating with the natural surroundings. Spend time wandering Kirirom’s strawberry garden, buy a flower crown from the girls in small villages and head off into the mountain in search of waterfalls. It’s easy to find bliss and stillness in Kirirom.

Bees Unlimited

Beekeeping isn’t exactly what travelers think of when planning their trip to Siem Reap, but it’s the perfect way to escape the crowds and experience something truly unique. The owner, Dani, creates a full day’s itinerary to enjoy the simpler side of the city’s outskirts with a traditional breakfast and visits to the market and local artisans. His passion for a slower pace shines in his personal quest to educate locals about the techniques of rafter beekeeping, which in turn helps the community better provide for their families.

Wellness Festivals and Workshops

“I want to describe the wellness in Cambodia as a hidden gem. I was most inspired by the healers that I met at the Kindness Festival and my experience with them blew me away. There were massage therapists, reiki healers, energy healing and chakra balancing workshops, cranial sacral therapy, palm reading, and yoga workshops taking place in the wellness zone at Kindness Festival,” said Phnom Penh healer Cindy Vo. With 2016 having the first ever Wellness Weekend in Phnom Penh and Kindness Festival in Siem Reap, and the annual International Day of Yoga, the confluence of Western and Eastern practices can be experienced in a powerful way throughout the country.

Strong Community

Considering the not-so-distant traumas this country endured, their positivity is even more special and inspiring. Spending time surrounded by the caring people of this country can have an extreme healing power. Join in any community activity, from a spontaneous soccer game to the daily aerobics classes and the people will welcome you with their signature smile — and probably an invitation to drink beer after!

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