Just back from: Cruising Cambodia on the Scenic Spirit

Cambodia is a bewitching brew of forested temples, haunting histories and proud cultures. Known for its warm and generous people, a smile is never far away in this kind-hearted country, and its street food is some of the finest you’ll ever taste. We caught up with Sue Eaton, Store Manager of Kuoni at John Lewis Reading, and Kelly Ruth from Kuoni at John Lewis Norwich about their trip

What was the capital Phnom Penh like?

My stay in Phnom Penh was mostly spent scooting about the city by tuk tuk and soaking up the nightlife. It was fantastic.

But one of the most memorable experiences of my time here was a visit to the Killing Fields. I found this really emotional, learning about the history of the Khmer Rouge genocide and how people’s lives were affected, but it was an unforgettable part of my stay in the capital.

I also got to sample some local rums at a quaint distillery and visit the Oudong monastery, where I got a glimpse into the lives of the monks and nuns who are raised here. Another incredible experience was the trip to Angkor Ban to see the houses that survived the Khmer Rouge regime. I even got to visit a school in the village and join in with the children’s English lesson.

How did you find Siem Riep?

I spent three nights in Siem Riep at the opulent Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor. It felt like a step back in time, with the French-inspired architecture and charming Cambodian-style décor, and the service was exceptional.

Siem Riep’s nightlife is very different to Phnom Penh. The centre is buzzing with restaurants and bars serving up $1 beers. My highlight here was seeing Angkor Wat at sunrise. It’s one of the most famous temples in the world and seeing it in that early morning light was amazing.

What was life like on board the Scenic Spirit?

It was a luxury experience from start to finish. All the staff were there to greet each guest as we stepped on board. This included my designated butler, who was on hand throughout my stay to help with anything I wanted or needed.

The beautifully-designed deck is the perfect place to gaze out over the river and drink cocktails made by the friendliest barman you’ll ever meet! You can sit on your balcony and watch the world go by, or enjoy a swim in the infinity-like pool as you sail the Mekong. I highly recommend a massage at the spa – it was one of the best I’ve had, and very affordable at $40 for a 60-minute treatment.

How is the service on board?

The service was outstanding. The staff are so welcoming and the expert guides are fabulous. They’re fun, knowledgeable and they made all of the experiences and activities I did come to life. What’s also helpful to know is that there’s no need to tip on board, as it’s all included as part of your cruise.

What’s the food like on board?

There’s so much choice. At breakfast, you can fill up on fresh pastries and cheeses, order the full works, or have the chef dish up eggs your way at the omelette station. Lunch is usually buffet-style and dinner is mostly à la carte, with a menu full of fragrant curries, salads, soups, grilled meats and seafood. I liked that a lot of the ingredients were locally sourced, so I got to try lots of tasty Asian dishes – even Cambodia’s favourite snack, fried spider (it was surprisingly delicious!).

What’s special about a Scenic cruise?

You can relax from the minute you arrive. Everything is taken care of for you and you don’t have to worry about a thing. I love that. The vibe is very informal. The Scenic Enrich experiences will also make your stay, as they’ve all been carefully thought out and really give you a great insight into the local culture. I also think it’s so impressive how much is included, with no hidden costs along the way.

Who would enjoy this cruise?

This particular itinerary is ideal for people who want to explore this extraordinary part of the world and cruise the Mekong in luxury, or those who want to be on the move and discover more of Cambodia without having to fly between places.

What was your trip highlight?

Without a doubt, the final Scenic Enrich experience. We got to go to the magical 10th Century Hindu temple, Prasat Kravan, for a candlelit gala dinner and to watch a traditional Aspara dance performance. It was one of the most memorable things I have ever done.

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