I hope that on my next trip (wherever in the ...
Jan 17 - Jan 29, 2023
I hope that on my next trip (wherever in the world that might be), I have another guide like Chu and his team at Absolute Tours in Siem Reap. He was energetic (most sprightly!) and fun and absolutely made the city and Cambodia come alive for us while taking us on rarely traveled back-roads and single-track mountain bike trails. We were amazed by his knowledge and his passion for sharing and teaching. While many guides seem to tick the box, Chu was ready to take us beyond the well-worn tourist trails Instagram spots and to show us the rarely visited temples and vistas. For these kinds of experiences, we were deeply grateful. Touring Southeast Asian countries during the lunar holidays can certainly provided some challenges, but none so great that I couldn't recommend going at this time of year. So while there were some hiccups with communication along the way, our two week trip ultimately will be remembered for the stunning views and the amazing experiences and the lovely people we met in these two very unique countries.
You cannot beat this location! However, in being walking distance to nearly everything, you also end up with lots of noise. Some of this is city noise and some of it is from the hotel, but regardless, if you're a very light sleeper, there might be a better option. The breakfast was superb and the wifi was strong through out the property. There was a small gym, but it was dated. What really sets this place apart though is it's location. While not affiliated with the hotel, the Blue Butterfly restaurant across the street was also delicious and offered generous servings.
This is a nice place to stay for a night, but it really leaves you feeling uninspired and isn't remarkable for either very good or very bad reason. While clean and safe, Hidden Charm ultimately lacks any real character. By trying not to offend, it's decor and atmosphere feel very sterile and impersonal. On the contrary the staff were all wonderful and incredibly accommodating even going to far as to provide us another room at a discounted rate. The breakfast was varied and had something for everyone. The walk into town was short and easy and also felt safe. Hidden Charm had neither extreme highs nor extreme lows, and sometimes that exactly what you want in a travel hotel.
Parts of this hotel reminded me of an Agatha Christie novel. The Hotel Perle is a gorgeous hotel at the end of a long road from town with stunning views, a hidden path to another beach, and a lobby and bar right out of the 1920's. The food was amazing, the atmosphere was inviting and warm, and the amenities like the spa and gym are top-notch. The two private beaches are just that, private. They are clean and sunlit and perfect for all types of travelers. Wish we could have stayed longer. We will certainly be back. Highest recommendation.
While the boat staff was friendly and welcoming, the cruise itself lacked any real personality or excitement. Guests are left mostly to take in the views of the stunning bay (although floating debris and trash is a real detraction). The activities offered feel half hearted and mostly done so the boat can say the offered them. There is a real lack of earnestness in this. The fishing for squid is a great example. It was not squid season, nor were we in a spot where you'd normally catch squid, but they gave us the poles and told us to try anyway. While this type of cruise might appeal to some, it wasn't for us and so I can't recommend it.
A serene and luxurious place to stay. The staff was amazing, the rooms were immaculate, and the food was delicious. Would love to stay here again.
After having such incredible experiences at our other hotels on this trip, this was a major let down. The rooms and beds were old and well worn. My room on the fourth floor had an ant infestation that I was only aware of after having a cup of tea in my room. The doors didn't latch properly and needed slamming which created it's own kind of disturbance as well. The location is central and walking to some parts of town is easy, but rides are required for any place really worth going. The staff was friendly but distant. Kind, but not really caring. The breakfast was also far weaker than any other place we stayed. Cold food that was supposed to be hot, dry tasteless breads and weak tea and coffee (you could buy a stronger brewed cup) made this feel more like a motel than a hotel. The pool was nice, but it wasn't anything special. While we felt both safe here and could endure the minor physical problems and blemishes this is not a hotel (and definitely not a resort) that I can recommend or would travel to again.
After cycling for a couple hours, we stopped for a late lunch at a tourist dive. It was fine. Nothing special. It might have been authentic, but it was mass produce for tour buses. We walked around town on our own and found a great little hostel by the river which had bonfires set up and bar. That was the coziest part of our stay here. The next day we took a 45 minute boat ride first thing which was peaceful and uncrowded. It was nice until the boat operator stopped us in the middle of the river and tried to sell us the goods in her bag. We floated there for five minutes and kindly and politely said "no thank you" until she gave up and started rowing again. It was a major turnoff and we felt pressured to buy since her rowing was the only way for us to get to dry land. The ride through the cave and the peacefulness of the morning wasn't ruined, but it did spoil the moment prematurely.
This was a fantastic hike in a beautiful part of the island. Not too easy and not too difficult. A good stop along the tour.
I wish we had more time here. What a fantastic little town with stunning beaches. We sat and read and wrote and went for run. The LNY celebrations were loud and festive. We will definitely be back next year.
Our driver from the hotel to the pier left us on the dock with no instructions. Two hours passed before a boat came to pick us up. We asked several other boat skippers if they were our ride and they made calls to the Era on our behalf. Finally I called Alex who was able to get in touch with the boat. Mr. Lee called me and said 20 minutes. 30 minutes later he called again and said 20 minutes. We were very lucky the day was overcast and hot and sunny or raining as there was no shelter on the pier.
It was nice to get off the large boat and into a smaller one to explore the coastline more closely. The sun was coming up and we saw moneys in the trees and birds starting to stir. It was a peaceful time and nice excursion.
Exploring the old town and riding up the coast was a nice change to the tourist areas we had been seeing. Stopping by the inlaid wood artisans was nice although they pressured us to buy their art, we politely declined. The boat ride would have been nicer but the weather didn't cooperate which wasn't anyone's fault, just bad luck. However the highlight of this day was definitely the cooking class with Hu. The family owned restaurant was exactly the type of experience we were looking for. Hu was funny and quick and a great teacher. I would definitely recommend going to see him and his family if you want something of a more authentic interaction where no one tries to sell you tourist bobbles.
Good roads and an easy bike ride as long as the weather cooperates. Decent views from the top and lots of caves and history to learn about while visiting.
Walking around the old town is great for people watching and picking up more authentic souvenirs from local artists. There are a fair share of stalls and eateries and places to get cold drinks while looking at the different historic architectural styles. We enjoyed getting off the bikes and doing the walking tour.
Chu was a fantastic guide and gave us exactly the experience we were looking for. He was quick and agile and kept the tour from getting bogged down behind lines of tourists. He knew the shortcuts and bike trails which took us off the main roads and to the lesser known temples and ruins. His knowledge was excellent and his energy was contagious which helps when you leave the hotel at 5AM for the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Chu was by far the strongest cyclist and more fit than our other guides which allowed us to see and do more than a traditional van or bus tour.
A chance to try street food! My travel partner ate a fried tarantula and kind of enjoyed it! It was great to get away from the tourist lines and experience the city that the locals know.
The Landmine Museum is a MUST DO! To understand history, you must look at the parts that aren't as easy to digest and the museum does just that. Mr. Akira is a fantastic storyteller and we spent close to an hour with him learning about his life and mission.
Thanks so much for your review! We’re really glad to know that you enjoyed your holiday in Vietnam and Cambodia. Thanks for your kind words about Chu and our Absolure Teams in Cambodia, he is very happy to know that you enjoyed your trip and sends his warm regards. Your honest feedback is highly appreciated, as it enables us to further develop our services. Thanks again for the review and for being such a great customer.