Deciding on a perfect honeymoon destination is one of the most important decisions you will make as an about-to-be-newly-wedded couple. Where will you choose to go if you want to feel like you’re in unexplored territory but also want to be wrapped in luxury, while relishing incredible food along with a sense of history, surprise, and adventure? One unexpected option is Siem Reap – and Angkor Wat – in Cambodia.
Globally famous for its historical monuments and beauty, this destination offers just the right combination of everything − UNESCO World Heritage, ancient temples, culture, traditions, nature, exquisite cuisine and the generous warmth of its people. Angkor is in the northern part of Cambodia. The temple complex covers a vast area and is the largest religious monument in the world.
It was built in the 12th century and was once the site of the world’s largest city. Its decline was rapid, only 300 years later all but Angkor Wat was abandoned. A true vanishing act that remained in place until the jungle-shrouded site was discovered by French colonialists in 1861. A few miles south of the complex is the city of Siem Reap complete with all the infrastructure required to support one of the world’s most important archaeological sites, including every comfort you will need for your Angkor Wat honeymoon. Read on for a handful of compelling reasons to consider Angkor Wat and Siem Reap for your romantic trip of a lifetime.
There is a significant array of five-star glamour to be had in Siem Reap. Below are two luxury hotel options:
Amansara has long led the charge on low-key opulence. Here, supremely comfortable rooms with tubs and private pools, as well as a beautiful restaurant and main pool, have been immaculately restored from the property’s origins as a royal retreat. Eat delicious food and book not only a classic couple’s massage but also try a blind massage, performed by a local masseuse whose intuitive touch is incredibly healing.
Shinta Mani Angkor is an intimate 10-villa stunner designed by prolific and inspired architect Bill Bensley. There are Instagram-worthy bold, sumptuous and vibrant surprises at every turn, as well as private rooftop gardens, lavish outdoor tubs, Art Deco–tiled lap pools and wonderful butlers. The only trouble with this veritable Eden is that you will not want to leave, so this is something that you should bear in mind when planning to ensure that you have enough time to relax and soak up all the other honeymoon experiences that Angkor and Siem Reap have to offer.
You will understand so much more about the Khmer Empire if you pay a visit to this important museum in Siem Reap before visiting the Angkor Wat complex. The museum is dedicated to preserving Angkorian artifacts and does an exceptional job of explaining art and culture in the Khmer era dating back to the 9th-14th centuries.
The 12th-century temple complex is the world’s largest religious monument. It started Hindu and later became Buddhist, and features some of the most spectacular architecture and unbelievable carvings anywhere. It is grand beyond belief, and absolutely worth every second spent. Sunrise is an epic time to go, but plan to spend a few hours here and don’t skimp on finding yourself a good, solid guide.
Angkor Wat is far from the only worthy temple to tour. In fact, depending on your preference for architecture and ambience you may find some of the other Angkor temples to be even more magical. There’s Ta Prohm, whose ruins are seemingly held together by twisting strangler figs, and the pink sandstone Banteay Srei, the pyramid-shaped Koh Ker and mystical overgrown Beng Mealea, where you might just want to employ a professional photographer for a post wedding shoot that captures you both in a truly dreamy way.
Think fragrant and amazingly spiced fish and meat dishes, plus plenty of vegetables cooked in mouthwatering style. Siem Reap has some standout restaurants that serve flavor-packed plates of savory and sweet spins on royal dishes.
If you want to understand a culture, you must eat its food, and the best way to discover local cuisine is on a street food tour. Khmer cuisine is one of the oldest in the world, which over time has also been influenced by Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, and French techniques. A local food-expert guide can show you around some of the best vendors and food stalls in the city, ensuring that you learn about the dishes and their origins.
It is impossible not to be charmed by the apsara dancers carved into almost every ancient temple around Siem Reap, and it would be a shame to not see it come to life in a golden performance by the Sacred Dancers of Angkor, a non-profit troupe that show off their intricate grace and skill, accompanied by live music. The Apsara Dance performance is mesmerizing, and the show is a full-on production that lasts over an hour, with captivating dancers, intricate costumes, professional lighting, and intense backdrops.
Phare, The Cambodian Circus, is one of Cambodia’s most innovative social enterprise models. The NGO, Phare Ponleu Selpak, offers underprivileged kids from across the country the opportunity to train in a variety of performing arts, including music and circus skills. Around 75 percent of all profits go directly to the school.
Phare shows are unlike any in the world: dance, theater, original live music, juggling, gymnastics, and breath-taking circus arts are used to tell uniquely Cambodian stories from recent history, folklore and modern society. You will see everything in just one show: energy, emotion, enthusiasm and talent.
Get out on a sunset boat cruise on the mighty Tonlé Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and a UNESCO Nature Reserve since 1997. More than three million people live beside the lake, making their living by fishing on the water. The houses of the surrounding villages are built on stilts to allow for the lake’s changing levels. Explore the villages and see how the communities depend upon the lake.
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