Build unique experiences around two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Southeast Asia
There’s something about standing in the centre of a significant historic spot that makes you contemplate time. Home to a variety of ancient sites, ruins and early civilisations, it seems like everywhere you turn in Southeast Asia is a reminder of the past and the importance of living in the moment.
In Siem Reap, Cambodia for example, it impossible not to appreciate how long the temples have stood or what they must have been like during the height of the Khmer empire, as you wander through the impressive remains of the Angkor Archaeological Park. Passing by centuries old temples and learning more about the great Khmer civilisation that flourished around them is humbling to say the least. Stretching over 400 square metres, the remarkable City of Angkor is difficult to fathom, even when seeing it with your own eyes, and is best experienced by going slow. Between the size of the park and Cambodia’s heat, it’s easy to become fatigued when touring the temples, especially when waking up in the early morning hours to catch the sunrise over Angkor Wat. In this rural region, sticking to a strict schedule or packing your days with long to-do lists seems less important.
What is important is to take your time, soak in the experience and relish in unplanned moments.
Where you stay in Siem Reap has a significant impact on your experience in the area. While the town is filled with hotels, guesthouses and hostels of all shapes and sizes, to fully explore the wonders of Angkor and connect with the local community, one must make an effort to stay somewhere small and intimate. Inspired by traditional Khmer architecture, Samar Villas provides just the balance of luxury and local culture, tranquility and accessibility. With two villas, a two-bedroom apartment and five junior suites, the boutique hotel is a true haven from the temple crowds. After spending the day in Angkor, guests can come home to this secret getaway hidden right in the centre of Siem Reap and enjoy little luxuries including a complimentary shave for men and a refreshing facial for women.
Moving from Cambodia to Laos, another Southeast Asian country with a flair for following a more lenient sense time, a journey aboard The Vat Phou Cruise is an unforgettable experience. After boarding the custom-built luxury riverboat in Pakse, the three-day cruise follows the Mekong River taking explorers to Champasak and Don Khong Island. In addition to the comfortable cabins and soothing pace of life found along the river, one of the cruise’s highlights is a stop at the ancient ruins of Vat Phou temple. Meaning “Mountain Temple” Vat Phou, predates Angkor Wat and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002. The originally Hindu temple was, like Angkor, a Khmer complex and still invokes a sense of timelessness. After the visit, the journey continues to the 4,000 Islands where the rivers run but time seems to stop. Though there are a number of water activities available, the cruising experience’s true treasure is allowing guests to step back from their regular schedules and truly unwind, enjoying time in a new way.