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Travel insider's last-minute Khmer New Year getaway tips

Patrick
Patrick Chase's tips for a New Year getaway include Kep and Battambang.

Travel insider's last-minute Khmer New Year getaway tips

Patrick Chase’s job is to put together custom travel experiences, so with the Khmer New Year break looming, Will Jackson quizzed him on some lesser-known, last-minute getaway options for the less organised among us

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Starling Ridge Plantation Resort

KEP
They’ve just built these new chalets and villas at Starling Ridge Plantation Resort and it’s just a great place to stay. There’s a main house where you can use the pool. The chalets are really, really nice, and from there you escape the crowds at Kep and Kampot but you’re only a 20-minute drive from both. It’s got a nice restaurant there, too. Obviously, they have the pepper, but they grow a lot of other organic produce down there as well. We sent some very high-end clients there for lunch who raved about it. They loved the journey from Kep through all the little dusty roads, paddies, sugar palms. The countryside is so beautiful down there.
Rooms start from $35 per night. Web: starlingridge.com.

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PREAH VIHEAR
If you want to go see the escarpment temple at Preah Vihear – while tensions with Thailand are at a low ebb – the new Preah Vihear Boutique Hotel is the first decent place to stay in Sraem which is about 20 minutes away. It’s four-star and has air-conditioned rooms, a swimming pool, pool table and bar. It’s really nice. It would fit in in Siem Reap no trouble. And that could be something a little bit different.
Standard rooms start from $30 per night. Web: preahvihearhotels.com

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PHNOM PENH
If you actually decide just to stay in Phnom Penh, a lot of the hotels put on some great specials because the city’s just empty. The five-star Raffles Hotel Le Royal is doing “staycation” packages all through April with rooms starting at $125 including a buffet breakfast, three hours complementary babysitting and they will double the credit if you spend $50 or more on a restaurant, bar or spa voucher. La Rose Suites and Boutique Hotel and Spa is offering 50 per cent off its public room rates and bonuses like free massages and free use of the minibar. And Villa Sovanna, which is another nice little boutique place, is doing rooms starting at $50 with a free upgrade plus 15 per cent off food and 50 per cent off cocktails. Again, if you spend at least $5 on food and drinks, they will let you use the pool.
Web: raffles.com/phnom-penh, larose.com.kh and villasovanna.com

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BANTEAY CHHMAR
If you want to see an Angkorian temple I guarantee a lot of people haven’t and don’t mind a bit of a bumpy ride, then driving north of Battambang to Sisophon and then continuing on a bumpy road about an hour north from there, you get to Banteay Chhmar, where there’s a full-blown, Jayavarman VII temple. It’s magnificent. The main structure is crumbling stone surrounded by jungle with huge towers everywhere, and there are several satellite temples to boot. If you want to stay up there, this really interesting community which looks after the temples – all the entrance fees and everything go directly to the community; they also do home stays.
Home stays cost $7 per room. Web: visitbanteaychhmar.org

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BATTAMBANG
I just love Battambang, but it’s often forgotten. Last year at Khmer New Year, there was space at the best hotel in town, Bambu. It has a really airy, open-plan feel and combines contemporary design with a colonial feel. They have a lovely big swimming pool, nice informal outdoor bar/restaurant area and a great location. Great value for money.
Prices over KNY start from $90 for a standard twin or double. Website: bambuhotel.com.

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