Emily is sharing the second half of her Cambodia and Thailand adventure this week, read on for some fantastic travel tips!
Koh Samui itself felt like a typical beach town, but is known for having some of the world’s most incredible beaches, diving spots and spas. That said, it’s a wonderful place for two people to be in love! On Koh Samui, you can relax, take in the sun, and get a wonderful tan during the day. At night, it’s a great place to hit the disco or eat at one of the island’s amazing restaurants (check out The Page for dinner and The Library for drinks!). We found that the easiest way to get around the small island was via motorbike, so one of our days there was spent cruising and exploring the island hitting main attractions like the Big Buddha Temple (Wat Prhra Yai). Another day was spent at the award winning Tamarind Springs Spa – which is a MUST for anyone visiting the tiny island. The lush tropical surroundings at this spa are blissful and holy. Here, we enjoyed the Forest Dream package, which included a 1.5-hour adventure in the steam; sauna and waterfall rock pools as well as a 2.5-hour massage service of our choosing. From the moment we arrived, we were made to feel welcome in the tranquil surrounds of the spa. The steam and rock pools were invigorating - the herbal steam and body scrub were the highlights. The massage took place in a covered but open hut in the rainforest and exceeded expectations - a clear difference in the training, technique and expertise of these therapists in comparison to elsewhere. We were also provided a light spa lunch, which we all agreed was one of our favorite meals of the trip. I can’t express how relaxing and gorgeous this place was. We left feeling like royalty.
Siem Reap, Cambodia – Even writing the name Navutu Dreams Resort and Spa gives me chills. This was my absolute favorite stay of the trip – the place was THE dream that I wished I had never awoken from. Tucked away on a residential road, the resort’s location provides the perfect marriage between the luxury of escapism and proximity (as it is only about a 10 minute tuk tuk ride from the centre of Siem Reap). Personally, I liked being "away" from the commotion of the city and preferred the comfort brought by the throws of the resort's relaxing spa vibe - it was so peaceful. The setting and the hotel’s (3) pools are beautiful and the rooms are lovely, spacious, private and extremely well kept (cleaning services are offered twice a day!). However, it is the understated attention to detail that makes Navutu what it is. The early morning chirping birds and assorted animal sounds were musical additions that you cannot plan. The food was delicious and both Eastern and Western menus are offered. Our picturesque room overlooked the pool, but there are some rooms that are tucked away by the garden area, and if you explore a little bit, you can find the green hammocks (which are great for a nice little mid-afternoon nap). The spa services were inexpensive, but extremely enjoyable (I recommend getting the relaxation massage!) and the on-site yoga studio is a very cool extra perk (special shout out to Francoise, who was a great instructor!). The resort staff, and our tuk tuk driver, Bun, (which the hotel conveniently pre-arranged for our visit and included in the pricing), were kind, respectful, happy and unforgettable! Everyone spoke wonderful English and the concierge team led by Ms. Reaksmey was always available to us with smiles, tending to whatever we needed. They even greeted us by our names (yes, they took the time to learn our names!). The resort staff made our time in Cambodia so easy for us - eagerly assisting with anything and everything from dinner recommendations and reservations to shows, tours, shopping, daytime activities and so forth. Overall, throughout my three weeks of travel - I felt the most relaxed during my time at Navutu. As I said before, it's paradise – the dream I never wanted to leave. This resort is honestly in another league and I am delighted we picked it to remember along with our amazing memories of Angkor Wat. Don't ever hesitate to stay here. It was perfect!
Siem Reap was an overwhelmingly poor city. In fact, it was probably the most 3rd world place I have traveled to. Even with that being said, I was completely enamored by the Cambodian people, history and culture. The people do not live the grand lives that we do, and yet they are so content and appreciative, patient and warm. I loved speaking with them and feel that we could really learn a lot about living within our means from them. In terms to-dos in the city of Siem Reap, you CANNOT miss the beautiful Angkor Watt. Both sunrise and sunset views cast the perfect scene for romance. Angkor Wat is the temple that everybody knows of, but it REALLY does live up to the hype, especially when the morning light washes over the overgrown temples and ruins; it is here that a sunrise is a profound event. The ancient structures are contained within one of the largest religious complexes in known to man. Like wise, this place is undoubtedly one of the best attractions in the world – unmatched beauty, gorgeous temples, ruins and carvings and so much more to explore! There is so much history in this city and so much to learn from the sights. Aside from the temple hopping, Siem Reap has some amazing restaurants, and cool shops to explore too. We fell in love with the Khmer Ceramics Fine Arts Centre on Temple Drive and got a lesson in national history at the Cambodian Cultural Village. At night we breezed through the Angkor Night Market practicing our haggling skills amongst a bonanza of shopping stalls, food vendors, and bars. Best of all, we really got to enjoy each other’s company here - just relaxing at the resort, taking yoga, swimming and reading by the pool.
All in all, Thailand and Cambodia provided me with JUST enough inspiration to pull me through another wedding season (kidding!), but if any of our couples ask about where they should consider for their honeymoon, without a shadow of a doubt, I would recommend these fabulous spots in Thailand and Cambodia!