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Spotlight on Majestic Myanmar

Fishing canoe Myanmar scenary

Guest post by Ella Kim, trekbible.

Myanmar, formerly called Burma, is often referred to as “The Golden Land” due to the thousands of gilded pagodas peppered throughout its landscape. The environment of Myanmar today is very similar to that of Thailand several decades ago, and this beautiful and quaint atmosphere draws an increasing number of tourists to the area each year.

Myanmar residents are not only welcoming to tourists, they are also extremely helpful. They often take time out of their day to show visitors around their country and point out the best landmarks and attractions.

Practicing English is essential to many Myanmar residents, and therefore tourists are often approached with a friendly smile and a “Hello, what is your name?”

The City of Bagan

Overview of the historic city of Bagan in Myanmar.

Bagan is Myanmar’s most ancient city, boasting more than 3,100 temples dating back to the 1100s. With lovely gilded spires that span the horizon, the dreamy cityscape has the appearance of something one would see in a book of fairytales.

However, despite its magnificent appearance, the center of Bagan feels more like a tranquil village than a city, and this is primarily because its temples usually outnumber its visitors. This gives it a refreshing, quaint feeling that is not found in most other areas of Asia.

Myanmar Cuisine

Food in Myanmar is inexpensive, delicious and plentiful. Many people have never had Burmese fare prior to visiting Myanmar, and subsequently find it unique and tasty. Dishes in Myanmar are derived from Chinese, Indian and Thai ingredients.

The most frequently served dishes are Mohinga–orange fish sauce and rice noodles–Shan Noodles stir fried in bean and chicken sauce with peanuts and vegetables, and Onnokauswe–noodles cooked in coconut milk. Most menus also feature spicy soups and almost all dishes include curry in their ingredients.

Thanks to its tropical climate, the country also boasts a vast array of fresh fruit for sale, and smoothies are offered in most restaurants.

Lodging

Accommodation in Myanmar can be found to suit virtually all budgets and lifestyles. Although the Myanmar Kyat is the preferred currency, most hotels and resorts also take the American dollar and the euro.

Budget accommodation can be found for approximately $5-$40 per night, while mid-range hotels and resorts can be secured for anywhere from $40 to $120 per night. Luxury lodging is available for approximately $120-$400 per night. At the top end, visitors will discover true style and opulence, with beautifully appointed establishments that match any luxury hotel or resort around the world.

Myanmar Weather and Travel Seasons

The best months to travel to Myanmar are November, December, January and February. Like most areas of Southeast Asia, the dry season in Myanmar runs from late October to mid-May. The wet season is from the end of May until the beginning of October, when monsoons begin to blow from the southwest. May and June are extremely hot, and during these months temperatures often reach 40° Celsius (104° Fahrenheit).

Things to See and Do

Shwedagon Paya

The magnificent temple of Shwedagon Paya in Myanmar

One of the most sacred sites among Myanmar Buddhists is the Shwedagon Paya. This 325 foot structure is adorned with thousands of precious gemstones, including diamonds, and features 27 metric tons of gold leaf. The Paya features four stairways leading to the temple’s main entrance and primary terrace. Those searching for tranquility should visit the temple at dawn, but its most spectacular backdrop appears in the evening, when the sun casts burnt orange, crimson and gold hues over the Paya in a spectacular display of color.

Mandalay Hill

View from Mandalay hill in Myanmar

Mandalay Hill is a great attraction for anyone who enjoys walking or climbing. The hill itself is 760 feet tall and the path is covered with rustic stairways and offers visitors their choice of several routes to the top. However, the paths taken by tourists usually pass numerous pagodas and temples, where it may be necessary to go barefoot for several yards. These customs are sometimes not enforced, but visitors should keep them in mind when traveling to Mandalay Hill. The climb takes approximately half an hour, but many people choose to stop en route to view various sites along the summit.

Bagaya Kyaung

Myanmar's Bagaya Kyaung MonasteryAnother highly memorable attraction in Myanmar is the Bagaya Kyaung Monastery. This impressive structure is supported on 270 teak posts, with the largest of them boasting measurements of nine feet in circumference and 60 feet in height. This creates a dark, cool prayer hall through which there is a constant flow of visitors. Stained timbers within the structure are inscribed with lotus flower and peacock motifs.

Despite its many visitors, it remains a functioning monastery and tourists will see monks on the premises at all times. Tourists are welcome, but are asked to be respectful to local patrons who are conducting prayers and the Bagaya Kyaung monks who live on site.

Myanmar Marionettes

Marionette puppet from MyanmarThe Myanmar Marionettes Theater is a wonderful place for both adults and children, where internationally known puppeteers re-create tales of history and fantasy on a tiny stage with colorful marionettes. Visitors can also purchase puppets from the theater and the proceeds go to keeping the establishment open.

Myanmar is a perfect vacation destination for anyone searching for a unique and interesting area of the world in which to spend time. Regardless of where one stays or which attractions he or she chooses to see, a visit to Myanmar will never be forgotten.

Head to the Beach!

tropical beach with palm trees from MyanmarPhoto credits: FreeImages.com/Tamlyn Rhodes

With 2,000 km (1,200+ miles) of near pristine beaches along the west coast, Myanmar’s beaches are home to white sands and spectacular sunsets. While some beachfronts like Chuang Tha or Ngapali have become more and more developed over the years, there are still spots like Ngwe Saung or Kanthaya Beach that offer more laid-back and “unspoiled” scenes. Be mindful that most areas near beaches do tend to “shut down” for the monsoon season which lasts from May to October. Myanmar beaches “reopen” around December and last through April, so if you’d like to catch some waves, plan accordingly!”

Myanmar beach with fisherman's boats

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Ella, Content Manager for trekbible, is a writer and content specialist with a predilection for learning and exploring new places and cultures around the world.

With family scattered throughout the U.S. and South Korea, she loves to see cross-cultural influences around the world. Her favourite thing to do on her travels is to taste the local cuisine of each destination.

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M’Pay Bay – The Beach Village No One Wants to Leave

Beach view of M'Pay Bay Village on Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia. © Beachmeter.com

“Came for a few days, stayed for two weeks”

Local residents and expatriates of M’Pay Bay Village have heard that one before. But what is it about Koh Rong Samloem’s M’Pay Bay Village that spellbinds visitors to change their travel plans and stay as long as their budget, tourist visa, or return flight will allow them to?

Even though we were already madly in love with the west side of the island, we decided to head to the north-side of the island to investigate what the buzz is about.

Reaching M’Pay Bay Village

We heard good things about M’Pay Bay Village. A cosy little fisherman’s village with a pleasant atmosphere. When we decided to go there, it turned out to be less straightforward than expected. It seemed, no-one could give us exact information on how to get to this mythical village. “There is a hiking trail from Saracen Bay that will take you to the village – but bring a machete”. “Oh no, it’s not possible to hike through the jungle”, “take a boat to Ecosea & Bungalow Village Resort and ask a fisherman to take you from there to the village”, “no, you should catch the supply boat coming from Sihanoukville and hop off at the village, but it doesn’t always go”.

In the end, the best advice we got was to go to White Orchid restaurant and ask the staff. This restaurant seems to be a little transportation hub for the island of Koh Rong Samloem. We waited a couple hours on Saracen Bay which we spent exploring the long beach, and then hopped on the supply boat.

Sailing counter clockwise around the island to the northside of the island, we arrived at the village pier.

Quickly we began to understand the spell-binding charm of this village. The village pier where you get off has quirky wooden houses on stilts attached to it. As you continue onto the island, you step right onto the main road of the village.

Charming beach street of Accommodation M'Pay Bay, Koh Rong Samloem. © Beachmeter.com

Who can resist a village where the main road looks like this!

Idyllic beach village in Cambodia. © Beachmeter.com

Looking down the main street in the other direction

Accommodation options in M’Pay Bay Village

Small restaurants and new guesthouses and bungalow resorts are springing up in the village. Tourist numbers are low, but growing bit by bit. The establishments are partly owned by local entrepreneurs taking advantage of the new opportunities brought by tourism, and partly by foreigners who simply couldn’t bear to leave the village. Luckily, until now the accommodation has been kept low-key and simple, reflecting the life of a fisherman village.

Accommodation and restaurant signs from M'Pay Bay Village, Koh Rong Samloem. © Beachmeter.com

M’Pay Bay’s growing number of accommodation options

There are options for those who want a homestay type experience, where local families have cleared space in a few of their rooms to welcome visitors. The Drift has a welcoming hostel atmosphere with common sleeping areas and youthful vibes, while you can try to spend the night in a hammock at The Dragon Fly (mosquito nets included). Bungalow options have become rather numerous ranging from dirt-cheap to mid-range bliss.

Those seeking a romantic hideout go to Sunset Bungalows located on a rocky peninsula with beautiful seaviews or Ecosea & Bungalow Village, situated a few hundred meters east of the village. The latter practically has its own private beach. Worth a mention is the absolutely charming Beach House (our favourite) with stunning architecture, great views from the hammock on the balcony, and high comfort.

Stunning accommodation architecture at The Beach House in M'Pay Bay Village on Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia.

The amazing Beach House

Restaurants – Khmer, Turkish, Western, or Japanese?

Local restaurant at M'Pay Bay Village, Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia. © Beachmeter.com

Delicious food with local flavour…

Fruit store on the main street of M'Pay Bay Village, Koh Rong Samloem. © Beachmeter.com

..and fresh fruits to go with it

In the village, there are both restaurants that serve Khmer and Southeast Asian classics, and the usual Western classics of burgers and pasta. Highly recommendable are two restaurants right on the pier: Babagannus serving Turkish delicacies and a local family-run restaurant serving a rich and varied buffet (book in advance). Plenty of fresh seafood and no shortages for vegans and vegetarians either.

Here are a few images from in and around the village.

M’Pay Bay’s Beaches

On either side of the pier there is a beach. For taking a dip or swimming the best one is on your right hand side as you face the island coming from the village pier. A good handful of small bungalow resorts and restaurants are situated along this side of the beach, and the sandy stretch is kept cleaner here by the accommodation providers. The sand is soft and no sharp rocks or corals lay on the seabed. There are basically no waves and the water is shallow for the first 30 meters heading out. As you approach the small peninsula on the left, the seabed becomes rocky and slightly more dangerous, as there are large sea urchins between the rocks.

Heading in the opposite direction (south), you will pass fishermen’s boats and an area with some small boulders, before you reach the beach pictured in the last image above. The beach here has some sea debris, but is otherwise beautiful, and the water of the bay is usually calm.

Snorkeling and Kayaking

Apart from the rocky areas near the peninsula, there is not much going on in terms of snorkeling right off the beaches. However, we strongly recommend you to grab a kayak and snorkels, and head towards the small cone island, Koh Koun, right in front of M’Pay Bay Village. On the opposite side of the small island there is a stunning display of marine life and great visibility. Should you want to dive, the village has a dive center right on the beach.

While you have a charming village, an impressive selection of food, and above average beaches, what really spellbinds people to this location is the laid back and jovial atmosphere. People from various places on the globe have been smitten by the village, and together they have built a thriving community that rubs off on anyone visiting this village on the northern side of Koh Rong Samloem.

Can’t get enough of Cambodia?

Don’t forget to further explore Cambodia on our dedicated Cambodia destination page. You can also ready about why Cambodia is Southeast Asia’s next big beach destination.

Bangkok Area Guide

Bangkok night view

Arrival in Bangkok

Bangkok taxisThe hot and humid air attacks your face. You enter the back seat of a taxi, look for the seat belt, and remember – seat belts are not a thing here. The meter makes a double beep every now and then, and the radio chats away in Thai while giant billboards fly by and well-known skyscrapers appear one after another. You take a deep breath – Bangkok it’s good to be back!

Bangkok in a “Not”shell

You can’t have Bangkok in a nutshell. It’s already everything except clean and quiet. It’s touristy and not touristy, familiar and yet so foreign, it’s rough and delicate, it’s lowly alleys and posh roof-tops, it’s high or low, love or hate. So many destinies are bound to this place. Bangkok changes the direction of lives.

As the unequivocal hub in Southeast Asia, Bangkok is the entry and exit point for flows of people to the region. Some never escape while some leave instantly refusing to let the city get under their skin. It got under ours.

Bangkok Area Guide

Khaosan Road travel guide rattanakosin bangkok historical area city guide bangkok chinatown yaowarat travel guide silom and patpong travel guide bangkok siam square travel guide sukhumvit travel guide Image HTML map generator

Click on the map!

Bangkok is one of those cities every one has an opinion about. There is the dreadful traffic, constant noise, polluted air interspersed with foul smells from who knows what, and then there is the impressive metropolitan dynamics, fantastic shopping and nightlife, and infinite adventure potential. You can find everything in Bangkok, you get people from all corners of the world, and the city delivers for cheap charlies and big spenders alike. Those who manage to overcome the first clashes with Bangkok, will often grow to love the metropolis and repeatedly come back for visits.

To get the most out of your stay in Bangkok, you need to know about the areas of the city. This is Beachmeter.com’s concise guide to the most central and relevant (to tourists) areas of the City of Angels, Bangkok, or as the Thais call it Krung Thep.

(1) Khaosan Road (Thai: ถนนข้าวสาร)

Khaosan Road BangkokKhaosan Road has been the number one backpacker hub in Bangkok for decades. In fact, it is the backpacker hub for all of Southeast Asia. Backpackers from all over the world are attracted by cheap hostels, an impressive selection of low-budget restaurants, colourful bars, street side market vendors with everything from tacky souvenirs to artisan fashion design, travel and tour agents, and most of all the youthful and neo-hippieish vibe. Khaosan Road is also near the old historical district of Bangkok, and nearby temples (wat‘s) and monks in orange ropes add to the exoticism.

Khaosan Road is the main strip, but the surrounding area – called Banglamphu – is equally vibrant. Try walking down Soi Rambuttree which has developed as a slightly calmer Khaosan Road “light”. While the amount of tourists and hectic noise turn off some visitors from staying in the area, you can’t help but love the bombardment of the senses at Khaosan Road.

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(2) Rattanakosin (Thai: รัตนโกสินทร์)

Wat Phra Kaew Rattanakosin BangkokWithin walking or tuk-tuk distance from Banglamphu, you will find the old historical area called Rattanakosin. The area is situated along the Chao Phraya River a little north of Chinatown. Here you will find Bangkok’s most impressive temples and historical attractions. The most famous of these are The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. If you are hungry for more temples, don’t miss Wat Pho and Wat Mahathat either.

This area is compulsory on most Bangkok city tours, so you will not be alone. As always, wide-eyed tourists attract hustlers and tricksters, so be sceptical of friendly people advising you on free tuk-tuk excursions, closed temple entrances, and made up Buddhist holidays etc. That said, you haven’t really been to Bangkok, before you have checked off Rattanakosin.

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(3) Chinatown aka. Yaowarat (Thai: เยาวราช)

Yaowarat Chinatown BangkokBangkok’s Chinatown, locally known as ‘Yaowarat‘, has all the characteristics a real chinatown ought to have. Here are Chinese restaurants, Chinese temples, heaps of stores selling gold, amulets, and traditional Chinese medicine, and entire streets dedicated to selling either car parts, tupperware, or fabrics.

At night, the Chinese signs on buildings and red lamps light up Chinatown into a magical inferno of colours, and the street-side restaurants appear along with the constant chatter. The most common language spoken here is Chinese, and if you were dumped down in the middle of Yaowarat, you would probably think you were in China.

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(4) Silom (Thai: สีลม)

Patpong Street Silom BangkokSilom is most (in)famous for two small streets, Pat Pong 1 and Pat Pong 2. These streets are notorious for their go-go bars, and in days not so long gone they attracted sailors, soldiers, and lost souls. Even though Pat Pong is still a “red light” district, the area is now a common excursion point for tourists. The streets are lined with market stalls full of souvenirs and brand copies, and needless to say, there is no shortage on bars and sports joints.

Outside of Pat Pong, Silom is a thriving international business area with numerous skyscrapers, a big expat community, and upscale dining options. On the northeastern edge of Silom, you will find Lumphini Park, a green oasis in the city.

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(5) Siam Square (Thai: สยามสแควร์)

MBK at Siam Square BangkokSiam Square is the area where big numbers of Bangkok residents meet up outside of work and school hours. The area is filled to the brim with shopping malls, cinemas, restaurants, and hair-dressers. Siam Square has small fashion design boutiques and vintage shops. The shopping malls in the area are Siam Discovery, Siam Center, Siam Paragon, MBK, and Central World.

The area is surprisingly quiet after the big shopping malls close, so head elsewhere if you are going out at night.

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(6) Sukhumwit (Thai: สุขุมวิท)

Sukhumwit street market BangkokSukhumwit is one of the central traffic arteries in Bangkok, and in fact, one of Thailand’s longest roads continuing all the way to the Cambodian boarder in the east. Sukhumvit is generally considered as a business area. This is where most foreign business men and women live and work.

However, the beginning of Sukhumvit (west) resembles more of a “red light district” with an abundance of restaurants, bars, and tourists. This end of the area is also known for small ethnic areas such as the Middle Eastern and Japanese quarter. Further down Sukhumvit, you will find countless condominiums, restaurants, and nightclubs – most of them in the more expensive range. This area attracts the growing middle class of Bangkok.

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General Bangkok Travel Tips

Buy a tourist sim card with data upon arrival in Bangkok

Be cautious of tricksters in touristy areas, but do not let it guide your approach to local residents

Learn these do’s and don’ts when going out with Thais

If you plan to explore Bangkok, make sure you stay near a BTS skytrain station or a MRT subway station

Remember to have some petty cash on you for street food, markets, and taxis

Tuk-tuk’s are often more expensive, less comfy, less safe, and more of a health hazard for your lungs than a taxi or other public transportation

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We hope you liked our Bangkok area guide. Click on the any of the areas to read more about each area including our recommended bars, restaurants, hotels, and unique tips.Beachmeter.com section seperator

Thailand Travel Guide Other Destinations Beachmeter Home

Photo credits: Tourism Authority of Thailand

The Overview: Ghana Beach Guide

Pristine beach in Ghana

Our Complete Ghana Beach Guide

We have now completed our Ghana travel section with our recommendations and beach assessments. Head to our Ghana Travel Guide to give you all the tips and information pieces you need before and during your trip to Ghana or head to the individual beach sections to learn about each destination.

Ghana Beach Scores

On each of the beach destination pages in Ghana, we have included beach scores on specific parametres. If you have been to any of our 7 featured beaches (Kokrobite, Cape Coast, Butre, Busua, Akwidaa, Cape Three Points, or Axim), we invite you to give your own review of your beach experience.

Here are Beachmeter.com’s Beach Review Scores:

 Click on the images to go to the beach page and don’t forget to submit your own beach reviews of these Ghanaian beaches .

Kokrobite Beach Review Scores

Cape Coast Beach Review Scores

 

Butre Beach Review Scores

Busua Beach Review Scores

 

Akwidaa Beach Review Scores

Cape Three Points Beach Review Scores

 

Axim Beach Review Scores

Have you been to any of these Ghanaian beaches? Please help us by submitting your beach review score directly on the destination pages.
 

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 A Beach Holiday in Ghana?

Despite a dip in visitors due to Ebola outbreaks in West Africa (that never reached Ghana), we predict that international tourism numbers will continue to rise in the country. The main reasons for the rise of beach tourism in Ghana are:

  • Great flight connections to Ghana and improving infrastructure
  • The coastline sees an increase in good accommodation options
  • Ghana’s reputation as one of the safest African countries to travel in is spreading
  • Surfers seeking uncrowded line-ups are discovering Ghana as the next thing

Natural Beauty & Cleanliness

Ghana has a stunning coastline filled with pristine beaches, where you really get the feeling that you are in the middle of nowhere. Small fishing villages are dotted along the coastline and you will have ample chance to interact with local residents who are generally very welcoming of tourists. In Ghana, the more people living and visiting the beaches, the more dirty they tend to be. But all along the coastline you can find garbage on beaches, the amount depending on ocean currents and weather. In general, the cleanest beaches are the ones furthest away from cities and towns.

Many beaches have golden to light brown sand and large almond and coconut trees providing shade.

Accessibility

The accessibility of the Ghanaian beaches vary greatly with destination, weather, and means of transportation. The easiest beaches to get to are near larger transportation hubs such as Accra, Cape Coast, and Takoradi. The further you want to go from these hubs, the harder it gets. You may need multiple tro-tro’s, and you have to time it right due to limited departures. Taking a taxi solves this problem, but will result in a much higher bill for you. If you are used to European or North American prices, you will find the rates for taking a taxi rather reasonable.

The further you get from the main transportation hubs, the worse the roads generally get. This is usually not a big problem if the weather is good, but during heavy rains and the rainy seasons, roads can literally wash away and the risk of getting stuck in mud is high. Bear in mind that taxi drivers usually ask for higher prices to go on bad road stretches. This is completely fair, since a trip down some of the rural roads will often damage something on the taxi vehicle.

Family/Child Friendliness

If you are looking to take your family to a controlled and safe resort environment as found in popular charter destinations, forget it! There will be bugs and reptiles around, there will be hectic transportation, the hospitals outside the major hubs are not well-equipped, and everything is a little less organised. In other words, it is like it used to be to travel to foreign countries.

Do not expect high service standards – most staff have never traveled to a foreign country and do not know what kind of needs and habits tourists have. Do not expect hot running water and air-condition, and do not expect restaurants to have everything on their menu.

If you are open to some degree of uncomfortability, you and your family will be rewarded.

Is Swimming in Ghana Dangerous?

Most of the coastline is unprotected, so conditions can be rough. This is great for water sports such as surfing and body boarding, but less child friendly. Be extremely cautious when swimming – accidents happen every year – also to good swimmers who panic in rip-currents. Educate yourself and your family before heading out for a swim. If you are after safe swimming, look for protected coves which you will find in Akwidaa and Axim for example.

Nightlife & Socialising

For nightlife at the beach, the beaches near Accra, Cape Coast, and Busua are your best options. Outside of that, the beach lodges on the coast all have bars with varying degree of activity levels. Many Ghanaians do not go out partying during weekends. They rather use funeral celebrations as their party base. Here entire villages will be dancing and drinking away to the sounds of Ghanaian highlife music pumping out of rusty speakers. As a foreigner, you will often be invited to join in the fun, so if you want to immerse yourself in local culture and meet happy Ghanaians, go to a funeral.

If you are not up for partying, but only seek to meet fellow backpackers and travelers, there will be plenty of options if you go to the popular beach destinations. If you are traveling during the off-season and sometimes on weekdays, it will be a lot more quiet. Some beach resorts go days without a single visitor during the rainy season.

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We hope you enjoyed our Ghana Beach Guide. Don’t forget to give your beach score on the individual beach pages. For more travel and beach info, click the buttons below.

Ghana Travel Guide Beach Destinations Beachmeter Home

Cambodia – Southeast Asia’s New Tourism Hotspot

Koh Russey by Alila

What Makes a Complete Tourism Destination?

Unless we are talking pure beach holiday packages, most travel itineraries in Southeast Asia contain four key elements:

 Cityscape
An urban transportation hub with shopping, dining experiences, museums, architecture, and nightlife.

Historical and Cultural Attractions
Temples, ruins, religious relics, customs and traditions.

Natural Wonders
Wildlife, national parks, mountains, waterfalls, rice fields, and jungles.

Beaches
Beach destinations with a variety of accommodation options and facilities, activities, dining, and nightlife.

 

If these four elements are surrounded by a good travel infrastructure and a stable and safe political environment, you have what it takes to nurture a mature tourism destination that can stand on its own feet.

Cambodia Has Finally Arrived

For many years Cambodia fulfilled three of the four key elements as a travel destination. A lot of backpackers went to Cambodia as part of their Southeast Asia experience, but rarely as a part of a pre-booked itinerary from a travel agency. For mainstream tourism, Cambodia was an add-on, always playing second fiddle to Thailand and Vietnam. Mostly, Cambodia was a two or three day itinerary to Siem Reap and the Khmer temples. In some cases Phnom Penh was included in the itinerary, but the beach holiday would almost without exception lead tourists to one of the Thai islands.

In Cambodia, the history is there in abundance, the beautiful tropical nature is there, and Phnom Penh has the markets, museums, and the city vibes to attract some city break time. The beach holiday options for the 3-5 star market were very limited, and it was hard for travel agencies to work with the small offline resorts. Still, there are not that many options, but that is changing fast. This means that you can get your cultural and historical fix, satisfy your dining, shopping, and nightlife desire, and you can top it off with relaxing beach stays.

Cambodia Emerging as a Beach Holiday Destination

Sihanoukville is the local hub for Cambodian island hopping and beach holidays. The resort town itself mostly caters to backpackers and party lovers with cheap accommodation and no shortage of bars and activities around the beaches.

If you are looking for serene beaches, relaxation, or family bonding the Cambodian islands in the Gulf of Thailand are stunning. And these years, they are becoming more developed and “comfortable” for the bigger tourism markets to explore. A rarity a few years ago, today it is rather easy to find Cambodian resorts with 24-hour electricity, wifi, and hot water. Moreover, some of the big hotel players in barefoot luxury are moving in…

Alila Villas Koh Russey

Krabey Island. Photo credits: Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas

On Koh Russey, the Alila group is opening a new luxury villa resort. On Koh Krabey, Six Senses are opening their first Cambodian property Six Senses Krabey Island. Both are scheduled to open during 2017. Couple these to openings with the already famous Song Saa Private Island, and you have the up-market beach holiday options that travel agencies have been looking for in order to finalise their Cambodia roundtrip packages.

Expect a big boost in Cambodian tourist arrivals and revenue during the coming years. It’s the new tropical tourism hotspot in Southeast Asia.

Learn more about Cambodia in our Cambodia Travel Guide.

Feature photo: Koh Russey. Photo credits: Alila Villas Koh Russey.

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New Bali Infographic & Destination Page

Bali rice field terraces

Bali Infographic

Great news! We have our new Bali and surrounding islands page up an running. But before we get into the details, let’s have a look at our homemade Bali infographic.

Bali travel guide and infographic with tourism stats to Bali, price index, top beaches, travel seasons, and unique selling points for Bali and surrounding islands. Made by Beachmeter.com.

The Iconic Island of Bali

Bali ranks among the absolute top beach destinations in the world. The beaches and the thriving surfing culture is part of the reason, but equally important is Bali’s atmosphere, spiritualism, her welcoming residents, the awe inspiring rice fields and natural parks, and top notch tourism infrastructure.

On our new Bali travel guide page, you can find useful information about Bali and the surrounding islands such as Lombok and the Gili Islands. Among other things, we touch on Balinese regional cuisine, Balinese beaches, and accommodation options in the area. Don’t forget to check back on the page, as we continue to add details and helpful information.

Check out our new Bali Page

Good Resources for your trip to Bali, Lombok, and Gili Islands

If you want to learn more about the region and its beaches, here are some handpicked links for you that will give you a realistic picture of what you will find:

 Bugbog’s Best Bali Beaches
 Not Without My Passport’s Where Are the Dream Beaches in Bali?
Honeycombers´15 Best Beaches in Bali
 All about Gili Islands from Ingili
Your Guide to Lombok and the Gili’s from LombokIndonesia

5 Top Beaches to Find Serenity

Serene Beaches, Grand Anse, Seychelles.

Guest post by Jared Alster, Stride Travel.

Serene Beaches

Sometimes you just need an escape. To hear the lapping waves, enjoy the calm and feel soft warm sand beneath your feet. Beaches are beacons of serenity, offering another world of relaxation – but some are better than others.

Bondi Beach in Sydney for example may not exactly be what you had in mind for a calm afternoon, with its infamous crowds and busy boardwalk. Or the many beaches in Phuket, with their propensity for raucous nightlife, don’t inspire a serene beach day either.

True serenity requires a combination of tropical bliss, luxurious tones, and solitude – without extra noise or distraction. In some cases this means a bit of effort to get there – but once you do the reward is well worth it.

Get away from it all with the 5 most serene beaches around the world:

1. Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays Australia

A lonely beach with fine white sand, turquoise waters, and a beautiful sky. Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays, Queensland, Australia.

With a name that sounds like a mystical land rather than a real place, how could this beach not be something special? The sand here is some of the purest in the world, almost 98% silica, and doesn’t retain heat – making it comfortable to stand and walk on throughout the day.

The waters are an incredibly bright and happy blue, and they create stunning colors and patterns when combined with the sand, especially when viewed from above. This is the place to come for active days of sea kayaking or enjoying a cocktail aboard a sunlit yacht.

Perhaps one of the only downfalls to Whitehaven is the jellyfish, which are so prominent throughout half the year (October through May), that protective swim gear is highly advised.

2. Koh Kradan, Thailand

Lonely boat lying in the blue sea of Koh Kradan Island in Thailand, an island with stunning serene beaches.

Thailand is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and as such it may seem impossible to find true serenity given their popularity. By traveling to some of the more far-reaching islands in Thailand, away from Phuket, you can still find pockets of true calm and quiet.

Consider Koh Kradan. This small island sits just off Thailand’s southwest coast and provides stunning views across the water of other larger islands dotting the sea in the distance. There are only a couple well spaced out resorts on the island, including one major luxury resort – very popular among honeymooners.

The crowds are very minimal along the Koh Kradan beaches, and the waters provide some of the best snorkeling and sea kayaking in all of Thailand.

3. Cable Beach, Western Australia

Camels walking in the beach sunset on the serene beach of Cable Beach, Western Australia. One of the world's best serene beaches.

The lands of Western Australia are still remote for tourists, a good indication for travelers seeking serenity. This beach is enormous, offering a lot of space for lounging in the warm sun and enjoying the wonderful water. One of the more unique activities available to travelers at Cable Beach is the opportunity to ride camels along the surf at low tide.

As the string of camels methodically make their way, they create stunning and timeless silhouettes in the orange sunset. There are numerous hotel options around Cable Beach, or if you want a bit more choice in other activities you can stay in nearby Broome.

4. Holbox Island, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Beach setting with palms and loungers on Holbox Island Beach, Yucatan Peninsula Mexico. One of the world's best serene beaches.

Hammocks strung between palm trees, thatch roofed bungalows, lovely blue waters, and of course stretches of pristine white sand make it a sure thing that this hidden secret won’t stay hidden for long. Fantasies of walking barefoot everywhere (the streets are paved with sand), cocktails in hand, and warm sea breezes are realized on this small island in the Yucatan Peninsula, near Cancun, just off Mexico’s southeast shore.

As of yet, no major development projects have managed to make headway on Holbox, to the delight of the locals – which is a unique community of European and American tourists who came and never left, as well as native Mexicans and those of Mayan descent. This does mean the options for luxury accommodation and meals are limited but not impossible to find. Plus, part of the charm of Holbox is in its offbeat culture.

If you go between June and September, keep an eye out for the whale sharks that gather just off shore at this time of year.

5. Anse Source D’Argent, Seychelles

Grand Anse Beach Seychelles with boulders, white sand, and turquoise water. One of the world's best serene beaches.

Honestly pretty much any beach in the idyllic Seychelles is going to be serene, picturesque, and possess an otherworldly beauty. Pink sands and rock formations rising up create hidden corners where you can capture amazing photos and feel like the only person in the world. The snorkeling here is top notch and the water is clear, shallow and safe – perfect for families.

The Seychelles lie in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of East Africa. There are multiple resort options available on the main islands and it’s a classic destination for honeymooners and travelers looking for a luxurious getaway.

Spend your days island hopping among the entire archipelago, where spectacular beauty and unbelievable ocean landscapes await, and enjoy the peace and quiet along serene quiet soft sand beaches.


Jared Alster is the co-founder of Stride Travel, a new marketplace connecting world travelers with tour operators, adventure outfitters, & professionally planned trips.