Gavin’s Singapore Sling

06/09/2018

Heading East For A Cultural Feast: Singapore, Siem Reap & Khao Lak!

I love trying the itineraries we have featured on our website, getting to experience the same holidays our clients do. I also have a love for the Far East, something about the fusion of ancient temples, futuristic skylines and street food smells.  That’s why I picked the Singapore, Siem Reap and Thai Beach holiday for my last trip to the Far East, and it was one of the best trips I’ve ever made.

The flight was long, although thankfully we’d booked into a great hotel, where a refreshing shower perked us right back up. Booming, buzzing, strikingly diverse and humbly traditional all at once, Singapore is a place where the glare of dragon idols is just as piercing as the dizzying sky bars, but our first move was to explore immediate surrounds. We were in China Town, home to the Buddha Tooth Relic and Sri Mariamman Temples.

“Even travel experts don’t know everything, so it was a surprise to find that downtown Singapore was a no-go zone for cars on Sunday mornings. It gave the city an eerily deserted feel, which was amazing to see, and to experience the area slowly coming to life as morning joggers and market vendors emerged.”

We explored every inch of China Town. Pagoda and Smith Street had clearly been dressed up for tourists, but it was great to compare this against smaller, tightly packed streets and sample Hainanese chicken rice (knowing full well we’d be finding a restaurant for dinner). From the vast indoor markets and pagoda backdrops to the more westernised bars of Club Street, we meandered around taking in the sights and sounds. Being in walking distance from Clark Quay’s nightlife, we knew we could easily squeeze in Gardens By The Bay’s still water magic and Supertrees. A rain shower here was oddly refreshing- our second shower, if you will, before putting on our tourist hats and heading to the world-renowned Raffles Hotel for a Singapore Sling.

Singapore’s skyline is defined by the high rises of the newly built Marina Bay district, home to roof terraces with panoramic city views and malls- although Orchard Road’s designer mecca is where any fashionista wants to be. We spent the rest of our Singapore stay straddling The Southern Ridges’ treetop canopy bridges for some lush greenery before sampling the delights of Little India.

Reaping The Benefits Of Cambodia’s Siem Reap

My first thought after our Singapore-Siem Reap flight: “It’s so much better than the pictures”. Basking in the golden glow of the Cambodian sun, the gateway to the Angkor Wat hits you with a bang. Over 100 temples dating back to the 9th century don’t mince their words here when it comes to their “Eighth Wonder of the World” status. Larger-than-life Buddha heads and orange-clad monks bring a stillness to the vast lawns, but bustling tuk-tuks and children riding bicycles are never far away.

“Doing the biking the temples tour was an amazing experience. Cycling through jungle tracks, feeling a million miles from anywhere, we approached the temples from a different direction to the other tourists. It was as humbling and inspiring as it was beautiful”.

The freshwater Tonlé Sap Lake the next day was a perfect contrast. Floating villages on stilts here are a way of life, and both my partner and I were struck by how friendly the fishermen locals were. The kids even have mini paddle boats to get from A to B, and they were way more skilled than either of us would have been, but luckily we had a driver.

Back in Siem Reap we decided to give the touristy Street Food Tours a miss and wing it, losing ourselves under overflowing catfish baskets, skewered bananas and translucent rice vermicelli being prepared in front of our eyes. We agreed that the 4-night stay was just perfect for fitting everything in and relaxing in our hotel.

The 7-Night Beach Stay That Couldn’t Have Been A More Perfect End

We’d definitely noticed the region’s heat throughout Singapore and Siem Reap (air-conditioned hotels really are a godsend), so after all that sightseeing, we were looking forward to 7 nights of Thai beaches. Flying out to Phuket, we could already see the emerald and turquoise-clear waters from the plane. Crystalline seas doesn’t even begin to describe what awaited us in the blissfully unspoiled resort of Khao Lak. Feet in the water, we walked the white-sand stretches for miles. We also took a day to bike out on the peninsula, stopping here and there for splashing waterfalls and an insight into village life.

Lapping shores by day, vibrant pulse by night. Khao Lak Road and the less tourist-geared area behind Bang Niang market gave us the best of both worlds, with live bar music and flowing drinks into the early hours. It doesn’t get rowdy, though, a much more relaxed pace than some of the well-known resorts on Phuket. Either way, we loved every single minute of it. I’d say that Phuket’s range of international flights are a bonus, but honestly, it’s the experience I’m remembering.

If you’d like your own version of this unimaginably beautiful yet relaxing multi centre holiday, do get in touch and we can get to work crafting it for you.

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