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Displaying items by tag: Cambodia

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Bodhi Villa, Kampot, Cambodia

Traveling through Southeast Asia, you will be hard pressed not to stumble upon some of the most relaxing guesthouses the world over. Set on rivers, on oceans, or even in the middle of nowhere, there is a certain calm about the land that seeps deep into your veins, soothing every last ion your body has to offer.

IMG 1353No establishment is more guilty of exuding this Zen-like aura than Bodhi Villa in Kampot, Cambodia. The guesthouse is infamous for ensnaring travelers in its web, curtailing their journeys and rendering them utterly defenseless against a complete lack of desire to move on. The most drastic case was a visitor who planned a week’s stay, and was still there not days, not weeks, but 11 months later.

IMG 1279Set on the bank of the humble Kampong Bei River, Bodhi Villa’s open layout has the feel of a large tree house. A small, square dock rests in front of the main building, dubbed the ‘Chill Room,’ and an elevated but narrow jumping platform resides several yards away.

Several styles of rooms are available – from private floating bungalows to single beds for just a dollar per night. Atop the main building is a room with 360 degree views and a queen size bed. Garden bungalows afford a bit more privacy, and are surrounded by trees, plants and flowers on all sides.

Throughout the day you will find both guests and staff – or as they call them, ‘chill consultants’ – swimming, playing games, shooting pool or just having a laugh. Give them a day’s notice and you can arrange to partake in a number of water sports, such as wakeboarding and tubing. When patrons do feel the desire to contact the outside world, wireless internet access is provided in the Chill Room.

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The kitchen boasts a delicious array of western and Khmer foods, is delightfully expansive and 100% organic. A computer is stationed at the bar with a water and food proof keyboard, but don’t log in to your email. The computer at the bar is devoted to one cause – music.

The first time I met Hugh, the owner – a young, amiable Aussie – was as I was meandering through his 200,000+ song library.

“Is this all your music?” I asked

“Some of it,” he said. “I’ve got another terabyte in the back.” Another terabyte. In other words, they have what you’re looking for.

Patrons are encouraged to create their own playlists, or just select whatever tunes they like. Bob Marley and similarly laid back artists course through the house-wide speaker system most frequently, but when the right mix of people get together, the environment can get a bit more lively – particularly at night – though the main attraction is to slow down, cool your jets, and let life wash over you.

And if just having music isn’t enough, you can make your own. Guests can arrange to use a recently built recording studio on the premise, and Friday night is live music night. Bodhi truly has music covered – something not easily found in Southeast Asia.


Although Kampot is not a large town, there is much to do in the surrounding area. Local markets abound everywhere in Cambodia and Kampot also has salt fields, pepper plantations, the Elephant Mountains, Rabbit Island and Bokor National Park, providing ample ground to explore. The staff are happy to arrange transportation and/or guides.

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On top of it all, Bodhi Villa is an establishment with a heart and a purpose. The staff is comprised of local Cambodian people who speak fluent English and who frequently facilitate volunteer opportunities for travelers with the local community, which many take up for extended periods of time.  The laundry is outsourced to provide impoverished locals with a steady income. A great way to explore the surrounding area and give back is through renting one of the villa’s bicycles – where a third of the profits are donated to a local school to help pay for books and uniforms for less fortunate students.

The ease with which Bodhi Villa has conjoined a great business with a charitable cause is beyond description. The perfect blend of a care-free, isolated atmosphere with more than reasonable technology is unparalleled – anywhere. Visit for a day, a week, or 11 months, and you will leave feeling rejuvenated and good about yourself and the world around you. Very few guesthouses can promise as much.

© Alex McCullough


Published in innkeeper
Monday, 30 April 2007

South East Asia on a Scooter

When it comes to cheap thrills in developing countries, it’s hard to do better than a motor scooter.  During a recent three-month trip through south east Asia, I found no greater pleasure than blasting past villages and farms, taking in the menagerie of smells and seeing the countryside as many locals see it - from the saddle of a step-through motorbike.

Published in inexpensive

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