Songsaa… Cambodia’s secret heaven…
At home sick with a case of Ecoli, I was scrolling through Instagram and became captivated with sponsored link I clicked on taking me to Songsaa Island. The site claimed there was a sale happening for Khymer New Years… Stay for 4, Pay for 2. What a great deal! I was ready to sign up then and there, but I thought it would be more sensible to wait for my husband to get home from work. When Tom got home, I spent about five minutes convincing him to go back to a country we already loved and visited once; he said yes.
We booked a not so cheap trip for four days on Songsaa’s Islands. As the trip neared, I became more fearful that I had been scammed. I hadn’t met one person who had been, and had not read one review online. I opened my email a few weeks prior to the trip and found a detailed questionnaire to fill out about our diets, celebrations we might be having while on the island, and anything else we cared to share with the resort. I made it a point to tell them that I do not like mushrooms, and Tom does not like heavy cream sauces.
Fast forward the weeks to our trip, we are greeted at the hotel we stayed at in Phnom Penh by an SUV driver who would drive us the six hours across Cambodia to the port, because of my fear of flying this seemed like an obvious choice. Although it is a bit pricey through the resort ($330 each way), we had an amazingly informed driver and we were able to see true Cambodia, the in between people don’t often mention. It was an amazing drive and we just made it in time to catch our shared speedboat.
I had previously enquired about the boat’s safety, and I’m pleased to report we were greeted by the sweetest Cambodian crew who gave us life jackets and a glass of wine. After 40 minutes on the open water I had relaxed a little bit, and as we looked out starboard, we saw villas overtop the now turquoise water. I was blown away. There were more staff waiting at the dock, dressed elegantly, waving us into the port. They carried our bags to the villa and took us to check in with a glass of water and refreshing towel.
After meeting much of the staff, our interest was piqued concerning the many activities they offered around the island; snorkeling, kayaking, cooking, clean up, among others. We were escorted into our ocean view villa and when the door opened, we were both jaw dropped. A gorgeous canopy bed, the cutest mini-bar fridge you have ever seen, and an extraordinary bathroom that will ruin you for many bathrooms to come. As the staff left Tom watched me skip around for a few minutes and promptly ditch my clothes for the amazingly cozy robe they provided. As I was getting comfortable, I looked over to the mini-bar and saw a message in a bottle… I walked over and opened it up, and found that it was an invitation to enjoy the yummy snacks they left for us on the top shelf of the refrigerator, a vegetarian friendly snack. This was our first taste of the amazing food on the resort, each meal better than the last for the duration of our stay.
I don’t want to write much more and spoil the magic, but I will say that if you enjoy dining with your feet in the water you shouldn’t miss the dinner night that is scheduled by the pool. If there doesn’t appear to be one of these during your stay, you can of course pay an additional fee and they will set one up for you.
The resort left no stone unturned, no wish unanswered… It was a magical four days in Cambodian heaven. Though the drive out of Phnom Penh is a sobering one, once you reach Songsaa you are transported to a different side of Cambodia. One of my favorite aspects of the resort is that it is entirely sustainable. We didn’t touch one plastic straw or bag the entire time, except during our short beach clean up. The employees are lovely, and seem truly happy. They are living across the way in villas as well, and while they may or may not have plunge pools like those on the island, I am sure that they are looked after well.
Songsaa means ‘sweetheart’ and this island gave me and Tom the best anniversary we have ever had… And may ever have! We had time to connect, talk, read, and love each other while taking in the Cambodian culture and foods. We loved the cooking class we took, although it did spoil our appetite for the evening dinner! We were good; however, for the dessert and infused vodkas.
It’s not cheap, but if you are able and willing to spend… This is the place to do it. Songsaa, for us, will always bring back the happiest of memories.