What our guests have said
Souen and his daughters work as a great team, providing a really close up view of Cambodian life away from the tourists. While on board the quaint wooden boat, Souen, the owner, who speaks fluent Australian, shared his great knowledge of the river Mekong. We hopped off the boat for a walk through a village, as Kimsan showed us the local plants and animals. Remarkably there were no vendors to hassle us! We met family of silk weavers, who not only weave the scarves we see in the shops but produce, grow the silk worms and harvest it.
Back on board we enjoyed a magnificent lunch (A grade hygiene) and a swim in the Mekong. The whole experience was authentic, personal, and fascinating.
Kimsan took us on a day trip outside Phnom Penh and it was fantastic. What is particularly worth mentioning is that Kimsan prepared a picnic for us which was packaged so beautifully and was absolutely delicious. She was attentive, knowledgable, very kind and had a great sense of humor......
Frances was also very helpful during the planning phase and responded to all of our emails promptly.
I can't recommend Cambodia Uncovered enough - it's a great way to experience Cambodia with a lovely local family.
My wife and I did a two night, three day boat ride with Cambodia Uncovered. I had always wanted to do a Mekong River cruise, but wanted to avoid the larger, touristy ships. C.U. Was perfect for that.
We had our own little boat, plus Souen and his two person crew. His chef made us three home cooked meals each day of tasty traditional Cambodian food. Plus all the beer, soda and water you can drink. One day, we bought rice noodles and bean curd from the local village, and ate it the same day. We slept on the top deck, under a mosquito net. We swam in the Mekong. Yes, a bit dirty, but refreshing in the March heat.
Souen, our guide and the boat owner, was very knowledgable about Cambodia. His wife Frances was very helpful with all her email replies. Not only for this trip, but for all of Cambodia.
Keep in mode that the cruising is slow going. The river is wide in Cambodia, so not that much to see, and nothing to do at night but relax. You must be able to relax on a boat for three days. That might be too long for some people, but we enjoyed it. I advise to do it in the cooler months, like Dec, Jan or Feb. March was too hot.
Cinzia and I had a wonderful time on the boat and at Kep and have very fond memories and some great photos of the trip. We really appreciated you looking after us so well.
The days we spent seeing Cambodia with the help of Cambodia Uncovered's team will remain a highlight of our travel experiences.
We loved exploring along the mighty Mekong in Souen's wooden boat, scrambling up the banks to wander through a village or a field, camping overnight under the stars, and watching the ways locals use the waterway.
A day on the road with Souen took us to examples of old and new Cambodia, and into areas where we saw no other barang. His knowledgeable and entertaining commentary developed our understanding. We felt confident that we were safe and importantly not intruding on people's lives as we lingered.
Although Souen is the main man, his family team, especially cook and manager Kimsan, helped with bookings, queries, comfort and hospitality.
If you are looking for a big hotel cocoon, don't bother. Want to understand more about Cambodia, this is for you.
Just wanted to write and say a big thank you to you, Souen and the rest of the family. We had a wonderful time in Phnom Penh and felt so welcome. The boat was great and the road trip so much fun. Fantastic food too :)
Spent a week with Cambodiauncovered and loved (almost) every minute of it
Main highlight was cruising down the Mekong over 3 days from Kampong Cham with a crew of 4 devoted to my total satisfaction. About as close as possible to my teenage dreams of sailing the South Seas with a buncho galley slaves doing all the hard yakka. Trip proved to be everything I imagined it could be.
The other was getting a pillion ride on Frances' motorbike to go shopping for silk in Phnom Penh. Given the chaotic traffic, I held on to rear bar for dear life, closed my eyes and prayed till I was deposited home safely. Will take a tuk-tuk next year. Younger god-daughter spent her honeymoon in Cambodia 2 years ago, and an old friend and wife had made the same Kampong Cham-Phnom Penh trip a couple of months before mine. Both had memorable experiences with Cambodiauncovered.
Frances and Souen, This is a quick note to thank you for the wonderful time we had in Cambodia and on the river. It was all VERY interesting.....Thanks again for everything
From Trip Advisor
If time is short and Cambodia is not your strong suite then Souen at Cambodia Uncovered will save you a lot of time and deliver you an experience tailored to your needs. He really does provide an authentic warts and all insight into a country so complex most of us tourists only glide over it like a riverboat down the Mekong.
Souen is knowledgeable, honest and punctual. He and his wife Frances will do everything within their power to create an itinerary to match your requests. Just don't expect Souen to go to the Killing Fields, (his eyes welled up when we poke with him about this.) Instead he took us to his home village where we tasted his sister's rice wine and saw another side of Phnom Penh well off the travelers trail.
As well as a letter to us
Hello Frances & Souen, We're back home now. Missing Cambodia already and on so many different levels. Particularly the food and of course, the people. The country certainly gets under your skin.
I'd like to thank Souen for all the insights he gave us into his country. Particularly for the phrase Som Got Luoy which proved invaluable! Apologies again for not taking up your drink offer. But we needed that time to get a feel for Phnom Penh.
It was fantastic to be able to stop on a whim by the side of the road to try local delicacies or talk to someone about their craft............. Thanks for all the advice and directions. The Blue Lime and Kabiki were the perfect tonic for the big city and nicely distanced from the tourist sideshow.
We had a great time with Cambodia Uncovered, from the planning with Frances, the guiding by Souen and the cooking and care from Kimsan - they could not do enough to introduce us to Cambodia. The cruise from Kampong Cham to Phnom Penh was relaxing, informative and fun with enough good food to feed an army!
Highly recommended and we will use this family business again, thank you.
Thanks again for all your help. I had a great trip and a large part of that was attributable to yours and the girls efforts!
We had a relaxing and informative overnight trip up the Mekong River with Souen, Kimsan and Frances. Excellent food, swimming breaks, visits to artisanal workshops (brick-making, rice noodle making, mat weaving) along with a night's sleep under the stars made this an unforgettable part of our family trip to Cambodia. They did a great job accommodating two vegetarians.
We recommend this highly!
We really had a wonderful time on the boat trip, and our friends here in UK are impressed that Brian swam in the Mekong!! We were thoroughly spoilt rotten by the crew and loved the good food.
Thank you for all your hospiitality,
Hi Frances, Souen, Kim San & KimLee Want to say thank you very much for making our trip so memorable.
Hi guys, ......I just wanted to say thanks for an amazing couple of days. We all enjoyed it immensely! I am writing a blog for all our friends back home which you can view via this link: http://clarkscrazyadventures.blogspot.com/2015/01/mekong-river.html
We had the most amazing time today. The trip on the boat was fantastic, the food was fabulous, and we really enjoyed meeting so many family members. We felt so comfortable and relaxed all day. I wanted to share this picture of the beautiful table of such yummy food! We will tell our travel agent for sure about what a great time we had and hope that she'll send others your way. Thanks again, today was certainly a highlight of our trip.
Axel and I are safely back in Los Angeles with so many still vivid memories of Cambodia in our minds and hearts, especially from our time in Phnom Penh
We had a great trip with the very knowledgable Souen, his lovely daughter Kimsan and nephew Kimla. We were soooooo well looked after and basically spoilt on this 2 day , 1 night trip up the Mekong River - food was delicious and plentiful and catered for our son who has food allergies, drinks were delicious and plentiful especially if you like gin and tonics or beer (as I did and still do), we swam, paddled, fished, observed, dived, bathed, laughed etc in the Mekong. It was awesome.
We watched silk being woven, relaxed in hammocks, rice noodles being made, grass woven into matting, bean curd making, talked thru how to make the huge big water jars and walked thru local communities as we docked along the Mekong. We had dinner on the island beach, slept on the boat under the most amazing star filled night sky and mozzie nets and travelled along, absorbing the sights and sounds of the beautiful Mekong.
I Highly recommend this trip and we are thankful to both Frances and Souen for their friendliness, hospitality and sense of humour. It was a fantastic way to finish off our 3 1/2 week holiday in Cambodia.
Souen and Frances are champion hosts. The warmest hospitality I have ever experienced. The key to the experience is to have a chat about what you like to do (or not do) and then they will do the rest. Cruising the mighty Mekong and stopping at local villages to see local craft in the making or learning about local plants. The whole experience is relaxing, friendly and comfortable. Not a minute was I hungry as I fed and watered like a queen! This is Cambodia and I will only ever travel with you both! 10/10 for everything. Thanks a million!!!
We arrived back in Australian today after a very confronting tour of a beautiful country. Our day on your boat was one of the most relaxing and comfortable days that we had the privilege of sharing with you. And we thank you for that
Our hosts, Frances and Souen took care of absolutely everything. Firstly, Frances was extremely prompt in communicating through email. She made many suggestions of a planned program and so we were able to have a 'tailor made' holiday. We were met at the airport by Souen and whisked back to their B & B. A fully contained 2 bedroom apartment which was clean and well presented. We were then taken out for a delicious lunch and a visit to the local market, only minutes away from the B&B
Souen was our tour guide for the 5 days we spent in Phnom Penh. He was a delightful host - intelligent, sensitive and knowledgeable with a wonderful sense of humour. We were taken on a road trip, trying all the interesting local foods of Cambodia, to markets, significant places (The Killing Fields and the old Prison - very emotional and devastatingly tragic but important to be recognised). Souen was able to give explanations to all our questions and he is also a very good safe driver!
Then came the highlight of our trip, an overnight boat trip on the most wonderful boat, made by Souen with help from a boat-maker. Frances also came on this trip, along with one of Souen's daughters and a nephew to help out. We set off up the mighty Mekong with Souen at the wheel. It was just incredibly relaxing and we did not have to lift a finger as the team made us delicious meals, encouraged us to rest in the hammocks provided, sit on the roof and just relax. We landed at a sheltered beach area and moored there for the night. We had dinner on the small beach and retired under our mosquito nets on mattresses to gaze up at the stars. It was just so lovely. Rose at dawn and enjoyed a delicious breakfast and a refreshing swim before slowly heading back
Along the way, Souen stopped at a number of villages and took us to see noodles being made, tofu skins being prepared and a number of other village activities. All the people in the villages were friendly and tolerant of us exploring their community. We then moored for another swim while Frances and co prepared another delicious lunch
We had just such a wonderful time and wish we had done 2 days or more on the boat instead as it was just so relaxing and Frances, Souen and co made it a most memorable time. I would highly recommend 'Cambodia Uncovered' for a highly personalised trip including accommodation, particularly if it is your first time to Cambodia (as it was for us) or if you are a single traveller. You will not be disappointed and you will come away feeling enriched and wanting to return, like us!!
This tour company does more than just day tours. I have not even left yet, but feel compelled to review this company which has blown me away. The couple who run the company, Souen and Fran have tailored my trip to exactly what I am looking for. I have stayed in the heart of Phnom Penh in an apartment with air con, space and privacy and been on tours in Phnom Penh. The absolute highlight was the overnight boat trip on the boat Souen made, stopping at villages and meeting the people who make noodles, woven mats and tofu. We had BBQ fish and veges for dinner on a river "beach" and slept under moonlight (with a mosquito net over the top) stopping for a dip in the Mekong to cool off; cooking classes on the boat and afternoon snoozing in the hammock with a glass of wine within easy reach makes for memories I will never forget. Fabulous!!!!
Frances and Souen have been the best hosts. Great advice in planning our trip, wonderful food and accommodation in Phnom Penh, a relaxing overnight trip on the houseboat, and then such a wonderful personalised tour off the beaten track with Souen. This made for such a memorable holiday. I've learned so much about Cambodia, and it has been such a special trip. Thank you!
I'm sitting at home having a tonic and thinking about all of you. I want to thank you again for the wonderful holiday, your attention to detail and all of the extra things you did for us. It was truly an exceptional experience
This is a short note to warmly thank you for your efforts in giving us such an interesting and most memorable holiday. We truly appreciate your efforts in planning our time, in Souen's knowledge, good humour and energy, the hospitality offered and the time with your family
My wife and I have now done both trips on the Mekong river with Souen, Frances, Kim Lee and Kim San in 2010 and 2013. Both times have been fabulous- different, relaxing, informative and with outstanding cuisine. Looking forward to the next trip!
It's the little things that make staying with Frances go from a good experience to a wonderful one. The fully stocked fridge with ice-cold drinks on arrival, the ice-cubes ready to go for your Gin and Tonic (if you're that way inclined), the tea towels, the personal fans, the fresh fruit awaiting you...the list goes on. Frances is a world of knowledge on Phnom Penh and Cambodia and she is happy to impart this knowledge on you. If I return to Phnom Penh, I wouldn't even consider staying anywhere else
We did a day boat trip with Frances, Kim Lee and Kim San as our lovely hosts. Delicious food, a swim in the Mekong and afternoon drinks in a hammock. A perfect, relaxing day and definitely the highlight of our time in Phnom Penh
We also stayed with Cambodia Uncovered while in Phnom Penh. We were amazed at how well provided the accommodation was! A delicious breakfast along with local knowledge made for a wonderful trip
A quaint house located within a convenient distance from various food places. Frances and her girls were great and we felt very welcomed and warmed by their hospitality. I loved the variety of fruits offered at breakfast! We would love to come back and stay for a longer period of time
.....we loved our time in Cambodia. It was a fantastic trip, especially because Souen was there to give us information, ideas and help and also because he was such good company. He became a good friend and really made the trip very special for us. We loved the fact that he found us people going about their everyday life and introduced us to them and explained what was happening, whether it was silk weaving, making water jars or anything else. It helped us get a much better understanding of Cambodia and her people. We were glad we had at least 3 weeks in Cambodia as I think we were quite ambitious with our plans and there was a lot of travelling to be done
We did find some of the long drives on poor roads quite tiring and we probably should have built some more ‘rest days’ into our plan. But we wouldn’t have wanted to miss anything out so a longer holiday would have been the only answer!
A big highlight was our overnight trip on Neang Niak – even if the 2am thunderstorm interrupted our sleeping arrangements! We just loved those 2 days. Thanks
Staying in the apartment in Phnom Penh was perfect and a lovely change to hotels. It’s such a comfortable place with the market, coffee shops and restaurants all easily accessed nearby. The girls looked after us very well, with wonderful breakfasts and beautifully serviced rooms
Highly recommended, fantastic place to stay, with excellent food, central location in great neighbourhood, and great apartment with everything you need and some. I felt really connected into Phnom Penh and Cambodia staying with Souen and Frances - spot on tips and advice, plus learnt a lot more about Khmer society and culture
Frances, Souen and their wonderful family were perfect hosts during my recent stay in Phnom Penh. They live in the flat above the one I was renting which made our communication easy and gave us a chance to get to know each other a bit, making it a more personal experience. My son, who is Cambodian, stayed with me at the apartment and at the end of our stay commented that he felt he now has new friends in his home city
Easy going, completely attentive to details, clear in all communication and available at all times - these are the qualities that make Frances and Souen such remarkable hosts. I would recommend them without hesitation and I look forward to my next stay in their wonderful apartment
Souen and Frances are champion hosts. The warmest hospitality I have ever experienced. The key to the experience is to have a chat about what you like to do (or not do) and then they will do the rest
Cruising the mighty Mekong and stopping at local villages to see local craft in the making or learning about local plants. The whole experience is relaxing, friendly and comfortable. Not a minute was I hungry as I fed and watered like a queen! This is Cambodia and I will only ever travel with you both! 10/10 for everything. Thanks a million!!!
Great place, 5 minutes from the city center (tourist attractions, clubs and restaurants)…. House is very comfortable for two ( even with the second bedroom for 4 people). It is in the quiet area of the town, where there is quite a lot of western cafe places. Our hosts were very helpful with giving information, providing advice, calling cabs and negotiating with the tuktuks when necessary. Great breakfast every morning. Highly recommended.
This is quite the charming place in a peaceful chill neighborhood! The hosts here have been incredibly welcoming and helpful, and their housekeeping and upkeep is impeccable. It's a 2-bedroom ground-floor flat in a very nice residential local home, with a nice little terrace too. The daily drinking-water supply was *greatly* appreciated, as was the well-stocked fully-equipped kitchen! A good place to stay with *none* of the various annoyances or "surprises" that you would typically have to fear with the bulk of other accommodation options in Phnom Penh (in my experience).........Truly a charming oasis........10/10 would stay again!
We greatly enjoyed staying in this charming 2 bedroom apartment. Meant our stay this time in PP was very relaxing. We admired the furniture and fittings, and felt comfortable staying there.
Great situation and a bargain at the present price.
Great trees around the house
Good for family as international school close
Good for single person - short stay or long stay
Good if you don't have a vehicle
Close to lots of groovy coffee shops, less than 5 mins walk
The market nearby, walking distance has all the veggies you would need
Minimart 20 metres away has the essentials
Lucky supermarket is 10 minutes walk, 3 -4 minutes by tuk tuk
Great Indian 5 minutes walk away
Breakfast was awesome, brought down on a tray
Slept well. My wife had a very pleasant afternoon by herself in the flat enjoying the great book selection
Nov 2012 and Jan 2013
This apartment is a lovely, comfortable home base for anyone who wants to get a sense of daily life in Cambodia. Frances and Souen are gracious, helpful hosts and both have rich insights on Cambodian history and culture. The location is convenient but quiet. Highly recommended!
We had a great time just wish we had had some friends along to share and further enhance the experience. Souen was an excellent host/companion, informative and present but not dogmatic or overbearing and intrusive. With a good perspective to his country and culture. He was respectful of the things that should be respected such as the hard labour involved in much of the simple handicrafts we saw in the village streets. At the same time he was quite clear about the foibles of high and low in Cambodia. Which country in the world shouldn`t be approached this way?
It was refreshing to be informed and guided by a person who could laugh at my ironic concept of tourists only being allowed to take pictures of "evil" monks i.e. monks smoking and talking on cellphones or in big new cars etc, instead of the standard photos mystical wise monks in the ruins of Angkor Wat in the romantic light of a sunset
The extended "family" crew of the day were charming and shyly friendly. The food was a pleasure and locally based without being challenging. It was fresh and continually plentiful, as were the liquid refreshments. What a pleasure to be served fresh juice by the never empty pitcher rather than just a glass or so. Pretty much everything else from good coffee to wine and beer were available and served freely
As this was a present for my 82 year old mother in law it was a great success for her to be able to lounge in the boat and not struggle to walk the ragged sidewalks of Phnom Penh. Getting in and out of the boat and up/down the embankment was a challenge for her so it did limit our visits to the village life on the bluffs. But "messing about on boats", especially as a pampered guest is always great. Gunn enjoyed the visit to Souens mom and family as a natural final touch to the day
The boat and "cruise" style are not a stiff white gloved Queen Elizabeth standard but a better relaxed and natural style that suits persons like ourselves who are longtime experienced travelers who nowadays have an appreciation of a bit of quality experience above the backpacker thing but don`t want or need the "Hilton" sterile isolation or cost. The boat is enjoyed in a simple barefoot if you want style from the sun deck to the hammock
Of course the Mekong in Phnom Penh is not a scenic jungley panorama but there is much to see in a liesurely way especially if you are interested in people and their living situations. I am a great fan of the Mekong so this was like catnip for me
This was the single most expensive experience we had in S.E. Asia this year and although it still makes my old hippy soul flinch a bit it was well worth the price......Definitely there is nothing to compare price wise with this particular trip. I`m not kidding when I would strongly recomend (for those not on a backpacking economy) that a day trip with you is a highlight in pleasure and cultural enrichment and a must do on a well rounded Cambodia/S.E. Asia tour. If I was fixing a dream trip to S.E. Asia or just Cambodia for family or friends this would be a given part
We really enjoyed and appreciated our time in Cambodia and it could not have been better, with your wonderful attention and spoiling us during our shortish stay. It was exactly what I wanted to achieve and experience
My thanks, once again, to Souen -- I had a really great day in a very beautiful bit of Cambodia. I very much appreciated all the attention to detail -- made me feel very looked after!
Thank you both so much for making our Cambodian experience so rich and exciting. We are having trouble actually believing where we have been and for how long.........We are bashing the ears of all who'll listen about the wonderful time we had with you all and how privileged we felt doing and seeing so many things off the normal tourist trail.
We had a great time on the boat. It was just what we wanted. Many thanks to Souen, Kimly and his Dad
Recently, we travelled for 8 months along the Mekong River from high up in the state of Yunnan China to the river delta in Vietnam. Where possible we boated and one of the most memorable boat journeys was on the “Neang Niak“with our hosts, Souen and Frances, from Cambodia Uncovered. We spent 3-days on the Mekong meandering from Kompang Cham to Phnom Penh. Taking the extra time to live on, and close to, the river was a wonderful experience. They are informative, open and wonderful hosts – there was never a time when we felt anything other than friends sharing a great trip, and a great adventure
They approach their hosting services with such professionalism and style. We were indulged – great food cooked on board, good wines and drinks and great company
Among many highlights these live on in our memories:
And at the end of a truly enjoyable and informative 3 days the final thrill of arriving in Phnom Penh by river boat – it should not be missed. If you have the time spend a day, or two or more, on the river with Cambodia Uncovered
And about the apartment.....
We decided to stay at the apartment offered in Phnom Penh through Cambodia Uncovered. Another great decision!
The apartment is tastefully appointed, so restful and provides such an opportunity to explore Phnom Penh in ways that most are not able to do. Whether one has been travelling for days or months the delight of having your own space and garden to do, or not to do as you wish, is so valuable. It is located in a district of great variety and interest – far enough outside of the “tourist traps” to allow you to experience Phnom Penh in ways that other travellers do not
Waking to a delicious breakfast of fruit and pastries delivered to our table, wandering for just a block before getting lost in the great local market, selecting fresh food for lunch and dinner, and later enjoying the pleasure of sitting down to a self-cooked meal – such a delight!
Of course, restaurants, supermarkets, wine shops, barbers, one of the best blind massages ever, are also in walking distance
We went to most of the usual tourist sights and walked to them all from the apartment. To be frank the “getting there” was often more interesting than the attraction itself. Getting lost in back lanes and discovering small gems – soup sellers, noodle makers, local temples, and so on - lifted Phnom Penh and our time there to be one of the most unusual experiences of our trip.
For longer trips there are tuk-tuks on the street outside the front gate and we found the local drivers to be honest and attentive – we really felt like locals with their fixed pricing
We are a gay older couple and there were never any awkward moments with Cambodia Uncovered
At the end of our time with Frances and Souen we felt like family and not just customers. They are impeccable in their attention to the small details that made this stay in Phnom Penh so wonderful for us. We cannot recommend this specialised service highly enough
Try and make the time to experience Cambodia from a different perspective than most travellers – take some extra days to travel on the Mekong River and experience river life, stay locally with your hosts in their apartment above you, in absolute safety and comfort - you will be rewarded mightily
We are safely home again after another memorable trip. The overnight Mekong boat trip was the highlight giving us the ability to drop into all the riverside activities. Once again you all looked after us impeccably in Phom Penh
Phnom Penh is an incredible city in its own right with much to see and experience, but there is so much more real Cambodia 'out there' than the casual tourist sees. Four of us Canadians had the amazing experience of learning from a local Khmer, by spending a week with Souen and his partner Frances, from Cambodia Uncovered!
Souen will take you to all the local sites, and has his own vehicle to take in the surrounding attractions such as the Salt Pans, boat tours to the ancient 5th century canals, industry-specific villages producing rice noodles, woven mats, bricks, water vessels, silk products – all of them without automation, using the ingenuity and hand labour of villagers to produce the final product. Much of what we saw was NOT on the usual tourist agendas and was accessible only because Souen is Khmer, can speak to the villagers in their own language, put them at ease, and gain their approval to welcome visitors into their village. This is an incredible authentic experience not open to most who visit this area.
Souen was born and raised in Cambodia, and has lived through the tragedy of war, displacement to refugee camps and the tremendous effort of putting life back together again in a way that is rewarding and enriching to others. A few years back Souen launched into tourism by having his own boat purpose-built to take visitors down the Mekong River. Souen's incredible in-depth knowledge of the area, his life experiences, his Khmer heritage, and his playful, gentle sense of humour enrich each adventure.
We stayed in their 2 bedroom apartment and then on their boat overnight on the Mekong. Frances is an Australian doctor who has the insight of someone who sees the effects of history in her daily work, and offers the unique perspective of an expat who “has now become Khmer”, as Souen told us. She speaks Khmer and is at ease in a dusty village or the boardrooms of health care policy makers. Her knowledge, experience, and skill enrich and improve the quality of the lives of many Cambodians.
It is hard to describe how extraordinary our experience in Cambodia became, and how much we were deeply enriched by our time in and around Phnom Penh with Frances and Souen. One comes away humbled by all Souen and his family have faced, and enriched by his ability to "bounce back' and now share this reality with his visitors in such a positive enlightening manner.Get onto the website of CAMBODIA UNCOVERED and read before you go to Phnom Penh! Don't miss out on this rare, authentic opportunity to absorb beautifully unique and refreshingly original Cambodian experiences with Souen and Frances. Now back at home in Calgary, there is not a day that has gone by since our return, that I don’t experience a flash-back memory of turning my head in disbelief at something we saw or did with Souen - driving some red-dust country road, swimming in a cool jungle river, checking out unfamiliar foods at roadside food stalls, walking through a remote fishing village, floating down the Mekong, cruising the ancient canals, rowing the Salt pans, watching villagers at their work, or listening to Souen's many stories. With a big smile on my face, I quietly mumble, "Thank you for this Incredible, absolutely amazing experience!" I need to pinch myself to believe I was really there, and am grateful to have had the good fortune to witness some of these great Khmer sights with my own two eyes, and experience everyday Cambodian life with Frances and Souen.
A river trip with Souen is a unique way to gain a better understanding of Cambodia. Being on the Mekong gives a different perspective to the city and the people. Souen enjoys teaching about the river, the people and the culture. Up close and personal views of boats, fishing, a village, and more are truly enjoyable. The informal luncheon consists of local produce and Cambodian dishes and is excellent. All of this is on a boat constructed by Souen which is comfortable and accommodates visitors well. It's nice to be in a small group relaxing and learning.
A day with Souen was remarkably enjoyable. His boat had all the items to render the voyage on the Mekong River both comfortable and informative.
Several excursions on the land, under his guidance, provided special opportunities to gain an impression of the local inhabitants and to visit a weaving facility where skilled women produced lovely items. A delightful meal aboard the boat was an extra unexpected treat served tastefully.
The crew under his direction managed all details efficiently and pleasantly. He obviously is a skilled and knowledgeable manager of his enterprise.
Hi to Souen!!! and thanks a million. As I look back at pictures of our Cambodian trip, our boat trip with Souen was a highlight. It was so deeply personal, fun and funny, educational and enlightening and overall - the best!
It was so family friendly to have Souen's daughter and nephew with us on the boat and be able to share stories with all of them. My daughter and her friend loved swimming in the Mekong and lounging on the hammock.
For me, I was so happy to have so many of my questions answered - about everything from the food to the customs to the details of the weaving and the tropical plants and the food was "over the top" delicious.
It was definitely a unique lifetime experience and one that I would recommend in a heart beat.
Thanks a million for all that help and effort for us while in Cambodia. What a trip it was!!!
We will be processing it for years. Thanks Souen for giving us such a unique opportunity.
As an expatriate, living in Cambodia for the past 11 years I have seen much of Cambodians scenery and tourist sites, but never motored upstream on the Mekong River. To rectify this omission I took an overnight trip with “Cambodia Uncovered” on their delightful little, but very comfortable boat, aptly named Neang Niak (daughter of the dragon).
The journey started with an 8 am breakfast of fresh almond croissants, fresh fruit and yoghurt and freshly brewed coffee and tea in a china teapot: all served on a delightfully set table, including to my amazement china crockery, as the boat motored upstream, on a glorious sunny, but cool morning.
Hammocks were set up to laze in and enjoy the view. Several stops were made along the way to visit villages to see the local handiwork in action. However, I was enjoying the boat too much to participate in these ventures.
The luncheon was even more spectacular, with white napkins adding a touch of class to the wonderful array of home cooked Khmer food. Classic icy cold Australian white wine was served with the food, followed by yummy lemon tarts. By this time we had left the metropolis behind and were surrounding by pleasant rural scenery and the occasional fishing boat. It was just sublime.
Eventually we found a secluded spot and anchored in the lee of an island, where we planned to spend the night. The river is quite safe for swimming so rubber tyres were thrown overboard for us to hop into and enjoy a refreshing swim. Drinks were supplied as we drifted around the boat in our tubes.
Later that evening, a coal barbeque was lit on the deck for cooking our next amazing meal – chicken stir fry with rice and fresh vegetables. Delicious wine was obligatory again. Followed by Belgian chocolate, served with Baileys on ice while we watched an amazing array of stars, (not seen in Phnom Penh) followed by an extra bonus of watching an incredible full moon rising out of the river, which continued to dazzle us all night with its beauty twinkling on the water. Mattresses and mosquito nets were set up on the lower and upper deck for sleeping. The toilet and washing facilities were very clean and hygienic.
In the morning we were greeted with a wonderful sunrise across the river and another good Khmer style breakfast. We had more swimming in the morning and later champagne served as we lazed in the hammocks on our way back.
It was, as their advertising says “an exclusive tour”, and I would definitely like to try one of their longer journeys to explore further up the Mekong. I thoroughly recommend you will have a wonderful time, especially if you like your food served with a touch of class, as I do.
Webmaster note: This trip was taken on Christmas Day so there were additional extras such as champagne which may not usually be included in overnight trips.
You will find cheaper boat trips in Phnom Penh, but none as good as Souen's from Cambodia Uncovered. This is not just a short trip along a stretch of the river in the centre of town with a visit to a touristy island like many of the boat trips on offer ... but a day trip on a beautiful timber boat (made by Souen), with visits to small villages where you are very unlikely to spot another tourist, but may see mat making, silk weaving, water jar making or visit temples well away from the maddening crowd.
After visits to these sights you arrive back to the boat to be completely surprised by cool drinks and a gourmet lunch! I recommend swimming in the Mekong before lunch and a sleep in a hammock after lunch.
Well worth the money and highly recommended.
I live in Cambodia and have recommended Souen's cooking classes to a number of our visitors, as well as doing it myself. I thoroughly enjoyed it - especially the trip to the local market to purchase ingredients, where Souen has a great rapport with stall holders and makes the experience great fun as well as seeing daily life first hand.
Without exception our visitors have loved it and the fish amok in a coconut always gets rave reviews.
We all had a wonderful time in Cambodia. The Cambodian people really touched us.
Thanks for the wonderful couple of days traveling with you, you really showed us the real Cambodia and it was amazing
.....Souen and Frances were a delight, and we loved our time on the boat with Souen. We loved going into the little villages via the boat, and Phnom Penh itself was very interesting.
Just wanted to thank you and Souen again for a fantastic trip, really enjoyed the Mekong, the boat and the surprise visit to the village - not sure who was more surprised, us, Souen or the villagers...
Thanks Souen for your fantastic trips - the day trip to Takeo was spectacular - the old temple with great carving and wonderful view, the boat trip down the canals was a real eye opener seeing daily life on the water. But the highlight that day was the amazing lunch we had in the rice field which was totally unexpected - from the great green location to the bamboo table and chairs to the scrumptious food made with love and those white linen napkins! It truly was a treat.
The cooking class gave us a chance to see how the ingredients are woven together to make such delicious and often delicate tastes and it was fun to eat it all after our efforts. The amok was the most delicious and we will surely try that at home.
The boat trip and village vists were also really amazing and unexpected - so good to see your small but highly effective biogas plant in your mother's village as well as the various animals, trees and plants you have organised; the water jar making was wonderful to see and the weaving was so much more complicated than I had imagined it would be.
Thanks for such a wonderful experience. We haven't had such a personal tour like this ever during our travels and it really was the highlight of our trip to SE Asia.
Well here we are home after a trip of a lifetime. Everything went exactly to plan and the holiday was everything we wanted and more.
I am writing to thank you for both being such wonderful hosts to Josh and myself.
Josh and I cannot thank you, Souen, enough for the time we shared with you. Your knowledge of your country and its people and vegetation was amazing and has made us hungry to come back and see and learn more with you.
We would particularly like to thank you, Souen, for sharing with us the very private, sad and extremely painful period of your life. This could not have been easy for you to do and we will always treasure this special time with you. It has helped us to try and understand the terrible things Cambodian families endured for many years and to appreciate that people like you who lived through these years can still smile and bring such joy to the likes of Josh and me.
We saw many wonderful places and particularly loved the mountain areas (of Vietnam) and sharing time with the minority groups but throughout our trip we talked about Cambodia and how much we loved our time there and wished we had planned more time in Cambodia and less in Siagon for you to be able to show us much more and to have experienced more time with the people of your country.
Cambodia touched our hearts.
Now it is time for me to get back to my life in Adelaide but my mind keeps drifting back to Cambodia and Vietnam.
WHAT WONDERFUL THOUGHTS.
We greatly enjoyed our time with you, the apartment, the country trips and the Mekong, and were very pleased we started our journey in Phnom Penh.
You gave us a valuable introduction to Cambodia's recent sad history and first-hand insights into the present way of life and social/economic/political issues. I dont think we've ever spent so many dinners discussing such issues on our travels, even when travelling to other third-world countries...
We thoroughly enjoyed the boating experience, the sunset G and Ts and Souen's food - among the best meals we had on the whole trip.
....once again - many thanks for the never-to-be-forgotten experience you gave us.
The boat trip on the Mekong was really spectacular and exciting and the food which Souen prepared played a really important part. We all enjoyed it immensely.
My photos remind me of the several times Souen stopped by the road and encouraged us to eat food – delicious food – which we probably would not have touched were we on our own - one of the advantages of having someone like Souen with local knowledge and a strong desire to have guests appreciate the real Cambodia.
The highlight was definitely the cooking class. Full marks. Brilliant to start with buying the ingredients and essential to give guests the recipe to take away.
Morag and I would like to thank you both once again for a most memorable experience. I think you achieved your objective of uncovering Cambodia.
Thankyou for the best day we had in Cambodia, on your boat floating down the Mekong. The food was fantastic especially the banana blossom salad and we enjoyed the visit to the village where that family was producing the cement water tanks.
You showed us the real Cambodia in extremely relaxing circumstances
Souen needs to know, he’s not just a great cook and tour guide, but we really appreciated the fact that we could ask often quite painful questions of him and he was so generous in his response and sharing of knowledge. We hope to enjoy your hospitality again soon.
...thanks to Souen for a great day trip. It was ideal for us and our visitors to get out and about and learn more about real Cambodia. The food was a particular highlight, despite the rain!
An overdue note to thank you for a great stay. If I'm ever back in PP I'll definitely look you both up
We have now returned home and we have such wonderful memories of our time in Cambodia. Thank you so much for your hospitality
Once again thanks for the cooking.....I enjoyed it and learnt alot
Thanks again for such a memorable time, we are still talking about how much fun we had and what a great time you guys gave us
Thank you both very much for making our stay in PP so enjoyable. It was great to meet you both and do everything we did.
As I begin telling friends about our holiday I have realized that our time in PP with you both was certainly the highlight.
Thank you again for all your hospitality and friendship.
And from a guest who wrote an article for a newspaper................
Perhaps the best way to see the real Cambodia is with a Khmer guide who can take you on road and river trips to small villages where people go about their daily activities of weaving, fishing, cooking, farming etc. You will be fascinated by the skills needed to eek out a living, and humbled by the genuine warmth of engaging people. This experience can be provided by Cambodia Uncovered, a small boutique business that tailors your travel and accommodation to suit your interests.
Dear Sok Souen
This is to belatedly thank you for the trip you organised for us to see some aspects of Cambodian life and country side in January. We have only recently returned to Australia and your day trip was one of the highlights of our time in Cambodia.
We thought your boat was beautiful and obviously much thought and care had gone into preparation for the day. We have some wonderful photos of our time on the river, the fishing families and the aspects of village life you were able to show us.
We do hope that others enjoy your trips as much as we did.
With our very best wishes,
........a huge thanks for showing us around. Fin and I both agreed that the #1 highlight was the visit to the school in your home village on the first day. It may seem a strange choice, and we were surprised at each other!! And I am sure that many of your customers would not agree - but we both enjoyed the brief engagement with the kids.
Best wishes to you, and every success to Cambodia Uncovered.
Hi you 2,
Have been thinking of you. The trip was really fabulous.
We were most appreciative of our 2 great days with Souen. My guests were particularly pleased as they only had a few short days and were very eager to ‘uncover’ a little of Cambodia – we enjoyed the food too!
This is to let you know how much my wife and I enjoyed our recent holiday with you in Cambodia. We were most impressed with the effort you made to ensure that we got all that we wanted from our vacation and we left feeling that we had seen Cambodia in a way that we could not have done without your expert guidance. We will soon be booking again for next year!
Still remembering our great trip to Takeo! It helped me arriving in Cambodia very much and I enjoyed your company and the hours with all of you
Souen and Frances are welcoming hosts with lots of helpful advice and added extras
The clean tasteful accommodation has all the comforts of home with many thoughtful touches. Both the tours and cooking class were fun and exciting and planned to my individual needs and interests
Souen is a wonderful guide and provides a unique opportunity to see a different side of Cambodia
Cambodia Uncovered - the Highlights
Anything to do with boats and water! We really enjoyed your boat and wished we had spent more time travelling in that way.
The boat trip from Takeo was worthy of a TV documentary. From our point of view it was an amazing insight to a world we didn’t know existed.
We packed in so much that day with the pre-angkorian temples, the museum, not to mention a picnic lunch on the banks of the river. Before we had even got to the boat I think we had visited a salt farm and training school as well. The boat trip warranted a full day in itself.
A surprising thrill for us was riding on the back of motorbikes- so much so that we thought of taking lessons here until Mike said he had given up riding in this country because it is so dangerous.
Anything to do with textiles and silk. Being able to go into villages and see the weaving being done was priceless and something we wouldn’t have been able to do on our own I suspect.
Souen’s cooking. His picnics and cooking lessons were a pleasure. It was interesting to hear from him that rice outside Cambodia tastes stale.
Souen’s deep knowledge of plants and the country and history that saved the Killing Fields from being a totally depressing experience.
We very much appreciated the local information you both gave us and the use of the mobile phone which was a little life line for us
Your Flat - was decorated in a way which reflected Cambodia nicely and it was good to have the back up of dvds and books. The flat was well equipped. You are in a good location, close to facilities and we felt safe! It was great not to have to go far in the evening to get to a decent restaurant –in fact to have quite a choice!
We appreciated your flexibility in wishing to accommodate our needs. We felt you both went out of your way to find out information for us. We were also grateful for the back up medical advice that stopped us panicking.
And finally we enjoyed your friendly laidback attitudes that did not interfere with the professional way you looked after us.
Mary and Rodney Vormawah, England
We have never had an experience that measures up to this one. Cambodia would have been out of the question for us without support and local knowledge
Talina and Winston Vizard
Victor Harbour, Australia
I was one of Souen’s first customers, in January 2006
Being my first trip to Cambodia and because I only had two weeks there, I wanted to understand as much as possible about the country while visiting the popular sites
With Souen as teacher I was given a delightful, “insider” account of the history, culture, events, the food, and the way Cambodian people think. But touring with Souen was not like a lesson – it was fun – and importantly, it was flexible. If I decided I wanted some time out, or something more active, there was no problem. Always cheerful and thoughtful, Souen is the ideal host. With his beautiful river boat and gourmet picnics you can laze away on the Mekong going where a whim takes you or you can plan a tight action packed schedule that fills the day and night. There were lots of times for laughter, despite the tears that were unavoidable at some of the massacre sites
Souen’s partner Frances is Australian and when she has time to spare from her medical work, she joins him as a generous host. She also provides interesting insider information about Cambodia – but through the eyes of an expat! She is also on hand for medical attention if ever needed
Travelling alone was no problem - I felt pampered and safe on my memorable trip to Cambodia. I learned about the terrible suffering the people have endured, but saw how strongly they are returning from the brink. Supporting enterprises like Souen’s not only means that you have a good time, but that you are also doing something for Cambodian development
Tropical sunsets are often very beautiful
70601-10224 (1, 19, 102, 484)