Sunday, November 12, 2017

In Love With Angkor Zen: Best Yoga Retreat in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Zen Yoga Retreat in Cambodia

Angkor Zen is a beautiful yoga retreat in Cambodia, located about 10 min drive (4 km) from the Old Market in Siem Reap. This yoga retreat has been my home for the last couple of months, as a resident yoga teacher, and every day that passes by I just love this place even more.

I arrived to Angkor Zen (also known as Angkor Zen Gardens Retreat Center) the 28 of August. I came here directly from Sri Lanka, after spending six weeks surfing and teaching yoga in Arugam Bay.

I will stay here till the end of November, so by the time that I'm publishing this blog post I will still have three more weeks to enjoy this yoga retreat.

Angkor Zen's location is beautiful, in the Svay Prey village (the Wild Mango Village), away from the city center and the traffic. It is a 21,000 m2 property in what used to be rice fields.

Angkor Zen Yoga Retreat in Siem Reap

Angkor Zen Yoga Retreat in Siem Reap


Facilities

Angkor Zen is definitely not a five star resort but rather a comfortable yoga retreat with basic facilities. It has everything that you might need, and not more than that.

Angkor Zen Yoga Retreat Facilities

Well, it does have a fantastic salt water swimming pool that everybody loves. Best place to hang out during the day! I rarely use it though. I have a very busy schedule. I'll tell you more about it in my next blog post.

Angkor Zen Yoga Retreat Swimming Pool

There is a lot of green around in this yoga retreat. Many plants, flowers and some fish ponds.

Angkor Zen Yoga Retreat Facilities

There are also many animals walking freely around. Mainly chickens, cats, dogs and two lovely gooses.


Btw, I thought that roosters like to crow only during the sunrise. That myth is now demystified. They crow at anytime during the day!

Sometimes they like to come near the yoga hall exactly during the final relaxation time, at the end of the yoga class, around 7:30 am.

When that happens, after the class is over, I usually tell the guests that I'm going to make chicken BBQ for lunch. Lol.

There are also many geckos around.

If you get lucky you might see one of the giant Cambodian geckos. Don't worry, they are harmless, and very shy. And if you are really really lucky you might get a gecko dropping during the yoga class!

Accomodation

Angkor Zen offers mainly bungalows made out of local materials. They are comfortable and cosy. In total they have 6 bungalows but also 1 AC room with shared bathroom, 2 AC rooms with private bathroom, a 3-beds dormitory and a deluxe accommodation which they call "Le Studio."

To know about prices and availability you can contact them directly via their booking site: Angkor Zen Gardens Retreat Center.

Angkor Zen Yoga Retreat Bungalows

Angkor Zen Yoga Retreat Bungalows

Angkor Zen Yoga Retreat Bungalows
@elenavr working on her passion at the terrace of her bungalow

There are shared bathrooms and showers located conveniently near the bungalows. The showers are quite spacious.

Angkor Zen Yoga Retreat Bathrooms

Angkor Zen Yoga Retreat Bathrooms

Dinning Room

The other best place to hangout at Angkor Zen is the dinning room. Like Marc (co-owner of Angkor Zen) mentioned once, this is where the magic happens.

Angkor Zen Yoga Retreat Dinning Table

We sit all together in one long table, during meal times, and share our interesting life stories. With guests from all around the world there are definitely many interesting stories to share.

I have so many good memories around this table. Best moments ever.


The dining room is the only place where you get wifi connection. Another reason why this is also a great place to hangout. I was so happy not to have internet in my room. So much freedom!

Yoga Hall

The yoga hall fits comfortably ten people, but I've been told that it can fit up to fifteen people. During my stay the largest number that I've seen during the yoga class was probably twelve people.

Yoga Retreat Hall
Photo courtesy of @elenavr

There are wooden blocks, straps and of course, yoga mats available at the yoga hall.

I love the views around the yoga hall. Although I don't really see them when I'm teaching, sometimes after class, if I do my pranayama practice at the yoga hall, I take a moment to appreciate the surroundings.

Massage Space

There is a nice open space, totally surrounded by nature, for a traditional Khmer style massage.

Yoga Retreat Traditional Khmer Massage Table

Food

I'm not a big fan of Cambodian food, but the food at Angkor Zen is fantastic. They offer only vegetarian food, including dairy and eggs. Every single guest loves the food.

The meals are quite varied and offer a combination of local and international flavors. Really good soups, lots of greens, salads and plenty of tofu.

Dinner at Angkor Zen Yoga Retreat


People

Although they don't speak a word of english, the staff members make Angkor Zen a special place. I don't know what we would do without their delicious food.

But who really make this place special are Marc and Fred, the co-owner and the manager of Angkor Zen.

Marc is from Belgium (french speaker), and Fred from France. They were always joyful and full of energy to make sure every guest have a fantastic and transformative stay.

Fred is pretty much always in a good mood. He will make you laugh for sure, but he is also a really caring guy. He will make sure that you get whatever you need so that you feel comfortable and happy.


Fred speaks really good Khmer, the local language. It's really impressive to hear him talking with the local staff. But what is more impressive is to know that he is also a terrific karaoke singer. His Facebook video got so far more that 40,000 views!

Marc is passionate about meditation and neuroscience. If you've ever met him then you would know what I'm talking about. His passion is contagious.


He is also passionate about personal development, so if you need some guidance in your life to discover your purpose and your true potential then he is the right person to talk to.

Marc likes to take whatever opportunity he might have to give some inspiration and guidance to whomever is open to it.

During the evening meditations at Angkor Zen Marc likes to give a little introduction. He is so passionate that he finds it hard to stop, but then when he does everybody feels really motivated to start the meditation.

I am eternally grateful to both Marc and Fred because they've made my stay absolutely wonderful. I will miss them once I leave this place, that is for sure.

Yoga and daily schedule

By having a quick look at the schedule you can tell that this is definitely a yoga retreat, and a very busy one.

There are four yoga classes a day plus a forty-five min group meditation session in the evening, before dinner.

06:30 to 07:45 Yoga
08:00 Breakfast
09:30 to 10:45 Yoga, Pranayama, Meditation
12:00 Lunch
14:30 to 15:45 Yoga
16:00 Tea time
16:30 to 17:30 Yoga
18:15 Meditation
19:30 Dinner

Yep, the first class starts at 6:30 am. But don't worry, although the schedule looks very busy this is not a strict yoga retreat. It is actually quite chill.

It is not mandatory to attend all the classes, and whenever you wish to you can go out to town. Don't be surprised though if Marc tells you that he will make a note in your report whenever you miss a class.

If you ask me I would have to say that the yoga classes during my stay have been absolutely amazing. That's because Eszter (from Hungary) and I are awesome yoga teachers. Lol.

Ok, I can't really comment about the yoga classes but all the guests seem to be pretty happy during their stay, and most of them usually attend all four classes.

There are always two yoga teachers at Angkor Zen and the yoga class style will vary according to the resident teachers. But don't worry, Marc does his best to find excellent yoga teachers. Eszter and I are the living proof of it! Lol

At the moment I teach hatha yoga at 6:30 am and pranayama at 9:30 am. At 2:30 pm Eszter teaches yin yoga and at 4:30 pm she teaches vinyasa. Eszter will be here till end of February.

The evening meditation is usually a non-guided 45 min sitting meditation. Marc gives an introduction to meditation to the new guests fifteen min before the meditation starts.

While Marc is in holidays I'm the person who is giving the introduction to the meditation session.

Since at the end of the pranayama session at 9:30 am I've been giving a short guided meditation, I decided to stick to the same format and keep the evening meditation unguided.

Activities

If you make a trip all the way to Siem Reap then you probably want to visit the Angkor Wat temples. You definitely should, and you should take at least a whole day to do so. The place is huge! So much to see.

Marc and Fred will give you all the information that you might need, and will arrange a tuc tuc for you, so that you can make the visit to the temples whenever you prefer.

You can also borrow one of the bicycles at Angkor Zen to explore around, or to go to the main center in Siem Reap. It's about fifteen minutes drive from Angkor Zen to the Old Market.

Hopefully you'll be able to get one of the good bikes. Lol.

To keep in mind

The location of Angkor Zen is ideal: away from the city center, in the middle of a village, surrounded by nature; and it's usually quiet....

But being located in a village means that there can be some local festivities around, such as weddings, funerals or temple festivals.

The problem is that local people, as it is usually the case in Asia, like to make sure everybody can hear them.

Usually these events are far enough that they are not disturbing, but sometimes it can be quite the opposite.

During my almost three months stay there were three days in a row where I didn't know where to hide myself. There was a wedding right next door. Luckily that happened only once.

This is very random and difficult to know in advance. It doesn't happen every day, and although when it has happened it has indeed been annoying for the guests, nobody have left for that reason.

As a matter of fact some people have still extended their stay. I've seen it with my own eyes!

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Definitely visit Angkor Zen

If you are looking for a good yoga retreat in Siem Reap then I can definitely recommend Angkor Zen. Marc and Fred will make sure you have an amazing stay.

I'm sure as well, whomever the yoga teachers are, that you will love the yoga.

To read other peoples reviews or to know about prices and availability you can contact them directly via their booking site: Angkor Zen Gardens Retreat Center (affiliate link).

If you would like to practice yoga with me then you should come to Angkor Zen before the end of November. It would be awesome to meet you in person.

Otherwise who knows, perhaps we will get the chance to meet at Angkor Zen sometime in the future. I'm sure one day I will be back. I really love this place.

If you want to know about my next destination and when I might get back to Cambodia then you can subscribe to my mailing list right here. Btw, don't hesitate to share this blog post with your friends.

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