Cambodia is fast becoming one of South East Asia's golfing paradise.
Phnom Penh's Garden City Golf Club offers great golf.
As the region opens up for tourism, more and more golf courses are becoming accessible to Malaysian golfers. While still a fledgling golf nation, Cambodia has a wealth of tourism and hospitality facilities to ensure it is a vibrant and lively destination for golfers seeking a venue to play golf while having a fascinating few days in another culture that is so close to Malaysia.
While there are a handful of golf courses in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, the one considered the most prestigious is Garden City Golf Club located on its outskirts in a riverine location beside the Tonle Sap River.
Developed by LYP Group Co. Ltd., it is a course that is tough enough for the professionals but kind enough to golfers of more modest talents. The challenge for the golf architect was to develop a dead-flat riverine site close to the Tonle Sap River (a tributary of the Mekong River) into a 7,300 yard-long, 18-hole, par 72 course off the championship tees.
It opened April 2013 and in the same year was a top ten finalist for the Asia Pacific ‘Best New Golf Course’. Once things were in place the next step was to partner with IMG to maintain true professionalism and to move the course up a notch in its marketing, sales and promotion.
Water hazards, bunkers and undulating greens are features of the course which is the centrepiece of a 1,000ha development that will eventually house a zoo, exhibition and conference facilities, housing estates, entertainment and retail.
Platinum paspalum grass on the fairways has resulted in a billiard-table surface while the greens are even smoother in being surfaced with tifeagle grass. Being a resort-styled course, golfers can choose one of five tee placements from black (7,258 yards) to red (5,349 yards).
Hole number six of 439 yards is the signature hole. This par four has a massive bunker mid-fairway and can be played conservatively down the right hand-side or to the left while avoiding the bunkers and dams on both sides.
Golfers also like the par five, second hole of 564 yards off the championship tee with its dogleg left and lake, mid-fairway down the right-hand side.
Clubhouse facilities are impressive with a restaurant (serving Asian and Western dishes from 6.30am until 10.30pm), classy locker rooms, three on-course refreshment kiosks and, spa and massage facilities.
Caddy and cart services, a golf academy, chipping greens and a 36-bay driving range are also available. The pro-shop has just been expanded to include Nike and Under Armour products to complement existing brands such as Puma, Nike, Honma, Titleist and Cobra.
While there is a 254-room deluxe hotel attached to the course, distance from the city (15km) and its rural setting may mean Malaysian visitors opt to stay closer to the nighttime action in a city-based hotel and there is none finer than Raffles Hotel Le Royal.
After the tropical heat of a round of golf at Garden City there is nothing as cool as the rooms in the city’s most prestigious five-star hotel. These rooms have provided comfort and luxury to discerning travellers for decades and while new properties keep opening, those in the know, keep checking into this wonderful heritage hotel.
Heritage elements have been retained but modern conveniences are now incorporated. So naturally there is air conditioning plus a fan, safe, mini bar, internet and cable television.
A spacious and landscape garden is located in the centre of the hotel and two swimming pools provide restful retreats from the heat. Adjoining these is the fitness centre with all opening from 6am to 10pm daily
(the sun rises early in Cambodia).
Raffles Spa provides a balance between exertion and relaxation in achieving a feeling of inner tranquility and rejuvenation. Traditional Khmer, other Asian and modern treatments are offered. Le Royal Signature Khmer Massage of 90 minutes is inspired by Asian therapies featuring Khmer therapeutic massage style known as chad ta shai.
Concierge staff at Raffles can arrange a round of golf and transfers to and from the course.
KHMER CUISINE AND ANGKOR ALES
Cambodia beer must be the cheapest in the region with happy prices being absurdly priced as low as$US.50/glass and $US2/jug. There are many bars and restaurants along Preah Sisowath Quay and the riverfront with the Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC) being a legendary Asian bar to visit.
While happy hours at Raffles Le Royal extend from 4pm to 9pm, the prices aren’t as generous as those on the street but then again, there are few places in Asia that have as much panache as the Elephant Bar. This cool and chic bar is the place for heritage hounds to relax in deep leather chairs and sip a cool beer or cocktail beneath a high-arched ceiling while taking in the music played in the corner by a pianist.
Legendary cocktails poured include Residents Gin and Tonic (Sigsmiths Raffles 1915 gin, East Imperial Burma tonic and bitters), Singapore Sling (it’s Raffles, after all) and, Raffles Pimms for Two.
While there are similarities with other Asian cuisines the food of Cambodia is different and the Khmer people are proud of its uniqueness.
France also had a strong influence in Indochina and the best venue to combine Royal Khmer and modern French cuisines is in the Restaurant Le Royal in Raffles. The adjoining Café Monivong is the all-day dining restaurant with an excellent selection of Khmer, Asian and Western dishes.
by david bowden While there are similarities with other Asian cuisines the food of Cambodia is different and the Khmer people are proud of its uniqueness.