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Congratulations Leak on your new role as Andrea’s Booking Coordinator!

We wanted to take the chance to congratulate Leak as she has taken over as Andrea’s new Booking Coordinator!  Leak is an amazing person – very kind, fun-loving, a wonderful mom, and incredibly hard working, and she has worked for Journeys Within for around ten years, as a Central Booking Assistant.  If you have ever taken a tour with Journeys Within, then there is a strong chance that Leak helped put together your tour behind the scenes.

Having spent most of her younger years in Phnom Penh, Sreyleak or ‘Leak’ for short, eventually moved back to her hometown of Siem Reap to be closer to family and friends. She grew up with the dream of working in an office where she would get the opportunity to meet interesting people and work with different cultures. This led her to study Tourism and Hospitality Management at the Angkor City Institute, giving her the chance to share her passion for her country and help people to experience the wonders of Cambodia.  After university, Leak began work at one of the top hotels in Siem Reap, the FCC Angkor, where she worked as Tour Coordinator, organizing interesting and exciting tours for the hotel’s guests. Sreyleak heard about Journeys Within through Linda and the two friends have worked together for years now, first as a Central Booking Assistant, and now as a Booking Coordinator.

Photo Credit: Courtney Ridgel

Active Philanthropy is a core tenant of Journey’s Within’s company culture.  We believe that a tour company not only has a responsibility to its guests, but also a responsibility to the countries in which we live and work.  Beyond that, we believe that we have a responsibility to our team to provide the opportunity to grow.  As the countries in Southeast Asia develop, we’ve seen our own team members take on new roles, gain new skills and education, found businesses, raise families and blossom.  We are so proud to work with such amazing people!

Photo Credit: Courtney Ridgel

For other recent Journeys Within Team success stories, read about Central Booking Manager Linda’s hotel, Cambodia Director Makara’s modeling career and role on the JWOC Board, and Regional Director Narla’s career journey!

Photo Credit: Anna Baldwin
Photo Credit: Anna Baldwin

A Day of Introspection and Healing: Siem Reap Spiritual Tour

By Andrea Ross 

After a whirlwind adventure in Thailand, the kids and I arrived in Siem Reap this week. As always there was a sense of “coming home” as we stepped off the plane, but rather than home we have been spoiled with staying at the amazing Jaya House River Park Hotel.  This property has earned a well-deserved blog of its own soon and has already been an amazing partner for Journeys Within. After getting settled and catching up on work emails on the first day, I had a special morning planned with our new Siem Reap Spiritual Tour. While of course the ancient temples such as Angkor Wat are the main draw in Siem Reap, there are also some amazing modern temples here, with unique experiences only available in Siem Reap.

Taking a tuk-tuk with Sina, one of our top guides

I was met in the morning by Sina and kid-free (they had a fun day with their dad), we set off the for the Fortune-teller’s. I have to start by saying that I’m not the Fortune-teller type…I believe we make our own destinies and I’m always scared that a Fortune-teller will tell me something that then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. BUT, my team swears by this man and I’ve felt lately like I could use some guidance! We arrived for our 8:15am appointment and in true Khmer fashion, he wasn’t there! My faith in his powers was severely diminished when he informed Sina he didn’t realize we were there yet and would be back as soon as he could! He showed up a few minutes later on his moto and showed us up to his house…a typical Khmer home on stilts with walls covered in framed photos of his family, him with various military and political leaders and of course, some landscape shots.

The Fortune-teller with his ipad
The Fortune-teller and his son at their home

He immediately sat down and asked me for my birthday and then, using his iPad (Is there a Fortune-teller app?) started writing numbers on a piece of paper. And then he started talking and things got real! It was incredible and scary and emotional all at the same time. He is not a palm reader or a clairvoyant; he literally uses birth numbers to tell him the story of your life…past, present and future. So for an hour, a man wearing cargo shorts, a plain white button up shirt, and glasses like my grandpa’s looked at a piece of paper covered in numbers and told me things that he couldn’t have known! It was an eye opening and unique experience and I’m so glad I did it, but I have to admit, I’m still a little shook up. (Good news, I’m going to live a long life and will not only be happy, but will help others and make them happy. Bad news, I’m going to get sick in 3 years and have to go to the doctor a lot. This would all seem silly if he hadn’t been so right on with everything else he said!)

The Fortune-teller and I after the reading

From here Sina took me to a local pagoda in town. The truth is I’ve driven past this pagoda hundreds of times, but never been inside and it was stunning. Still reeling from the fortune teller this was exactly what I need to reset myself and feel calm. A beautiful sitting Buddha fills the main pagoda room, but behind it, hidden away, is a much older reclining Buddha. Beautifully maintained and tucked away as it is, this Buddha is one of my favorites out of the countless that I have seen!

The Reclining Buddha
The Reclining Buddha

From here we headed to Wat Pho, the largest Wat in Siem Reap. Tiny kittens ran throughout the temple and beautiful carvings adorned the entrance, windows and doors. We explored through the temples and then went to the back where an older monk offered a water blessing. Here a monk chants while sprinkling you with water. At the end he tied a red ribbon around my wrist for good luck.

Wat Preach Prom Rath
Local Stupas – the ashes of local Buddhist families are contained within them

Our last stop of the day was to Sophie’s Healing. I’ve known Sophie for years, from when she was Callie’s French teacher at the International School. Now Sophie runs her own business offering her healing services. Sophie can help with spiritual, emotional and physical ailments and again, as an original non-believer, I have been converted as over the last three years she has helped with various issues I’ve had…a hurt foot, migraines and Couper’s nightmares. This time I needed her help to find peace and with a really sore shoulder…she doesn’t mind doing a little of each as part of the healing. For an hour I lay on her table and I can say that I left feeling at peace.

Exploring the local temples with Sina
Wat Bo

It was an incredible day, experiencing the modern spiritual side of my Siem Reap. We offer all these experiences to guests and while I’m a little nervous about it, I’m also excited. This tour offers a deeply personal day, and is not your typical tour, but at the same time, it was a powerful day and one only possible here. Travel is supposed to open up us and show us new experiences, today it did just that for me.

Me receiving a water blessing

Weddings in Southeast Asia

Makara and Sina Ou during a wedding photo shoot at Angkor Wat in traditional dress – Photo Credit: The Events

By Courtney Ridgel

We wanted to congratulate Sone, Makara and Sokunna on their weddings in this past year!!  We also took the chance to ask Sone and Makara about wedding traditions in Cambodia and Laos.  Sokunna was not available for questioning as she is enjoying her maternity leave with her beautiful new baby!

Sokunna and her husband,Samnang Ing, during their wedding photo shoot
Sone and her husband, Good, dancing at their wedding

What are weddings like in Laos and Cambodia? 

Sone: In Laos the wedding is held at the bride’s house. In the evening before the wedding day we would have small party and dinner at the bride’s house as pre-wedding night.  On the wedding day groom and bride will wear Lao traditional dress.  There will be a procession of the groom’s parents along the way to the bride’s house, and the parade is lead by the groom and his parents, followed by the elders, cousins and friend. After the parade arrives, a baci ceremony which already set up at the bride’s house will start, and people will join the baci to bless the new family.  After that everyone will depart for home to prepare and dress up for the wedding party at night time. The party can held at any place such as a hotel, village hall, school yard, stadium, etc depending on how big the wedding is.

Sone surrounded by friends and family

Makara: For my wedding, we celebrated for two days! On the first day all of the closer friends and relatives came together in the morning and discussed who will be responsible for which tasks.   And at  noon the makeup team came to dress the bride and groom. There are three groom-mates and three bride-mates who joined us these two days and they are symbols of servants. Starting from 3pm, the first ceremony is called Khart sork (hair cut) where both parents and the elderly relatives pretended to cut our hair to chase away bad luck and bring in the good luck and happiness. On this first day, most of wedding involved traditional ceremonies, but sometimes there is also another celebration called Khat Khanslar, where the bride and groom lay on their parents’ thighs and the head of the Master Ceremony (MC) will do a speech about how hard it was when our parents raising us since we were starting a life until now. We did this ceremony at my wedding too.

The Hair Cutting Ceremony in Makara’s wedding

On the second day, we needed to wake up early at around 4am, and the makeup team came to help dress us up. This is a big day of celebration, with many ceremonies. The first one is only the groom dressed traditional clothes, and the MC speaks some Pali which the groom repeats, which takes about 20 minutes. After that, the bride comes to join with traditional clothes to celebrate the Sunrise Blessing, which symbolizes the new couple starting a bright life like the sun. The next ceremony is Gifts Parade, where the groom travels to the bride’s house with a lot of gifts and fruits. The MC will do a few different ceremonies in order to ask the Road Keeper, the Steps Keeper and the Door Keeper to allow for the groom to enter the bride’s house safely and with happiness. After that, the monks come to chant and bless the couple and the families for good luck and success. After the monks finished, there was another celebration called Chorng Dai (tying hands) where the groom and bride sit next to each other and all of the relatives tied us with the red yarn and put some money in our hands, before everyone took a break for lunch.  In Cambodia, mostly we host the party at home, but some of us have it at restaurants. We had our wedding at a restaurant, and it started at 5pm, but we started to prepare at 3pm.

The Gifts Parade in Makara’s wedding
The Gifts Parade in Makara’s wedding

 How long do they last? 

Sone: There are about 3 days of celebrations, but the real wedding day is only one day – on second day. For the first day, at night, there is a small party and dinner at the bride’s house, and on the third day after the party, is the day for cleaning the bride’s house and there is a small party for cousins and friends who come to help. It takes about one and half hours to do the baci ceremony and the party lasts the whole day or whole night (depending on the time the baci/wedding starts).  For the day time the party will start at lunch time and goes until late night, and for night parties they start at 7 O’clock and go until midnight.

Makara: Weddings in Cambodia traditionally take 3 days and there are a lot of steps. Now mostly we do it for two days, while some people will do a very short one day celebration.

Sone, her mother and Good during their wedding photo shoot.

What traditions does everyone follow? 

Sone: The tradition that we have to follow is the wedding is not supposed to take place during the three months of Buddhist Lent between July – September. And the wedding date has to be on a good day in lunar calendar. Weddings mostly happen before and after Buddhist Lent as during the Buddhist lent is rainy season so it quite difficult to have the wedding during this time. But people still can have the weddings all year long depending on convenience.

 Makara: We check for an auspicious date before making the arrangements.

Sone and Good visiting a local temple in Luang Prabang
Sone during the Bacci Ceremony at her wedding
The Khat Khanslar Ceremony in Makara’s wedding

Who is invited – how big are the weddings and how many people come?

Sone: One month before the wedding day, we will busy with preparing the wedding and list the number pf people for invitation cards. Normally we’ll invite our entire family – cousins, friends, colleagues, neighbors and people in the village.  Some people prefer bigger or smaller wedding parties. For the small party we would do the invitation card at least 100 cards. For the big party we would from 500 – 2,000 cards. And for each invitation card guests can come alone, as a couple or with family.

Makara: Our party was medium – we invited about 700 friends and family to join.

Makara and Sina Ou’s After Party
Sone and Good arriving for the After Party

What ceremonies are there and what happens during the ceremonies?

Sone: In the morning, the elders will come to the house and help preparing the things for baci. The ceremony is quite the same as another baci, the difference for a wedding baci being that there are more steps for blessing so it takes a longer time than a normal baci.  During the ceremony there will be blessings, chanting and Pook kwan. At the end part of the baci everyone will come by the line and tie the white baci threads on each of our wrists with blessing, wishing all the good things for our new family.

Sone and Good during the Baci Ceremony at their wedding
Sokunna and Samnang Ing visiting a temple
Monks chanting at Makara & Sina Ou’s wedding

What do you wear?

Sone: We wear a Lao traditional wedding gown. I dressed with a Lao traditional silk sinh, silk blouse with gold necklace, bracelets and earring, my hair tied up with gold decoration. For the groom he wears silk shirt and traditional silk salong( baggy pants ) with traditional shoes.

Makara: The bride and groom wear a lot of different traditional outfits, and are prepared by the makeup team.

Sone and Good posing in traditional clothing for their wedding photos
Sina Ou during a ceremony with a traditional dress – Photo Credit: Narla Phay
Sokunna in her Western-style wedding gown at Kralanh Petite Villa

Are there any special kinds of food that people eat at weddings? 

Sone: No, we are not specific about the food in the wedding. The food is depend on the host will prepare. But we have the rule that the food should be 5 or 7 things such as: rice, food, fruit, sweets…

Makara: There is no specific food has been noted for the wedding – it depends on discussions within families who decide what to cook.

Makara and Sina Ou greeting guests at their wedding – Photo Credit: Narla Phay
Sokunna in a traditional dress at her wedding

What should guests bring?  (What is expected of guests?)

Sone: In some areas the guest and cousins will bring some money, rice, food, vegetables to the bride’s house to help, but in some areas  (people in town) they just bring their invitation card and money that they put into the card. For some cousins and friends they just come to help the work during the wedding days with things like cleaning and cooking.

Makara: All of the guests are expected to bring money gifts as a kind of donation from the guests to help the new couple to cover the expenses.

Leak in the Gifts Parade in Makara’s wedding – Photo Credit: Anna Baldwin
Some of the JW Team as guests at Makara’s wedding – Photo Credit: Anna Baldwin
Some of the JW team at Makara’s wedding – Photo Credit: Narla Phay
Good, Nicole and Sone with friends at the After Party at Sone’s wedding

What was your favorite moment?

Sone: My favorite moment of my wedding was the wedding party. I was so happy to see all of our friends, family and cousins enjoying the Lao dances on the stage.  All of us shared a wonderful time together.

Makara: In general, weddings are interesting.  My favorite moment is when they did Chorng Dai, because all of the relatives said different words to us and those are meant to wish us health, wealth and happiness.

Sone and Good with one of their traditional outfits
Sokunna and Samnang Ing in traditional clothing
Makara and Sina Ou during their wedding photo shoot at Angkor Wat – Photo Credit: The Events

On Tour with Journeys Within: Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Wat at sunrise.
Angkor Wat at sunrise.

Journeys Within is on our annual inspection tours this spring and some of the team traveled on from Laos to Cambodia. Read about our recent experiences in our last update On Tour with Journeys Within: Phonesavanh, Vientiane, and Pakse to learn about some of our guests’ favorite tours throughout Laos.

Follow our journey for updates and travel tips on some of our key locations and tours throughout this spring, and get inspired for your own next adventure.

For travelers who seek to acquaint themselves with highlights of Siem Reap, these Journeys Within tours are ideal:

Day 1: Angkor National Museum, Quad Bike Tour, and Phare Circus

Day 2: Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom Temple Tours

Day 3: Banteay Srei and Beng Mealea Temple Tours

Day 4: Village Tour and Artisan Angkor Silk Farm

These tours are customizable to the guest’s preferences and schedules, though Journeys Within can make recommendations on the best timing to schedule certain tours and activities to beat crowds and the sun on hot days.

Day 1: Angkor National Museum, Quad Bike Tour, and Phare Circus

The ideal introduction to people visiting Siem Reap is a visit to Angkor National Museum. Visitors have the option of a guided tour using head phone with recordings available in a number of different languages. Guests may also tour the museum without head phones, however, the headphones are recommended as the narration provides greater detail in addition to signage provided by the museum. Photos are not allowed inside of the museum, but click here for more information.

Angkor National Museum consists of five galleries, starting with details about Buddhist worship, Buddhist and Hindu iconography collections, details about the history of Khmer civilization, a multimedia presentation about Angkor Wat, and finally, extensive galleries dedicated to Siem Reap’s temples with informative details about the temples’ art and architecture.

For example, the type of material a Buddha statue is made from (stone, gold, bronze, marble, copper, or wood) indicates the time period and other historical factors that impacted how statues were produced. The postures of Buddha explain the unique individual purposes for each statue, which correspond to significant moments throughout the life of Buddha.

Further, the sculptures are more than artifacts, but passageways to Buddha himself and to receive his teachings. This can help visitors to understand why the image of Buddha is treated with utmost respect throughout Buddhism practicing countries. The museum also provides insight to how the practice of Buddhism has developed over hundreds of years as a method of worship that focuses on letting go of strife in order to gain peace of mind. Stylistic changes not only in the Buddha statue but also in temple architecture and ornamentation indicate the integration of different styles and religious ideologies as empires merged throughout the civilization’s history.

This experience provides visitors a foundation and context to Khmer history and culture. A visit to the Angkor National Museum will ideally be done prior to visiting temples in and around Siem Reap so visitors may have an established understanding of the culture before visiting the area’s main points of interest. Insider tip: Beautiful batik artwork by local artists and celebrated professionals is for sale inside the museum.

After a morning at Angkor National Museum, guests enjoy the opportunity to go on a quad bike tour around the rural villages and outskirts of Siem Reap. This experience gives visitors a look at rural Siem Reap and the lives of farmers. People and children wave and greet visitors as they pass by, which conveys the warm nature of these kind people. The quad bike tour stops along the way at a modern temple, where visitors may see monks and nuns going about their daily lives. The tour concludes with a view of the sunset over Siem Reap. Insider tip: This tour is a great opportunity to bring a Go-Pro for unique video footage of Siem Reap. The guide also makes several stops along the way to film guests with their smart phones.  

Kena (left), and Naida (right) on the quad bike tour in Siem Reap.
Kena (left), and Naida (right) on the quad bike tour in Siem Reap.

Another favorite of our guests as an introduction to Siem Reap is the Phare Circus. The circus is located near the heart of Siem Reap under the ‘big top’. It is a world-class act of acrobatics and by local signature artists as well as international traveling ensembles. The shows include light-hearted and comedic entertainment and poignant performance art interpretations of the profound impact of war on Khmer people. Performances are scheduled every night of the week.

Phare Circus.Image
Local acrobats of Sokrias (Eclipse) at Siem Reap’s Phare Circus.

Insider tip 1: Look up the performances you will see in advance and seek out a little background on the topics of each story for context. Visitors will get more from the shows if they have an understanding of the show’s influence.

Insider tip 2: There is a small gift shop located just outside of the tent that features unique handcrafts from local artisans that make for great souvenirs.

What to wear for this tour:

Comfortable, breathable clothes

Sneakers for the quad bike tour

Hat for the quad bike tour

Sunscreen and insect repellant for the quad bike tour

Bring a beverage inside the tent so you have something to drink throughout the show, as guests are not allowed back into the tent if they leave mid-show.

Day 2: Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom Temple Tours

Tours of Angkor Wat and  Angkor Thom are great adventures following a visit to Angkor National Museum, as the museum tour concludes with information and exhibits that relate to Siem Reap’s nearby temples.

Angkor Wat is an iconic symbol of Cambodia and tours are offered throughout the day, including options for sunrise and sunset. Journeys Within tour guides stay on top of the best times to arrive, changes in location of where to obtain tickets and entrance, and how to beat the crowds using little known access points. Insider tip: There are two pools located in front of Angkor Wat, and the majority of visitors inexplicably choose to view the temples from the pool on the right side. The pool on the left side is always far less crowded.  

Angkor Wat has become more strict this year about dress code and behavior while visiting the temple sites. It is important the visitors of temple sites respect temples by abiding by a recently established code of conduct, particularly dress code. View the Angkor Visitor Code of Conduct for more details. Visitors who do not abide by the code of conduct risk the potential of having their temple passes revoked.

Visitors have the opportunity to explore inside most temple areas, and exploring includes climbing some steep stair cases. Visitors should assess their ability to climb these stair cases. The temples located atop steep staircases are closed to pregnant women and small children for safety purposes.

Angkor Thom is a temple complex that houses Bayon, Ta Prohm, and Bantey Kdei. Bayon is known for its many massive three-dimensional faces carved into the temple walls. Ta Prohm is known for the trees that have overgrown around the temple over the centuries and make for unique photo opportunities. Ta Prohm is also sometimes referred to as the “Tomb Raider” temple, where the feature film was shot in 2001. Bantey Kdei is a fun temple to explore with many fallen temple stones.

Faces of Bayon, housed on the temple complex of Angkor Thom.
Faces of Bayon, housed on the temple complex of Angkor Thom.

Siem Reap’s temple tours can be coordinated as the guest desires, with additional temple tour options making the trek a half-day or all day experience.

What to wear for this tour:

Appropriate attire for visiting temple sites, with the legs and shoulders covered

Hat or umbrella, but ideally a hat as umbrellas take up more space and may obstruct the views of other visitors

Sunscreen and insect repellant

Walking shoes – no sandals. Some of the temple areas are uneven or require climbing and it’s best to have the feet covered

Day 3: Banteay Srei and Beng Mealea Temple Tours

Banteay Srei and Beng Mealea are located about an hour and a half outside of Siem Reap. Visitors stop along the way at an ancient sandstone quarry in Kulan to see where the stone was once sourced for all of Siem Reap and how stones were cut.

In fact, Beng Mealea is a Hindu temple built over 1000 years ago for quarry workers. The sandstone quarry was too far from Angkor Wat for workers to visit to worship, so Beng Mealea was built to provide quarry workers a place of worship within a close enough distance to the quarry site. Beng Mealea is a fun temple for trekking, with many different areas to climb and explore. Visitors at this temple should be careful to watch their footing on uneven areas, with many fallen stones to climb. There are also many low archways, so watch your head!

Fallen temple stones at Beng Mealea.
Fallen temple stones at Beng Mealea.

Banteay Srei was built in 967 CE, and is unique to the other temples in the area because it is carved from red sandstone, so the temple appears to have a pink hue. Local people also say that the temple must have been carved by women, due to the intricacy of the carvings. For these reasons, the temple it also sometimes referred to as the “Lady Temple” or “Pink Temple”. These characteristics make the temple special, and it is also one of the oldest temples in the area. Banteay Srei’s ornate design, color, and attention to detail make it a site well worth the trek outside of Siem reap.

Banteay Srei.Image
Banteay Srei, a temple carved from red sandstone, located outside of Siem Reap.

Insider tip: Visitors may also opt to see the Banteay Srei Butterfly Centre and the Cambodia Landmine Museum, both located on the way to Banteay Srei.

What to wear for this tour:

Appropriate attire for visiting temple sites, with the legs and shoulders covered

Hat or umbrella, but ideally a hat as umbrellas take up more space and may obstruct the views of other visitors

Sunscreen and insect repellant

Walking shoes – no sandals. Some of the temple areas are uneven or require climbing and it’s best to have the feet covered

Day 4: Village Tour and Artisan Angkor Silk Farm

On this tour day we visited Kok Tnout Village, which translates to ‘palm tree’. This is the home village of the guide for this tour, Mr. Sotay.

This tour gives visitors a glimpse into the rural village lives of people on the outskirts of Siem Reap. Kok Tnout  is comprised of 800 families, or roughly 1000 people. Mr. Sotay, like most Cambodian families of his generation, comes from a family of 11. Mr. Sotay says that while many Cambodians have large families in order to help farm, new families have begun to have less children, perhaps about 5 children per family.

My guide, Mr. Sotay, stands at the end of a bridge leading us into the village of Kok Tnout.
My guide, Mr. Sotay, stands at the end of a bridge leading us into the village of Kok Tnout.

Fifty percent of the villagers work jobs in Siem Reap, while the other half make a living as construction workers, farmers, and artisans of sorts. We passed Mr. Sotay’s mother in the village as she was on her way to sell rice noodles, which she makes herself every day and sells to people in town and passersby. We passed by a man who makes rice wine at his home and once the rice has been used in the process he feeds it to his pigs, which he raises and also sells in town.

In regard to infrastructure, the village of Kok Tnout still does not entirely have electricity, so some families use car batteries, kerosene lamps, and candles to have light in the night time. The village chief collects $15 dollars from every family to maintain the main village road.

This is a walking tour, and Mr. Sotay offers many details about Kok Tnout and its villagers’ way of life.

Once back in Siem reap, we visited Artisan d’Angkor, a silk farm and textile workshop that employs young women of Siem Reap, providing an opportunity for gainful employment and to preserve silk production and weaving as an artform.

Visitors get to see silk production from the very beginning of the process with a private tour from an Artisan d’Angkor guide. Exhibits show silkworms feeding on mulberry leaves, silkworms spinning their cocoons, the harvesting and cleaning process of the silk, the silk dyeing process, and various weaves of silk in textiles. Insider tip: Don’t forget to tip your guide!

Dyed and raw silk at Artisan D'Angkor.
Dyed and raw silk at Artisan D’Angkor.

The gift shop located on the farm is an ideal place to purchase beautiful souvenirs offering annual collections of home decor, clothing, accessories, stone, lacquerware, polychrome, wood, silver plating, painting, ceramics, and jewelry by local artisans.

What to wear for this tour:

Comfortable, breathable clothes

Sneakers or sandals

Hat for visiting the village

Sunscreen and insect repellant for visiting the village

See more photos of this spring’s journey throughout Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia on our Instagram account. Stay tuned to get an insider account of more of our tours throughout Southeast Asia!

Additionally, some of the Journeys Within team will be attending this year’s Thailand Travel Mart (TTM) this week! TTM works in cooperation with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the Thai tourism industry, making TTM the largest business-to-business event in Thailand. Journeys Within proudly participates in this event to stay in-the-know and aid in the promotion of tourism in Thailand and its Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) counterparts.  

Follow us on Instagram during our experiences at TTM and stay tuned for new travel information and industry updates!  

Journeys Within Signature Hotels: Rachamankha, Chiang Mai

Racha 1.Photo

A Journeys Within Signature Hotel, Rachamankha is located within the boundaries of the original city of Chiang Mai. This incredibly unique hotel is the result of a collaboration between a renowned architect father and interior designer son. Rachamankha has received numerous accolades and press for its design, and is atypical to the architecture seen throughout Chiang Mai. The accommodation is the essence of Zen with ornate roof lines, the rooms centered around courtyards with beautifully manicured landscaping, rock walkways, and the entire property is decorated in the family’s own personal art collection. To stay here feels as if to be a privileged guest at an acquaintance’s extraordinary property. In the evening, spiral sticks of incense burn and subtly fill the space with fragrance.

Racha 3.Photo

General Manager, Paul Walker, has been managing the property for over a decade and is a wealth of information about the hotel and Chiang Mai. Every detail of Rachamankha is the well thought out construct of taste and imagination. Walker explained that the design at Rachamankha comes first over pragmatism. This is not a property that was designed under the constraints of compliance for accessibility or safety regulation. In fact, this hotel welcomes guests age 12 and older. This is for a few purposes, one being the potential for slips and falls of smaller children; the art collection that decorates the guest rooms and common areas is priceless and must receive the necessary respect of all guests; most guest rooms (with an exception of the suites) face one another in a courtyard, so noise from small children could disturb the Zen state that the owners of this property have worked so hard to achieve.

Racha Pool.Image

Rachamankha includes a pool, a library that includes a collection of the owner’s books and complimentary cognac, a restaurant, and a studio upstairs from the restaurant which may be used for small meetings and gatherings.

Racha 4.Photo

Stay tuned for our hotel review of Rachamankha coming soon. Rachamankha is included among Secret Retreats, a collection of inspirational boutique hotels, villas, cruises, and restaurants. Follow the hotel on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for more images and information. Contact one of our Tour Consultants for information about booking a stay at Rachamankha and tours in Chiang Mai and throughout Thailand at 877-454-3672.