For all those special times in life, there’s often a holiday to go with them. School graduation? Gap year backpacking. Wedding? Honeymoon. Baby? Babymoon! So if you’re looking to celebrate something in Asia, I may have just found the perfect place. A place not too far that actually has its own time zone for taking full advantage of all the sun-soaking hours in the day. A place where you can do nothing but relax while letting a team of professionals anticipate your every need. A place of beauty, tranquillity and tropical indulgence. This paradise is known as Song Saa, a private island luxury resort in Cambodia!
Flight Centre made the whole booking process for our Cambodia trip insanely simple. I’d recommend staying in Phnom Penh for a few nights before heading to Song Saa, so you can dive into the cultural sights that the city and surrounding area has to offer. My friend Lindley and I took a less than two-hour direct flight to Phnom Penh, followed by a quick cab ride to the Raffles hotel for an overnight stay.
Raffles has a gorgeous old colonial feel, with rooms that overlook two large pools nestled in the centre of the hotel. On arrival, we sipped fresh coconuts poolside before heading out on the town for a sunset temple gazing tuk-tuk ride. Following historic tours, wallet-friendly market shopping excursions and incredible sights, we retired to the Raffles Elephant Bar for fruity libations – I highly recommend anything served in their large ceramic elephants, which could easily double as an orchid planter!
The next morning, we were treated to one of the most decadent breakfasts I have ever indulged in. Shortly after my fourth trip to the buffet, we were collected by the private Song Saa van; the four-hour drive was surprisingly quick and filled with fantastic scenery… And yes, there were bathroom and snack breaks! Once at the docks, it was a 45-minute boat ride to paradise, with us sat front and centre with the wind in our hair, nibbling fresh fruit skewers and coasting along the blue waves.
The islands of Koh Ouen and Koh Bong, where Song Saa is located, were like a mirage in the distance – but thankfully, they were definitely real! Raised walkways connect the 27 villas dotted around the island and our quarters were sheer perfection. Our two rooms flanked an expansive living area, with an infinity pool and ocean vista in the centre of it all, whilst each room boasted an inviting king-size bed with plush linens and a fully loaded iPod. The bathrooms were glass-walled, allowing you to take in the view from three (yes, three!) showers, one of which was outdoors – and all stocked with Aseop products. Competing for the view were the uber luxurious Ploh robes just begging to be worn 24/7 (buy one here and thank me later!).
The first thing to do was obviously jump off the edge of the infinity pool into the crystal clear waters below! Once accomplished, we declared it mojito time, thanks to the homemade lemongrass vodka in our kitchen’s Pinterest-worthy mojito bar. Before our trip, we had filled in a questionnaire about our favourite drinks – so our refrigerator also came pre-stocked with chilled bottles of Sauv Blanc and champagne… perfect for any weary Singaporean traveller! Song Saa’s “always included” adage means that everything that passes your lips is included in the room rate, so you’re free to indulge as many times as you like. We snacked on a fabulous welcome charcuterie-and-cheese selection by the pool as we revelled in our new digs.
Each day, we were delighted to find a handwritten invitation to dinner that would occur in a new location with a special menu. The first night we dined in the restaurant with a Khmer tasting menu, the next on the beach with a BBQ menu, the next on a platform in the pool with a seafood spread! Each guest dines in a different location so you rarely run into other vacationers, making it feel like your own private island. For lunch you can eat in your room, in the Vista restaurant over the ocean or in the more casual Driftwood Bar, which offers twelve different types of brick-oven pizza. Take my advice – the duck pizza is a must!
Whilst I was happy to lounge endlessly on the ledge of the infinity pool, there are other options! Beyond sunbathing, you can go for a guided or solo snorkelling session, take a kayaking, bird watching or hiking trip around the island, work out in the gym, go on a cultural tour to a nearby village or indulge in the spa. Spa treatments are an additional expense but so worth it! Just when we thought Song Saa couldn’t get any more relaxing, we received a blissful two-hour massage and facial; our therapists also gave us a red string bracelet with a Buddha and lotus charm to remind us of our spa bliss.
All this indulging had to be burned off somehow, so we grabbed flippers, masks and life jackets to give snorkelling a go – where we laughed at sea cucumbers, ooohed and aaaahed over beautiful fish, and swam away as quickly as possible from sea urchins (they look terrifying!).
Song Saa does not leave you wanting in the food department and we realised it would take more than a bit of snorkelling to keep our swimsuit bodies, so we decided to give the sunrise yoga session a go. Word to the wise – call reception to make sure an instructor is there (we forgot!). Instead of a guided session, we did our own version of yoga, consisting of one sun salutation, a triangle pose, a wheel pose and then a 30-minute conversation about how great Target workout clothes are. Completely undeserving of the pain au chocolate, granola with yogurt and eggs that followed, we indulged anyway!
Lindley and I wanted to see as much as possible in our three days, so we checked out the neighbouring village, Prek Svay, to learn about the environmental efforts Song Saa was implementing. The resort has actually established Cambodia’s first marine-protected area around the island where boats are not allowed to fish, preserving the natural beauty of the reef. Over in the village, Song Saa has improved local water quality by creating a treatment system for domestic wastewater and a toilet system – a first for the village! They are also working with the villagers on agricultural farming and fish farming techniques, plus have partnered with the charity Pack For A Purpose to help the local school (if you do book a trip, check out their site to see what items are most in need). This is a wonderful excursion, as you can get a glimpse into local life and even visit the school to meet the children.
This was a trip never to be forgotten. From the cultural tours, to the fun athletic activities, to the pure and utter relaxation that enveloped me from start to finish, Song Saa is a place that I will dream about returning to again and again. It does take a bit of a trek (and a bit of a budget!) to get there but once you do, you are met with such bliss that everything else melts into the background and all you see ahead is sand, sea and sun.
This trip is a total luxury; it’s not for the average weekend getaway so save it for a special anniversary, a honeymoon or one as an Asian adventure to spend with close friends. Blessings can even be arranged with the local monks to elevate your celebration. Song Saa is truly a remarkable place where you will lose yourself in beauty and tranquillity… so isn’t it time to celebrate your once-in-a-lifetime moment with Song Saa?!
Song Saa Private Island, +855 236 860 360
Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, +855 23 981 888
Some photos by Sabrina Sikora Photography