A new year brings with it a raft of resolutions that will be made and then all too often broken. AsiaLIFE’s Marissa Carruthers and Matt Surrusco highlight a few easy ways to introduce change throughout 2018. From eating healthy and getting fit, to exploring more and learning a new skill, we’ve got it covered.

A new year, a new youHave Fun While Getting Fit

If running on a treadmill or lifting weights bores you, consider an alternative exercise regimen for 2018. Here are three fun ways to get your heart rate up in the new year.

Indoor Climbing

Phnom Climb is Cambodia’s first indoor climbing gym, offering the opportunity to get a full-body workout – and maybe even face a fear of heights.

Budding climbers can choose between bouldering (no ropes), top rope or lead climbing, with the latter two requiring an in-house belaying safety test.

“When you start climbing, you activate muscles that you never use,” says Carlos Estevez, the gym’s general manager.

Plus, with dozens of new climbing routes set up every week, the holds on the walls resemble a giant puzzle, which encourages problem-solving and prevents regular climbers from getting bored, Estevez adds.

Bring a friend to belay with or make a new one at the gym.

Phnom Penh Community Gym. 345 Street 460, Phnom Penh. Tel. 017 897 105.

Martial Arts

For those who would rather kick off the new year with a strong punch, Cambodian Top Team training centre offers classes in kun Khmer, mixed martial arts (MMA), bokator, cardio fitness and yoga for adults and children above the age of eight. 

Bokator, a traditional Khmer martial art, includes hand-to-hand fighting and weapons techniques, while kun Khmer is a “free fighting” Cambodian martial art.

“Cambodian fighting classes are for people who want to get fit, strong, build endurance and stamina and have fun at the same time while learning how to fight,” says gym owner Hun Chan Reach.

But don’t expect a walk in the park. According to Chan Reach, who also trains pros in MMA and kun Khmer, “Our workouts are physically demanding and challenge you to get better every time.”

Cambodian Top Team. 165 Street 161, Phnom Penh. Tel. 089 333 705.


If you’re more interested in playing a team sport to get in shape, consider joining weekly pickup volleyball games on Wednesday nights at the capital’s KB All Sport Club.

All levels of player are welcome to participate, says organiser Jelena Dujak.

From setting to spiking, volleyball is good exercise because it uses all the body’s muscles, from “head to toe, and your brain,” according to Dujak.

“It’s also fun since you have friendly competition, which doesn’t even make it feel like exercise,” she adds. “It’s time you spend being active with your friends.”

KB All Sport Club. Near corner of Samdech Hun Sen Street and Street 78, Phnom Penh.
Wednesdays, from 7pm to 9pm.

A new year, a new youGet Out and Explore More

Cambodia is becoming increasingly more connected with the rest of the world, thanks to the launch of a series of new flights. And with a string of exciting projects opening their doors in Cambodia this year, there’s no excuse not to put the country’s many public holidays to good use and get out to explore more.

Shinta Mani Wild

Following hot on the heels of December’s opening of Shinta Mani Angkor in Siem Reap – Bensley Collection, featuring 10 super-luxe villas in Siem Reap, the luxury brand is keeping the momentum going with the highly-anticipated Shinta Mani Wild –  Bensley Collection.

Aiming to take the glamping concept to a whole new level, the private nature sanctuary nestled in the heart of Cambodian jungle is slated to make its debut towards the end of 2018.

It will offer luxury camping in an unprotected wildlife corridor that connects Bokor National Park and Southern Cardamom National Park, taking in a 16,100sqm site that is home to a handful of custom-designed tents, perched over the river.

Activities include boat trips exploring Southeast Asia’s last wild estuarine ecosystem, and accompanying rangers on their jaunts into the jungle. The site is also home to a bar, restaurant and spa.


Cardamom Tented Camp

Another exciting initiative that takes visitors into the Cambodian wild, in style, is Cardamom Tented Camp.

Having started welcoming guests in December for its soft launch, the project – a joint venture between YAANA Ventures, Wildlife Alliance and Minor Hotel Group – offers a range of eco-friendly packages geared towards adventure enthusiasts who want to play their role in conserving the area’s natural beauty.

Home to nine spacious safari-style tents in Botum Sakor National Park, activities include ranger-guided hikes and fieldtrips into the lush rainforest to learn how to track animals, set up camera traps and evaluate the footage, and monitor and evaluate the park’s natural resources.

“In Southeast Asia, in particular, it’s hard to get so remote, so immersed in nature, yet in comfort,” says Willem Niemeijer, CEO of YANNA Ventures.

cardamomtentedcamp.com. Read our interview with Niemeijer.

Head to Vietnam

The launch of a series of direct flights makes accessing Vietnam even easier. In December, Cambodia’s Lanmei Airlines launched direct flights between Phnom Penh and Hanoi and Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).

This follows in the footsteps of budget airline VietJet launching flights between the Cambodian capital and HCMC in November, making escaping to neighbouring Vietnam much easier.

Oleg Shafranov, general manager of EXO Travel Vietnam, says Quy Nhon and Con Dao archipelago are set to be 2018’s hot destinations. “They offer pristine beaches, unique wildlife and a laidback atmosphere, far from the hustle and bustle of modern life and beaten tracks,” he says.

Check out the best flight deals at skyscanner.com.

Get Smart & Learn Something NewGet Smart & Learn Something New

From a language to how to paint, learn something new in the new year to keep your brain active and maybe even discover a hidden talent or your true calling in life.

Learn Khmer

Tired of struggling to communicate with locals, even in simple conversation? Khmer language classes typically cost $5 to $10 per person for one-on-one lessons, depending on the teacher. Many instructors will come to your home or workplace for an hour lesson.

If you’re looking for more serious study, the Institute of Foreign Languages at the Royal University of Phnom Penh offers an intensive Khmer for Foreigners course during which students learn to speak, read and write the language in a class of about 15 students.

The first term of 2018 runs from Jan. 4 to Mar. 23, with four levels of study available. Students take one-and-a-half-hour classes, five days a week. The cost is $200 per term.

Institute of Foreign Languages. Russian Federation Boulevard, Phnom Penh. Tel. 077 452 575 or 012 824 081.

Get Arty

Whether you took a painting class in high school or never learned how to mix colours, 2018 could be your year to tap into your creative side.

Phnom Penh’s Nowhere Art Studio offers weekly workshops led by professional artists for anyone who wants to learn a new art technique. The studio has classes, usually held on Saturday, in self-portrait acrylic painting, calligraphy, block printing on fabric, bookbinding and other art media.

In 2018, the studio will also offer a hand-built ceramic workshop, says studio co-founder Syahrulfikri Salleh.

“All our art activities and programmes are to spark curiosity and provide a playground to discover different artistic expressions,” Salleh adds. “We encourage exchanging of creativity with our participants, [and] socialising through art in an artist studio environment.”

Nowhere Art Studio. 172z2, 2nd Floor of Neverland Artspace, opposite Street 380, Phnom Penh.Tel. 017 891 772.

Join a Book Club

Need some motivation to finish reading that novel or dense work of nonfiction?

Phnom Penh offers a few English-language book clubs, including one at the Scholar Library, a community library and resource centre opened in June 2016.

Beginning in February, the group will meet twice a month on Sunday mornings and read two English-language books, voted by participants during the course of three months, says Boung Sovanratana, who led the book club’s last session in 2017.

She says, “[The club] is more than just nerds geeking out over books.” In addition to discussion of the text, there will be storytelling games, jokes and a party at the end of the session.

The library hopes to offer book borrowing to the public by mid-2018.

Scholar Library. 35BE2 Street 298, Phnom Penh. Tel. 069 950 556 or 077 988 826.

Inject Some Health into Your DietInject Some Health into Your Diet

Gone are the days that eating healthy meant forcing down bland uninspiring meals. Phnom Penh is now awash with healthy eating options, mouth-watering vegan delights and dishes packed full of nutritional goodness.

Cleanse at Vibe

As Siem Reap and Phnom Penh’s only 100 percent plant-based vegan cafes, Vibe not only serves up a scrumptious selection of organic dishes, it also offers a range of juice cleanses that help reboot the system.

The freshly cold-pressed juices have each been designed by nutrition experts and are packed full of medicinal and healing properties. Juices include a kale, cucumber, spinach, apple, parsley and lemon mix and cashew, date, Himalayan salt, vanilla bean and Ayurvedic spices.

Juices can be ordered 24 hours in advance online or instore for collection, with one- to seven-day options available.

715 Hup Guan Street, Kandal Village, Siem Reap. Tel. 069 937 900.
26a Street 446, Tuol Tom Poung, Phnom Penh. Tel. 061 764 937.

Lunch at Backyard Café

If life leaves little time for sourcing healthy ingredients from the market and shops, fear not because Backyard Café has got your nutritious needs covered.

Through its lunchbox scheme, a different healthy and freshly-made dish is delivered to your door Monday to Friday. Dishes include vegetable burger with caramalised onion, chilli cashew mayonnaise and salad, smoked tempeh, superfood pesto and fresh avocado sandwich with salad, and miso and pumpkin soup with buckwheat noodles, fried mushroom and spring onion.

Vibe co-founder Emma Fountain says, “You will be able to eat a balanced, nutritious and fresh lunch every day of the week when you’re at work, delivered to your doorstep without having to worry about how the food was made or what’s inside.”

11b Street 246, Phnom Penh. Tel. 078 751 715.

Go Organic

Getting an organic fix is becoming increasingly easy for those who like to cook healthy at home.

Natural Garden (213bc Street 63, Phnom Penh) is stocked full of organic and chemical-free fruit, vegetables and rice, as well as other locally-produced foods. As one of the country’s leading organic suppliers, new products are constantly being added to their shelves.

Happy Farm (1B Street 337, Toul Kork, Phnom Penh) is another store that champions the organic movement, stocking a wide range of chemical free and organic fruit, vegetables, herbs and meats.

La Vie Claire Cambodia (53eo Street 13, Phnom Penh) sells an extensive range of organic and GMO-free goods. Their stock spans groceries, healthy juices, vegan and gluten-free products, foods from a selection of Cambodia-based farms, food supplements and beauty products. And for those with little time on their hands to go shopping, can order online with shopping delivered to your door.