Back in March, with the Cambodian borders closing and our global health care deemed invalid due to the World Health Organisation declaring a pandemic, we decided to visit friends and family in the UK. Finally, after six months of uncertainty we have arrived back in Cambodia and wanted to share our COVID-19 safe travel experience with you.
Hilton London Bankside
As vegan travel lovers, there really was no better place to spend our final few nights in the UK before embarking on the trip to Cambodia. Not only does the Hilton London Bankside boast the world’s first vegan suite, but it also offers vegan food throughout the hotel and that makes us very happy indeed. Having checked out the Hilton policies regarding COVID-19 including their CleanStay initiative, we felt there was only one option for our pre trip accomodation, and we were certainly not disappointed.
Our vegan suite (well, it was ours for the duration of the stay) was simply outstanding. Our mini bar was packed with (complimentary) vegan snacks and drinks, our furniture featured vegan pineapple leather from Piñatex and our bathroom was stocked with the finest of vegan toiletries. We were suitably impressed.
To ensure that the leisure facilities were COVID-19 safe, we were able to pre book 1 hour slots for the pool and gym, during which the facility is open to a maximum of 2 rooms or 4 guests only. Changing rooms were closed so we got prepared in our room, and in between sessions the facility was fully cleaned and disinfected. Very impressive and a real luxury to have an almost private pool.
During our stay we enjoyed a variety of healthy, plant based cuisine which was the perfect way to prepare our mind, body and soul for the trip. Dishes included the most delicious of carrot and quinoa pancakes for breakfast, a creamy and flavour packed vegan fricassee for dinner at OXBO Brasserie, and this sublime orange and chocolate brownie served with a trio of sorbets which was quite simply perfect.
The reason for our extended stay in London prior to flying was so that we could have COVID-19 tests as required by Cambodian immigration. Adhering to the exact requirements can be a minefield and very stressful as they vary from country to country and are ever changing. Our research was extensive, and without hesitation we would recommend One5 Health in Moorgate. They were the only private clinic that we contacted who answered every question we asked them and were fully aware of the Cambodia specific requirements. Their communication throughout was excellent, and they were happy to provide a signed and stamped ‘Fit To Fly Certificate’ 24 hours from the time of testing. During these unusual times, when travel is full of uncertainties, they filled us with confidence and luckily for us, our tests were negative!
Singapore Airlines have worked very hard to open Changi Airport as a COVID-19 safe transit hub. As their international network took to the skies they have slowly added more routes allowing passengers to reach multiple worldwide destinations. The COVID-19 safe measures on board saw us receive a complimentary ‘care kit’ including mask, hand sanitiser and hand wipes alongside the cabins being divided to keep transit and non transit passengers apart. A full selection of meals was available (unlike some other national carriers) which meant we were able to pre book our VGML vegan meals for each sector. Once on the ground at Changi Airport we received temperature screenings and were given wrist bands, before being escorted through an eerily deserted airport to pre assigned transit zones, or our chosen transit hotel to await the next flight. For those waiting in the transit zones, food and drink was available from vending machines and stalls or via a delivery app for further options.
One of the transit hotels at Changi Airport is Aerotel Singapore which was the only airside hotel that was open when we travelled. With a 9+ hour layover and a distinct lack of vegan food available from the transit zone we decided that this would be money well spent. We contacted them in advance and were told that our room included a meal and there was a veg option which was suitabe for vegans, perfect. After a long overnight flight, a hot shower and comfortable bed were very welcome and we were happy we decided to book a room. As per the Changi Airport COVID-19 safe process we were met from the flight and escorted directly to the hotel. This also happened in reverse when our next flight was due, making the overall experience totally stress free.
Sokha Phnom Penh
Based on previous traveller experience this is by far the best quarantine hotel for passengers arriving in Cambodia. Via their website, it was easy to pre book a ‘Ministry of Health’ package for the 2 days awaiting our arrival COVID test results. Prior to our stay, email communication with them was also very helpful, they explained that we were able to order meals from outside using one of the delivery apps and the hotel staff would deliver to our room. Our room was huge and well appointed including an oversized bed and a free standing bath, both of which offered river views. The stay was very comfortable indeed, and yet again we were very happy with our decision.
After receiving our negative COVID-19 test result we were able to check out from Sokha Phnom Penh and complete the remaining 12 days of quarantine at home. A final test (and negative result) on day 13 meant we were finally free which felt good, very good. For anyone else planning this trip please feel to leave a comment and ask any questions. We’ve not included all of the details but are more than happy to share them with you. Special thanks to the admins of the Cambodia Visa Group on Facebook who have been patient and informative as always, anyone planning to travel to Cambodia should bookmark this page immediately. If you are planning to travel soon, all we can say is don’t leave anything to chance and do lots of research. Bon voyage!
Paul Eyers is Founder of Vegan Food Quest. Vegan Food Quest have become luxury vegan travel specialists as they continue to find, eat and write about the best vegan food in the world.
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