At Angkor Wat, where a lost civilization once feasted under the stars, you can too. Just add butler.
Here’s how …
In recent years, I’ve been hearing of private parties and chi-chi events held amongst the ruins at Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Yes gala dinners, jet-set party people frolicking amid the temples with lights cameras, action, lots of action. Some of my friends have been to these temple parties. (Which I found out afterwards. Humpff. Didn’t get the memo. I was painting my toenails at the time).
Of course these fancy affairs are by invitation only. But now you don’t have to be like a sad little Dickens character pressing your nose against the window pane watching the hors d’oevres and champagne flow inside because nobody heard you knock on the door with your crutches. Not that there are actually any window panes or doors to press against when everything is over a thousand years old.
When I think of Angkor Wat, I immediately see steamy images of Angelina Jolie a la Lara Croft and pre-Bond, James Bond Daniel Craig, my favourite yummy guy, running around gorgeously unsweaty and bristling with sexy ferocity while leaping off ginormous statuary.
All that sauna-like mist you see? It emanates not from the humid jungle, but from these two smokin’ hot bods steaming up the screen.
In reality, a visit to Angkor Wat today might entail dodging dangerous selfie sticks wielded by hordes of eager tourists who swarm over the ruins by the busload.
However, the ruins in this massive archeological site are so vast that there are plenty of vine crusted niches where jungle serenity still reigns supreme.
Here, you can wander in peace amid the majestic tree- choked ruins,
… do something more unique.
If it’s a magical moment you crave, then this is it – you can escape far from the maddening crowds and dine under the stars at a temple all to yourself, complete with a butler on hand, while a violinist plays sweet serenades, or with traditional Cambodian musicians setting an authentic tone. Sunset drinks and a locally sourced, five-star menu are served under a billowing canopy, and traditional Cambodian dancers perform against a spectacular temple backdrop.
USD 11,000 is the starting price for a dinner for two, with the price climbing higher when you add more diners, dancers, lighting, and other frills and fancies.
Where does one sign up for this fabulous date with antiquity? Jacada Travel, a luxury travel company with offices in London and Hong Kong, arranges this exclusive experience.
Dinner is arranged at the magical and mysterious Bantaey Srey Temple, one of the most fantastic of the many temples surrounding the main Angkor Wat complex. Banteay Srey is a magnificent 10th-century Cambodian temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Built of red sandstone, and covered with exquisite carvings, it’s one of Angkor’s most famous temples and is often called the jewel of Khmer art.
What’s on the menu? A traditional Cambodian meal that promises to be very exotic, since Cambodian cuisine is a mystery to most of the outside world. Though maybe not to Gordon Ramsey, who sampled the local snack of crispy fried tarantula in Phnom Penh on his travel food show.
You can choose a western or Khmer set dinner, prepared by a 5-star chef. The Khmer menu includes succulent grilled lamb chops marinated in flavourful Cambodian kreoung spice paste with fragrant peanut sauce, stir-fried sliced tender chicken with coriander leaves, grilled spiced lobster, fried lott with mushrooms and vegetables, wok-fried bok choy, and egg and prawn fried rice.
Is it a special occasion ? There’s more. Jacada Travel can even arrange a blessing by a Buddhist monk to add an extra special dimension of Cambodian culture.
Have you been to a dinner among the ruins at Angkor Wat or another fabulous ancient site? How was your experience? Write in and let me know!