Le Relais de Chhlong

On the banks of the mighty Mekong river in northeast Cambodia you will find the delightfully restored period mansion, Le Relais de Chhlong. Built in 1916 and home to a family of timber merchants, the impressive mansion boasts large balconies and high ceilings, enhancing the natural airflow and ensuring moderate temperatures during the scorching hot season. Local sources confirm that the grand family home was abandoned in 1968, and sat empty for more than 30 years, during which time the political situation in Cambodia was devastating the country. Initially re discovered in 2001 by a medical volunteer in the region, the mansion commenced on a journey that culminated in the building as we find it today. Finally restored to it’s former glory in 2017, it is now a boutique hotel which offers guests the perfect weekend escape from Phnom Penh or Siem Reap.

Le Relais de Chhlong aerial
Le Relais de Chhlong facade
Le Relais de Chhlong entrance
Le Relais de Chhlong balcony

A selection of spacious suites, some with balconies which enjoy Mekong river views, have been tastefully crafted to combine period charm with stylish comforts. Our suite had shuttered doors opening onto the balcony and multiple shuttered windows with garden views that gave that sense of being part of the surrounding gardens. Our bathroom had the most luxurious roll top bath that allowed for a leisurely soak before dinner. Our living area boasted a cute sofa suite and large flat screen TV which was the perfect place to kick back and relax following a long day exploring. Whether in our suite, at the pool or enjoying a game of pre dinner billiards with a cold beer we certainly felt at home whilst staying at Le Relais de Chhlong and could only dream what it must have been like to call this remarkable building home all those years ago.

Le Relais de Chhlong bedroom
Le Relais de Chhlong bathroom

The Vegan Food

The menu and specials board include a few veggie dishes but nothing that is clearly vegan. The ratatouille was already vegan and a number of the Khmer dishes could be prepared vegan too. After a quick chat with the super friendly chef we felt sure that we were in for a treat. Breakfast each day started with fruit, tea or coffee and fresh baguette which we were assured was vegan served with pineapple jam. In addition to this, on the first day we enjoyed vegetable fried rice with fried tofu and on our second day a delicious bowl of rice noodle soup topped with fried garlic and chillies.

Le Relais de Chhlong vegan breakfast 2
Le Relais de Chhlong vegan breakfast 1

Dinner featured banana flower salad from the main menu which was prepared without fish sauce to make it vegan. It certainly didn’t lose any flavour with the toasted peanuts and lime juice adding an extra crunchy texture and citrus notes to this delightful salad. Next up was the smokiest of eggplant served with broccoli and topped with sweet, fried garlic. Simple yet delicious. When chef Oun Len also offered to create an off menu dish for dinner we jumped at the chance. Our smoky grilled eggplant and broccoli spears served with rice noodles and the most delightful peanut sauce certainly hit the spot. If we lived nearby then most certainly we’d be returning to order it again. Excellent. Our meal ended with a Khmer favourite called ‘Jek Kris’. This accidentally vegan dessert is sweet, soothing and always puts a smile on our face. Sago, coconut milk, bananas, a twist of lime and a little palm sugar combine to create a perfect bowl of vegan goodness.

Le Relais de Chhlong vegan food 3
Le Relais de Chhlong vegan food 4
Le Relais de Chhlong vegan food 1
Le Relais de Chhlong vegan food 2

Exploring Chhlong

We didn’t have long in town, but we were mesmerised by the quaintness of Chhlong and the kindness of the people that we encountered. This ancient settlement on the Mekong river still offers reminders of the important position it played in the Mekong river trading of yesteryear. The bustling market sits amongst the most charming, derelict period buildings and we can only hope that the plans to preserve the unique architectural heritage come to fruition. As a staycation location is it just perfect, but also it offers the perfect stop over when on route to Steung Treng or Mondulkiri to visit the excellent Elephant Valley Project. This really is a true gem of northeast Cambodia and we certainly plan to explore the area more in the future.

Chhlong market 3
Chhlong market 1
Chhlong market 4
Chhlong market 2

The Vegan Food Quest Verdict

With Le Relais de Chhlong being just 4 hours from Phnom Penh or 5 hours from Siem Reap, it’s easy to understand why expats and locals alike choose to head there for an escape from the city. The restored mansion oozes history and the nearby market with derelict colonial era buildings oozes charm. Jump on one of their bikes and explore Mekong riverside life or simply kick back at the pool and order your favourite cocktail from the ever helpful staff team who are on hand to ensure your stay is memorable.

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We were guests of Le Relais de Chhlong but please rest assured that their generosity in hosting us didn’t influence our views.

Le Relais de Chhlong
Road 308
Kratie Province

Telephone: +855 12 347 309
Email: hello@lerelaisdechhlong.com
Cost From:
£53 / $70 – Nov 2020 (discounted rates during COVID)

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