Shinta Mani Wild

We have fallen in love. In love with the nature, the space, and the deeply soulful peace of Bensley Collection Shinta Mani Wild. The unspoilt landscape and terrain, the calming and grounding feeling, which we’re sure comes from the steady and constant gushing of the waterfalls and river below. The rustling of the trees and the humming, buzzing and chirping providing the perfect forest soundtrack. This is no ordinary resort, it is way more than that. Our arrival via zipline, yes the preferred way to check in is via a 380m zipline, saw us traverse the forest canopy, giant boulders and waterfalls, really set the tone for our stay.

Shinta Mani Wild is an exclusive collection of 15 luxury tents set within 350 hectares of Cambodian wilderness, offering the ultimate in comfort and luxury, whilst presenting a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in nature. The creation of Bill Bensley and his talented team of architects, designers and artists delivers all that you would expect from a luxury resort and much, much more. We checked in full of excitement and anticipation, and on every level our expectations were exceeded and our WILDest dreams really did come true.

Shinta Mani Wild Waterfall 1
Shinta Mani Wild Aerial VIew

Our ‘Waterfall Tent’ was named after First Lady Jackie Kennedy and is decorated with authentic memorabilia and artefacts from her visit to Cambodia in 1967. Although we are staying in a tent, this is not camping in the traditional sense of the word, it’s quite probably the most luxurious tent a person will come across in their camping lifetime. Entry is via an intricately inlayed wooden door and our tent boasts a dual vanity bathroom complete with a rain shower, overlooking the forest canopy. We also have an extensive bar, sumptuous sofa, full sized dining table dressed with wild flowers, decking with huge netted lounging areas which allow you to float above the rocks and water below and a giant slipper bath, looking out on acres and acres of wild forested mountains. Roughing it, this is not.

Shinta Mani Wild Tent River View
Shinta Mani Wild Tent
First Lady Jackie Kennedy Waterfall Tent 1
First Lady Jackie Kennedy Waterfall Tent 4

‘The Headquarters’ are the heartbeat of Shinta Mani Wild and where the culinary magic happens. Providing the perfect place to relax during your day which is sure to be packed with exciting adventures and enlightening experiences. Almond milk cappuccinos before heading into the forest at dawn, to forage for edibles with the executive chef? Check. Leisurely breakfasts using plant based delights from your foraging aventure? Check. Multi course vegan lunches packed with flavour and creativity? Check. Evening meals to complete a memorable day that included patrolling with real life heroes from Wildlife Alliance, and cocktails next to the river with the super friendly GM? Check. You get the idea, executive chef Tim Pheak and his talented team will ensure that you are well and truly taken care of at ‘The Headquarters’.

Shinta Mani Wild Headquarters
Shinta Mani Wild Restaurant

The Vegan Food at Shinta Mani Wild

If every day started with vegan breakfast created by the team from Shinta Mani Wild, we would be very happy indeed. Prior to our stay, they even thought to check the soy milk was vegan, which like many soy milks in Southeast Asia, it was not. So instead, they prepared fresh almond milk, which was delicious of course. It’s this level of attention to detail that made us feel totally at ease during our stay, that and the awe inspiring natural beauty that you can’t fail to be amazed by. Almond milk cappuccinos, freshly squeezed juices, tropical fruit plates and freshly baked mini baguettes were how our breakfasts began. This was followed by dishes including vegetable fried rice and cute little banh chao pancakes, filled with succulent mushrooms, beansprouts, herbs and a smidge of spicy pickled salad. These normally gigantic wok sized rice flour and turmeric pancakes were transformed into dainty little hand sized bites. On our last day we were served vegan muffins with our cappuccinos, they were slightly sweet and ever so light making for the perfect ‘coffee and cake’ combo.

Fresh Baguettes at Shinta Mani Wild
Vegan Fried Rice at Shinta Mani Wild
Vegan Banh Chao at Shinta Mani Wild
Vegan Muffins at Shinta Mani Wild

Whoever is baking the bread at Shinta Mani Wild certainly has mastered their craft. We loved the mini baguettes at breakfast, and for lunch, the thinly sliced foccacia served with olive oil, salt and pepper was divine. Our starter was vegan Caesar salad with a creamy, tangy and garlicky rich dressing on crunchy lettuce, crispy and chewy fried oyster mushrooms, paper thin dehydrated eggplant bacon, and a scattering of edible flowers which all combined to make this dish as pretty as it was tasty.

Next up, chickpeas in a decadent curry sauce. Creamy smooth coconut milk, a hint of spiciness from red chilli, a spice blend that is warming and soothing wrapped around al dente freshly cooked chickpeas. Topped with grassy, and slightly bitter penny wort leaves to cut through the creamy richness and accompanied by some flaky light coconut roti, it was a wonderful taste of Sri Lankan cuisine in Cambodia. Dessert was soft caramelised bananas in a caramel sauce with a coconut ice cream and sliced mango. Generously smothered in caramel sauce that had fresh passion fruit running throughout, lifting the sweetness and adding an extra crunch from the seeds, the bananas were soft and sweet and entirely delicious. This was a perfect, plant based lunch.

Bread and Oil at Shinta Mani Wild
Vegan Caesar Salad at Shinta Mani Wild
Vegan Chickpea Curry at Shinta Mani Wild
Caramelised Bananas at Shinta Mani Wild

A trio of dishes, served family style provided another vegan dining experience at Shinta Mani Wild. A nutritous and flavoursome vegetable soup was served with a couple of Khmer classics, me kola and nom krok. Both are widely available, Cambodian favourites but usually not suitable for vegans. Me kola are lightly seasoned rice noodles served with various ‘extras’ and condiments which when tossed together make for a delightful, noodle salad; a colourful, fresh and healthy vegan bowl and we love vegan bowls! Throughout the region you can find nom krok (called Khanom krok in Thailand) and they are an absolute favourite of ours. These coconut rice pancake spheres are served savoury or sweet depending on location, the Shinta Mani Wild version were certainly savoury and paired perfectly with the accompanying slightly salty, coconut cream. Our vegan meal finished with fragrant longan served in the most deliciously sweet, rice pudding. Yum.

Trio of Vegan Dishes at Shinta Mani Wild
Trio of Vegan Dishes at Shinta Mani Wild
Vegan Nom Krok at Shinta Mani Wild
Vegan Rice Pudding at Shinta Mani Wild

The Adventures and Experiences at Shinta Mani Wild

Your time at Shinta Mani Wild will be full of adventures and experiences including a couple which we’ve mentioned already. Zip lining 380m through the treetops from ‘The Tower of Zip’ is just so much fun, a little bit crazy, absolutely epic and wholeheartedly beautiful, whilst foraging for wild and edible food in the forest before breakfast is something we will never forget. For something more relaxing, your afternoons can be spent by ‘The Cistern’, the striking 25m metal basin swimming pool. A smooth black oblong infinity pool that almost melts into the treetops; showering under the old fashioned bucket shower is an additional must. Tucked away, in another part of camp, surrounded (as everything is here) by the forest, is ‘Khmer Tonics Spa’ where you can indulge in all the spa treatments that your heart desires. Enjoying possibly the the most comfortable massage beds we’ve ever had the pleasure of being massaged upon, we enjoyed the signature oil and hot stone massages for a full 90 minutes of bliss.

tower of zip shinta mani wild
zipline shinta mani wild
Shinta Mani Wild Tent River View
Khmer Tonic Spa 2

There is no stone left unturned at Shinta Mani Wild when it comes to eco initiatives, sustainability and environmental considerations. Nothing epitomises these beliefs more so, than their partnership the Wildlife Alliance. There is a ranger station located within the 350 hectares that form Shinta Mani Wild, which is fully funded and supported allowing them to patrol and protect the forest from illegal logging and the poaching of wild animals. We were able to join these inspirational, real life super heroes on patrol for the afternoon and it was a memorable experience. Their passion for the job is clear to see, and listening to their tales is both saddening and inspiring. We must protect our planet and these guys are going above and beyond in their efforts. Bravo.

Wildlife Alliance at Shinta Mani Wild 2
Wildlife Alliance at Shinta Mani Wild 3

Another action packed day at Shinta Mani Wild ended with GM Cocktails. If you’ve stayed at luxury resorts previously, this is something you may have experienced, but we can promise you that you’ve never enjoyed cocktails with the GM quite like this. Arriving via jungle tracks on the back of a moto, we were welcomed to the semi dry river bed by the sounds of retro Cambodian music and massage beds, a fire, multiple candles and a bar had been readied for our arrival. We sipped Bill Bensley’s favourite tequila based cocktail and drank ice cold craft beer whilst having our feet massaged by the team from Khmer Tonics. Actually, we might have lost count of the cocktails we enjoyed, as the night drew in and we waxed lyrical with the friendly and enigmatic GM, Mac who was the perfect host. As day turned to night we were treated to an amazing display of stars above, reminding us we are miniscule specks on our beloved planet. We were feeling truly blessed to be at Shinta Mani Wild.

Massage Beds at Shinta Mani Wild_
GM Cocktails at Shinta Mani Wild

The Vegan Food Quest Verdict

If there is one thing to be grateful for in this world, it’s that there are people who take their talents and use them to not only wow others, but also to educate, inspire and to put it bluntly, save a small part of our beautiful planet. That’s exactly what is happening at Bensley Collection Shinta Mani Wild, along with probably the most fun, decadence and luxury you’ll ever find whilst camping in the forest. And the vegan food we hear you ask?  It really doesn’t get much better. Executive chef Tim Pheak and his team, prepared dish after dish of plant based food that made us smile. In fact, we’re still smiling now when we think about it…

Vegan Food Quest small banner logo

We were guests of Shinta Mani Wild but please rest assured that their generosity in hosting us didn’t influence our views.

Shinta Mani Wild
Bensley Street

Telephone: +855 12 223 782
Cost From: £1715 / $2345 per night, minimum 3 night stay – Jan 2021 (discounted rates during COVID)

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