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"Short stories and travel reports from my life adventures around the globe".

Travel Report: Nibi Spa, Kampot.

Nibi Spa Kampot.

Nibi Spa, Kampot.

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August, 2020. I’ve always been into massage and spas. As a born worrier and chronic overthinker, I need these kinds of treatments to restore some physical and mental balance. Looking back, these chill out days represent some of my most memorable travel experiences.

I recall fondly my day at a traditional hammam in Marrakech and an authentic onsen experience in Tokyo. During my South East China days, I used to go for a full body press once a week, rarely missing an appointment in two years.

Back massage.

Restoring some balance.

When Sladja and I heard about a fantastic spa in Kampot with an astounding location, we knew we had to go. Set on the banks of The Praek Tuek Chhu River, deep in rural Kampot, Nibi Spa is not an easy place to reach. There are numerous longwinded ways to get there, but as non drivers we opted for the tuk tuk + boat combo.

Nibi Spa logo.

Firstly, we hailed a tuk tuk from Kampot’s city centre, which took us to the isolated Green House restaurant and bungalows. After a spot of lunch there, we asked the manager to call Nibi. Within a few minutes there was a boat buzzing across the river to come and collect us.

Nibi Spa is the inspired creation of Eric and Karine, a couple from Montreal, Canada. It was Eric who came to pick us up from Green House. Clambering onboard, we took in the fine views as Eric whizzed us across to the other side. As spa arrivals go, this was definitely one to remember!

Nibi Spa, Kampot.

"Arriving

Disembarking, Sladja and I made our way along the wooden jetty into Nibi Spa’s huge jungle garden. The entire compound is absolutely gorgeous, a veritable tropical paradise that took Eric and Karine eighteen months to make.

It’s impossible not to be impressed, especially when you realise they started with nothing but an empty patch of scrubland.

Nibi Spa Kampot Province Cambodia.

Nibi Spa, Kampot.

“Welcome to Nibi Spa!” called Karine, strolling over. She is softly spoken and down to earth, oozing exactly the kind of calmness a spa owner should have. This is no mere coincidence. She and Eric have been spa lovers for years, regularly visiting establishments both in their native Canada and while travelling abroad.

Hammocks Nibi Spa Kampot.

Nibi Spa, Kampot.

Eventually, they decided it was the kind of business they wanted to run themselves. They chose Kampot due to their love of the region’s river landscape and because of their affinity with the kind Khmer people. The word Nibi, which means “calm flowing water”, comes from the language spoken by The Algonquin, a Canadian native tribe.

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Karine and Eric opened their doors in 2018 and saw their reputation rapidly rise. Indeed many people insist Nibi is “the best spa in Kampot”.

What To See & Do, Kampot.

Rescue dog Nibi Spa Kampot.

Bernie.

Karine led us to the end of the garden to reception, where we could check in, so to speak. Along the way, we met Bernie, one of two rescue dogs who gives Nibi even more of a homely feel.

Visit Nibi Spa Kampot.

Nibi Spa, Kampot.

At reception Karine asked us to fill out a short consultation form. This was our chance to confirm any medical conditions and how hard we wanted our massages.

Moreover, you can announce any areas of discomfort. Perfect for me, as I was still recovering from a recent second degree finger burn. It’s all very professional, setting the tone for a relaxing afternoon.

Client consultation Nibi Spa Kampot.

Karine.

Nibi’s therapists are local women, as Karine and Eric were keen to give opportunities to folk from the surrounding villages. According to Karine, they took care to employ people “who had no experience, but amazing attitudes and the ability to learn”.

Each therapist has been professionally trained and Karine is proud that she has retained the same team that she opened with two years ago. “I think they were really brave!” says Karine, referring to the women’s initial uncertainties and the language barrier.

Massage therapists Nibi Spa Kampot Cambodia.

Nibi Spa, Kampot.

That afternoon Sladja headed off to one of the idyllic little huts for the Nibi Classic Massage. This Swedish style rub, characterised by its long, gliding strokes, helps increase blood circulation and decreases stress and muscle tension. Priced at $23 for an hour, $30 for ninety minutes, this is Nibi’s most popular massage.

Nibi Spa, Kampot.

Massage hut Nibi Spa Kampot.

Nibi Spa, Kampot.

I opted for The Thai Massage, known for its slow, rhythmic compressions and stretches along the body’s energy lines. It’s good, they say, for increasing flexibility and for reducing lower back pain. Which was great for my (at that time undiagnosed) Flat Back Syndrome.

Just as pleasing as the massage itself, my hut was right down by the riverbed, which meant I got some incredible views while I was lying on my front. The Thai Massage is $21 for an hour, $28 for ninety minutes.

Massage with river views Kampot Cambodia

A massage with a view.

Following our excellent massages, we were ready to test out the spa facilities. You can grab a standard full day pass for $17 per person. However, if you take a massage as we did, then this price drops to $12 each. A pretty good deal.

Nibi’s setup consists of a hot-cold relaxation cycle, thus we kicked things off with a session in The Eucalyptus Steam Room​Positioned far right in the below photo. 

Steam Room sauna ice pool Nibi Spa Kampot

Nibi Spa, Kampot.

We loved the steam room! The increased body temperature dilates the blood vessels, reduces blood pressure and increases blood flow to the skin and muscles. When we couldn’t stand it anymore, Sladja and I hopped over to The Cold Plunge. As soon as you hit the water you’ll find yourself screaming out.

Kampot, Cambodia.

Cold Plunge Pool, Nibi Spa, Kampot.

The Cold Plunge.

I believe my exclamation was somewhere along the lines of “f***********ck!” The sensation causes a shift in blood pressure, closing the skin’s pores and encouraging the body to flush out toxins and release tension.

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After the cold plunge we decamped to the open air lounge for a fifteen minute break, allowing our cardiovascular systems to do their thing. Gazing out across the river, it was another moment that hammered home just what a magnificent place Eric and Karine have made for themselves and their customers.

River gazing at Nibi Spa Kampot.

The amazing views at Nibi Spa.

While you’re chilling out, it’s also possible to order some food and drinks from Nibi’s onsite gourmet bistro. It was here that we met Eric and Karine’s second rescue dog, Bruno. Saved from the streets of Kampot where he was found in a terrible state, Karine describes Bruno as “a happy, goofy, gentle old giant”. 

The restaurant at Nibi Spa Kampot Cambodia.

Bruno.

He clearly loves his new home, where the grass is much kinder to his paws than the hot, concrete city streets. When he arrived, Bruno was dangerously thin. Happily, he’s since gained ten kilos. And enjoys the food at Nibi so much, he perpetually follows Karine around with a hopeful glint in his eye.

Nibi Spa, Kampot.

Sauna Nibi Spa Kampot.

The Sauna.

Ready for another round of hot-cold, this time we substituted the steam room for the sauna. And yes, more stunning river views. Eric constructed the sauna from Finnish wood and it’s a surprisingly large space. Easily big enough for 12-15 people, when social distancing is no longer a concern. Not that Sladja and I had to share it with anyone else.

Sunset over The Praek Tuek Chhu River Kampot Cambodia.

Sunset over The Praek Tuek Chhu River.

Late afternoon was rapidly blending into early evening by the time we bid farewell to Nibi Spa. Firing up the boat, Eric brought us back over to the other side of the river to Green House. From there, a bumpy tuk tuk ride home awaited.

Five months on from our visit and I’m really pleased to hear that Nibi has survived the decimation of Cambodia’s tourist industry. But it’s been tough. They had to let around three quarters of their staff go. What’s more, they’ve reduced their days of operation from seven days a week to three.

Karine says she and Eric are grateful to loyal expats and locals, who’ve played a key role in helping them stay afloat. Like so many other struggling business we saw around Cambodia, we wish them all the best for 2021!

The Kampot River Cambodia.

Nibi Spa, Kampot.

Like this? Read more of my travel reports from Kampot.

Or go further afield with my many articles from across Cambodia.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

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26 Comments

  • travelling_han

    Oh for a spa day right now!!!

    February 1, 2021 - 9:58 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Right?!? I wish I could teleport myself there right now. And I bet they wish that too. They must be struggling to stay afloat.

      February 1, 2021 - 10:00 am Reply
  • Little Miss Traveller

    Nibi Spa looks idyllic Leighton. I just love massages and spas too. I wonder when they’ll re-open again, let’s hope it’s soon. Kampot looks divine.

    February 1, 2021 - 11:05 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks. I think it’s a miracle that these guys have managed to stay open through the pandemic on such slim foot traffic. As for when spas and massage centres around the world will reopen, that’s a tough one. I’m guessing not until towards the end of the year at the earliest. I guess it’s been particularly devastating for this industry, which is unavoidably close contact. Thanks again for your readership and regular commenting, it is much appreciated.

      February 1, 2021 - 11:24 am Reply
  • bublelady

    Wow, I felt I was there. It looks so peaceful and relaxing.

    February 1, 2021 - 11:20 am Reply
    • Leighton

      It is a really majestic spot! Glad you liked it.

      February 1, 2021 - 11:25 am Reply
  • Stella

    I am missing my regular sports massages so badly right now… It’s lovely to read about places like this but also frustrating because it brings home to me what we’re missing and the suspicion that it could be a very long time before we are able to do these things again.

    February 1, 2021 - 11:42 am Reply
    • Leighton

      You’re quite right Stella, there was even a bittersweetness to the writing of this article. Thanks for reading.

      February 1, 2021 - 11:45 am Reply
  • WanderingCanadians

    This looks like such a nice spot for some rest and relaxation. I miss going for regular massages. I haven’t been in about a year thanks to the pandemic.

    February 1, 2021 - 1:18 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for reading guys. It seems lot of people are really missing access to massage and spa treatments. Ironically these are the very places we truly need during these stressful times.

      February 1, 2021 - 1:25 pm Reply
  • Jyothi

    Ahaa..nice post, lucky you 😀

    February 1, 2021 - 3:35 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Jyothi, this was one of our standout memories in Kampot.

      February 1, 2021 - 3:40 pm Reply
  • salsaworldtraveler

    What a great way to spend the afternoon! Wonderful post.

    February 1, 2021 - 5:49 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I thought you’d like this one! Thanks for checking in.

      February 1, 2021 - 5:50 pm Reply
  • Memo

    Great change of pace for you and your readers. Very appealing scenery for a newly built tropical garden. Are all of their customers just day traffic? You mentioned that they could handle a large number of people but it was not easy to reach.

    February 1, 2021 - 7:19 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I think that nearly all their customers are just day traffic. When tourism finally returns to Cambodia on a larger scaler they should do very well for themselves. But that might not be until towards the end of the year.

      February 1, 2021 - 7:24 pm Reply
  • Lyssy In The City

    Wow! How serene! I could really use a massage, it’s been a stressful last year to say the least!

    February 2, 2021 - 3:10 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Indeed. This is where the teleporter would come in handy. Thanks for reading!

      February 2, 2021 - 9:06 am Reply
  • Rebecca

    I’m not much of a spa person, but I have done a few of them during my travels (e.g. foot massage in China, onsen in Japan, thermal springs in Iceland and Hungary…). They are relaxing, but I will say that I wouldn’t go out of my way to do them otherwise; I only did those listed for the cultural experience of the respective country. But it sounds like you had a tranquil time whenever you did so!

    February 2, 2021 - 5:16 am Reply
    • Leighton

      I think it’s one of the things we’ve missed most since we left Cambodia in September. Thanks for reading!

      February 2, 2021 - 9:02 am Reply
  • Eromonsele Emmanuel

    Wow Leighton! Your intriguing travelogue is making me desire a full body massage. But, with the slight “kinkiness” attached to it, I may be having second thoughts…

    I love Nibi massage because of the views, rustic style and natural walkways. Those stones are goals.

    Great review!

    February 2, 2021 - 11:06 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for catching up on my blogs! Glad this got you thinking about massage. Whenever I’m based in Asia, this becomes a key part of my weekly routine.

      February 2, 2021 - 11:28 am Reply
  • 100 Country Trek

    That’s a great place to relax.

    February 4, 2021 - 1:00 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for catching up with my recent articles!

      February 4, 2021 - 1:26 pm Reply

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