A Personal History ofMontra Nivesha


The founder of Montra Nivesha, Mrs Tan Sotho, was born Ang Seangtho in the nearby village of Kompong Khleang on the Tonle Sap Lake in 1947. During her childhood, the family moved to Phnom Penh and Sotho attended a French-language Lycee ensuring she learned to speak French fluently. She also trained as a dancer at the Royal Palace from nine years old.
After suffering unimaginable hardships during the Pol Pot era and the subsequent Communist period that followed, Sotho eventually found her life-changing job in 1989, as the first female French-speaking tour guide in the country, in the newly formed Ministry of Tourism.
In 1989, Sotho worked as the official tour guide for Daniel Robinson, the author of the first edition Lonely Planet guide to Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia and he thanked her generously in the acknowledgements of the book. This led to her becoming something of a ‘celebrity’ guide in Cambodia and she was in high demand with UN delegates, NGOs and the first wave of adventure tourists exploring the country.
In 1992, she was chosen to greet King Norodom Sihanouk and the Queen on their return to Cambodia and showed them around key sites in Phnom Penh on their first visit to the city after 13 years of exile. The photos you can see here are of this momentous occasion in her life.

Also in 1992, she took a gamble and established a travel company with a small office near the National Museum in Phnom Penh. Her daughter Kulikar joined her in the travel business soon forming a unique Mother and Daughter partnership in a male-dominated country and culture. It remains today a Mother and Daughter business that is locally-owned and locally-operated, the very same partnership that looks after this hotel.
Seeing the tourism industry booming in Cambodia, Sotho opened a small guesthouse in Siem Reap in 2000 called HanumanAlaya or residence (Alaya) of Hanuman (the Hindu monkey god). Angkor was fast becoming a major international destination, so Sotho decided to invest in a larger hotel and the 15-room HanumanAlaya Boutique Residence opened in 2005, lovingly decorated in traditional Khmer-style, expressing her passion for interior design and fine arts.

In 2014 after nearly a decade of successful operation, Sotho was able to purchase some more land adjacent to the hotel and work on expansion began, culminating in a beautiful new wing with 25 additional rooms, a stunning swimming pool, a spa and a cinema. Montra Nivesha was born.

The name “Montra” was inspired by a lifetime of daily prayers and the five principals of Buddhism that helped her survive such impossible hardships, which is a ritual that she continues to this very day. A Mantra (Khmer – Montra) is a Buddhist incantation or blessing relating to anything sacred. In Cambodian culture, Nivesha relates to all kinds of abodes or retreats from simple houses to sacred retreats, on earth or in heaven.
Welcome to Montra Nivesha, Angkor’s Boutique Residence, your sacred retreat in Siem Reap. You have already passed over the bridge from the outside world and have arrived in Montra Nivesha, a little piece of heaven on earth.

A more detailed story of Sotho’s life is displayed on the wall of the reception area. Although more than 70 years old, she is still very active in the day-to-day running of the hotel. You may see her from time to time during your stay here and she will be delighted if you say hello.

The name “Montra” was inspired by a lifetime of daily prayers and the five principals of Buddhism that helped her survive such impossible hardships, which is a ritual that she continues to this very day
A Mantra (Khmer – Montra) is a Buddhist incantation or blessing relating to anything sacred.
In Cambodian culture, Nivesha relates to all kinds of abodes or retreats from simple houses to sacred retreats, on earth or in heaven.
Welcome to Montra Nivesha, Angkor’s Boutique Residence, your sacred retreat in Siem Reap. You have already passed over the bridge from the outside world and have arrived in Montra Nivesha, a little piece of heaven on earth.