Despite its apparent similarity to Vietnam, Cambodia's history, culture and lifestyle is distinct. As a tourism destination, it has . The ravages of war held back development until the end of the 20th century, but it's now emerging as a new tourist destination in its own right with much more to offer than the usual three or four day Phnom Penh and Angkor extension tour! c
It's the most French-influenced country among Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, the three colonies of Indochina. It also has some of its best hotels. Contrary to popular belief, landmines are not scattered over hectare of the country and Cambodia's trunk road network compares favourably with those of its close neighbours.
Although the political set-up is Byzantine in its complexity, everything seems to be stable and safe.
On the down side, flights in and out are limited after Royal Air Cambodge, the national carrier, collapsed under a mountain of debt. Rail travel is primitive, slow and thus not worth consideration.
Corruption is rife, but the government is cracking down following the county's recent entry to the WTO.
Cambodia's rich potential
The two famous attractions are the Angkor Temple complex, easily the most impressive cultural destination in Indochina, and Phnom Penh, now recovering its past colonial glory. Both attract large numbers of visitors and are crowded during the peak months. However, many tourists are unaware that there are many more attractions in Cambodia, seldom visited and, at present, overlooked.
A few examples of attractions off the tourist track
Tonle Sap, a unique lake in the centre of the country and the Mekong River offer rich bio-diversity and fascinating waterborne cultures.
The coast Sihanoukville to the Vietnam border offers deserted sandy beaches as good as any other in Indochina. To the north-east, Kratie provides an opportunity to see the rare and endangered Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong river.
Even further off the tourist trail are the rich wildlife and ethnic minority communities of Ratanakiri province, Virachay National Park, and the isolated jungle villages and wildlife of Mondulkiri province.
Travel with Sao La Tours
Apart high-quality private tours to Angkor and/or Phnom Penh by road, air or water, Haivenu can arrange fully customised itineraries to little-visited and remote areas with specialist guides, vehicles, boats, etc. together with free information, guaranteed 24-hour replies to e-mails and Sao La Tour's legendary personal service.