After the darkness of the Pol Pot era, Cambodia is still metaphorically blinking in the bright light of democracy, finding its feet after decades of war and genocide. But the future certainly looks promising for this proud nation, whose Khmer monuments alone ensure its position at the forefront of Indochina’s booming tourist industry.
Chief among its historic vestiges, of course, is Angkor Wat, the colossal temple complex assembled by the Khmer kings in what is now the north of Cambodia. Nearly everyone who visits the country travels to this see this extraordinary campus of ancient shrines, and with good reason. But TransIndus tours also feature trips to less known sites in the area such as Prasat Preah Vihear, where a breathtaking fortress-palace crowns the top of a sheer-sided granite plateau.
Elsewhere in the country await miles of beautiful, relatively undiscovered tropical beaches, jungle hills, lakes with floating villages, elephants and amazing waterfalls – in short, attractions comparable to those of neighbouring Vietnam and Thailand, but with only a fraction of the number of visitors.
Cambodia is a country poised at a crossroads with one foot still firmly planted in the traditions of past eras. The process of Westernization transforming other states in Indochina has barely got going here, which makes it a mouth-watering prospect for travellers in search of cultural authenticity, and new horizons.
Capital: Phnom Penh
Area: 181,040 sq km
Population: 13.8 million
Religion: Mainly Buddhist (around 95%)
Languages: Khmer, English gaining popularity among the younger generation with French spoken mostly by the elderly in the main cities
Time difference: + 7 hours (GMT)
When to go
Peak season in Cambodia is between November and March, when the weather is hot and sunny, and dependably dry. From April onwards, humidity levels rise and showers become more frequent, erupting into the full-blown southwest monsoon in May, when heavy downpours may cause flooding and disrupt travel.
The most convenient air connections from the UK are via Bangkok and Singapore. Cambodia is also well connected with Vietnam, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Overland and river crossings are possible from Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, although these are for the more adventurous.
Private transfers and sightseeing
All our private and tailor-made travel is based on private cars or vans with an experienced driver. The car used is generally a spacious Toyota Camry or Honda, seating three plus the driver comfortably. It is a sturdy vehicle, ideal for local roads. For parties of 3 or 4 a bigger vehicle is used, usually the Hi Ace Van, which can seat five plus the driver.
The two main cities of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are well connected by air. Flights are also available to a few other towns.
The rail network is limited and not recommended for comfortable travel.
A memorable journey can be taken on board the Pandaw cruise that plies the Mekong from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City, in Vietnam. A shorter cruise to Ho Chi Minh City can be taken from Phnom Penh.
Road travel in Cambodia is a good way to see the countryside but the road conditions outside the main tourist areas remain poor.
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It would be difficult to improve your service.Mr & Mrs Bruffell, Tailor-made Vietnam, Cambodia & Laos read more comments