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!
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.
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.
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
coast from 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.
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
Apart from 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 Haivenu's legendary