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Cambodia

A changing country:

Cambodia, like Lao and somewhat Thailand was influenced historically by India. Buddhism, the primary religion came through Sri Lanka and the temples are based on anchient Indian architecture.

The country is one of the poorest in the world and has been beseiged by war and famine, through various invasions and the domination of the Khymer Rouge. The country today is undergoing a large amount of development, a lot of which is attracting western investment and their tourist industry.  The country is still cheap to travel around and infrastructure making it easier to do so.  However the charm of Cambodia as a rural country remains outside of the tourist dominated areas of Ankor and Phnom Pen.

The problems facing Cambodia today relate to the struggle between development, especially ethical business and maintaining the wilderness and natural Cambodia.  The need for development sees many places being bulldozed to the ground indescriminately to make way for large reorts and any other business with a big bank balance.  Just be sensitive to these issues and support the villages with fair prices, don’t stay in the tourist traps and perhaps volunteers for the many NGO’s that are supporting various good causes. When doing this though ensure you do not pay thousands of pounds to a western company where almost all the money is used to fund the marketing and middle managements of these companies in the western world.

Landmines:

Today there are still estimated to be 6 million landmines in Cambodia, causing 35 deaths per month! A crazy number. It is always attractive to stay off the beaten track, but in Cambodia do this very carefully, especially in the northwest towards the boarder of Thailand, where more remain.

Malaria:

Weather:

Temperatures vary between 25C and 35 in Cambodia, based on a completely tropical climate.  The monsoon dominates as with all South East Asian countries and creates a wet and dry season. The wet season runs from from May to October, while the northeast monsoon brings the dry season, from November to March. The heaviest rains last generally between September and October, where wide spread flooding is normal.  In general however during the wet season you can expect hot days and thunderstorms in the late afternoon, which brings torrential rain.

In the north the rains fromm the south east arrive later so the wettest month in Siem Reap is September on average.

Travelling:

The railway network operates between capital to Sihanoukville on the southern coast, and from Phnom Penh to Sisophon (although trains often run only as far as Battambang).

To get to Cambodia via Vietnam there is a long boat ride of 5 days, but it is tough going and you do not see much scenery.  There are Mekong cruises, but unfortunately these are more pleasure, let’s go round in a circle affair, rather than to travel from A to B to Cambodia from Vietnam itself.  You can go to the boarder by bus.  Ho Chi Min to My Tho, My Tho to Can Tho, Can Tho to Chau Doc. Then you can take the fast both taking 6 hours to Phnom Penh, which takes in the Mekong in Vietnam before heading to Cambodia.

Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, Phnom Penh to Battambang and Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville are tarmac and so do not suffer from flooding, but the rest can turn to mud in the rains and travel is much slower.

Local buses can be uncomfortable, but the GST (cheaper) and Mekong Express are of a better quality if you can afford it and have a long distance to cover. Taxis are not commonly seen, but can be arranged to an extent, some can be shared and then more longer distances can be achieved at a fairly low cost.

Renting motobikes in Cambodia is easy and cheap. Note that road accidents here are the highest in the world and rules to the road are unwritten.  Pay close attention to traffic at all times and do not drive at night unless you must. It is always worth noting motorbike hire is actually illegal for tourists in Siem Reap. It can be done, but here is less worthwhile than other places.

Ferries operate seasonally along many of the major rivers. However boat travel is usually a more expensive than the bus, but involves some beautiful scenery through the Mekong Delta, passing small villages.

Outboards depart from Kaam Samnor border located near the village of Vinh Xuong, a minibus journey from Chau Doc itself (US$2). The journey takes about an hour and a half and one boat is approx US$20, or US$4 if you go on a shared boat which will leave when full.

There are generally two routes heading north in Cambodia and that is highway 5 to the West of Tonle Sap lake or highway 6 to the East of it.  With plenty of time you can travel in a large loop on dirt roads around the East and North-East, but the west is

Where to visit:

The Tonle Sap Biosphere reserve: Contains most of the biological diversity of Cambodia and is a beautiful place to explore as a large area .  The Tonle Sap lake is the largest in Cambodia and this rural setting is a great place to motobike around.

Phnom Bokor National Park: Including the table top Dâmrei Mountains, this area has impressive waterfalls during the wet season and is home to the Cambodian orchid population.  Another great scenic destination

Bokor Hill station: We have been told that this dilapidated French hill station can be visited, but recently is being restricted due to developers moving in. The abandoned Casino looking out over the sea and beaches below are spectacular. Tours here are possible, but we know thst if you can arrange a next day life that you could spend the night….

Kep Islands: Off the southern coast, people visit these sandy white beaches, covered in cocnut tree’s as a tropical paradise that is cheaper than other parts of the world.

Koh Tang Island: Diving two wrecks that were the result of the last battle of the Vietnam war amongst sandy beaches and a laid back atmosphere.

Kratie: A thriving travel hub that lies on the major route between Phnom Pen and Champasak (Sothern Laos). Here you can jump on a boat tour and set off the get sightings of the rare Irrawaddy dolphin ($25 is reasonable). A riverside town influenced by the French has more colonial architechture that was undamaged by the Vietnam War.

Temples of Ankor Wat: Now a very heavily touristic area that sees bus loads of people being picked up and dropped off.

Konpong Phluk: A floating village not far from Sien Reap. A different view of Cambodian life.

Cambodian Cultural Village: A ‘theme park’ that brings 11 miniature villages together and allows you to see the cultural activities of each. Take part in stone carving, see the traditional Apsara dancing and various other traditional Cambodian past times.

http://www.vietnamtraditionaltour.com

Tour Name (US$)Prices Tour Duration Depart From Return To
Cai Be Floating Market – Vinh Long Tour 37 – 134 1 day Ho Chi Minh city Vinh Long
My Hiep – Sa Dec – Can Tho – Cai Rang – Phong Dien Floating Market Tour 110 – 260 2days / 1 night Hochiminh City My Hiep – Sa Dec – Can Tho
Ho Chi Minh city – My Tho – Ben Tre – Can Tho – Cai Rang – Phong Bien floating market Tour 110 – 310 2days/1night Ho Chi Minh city My Tho – Ben Tre – Can Tho – Cai Rang – Phong Bien
My Tho – Ben Tre – Chau Doc Long Xuyen – Can Tho Tour 195 – 400 3days/2nights Sai Gon My Tho – Ben Tre – Chau Doc Long Xuyen – Can Tho
PhnomPenh – Mekong Delta Tour 249 – 594 3days / 2nights PhnomPenh PhnomPenh – Chau Doc – Can Tho – Hochiminh city
Combined Mekong Delta Tour – Phu Quoc island 335 – 375 6 days / 5 nights Hochiminh City My Tho – Ben Tre – Chau Doc – Long Xuyen – Can Tho – Cai Rang – Phong Dien – Rachgia – Phu Quoc – Ho Chi Minh City
Combined Mekong Delta – Phnom Penh – Siem Reap Tour 660 – 840 7 days / 6 Nights Hochiminh City My Tho – Ben Tre – Can Tho – Long Xuyen – Chau Doc- PhnomPenh – Siem Reap – Angkor
Mekong Delta Adventure on the motorbike Tour Contact us 8days / 7nights Hochiminh City BenTre- Tra Vinh – Soc Trang – Bac Lieu – Ca Mau- Rach Gia – Hon Chong – Ha Tien – Chau Doc – Cao Lanh
Deluxe Le COCHINCHINE Mekong Delta Cruise Tour 197 – 415 2 days / 1 night Hochiminh City Cai be – Can tho – Tra on – Vinh Long
Daily trip to Mekong Delta – Exit to PhnomPenh (Cambodia) by boat Tour 309 – 680 3days / 2nights Ho Chi Minh City My Tho – Ben Tre – Can Tho – Chau doc – PhnomPenh
Saigon – Chau Doc – Ha Tien – Hon Chong – Thot Not – Vinh long Upon Request 4 days/3 nights HOCHIMINH city Chau Doc – Ha Tien – Hon Chong – Thot Not – Vinh long

Cambodia’s Beaches:

three beachs of note, Sihanoukville, Kep, and Koh Kong, plus several islands off the coast with pristine beaches.  Sihanoukville is the largest and most popular.

From Phnom Penh this is straightforward. Either take route number 3 to Kampot and Kep or the route 4 to Sihanoukville, both easy by bus on easy roads.  However from the boarder of Chau Doc take the route number 2 to Takeo a small town reminiscent of the mid west and then on to the highway 3 to Kampot.

The bamboo train of Battambang (the “norry”). A motorbike or tuk-tuk driver will get you there if you do not fancy the drive!

Homestay contact details for Battambang:
Ring Sambath Soung on 092291569
Email sambath_9@hotmail.com

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