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Cambodia forum

Off the beaten track - Cambodia or Laos?

Posted by wheretogo on 2/7/2013 at 18:55

Hi,
I'm planning to travel in a group of four in January to SEA. We will have two weeks in total and we're unsure what to do with the time.
We want to see the less touristy areas for a bit of activity and relaxation. I am thinking Cambodia because we can go to the islands for beach time and Kirrirom National Park intrigues me as well. I am a bit concerned about moving around too much as we don't want to spend days traveling either.
Please help with where to go!
Thank you

#1 wheretogo has been a member since 2/7/2013. Posts: 2

Posted by Geer1 on 2/7/2013 at 22:39

Based on my experiences with Laos and Cambodian people I would definitely choose Cambodia over Laos when it comes to getting off the beaten track. Cambodian people are very friendly and accommodating where as Laos people didn't really seem to care about my existence. Laos people weren't unfriendly like Vietnam can be but it just had this strange feeling like they didn't really want you there. For example in one town in Laos the tuk tuk drivers could care less about giving us a ride and were too busy sleeping/playing games. Strange since it was about a 2 km walk into town to get to the guesthouses...

Also Cambodian food and rooms are imo better then what you get in Laos. Thailand was probably my favourite stop on my trip but Cambodia was a very close second and I wish I had set aside more time to actually get off the beaten track and explore it some more.

If you choose Cambodia definitely get on the beaten track and see the temples in Siem Reap though.

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Posted by MADMAC on 3/7/2013 at 00:14

I also would have suggested Thailand - although I liked PP a lot. There are plenty of "off the beaten path" areas in Thailand and plenty of beaches as well (although I don't like the ocean, so that wouldn't be a factor for me).

#3 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by wheretogo on 3/7/2013 at 19:10

Thank you both for your advice. A few of us have been to Thailand previously, but it does sound like I need to go back and check out other areas. We are thinking that we will head to both Laos and Cambodia now.
We have a vague idea of where we would like to go in Cambodia. Is this a decent or rubbish plan?
I thought we would go to Laos first then fly to Phnom Penh from Vientiane.We will probably be in the South, check out Phnom Penh then head to Kirrirom National Park and then down to Rabbit Island to spend some time on the beach. Around 8 days in Cambodia and 6-7 in Laos - with no idea where to go. Help :)

#4 wheretogo has been a member since 2/7/2013. Posts: 2

Posted by Geer1 on 3/7/2013 at 23:44

I would pick one or the other if you only have 2 weeks. You will be rushed, miss good places and have much higher costs if you try and see both.

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Posted by MADMAC on 4/7/2013 at 00:05

I'm with Geer1. Just not enough time. There's enough to see and do in either place to fill your given time and then some. Sieam Reap, PP and Rabbit Island - presto 15 days eaten alive.

#6 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by gregmccann1 on 4/7/2013 at 09:11

Fly to Phnom Penh, take bus up to Ratanakiri, chill one day at the lake, then do the 7-day trek (first and last nights in animist villages along the Sesan River) to the Veal Thom Grasslands in Virachey NP. By the time you get back to Ban Lung (provincial capital of Ratanakiri) you will certainly feel like you've been off the beaten path. Another night in Ban Lung, then a night or two in Kratie on the way back to PP. That's a great off the beaten path trip.

#7 gregmccann1 has been a member since 28/10/2009. Location: Taiwan. Posts: 183
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Posted by MADMAC on 4/7/2013 at 11:00

Greg - off the beaten path? Sounds like it's off any path.

#8 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by Geer1 on 5/7/2013 at 20:27

I wish I had explored Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri in Cambodia. Would definitely be off the beaten path and Cambodian people are so friendly I am sure it would be great although communication would likely be an issue. I did talk to one guy that spent time in those areas and he absolutely loved it because of the people and experiences.

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Posted by gregmccann1 on 6/7/2013 at 03:01

That's how I like it, MadMac! And the region is still full of surprises. A park ranger from Virachey just sent me this photo of Siamese crocodile captured near Jark Village on the O Lai Lai River in Voen Sai. To my knowledge, most conservation NGOs have written off the Siamese croc from all of Cambodia except for the Cardamom Mountains, and yet here they are! Another ranger tells me that there is a "croc pool" near the headwaters of the O Lai Lai near the Laos border. I'm excited to be going back there in January, for the 5th year in a row.

#10 gregmccann1 has been a member since 28/10/2009. Location: Taiwan. Posts: 183
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Posted by MADMAC on 6/7/2013 at 08:57

Have a good trip but stay out of the pool.

#11 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 9/7/2013 at 09:49

That croc is small. Try swimming the rivers in the Northern Territory near Darwin.

#12 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by chinarocks on 9/7/2013 at 10:22

You gotta love Leonard's tone.

#13 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 9/7/2013 at 10:28

How do you determine tone on the net?

Guess?

#14 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by chinarocks on 9/7/2013 at 10:34

Pretty easily actually.

#15 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 9/7/2013 at 10:49

Really? How so?

What was my tone on the other post?

#16 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by MADMAC on 9/7/2013 at 13:26

Small croc, big croc, frankly, I don't want to get bit by any croc. If there are crocs in the water, I think I'll just steer clear.

#17 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 9/7/2013 at 21:29

Which makes me wonder why he wants to visit a croc pool.

#18 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by gregmccann1 on 10/7/2013 at 00:21

To see if they're really there and hopefully take photos of them to inspire the big NGOs like FFI and WCS to go back to Virachey to work on a protection program. Currently FFI is only working to protect the critically endangered Siamese crocs in the Cardamom Mountains (see some articles here and here ), but if what the villagers and the rangers are saying is true -that there is a breeding population on the river (or in several locations on the river) then steps need to be taken -urgently- to ensure their survival. Thailand has something like 3 wild Siamese crocs left, one in Pang Sida NP and maybe 2 in Kaeng Krachan. Laos probably has no more than a handful. Probably extinct in Vietnam. Another area of Cambodia that still harbors a few is Prey Lang, and that place is going up in smoke fast. I also like trekking in the jungle, so the journey of trying to find them will also be fun.

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Posted by MADMAC on 10/7/2013 at 01:26

I hate moving through the jungle... I'm glad someone likes it.

Good idea on the crocs though. Why not see what can be done. We have a very few wild tigers still out here in Issan - there just isn't enough room for them. And I'm hoping the habitat that does exist out between Mukdahan and Sakhon Nakhon doesn't get eaten up.

#20 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by gregmccann1 on 10/7/2013 at 09:20

A friend who works for conservation NGO in Thailand sent me a camera trap photo of a wild tiger taken in daylight in Surin near the Dangrek Mountain Range. I was surprised to learn that there are still some out there in that part of the country. And there are still a few in those mountains between Mukdahan and Sakhon Nakhon? Do many of the local people know about them? Can tourists go trekking there?

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Posted by MADMAC on 10/7/2013 at 10:26

Anyone can go trekking there. Sure, the people who live here know about them. That's how I know about them. But I doubt there's many left. As far as I know they are not actively hunted, but that area, while still reasonably large, is hemmed in on all sides. I could imagine a Tiger has the capacity to roam quite a ways. If you pull up google maps you can see the forested area is large - but still... As far as trekking goes, it's not a hospitable environment and there are no "guides" per se. I've climbed a mountain on the south side of the forest and it wasn't a difficult climb in the dry season, but in the wet season - forget it. The vegetation is brutal, snakes and insects are everywhere. We got about 100 meters and decided it was a bad idea. Someone was going to get seriously hurt or killed if we kept going. It was ugly. I was the only non-Thai in the group that time. I must say I had been warned it would probably suck a lot.

#22 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by Duxnuts on 11/7/2013 at 03:04

Bought a bike in Cambodia and spent a month riding around the country. There are plenty of parks and stuff to do. I went to some amazing temples that had no one else there because the buses don't stop there, just short ride down a dirt path. Some great national parks too, waterfalls etc. Great waterfall at Siem Reap, can't remember the name though... It's a national park bust costs $20 to get in.

Anyway, I am making a video of the ride, have only done Phnom Penh for now unfortunetly. Can take a look if you want.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPFKAAMHMtY

#23 Duxnuts has been a member since 1/7/2013. Posts: 10

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 12/7/2013 at 12:57

Footage is ok but music is horrible.

#24 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by MADMAC on 12/7/2013 at 13:31

Jesus Leonard, it's back up music to a bike ride. Cut him some slack.

#25 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957


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