Cambodian travel stories
The work of Angkor Hospital For Children (AHC) is immense. Since 1999, the paediatric teaching hospital -- Cambodia’s first -- has provided more than one million medical treatments, education to thousands of Cambodian health workers and prevention training to thousands of families. A non-profit, the hospital relies entirely on donations.
More than just a Kampot cafe, Epic Arts have been using creativity to expand horizons for disabled and non-disabled participants for ten years, with the simple but powerful message that Every Person Counts. Services for people with disabilities are very poor in Cambodia, particularly for those with learning disabilities. The Epic Arts Cafe was set up in 2003 as a model for inclusive business and the purpose-built Arts Centre opened six years later.
Off the coast of Cambodia’s Sihanoukville, picture-perfect islands attract travellers seeking long dreamy beaches, diving and natural environments. Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem are a short speedboat ride away from the mainland, where soft yellow sand and brilliant white beaches appeal to both party-goers and serenity seekers alike. Koh Thmei requires a little more effort to get to, but as some clever Chinese man once said, “The journey is the reward.” Koh Totang is little known, but one of our favourite hangouts across all of Cambodia’s islands, while Koh Ta Kiev is popular among day-trippers. How do you choose the island and the accommodation that’s right for you? By reading ahead, dear readers.
Accommodation standards in Siem Reap have improved beyond recognition in the last few years, across nearly all budgets. The gateway to Angkor now has more than 300 hotels and guesthouses and the chances of a soft landing are high. Here, though, are a few of our favourites that won't break the bank.
It is hard to believe that the village of Anlung Pi is just 25 kilometres from the five-star hotels of Siem Reap and the iconic lotus bud towers of Angkor Wat. Tourists don't come here, and they shouldn't. The village itself is unremarkable, but if you were to walk through the fields, just a few hundred yards from the neat, traditional wooden village houses, you would find yourself in the middle of a vast, stinking, rubbish dump. Sadly this rubbish dump is also home to an entire community.
Deep in the southern Cardamom Mountains, beyond Chi Phat village, lies an untamed jungle, traversed by surging rivers and sheltering wildlife that, until recently, was little more than a commodity to locals. The southern Cardamom Mountains were until very recently Cambodia's Wild West, the centre of the country's thriving wildlife trade and the hiding place of a few diehard Khmer Rouge communities, who are reported to have lived there until as late as 2002.
Through the middle of May I took off for a two-week trip through northeast Cambodia. I commenced in the capital, Phnom Penh then headed north through Kratie, Stung Treng and finally Banlung, before turning around and retracing my steps. It was a great trip as it had been quite some time since I'd been in this part of the country but it was also deeply saddening seeing the environmental devastation continuing to be wrought on the country. I snapped a bunch of pics on my iPhone, using the Instagram app, and here are some of my favourites. Enjoy.
A few years ago if you wanted to go to one of the Cambodian islands in the Gulf of Thailand you'd have had to have been willing to settle for one of the few island bungalows that were on offer. In the last year or so though, new accommodation has sprung up on a number of islands off the coast of Sihanoukville and travellers are beginning to be confronted with too many choices.
Sihanoukville is Cambodia's premier beach destination, popular with locals, backpackers and expats alike. But despite massive amounts of recent development, the town can still be disappointing for those who come expecting a Thailand-like beach experience.
Our first interview of 2011 is with Dougald O'Reilly, an archaeologist and the founder and director of Heritage Watch, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the preservation of Southeast Asia's cultural heritage. We chatted with Dougald by e-mail in a conversation that traversed looting, antiquities trafficking, Cambodia's struggle to preserve its history and, well, he did mention Tomb Raider once.
Lonely Planet, as the centre of the guide industry, has the ability to make or break hotels and restaurants. Even a somewhat casual mention within its hallowed pages can reap untold profits for a business for at least half a decade or so. Publication is comparable to a name-drop within the Bible, so far as the budget travel industry in concerned. But can the LP also engineer tourist attractions, due to its tremendous sway over its captive audience? Three kilometres south of Battambang, Cambodia, lies a small swathe of railway track that encourages exactly that question.
Chances are, if you've spent much time on Cambodian buses you'll have passed by a bunch of cyclists in bright lycra. Who are these people and why are they cycling across rural Cambodia in the midday heat? It turns out they could well be paying volunteers, taking part in adventure cycle tours run by PEPY Tours. We sat down for an informal chat by email with Daniela Ruby Papi to find out a bit more
The best hoteliers and restaurateurs have reputations that precede them, but the newest to form a cult of personality complete with pilgrims is barrister Janet, whose remote ecolodge lures travellers seeking quiet wilderness under the care of a meticulous matriarch.
With the 2007 opening of the Prek Chak / Xa Xia border crossing between Cambodia and Vietnam it's now possible to travel from Ko Chang in Thailand all the way along the Cambodian coastline and into Vietnam. For beach and boat lovers, this is a great trip as from Ko Chang you're able to visit Ko S'dach, Sihanoukville, Ko Russei, Kampot, Kep, Ko Tonsay, Ha Tien and Rach Gia, before finishing off on the glorious Phu Quoc Island. Here's a step by step guide taking you through the entire trip, commencing in Trat and finishing on Phu Quoc.
Of all the border crossings in the region, the overland crossing between Cambodia and Laos has been one of the most changeable. In some ways, Dom Kralor has all the ingredients of a pain in the posterior crossing -- corrupt border officials, inconsistent travel advice and of course wildly varying traveller tales. Read on to find out the best way to cross this ever-changing border.
Feature story quicklinks
- Giving back in Southeast Asia (19)
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- Angkor Hospital For Children
- Blue Dragon Children's Foundation
- COPE: Helping people move on
- Epic Arts
- Free the Bears Laos
- Gibbon Rehabilitation Project
- Helping Phuket's children in need
- Helping Siem Reap's rubbish dump families
- Helping Singapore's transient workers
- Helping the Karen of Burma
- Humanitarian Services for Children of Vietnam
- Khlong Toey Music Program
- Lifestart Foundation, Hoi An
- MyME Yangon
- Soi Dog Foundation
- Swim Vietnam
- Thai Freedom House, Chiang Mai
- The Samui Prison Project
- The SET Foundation
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- Great Thai food blogs
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- Ko Pha Ngan 7-day detox:Colonic fast
- Ko Pha Ngan's best beaches in 2013
- Ko Phi Phi on a budget
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- Narathiwat: residence of good people
- Navigating Bangkok: The BTS Skytrain
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- Phuket heritage walk: Car parts to saris
- Phuket's secret beaches
- Planning around Thailand's civil unrest
- Should I book for the full moon party?
- Should I cancel my Thai holiday? No.
- Should I cancel my trip to Thailand? No.
- Soi Thong Lo, Bangkok
- Thai islands for nature lovers
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- Trekking in Thailand
- What is the best island in Thailand?
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- What's a good beach on Ko Samui?
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- A year's worth of travel for 2013
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- Do I need reservations for my holiday?
- Evil man of Krabi
- Fifteen tips for a great holiday in Asia
- Getting a cheap airfare to Asia
- Great river trips in Southeast Asia
- Hotels should never charge extra for WiFi
- Long distance buses in Southeast Asia
- Mass tourism in Southeast Asia
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- Planning a Gap Year? Some advice.
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- Call me Mr Massage Magic
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- Flying is fun!
- Mr Golden
- On being a travel writer
- Teaching ESL in Asia
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- The Boxing Day Tsunami: 5 years on.
- To Teach or Not to Teach
- Travel writing scholarship 2012
- Tuk to the Road Charity ride
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- Bangkok by skytrain: Ari
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- Bangkok by skytrain: Chid Lom
- Bangkok by skytrain: Chong Nonsi
- Bangkok by skytrain: Mo Chit
- Bangkok by skytrain: National Stadium
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- Bangkok by skytrain: Ratchadamri
- Bangkok by skytrain: Ratchathewi
- Bangkok by skytrain: Sala Daeng (S2)
- Bangkok by skytrain: Sanam Pao
- Bangkok by skytrain: Saphan Taksin
- Bangkok by skytrain: Siam
- Bangkok by skytrain: Surasak
- Bangkok by skytrain: Thong Lor
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