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More than Angkor

Siem Reap Introduction

Siem Reap (meaning ‘Victory over Siam’) in northwest Cambodia is primarily the gateway to the famous Temples of Angkor.

The town has changed dramatically over the past twenty years. Not too long ago a sleepy backwater, Siem Reap now has large five-star hotels and resorts, fine-dining options aplenty, and the kind of good services, shops, galleries, and spas, that make the little city a new oasis of luxury.

The town has grown exponentially, but Siem Reap retains some of its charm, especially around Psar Chas (Old Market) and in the French Quarter.

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Mekong Discovery Trail

Explore River Life in Northeast Cambodia: the Mekong Discovery Trail takes you into the heart of the Mekong where the beauty of the river and the friendliness of the people create unforgettable river life experiences in northeast Cambodia.

The Mekong Discovery Trail is a network of safe, ecotourism journeys through some of the most natural and least populated parts of the Mekong.

The free trail guide provides maps, transport and accommodation options. You can travel on a small part of the trail, or all of it. You can travel alone or with a group. There are many options along the 180 km trail, which runs between Kratie and the Cambodian/Laos border. But remember to allow enough time to go with the flow of river life.

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Kampi Rapids and Picnic

Picnic places at Kampi Rapids near Kratie in northeastern CambodiaAbout 1 kilometer north of the place where boats to see the dolphins leave, are the Kampi Rapids where you can relax, swim and enjoy the rapids.

There is a huge picnic spot, very popular with the locals: bamboo structures with a straw roof built out over the river. Some are hundreds of meters long and all are lined with hammocks.

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Koh Trong Paradise Island

Koh Trong is a beautiful quiet island opposite the riverfront of Kratie Town, an almighty sandbar in the middle of the river. No cars, but carts, smiling peasants, craggy fishermen and a rich soil that man turned into an orchard, Koh Trong is a small paradise. It is a short ferry ride between town life and a slice of Cambodia’s rural ways.

Surrounded 8 months a year by white sandy beaches, constantly refreshed by the river’s breeze, the island of Koh Trong is some sort of an ideal Cambodia. The beaches call out to be lazed upon with a picnic after a dip in the Mekong.

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Charming Towns: Kampot & Kep

The Statue at KepKampot is a quiet, relaxed, laid back, some would say sleepy but charming little town in southern Cambodia.

Did you know Kampot was chosen by CNNgo among Indochina’s top 10 hot destinations?

They write: oozing French colonial charm, this scenic town nestled on the east bank of Kampot River is Cambodia’s most under-rated destination.

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Introduction to Sihanoukville

The Lions are a symbol of SihanoukvilleWhere now lies the port of Sihanoukville, was originally the fishing village of Kompong Som. Cambodians still refer to the town by that name. It is the only real beach resort of Cambodia.

The town is rather spread out and actually consists of two parts: Sihanoukville-City and Sihanoukville-Beach.

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To do and see around Kampot

Tek Chhou Falls, a popular swim spot for locals, KampotBokor Mountain and eating the freshest seafood on Kep Beach are perhaps the most popular day tour destinations out of Kampot. But Bokor Mountain is currently closed for the development of a luxury resort on the top.

So, what else can you do around Kampot? Well, there are plenty of other things to see and do: stunning landscape, pepper plantations where the famous Kampot Pepper is grown, and numerous limestone caves.

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Beaches of Sihanoukville

Sihanoukville BeachCambodians call it by its old name – Kompong Som – but to Westerners it’s better known as the beach town of Sihanoukville. The centre of town was built in the 50’s and 60’s and is basically quite an ugly collection of concrete.

Beaches are about 1 km to the south and roughly 2 km to the west of the town centre with the port of Sihanoukville at the northern end of the western beaches. Do not expect wide stretches of sand here, Sihanoukville’s beaches are quite narrow.

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Angkor Code of Conduct

angkor-don'tsThe main reason for tourists to visit Siem Reap of course are the world famous Temples of Angkor. And yes, they are a truly ‘must see’ in Cambodia.

But they’re not only a top tourist attraction, they’re a sacred, religious site. So, you should know how to behave. Here are a few simple rules (that you would obey in your home country).

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Siem Reap Night Markets

Night Market Siem Reap Cambodia

Night markets are not a natural thing in Siem Reap or even to Cambodia.

In 2007, the Angkor Night Market was set up, a few years later a second market opened, the Noon Night Market.

Both are entirely geared towards tourists and as a result, almost all stalls are souvenir shops.

What is missing are local food stalls – something of which gives night markets a local feel.

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Phnom Kulen National Park

Nestling in the southern extension of the Dangrek Mountains in the Svay Leu District, 48 kilometres away from Siem Reap rests the Phnom Kulen National Park. One of the most scenic and historically significant locations in the area, the park falls along the journey to Prasat Banteay Srei, making a beautiful natural complement to the intricate manmade wonders of the ancient citadel.

Unfortunately, the waterfalls in the park are ‘owned’ by a businessman from Siem Reap with ‘high’ connections, who charges an outrageous $20 to see this natural resource.
But read on to discover how to avoid this scam.

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Landmine Museum & Relief Fund

Once little more than a humble shack, Aki Ra’s Land Mine Museum has been reincarnated into the Cambodia Land Mine Museum & Relief Facility.

It is a registered Canadian-based organisation and opened in April 2007 with the aim of building and developing the original museum’s vision.

The new centre includes an expanded museum, a dormitory residence for up to 30 amputee children and a school.
The new museum has an admission fee of US$1.

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Angkor National Museum

A nice educational supplement to the history of Angkor if you visit the park without a tour guide, although don’t confuse this with the National Musuem in Phnom Penh.

The Angkor National Museum in Siem Reap is composed of eight separate galleries, all connected by a vaulted corridor with a series of fountains and lined with what seems like all the Angkorian limestone lion and demon heads missing from statues at the temples.
After an explanatory film screening called Story behind the legend, you’re pointed toward the galleries.

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Angkor Wat Bike Race & Ride

Angkor Wat Bike Race and RideThe Angkor Wat Bike Race & Ride is an annual cycling event that takes place in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The Bike Event is now in its 6th year and is held on Saturday 3rd December 2011, in partnership with the Angkor Wat Half-Marathon. The weekend is full of festivities and draws over 400 bikers and 3,500 runners from over 45 different countries.

Participants can choose to take part in any of the three different routes offered: 100km, 30km or 17km. The event attracts both keen cyclists and families from all over the globe.

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Angkor Photo Festival

Each year, the weeklong Angkor Photo Festival hosts exhibitions and outdoor slideshows, many at The FCC Angkor, by celebrated international and emerging Asian photographers in Siem Reap.

The temples of Angkor become a hub for photographers to gather in a spirit of creativity and sharing.

The strong educational goal of the Angkor Photo Festival sets it apart from other photography events.

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Angkor Half Marathon

Half Marathon Siem Reap Cambodia

Angkor Half Marathon in Siem Reap is held in December every year. The route of this race is stretched around the temples. There is no age limit of the participants, eight to eighty, everybody can run. Winning or losing does not matter at all here, as the objective is not only fun but also to collect money for the physically challenged.

Apart from the Half Marathon and a 10 kilometre Run for Men and Women, there is a 21 kilometre Wheelchair Race, and a 3 km Fun Run.

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Introduction to Phnom Penh

Central Market panoramaPhnom Penh has an eccentric charm. Seen from the river, palm trees and the spires of Khmer royal buildings rise over French-era Phnom Penh shophouses and villas. This city really grows on you.

Take time to explore Phnom Penh!

Before civil war broke out it was one of the finest cities in the region, nicknamed ‘The Pearl of Asia’. Now, Phnom Penh is regaining this reputation: yellow-ocher buildings, squares and cafes, and tree-lined boulevards give it an appealing atmosphere.

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Koh Kong eyes tourism

Koh Kong may be without the spectacular temples or much-improved tourist infrastructure of other areas of Cambodia, but officials say they are counting on tourism to develop the southwestern province.

Tourists are expected to increasingly taking advantage of the eco-tourism opportunities the province’s natural beauty provides, while officials are also anticipating a US$5 billion large-scale Chinese tourism development now under way, according to Koh Kong Deputy Governor Sun Dara.

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Attractions in Cambodia’s Capital

Central Market - Psar Thmei - Phnom PenhThe capital of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, is located at the confluence of three rivers – the Mekong, the Bassac and Tonle Sap.

Over the past years, the city has undergone tremendous changes – businesses are springing up constantly and tourism is once again booming. Phnom Penh has managed to retain its charm and character – cyclos that weave through traffic with ease, broad boulevards, old colonial buildings, and above all its people who always have a smile for you.

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The South of Cambodia

Most travellers head to southern Cambodia to hit the beaches at Sihanoukville. While the sandy stretches are worthy of putting your feet up for a few days, there’s more to see and do in that part of the country.

The charming towns of Kampot and Kep, the almost deserted (and nicer) beaches of Rabbit Island, pepper plantations, limestone caves, and Bokor Hill Station,

However, the latter is not what it used to be, as a modern (and ugly) resort and casino are now on top of the mountain.

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