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Favorite Places: Cambodia

The Kingdom of Cambodia is quickly becoming a top travel destination in Southeast Asia. Leaving behind a troubled past that saw foreign dominations, a genocide perpetrated by Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge, long years of civil war and political instability, the country seems to have finally come to terms with its past. Cambodia will welcome you with its legacy of an amazing ancient civilization (the ruins of Angkor in Siem Reap), art galleries and cafes in tree lined colonial Phnom Penh, and a wonderful countryside dotted with villages of wooden homes on stilts and lush rice fields.

Tours in Siem Reap (Angkor Complex)
The ruins of the ancient city of Angkor - the former capital of the Khmer kingdom - incorporate Hindu and Buddhist motifs and represent one of the world's most spectacular sights. The temples of Angkor represent six hundred years of Khmer civilization and one of Asia's greatest Kingdoms. This huge complex can be very difficult (and exhausting) to navigate independently. We provide expert local guides who know how to avoid the crowds and take you to the most interesting temples at the least crowded time of the day. Touring is by deluxe, air-conditioned cars (unless you prefer exploring the ruins by bicycle or elephant - both of which can be arranged!). Our clients have an exclusive, hassle-free experience at Angkor, using one of Siem Reap's luxury resorts such as the exclusive Amansara Resort or the historic, luxurious Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor as a base.

Angkor Wat is the world's largest sacred building and an architectural masterpiece that took more than thirty years to build. For centuries it was known only to locals, existing as a myth for the rest of the world until the early 1850's, when French explorer Henri Mahout 'rediscovered' the site deep within thick jungle. It would take weeks to view all of the ruins and truly understand the magnitude of Angkor. Our travelers spend several days exploring the highlights. They also experience several exclusive activities such as a private tour of Angkor Wat with an archaeologist, and an elephant ride up Phnom Bakheng to watch a spectacular sunset over the plain of ruins.

Each day, visit several temples and learn about the stories depicted on the walls and in their enormous stones; walk through the remains of ancient passageways and along water-filled moats shaded by banyan trees; and witness the sun setting over the silhouette of the temples and reflected in the reservoirs. Visit the most famous ruins, such as the Terrace of the Leper King, the Terrace of Elephants and the Bayon Temple (famously depicting mysteriously smiling faces) at Angkor Thom. Explore the jungle-covered ruins of Ta Prohm and more remote ruins such as Banteay Srei, the Citadel of Women (a reddish, delicately carved series of buildings), Phnom Bakheng, the Kabal Spean, River of a Thousand Lingas (representing the Hindu god Shiva), and Preah Khan, the ruins of a serenely beautiful monastery and teaching center. Spend a day driving through the countryside to Lake Tonle Sap. Pass lotus-filled ponds and local villages on their way. Explore one of the most interesting ecosystems of South East Asia as you cruise around floating villages, complete with schools, churches, temples - even a police station and a hospital.

Back in Siem Reap, visit local markets selling Cambodian crafts, spices, produce, fish, textiles and exotic fruits. Shop for sculptures and textiles at Artisans D'Angkor, where young Cambodian children are trained in traditional Cambodian arts and their products are displayed and sold in the school's showroom. In the evenings, enjoy a performance of Apsara Dance (an ancient Cambodian art form) in an outdoor theater, or visit the legendary Elephant Bar at Raffles Hotel D'Angkor. When not touring the ruins, luxuriate in world class luxury at either the Amansara Resort or Raffles Hotel D'Angkor and enjoy spa treatments, fine dining, tennis, swimming, and educational lectures on the history and aesthetic of Angkor. Return to top...

Tours in Phnom Penh
We highly recommend that visitors to Cambodia spend a night or two in the enchanting city of Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital and the modern face of the country. The city is quickly shedding away the remnants of its dramatic past - the result is a peaceful and extremely enjoyable city. Browse boulevards and neighborhoods that combine French colonial mansions with Buddhist temples and pagodas. Visit the excellent National Museum which houses the world's foremost collection of Khmer statues and artifacts, the Royal Palace, a fine example of classical Khmer architecture, the jewel-encrusted Silver Pagoda, and Wat Phnom, the temple for which the city is named. If desired, visit the humbling Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide and the Killing Fields. Phnom Penh is famous for its cafes - be sure to have a drink at the Foreign Correspondents Club (a local institution) and its markets, including the Art Deco-style Central Market. Perhaps take a ride on the Mekong River at sunset to witness local life on the river's floating villages, or view an art exhibit at the Royal University of Fine Arts or Reyum, a non-profit organization founded to provide a forum for research, preservation, and promotion of traditional and contemporary Cambodian arts and culture.

Phnom Penh's premier luxury hotel is Raffles Hotel Le Royal. Return to top...

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Siem Reap
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