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Cambodia

September 26, 2008 By: Mark Rogers Travel Agent
 

Angkor Wat and the city of Siem Reap power Cambodia’s tourism


Cambodia is on a bit of a roll. The Cambodian Ministry of Tourism is reporting that tourist arrivals were up 13 percent in the first half of 2008. More than half of the 1.1 million visitors make tracks for Cambodia’s famed Angkor temples in the northwestern Siem Reap province. The World Heritage-listed ruins have been a vital engine driving Cambodia’s tourism.

On the Map
Cambodia is bordered by Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. The city of Siem Reap in northwest Cambodia is the closest city to Angkor, which has contributed to its flourishing over the past decade. Although most visitors will have their sights set on Angkor, Siem Reap has an appeal all its own, with numerous restaurants and local color. Sights worth a look include the Angkor National Museum. Here, visitors can get an introduction to Cambodian culture and a history lesson about what they’ll find at the Angkor complex of temples, as well as view a collection of 1,000 Buddhas.

Many Americans got their introduction to Cambodia through the award-winning film, The Killing Fields. Although not for everyone, interested travelers can drive a short distance outside of town where they’ll find a small bone stupa marking the Khmer Rouge killing fields that were near Siem Reap.

Cambodia, a nation rich in art, dance and music, also attracts its share of sports lovers.

Golfers will enjoy Cambodia’s first PGA-standard championship golf course, the Angkor Golf Course. Designed by golf legend Nick Faldo and boasting a lengthy 7,230 yards and a 72-par, it’s located in the heart of Siem Reap and just 15 minutes away from the Le Méridien Angkor hotel.

The International Angkor Half Marathon will be held on December 2 at Angkor Wat. The event attracts competitors from all over the world, as well as thousands of spectators.

Learn more about Cambodia and the magic of Angkor Wat in the podcast below by Nancy Harkrider of ExploreAsia.net:

The Temples of Angkor Wat
Without a doubt, the ancient capital of Angkor Wat is what brings most travelers to Cambodia. Angkor is about 20 minutes by car from Siem Reap. In 1992, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temples are in Angkor Archaeological Park, which covers 250 square miles and contains the remains of several capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century. The 200-acre temple complex is a combination of Hindu and Buddhist temples showcasing awesome carved faces and ornate bas-reliefs. Other standouts include the heavily sculpted Bayon Temple and Ta Prohm, which is more intact than most other structures in the complex.

Resources

Location: Cambodia’s borders are shared with Thailand and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic on the West and the North, and the Social Republic of Vietnam on the East and the Southeast.

Arriving by Air: Cambodia is served by an increasing number of flights from neighboring countries to both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, though the best choice is from Bangkok in Thailand. Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport is about 15 minutes by car from the city of Siem Reap. Visitors can also arrive in Cambodia via land crossings. There are presently five overland crossings; two from Thailand, two from Vietnam, one from Laos.

Entry Requirements: A passport and visa are required of U.S. visitors. Tourists and business travelers may purchase a Cambodian visa valid for one month at the airports in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Both require a passport-sized photograph. A departure tax is charged on all domestic and international flights.

Currency: The Riel. At press time the exchange rate was $1 to 4,118 Riels. U.S. dollars are as commonly used as the Cambodian Riel and most hotels and many restaurants and shops set their prices in dollars. ATMS are not readily available in Cambodia.

Climate: Cambodia’s tropical climate has three distinct seasons: the Rainy Season (June-October) and the Cool Dry Season (November-February), and the Hot Dry Season (March-May).

Water: Drink bottled water.

Time: Cambodia runs at Greenwich Mean Time +7 hours. This is the same time zone as Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.

Tour Operators: A partial list of tour operators with programs to Cambodia includes Abercrombie & Kent ([email protected]; 800-323-7308), Gate 1 Travel ([email protected], 800-682-3333), Globus (866-755-8581), GTS Globotours (800-988-4833), Orient Flexi Pax Tours ([email protected]; 800-545-5540), Pacific Delight Tours ([email protected]; 800-221-7179),
Pleasant Holidays ([email protected]; 800-448-3333),
SITA World Tours ([email protected]; 800-421-56430,
Ritz Tours ([email protected], 800-900-2446)

A tip for those looking for the best photographic opportunities: As most of the temples face east, the best lighting conditions are in the morning—except for Angkor Wat, where the best light is in the afternoon because it faces west.

Tickets are sold in several variations. Travelers can buy a one-day, three-day or seven-day pass, and the days have to be used consecutively.

Design and Convenience
The Le Méridien Angkor is a synthesis of Khmer architecture and contemporary design and is the closest hotel to the temples of Angkor Wat. This makes it especially convenient for sunrise or sunset tours of Angkor Wat’s ancient monuments.

Guest rooms continue the fusion of Khmer and contemporary decor with rich timbers and exotic silks. All rooms have Wi-Fi (at a charge).

Deluxe Rooms are considered to offer the best value because of the garden views and 124 square feet of space. Deluxe Rooms have DVD players, pillowtop mattress, aromatherapy oil and access to Naga Lounge for complimentary tea and coffee.

Families will like one of the hotel’s eight corner suites. These have a generous 250 square feet of space and offer a separate bedroom and living rooms with garden views. One rollaway bed can be accommodated, making these suites ideal for families.

The Grande Suite is the most expensive accommodation at the hotel. It has 528 square feet of living space, with one bedroom, a marble bathroom and separate living and dining rooms. Grand Suite guests also enjoy Naga Lounge benefits and privileges.

Le Méridien Angkor Spa has six treatment rooms, three designed for couples and one with a Jacuzzi. The spa offers a menu of traditional massage and health therapies, both Western and Asian. Popular treatments include the Khmer Herbal Bath, Bergamot and Walnut Seed Exfoliation, East-West Fusion Massage, Ancient Hot Stone Facial and Foot Rejuvenation package. Alexis Murphy, Le Méridien Angkor spa manager, can be contacted at [email protected], 011-855-63-963-900.

The hotel’s L’Angelo restaurant serves northern Italian cuisine with an Asian flair, and is particularly renowned for the quality of its wine list.

Alfresco dining is available in the Khmer-themed courtyard garden and water fountain. Guests can experience local Khmer culture and Apsara dancing as they choose selections from the outdoor buffet and live cooking stations.

Amenities at the hotel include a swimming pool, fitness center, meeting facilities and banquet spaces. The hotel’s shops have a selection of traditional Khmer carvings, original handmade silk scarves, clothes and other Khmer artisan’s products.

The general manager is Greg Anderson ([email protected], 011-855-63-963-900). For VIP guests, it’s recommended that agents book directly through reservations and mark the guest as VIP.

Tropical Resort
The 190-room Angkor Century Resort & Spa is a four-star property set within eight acres of tropical gardens within the heart of Siem Reap.

The hotel’s Superior Rooms are the most requested premium accommodation. Superior Triple rooms are a good choice for families—these also have excellent city views. Deluxe Rooms, Executive Suites and Century Suites all look out on the pool and garden. The two Century Suites are the highest category at the hotel.

The Century Spa has four single treatment rooms and four twin rooms, although none of these are suites. Spa treatments utilize organic products gathered from sources around Cambodia and Southeast Asia. Popular treatments include Propeynee Massage, Stapanug Massage and Foot Massage.

The Century Spa’s signature treatment is the intriguingly named Elephant Massage. Practitioners have studied the movements of the elephant to create a massage that employs two therapists using both their hands and feet to mimic the gentle and sure-footed treading of an elephant. We hear the most popular masseuse is Yeap Srey Nuch. It’s recommended that agents book spa treatments ahead of arrival for their clients. Contact Spa Manager Yin Daravuth at [email protected], 011-855-63-963-777.

The Asian Corner Restaurant offers contemporary dishes inspired by Southeast Asia cuisine. The signature dish at the restaurant is Steamed Fish Amok Angkor in Young Coconut. Peak season for the hotel is November through February. Mou Sangha is the hotel’s acting general manager ([email protected], 011-855-63-963-777). Agents can feel free to contact him directly with questions or special requests.


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