Category: Cambodia

Lake Tonle Sap

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We take to the water in Siem Reap, home to the famous temples of Angkor Wat, on beautiful Lake Tonle Sap. We cruise on this enormous lake, visiting floating villages complete with schools, restaurants and even a hospital! Witness school children getting to school by their own unique form of public transport – a row boat!

Siem Reap

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The ancient Khmer capital of Angkor is today one of the most remarkable and impressive sights in all of Asia. For much of its 600 years, the Angkor empire’s regional power was unrivalled, and under a number of its ‘god-kings’ such as Jayavarman the 7th the artistic exploits of the Khmer kingdom went unrivalled. With Cambodia at peace again, and newly-developed tourist facilties, fine hotels and several daily flights into the nearby town of Siem Reap, the treasures of Angkor are now being rediscovered by the outside world.

Foremost amongst these is the 12th Century temple of Angkor Wat itself . Taking the lengthy sandstone causeway across the temple’s huge moat transports visitors into a world of Hindu and Khmer legend and artistry. Your TUI guide will explain the stories behind the stunning bas reliefs that line nearly a kilometre of the complex’s inner walls. From here, enter the main temple through the Gallery of a Thousand Buddhas and, if the steep and perilously narrow steps don’t deter you, climb the central tower representing the Abode of the Gods, Mount Meru, for superb views over the temple and surrounding countryside.

We journey on through the magnificent South Gate of the fortified city of Angkor Thom to the Bayon, where more than 200 massive stone faces of the Hindu deity Avalokiteshwara make for one of Angkor’s most dramatic sights. Walk the Terrace of Elephants nearby, and explore another of Angkor’s remarkable experiences: the jungle-covered temple of Ta Prohm, where gigantic snaking roots wind in and out of the pavilions, corridors and crumbling walls of a grand structure which once boasted over 600 resident dancers, now reclaimed by towering jungle trees and screeching flocks of parrots.


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The word Battambang in Khmer means “disappearing stick” and was bestowed upon the town by a former king who legend says used a powerful stick to control the people. Now in more modern times it is commonly referred to as the rice bowl of Cambodia, due to the vast amount of rice produced. As Cambodia’s second largest city it has all the charm and feel of a provincial town. The Sangker River languidly winds its way through the city and a stroll along its banks unveils the faded glow of old colonial buildings and Chinese shop houses. The architecture here is some of the best preserved in Cambodia. Battambang is an ideal place to get the feel of what Cambodia was like in the golden years before the Khmer Rouge came to power and receives a small number of tourists. The city of Battambang is easy to access either by road from Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. For a more unique journey the boat trip between Battambang and Siem Reap is truly a highlight as the boat wends its way down river through small waterways passing fishing villages and rural hamlets.


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After independence from France in the early 1950’s, Cambodia no longer had commercial access to the big Indochinese trading port of Saigon. Kampot, an earlier colonial port on the Southeast coast of Cambodia was too small for the nation-building plans at the time. In 1964, Sihanouville was born, as was the excellent Route 4, connecting the new modern port with the capital, Phnom Penh.

These days, Sihanouvkille is also known for its lovely white beaches, and delicious seafood. It is also a great launching point for fascinating journeys to Ream National Park, Bokor Hill Station, and quaint Kampot. Sihanoukville itself is spread-out over a number of peninsulas, each fringed with beaches. While beachside accommodation has until recently been basic, there are now a number of well-located new hotels, including several on popular Occheuteal Beach.

Sihanoukville is famous for its blood-red sunsets, best seen from Wat Leu monastery, the highest point in town. The town also has a wonderful, busy old-market, full of fresh produce, including wonderful exotic fruits. TUI’s journeys to the south coast of Cambodia include visits to both Wat Leu and this great market and allow for free time on one of Sihanoukville’s fine beaches.


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Kampot is one of Asia’s most picturesque yet least-visited towns. Small in scale, this tiny former French port is rich in atmosphere and consists of rows of old buildings, carefully-planned streets, and some great local restaurants. Kampot is also a great launching pad for trips to the former beach resort, Kep (30 minutes), Bokor Hill Station in the Elephant Mountains, and Tek Chhou waterfalls. Only three hours from Phnom Penh and two hours from Sihanoukville, Kampot can be visited on a day trip from either of the two bigger cities, but many travellers prefer to soak up the town’s quaint atmosphere for at least a full day, and set out for a sunset boat-trip along the forest-fringed Prek Kampong River. TUI’s journeys to the south coast of Cambodia use quaint Kampot as a base for excursions to south coast attractions and eerie Bokor Hill Station.


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For French colonials of the early twentieth century, ‘Kep-sur-Mer’ was a seaside getaway and weekend retreat. From the mid-1950’s this small settlement on Cambodia’s southeast coast became a popular retreat for the Khmer elite, and in the 1960’s experienced something of a development boom. Tragically, for much of the 1980’s, this inauspicious little seaside town was the site of ferocious fighting between Khmers Rouges and forces loyal to the government.

Today’s Kep consists of rows of gutted and shelled beach villas, spread out in a grid road pattern. The town is also well-known for its couple of excellent seafood restaurants, a busy crab market, and a perfectly-preserved cliff-top mansion belonging to the enigmatic King Norodom Sihanouk. TUI visits Kep as a day trip from Kampot on journeys to the south coast of Cambodia.

Phnom Penh

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Once one of the gems of French colonial Indochina, after years of terror and poverty Phnom Penh is finally re-emerging as a fine South East Asian capital.

Its wide, tree-lined boulevards are now busy with sparkling late-model cars, and more of her long-neglected magnificent colonial architecture is under restoration. The city’s river junction location lends it an added charm, with the riverside Sisowath Quay once again thriving. Waterfront parks and cafes, open-air Western and Khmer restaurants, hotels and even internet cafes are all taking advantage of the city’s new found stability and optimism, and Psar Thmei, the city’s classic Art Deco central market, affords one of the best value and most enjoyable shopping experiences in Indochina.
Phnom Penh also offers the traveller a range of historical and cultural attractions. These include the finest collection of Khmer sculpture in the National Museum – the 13th Century bust of King Jayavarman 7 is perhaps the most celebrated piece of Khmer art. The Silver Pagoda and Royal Palace grounds, despite their massive looting at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, are also impressive testaments to the artistic skills of the Khmers.

Phnom Penh also holds some disturbing reminders of its darkest days under the Pol Pot regime: Tuol Sleng, the eerily peaceful former school grounds which became a detention and torture center under the Khmer Rouge, and outside the city the ‘Killing Fields’ of Choeung Ek where the remains of thousands of murdered Cambodians were uncovered.
However, the Phnom Penh of the 21st Century is predominantly a place of hope … it’s here you’ll witness Cambodia’s determination to rebuild itself.