Discovering Cambodia

February 5, 2015 Updated: February 17, 2016

Most independent travelers are suspicious of guided tours when visiting a new destination but sometimes this experience can act as an introduction to a new country and inspire the more adventurous to take off on their own at a later date.

For example, escorted tours around Cambodia serve as a great introduction to the country and increasingly these holidays are including more adventurous destinations on their itineraries, Cambodia is developing rapidly so it’s a good idea to travel sooner rather than later in order to enjoy some of the country’s unspoilt and remote hideaways.

Costal Charms

Sihanoukville on the Gulf of Thailand is rapidly developing coastal resort about 185 kilometers away from Phnom Penh. The beaches are luscious and one of the many advantages of this resort are the undeveloped islands just off the coast, including Koh Rong, sometimes known as Monkey Island. The Cambodians have big plans to develop this tropical paradise but currently the island is relatively peaceful, covered with luscious jungle vegetation and offers tourists the opportunity to stay in bungalows built in the traditional local style. There is a bar on the island, but this too is unobtrusive and what a wonderful way to end the day sipping a drink, enjoying either a Khmer or Thai meal and looking out onto miles of unspoiled ocean. The two-hour journey from Sihanoukville should be booked in advance and once on board the boat the trip goes like a dream.

Virachay National Park

To the north east of Cambodia lies one of the most beautiful parks in the country, Virachay National Park, close to Banlung, the capital of Ratankiri province and about 636 kilometers north east of Phnom Penh. This town is rapidly becoming the center for many tours and wildlife excursions and is a useful starting point for any jungle adventure. Virachay is famous for its indigenous peoples, and also exotic flora and fauna. It’s not unknown to spot a tiger or bear and there are many exotic parrots and hornbills that live in the park. Thankfully the Park is an ASEAN heritage site and this should protect the many endangered species that live within this environment. Entrance to the Park is free of charge, though it is recommended that visitors use a local guide to learn as much as possible about the splendid wildlife and also about the preservation projects taking place here.

Kalai Jungle

Ratankiri province is also home to the Kalai jungle and the Kreung indigenous people, sometimes referred to as a “forgotten tribe.” It is believed that there are fewer than 22,000 remaining members of this tribe. Some Kalai jungle hikes will pass through one of their traditional villages on the way and many of these tours will have arranged that their members can stay the night with the Kreung and enjoy some overnight camping. The jungle is full of gushing waterfalls and spectacular wildlife. It is recommended that visitors employ a local guide in order not to stray onto any dangerous hunting paths.

This article was originally published on Travel-Wire.com