Welcome to my first blog, on our completely revamped and redesigned website! Our original website launched approximately 16 years ago, so it was long overdo for an overhaul. I love the new look and easier navigation of the updated site and I hope you’ll feel the same way. We’ll continue to add new excursions, adventure options and updated sample itineraries, so check it out on a regular basis.

If you haven’t viewed our sample itineraries for awhile, you may notice that we’ve added some specialized excursions and activities, as well as itineraries that focus on specific interests. Travel trends are always changing. When I hear certain key words from more than one client, I sit up and take notice. For example, the term “foodie” came out of nowhere a few years ago and the desire for unique food experiences is still trending like crazy. Initially we responded by offering a few cooking classes, but as the demand for new food experiences continued to grow, we’ve added a variety of tasting tours, street food tours, specialty dining experiences and private cooking lessons – in addition to non-private classes.

One of the main trends these days is the desire to get away from other tourists. I completely understand wanting to be away from crowds and tourist traps. But, truly getting off the beaten path has its pros and cons. For one thing, getting really remote will mean compromising on accommodations and other comforts. And, let’s face it, the reason that certain sites are touristy is because they’re worth seeing. So, if you opt to stay completely away from sites that are visited by most tourists, you’ll miss out on seeing some extraordinary places. This is especially true for first-time visitors to Southeast Asia.

How can you incorporate the must-sees and the rarely-seen? Cambodia is a good example:

One of the true wonders of the world is the Angkor temple complex and it would be a real shame to miss out on seeing Angkor Wat (the most famous of the Angkor temples) and other popular temples such as Ta Prohm and Angkor Thom, just because there will be lots of other tourists there. So, what’s the solution? Most visitors to Cambodia spend a couple of days in  Siem Reap, in order to see the major temples, and then they’re off to another country. But, if you’re willing to devote more time to Cambodia, you can visit not only the major temple sites, but also some of the less-visited ruins.

The Angkor temples are spread out over a large area. Some of the lesser known ruins can be seen as day trips from Siem Reap, including traveling via backroads in an army jeep or via Vespa, bicycle or horseback. There’s even the possibility to camp at some of the more remote temples. Another option is to travel overland between Siem Reap and Cambodia’s capital of Phnom Penh. There are some smaller temples (and beautiful scenery) along the way. And, while in Phnom Penh you can take day trips to lesser known temple sites.

If you’re afraid of getting “templed-out,” there are plenty of other off-the-beaten-path destinations in Cambodia. The southern coastal areas of Kep and Kampot are well worth a visit, as is the 4 Rivers area of Cambodia, near the Thai border. At 4 Rivers you can stay at a floating hotel and using it as a base you can take treks into the deep jungle, visit waterfalls and travel by river to small villages.

If the above options still aren’t as far from other tourists as you’d like to go, you’ll be interested to know that the Cambodia government recently (May, 2016) formed a new national park, in a very remote area of the country. Southern Cardamom National Park covers an area of 4.5 million acres. This mountainous area of thick rainforest, remote villages and spectacular views is home to a myriad of flora and fauna. There are tigers, elephants, gibbons, Siamese crocodiles and more. Because of animal trafficking, a number of these species are considered to be threatened, which was the impetus for the government to create the new park. There are plans to slowly reintroduce tigers to the park, as well as to open more ranger stations. Southeast Asia Tours can arrange a tour to Southern Cardamom National Park where you’ll camp overnight under the stars. Now, that’s remote!

Diane Embree
September 5, 2016