The Cambodia Story
Angkor Wat, constructed in the early 12th Century, is the largest religious structure in the world. The temple is so massive that its walls and moat appear in photos taken by space satellite. But Angkor Wat is one temple among a mindboggling complex of medieval structures—the stone remnants of the Khmer Empire that once ruled over Southeast Asia—scattered throughout modern Cambodia. In addition to expert historical tours of awe-inspiring Angkor, Khiri shows you the hidden Cambodia. From eco-lodge retreats in the Cardamom Mountains, one of the largest and still mostly unexplored rain forests in all of Asia, to sightings of the illusive Irrawaddy dolphin at Kratie and elephant trekking in rugged Mondulkiri.
The wealth of the Khmer Empire was founded on a sophisticated irrigation system for rice production,
fed by the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, the Tonlé Sap. Home to migratory floating villages of Khmer, Vietnamese, and Cham peoples, Tonlé Sap Lake is the liquid heart of Cambodia and a UNESCO biosphere reserve.
Cambodians are fish people, with over 60% of their protein intake coming from fish harvested in the Tonlé Sap. Khiri tours sample the best of Khmer cuisine, from buttery crab at Kep’s famous crab market to the delicious sweetness of Kampot pepper.
The Cambodian people are especially welcoming of tourists as they recover from the Khmer Rouge atrocities of the 1970s. Cambodians are immensely proud of their cultural inheritance—a singular churn of Theravada Buddhism, Hinduism from the Javanese courts, and Chinese influences from Funan.
Spend some time in one of the most peaceful areas of Cambodia, Chi Phat. Enjoy the spectacular sunrise by boat on the Stoeng Prat River while observing the prolific birdlife, occasional hornbill and agile monkeys. Visit the Domnak Khos wildlife observation post and trek through the forest, while learning about native species. Observe wildlife gatherings and interactions at the Preak Ta Veal clearing. Explore a small village, relax with the locals and swim in the beautiful surrounding waterfalls.
Wildlife highlights: You may see different species of monkeys, including langurs and macaques. You can observe great birdlife on the Mekong River including crane stalks and hornbills. Upon entering the thick forest, you may see snakes, elephants, civets and deer.
A boat trip along the Mekong River shows you how local people live along the lifeblood of Asia. Visit the local village of Koh Pdao and relax on local fishing boats while observing endangered freshwater dolphins interact and hunt in the Mekong River. Visit a turtle conservation center.
Wildlife highlights: From a respectful distance on board a boat, you can watch Irrawaddy dolphins hunting for fish and gliding above and below the water.
Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and an ecologically rich hotspot recognized by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve. It is home to the Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary, the most important breeding area in Southeast Asia for widely threatened migratory water birds, including storks.
Wildlife highlights: Tonle Sap has over 150 species of fish and prolific birdlife including storks at the Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary.
Mondulkiri and Rattanakiri
Northern Cambodian provinces of Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri offer great ways to experience the beauty of the natural environment and spot a wide variety of native species such as gibbons and elephants. Trek through the jungle and try and spot rare primates and larger mammals. There is also an elephant sanctuary in the area.
Wildlife highlights: There are opportunities to see the rare yellow-cheeked gibbon and possibly elephants, buffalo and tigers.
The Cardamom Mountains in Kampong Speu Province of central Cambodia is the location of the highest peak in Cambodia, Phnom Aural. To reach the summit on foot requires a 3-day trek where you will see rare birds and other wildlife. The government has established a wildlife sanctuary in this area to conserve and protect the biodiversity.
Wildlife highlights: Some animals indigenous to this area includes elephants, tigers, clouded leopards, Malaysian sun bear, pleated gibbons and Siamese crocodile, all of which are high on the endangered species list.
Kirirom National Park
Kirirom National Park is a plateau of rolling hills overlooking fields of rice and palm trees. The area has been marked a wildlife sanctuary and is the habitat for some endangered large mammals. There are also many waterfalls and nice trails in the area.
Wildlife highlights: Search and go spotting for wild ox, bears, elephants, leopards and tigers.