The reddish-brown Mekong River runs through Cambodia and Laos, where they share a bit of border. Both countries are less traveled than other Southeast Asia nations.
Cambodia, however, has the advantage of possessing one of the world’s timeless archeological gems… Angkor Wat.
For generations much of the outside world believed Angkor was little more than an exaggeration or an outright fairytale. Today, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is recognized among mankind’s grandest architectural achievements, ranking in importance with the monumental sites of Egypt and those of the Inca and the Aztec in Latin America. This amazing complex once encompassed more than a thousand temples constructed roughly between the 9th to 15th centuries.
Beyond these ancient temples, Cambodia’s Phnom Penh is one of the prettiest of the French-built cities of Indochina, while Siem Reap, with its proximity to Angkor, is becoming a major tourist destination with luxury hotels and busy markets. It also boasts white sand beaches, untouched islands in the South China Sea, and remote, thickly forested mountains.
Laos, too, has a great sweep of pristine mountains. They are home to some of the region’s oldest hill tribe societies. The rapid pace of change taken for granted in much of Southeast Asia slows its pulse considerably when it comes to Laos. There are no railroads and few roads and trails so the Mekong River, much like the early days on the Mississippi River, serves as the country’s main artery through which goods and communications flow.
Laos remains a land of genuine faith, where Buddhism permeates every facet of life, and everywhere you see lines of orange-robed young boys, novice monks passing silently by with their freshly shaved heads bowed. It is also one of Indochina’s most beautiful countries with primary forests, lavish waterfalls, and a wealth of endemic flora and fauna. Both countries offer rewarding adventures and authentic encounters to those who accept the invitation.
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