Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How to plan a trip to travel Cambodia

As the increasing international visitors to Cambodia arrive by air at either Phnom Penh or Siem Reap in recent years. ActiveTravel Asia ( www.activetravel.asia ) show some travel tips & information for travelers who intend to plan their trips in Cambodia and Indochina

Angkor Wat Temple, Cambodia

Most international visitors to Cambodia arrive by air at either Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. An increasing number of airlines are operating into Cambodia in response to the Cambodian governments open skies policy. The list of international airlines serving Cambodia includes; Bangkok Airways, China Southern Airlines, Dragonair, EVA Air, Lao Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Mandarin Airlines, Mekong Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Siem Reap Airways International, Silk Air, Royal Phnom Penh Airways, Thai Airways International and Vietnam Airlines.

For transport to the city centre when arriving at Phnom Penh, you will find taxis outside the arrival hall. The taxi fare from the airport to the city is US$7 and the trip will take about 15 minutes, depending on traffic.

In Siem Reap the cost of a taxi into the town area from the airport is US$5. Many of the larger hotels will offer free transport so let your hotel know your flight arrival details in advance.

Overland travel to Cambodia is possible through Thailand, Laos and Vietnam via border crossings.

Travelling around Cambodia

Air travel, bus, train, boat and taxi are all modes of transport available to tourists in Cambodia. Your selection is best determined by how far you wish to travel, the time you have available, the amount you want to spend and, sometimes, by the weather as during the wet season travel by road especially in the provinces can be very slow.

Visitors in Siem Reap, Cambodia

For getting around the major centres such as Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, the most common form of public transport is the moto (motorbike taxi). The motos are fast, cheap (negotiate the price before your trip) and readily available however if you are unfamiliar with sitting as a passenger on a motorbike in heavy traffic, such as in Phnom Penh, then you may prefer an alternative mode.

The quaint cyclo is also common in the cities and is a safer more pleasant way of getting around compared to the moto, although obviously slower! Again, negotiate the price first.

For comfort and safety your best option may be to hire a car, with a driver, and this will cost you around US$20-$25 per day. Your hotel/guesthouse will usually be able to arrange a car for you.

Where to stay

There are accommodation options to suit all tastes and budgets in Cambodia, from 5-star luxury hotels to inexpensive and friendly guesthouses. Please click on our Accommodation link to see an extensive list.

Currency / Banks / Credit Cards

The official currency of Cambodia is the Riel however US dollars are widely accepted; in fact many businesses set their prices in US dollars. It is however wise to carry some riel around with you for small purchases. The current exchange rate for the riel to the US$ is around 4000 riel = US$1.

The acceptance of credit cards is increasing in Cambodia and you can get cash advances against your credit card at some major commercial banks. There are however no ATMs that will provide access to foreign bank accounts.

Climate

Cambodia has a tropical climate that is warm and humid. In the monsoon season, abundant rain allows for the cultivation of a wide variety of crops and this year round tropical climate makes Cambodia ideal for the tourism industry. Visitors do need not fear natural disasters such as erupting volcanoes or earthquakes, and the country is not directly affected by tropical storms.

Cambodia can be visited throughout the year. However those planning to travel extensively by road should avoid the last two months of the rainy season when some countryside roads may be impassable.

The climate can generally be described as tropical. As the country is affected by monsoon, it is hot and humid with an overage temperature around 27.C (80.F) but in the dry season it is cool and very much like a European summer.

There are two distinct seasons: the Rainy Season and the Dry Season. However, the Dry Season is divided into two sub-seasons, cool and hot and these seasons are:

The Rainy season:
From June till October 27-35.C (80-95.f)

The Dry season (cool):
From November till February 17-27.C (80-95.F)

The Dry season (Hot) :
From March till May 29-38.C (84-100.F)

Cambodia is one of the few countries that visitors can enjoy all the year round.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Where and how to meet minorities in Southeast Asia

Minority cultures in Southeast Asia are often time capsules of earlier lifestyles that have escaped the full force of globalisation’s effects. Consequently, they are a highlight for travellers to the region who want to get a sense of a country’s past…as it collides with the present.

But how do you ensure that while visiting, you don’t cause unintended damage or offence? You can show your respect for a culture by being educated about its ways, beliefs and taboos. Here are a few general guidelines:

1. Always ask permission before taking photos of tribespeople.

2. Don’t touch totems at village entrances or sacred items hanging from trees.

3. Avoid cultivating a tradition of begging, especially among children.

4. Avoid public nudity and don’t undress near an open window.

5. Don’t flirt with members of the opposite sex.

6. Don’t drink or do drugs with the villagers.

7. Smile at villagers even if they stare.

8. Ask your guide how to say ‘hello’.

9. Avoid public displays of affection, which might be viewed as offensive to the spirit world.

10. Don’t interact with the villagers’ livestock; avoid interacting with jungle animals, which might be viewed as visiting spirits.

11. Don’t step on the threshold of a house, prop your feet up against the fire or wear your shoes inside.

The local annual The local annual "love market" in Ha Giang, Vietnam

Where to meet Southeast Asia’s minority cultures

If you want to meet minority cultures, you’ll often have to get away from popular tourist centres; how far you’ll have to go depends very much on the country and how popular it is with visitors.

The trekking industry in Thailand is very developed and a minority visit can be a disappointment for some, but much depends on the operator organising the trip. Northern Vietnam and the Xīshuāngbǎnnà region of Yúnnán have emerged as popular places to experience minority cultures. Laos is really taking off as a destination to meet minority groups, partly due to its ethnically diverse population and in part due to the relatively small numbers of visitors venturing off the beaten path.

Cambodia and the Central Highlands of Vietnam provide a home to some minority groups in the northeast, but as they dress like lowland Khmer or Vietnamese, they have been less exposed to mass tourism than elsewhere. As for the effects of trekking on the host tribes, many agree that individuals within the village might financially benefit when the trekking companies purchase supplies and lodging, but the overall pluses and minuses are considered to be minimal compared to other larger institutional forces.

Lonely Planet has a suggestion of the top 5 spots for a genuine interaction with a minority culture in Southeast Asia:

1. Cambodia: Ratanakiri
2. Laos: Muang Sing
3. Thailand: Chiang Rai
4. Vietnam: Sapa
5. Yúnnán: Xīshuāngbannà

But there are many other important minority groups in the region, some rendered stateless by the conflicts of the past, others recent migrants to the region, including the many hill tribes.

Cham

The Cham girlThe Cham girl

The Cham people originally occupied the kingdom of Champa in southcentral Vietnam and their beautiful brick towers dot the landscape from Danang to Phan Rang. Victims of a historical squeeze between Cambodia and Vietnam, their territory was eventually annexed by the expansionist Vietnamese. Originally Hindu, they converted to Islam in the 16th and 17th centuries and many migrated south to Cambodia. Today there are small numbers of Cham in Vietnam and as many as half a million in Cambodia, all of whom continue to practise a flexible form of Islam. Over the centuries, there has been considerable intermarriage between Cham and Malay traders.

Hmong

Hmong peopleHmong people

The Hmong are one of the largest hill tribes in the Mekong region, spread through much of northern Laos, northern Vietnam, Thailand and Yúnnán.Hmong groups are usually classified by their colourful clothing, including Black Hmong, White Hmong, Red Hmong and so on. The brightest group is the Flower Hmong of northwest Vietnam, living in villages around Bac Ha. The Hmong are known for their embroidered indigo-dyed clothing and their ornate silver jewellery. There may be as many as one million Hmong in the Mekong region, half of them living in the mountains of Vietnam.

Jarai

The Jarai are the most populous minority in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, northeast Cambodia and southern Laos. Villages are often named for a nearby river, stream or tribal chief, and a nha-Rong (communal house) is usually found in the centre. Jarai women typically propose marriage to the men through a matchmaker, who delivers the prospective groom a copper bracelet. Animistic beliefs and rituals still abound, and the Jarai pay respect to their ancestors and nature through a host or yang (genie). The Jarai construct elaborate cemeteries for their dead, which include carved effigies of the deceased. These totems can be found in the forests around villages, but sadly many are being snapped up by culturally insensitive collectors.

Dzao

The Red DzaoThe Red Dzao

The Dzao (also known as Yao or Dao) are one of the largest and most colourful ethnic groups in Vietnam and are also found in Laos, Thailand and Yúnnán. The Dzao practise ancestor worship of spirits, or ban ho (no relation to Uncle Ho), and hold elaborate rituals with sacrifices of pigs and chickens. The Dzao are famous for their elaborate dress. Women’s clothing typically features intricate weaving and silver-coloured beads and coins – the wealth of a woman is said to be in the weight of the coins she carries. Their long flowing hair, shaved above the forehead, is tied up into a large red or embroidered turban, a sort of skinhead-meets-silk combination.

Source : lonelyplanet

Friday, December 10, 2010

Why travel Cambodia and Indochina

Refer to Telegraph, travelers wanting to head to this part of the world should not be deterred: the region’s newer, less well explored destinations – Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos – have an immense amount to offer – including breathtaking landscapes, timeless rivers (not least the Mekong), world-class ruins – and diverse minority tribes.

Why go
Cambodia

This is a country proud of its ancient beginnings but recovering from a dark, more recent past.

Around two million people a year come to visit the great Khmer temple complex at Angkor and the tourism industry has mushroomed to accommodate them. Hidden in the jungle are the majestic corncob towers and lily-pond moat of Angkor Wat, hundreds of smiling stone faces at Bayon, and romantic Ta Prohm, left as it was discovered, with moss-covered reliefs buckling under the stranglehold of overgrown trees.

Angkor WatAngkor Wat, Cambodia

A three-day pass costing $40 (£28) is advisable. Start with a guided tour, and then rent a bicycle or play at being royalty by riding an elephant from the south gate.

Phnom Penh is a city that is fast rejuvenating, with boutique shops and new bars springing up along the riverside. Sights include the Royal Palace, whose gilded pagodas are similar to those in Bangkok. For those wanting to understand the horrors endured under Pol Pot’s regime, the Tuol Sleng Museum and collection of bones at the Killing Fields offer a sobering lesson.

The Cambodian coastline hugs the wild Cardamom Mountains in the west and curls past down-at-heel Sihanoukville to the more appealing resort of Kep, close to the Vietnamese border. Both are jumping-off points for trips to unspoilt islands ringed with golden sand. Kep was once a wealthy retreat, and some of its villas have reopened as chic hotels. Foodies should try local seafood and Kampot pepper crab at the crab market – a row of shacks on the water’s edge.

Tip: Experience rural life on a slow boat across the Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in south-east Asia, passing bird-filled wetlands, rickety fishing boats and villagers waving excitedly from the shore.

Active Travel Cambodia (see above) offers a “Cambodia highlight” tour flying into Siem Reap from Singapore or Vietnam, taking in Angkor, Phnom Penh and Kep. 6 days from £515, depending on hotels, not including international flights.

For further information contact the Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism (www.mot.gov.kh).

Indochina's top must-see destinations

Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam offer some outstanding travel gems you may not have considered.

The past decade saw a tourism boom in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. High on everyone’s lists were destinations like Cambodia’s Angkor temples, Laos’s Plain of Jars, and Vietnam’s Hoi Anand Hue cities. Those sights are fantastic. By all means see them. But much of Indochina’s best still remains off the radar, while many old favorites have begun reinventing themselves since they were first thrust under the spotlight. Below are ten such places that should be on everyone’s must-see list for 2010.

A temple festival at 7th century Phnom Chhnok, East of Kampot.

Oozing French colonial charm, this scenic town nestled on the east bank of Kampot River is Cambodia’s most under-rated destination. If the crumbling French architecture, shady boulevards and riverfront dining aren't cause for love at first sight, visits to Kep beach resort, the ancient Funan Empire-era temple ruins or a hike in Bokor National Park will ensure you're permanently endeared to this Cambodian beauty spot.

A Bahnar communal lodge in Kon Tum, Vietnam.

Guidebooks send tourists to Vietnam’s far northern hill station of Sapa for hill-tribe encounters, long overlooking the architectural extremes of Kon Tum’s ethnic Bahnar suburbs. The provincial capital is surrounded by minority villages; their log homes with white-washed mud walls are raised on poles that encircle towering communal lodges called nha rong.

Phou Khao Khouay National Park, Laos

The development of national parks like Phou Khao Khouay are important for the survival of Muntjac deer, which are hunted for meat and their unusual horns.

Phou Khao Khouay, or ‘Buffalo Horn Mountain' Nature Reserve is Laos’s most accessible protected area, just 40km (25 miles) from Vietniane. Rounding out the attractions are wild elephant herds, Hmong village homestays and cascading waterfalls. The sandstone mountain range hides a further treasure-trove of biological diversity, including white-cheeked gibbons, clouded leopards and green pea-fowl.

Chau Doc, Vietnam

Mekong Delta, VietnamMekong Delta, Vietnam

The Mekong Delta town of Chau Doc sits like an island above endless rice-paddies, rivers, canals and flood-plains. Its atmospheric synthesis of Khmer, Muslim Cham, Vietnamese and French cultures is key to its charm. Take a ferry across the Bassac River to visit Cham villages; their wooden stilt houses decorated with little rooftop spires, crescent moons, and stars, or head to the Buddhist pilgrimage site of Sam Mountain for vast sunset views.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Phnom Penh, CambodiaPhnom Penh, Cambodia

Though the pain of genocide will take generations to heal, with the ongoing Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Phnom Penh is turning a new corner and taking leaps toward the future. No longer just a transportation hub between Bangkok, Siam Reap, and Ho Chi Minh City, Cambodia’s booming capital is now a entrepreneur’s playground and a fashionable destination for boutique hotels, international cuisine and trendy shops selling some of the region’s best silk.

Mui Ne Beach, Vietnam

It took a solar eclipse and 15 years to turn an isolated coconut grove into Vietnam’s top beach resort (Mui Ne was the preferred spot to observe the October 1995 eclipse). Though renowned for its kite-boarding, Saharan dunes and year-round sunbathing, the area’s cultural richness is yet unexploited by the tourism industry. Summer brings several fishermen’s whale-worship festivals, while the fall brings the Hindu Cham New Year and a Sorcerer’s festival.

Danang, Vietnam

Da Nang Beach, VietnamDa Nang Beach, Vietnam

Often overlooked for neighboring Hoi An, Vietnam’s third-largest city has quietly blossomed into an off-the-radar resort destination with intriguing attractions like the Museum of Cham Sculpture, Ba Na Hill Station and Monkey Mountain. Danang’s China Beach, namesake of the old ABC television series, now hosts the new Montgomerie Links golf course and the luxurious Furama Resort.

Luang Prabang, Laos

Yes, Luang Prabang has magnificent Buddhist temple architecture and the morning monk procession has erupted into one of Asia’s biggest, and at times circus-like, photo-opportunities. This cultural epicenter’s exalted perch on the banks of Mekong and Khan rivers, surrounded by mountains, doesn’t hurt the ambiance either. What is relatively new however are all the upscale spas, boutique hotels, great restaurants and the ever-expanding handicraft night market. This UNESCO World Heritage City is ground zero for the new Indochina Chic.

Quy Nhon, Vietnam

Warm, dry weather for most of the year, with deep blue skies and clear waters, makes the beach town of Quy Nhon a prime holiday destination. It’s also one of the country’s most archaeologically significant cities, with half a dozen ancient Cham temples and the Cha Ban Citadel ruins all within a few hours’ drive.

Jungle Beach, Vietnam

Nha Trang Beach, VietnamNha Trang Beach, Vietnam

Vietnam’s finest beach is hidden about an hour north of Nha Trang on a remote stretch of the Hon Khoi Peninsula. The boundaries of air and water are indistinct in the crystal sea, where night swimming with bioluminescent algae is on the regular activities list. The most intriguing views from this unique bamboo cabana homestay are the troupes of Black-shanked Douc Langurs, one of Indochina’s rarest primates.

Source: cnngo

Recommendation for travelling in Indochina with Activetravel Asia:
Activetravel Asia's Summer Promotion

Vietnam, Cambodia among World’s Top 30 Honeymoon Destinations

Once synonymous with war and genocide, Vietnam and Cambodia are coming into the second decade of the 21st Century as one of the world’s premier honeymoon hot spots.

Hoi An Beach, Quang Nam - VietnamHoi An Beach, Quang Nam - Vietnam

Virtuoso, a leading luxury travel network in the U.S., recently unveiled the 30 Top Honeymoons chosen by some of its most experienced honeymoon specialists. And Vietnam and Cambodiawere prominent on the list.

“We’re in the midst of a remarkable journey,” said Herbert Laubichler-Pichler, general manager of The Nam Hai in the central of Quang Nam province, one of the resorts featured in Virtuoso’s ‘Romantic Southeast Asia’ honeymoon promotion. “From all over the world, people are dropping into this region for a distinguished honeymoon.”

Honeymooners have been in the Caribbean or Greek and done that. Now, they’re raising the bar on their expectations.

In its current honeymoon campaign, Virtuoso looked to TheKnot.com, the No. 1 online wedding planning resource, to create an email and website promotion that will be viewed by millions of registered brides-to-be., the No. 1 online wedding planning resource, to create an email and website promotion that will be viewed by millions of registered brides-to-be.

Angkor Temples, Cambodia


The nine-night escape to Vietnam and Cambodia includes stays at The Nam Hai in Hoi An, Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi and Siem Reap’s Hotel de la Paix — three of the premier properties in Southeast Asia — for reasonable price per couple. Renowned regional tour operator, Trails of Indochina, takes care of the ground transportation.

The trip is arranged by TravelCorp International’s Luke Breaux, one of 24 featured Virtuoso honeymoon specialists. The U.S.-based consultant has 15 years experience arranging memorable itineraries for visitors to Southeast Asia.

“Vietnam and Cambodia possess a kind of cultural and exotic appeal that you can’t find anywhere else,” said Laubichler-Pichler. “Between its abundance of UNESCO World Heritage sites, dramatic beaches and world-class accommodation, the region has everything a couple could want.”

Situated on 35 hectares of landscaped tropical gardens, The Nam Hai is an all-villa property managed by GHM and featuring 60 one-bedroom villas and 40 pool villas ranging from one to five bedrooms, each with its own infinity pool.

Opened in 1901, Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi reigns as the Grande Dame of Vietnamese hospitality and one of Southeast Asia’s most iconic hotels. In 2009, the hotel became the first in the Sofitel portfolio to acquire Accor’s Legend brand distinction.

Located in the heart of Siem Reap, close to the cultural and historic heart of Cambodia, Hotel de la Paix is a luxury boutique hotel within easy reach of colorful markets, vibrant nightlife and the breathtaking complexes of Angkor Wat, often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world.

Source: Vietnambusiness

Suggestions for traveling:
Hoi An – Quang Nam
Angkor Wat Highlights

Two months in Southeast Asia - Travel Vietnam, Laos, Thailand

Since my second backpacking trip through Europe, I wanted to journey to Southeast Asia.

I chose to visit Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, and developed a loose itinerary, starting in Bangkok, Thailand.

Halong Bay, VietnamHaLong Bay, Vietnam

Bangkok was everything I expected. The number of people everywhere was staggering, but before long I got used to the crowds, the heat and the food.

I visited many temples and shops, including the Grand Palace and the famed Khao San Road. The Grand Palace was amazing. Inside there were countless statues of Buddha. To my disappointment, Khao San was the typical tourist trap, with vendors selling T-shirts and bootlegged CDs.

After a few days I headed to Phuket, where I played beach bum for a few more days before flying to Saigon, Vietnam.

Scooting around Vietnam

Now, that was exactly what I pictured an Asian city to be - scooters everywhere! Crossing the street in Bangkok was like crossing a street in Des Moines compared to trying to cross the street in a Vietnamese city. The first time in Saigon was a big leap of faith. The trick is to just walk and keep your head turned to oncoming traffic.

I spent three weeks in Vietnam traveling from south to north. The highlights were eating the food in Hoi An, enjoying Hanoi’s famed Bia Hoi beer gardens and eating snake, and seeing the rock karsts of Halong Bay.

I had many choices of border crossings into Laos from Vietnam but I chose the crossing near Vinh in central Vietnam. This meant that I had an eight-hour bus ride from Hanoi to Vinh followed by a 14-hour bus ride to Phonsavan, Laos.

Phonsavan is famous for its “Plain of Jars” fields. These are fields of stone jars, each about 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide, scattered everywhere. Other jars are scattered in jungles surrounding Phonsavan.

Floating through Laos

After a day in Phonsavan I headed to Luang Prabang for a few days and then to Vang Vieng. My time in Vang Vieng was some of the best. There I went on a two-day trek that included hiking over mountains, spelunking through caves and kayaking the Nam Song River that runs through the town. The town has become a hotbed for young tourists who tube down the river. The river has a number of bars along its banks. Some have zip lines, bungee jumps and slides for the patrons to enjoy and all blare techno music.

Cambodia was the biggest surprise of the trip because I knew the least about it. The biggest draw to Cambodia is Siem Reap where Angkor Wat is located. Many people go only to see Angkor Wat but there are many more temples around Siem Reap and Cambodia. I felt like I was on another planet when I went to Angkor Wat to watch the sun rise over the temple.

I spent two months in Southeast Asia and there are still parts I didn’t see. I enjoyed every minute. Many people ask if I felt safe. I did.

ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA organized Cambodia Tour like “James Bond film”

Travelers become the commandos with a mission to release the British Journalist in deep jungle of Cambodia who are searching a treasure and kidnapped by some Khmer rouge Soldiers. The commandos fly in on helicopter from Bangkok, Thailand and land and walk through jungle in Cambodia, crossing stream, abseiling big rock at night to reach the ruin.

The ruin in the deep jungleThe ruin in the deep jungle, Cambodia

In the ruin of a 1000-year old temple hidden in deep jungle of Phnom Kuleane Mountain, 70 km from Siem Reap, Cambodia, a British journalist is captured and tortured badly by some Khmer rouge soldiers. The journalist has a mission of searching for a treasure that is believed to keep a great power which can open the door to future and could change the future of the world. The journalist has the coordinates where the treasure is hidden and he was kidnapped when he arrived in Siem Reap. The Khmer rouge soldiers base in the jungle of Phnom Kuleane and is also looking for the treasure in order to get back their power. They are informed about the journalist’s journey by their secret agent. And that happen… a team of commandos is sent to the Phnom Kuleane to free the journalist and help him to complete his mission. The commandos fly in on helicopter and land 9 km from the ruin, they walk through jungle, crossing stream, abseiling big rock to reach the ruin. They camp 1 km near the ruin under a big tree and sleep in hammocks. After settling and eating the commandos quietly approach the ruin, they used night vision to locate all the positions and plan for the attack the next day.

The commandos are ready for the rescueThe commandos are ready for the rescue

Next morning, while the Khmer rough soldiers gather for breakfast, the commandos launch the attack and quickly rescue the hostage. They escape into the jungle again and head to the treasure location. The reach the treasure location by 5 pm the same day and successfully find it. They camp the second night in jungle. The next day they find their way back to Siem Reap… the mission completed.

The hammock which they sleptThe hammock which they slept

That is not a script of a Hollywood movie though it happened exactly as it is described above. This is a tour organized by ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA ( ATA) for its client, a security service firm from UK. The tour was greatly successful and everybody who involved in playing it or organizing it enjoyed it so much. It was extreme and fun the first 2 days of the tour and relaxing on the last day with a sightseeing tour of Angkor Wat, a fancy dining in the luxurious Grand D’angkor Hotel and an interesting night-life exploration of Siem Reap.

A hostage is capturedA hostage is captured

And the guns in the battleAnd the guns in the battle

This is the first one of this sort organized in Cambodia and ATA is planning to promote this sort of tour (game) in 2011. See below the rough some photos and behind the scene video of the tour. The complete video version will be updated soon.

By ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Angkor Tops List of 'Most Recommended' World Heritage Sites

BY: MTCO COMMUNICATIONS

A recent UNESCO / Trip advisor Survey reveals Angkor is the most recommended World Heritage site by a quarter millions travellers worldwide and that 72% would do more to help heritage conservation if they knew how.

Cambodia tours

TripAdvisor revealed the results to date of the biggest analysis ever conducted of UNESCO's World Heritage sites around the world.

The two year partnership between TripAdvisor, and UNESCO's World Heritage Centre launched in October 2009 to raise awareness of and gain travellers' support to preserve natural and cultural sites inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage list. Within the partnership, TripAdvisor will also donate up to $1.5 million (USD) of support to the World Heritage Centre to help monitor the conservation of the world's most important cultural and historic sites.

Via on-site and email campaigns, TripAdvisor has, to date, collected nearly a quarter of a million (244,690) feedback submissions from travellers who have visited 789 of UNESCO's recently expanded list of 911 World Heritage sites. The results provide a unique insight into the views and recommendations of travellers themselves. As part of the partnership, TripAdvisor shares the feedback to the World Heritage Centre so that it may better engage UNESCO member states in matters of site conservation.

TripAdvisor travellers have given the nod to Angkor, Cambodia as the number one recommended UNESCO site to visit in the world, describing it as amongst other quotes, "Absolutely breathtaking" and "One of the wonders of the world." The second and third most recommended World Heritage sites are both in Italy and are respectively the Historic Center of Rome, the properties of the Holy See, and the Historic Centre of Florence.

The TripAdvisor travellers' feedback also highlights those World Heritage sites they consider need the most attention. At the top of UNESCO's sites in 'Worst Condition' comes the Kasbah of Algiers in Algeria, described as a "crumbling site". The site includes remains of old mosques, Ottoman-style palaces and traditional urban structures.

Because countries often hope to draw additional tourism following the inscription of their sites onto the WH List, traveller feedback from TripAdvisor can help them address some of the issues raised and improve tourism to their sites.

TripAdvisor is encouraging the contribution of reviews and opinions from its large and passionate community of millions of members to provide much needed information about the condition of World Heritage sites so they may be better protected. In order to compile traveler feedback on nearly 900 World Heritage sites across the globe, UNESCO's World Heritage Centre invited TripAdvisor, via its millions of members and technological expertise, to provide traveler insights and support to the Centre.

As part of the two-year campaign, TripAdvisor has also pledged to donate up to $1.5 million U.S. of support, including a cash donation that will be allocated to UNESCO World Heritage initiatives. Travelers can learn more about how to help at www.tripadvisor.com/worldheritage.

According to TripAdvisor travellers, the "Top Ten" most recommended sites are:


2). Historic Center of Rome, the Properties of the Holy See, Italy

3). Historic Center of Florence, Italy

4). Historic Areas of Istanbul, Turkey

5). Old and New Towns of Edinburgh, Scotland

6). Historic Center of Prague, Czech Republic

7). Venice and its Lagoon, Venezia, Italy

8). Works of Antoni Gaudí, Barcelona, Spain

9). Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey and Saint Margaret's Cathedral, London, England

10). Historic Center of Vienna, Austria