Cambodia aims to vent some tourist pressure through designated routes.

There was a brief mention about new designated tourists routes in Angkor Wat earlier, and this article provides more information about the proposed tourist routes. Cambodian tourism has always had the problem of having too many visitors, which is causing the temples a lot of stress as even Siem Reap town struggles to keep up with the tourist bandwidth. Visitors to Angkor may soon have to follow designated circuit routes, designed to stave attention off Angkor Wat and bring tourists to the other temples in Angkor.

17 October 2007 (TravelVideo.TV) – There was a brief mention about new designated tourists routes in Angkor Wat earlier, and this article provides more information about the proposed tourist routes. Cambodian tourism has always had the problem of having too many visitors, which is causing the temples a lot of stress as even Siem Reap town struggles to keep up with the tourist bandwidth. Visitors to Angkor may soon have to follow designated circuit routes, designed to stave attention off Angkor Wat and bring tourists to the other temples in Angkor.

Incidentally, there are already two circuit routes in Angkor, the Grand Circuit and the Minor Circuit, which take either an eastward or westward circular route around the temples. These routes are still rather long and I don’t think they can be done in a day. What I’d really like to see is smaller, thematic routes through Angkor, organised by period or ruler, that would give the Angkor tourists a chance to appreciate the Khmer temples even more. So maybe a Bayon-style route, or a Indravarman route, which would give tourists a reason to come back.

Angkor Wat

New tourist route could be answer to Cambodia’s Angkor Wat woes
by Stéphane Hanot

As tourism in Angkor Wat continues to grow unabated, a new tourist route could alleviate some of the tourist pressure. For many years now, the Cambodian government has been looking for solutions to take some of the pressure out of the site. As the first seven months of 2007 brought 442,000 visitors to Siem Reap International Airport, a growth of 38 percent, Angkor Wat is poised to continue to take a beating from the hordes of tourists that visit the world heritage site.


The Apsara Authority, which manages the Angkor Wat complex, recently introduced new paths with tourists taking different routes to enter and exit the temple.

The objective now is to make certain that tourists do not flock to the site at the same time. The idea is to create circuits around Angkor Wat to spread the number of visitors and take some of the pressure faced by Angkor top attractions.

“As France and Japan are sharing the presidency of the Permanent Secretary for the International Coordinating Committee for the Preservation and Development of the Historical Site of Angkor under the UNESCO, we work closely with Cambodian authorities to find the best solutions to accommodate tourism requirements,” explained Jean-François Desmazieres, French Ambassador in Cambodia. “The target is not to kill the hen with the golden eggs but at the same to preserve the authenticity of Angkor.”

Even if the committee plays only a consultative role, it has been able to avoid the development of the most incredible projects such as a subway to the temples.

According to the Ambassador Desmazieres, Angkor Wat can indeed accommodate a fairly high number of tourists every day. “During the time of Khmer Kings, they were already thousand of visitors per day to Angkor Wat temples,” he said.

The committee has also been working with Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism for the creation of new tourist sightseeing such as traditional handicraft or silk producing villages. The most ambitious project is the development of a new tourist road, which would link Angkor Wat to the spectacular Preah Vihear temple, via the old city of Koh Ker where many temples can still be visited. Discussions will take place about tourism development from October 26 to 28, when the Coordinating Committee meets.

In another development, Cambodia’s tourism minister recently signed a joint declaration with tourism ministers from Laos and Vietnam on trilateral cooperation at the meeting in Ho Chi Minh City. The ministers agreed to encourage their national tourism agencies to boost exchange of information and experiences in tourism development and promotion. They also agreed to jointly hold and attend tourism events and tours and cooperate in personnel training.

According to published reports, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, under the “three countries – one destination” scheme, will implement measures to boost tourism and cultural activities as well as encourage public-private partnerships with regard to tourism development.


Books about Angkor:
Angkor Cities and Temples by C. Jaques
Ancient Angkor (River Book Guides) by C. Jaques
The Treasures of Angkor: Cultural Travel Guide (Rizzoli Art Guide) by M. Albanese
Angkor: Cambodia’s Wondrous Khmer Temples, Fifth Edition by D. Rooney and P. Danford
Angkor: A Tour of the Monuments by T. Zephir and L. Invernizzi
Angkor: Celestial Temples of the Khmer by J. Ortner et al
Check out the SEAArch bookstore for more books about Southeast Asian Archaeology.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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