An ‘enchanting’ journey through Laos and Cambodia

From Buddhist temples to mine-clearing rats and a range of arts, Cambodia and Laos have plenty to keep adventurous travellers busy.

Most visitors to Cambodia head for the temple complex at Angkor Wat in the north-west, staying in Siem Reap, the modern city that has grown up nearby. The first thing that struck me about Siem Reap was how there are virtually no traffic lights and yet the traffic flows smoothly in all directions.

I stayed at Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor, set among lush tropical gardens with a saltwater swimming pool at its centre. Belmond has teamed up with Cox & Kings to create a tour of Cambodia and Laos which focuses on arts and crafts.

Following breakfast on day one of my visit, I rode pillion on a Vespa scooter for a tour into the countryside. Our first stop, however, was inside the city, at the Apopo information centre. Apopo Mine Action Cambodia is an NGO which engages in mine clearance. Between 1975 and 1988, millions of mines were planted on both sides of the borders with Vietnam and Thailand, where they have claimed the lives of cattle and water buffalo as well as human victims.

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