Burma’s Air Bagan, which takes its name from the famed Burmese archaeological site and temples, may soon begin flying directly to Siem Reap, connecting two of Southeast Asia’s greatest ancient sites, officials said.
Burmese representatives from Air Bagan recently met with Cambodian civil aviation officials, and a memorandum of understanding was sent to Burma three weeks ago, Him Sarun, cabinet chief of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said last week.
“Air Bagan will open a route to Siem Reap, but I don’t exactly know the start date,” Him Sarun said, adding that Air Bagan plans to start with chartered flights from Rangoon before offering regular commercial flights.
China’s Xinhua news agency also reported last week that the company intends to fly between Siem Reap and Bagan.
Burmese Embassy officials said they had no knowledge of the plans when contacted on Friday.
Spread across a vast plain that provides spectacular views, Bagan’s temples are considered to be on a par with Angkor.
Last year, Korean Air had signed an MOU with the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation allowing for direct flights between Seoul and Siem Reap, said Him Sarun. The company was following the lead of Korea’s Asiana Airlines, which began direct commercial flights from Korea to Siem Reap in April 2005.
Newly-appointed South Korean Ambassador Shin Hyun-suk met recently with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng to discuss the direct flights, Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Friday.
After five years of explosive growth in the number of Korean visitors, Korean tourists in 2004 edged out the Japanese to top the list of nationals from a foreign country visiting the country.
Cambodia’s waterways are also opening up to increased regional travel, with a Vietnamese company now offering daily high-speed boat service from Phnom Penh to the Vietnamese city Can Tho. The boats will depart twice a day on round trips between Phnom Penh and Can Tho, taking approximately seven hours to complete each journey, the Nhan Dan newspaper reported Friday.