Horses Are Newest Tourist Attraction at Angkor

Since the 1990s, elephants have been a familiar sight at Ang­kor, majestically carrying visitors along the tree-lined roads or up to Phnom Bakheng temple at sunset.

Last month, horses made their ap­pearance.

Pha Hee Travel has brought horse carts to the park, charging $1 per foreign visitor and $0.50 per Cambodian visitor, to go from one temple to the next.

Apsara Authority—the government agency managing the Ang­kor Archeological Park—author­ized the agency to offer horse-cart rides last June. It took months to set up so that the service could start last month, said Voeun Nikola, the travel agency’s executive director.

And it’s quickly catching on—in the last three days, about 300 people rode in the carts, he said. Tourists, especially those from Korea, enjoy riding at their slow pace, Voeun Nikola added.

“Tourists have requested riding from their hotels to the temples but we can’t do it—we’re too worried about traffic,” he said of the busy roads between Siem Reap and Angkor.

“Any service that does not produce pollution in the park is welcome,” said Tep Henn, deputy di­rec­tor general of Apsara Authority which, as of April, will prohibit bus­es of more than 24 seats in the park in order to reduce pollution.

In his opinion, there is nothing wrong with allowing a private com­pany to operate elephant, horse-cart or bicycle services be­cause such modes of transportation help protect the environment.

There is, however, the matter of manure that horses and elephants will not fail to produce, said Tep Henn. “I think that companies must hire people to clean up after the animals, otherwise it will affect the environment,” he said.

Pha Hee Travel puts bags in each horse cart to store manure drop­ped on the road, Voeun Ni­kola said.

The travel agency invested nearly $10,000 to purchase Cambodian horses and equip 10 carts, he said. Plans are to have up to 100 horse carts in service within a year, said Voeun Nikola.






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