Cambodia and Laos - Feb 2016

The more detailed itinerary is here, but the outline of our journey is below, with links to each of our stopping places:-


Siam Reap- Sala Lodge Hotel

Battambang - Bambu Hotel

Preah Vihear - Boutique Hotel

Don Khone - Sala Done Khone Hotel

Champasak - River Resort Hotel

Pakse - Le Bouton d'Or Hotel

Thakek - Athena Hotel

Kong Lor Cave Hinboun - Sala Hinboun Auberge

Phonsavan - Vasana Plain of Jars Hotel

Sam Neua - Xayphasouk Hotel

Nam Et Nat Park - Nam Et Jungle Lodge

Nong Khiaw - Nong Khiaw Riverside

Muang La - Muang La Resort

Pakbeng - Sanctuary Pakbeng Lodge

Luang Prabang - Apsara River Droit



Cambodia, a country of 15 million people, gained independence in 1953. The Vietnam War spilled over into the country with the US bombing of Cambodia from 1969 until 1973.

Following the Cambodian coup of 1970, the deposed king gave his support to his former enemies, the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge emerged as a major power, taking Phnom Penh in 1975 and later carrying out the Cambodian Genocide from 1975 until 1979, when they were ousted by Vietnam and the Vietnamese backed People's Republic of Kampuchea in the Cambodian–Vietnamese War (1979–91).

The Killing Fields are a number of sites in Cambodia where collectively more than a million people were killed and buried by the Communist Khmer Rouge regime, during its rule of the country from 1975 to 1979. Analysis of 20,000 mass grave sites by the DC-Cam Mapping Program and Yale University indicate at least 1,386,734 victims of execution. Estimates of the total number of deaths resulting from Khmer Rouge policies, including disease and starvation, range from 1.7 to 2.5 million out of a 1975 population of roughly 8 million.

In a scale of mass murder that is virtually incomprehensible, the Khmer Rouge regime arrested and executed almost everyone suspected of connections with the former government or with foreign governments, as well as professionals and intellectuals. Ethnic Vietnamese, ethnic Thai, ethnic Chinese, ethnic Cham, Cambodian Christians, and the Buddhist monkhood were the demographic targets of persecution. Pol Pot has been described as "a genocidal tyrant."

Following the 1991 Paris Peace Accords Cambodia was governed briefly by a United Nations mission (1992–93). The UN withdrew after holding elections in which around 90 percent of the registered voters cast ballots. The 1997 coup placed power solely in the hands of Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Cambodian People's Party, who remain in power as of 2016.

Cambodia has been described by Human Rights Watch's Southeast Asian Director, David Roberts, as a "vaguely communist free-market state with a relatively authoritarian coalition ruling over a superficial democracy."



Laos is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Myanmar (Burma) and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, and Thailand to the west. Since 1975, it has been ruled by a Marxist and communist government. Its population was estimated to be around 6.8 million in 2014

Laos traces its history to the kingdom of Lan Xang, which existed from the 14th to the 18th century when it split into three kingdoms. In 1893, it became a French protectorate, with the three kingdoms—Luang Phrabang, Vientiane and Champasak — uniting to form what is now known as Laos.

It briefly gained independence in 1945 after Japanese occupation, but returned to French rule until it was granted autonomy in 1949.

Laos became independent in 1953, with a constitutional monarchy under Sisavang Vong. Shortly after independence, a long civil war ensued. In 1968 the North Vietnamese Army launched a multi-division attack to help the Pathet Lao to fight the Royal Lao Army. The attack resulted in the army largely demobilising, leaving the conflict to irregular ethnic Hmong forces of the "U.S. Secret Army" backed by the United States and Thailand, and led by General Vang Pao. Massive aerial bombardment against the Pathet Lao and invading Vietnam forces were carried out by the United States to prevent the collapse of the Royal Laos government, and to deny the use of the Ho Chi Minh Trail to attack US forces in South Vietnam. Between 1964 and 1973, US bombing raids made Laos the "most heavily bombed country on earth," where American aircraft dropped around 2 million tons of bombs.Much UXO remains in the form of unexploded cluster bombs from the Americans and land mines from their own Lao armies.

The war in the 1960s is complicated by the number of armies involved, Royalist Lao, Neutral Lao, Hmong army under Vang Pao, Pathet Communist Lao, Vietnamese and Americans (the American Secret War was conducted from a large secret base at Long Cheng I would recommend The Ravens to anyone, the book covers

In 1975 the Pathet Lao, along with the Vietnam Army, and backed by the Soviet Union, overthrew the royalist Lao government, forcing King Savang Vatthana to abdicate on 2 December 1975. He later died in prison.

Laos is today a one-party socialist republic. It espouses Marxism and is governed by a single party communist politburo dominated by military generals. Vietnam continues to have significant influence in Laos.

The official language is Lao. Laos is a multi-ethnic country with the politically and culturally dominant Lao people making up approximately 60% of the population, mostly in the lowlands. Mon-Khmer groups, the Hmong, and other indigenous hill tribes, accounting for 40% of the population, live in the foothills and mountains.

According to the anti-corruption non-governmental organisation Transparency International, Laos remains one of the most corrupt countries in the world. This has deterred foreign investment and created major problems with the rule of law, including the nation's ability to enforce contract and business regulation. This has contributed to a third of the population of Laos currently living below the international poverty line (living on less than US$1.25 per day), one of the lowest annual incomes in the world.


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