Prak Vanthirith on Cambodia’s ‘Luxury Revolution’

Cambodia has long been considered one of South-east Asia’s budget destinations, perhaps better suited to the intrepid backpacker than the traveler accustomed to cozy towels and cocktails on the beach. However, things are changing; the new wave of Cambodian luxury is set to make a big splash upon the tourism scene in South East Asia. ASIA DMC’s Cambodia Country Manager – Mr. Prak Vanthirith shared the reasons why Cambodia is considered an up-and-coming luxury destination. 

Q: Why should Cambodia be considered an up-and-coming luxury destination?

A: In the past decade, Cambodia has seen the development of high end solutions for luxury travellers with the apparition of big hotels and resort brands such as six senses or Aman, private resorts such as Song Saa Private Island, new and charming hotels like The Plantation and of course historical, legendary hotels such as The Raffles in Siem Reap and in Phnom Penh. All of which play a part in the ‘luxury revolution’ causing ripples throughout the destination.

In addition to high end accommodation, developments have sprung up to cater for all different styles of travellers, there are numerous luxury experiences for travelers including Golf courses (Sofitel Phokeethra Country Club and Angkor Golf Resort), helicopter tours in Siem Reap and luxury cruises on the Mekong to Vietnam.

Q: Until recently, Cambodia was known as a backpacker’s haven, what has caused the rise of luxury tourism?

A: The stability of our political system and the growing number of travelers to the region who could relay information to their friends and famlily has helped put a stop to the idea that Cambodia was exclusively for backpackers. Consequently, Cambodia has rapidly become a desirable destination for airlines and international hotel chains. The incredible heritage from ancient Khmer kingdoms, recognized by UNESCO, contributes to make this destination attractive for all and the offer of luxury solutions follows the demand.

Q: Where would somebody seeking a luxury getaway go in Cambodia, and what could they expect?

A: There is a wide range of activities and experiences in Cambodia for different kinds of travellers, from classic luxury to experiential travel, Cambodia has it all. It is a destination where “tailor-made” takes its full meaning as it's possible to create a trip with soft adventure, cultural exploration, beach and island getaways, helicopter transfers and more. We are able to fully meet the needs of the client, at ASIA DMC, we tailor our tours to deliver what our partners expect from us on a regular basis and that is, for me, the definition of true luxury.

Q: What can Cambodia offer as a luxury destination that other places cannot?

A: I would say that Cambodia offers a budget price for high-end luxury services compared to other destinations. Even other luxury destinations within South East Asia have seen a rapid increase in price in recent years, but because Cambodia has only recently emerged as a key luxury destination, we are able to deliver high quality experiences on a budget.

Q: What are the government/tourism authorities in Cambodia doing to promote/develop the destination as luxury?

A: The government and tourism authorities in Cambodia take actions by improving tourism infrastructure on land and develop air travel possibilities in order to facilitate a full exploration of the country. The presence of the Cambodia Tourism Board in all major tradeshows around the world is also a good example of the investment in marketing to spread knowledge about the country and promote its destinations. The government is also taking strides to advertise activities and locations outside of the iconic Angkor Wat complex, travelers often include the Angkor Wat as part of a multi-country tour, but this means they miss out on the opportunity to experience the rest of Cambodia.

Q: What is your recommended luxury destination in Cambodia?

 A: In my opinion, there are 2 must-visit destinations for luxury travelers. The first would be Siem Reap to visit Angkor Wat, the largest and best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre, originally for Hindu’s and then Buddhist’s, since its foundation. The second would be Sihanoukville to relax on one of the nicest beaches in the world and enjoy fresh seafood straight from the ocean, cool drinks and stunning sunsets.

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