The Cambodian Ministry of Tourism recently laid out a target of at least one million foreign tourist arrivals in 2022, prioritizing the main tourist markets in ASEAN, Southeast Asia, USA, France and the UK. This projection was developed based on performance during the first four months of the year, which saw the Kingdom receiving a recorded 241,485 tourists and five million domestic tourists, increasing by 191 percent and 161 percent, respectively.
Cambodia is now fully open to foreign travelers although there are still quarantine requirements for travelers who are not fully vaccinated. This border relaxation is a boost to Cambodia’s tourism industry which represents a large share – at over 12 percent – of GDP. COVID-19 saw international travel numbers decrease by 80% from 6.6 million visitors to 1.3 million in 2020.
Recently, Cambodia hosted a roadshow in the Philippines where the Ministry of Tourism underscored new COVID-19 health and safety protocols as well as Cambodia’s recovery program as the country ramps up its inbound arrivals of international tourists for leisure, business and MICE travel. The Kingdom of Cambodia has invested in new tourism developments in the last few months especially in the Southern Coastal Zone including the provinces of Kep, Kampot, Koh Kong and Sihanoukville. Cambodia has developed new experiences for travelers, providing more natural sites, foodie havens, and historical sites for travelers looking to spend 4-7 days exploring.
At Asia Bespoke Tours, luxury Southeast Asian destination management company (DMC), we are excited about these prospects and to continue to be the leading Cambodian DMC focusing on luxury experiences. Based on our expertise, here are four “gems’ of Cambodia to look forward to when traveling to Cambodia in 2022:
Cambodia’s hidden gem is its national parks. They are unique, beautiful and attract travelers looking for an exciting outdoor experience. During 2021, nature tourism to Asia increased in demand, and Cambodia has beautiful parks with the ability to attract these travelers. For example, sprawling 4104 sq km (1584 sq miles), Southern Cardamom National Park is the largest natural “protected area” in Cambodia. It forms the Cardamom Rainforest Landscape, which includes 11 contiguous reserves covering more than 20,000 sq km of green forest.
Other national parks that have incredible wilderness, nature and wildlife include Phnom Kulen National Park near Siem Reap, Bokor National Park near Kampot, and Kep National Park near Kep. Many Cambodians have taken the opportunity to get back to nature during the COVID-19 pandemic, and trekking and camping in the national parks have really taken off, particularly in Kirirom National Park and the Cardamom Mountains.
One of Cambodia’s smallest protected areas, Kep National Park, is situated in the seaside town in the Coastal Zone of Cambodia – Kep. This offers easy access to nature. In addition, the Kep National Park is in the popular seaside town of the same name, offering easy access to nature. The park includes a bike trail, hiking trail and the Veranda Natural Resort. In addition, the “Stairway to Heaven” trail has beautiful views and attractions.
Most travelers that come to Cambodia know about Koh Rong, the beautiful island off the Cambodian coast which is very popular with visitors. However, few know that Cambodia has hidden islands that are tucked away behind towns. These are gems that are not in any main guidebook but these are the journeys that we focus on at Asia Bespoke Tours, luxury DMC. For example, Rabbit Island in Cambodia is a remote and gorgeous island behind the Coastal town Kep. Rabbit Island is peaceful during the day with remote areas where visitors can relax and unwind, and at night, the island enlivens with fun restaurants and bars sprawled across the naturally beautiful land. Rabbit Island can be reached via two and a half hour boat ride from Sihanoukville.
Lesser Crowded Temples:
The Angkor Wat is a very famous attraction in Siem Reap and is a landmark in Southeast Asia. There are Angkor temples that are more hidden and off the beaten track. Banteay Chhmar, for example, is two hours from Siem Reap but surrounded by jungle and natural beauty. Few know that it is the fourth largest Angkorian temple in Cambodia, providing the perfect balance between history, architecture, natural beauty and remoteness. Many travelers that have witnessed Banteay Chhmar have spoken about the remoteness and lack of crowds of people. Many even had the area for themselves! There is no lodging or dining in the area so most make it a day trip from Siem Reap. The temple complex is surrounded by a moat. 12 Km away is Prasat Samnang tasok, another temple which is embedded in the jungle as well. This is a must-see attraction that we often include in our destination tours of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
According toForbes, the wellness tourism sector has bounced back in 2022 as the world re-opens. After falling quite significantly between 2019 and 2020, the trends of wellness, spas, exercise, outdoor therapy, and other forms of health-based tourism are increasing in demand around the world. Cambodia has invested time and capital in responding to that demand with new resorts. One of these resorts is the Anantara Angkor Resort, which launched “Cambodian Wellness Experiences.” Situated in main city Siem Reap, Anantara Angkor Resort has revolutionized the wellness tourism industry in Cambodia by launching a new range of wellness retreats based on local Khmer healing principles. The Resort offers seven wellness programs, each handpicked to represent seven distinct pillars including Sati (Mindfulness), Dhamma Vijaya (Investigation), Virya (Energy), Piti (Rapture), Passadhi (Tranquility), Samadhi (Concentration), and Upekkha (Equanimity). Retreats can be for one day up to seven days. Each program suits the specific traveler’s behaviors, moods, preferences, and activity levels and is the perfect experience to make a visit to Siem Reap more unique. The wellness treatments include floral foot rituals, Chi Nei Tsang massages, Himalayan pink salt scrubs, Golden Cocoon silk facials, Tibetan praying wheel meditations, incense stick making and many others.