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Cambodian temples may open at night

CAMBODIA is considering opening the famed Angkor Wat temples at night to draw more tourists to the impoverished country, an official at the archaeological site said yesterday.

Similar night tourism efforts have been introduced at other sites in Southeast Asia.

Cambodia has already installed some lights at the network of centuries-old temples, said Bun Narith, who leads the agency responsible for managing the Angkor park.

Tourism is a major foreign currency earner for cash-strapped Cambodia. More than a million foreign tourists are expected to visit this year, with the most coming from South Korea, Japan and the United States.

More than half of the tourists arriving in Cambodia visit Angkor Wat, making the temples by far the country's biggest draw.

Visitors are currently ushered out of Angkor at sunset, but authorities are considering extending visiting hours to as late as 8:30pm.

"We want tourists to see all views of the temple, even in the dark places where they may have not have seen some of the sculptures and statues," Bun said.

But conservationists have long expressed concerns about tourism's impact on Angkor.

They say the uncontrolled pumping of underground water to meet the rising demand of hotels and residents in the nearby town of Siem Reap may be destabilizing the earth beneath the temples.

Angkor is about 230 kilometers northwest of the capital Phnom Penh.


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