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Overview

Indulge in the best that Cambodia has to offer. Meet talented local artisans, discover ancient heritage buildings, feast on incredible cuisine and explore untouched natural wonders. Spend days immersed in the country’s rich culture and evenings relaxing at the finest hotels.

Trip Highlights

Cambodia Culture & Cuisine

Itinerary

1

Arrival Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh Airport - Phnom Penh (11 km): 20 mins

Welcome to this comprehensive 9 day tour through Cambodian culture and cuisine! An English speaking guide will be waiting at Phnom Penh Airport for a welcome greeting on your morning arrival, followed by a hotel transfer in the city.

Phnom Penh was once considered one of the most beautiful cities in the Orient. Despite its recent turbulent history, it still retains much of its former colonial charm. Cambodia’s capital is a bustling city, majestically located at the confluence of the mighty rivers of the Mekong and Tonlé Sap. Wide tree-lined boulevards and many colonial-era buildings reflect the glorious days and add to the allure of the city, where Asian and Western traditions meet in a fascinating way.

This afternoon, depart on a Khmer Architecture walking and car tour that will take enable a fascinating discovery of Cambodian architecture from both the colonial times and the late 1950s and 1960s, both a culturally and politically vibrant time. During that era, an en vogue ‘New Khmer Architecture’ was emerging uniquely focused on integrating an international style while still being aware of local traditions, materials, and climate.

This evening, indulge in a delicious Welcome Dinner at Malis Restaurant, one of Phnom Penh’s top venues for authentic Khmer cuisine.

Overnight at Raffles Le Royal, Phnom Penh.

2

Phnom Penh

Spend the morning exploring the local market and learning about Khmer cuisine. While not as well-known as the neighbouring countries’ cuisines, Cambodia has a great variety of national dishes with many stories to be explained by the guide. Pick up begins from the hotel in a traditional cyclo- an authentic and unique means of traveling to the market. Walk through the aisles as the guide explains the different fruits, herbs, and vegetables and how they are used in Khmer cuisine, sampling local fruits along the way.

The walking tour will last about 2 hours before continuing to a local restaurant which uses many of the ingredients seen at the market. Various dishes come ready cooked; French-style baguettes (num pang) and the tasty nom banh chok can be ordered. This tour is ideal for foodies and lovers of local, non-touristy experiences.

In the afternoon, visit the most remarkable sights Phnom Penh has to offer. First, head to the National Museum, which houses the world's foremost collection of ancient Khmer artistic, archaeological, and religious artefacts from the 4th to the 13th centuries. Over 5,000 pieces are on display, constituting the repository of the Kingdom's cultural wealth. In addition, the roof space is home to a large bat colony!

Continue along the lively riverfront to the Royal Palace. This palace dates back to 1866 and houses the Silver Pagoda, named for the over 5000 heavy silver tiles that cover its floors. Its original name is Wat Prakeo, meaning Temple of the Emerald Buddha. In this temple there is also a brilliant collection of Buddhas in gold, silver, crystal, and bronze on display.

This evening, get picked by ramork, a Cambodian tuktuk, for a night to remember. On this Phnom Penh night tour, there is the chance to experience Cambodian cuisine, delicious cocktails, and local beer, while experiencing the unique nightlife that this vibrant capital city has to offer.

Start off the night at a chic riverside bar for cocktails, get to know your tour guide, and kick off an evening of dining and exploring Phnom Penh. After cocktails, hop back into the ramork and join the locals in the bustling street traffic.

The next stop is a popular local restaurant with a charming atmosphere and welcoming Khmer hospitality. Try some delectable local cuisine, including lemongrass chicken and eggplant with pork, sharing the dishes Khmer style with a beer or soft drink.

After enjoying your meal, hop back in the ramork and visit a fresh market where locals pick up their groceries for the following day’s meals. Before walking through the market, stop at a shop selling herb-infused rice whiskey. There are several varieties, each of which offers a different medicinal remedy.

Along the way to your elegant after-dinner cocktail venue, ride past some of the famous sights of French-colonial Phnom Penh and stop at a beautiful monument for a brief story about the history of the city. Next up: drinks at one of Cambodia’s most legendary watering holes. (Note: while there is no dress code, you may feel more comfortable wearing a smart-casual top over a singlet/tank-top)

Zoom through the city lights once again, headed for a popular spot amongst locals for live music and late night dining. With a mix of top Cambodian songs and foreign rock hits, you’re bound to stay entertained as you sample some exotic local delicacies, such as spicy frog and beef with ants. After stopping off at one more iconic city landmark along the way, finish the evening at a charming street of small, hip bars for cocktails or a cold beer.

Overnight at Raffles Le Royal, Phnom Penh.

3

Phnom Penh - Battambang

Phnom Penh – Battambang (330km): 5hr

Travel by private vehicle over scenic backroads to Cambodia’s former capital, Oudong (transfer time 1h), about 39km from Phnom Penh. Pass rural villages, local pagodas, and scenic rice paddies before reaching the main hill of Oudong. Visit a family that is producing palm sugar at their house, and later climb to the top of the stupa-filled hill of Oudong for great views over the rural plains. Enjoy an early lunch local style in the picnic huts at the foot of the mountain.

Continue to Battambang (transfer time 4hr) and head directly to the hotel for check in. Despite being Cambodia’s second largest city, Battambang offers a unique atmosphere that’s both laid-back and charming; a relaxed river town full of fine examples of French-colonial architecture.

Optional: Phare Ponleu Selpak

A special visit awaits at Phare Ponleu Selpak, the School of Music, Visual & Performing Arts. Phare Ponleu Selpak combines the Arts to provide education, support and entertainment to the poor communities. This project is a success story of how humanitarian aid work can turn into a display of zest for life, genuine warmth and creativity, against all odds. (Note: The circus performance is only performed regularly on each Monday & Thursday. However there is also a daily performance in Siem Reap as well.)

Overnight at Bambu Hotel, Battambang.

4

Battambang

Battambang’s countryside makes this pleasant town a real treat. Situated along the Sangker River, this life giving body of water winds through Battambang Province, connects the Cardamom Mountains with Tonle Sap, and feeds the paddy fields with water along the way. Thanks to this, Cambodia’s best rice that can be found in Battambang Province.

Begin the morning with a visit to some of the many cultural villages around Battambang, learning how the locals produce rice paper, prahoc (typical Cambodian fish paste), grolan (sticky rice stuffed in bamboo), and other Cambodian treats. Pay a visit to a weaving and handicraft centre in another village.

After, take a short ride on the famous Bamboo Train, an original means of transportation on the old train tracks leading to Phnom Penh. (Note: the Bamboo Train occasionally closes without prior notice; in the event this experience is not available, a suitable replacement will be offered).

Break at hotel for lunch (at own expense).

In the afternoon explore another side of Battambang with a relaxing cyclo ride around the town. An audio set (English or French) will provide an informative guide to the history of the town during the cruise. Sit back and relax for this 2.5 hours tour as the cyclo driver cruises around the colonial streets, markets, and temples. At many stops, get off the cyclo and walk around the points of interest before moving on the next stop. (Note: only 2 cyclos are available with 1 person per cyclo only).

After the cyclo, head to Jaan Bai, a social enterprise run by the Cambodian Children’s Trust working to break the cycle of poverty in Battambang by empowering underprivileged children. Jaan Bai uses seasonal organic produce sourced from their kitchen garden, local farmers and neighbouring markets. Enjoy a tasty menu showcasing the best of South East Asia with Western influences.

Overnight at Bambu Hotel, Battambang.

5

Battambang- Siem Reap

Battambang – Siem Reap (174 km): 03 hours

Sail along the Stung Sangker River until reaching the Prek Toal bird sanctuary, one of the most important breeding grounds for waterbirds in the region. Continue along the edge of the largest freshwater lake in Asia, Tonlé Sap Lake, an exceptional water system which swells to almost five times its size during the rainy season. The lake is also an important breeding ground for fish, providing more than half of the amount of fish consumed in Cambodia. This particular water system requires the people living on the lake to adapt to the living conditions. Take in the many villages on the way where people live on stilted or entirely floating houses before arriving a short drive from Siem Reap town. The boat trip takes 6-7 hours depending on water levels and is a slow, but beautiful journey to take. Relax and watch village and lake life while sailing from Battambang to Siem Reap. (Note: This boat trip is only possible in the high water period from July to December as water levels are too low during the dry season and transfer times can be extremely long. From January to June alternative transfer by road.)

Arrive in Siem Reap mid to late afternoon, the gateway to the majestic temples of Angkor and a charming little city. The rest of the day is at leisure.

Enjoy dinner this evening at the stunning Chanrey Tree. One of the best fine dining restaurants in town, the Chanrey Tree offers traditional Khmer cuisine in a lush contemporary setting. Located on the riverside in heart of Siem Reap, the Chanrey Tree combines the amazing taste of only seasonal traditional Khmer ingredients, with a relaxed but lavish environment to provide a unique Cambodian dining experience.

Overnight at Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort, Siem Reap.

6

Siem Reap

Siem Reap – Temples (06 km): 10 mins

Begin the morning temple explorations at the most illustrious of the Small Circuit Temples: the 12-13th century Ta Prohm. Ta Prohm is unique in that it has been left largely as it was found: overgrown by jungle trees and vines, with many parts of the temple crumbling to the ground. This makes the ‘Tomb Raider Temple’ one of the most picturesque and memorable of the Angkor temples.

Next pay a visit to the ancient city of Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Great Khmer Empire under the reign of Jayavarman VII. This city is surrounded by an 8 m high wall, drawing a perfect square. Continue to Bayon, a temple sitting in the exact centre of the city. This 12th century masterpiece is well-known for its 52 face-carved towers. The nearby Terrace of the Elephants and Terrace of the Leper King are also must-visits for their intricately carved reliefs.

Return after the visit to the hotel for lunch (at own expense) and down time.

Optional

This afternoon, enjoy an optional tour of the Angkor National Museum. The interactive museum showcases artefacts from the Golden Era of the Khmer Empire by use of multimedia technology.

Pick up from the hotel by remork (a local form of open-air transportation) and drive to the first restaurant, where you may order any drink from the menu (they make some excellent cocktails and mocktails using local ingredients) and any one appetizer (try different ones and share with each other) while learning all about the organisation’s efforts and accomplishments to aid local Cambodian youth.

Enjoy a family-style dinner of various Khmer classic dishes at a restaurant that follows a different business model, directing their profits both to employees and to various organisations. Learn about its efforts while dining. Along with food, order a soft drink, beer, or glass of house wine.

After dinner, go to a tropical garden restaurant run by an organization that operates a hospitality training school where all the restaurant workers learned (or are currently learning) their trade. Learn about how the program runs and its achievements while enjoying a creative cocktail, a glass of wine, beer, or coffee.

The final stop of the evening is an education social enterprise set up by a not-for-profit NGO with the mission of Breaking the Poverty Cycle Through Education and operated by the students who are served by the program. Serve yourself 200g of fro-yo with toppings and then head upstairs to talk with some students about how the program has changed their lives. (Note this evening food tour is only available Monday - Saturday)

Overnight at Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort, Siem Reap.

7

Siem Reap

Siem Reap – Banteay Srei (37 km): 45 mins

Begin the morning by discovering the secrets of authentic Khmer cuisine with a half-day cooking class with Mrs Kethana Dunnet. Travel 35km out of Siem Reap to a village near Banteay Srei to meet the chef at her beautiful country home. Kethana is the owner and founder of the Sugar Palm restaurants in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh and is known for her work with many celebrity TV chefs including Gordon Ramsay and Luke Nguyen. She grew up in Cambodia before moving to study in New Zealand. Living abroad, she developed a keen understanding of Khmer cuisine and how it can work in the west where some ingredients are harder to come by. Living in Cambodia since 2002, Kethana offers a truly practical Siem Reap cooking class. (Note: Subject to availability - If Mrs Dunnet is unavailable, another suitable cooking class will be arranged.)

Over the course of the morning, learn how to prepare various dishes that are served at Sugar Palm and the differences between Khmer and other regional cuisines. The class lasts about 3 hours before sitting and appreciating the hard work with a tasting of the day’s creations (2 starters and 2 main courses).

After lunch, continue to visit the Golden Silk Pheach Farm, a local NGO which helps to revive the ancient Khmer silk trades and activities, providing job opportunities to more than 100 local staff. The farm area, mulberry trees, and weaving ateliers, can be seen as part of the guided tour. Golden Silk products are ecologically produced from the yellow silkworm which is unique to Cambodia. Some of the silk products are months, or even years, in the making and each one is unique. This is one for the connoisseurs of high quality craftwork. 

Later, travel to the “gem” of the Angkor area, the pretty temple of Banteay Srei. Also called the “Citadel of the Women,” this remains one of the best preserved temples in Cambodia with fine examples of classical Khmer art and remarkable bas-reliefs.

Transfer back to Siem Reap with evening at leisure.

Overnight at Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort, Siem Reap.

8

Siem Reap

Siem Reap – Temples (06 km): 10 mins

Begin the day with a ‘remork’ (tuk tuk) visit to the legendary Angkor Wat. Built in the early 12th century, the complex follows the model of the symbolic Mount Meru, the home of the gods. Inside the temple, the walls are covered with Aspara dancers and stone carvings/bas-reliefs depicting Hindu mythology. Construction of Angkor Wat, which is also found on the Cambodian flag, is thought to have taken around thirty years of intensive labor to complete.

Take a break back at the hotel until the late afternoon.

Enjoy a relaxing cruise in a gondola paddle boat at the moat of Angkor Thom compound while watching a spectacular sunset at Prasat Chroung temple. Cocktails, champagne, canapés and soft drinks will be available on the boat.

Enjoy this final night in Cambodia with a dinner at the renowned Embassy restaurant. An exclusive fine dining experience, Embassy is headed by executive chefs Pol & Sok; the “Kimsan Twins.” Having trained under Michelin-star chefs, they have created one of the most unique five-star quality cuisines that can be experienced in Siem Reap. With a constantly changing menu based around seasonality, guests can savour skilfully prepared masterpieces from multiple-course set menus, paired with a selection of fine wines.

Overnight at Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort, Siem Reap.

9

Siem Reap - Departure

Siem Reap - Siem Reap Airport (8 km): 15 mins

After breakfast, enjoy some time at leisure until the transfer to the airport for the departing flight.

Important Information

OUR SERVICES INCLUDE:

  • Accommodation based on a shared Double/Twin room including breakfast.
  • Meals as mentioned (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner)
  • Local English speaking guide (for other languages a supplement applies)
  • Tours and transfers as mentioned by private air conditioned vehicle (2012 Hyundai Sonata for 2 pax, 2012 Hyundai H1-12 seater/2011 Toyota Hiace-15  seater for 3-6 pax) unless stated otherwise and subject to availability
  • Entrance fees for mentioned visits
  • Daily drinking water

OUR SERVICES DO NOT INCLUDE:

  • Visa for Cambodia (Visa issued on arrival for most nationalities, USD30/pax, please bring 1 passport photo)
  • Other meals than mentioned
  • Any surcharge/extra fees for visit of the Angkor Historical site imposed by the Apsara Authorities in Siem Reap which are subject to change without prior notice
  • International flights
  • Camera/video entrance fees if applicable
  • Personal expenses (drinks, laundry, telephone, tips etc)
  • Travel insurance including recommended helicopter evacuation for Cambodia]
  • Optional extras such as golf club hire rental, shoe hire or golf lessons (prices available on request)
  • Other services not clearly indicated in the package inclusions above

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