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Overview

Tap in to Cambodian culture and history with guided, insightful tours. See the blend of old and new in the capital and venture along the Mekong to charming riverside towns. Get an in-depth look at the temples of Angkor and experience Battambang like a local.

Trip Highlights

Grand Tour of Cambodia

Explore Cambodia’s waterways

Cruise the Tonle Sap, Mekong and Sangker Rivers to see stunning natural landscapes and unique ways of life.

Experience the diversity of Cambodia

Go beyond the normal tourist stops and discover the smaller towns of Kratie, Kampong Thom and Oudong.  

Delve in to Cambodia’s chequered history

Understand Cambodia’s history through tours that explore the glorious ancient Khmer empire and the tragic Khmer Rouge era.

Itinerary

1

Phnom Penh - Arrival

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

Upon morning arrival in Phnom Penh, you will be welcomed by your local English speaking guide, who will accompany you to your hotel for check in.

Phnom Penh was once considered one of the most beautiful cities in the Orient, and despite its turbulent history and recent development, it still retains much 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.

Enjoy an atmospheric sunset river cruise and watch how Phnom Penh’s popular riverfront awakens to life.

Tonight, you will be treated to a delicious Khmer welcome dinner at Romdeng, a lovely charity restaurant where former street children are taught the principles of hospitality. The restaurant is located in a restored colonial building with an atmospheric garden right in the city centre. (Note: Romdeng is usually closed during national holidays, on Sundays, and for the entire month of April when Cambodians celebrate the Khmer New Year.)

Overnight in Phnom Penh.

2

Phnom Penh

This morning, you will be greeted by a driver who will take you on a tour to the most remarkable sights of Phnom Penh in a Cyclo, an original Phnom Penh means of transportation and a fun way to explore this lively city. First, visit Wat Phnom, which is situated near the northern boundary of the city. The site contains some good examples of Khmer architecture and a number of religious statues.

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 means Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Despite this name, the temple features a collection of Buddhas in gold, silver, crystal, and bronze, many decorated with diamonds!

Later today, gain insight into Cambodia’s recent dark history on a visit to the remarkable Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, housed in the former school that was taken over by the Khmer Rouge and used as its main detention and torture center named ‘S-21’. This is a grim, but important visit that will allow you to dig below the surface and understand Cambodia better.

If you are interested, continue to visit the nearby Russian Market, one of the city’s most popular markets, where you will find beautifully woven Khmer silks and cottons, basketry and wood carvings.

Late afternoon, head to the riverside area of Phnom Penh, a pleasant French style promenade that is great for people viewing. In the early evening, various activities take place include exercise classes, Khmer dancing and plenty of snacking on local food. You can participate in a Khmer dance class which is a lot of fun for all!

Overnight in Phnom Penh.

3

Phnom Penh - Kampong Cham - Kratie

Phnom Penh – Kampong Cham (124 km): 2 hrs & 40 mins Kampong Cham – Kratie (81 Km): 1 hrs & 30 mins

Leave Phnom Penh for Kampong Cham, a former French trading post on the Mekong River. After a tour of town centre, continue to Wat Nokor, an 11th century Angkor-era Buddhist temple. Continue to Kratie Province, where you will check into a hotel on Koh Trong Island, a 10-minute boat ride from Kratie town. The rest of the afternoon is free at leisure to discover the picturesque rural island or relax at the hotel.

Overnight on Koh Trong Island.

4

Kratie

Breakfast at hotel. Drive north along the banks of the Mekong, a scenic route with great views. The village of Kampi is one of the best places to view the rare Irrawaddy Dolphins along the Mekong. Get on board a local boat that will take you to the preferred habitats of these interesting creatures. As soon as you have spotted the first dolphin, your boat driver will turn the engine off and you will follow the dolphins silently (duration 1 to 1.5 hours).

From here, continue towards the village Sambo for a visit of Wat Sorsor Mouy Roy. The vihara of the so-called ‘100 Pillars Pagoda’ is an important historical and cultural building and quite famous for its legend involving a princess and a crocodile. You will have lunch at Local restaurant.

This afternoon, return to the island of Koh Trong. This Mekong island displays typical Cambodian village life, where people’s livelihood largely depends on rice farming and fruits cultivation (Koh Trong is famous for its pomelo!) Upon arrival, you can decide whether you would like to take a local horse cart or pedal yourself around the island on a bicycle.

Your first destination is the island’s Wat, where a special activity awaits you: a tree-planting project initiated by a local farmer in order to recultivate the once densely forested island. Contribute to the project by planting your own tree here which will carry your name tag and leave a positive trace on the island. There is the option to continue by horse cart or cycle around the island, where you will be able to taste local fruit and visit a Vietnamese floating village on the southern tip of the island.

Overnight on Koh Trong Island.

5

Kratie - Kampong Thom

Kratie – Kampong Thom (220 km): 4 hrs & 30 mins

After breakfast, leave Kratie for Kampong Thom Province. On the way, stop at Phnom Santuk Mountain and climb the 980 steps to the top to visit the pagoda and for the great views over the countryside. Upon arrival in Kampong Thom, check into your hotel and enjoy a leisurely afternoon cycling tour along the river or relax by the beautiful hotel pool.

Overnight in Kampong Thom.

6

Kampong Thom - Siem Reap

Kampong Thom – Siem Reap (201 km): 3 hrs & 10 mins

Today, you head to Sambor Prei Kuk, one of the most important pre-Angkorian sites in the country as well as Cambodia’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sambor Prei Kuk was built in the Chenla period between the 6th and 7th centuries and there are over 100 well preserved temples scattered in the forest. The three main sites are linked by small and shady tracks. Enjoy a beautiful walk through the jungle with breathtaking views. Your visit supports a community-based tourism project.

The villages around the temple complex still practice the ancient art of craft making, using materials such as bamboo and rattan. Stop at one village to observe the local production. The community runs the Isanborei Craft Hut next to the temples and sells their products there as part of a community-based tourism project. You will have the chance to visit and contribute to the sustainability of the people’s livelihood as the local community will prepare a simple but very tasty lunch for you near the temple.

Continue towards Siem Reap. On arrival, check in to the hotel and enjoy the remainder of the afternoon at leisure.

Overnight in Siem Reap.

7

Siem Reap

Siem Reap – Temples (06 km): 10 mins

Get up early for one of the highlights of your tour through Cambodia: a visit to Angkor Wat at sunrise. Watching the first sunbeams glow over the largest religious edifice in the world will not leave you untouched.

Enjoy breakfast at Angkor Café just across from Angkor Wat before you visit the temple in depth. Built during the reign of King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century, Angkor Wat was constructed following the model of the temple mountain symbolizing the Mount Meru, home of the gods. Built as the divine residence of Vishnu, the spirit of the King was also to reside here after his death. Inside the temple, the walls are covered with stone carvings and bas-reliefs depicting Hindu mythology and the wars Suryavarman II fought during his reign. Moreover, Angkor Wat is well known for the more than 2,000 Apsara dancers decorating the temple. Construction is thought to have taken around thirty years of intensive labor. Angkor Wat is featured on Cambodia's national flag as the temple symbolizes the soul of the Khmer people.

From here, head to the countryside around the West Baray, where you can spot water buffalos in swampy ponds, kids in school uniforms on their bicycles and oxcarts transporting today’s harvest. Visit the Angkor Silk Farm 15 km west of Siem Reap, where you can witness the entire process of silk creation from the breeding process and life cycle of the silkworm to the spinning of the silk, the dying process and the creation of beautiful silk weavings on wooden hand looms. Return to Siem Reap for a midday break.

Late afternoon, explore Ta Prohm temple, built in the mid 12th to early 13th centuries. Ta Prohm is unique in that it has been left largely overgrown by jungle trees and vines, with many parts of the temple crumbling to the ground. This makes Ta Prohm one of the most picturesque and memorable of the Angkor temples. (Note: as this is now one of the most popular temples in the park, depending on the season, you may wish to visit Preah Khan instead. Built by the same king during the same period, Preah Khan was built to honor the king’s father as opposed to his mother, whom Ta Prohm was built for. This larger temple sees far fewer visitors and is more enjoyable to visit during peak season. Ask your guide for which temple is best for you.) Finally, enjoy a rural sunset over the paddy fields and the beautiful countryside from the pyramidal Pre Rup temple.

Overnight in Siem Reap.

8

Siem Reap

Siem Reap – Temples (06 km): 10 mins Siem Reap – Tonle Sap (20 km): 30 mins

This morning, 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 8m-high wall, drawing a perfect square. You will enter the city from the ancient South Gate, an impressive stone gate carved with three-headed elephants and capped by four giant faces of the Buddha.

From here, continue to Bayon Temple in the exact center of the city. This 12th century masterpiece is a study in grandeur. The exterior gallery walls have extensive, superb bas-reliefs, particularly the East and South Galleries. The Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King are also must-visits as they are both known for their intricate bas-reliefs.

Later today, head to the Tonlé Sap Lake, where you will have the opportunity to learn about life on the lake. Drive past expansive rice fields and through local villages where rice and fish can frequently be spotted drying alongside the road. Next, board a private wooden vessel for a boat trip along a canal that leads to the Tonle Sap Lake.

Cruise along the canal with houses on either side: depending on the time of your visit, the houses will either have immediate access to the water or stand perched on stilts high above the ground, a phenomena caused by the annual rising and receding waters of the Tonle Sap Lake, Southeast Asia’s largest lake. Pass by the boats and nets used by local fishermen, some of whom you may spot fishing in the waters through which the boat passes. As you near the lake, you will see floating houses that move location with the annual ebb and flow of the lake’s waters. (Note: Due to fluctuating water levels on the lake and canals, the village visited will depend on the date and water levels at that time).

Overnight in Siem Reap.

9

Siem Reap

Siem Reap – Beng Mealea (58 km): 01h & 15 mins Banteay Srei – Siem Reap – (37 km): 45 mins

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the remote Beng Mealea, a temple tucked away deep in the Cambodian jungle. During the one hour drive, you will get a glimpse of the beautiful Cambodian countryside. Along the way, your English speaking guide will explain a bit of the history of the region and point out sights along the way. Upon arrival, explore the ruins of Beng Mealea. This formerly “undiscovered” temple has become increasingly popular so the earlier you arrive, the less crowds you will experience.  As this temple is thought to have been a model for Angkor Wat and its collapsed state is a wonder to explore, it’s all the more so if you have it to yourself! After your adventurous exploration, enjoy a delicious packed lunch at a local house close to the temple site. (Note: due to the increasing popularity of Beng Mealea it is best to arrive by 7:30am, just as the temple opens)

From here, travel to the “gem” of the Angkor area, the pretty temple of Banteay Srei. The so-called “Citadel of the Women” displays some of the finest examples of classical Khmer art as this small temple is noted for its truly remarkable fine bas-reliefs, depicting Hindu god Shiva. Banteay Srei is unique in that it is constructed of pink sandstone, which is seen nowhere else in Angkor.

On the way back, you will have the possibility to stop at local communities along the way and your guide will help you to interact with the local population to learn about the way of life here. Seize the opportunity to see how rice paper is produced and to taste palm wine and palm sugar, which are a popular local produce.

Overnight in Siem Reap.

10

Siem Reap - Battambang

Siem Reap – Battambang (174 km): 03 hours

Today, you will embark on one of the most stunning boat trips in Cambodia, as you will be taken from Siem Reap to Battambang by a comfortable private boat. Packed lunch on board. (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 extremely long. From January to June alternative transfer by road.) (Duration 6-7 hours).

The Tonlé Sap Lake is an exceptional water system. The water of its main drainage, the Tonlé Sap River floods nearby fields and forests during the green season and supports an extraordinarily rich and diverse ecosystem. The particular water system requires the people living of the lake to adapt their living conditions. You will see many villages on the way where people live on stilted or floating houses.

Arrive in Battambang in the afternoon. This is Cambodia’s second largest city and, not so long ago, was within target range of a stronghold of the erstwhile Khmer Rouge and was therefore off-limits to most travelers.

However, like the remainder of this beautiful gentle country, Battambang has reopened to the outside world. One fortuitous result of its isolation and lack of development is that Battambang has some of the most well preserved colonial French buildings in the country. You will find local people here to be extremely friendly. Battambang was formerly the rice bowl of Cambodia although these days the production of rice is augmented by large orange and jute plantations.

In Battambang, you check into your hotel. The afternoon will be at leisure to relax by the hotel pool or stroll through the charming town centre.

Overnight in Battambang.                          

11

Battambang

Battambang’s countryside is what makes this pleasant river town a real treat. The town is situated along the Sangker River, a quiet and small body of water that winds its way through Battambang Province.

You will first head towards Phnom Sampeau, meaning “Ship Hill” in Khmer due to its distinctive shape; it is one of the few hills standing out in this otherwise pancake-flat plain. From the small temple on the top, you will have a fantastic view over the typical landscape of paddy fields and sugar palm trees. Phnom Sampeau is home to the notorious killing caves, which are cruel reminders of Cambodia’s troubled past. Serenity and inhumanity represented in one place make this an interesting visit.

Then, experience one of the highlights of Battambang and a truly unique experience: a fun ride on the famous Bamboo Train. The Bamboo Train was set up by the villagers in order to facilitate the transportation of goods and persons after regular trains ceased running. The “train” itself is very basic: a bamboo platform on 4-wheels that is powered by a small motor. Sitting on the platform (we will provide some cushions for your comfort), you will travel the 8 km to the next station through beautiful landscape and rice paddies (depending on season of visit). A true rollercoaster ride without loops! (Note: the bamboo train is occasionally not in operation without prior notice).

In the afternoon, make a stop at the Ancient House, the oldest standing Khmer timber house in Wat Kor Village, where most of the houses are around 100 years old. Here the lady of the house will give you a guided tour, showing you everything from how they mill their own rice to demonstrating the after-dinner betel leaf ritual.

Your guide will lead you through local villages and farms on the way to Wat Banan, an 11-century temple on a mountain top situated between lush paddy fields and beautiful lotus ponds. Climb to the top and enjoy the views over the beautiful countryside and wander around the ancient temple, which is also home to finely scented flowering trees.

This afternoon, you will be taken to some of the many cultural villages around Battambang, where you will learn how the locals produce rice paper, prahoc (typical Cambodian fish paste), grolan (sticky rice stuffed in bamboo), and other Cambodian treats. You will also visit a weaving and handicraft centre.

Optional: Phare Ponleu Selpak

A special visit awaits you at Phare Ponleu Selpak. 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. A visit to one of their circus shows will leave you with a lasting memory of the wonderful Cambodian people and should not be missed when in Battambang! (Note: The circus performance is only performed regularly on each Monday & Thursday. On other days private performances are available on request and for a supplement).

Overnight in Battambang.

12

Battambang - Kampong Chhnang - Oudong - Phnom Penh

Battambang – Kampong Chhnang (247 km): 4 hrs Kampong Chhnang – Oudong (57 km): 1 hr & 15 mins Oudong – Phnom Penh (39 km): 50 mins

Depart early for the transfer from Battambang to Phnom Penh. Your first stop is Kampong Chhnang, known for its traditional pottery, with many kilns at work in this province. Stop in a village near Kampong Chhnang town to see the different aspects of pottery making and also experience the production of traditional rice wine.

Continue to Oudong, the former royal capital of Cambodia after the fall of Angkor. The drive passes through many rural villages and pagodas until you see the temple mountain with its dozens of stupas from afar. Upon arrival at Oudong, enjoy a traditional Khmer lunch at a picnic hammock huts at the foot of the hill: there are literally thousands of hammocks located around the base of the mountain!

Then, climb the stairs to the top of Oudong Mountain and enjoy magnificent views over the plains below. Your guide will explain the history of the area and its buildings, as well as the religious culture of the Cambodian people. Take your time to soak in the magnificent views over the plains below.

On the way to Phnom Penh, visit Koh Chen, an island in the Tonlé Sap River that you can reach via a new bridge. Koh Chen is known as the ‘Silver Village’ for its production of silver crafts and jewellery. Stroll through the village to see the many silver workshops in the local families’ houses.

From here, it is not far to Phnom Penh, which you will reach mid-afternoon. Check into your hotel.

As this is your last evening in Cambodia, an authentic farewell dinner will be celebrated at Malis, a renowned place for Khmer food in Phnom Penh and provides for fine dining in chic surroundings. The Head Chef, Luu Meng is a Khmer celebrity and has worked with international chefs such as Gordon Ramsay and Luke Nguyen during filming for their cookery series in Cambodia.

Overnight in Phnom Penh.

13

Phnom Penh - Departure

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

Enjoy today at leisure until it is time for your transfer to Phnom Penh International Airport for your individual departure.

Important Information

Our services include:

  • Accommodation in a shared twin/double room in selected hotels
  • Meals as mentioned (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner)
  • English speaking local guide
  • Tours and transfers as mentioned by private air conditioned vehicle unless stated otherwise
  • Entrance fees for mentioned visits
  • Daily drinking water during the tour

Our services do not include:

  • Visa for Cambodia (Visa issued on arrival for most nationalities, USD30/pax, please bring 1 passport photo).
  • 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
  • Other meals than mentioned
  • International and domestic flights (quoted separately)
  • Camera/video entrance fees if applicable
  • Personal expenses (drinks, laundry, telephone, tips etc)
  • Travel insurance including recommended helicopter evacuation for Cambodia
  • Other services not clearly indicated in the package inclusions above

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