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Arrival flight to Siem Reap is your own arrangement (not included).
Upon arrival Phnom Penh Airport, you will be meet and greeted by your English speaking tour guide with your private chauffer and then transfer to your hotel for check in.
Afternoon Phnom Penh Royal Palace and National Museum: This morning we explore the stunning Royal Palace complex, home to the Cambodian royal family and a symbol of the nation. We begin amid the beautiful royal gardens, landscaped with tropical plants and studded with gleaming spires. We enter the Throne Hall where the royal receptions are held and the Cambodian king's coronation took place. We then pass the Napoleon III Pavilion made from iron, a gift from the French emperor in the 19th century. We continue to the Silver Pagoda, named after the 5000 silver tiles covering the floor, each weighing 1kg. Inside are some of the country's most cherished treasures, including a life-size gold Buddha studded with 9584 diamonds, the largest weighing 25 carats. There is also a delicate emerald Buddha made of baccarat crystal, which gives the temple its Khmer name of Wat Preah Keo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha).
We leave the Royal Palace and continue to the nearby National Museum, home to the world's finest collection of sculpture from the Angkor period. The exquisite building was completed between 1917 and 1920 and features a lush courtyard garden surrounded by collections from the pre-Angkor, Angkor and post-Angkor periods. We concentrate on the incredible sandstone sculpture from Angkor, as well as the intricate bronzes.
We come face to face with the horrific crimes of the Khmer Rouge. Tuol Sleng was a former high school that the Khmer Rouge turned into a centre for interrogation, torture and death. Today it is a museum of torture and serves to remind visitors of the terrible atrocities that came to pass in Cambodia. 17,000 people passed through the gates of this prison and only seven lived to tell the tale. The Khmer Rouge were meticulous in their record keeping, photographing all the prisoners and many of these haunting black and white images are on display in the cells. Enemies of the revolution were killed here, as well as many Khmer Rouge loyalists, denounced by an ever more paranoid political party. It became a production line for killing, as those that worked within its walls were unwaveringly loyal to Pol Pot. The party did not make mistakes, so those sent here had to be guilty. The role of the prison was not to prove innocence but to confirm guilt. Tuol Sleng is a profoundly moving experience and not everyone will want to visit. However, it is key to understanding the hell into which Cambodia descended and how far it has come in the years since.
We then travel out of town to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. Prisoners from Tuol Sleng followed this same route to their fate. An old Chinese cemetery, Choeung Ek was turned into an extermination camp for political prisoners. The remains of 8985 people were exhumed from mass graves and are kept in a memorial stupa here. Despite the horrors of the past, it is a peaceful place to go and a tranquil spot to reflect on the tragic events that engulfed Cambodia and its people.
Journey from Phnom Penh to Kompong Thom: We leave Phnom Penh and travel northeast to the bustling provincial city of Kompong Cham. En route, there is the chance to pause at Skuon, affectionately known as 'Spiderville', where it is possible to sample the local delicacy of deep fried tarantula. We journey west to the provincial capital of Kompong Thom for overnight.
Meals : Breakfast.
Morning you have visit the pre-Angkorian capital of Isanapura, known today as Sambor Prei Kuk. The first major temple city in South-East Asia, the brick temples of Sambor Prei Kuk are a peaceful contrast to their more illustrious relatives at Angkor. Visiting these ancient structures before our pilgrimage to Angkor offers a fascinating chronological insight into the development of temple architecture during the Khmer Empire. We explore the main temples here, including Prasat Tao with its elaborately coiffured lions and Prasat Sambor, with its crumbling sanctuaries. After our visit we continue our journey to Siem Reap and retire to our comfortable hotel.
After breakfast in Kompong Thom, we continue northwest on National Highway 6. This was an old Angkor road and we stop in Kompong Kdei to see one of the ancient Angkor bridges that were built to span the rivers. Spean Praptos or the Praptos Bridge has more than 20 arches and is a spectacular sight, reinforcing the impression that the Khmers were like the Romans of Southeast Asia. We continue to Siem Reap where we check into our hotel and enjoy a local lunch in this buzzing town.
We travel to the lost temple of Beng Mealea, the titanic of temples, a slumbering giant lost for centuries in the forests of Cambodia. It is the most accessible of Angkor’s lost temples, a mirror image of Angkor Wat, but utterly consumed by the voracious appetite of nature. Constructed by Suryavarman II (1113-1150), the builder of Angkor Wat, the forest has run riot here and it is hard to get a sense of the monument’s shape amid the daunting ruins. Here it is possible to enjoy an Indiana Jones experience clambering about the vast ruin. For those who want a more gentle adventure, there is also a sturdy wooden walkway running right into the heart of the temple. It is also possible to visit a nearby Angkor-era quarry from where stone was cut to build these massive monuments.
We then head into the bush to the remote Angkor capital of Koh Ker. The history of Cambodia is riven with dynastic spats and political intrigue and one of the most memorable came in the 10th century when Jayavarman IV (928-942) fell out with his family, stormed off to the northwest and established the rival capital of Koh Ker. Although the capital for just 15 years, Jayavarman IV was determined to legitimise his rule through a prolific building programme that left a legacy of 30 major temples and some gargantuan sculpture that is on display in the National Museum in Phnom Penh. We visit Prasat Thom, a seven-storey step pyramid, more Mayan than Khmer, which has commanding views over the surrounding forest. Nearby is Prasat Krahom or Red Temple, named after the pinkish Banteay Srei-style stone from which it is built. There are many more temples in the area, including the five towers of Prasat Ling, each enclosing a giant linga or fertility symbol, the biggest and best found in situ anywhere in Cambodia.
Meals : Breakfast.
We explore some of the most impressive temples at Angkor on two wheels, taking advantage of back roads and jungle paths to get off the beaten path and experience Angkor without the crowds. Leaving SIem Reap early, we use a forest path to avoid the traffic and wind our way past the walls of Banteay Kdei to the North Gate of Ta Prohm. The ‘jungle temple’ has been abandoned to the elements, a reminder that while empires rise and fall, the riotous power of nature marches on, oblivious to the dramas of human history. Left as it was ‘discovered’ by French explorer Henri Mouhot in 1860, the tentacle-like tree roots here are slowly strangling the surviving stones, man first conquering nature to create, nature later conquering man to destroy. We then cycle on to Ta Nei, a small temple that has been forgotten in the jungle and sees few visitors. We have to carry the bikes across an old French dam to cross the Siem Reap River.We then enter the immense walled city of Angkor Thom, the masterpiece of King Jayavarman VII, through the Victory Gate and continue to East Gate. We then ascend the walls of Angkor Thom and ride around the southeast quadrant to stop at atmospheric Prasat Chrung, a seldom-visited temple overlooking the vast moat of Angkor Thom. We then cycle from South Gate to the Bayon and explore the main temples of Angkor Thom, including Baphuon, Phimeanakas, Preah Palilay, Terrace of the Leper King and Preah Pithu. Bayon temple is famous for its enigmatic faces of Lokesvara, the Buddha of Compassion, said to bear an uncanny resemblance to the great King Jayavarman VII himself. Baphuon is nicknamed the world’s largest jigsaw puzzle as the French took it apart stone by stone in the 1960s for restoration, only for all records to be destroyed by the Khmer Rouge. Cycling along the back paths to the lesser known temples of Angkor Thom such as Preah Palilay and Preah Pithu is a rewarding experience. Later we head back to town.
Note: Cycling English speaking tour guide, bike cycling and Tuk Tuk for small group. Big group is subject to use minivan. Lunch include at Sala Kdie
We continue to the jungle temple Ta Prohm where Tomb Raider was filmed. Ta Prohm has been abandoned to the elements, a reminder that while empires rise and fall, the riotous power of nature marches on, oblivious to the dramas of human history. Left as it was ‘discovered’ by French explorer Henri Mouhot in 1860, the tentacle-like tree roots here are slowly strangling the surviving stones, man first conquering nature to create, nature later conquering man to destroy.
The object of this photographic scavenger hunt is to explore the immense walled city of Angkor Thom and find some little gems along the way. We have explored in depth and chosen 10 locations for you to find during your visit and capture with a photograph. Some of the challenges will require a photograph of a specific statue or carving and others will require some interactivity on the part of your group.
Angkor Thom Photographic Scavenger Hunt: Use the map below and the following images to help identify each of the challenges. The scavenger hunt begins at The South Gate of Angkor Thom before you transfer by road to The Bayon. The hunt then continues on foot through Angkor Thom before finishing at Preah Pithu temple. Jump back into the vehicle and drive down to the atmospheric East Gate for a group photo. We hope you enjoy the original Angkor Thom Photographic Scavenger Hunt.
Meals : Breakfast and Lunch.
We head to Banteay Srei, Angkor’s ultimate art gallery. This petite pink temple is the jewel in the crown of Angkor-era sculpture. The elaborate carvings here are the finest found in Cambodia and the name translates as ‘Fortress of the Women’, thanks to the intricate detail here, considered too fine for the hands of a man. Originally believed to date from the latter part of the Angkor period, inscriptions at the site suggest it was built by a Brahman in 967. However, some architectural historians have suggested that the inscriptions may date from an earlier structure on this site and the temple is in fact later, marking a high-water mark in Khmer sculpture. Later we visit the 12th century temple of Banteay Samre. Built by King Suryavarman II, the genius behind Angkor Wat, this temple has been extensively restored. The temple is unique in that over-quarrying of sandstone led to the use of laterite for the roofed corridors. The pediments above the inner doors here include some of the most accomplished carving from the Angkor period.
On the way back to Siem Reap, we visit the Cambodia Landmine Museum to learn more about the scourge of landmines and the shadow they cast over rural communities in Cambodia with a visit to this flagship museum promoting mine awareness and education.
APOPO Visitor Centre - Siem Reap: To learn more about the deadly curse of landmines and UXO in Cambodia, their devastating effect on the population and the steps being made to eradicate them, we recommend a visit to the HeroRATs of APOPO.
Conceived 20 years ago in Belgium, APOPO has trained the highly sensitive, almost-blind Gambian giant pouched rats (fondly nicknamed HeroRATs) to sniff explosives, which dramatically speeds up the detection of mines in the countryside. The visitor centre gives background on the work of APOPO, with a short video and a live demonstration of landmine detection by the rats themselves.
APOPO, who operate seven programs across six countries, also use the rats to urgently detect tuberculosis in patients in some African countries. The rats are currently clearing landmines in Siem Reap province in partnership with the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC).
Meals : Breakfast.
Discover the emerging art scene in Siem Reap with a private art tour of leading galleries and studios in Siem Reap with McDermott Gallery Curator Robina Hanley. This sophisticated tour offers a personalised insight into the emerging Siem Reap art and design scene. Meet the artists, designers and curators currently making waves, hosting exhibitions and putting Temple Town firmly on the artistic map. This tour introduces you to a host of local and international galleries, workshops, ateliers and boutiques, including but not limited to fine art photography, striking contemporary art, high-end textiles, locally-designed jewellery and authentically restored Khmer relics from times passed. The venues are vastly different and each have their own elegant style. A tailor-made itinerary is devised for every client and usually lasts about four hours.
Evening Foodie Tour by Siem Reap Food Team (5:00pm - 8:45pm): Our evening tour, takes you around Siem Reap to sample dishes in several difference location, from small local restaurants to the night markets and bustling street-food stands. We start at 5pm and sample everything from Cambodian soup and homestyle cooking to Cambodian BBQ to frogs stuffed with Kreoung, a fragrant curry paste that is one of the defining ingredients of Khmer cuisine. We’ll even throw in a few Cambodian beers if you’re inclined. The evening tour is a fun way to get acquainted with Siem Reap and Cambodian food.
Meals : Breakfast and Dinner.
Angkor Wat sunrise and exploration: Rising at the crack of dawn, we journey out to the Mother of all temples, Angkor Wat. Believed to be the world's largest religious building, this temple is the perfect fusion of symbolism and symmetry and a source of pride and strength to all Khmers. Built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II, this is most famous temple at Angkor. We stay at Angkor Wat to enjoy a picnic breakfast. As the crowds return to their hotels, we venture into Angkor Wat to enjoy its magnificence in peace and quiet. We begin by unraveling the mysteries of the bas-reliefs that tell of tales from Hindu mythology and of the glories of the Khmer empire. Stretching for almost one kilometre, these intricate carvings are a candidate for the world’s longest unbroken piece of art. Following in the footsteps of the devout and the destructive before us, we then continue to the upper levels of the inner sanctuary. The final steps to the upper terrace of Angkor are the steepest of all, as pilgrims of old were to stoop on their pilgrimage to encounter the Gods. Finally the pinnacle, the sacred heart of Angkor Wat, a blend of spirituality and symmetry so perfect that few moments will measure up.
At the convenience time, you will be transferred from hotel to Siem Reap Airport for your flight.
Meals : Breakfast.
The price reflects this specific itinerary and is designed to give you an idea of the budget required for this destination. Throughout the trip-planning process, our local agency will tailor your itinerary around your budget.
|Season||Price Per Adult|
Average trip price
|From February to March||$1,310|
|From October to December||$1,310|