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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.
Evening Phnom Penh Exploring the Craft Beer Scene in Cambodia: Check out the emerging craft beer scene in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh with an evening tour of some of the leading micro-breweries and bars in town. The tour begins at Hops, a large German beer garden that brews some classic European beers based on the 500-year old Purity Law. Sample a selection, including a pilsen, a wheat beer, a red beer and an IPA. We then move on to a popular local barbecue restaurant for dinner, Sovanna, where we can sample some Khmer flavours in an authentic environment. After dinner and drinks, we continue to Botanico, an atmospheric garden bar and home of the Cerevisia Brewery. Sample a flight of tipples, including an IPA, an amber ale and more. Our last stop is nearby Bassac Lane, a gaggle of hole-in-the-wall bars that offer some craft beer options or creative cocktails. The tour ends here where participants are free to carry on and explore the bars or can be transported back to their hotel.
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.
Afternoon Visit Tuol Sleng and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek: 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.
Evening CLA On Stage Shows at National Museum (Sharing Seat C): It is a series of 3 rotating shows at the National Museum of Phnom Penh, featuring a wide range of traditional performing arts. With more than Apsara dances, we offer you the chance to discover the diversity of Cambodian culture and traditional arts through original and enjoyable pieces, set in the splendid gardens of the National Museum. In addition to giving a unique opportunity to experience Cambodian culture and arts, CLA (Cambodian Living Art) aims at creating regular, well-paid work for emerging arts professionals in the arts sector. Time: 7-8pm, doors open at 6.30pm. Days: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.
Journey from Phnom Penh to Preah Khan Kompong Svay via Sambor Prei Kuk and Siem Reap: 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, where we stop for lunch (own account). Then we continue our journey to Preah Khan Kompong Svay.
Late afternoon visit Preah Khan Kompong Svay Temple: We start to explore this immense temple. This extremely remote temple is often referred to as Preah Khan Kompong Svay by scholars or Prasat Bakan by locals. The largest single enclosure constructed during the age of Angkor, its total area is larger even than that of Angkor Thom and it is believed to have been the second city of the Khmer Empire, where mighty King Jayavarman VII was educated. There are several principal structures at Preah Khan, including four-faced Prasat Preah Stung, a trademark of Jayavarman VII constructed in the style of the Bayon, and delicate Prasat Damrei, or Elephant Temple, a small pyramid with two elegant carved elephants ceremoniously adorned by locals. The main structure is of gigantic proportions, but has fallen victim to looting in past years due to its remoteness. However, some carvings remain and the extensive outer walls are in solid shape.
Accommodation: Preah Khan Kompong Svay Safari Tent – In Style Tent.
Meal: Breakfast, Lunch at local restaurant, Dinner at the tent.
After the option of sunrise at the remote temple of Preah Khan, we leave some time free to explore more of this vast complex. We then continue north towards Preah Vihear. We enjoy a local lunch along the way at Tbeng Meanchey before arriving at the base of this sacred mount. The snaking road up the mountain is very steep in places and we eventually emerge at the second enclosure of this king of the mountain temples.
We explore the temple on foot and continue onwards to the final level, clinging to a cliff face in the Dangrek Mountains, towering hundreds of metres above lowland Cambodia below. The views from this most mountainous of temple mountains are breathtaking before return back to Sraem for overnight.
Meal: Breakfast, Lunch.
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 the vast Prasat Thom, a seven-storey step pyramid, more Mayan than Khmer, with commanding views over the surrounding forest. Nearby is Prasat Krahom or Red Temple, named after the pinkish 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, and the brick towers of Prasat Bram, smothered by parasitic strangler figs.
We travel to the jungle 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 continue our journey to Siem Reap for overnight.
Travel to Phnom Kulen, the sacred mountain that was the birthplace of the Khmer empire. It was here that Jayavarman II proclaimed independence from Java in 802AD, setting the stage for the glories of the Angkor-era that was to follow. This mountain plateau was known as Mahendraparvata and was an early capital of the Khmer empire. Travel by vehicle to the busy settlement of Preah Ang Thom before transferring to local motorcycle to explore the mountain. Travel via the village of Anlong Thom to the incredible rock formations of Poeng Tbal, which include a number of holy carvings. These sites date from the 9th century and the reign of Jayavarman II, pre-dating the relocation of the capital to Angkor by almost a century. Explore some remote jungle sites on the sacred mountain, including the brick temple of Damrei Krab and the early pyramid temple of Rom Cheng, which is believed to be the temple where the devaraja (god-king) ceremony actually took place, where Jayavarman II proclaimed himself the earthly incarnation of Shiva. Continue to the striking stone guardian animals of Sra Damrei, which include a life-size stone elephant, before descending to the ‘bat cave’, a complex of Hindu and Buddhist shrines hidden beneath the rockface. We then ascend to an impressive viewpoint that offers panoramic views of lowland Siem Reap Province. Finish at our camp location with panoramic views of lowland Siem Reap province below. After a catered dinner under the stars, retire for the night in our safari tent.
Accommodation: SAFARI Tent – In Style Tent.
Meal: Breakfast, lunch at Local, Dinner.
The next morning there is the option of a trek to an old temple site before visiting the River of a Thousand Lingas, where small phalluses are carved into the riverbed itself and representations of Shiva and Vishnu. There is a classic waterfall further downstream which the perfect place to cool off after exploring is and nearby is a small, jungle-clad temple called Prasat Krau Romeas. Wat Pre Ang Thom is a focus of pilgrimage for Khmers during religious festivals and the large reclining Buddha carved into a huge sandstone boulder here offers spectacular views across the lush jungle.
Visit Kbal Spean and Banteay Srei: We journey north to Kbal Spean. The original ‘River of a Thousand Lingas’, Kbal Spean is an intricately carved riverbed deep in the foothills of the Cambodian jungle. The river flows down to the Tonlé Sap lake, and in ancient times its holy waters breathed life into the rice fields of the empire via the most complex irrigation system the world had ever seen. The Khmers venerated its limestone bed with a riot of carvings, including the delicate deities Vishnu and Shiva with their consorts. Lingams are phallic representations sacred to Hindus as fertility symbols and hundreds, perhaps thousands, are carved into the bedrock here. The carvings were only rediscovered in 1969 when French researcher Jean Boulbet was shown the river by a local hermit.
A trip to Kbal Spean is one of the easiest ways to experience a short jungle trek in the Angkor area, as it is a steady but scenic climb to reach the river carvings. The path winds its way through knotted vines and big boulder formations and occasionally offers big views over the surrounding jungle. And there is a small waterfall below the carved riverbed, perfect for cooling off after the hot climb. After Kbal Spean, 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.
Meal: Breakfast, lunch.
We travel back in time to one of the earliest capitals in the Angkor area, Hariharilaya, now known as Roluos. We begin with a visit to the brick temple of Lolei, originally set on an island in the centre of the Indratataka baray (reservoir). This temple has some well preserved sandstone carvings and the vast stone doors are carved from a single piece of stone. We continue to Preah Ko (sacred cow), named in honour of Shiva’s mount, Nandin. This temple owes more to the pre-Angkorian brick sanctuaries of Cambodia’s earlier Chenla empire than the sandstone behemoths that came later. Originally coated in stucco and painted, there is still some of the ancient plaster visible on the rear towers. Finally, we encounter Bakong, the earliest of the temple mountains, which later became the signature of Khmer kings. It is a giant pyramid, its cardinal points marked by giant elephants. We climb to the summit for views over the surrounding countryside.
Celebrity Chef Cooking Class at Sala Roluos: This unique cooking class follows in the footsteps of the famous and infamous television chefs that have passed through Cambodia on their global culinary journeys. This course takes us deep into the Cambodian countryside around Siem Reap where we visit the local market of Roluos, a traditional town far removed from the tourism industry around Angkor. After browsing the local market for some fresh ingredients, we travel to the beautiful wooden house of Sala Roluos, the architecture of which boasts a contemporary take on a traditional Cambodian design. This was the location where Gordon Ramsay learnt to cook stuffed frog with kreung paste, a delicious Cambodian dish involving lemongrass, turmeric, garlic and more, as part of his Gordon's Great Escapes series. Guests will learn this dish in the same surrounds using a more traditional meat such as chicken. Other celebrity chefs have passed through Cambodia and we will take inspiration from their journeys. Kitchen Confidential chef Anthony Bourdain visited Cambodia for his No Reservations show and we will learn how to make delicious fresh spring rolls as he did when in Cambodia. Finally we will look to Rick Stein's Far Eastern Odyssey for inspiration and learn to cook amok, Cambodia's national dish involving a mild baked fish curry in banana leaf. Note that the menu can be varied to take into account dietary requirements or individual tastes.
Afternoon Exploring Kompong Pluk floating village: We travel to Kompong Pluk and board a small wooden boat for the trip to visit Kompong Pluk. Cruising down a narrow waterway, we enter this medieval floating village, where the houses stand atop stilts as much as seven metres above the water. Everything lives on the water, pigs, dogs, crocodiles and people, all jockeying for space in this incredible floating town. We explore the local wat here, as well as some of the traditional Khmer houses on stilts. There is also the opportunity to stop a local floating café or restaurant amid the flooded forest. Return back to Siem Reap by road.
Evening Phare the Cambodian Circus (Sharing Seat B): In the evening we head out to the home of the innovative circus performers from Phare Ponleu Selpak. Their regular modern circus show under the Big Top is very popular in Siem Reap and in each show they display a variety of disciplines including acrobatics, choreography, juggling, clowning, live music and much more. A pre-show dinner can also be arranged.
Meal: Breakfast, Lunch.
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.
Lunch & Foot Massage (15minute) at Sala Kdei Khmer House: Enjoy a traditional Khmer lunch at Sala Kdei, our very own intimate Angkor retreat. Sample the best of Khmer flavours in these beautiful surroundings and take a break from exploring the temples. It is the perfect place to enjoy some authentic local food whilst staying out of the midday sun. Breakfast, sunset cocktails or a romantic dinner are also available at this gorgeous traditional wooden home on the banks of the Royal bathing pool at Sra Srang.
Note: Cycling English speaking tour guide, bike cycling and Tuk Tuk for small group. Big group is subject to use minivan.
Evening Bambu Stage Shows with dinner: From Monday to Saturday, the Bambu Stage Puppet troupe use the flickering shadows to bring Cambodian folk, classical and modern stories to life. Using fire, live music and special effects, this physical theatre is a fun night out, where you can watch the show, meet the puppet makers and actors and enjoy one of the three main works in their repertoire. Bambu Stage also offers up a Angkor Temples De-coded and Snap! 150 Years of Photography presentations.
Meal: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
05:30am : Earlier Moring Angkor Wat Sunrise & Monk blessing: 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. At one of the pagodas in the grounds of Angkor Wat, we will arrange a blessing from one of the monks, to offer you good fortune on your travels for the rest of your visit to Cambodia. 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.
09:30am : Angkor Zipline Tour: A unique way to enjoy an adrenaline adventure around Angkor is to experience ziplining with Angkor Zipline. Family‐friendly, fun and safe, flying through the air above the jungle canopy is an exhilarating experience. The course includes 10 ziplines, including a ‘honeymoon’ tandem line, rope bridges, a treehouse and a 15m abseil descent to navigate. They also have a nature trail and a family of wild gibbons in the jungle.
At the convenience time, you will be collected and transferred to Siem Reap Airport for your departure flight back home.
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||$3,690|
|From October to December||$3,690|