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CambodiaUnique discoveries in Cambodia

  • Off the beaten track
Trip highlights
  • Bird watching
    Bird watching
  • Cycling
    Cycling
  • Local cuisine
    Local cuisine
  • Local population
    Local population
  • Jungle
    Jungle

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Day 1: Arrival in Siem Reap

Upon arrival in Phnom Penh, you will be welcomed to Cambodia by your guide, and transferred to your hotel in a private chauffeur driven car. 


Cycling tour to Chreav Community to Learn about Local Life and Nature (Half Day): Take to two wheels to cycle to the pretty commune of Chreav near the Tonle Sap Great Lake. Join a birding expert to spot local birdlife on the edge of the Tonle Sap Lake which is a vast wetland and potentially see a variety of large water birds depending on the season. Continue to visit some local farms in the area which are growing fruit and vegetables. After the visit, travel to Green Home, a local homestay initiative to try a delicious traditional Cambodian dinner. 

Meals: Dinner at homestay.

Visited:
Siem Reap
Accommodation
Montra Nivesha (Siem Reap)

Day 2: Visit Roluos Group

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.For those that are interested, we can offer a short diversion to the small country town of Roluos, a world away from the hive of activity that is Siem Reap. 


Cooking Class “Trails of Television Celebrity Chef” 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, 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 Escape series. Guests will learn this dish in the same surrounds and will also be shown options for how it might work with 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. 

Evening Quad Adventure with Sunset Cocktails and private dinner with shadow puppet shows at rice field: Enjoy an unforgettable way to experience life in the beautiful countryside of Cambodia surrounding Siem Reap. We take to the less-travelled tracks and paths to weave through the rural villages and communities, taking the opportunity to stop and interact along the way with villagers and children, enjoy a cool drink, while an afternoon ride will include a sunset view as it dips below the rice fields. This is an opportunity to see the 'real' Cambodia that very few visitors ever experience. Shadow puppetry is a traditional art form in Cambodia dating back to the time of Angkor. Puppets are carved from leather and the performance is given against a backdrop of burning coconut shells which illuminates the cotton 'screen'. Performances are in Khmer with an English narrator and accompanied by traditional music. Witnessing a performance in the ricefields is a magical experience as local villagers will gather behind to watch this captivating traditional art form.   


Note: Collection from hotel around 3pm, Quad bike 3.30-5.30 (2 hrs ride and end with bikes at field as it is dark to ride back), Sunset cocktails 5.30-6.30 (1hr cocktails). 


Meals: Breakfast, Lunch at Sala Roluos and Dinner at Ricefields.

Visited:
Siem Reap
Accommodation
Montra Nivesha (Siem Reap)

Day 3: Full day Mahendraparvata Motorcycle Adventure on Phnom Kulen

Known as Mahendraparvata at the time of the Khmer Empire, Phnom Kulen hit the headlines in 2013 as a ‘lost city’ revealed through the use of aerial LIDAR data. This was 21st century archaeology at its very best and several new sites were discovered as well as a much bigger urban settlement than was previously realised. Explore some of these newly accessible adventures on the back of a motorcycle, the traditional form of transport in rural Cambodia.

We 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. We travel by vehicle to the busy settlement of Preah Ang Thom before transferring to local motorcycle to explore the mountain.

We explore some remote jungle sites on the sacred mountain, starting with 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. We continue to the striking stone guardian animals of Sra Damrei, which include a life-size stone elephant. Next we travel to 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.

We continue 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.

We then return to Preah Ang Thom village for a local lunch. Nearby are impressive riverbed rock carvings, including innumerable lingas and representations of Shiva and Vishnu. There is a classic waterfall further downstream which is the perfect place to cool off after exploring 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. Later we descend from the plateau and return to Siem Reap town.  


Meals: Breakfast, Lunch at local.

Visited:
Siem Reap
Accommodation
Montra Nivesha (Siem Reap)

Day 4: Hidden Trails of Angkor by Mountain Bikes with lunch at Sala Kdei

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 much of the area without the crowds. Leaving Siem Reap early, take a forest path to avoid the traffic and wind your 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. 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. Enter the immense walled city of Angkor Thom, the masterpiece of King Jayavarman VII, through the Victory Gate and continue to East Gate. 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. You will 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.  


You then head back out on to the trails to finish at Sras Srang, the ancient bathing pool of the kings.  Here you will find Sala K'Dei, a wonderful Khmer style restaurant where you will enjoy a tasty lunch and cooling drinks after your ride. 


Angkor Thom Photographic Scavenger Hunt: 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.  Use the map 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, Lunch at Sala Kdei.

Visited:
Siem Reap
Accommodation
Montra Nivesha (Siem Reap)

Day 5: 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. 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. 


Visit 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.

Visited:
Siem Reap
Accommodation
Montra Nivesha (Siem Reap)

Day 6: Visit Phnom Penh 101 | Phnom Penh Orientation

Private Transfer Out: At the convenience time, you will be collected and transferred to Siem Reap Airport for your departure flight.

Private Charter: Private Helicopter flight from Siem Reap Airport –Phnom Penh Airport.

Private transfer: Upon arrival in Phnom Penh, you will be welcomed to Cambodia by your guide, and transferred to your hotel in a private chauffeur driven car.

Visit Phnom Penh 101 | Phnom Penh Orientation: Explore the Cambodian capital on foot in this orientation tour that starts at the very beginning with a visit to the historic Wat Phnom that gives the city its name. Phnom Penh’s first pagoda was erected here in 1373 at the behest of the city’s founder, Madame Daun Penh. We explore the Post Office square, including a look at the gorgeous French colonial-era buildings that have been restored such as Palais de Poste Restaurant and to see some of the locations used in the Matt Dillon film ‘City of Ghosts’. We also stop off for a refreshment in Cam Cup Coffee, a local café housed in the grand old Post Office itself. This offers a chance to learn a few simple Khmer phrases with the local tour guide to help prepare for your Cambodia adventures.

We continue on foot to Psar Thmei, the renovated art deco-styled Central Market, a striking French-era building dating back to 1937. The dome rises to 50m above a bustling inner sanctum selling everything from fresh food, clothes, electronics and gold and silver jewellery. We then explore the back streets of the city where local life is lived to the full, winding our way from the Central Market to Kandal Market and on to the lively riverfront area of town. See the striking facades of the National Museum and Royal Palace which are landmarks on the lively riverfront. While a visit is not included in this particular orientation tour, the guide can share information on the history and it is possible to return to visit at another time. Finish up at the Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC), a landmark colonial-era building where you can enjoy a drink or snack at your own leisure.

Evening One Night in Phnom Penh: Check the pulse of the Cambodian capital with this evening tour designed to introduce a mix of drinking and dining in some of the city’s happening nightspots.

Start at 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, a Red and an IPA together with a mixed platter of snacks to help wash down the beer.

The adventure continues with a trip to a secret speakeasy located at the end of a small alley off St 51. The first challenge is to find the way in via the Coca-Cola machine. Once inside, choose a signature cocktail in this hip little spot and try a couple of signature local snacks.

The next stop is an atmospheric garden bar which is home to the Cerevisia Brewery. Sample a flight of three tipples, including an IPA, an amber ale and more based on their daily selection, all washed down with some Kampot pepper pate and other finger food.

After dinner and drinks, walk down lively little St 308 to one of the most happening cocktail bars in town. The menu includes a whole host of original cocktails named in honour of singers and stars from Cambodia’s Golden Years in the 1960s and you can sample one with some tips from the friendly bar team.

The last stop is nearby Bassac Lane, a gaggle of hole-in-the-wall bars that offers a whole host of hole-in-the-wall bars serving local beer, imported wine and homegrown cocktails. The experience ends here where participants are free to carry on and explore the bars or can be transported back to their hotel.

* Please note that each venue includes one drink or one set of drinks as stated. Additional drinks can be arranged at the client’s own expense.  


​Meals: Breakfast, dinner.

Visited:
Siem Reap
Accommodation
Villa Langka (Phnom Penh)

Day 7: Morning Architectural Tours of Phnom Penh

The architectural heritage of Phnom Penh, once described as the ‘Jewel of Asia’, is slowly disappearing amidst the race by city planners to modernize. An architectural tour of the city will bring you face to face with the few remaining treasures that the city possesses. At weekends we can arrange for a variety of tours by cyclo, tuk-tuk or car that can include visiting key sights like the restored Post Office, art-deco Central Market, the National Sports Complex or the University campuses of the city, a mix of grand French Colonial-era buildings and remnants of the New Khmer Architecture period that dominated the 1950s and ‘60s, accompanied by a qualified guide. During weekdays, we can arrange the same tours but we cannot guarantee an architectural guide.

Afternoon Living History Tour of Phnom Penh:

Recounting the city’s history through its remarkably diverse buildings.

We start our look at the living fabric of Phnom Penh at the very beginning, Wat Phnom. The city’s first pagoda was erected here in 1373 at the behest of the city’s founder, Madame Daun Penh. We then seek out some of the iconic buildings of the city that help tell the story of the city. We explore the Post Office square, including a look at the gorgeous French colonial-era buildings that have been restored such as Van’s Restaurant and to see some of the locations used in the film City of Ghosts. We then continue up the riverfront to visit some little known historic buildings in the city, including some hidden Chinese temples in the back streets of the capital. We emerge along Monivong Boulevard near the French Embassy, the site of the final evacuation of foreigners still in the city when the Khmer Rouge took over in 1975. Heading south again, we visit the Le Bibliotheque, the striking national library, and the classic Raffles Hotel Le Royal. Nearby is the beautiful but underutilised Phnom Penh Railway Station. We finish our look at the city’s living history with a view over the capital from one of its highest points and a bird’s eye look at the renovated art deco-styled Central Market. Explore the market for a fresh fruit shake or an iced coffee to finish things off.

* This tour can be done by remork-moto (tuk-tuk), private car or minibus. 

Evening CLA On Stage Shows at National Museum: 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.  


Meals: Breakfast.

Visited:
Phnom Penh
Accommodation
Villa Langka (Phnom Penh)

Day 8: Full day Elephant Keeper for a Day at Phnom Tamao

Wildlife Alliance cares for and rehabilitates animals rescued from the illegal wildlife trade at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center (PTWRC) in Cambodia. Elephant Keeper for a Day is an exciting opportunity for you to get your hands dirty by cleaning the enclosure and preparing food, while learning more about their four gentle pachyderms at Phnom Tamao. Learn about Chhouk the youngest elephant and how he came to lose his foot requiring a prosthetic, meet two of their rescued wild elephants and how the human/animal conflict in Cambodia led them to the center and finish the day with a walk in the forests with Lucky. The tour is only available for guests 16+ years and includes a traditional Khmer lunch and best of all, the opportunity to contribute directly towards helping care for animals that have been rescued and have the best possible care with Wildlife Alliance.

Note: The tour is only available for guests 16+ years. Please wear worn or inexpensive clothing as you will be outside working with the elephants in some hot & dusty conditions. 


​Meals : Breakfast.

Visited:
Phnom Penh

Siem ReapPhnom Penh

Price details

This tour idea is fully customizable

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.

SeasonPrice Per Adult
Average trip price
From February to March $6,410
From October to December $6,410

Included in the price:

  • Accommodation
  • Breakfast
  • In-trip ground transportation
  • Activities according to your customized trip
  • Airport transfers
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  • Trip creation with an expert local agent

Not included in the price:

  • Arrival and departure flights
  • Meals and beverages not indicated
  • Personal expenses
  • Service gratuities
  • Visa fees
  • Travel insurance
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