21 October 2016
On this wonderful tour of fascinating Cambodia you will ascend to the realm of the gods at the stunning Angkor Wat temple and descend into the hell of the Khmer Rouge at Toul Sleng torture museum. Thanks to a history both inspiring and depressing, Cambodia delivers an intoxicating present for adventurous visitors. Today's Cambodia is the successor state to the mighty Khmer empire which once ruled much of what is now Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. The remains of this empire can be seen at the fabled temples of Angkor, monuments unrivalled in scale and grandeur in southeast Asia. The traveller’s first glimpse of Angkor Wat is sublime and matched by only a few select spots on earth, such as Machu Picchu or Petra.
Your Cambodia Revealed tour begins in the capital city of Phnom Penh. On arrival at the airport you will be met by one of our tour representatives and taken to your hotel. Tonight you will meet your tour leader and the rest of the group in the reception area of the hotel for welcome drinks and a briefing on what you will be seeing and doing over the next two weeks. Then after dinner go out and explore this exciting city and sample the varied nightlife.
After years of war and terror in the 1970s, Phnom Penh is now a city reinventing itself. Many parts are still a testament to its French colonial past while the recently developed riverfront area is proof of its future. Today begins with a cyclo ride, a traditional form of local transport where you sit and enjoy the backstreets and architecture of the city while the cyclo rider pedals you around. Our ride takes us to the Royal Palace and the famous Silver Pagoda, lined with a tiled floor of 5,000 silver tablets. The Silver Pagoda, originally built in 1892, was largely spared sacking by the Khmer Rouge and houses a revered ‘Emerald Buddha’ – akin to the Emerald Buddha held in Bangkok’s Grand Palace – as well as a ‘Golden Buddha’ encrusted with more than 9,000 diamonds. Afterwards, we stroll over to the National Museum for an appreciation of the splendour of Khmer history and art. Many of the sculptures you will see today were made before construction of the famous Angkor ruins even began. After lunch climb the steps of Phnom Penh’s namesake, Wat Phnom, before visiting the Tuol Sleng Museum to gain an sight into the chilling Khmer Rouge regime. Finish our touring with the Central Market ‘Psar Thmei’ to see it’s unique yellow dome and Art Deco architecture before being dropped back at our hotel.
This morning you will visit The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek and then continue to Ream National Park, one of the most beautiful of Cambodia’a national parks. This unique area comprises jungle-flanked waterways, off shore islands, several local villages, and some bleached white beaches. ‘Ream’ is also home to more than 150 species of birds, and a diverse range of wildlife (including tigers and guar). This morning drive to the ranger station, where you will board a small watercraft (with roof and life jackets) and spend 45 minutes cruising with a local ranger through pretty canals, emerging into a wide estuary. Travel for a further 45 minutes around a headland to arrive on the spectacularly beautiful Koh Sam Pouch beach. Here, you can relax, wander along the beautiful beach or go for a swim. Return to park headquarters either by walking half an hour through forest to a nearby village (for a rendezvous with your boat), or by taking the boat back the whole way. In the mid-afternoon travel back to Sihanoukville for free time. This evening you may wish to indulge is some fresh local seafood from one of the many seafood BBQ restaurants along
This morning drive to historical charming Kampot, passing small fishing villages. Kampot a former French port, and now a picturesque and little-visited collection of old French facades and tree-lined streets. We visit Kampot’s local market which houses a large array of local produce, fabrics, homewares and a myriad of other items. The market is busiest in the morning and provides a much more local experience than the popular markets in Phnom Penh. The area surrounding Kampot is famous for durian plantations, pepper and salt farms. You will learn about the cultivation and production of an increasingly growing industry in Cambodia, pepper. In the opinion of many Internationally renowned chefs Cambodia produces the best pepper in the world. You will then start your short journey to Kep. From 1908 ‘Kep-sur-Mur’ was a French seaside retreat for expatriates seeking respite from Phnom Penh’s searing heat. From the mid-1950’s this small settlement on Cambodia’s southeast coast became a popular retreat for the Khmer elite, and in the 1960’s experienced something of a development boom. During the 1980s Kep was the scene of ferocious fighting between the Khmer Rouge and government forces and many of the villas were gutted and razed to the ground. The shells of many buildings still stand however and are an eerie and unusual sight in this far southern reach of Indochina. King Norodom Sihanouk built a villa in Kep, this afternoon visit this deserted and old villa and take advantage of the fine views from its front terrace.
This morning begin with a visit to Kep’s crab market before driving along the coast passing Cham Muslim fishing villages. The limestone karst scenery along the South coast is gorgeous, so you will be able to stop on the way for a short walk through rice fields to a craggy outcrop, pocketed with interior caves (visit Phnom Chhnok during the dry season and Phnom Sorsia during the wet season). The afternoon is at your leisure to enjoy relaxing by the pool this evening you may wish to try some delicious seafood from one of the famous Kep Crab Shacks.
Today you go on a scenic drive to Takeo. First stop is The Vine pepper farm to learn about the cultivation and production of an increasingly growing industry in Cambodia. After a further two hour drive you arrive at the small town of Takeo where you board speedboats and travel along canals to the base of Phnom Da, a striking hill-top temple. Then continue to Angkor Borei and visit the museum. Then return by speedboat and drive a short distance to the Takeo Homestay where you will be hosted by a local family for the night. Set among lush rice fields in rural Cambodia your home stay will be a memorable experience. Tonight enjoy a home cooked dinner made with local produce.
Today you travel to Skuon town, where you can wander in the busy market. Later stop for lunch at a small silk farm at Santuk and learn the intricacies of traditional production before arriving at Kampong Thom staying at the Sambor Village Hotel.
Leave Kampong Thom for Sambor Pre Kuk, the pre-Angkorian capital of the Chenla civilization and one of the oldest temple cities in Southeast Asia. Here you can explore some of the most impressive temples which are little visited by westerners. After walking through the most important ruins head further north to Siem Reap, stopping at one of the 1,000-year-old stone naga (serpant) bridges. Then take a boat trip on the beautiful Tonle Sap, the second largest freshwater lake in the world, seeing the stilt houses and a floating village.
The temples of Angkor represent 600 years of Khmer civilisation - one of Asia’s greatest kingdoms. Today you explore majestic Angkor Wat entering the southern gate of the walled city of Angkor Thom. Your adventure begins with a pre dawn start to see the sunrise outside Angkor Wat. Then venture deep into the central chambers and upper terraces of this truly great temple ending up with breakfast outside. Then enter Angkor Thom city and marvel at the eerie stone heads and evocative bas-reliefs of the Bayon temple. Return to town for lunch and a break and in the afternoon explore two overgrown sites, including the famous jungle-enveloped Ta Prohm, one of the most atmospheric of all temples in Angkor.
Visit two of the most interesting temples outside Angkor Thom city. First travel two hours through scenic countryside to King Suryavarman II’s eleventh century Boeng Mealea Temple which stands almost forgotten in jungle. Getting to the site is quite an adventure in itself. Then drive to the intricately carved and well preserved Banteay Srei Temple where you have lunch at a local restaurant before exploring. On the way back to Siem Reap you stop at the Cambodian Landmine Museum and Banteay Samre, a small temple. Later climb Pre Rup, a pyramid shaped temple-mountain to enjoy sunset over the surrounding temples and jungle.
Today you travel to Cambodia’s second most populated city, Battambang, which has a wonderful charm and is located on the banks of the Stung Sangker river. The city is home to some of the best preserved French colonial architecture. After checking into your centrally located hotel you visit the Battambang Museum, which boasts some fine Angkorian lintels and statues from all over the province. This evening you can take a wander along the riverfront and enjoy one of the many fine restaurants.
This morning you head out to see some spectacular sites surrounding Battambang. The temples and pagodas here escaped damage during the Khmer Rouge regime due to a local commander who ignored orders. You visit the colourful Wat Phiphetaram, Wat Damrey Sar which is the largest temple and the impressive Wat Kandal which is just north of the Iron Bridge and has an unusual tall arched entrance. This afternoon walk through the market where you will find many delicacies both local and from neighbouring Thailand. You also have plenty of free time to wander the streets and soak up the atmosphere of this rare gem of Cambodia.
Today you will drive back to Siem Reap after a memorable stay in Battambang. Just outside of Siem Reap you make a stop at the Artisans D’ Angkor silk farm where you will learn about how silk is produced and the traditional method of weaving. This afternoon you have some free time to enjoy Siem Reap and explore on your own, or just relax and soak up the sun around the pool, before sitting down to a farewell dinner to celebrate the end of a remarkable journey.
Your memorable Cambodian discovery tour comes to an end today. Perhaps time for some last minute sightseeing or shopping for souvenirs in Siem Reap before you are picked up from your hotel and driven to the airport to catch an onward flight or begin your journey home knowing that you have experienced all the spectacular highlights that this fascinating south east Asian country has to offer.
Standard fr £1712pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated