23 March 2017
Cambodia is one of south east Asia's most fascinating, colourful and historic countries and on this comprehensive tour you will see all of the iconic sights and meet the lovely people. Beginning in the capital Phnom Penh, you travel to a beaautiful seaside resort then have an extensive trip through the countryside, staying in a national park, before ending at Siem Reap, the gateway to the stunning temples of Angkor, one of the wonders of the ancient world.
On arrival at Phnom Penh you will be met at the airport and driven to your hotel in the capital city. Tonight meet your tour leader and the rest of the group in the reception area of the hotel for welcome drinks and a briefing on your upcoming tour and learn all about the places you will be visiting and the adventures that await. Then the rest of the evening is free for you to go out and explore on your own and try some of the local delicacies at one of the nearby restaurants.
In colonial times, Phnom Penh was pocketed with cinemas, grand catholic churches and smoky opium dens. After years of war and terror in the 1970s, it is now a city reinventing itself. After breakfast, set-out for a day of discoveries, beginning at the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocidal Crimes and The Killing Fields of Choeng Ek, for an insight into the insanity of the Pol Pot regime. After lunch, stop at the Art Deco Central Market then visit the Royal Palace and its famous Silver Pagoda. Later board a boat for a short cruise on the Tonle Sap River.
After an early breakfast leave the city on your way to the south coast on a road transfer seeing villages, rice fields studded with sugar palms, and children playing with their water buffaloes while the adults tend their fields. These patterns of everyday rural life keep you entertained throughout the journey which takes around half the day. On arrival at the beach resort of Sihanoukville you will be taken your hotel. Enjoy the afternoon on the beach and tonight have some fresh local seafood at one of the many BBQ restaurants.
Take a short drive to a small harbour and board a boat for a journey through the mangroves to Ream National Park, one of the most beautiful in Cambodia. This unique area comprises jungle-flanked waterways, off shore islands and villages and there are lots of idyllic white sand beaches. Ream is also home to more than 150 species of birds and wildlife, including deer, wild pigs and fishing cats. Enjoy lunch on the beach and take a tour with a park ranger before returning to Sihanoukville in the evening.
This morning take the train to charming and historical Kampot, a former French port, and now a picturesque and little-visited collection of old French colonial facades. Located just a few miles from the border with Vietnam, ‘Kep-sur-Mur’ is a seaside retreat established by the French more than 100 years ago. Here you see once magnificent, now abandoned, French colonial-style mansions and villas and explore the local market.
This morning you will travel by boat to Rabbit Island for a delicious local lunch . Afterwards drive along the coast to see Cham Muslim fishing villages and enjoy the gorgeous limestone karst scenery along the coast, stopping for a short walk through rice fields to a craggy outcrop, pocketed with interior caves. This evening you can try some delicious seafood from one of the famous Kep Crab Shacks.
Leave Kep today for a scenic drive to the small town of Takeo. Here, board speedboats and travel along rice field canals to the base of Phnom Da, a striking hill-top laterite temple. After admiring the view from the temple, return to the boat for the short trip to Angkor Borei, which was once a walled city. Return by speedboat and drive to Takeo homestay where you will be hosted by a local family for the night. Set among lush rice fields in rural Cambodia, this is a truly memorable experience and tonight enjoy a home-cooked dinner.
Say goodbye to your hosts and head west to the pine-clad hills of Kirirom National Park. Kirirom translates as ‘Happy Mountain’ and was Cambodia’s first National Park. It is a beautiful area of hills, pine forests, waterfalls, lakes and walking trails. After a wonderful day exploring it’s time to retire to your comfortable tented camp. These semi-permanent tents are reminiscent of an African safari experience and you have the thrill of sleeping outside with the comfort of soft bedding and en-suite toilets.
An early start for the long drive to Battambang. The journey takes you north towards Kompong Chhnang, a busy town on the shores of the great Tonle Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in south east Asia. A stop at Krakor fish market offers a fascinating insight into the fishing industry. After a long day on the road arrive in Battambang in the early evening and explore Cambodia’s second city, famous for its art scene, colonial architecture and night market. Battambang boasts a wide choice of funky bars, galleries, and boutiques.
The morning begins with a brief journey on the famous bamboo train, this unique journey will take you through typical Cambodian countryside on the strangest transport you will have ever used. Later travel to Siem Reap by road. This fascinating journey affords scenic views of rural life and of the Asia of yesteryear. On the way you will stop at the village of Meychrey, a small, lesser-visited village where everything takes place on the water. There are floating schools, shops, even pig pens and a crocodile farm. After the visit to the floating communities of Meychrey you continue on the last leg of the journey to Siem Reap, your home for the next three nights.
The temples of Angkor represent 600 years of Khmer civilisation and today you explore the most magnificent of them. The adventure begins with a pre-dawn departure from your hotel by tuk-tuk for the short ride to Angkor Wat. Creep in to the temple in darkness and gaze at the silhouetted main spires, and the longest stretch of bas-relief carvings in the world. Enjoy a freshly cooked breakfast, then enter the walled city of Angkor Thom to see the eerie stone heads of Bayon temple and visit jungle-enveloped and atmospheric Ta Prohm.
Begin today’s discoveries with a journey through the countryside to two of the most interesting temples outside Angkor. Boeng Mealea was under the control of the Khmer Rouge for decades, but has since been ‘de-mined’ and you can now safely visit. Continue the drive through rural areas to the intricately carved and well-preserved Banteay Srei temple and have a freshly cooked lunch at a restaurant before exploring the temple. Later stop at the Cambodian Landmine Museum. Tonight there's a special farewell dinner.
Today your wonderful tour around the cities, towns and countryside of Cambodia comes to an end in the resort town of Siem Reap. Enjoy some last minute sightseeing, possibly visiting the nearby Artisans Village to see the craftsmen and women at work, or doing some souvenir shopping, before being picked up from your hotel and driven to the airport to continue your south east Asia adventure or begin your journey back home, taking with you so many lasting memories.
Classic fr £1464pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated