Is Angkor the most incredible thing in South East Asia? Decide for yourself as you temple-hop with an expert local guide around the complex.. Appreciate the work of Friends International at their Futures Factory, a dining and creative space, dedicated to training vulnerable Cambodian youth to work in the hospitality industry.. Learn more about Cambodia’s confronting but important history, with visits to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21) and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek.. A homestay in Banteay Chhmar puts you right in the heart of everyday village life in Cambodia
What is essentially Cambodia? Well, this nine-day adventure will show you, taking you straight through the middle of this South East Asian nation full of history, temples and cheap, tasty food. See Wat’s up in Angkor, laugh with the locals in Banteay Chhmar, explore the markets in Siem Reap and see where the Mekong, Bassac and Tonle Sap rivers collide in Phnom Penh. With time before and after to hit up the hubs of Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City, this epic adventure will make sure you see the hotspots of Cambodia, without missing a beat.
Breakfast Included: 3 Lunches Included: Dinner Included: 2
Sawasdee! Welcome to Thailand. Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm. Bangkok has so much going on if you've got time to explore, so we recommend you arrive a day or two early to explore the sights and sounds of this South East Asian hub. Why not hit the canals for a riverboat trip to Chinatown? Visit the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha? Or indulge in some Thai massage? Whatever you do, be sure to sit down with a green curry or tom yum goong (spicy seafood soup) after your welcome meeting.
Rise 'n' shine, travellers! After breakfast, you'll depart Thailand and head into Cambodia – your leader will help you through the border-crossing procedures. From Bangkok to Banteay Chhmar it's an 8-hour trip, which includes time to get yourself some lunch, and the time at the border. Banteay Chhmar, which translates as Citadel of the Cat, is our destination for the evening. This charming little village is far off the tourist trail and is dotted with several temples around the area. Take a leader-led orientation walk around to get your bearings. Tonight, you'll experience traditional hospitality staying with a local family in a Khmer house set on wooden stilts. As the day comes to an end, sit down to a delicious Khmer dinner by torchlight in the grounds of the temple or at a local community centre, depending on the weather.
After a peaceful night in Banteay Chhmar, take a visit to the temple in the middle of town. Similar to many Khmer temples in Cambodia, they are surrounded by water which, most often, represents the ocean surrounding the Temple Mountain: an architectural representation of the Hindu god’s home, Mount Meru. The Temple Mountain design has influenced most Khmer temples in the Angkor period. The water also helps stabilise the building’s foundation, preventing groundwater from rising or falling too drastically. Afterwards, take a private vehicle to the city of Siem Reap (approximately 4 hours). Once you've arrived, perhaps spend some time looking around the central markets and pick up some of the delicious food on offer. Why not?
Siem Reap – Angkor Wat
Time to visit the mighty Angkor complex with your guide. Get that camera ready, because it's going to look good, whatever the time of day. Some of this complex is over a thousand years old, going back to the days when the Khmer Empire was top dog in South East Asia. These beauties were known to represent the cosmic world and were set in perfect balance, symmetry and composition. Let your mind be blown as you roam around the site with your leader, and make sure you don’t miss the temples at sunset. The ruins are scattered over an area of some 160 square kilometres, but the main cluster of temples is close to Siem Reap, so you'll have plenty of time to get to grips with the larger-than-life Angkor Wat, the grand Bayon and the jungle-covered Ta Prohm. Tonight, have a special experience as you enjoy a traditional meal in a local family's home.
This morning, take up an awesome street food breakfast in Siem Reap’s local market. Other than this, today is free for you to experience Siem Reap however you want. If you're all templed out, but still feel like something pretty out there, you can opt for an Angkor zip-line course, which will have you soaring like an eagle over the rainforest. There’s also a landmine museum or some pretty great Urban Adventure Tours that you could book yourself in to. You group leader will know the best things to do, so ask them if you’re stuck. If you couldn’t get enough of the Angkor site, no problems! Speak to your leader about the cheapest options, as multi-day passes are available.
Time to head to Cambodia’s capital. Take a public bus through the Cambodian countryside for around 6-7 hours until you reach the bustling city of Phnom Penh (this includes two stops). Phnom Penh sits at the junction of the Mekong, Bassac and Tonle Sap rivers, and used to be known as Krong Chaktomuk (‘City of Four Faces’), as this river junction forms an X crossing, which represents four geographic ‘faces’ of the city and surrounding area. The main centre of the city sits on the Western bank of the Tonle Sap/Mekong rivers. You’ll get the chance to take up a cocktail (or mocktail) making class as part of the Futures Factory project – an initiative begun by Friends International to give at-risk youth the opportunity to gain hospitality skills in a safe, welcoming environment. Don’t worry, you’ll get some snacks too!
Wake up in this bustling city and take a visit with your group to learn more about the country's history and the Khmer Rouge atrocities at the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek and the infamous Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21). The rest of the day is free to explore the city. If you're in the mood for some shopping then check out the Psar Thmei (Central Market), located in an old French colonial building, for clothing or sarongs. Otherwise maybe stop by the temple of Wat Phnom, the National Museum, Royal Palace or the French Quarter.
Ho Chi Minh City
Travel by public bus from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City (approximately 10 hours including two border crossings and lunch). Your leader knows the drill, so they'll assist you with border crossing procedures. Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City and get your first taste of this fast-paced, fun city. Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is quite the hub of markets, stalls and Vietnamese history, and much of city life happens on the streets. You'll see it's a combo of all kinds of flavours, old and new, East and West. Try a French baguette, get your pho fix, and have a caffeine hit with some Vietnamese coffee, best shared with the locals.
Ho Chi Minh City
As there are no activities planned for today, you can leave your accommodation at any time. If you're staying longer, good for you! You might want to go on one of the Urban Adventures offered: Mekong Discovery, Cyclos & Markets, Cu Chi Experience, or Saigon Street Food by Night. Your leader can help you book the tour of your choice. If you would like to spend some more time in Ho Chi Minh City, we’ll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).