On our most in-depth trip to Cambodia, take a comprehensive look at the country with a knowledgeable local leader to help you get under the surface and delve deeper into daily life. Angkor Wat. Need we say more? As well as a guided tour, you’ll also have a pass to cover your whole time in Siem Reap so you can explore this incredible temple complex as much and as often as you like. Discover the temple ruins at Sambor Prei Kuk and enjoy a village homestay to experience everyday life in rural Cambodia. Visit the floating villages of Tonle Sap Lake with a guided boat tour through the biodiverse and aquatic heart of Cambodia
Experience the best of Cambodia on a comprehensive journey to the heart of the country and get to know the people, landscape, customs and cuisine that make Cambodia so incredible. Travel to the French-colonial elegance of Battambang and on to the time-worn grandeur of Angkor Wat. Visit Cambodia’s remote south to discover the magical country of the Khmers. Indulge in heritage and culture on this fascinating 14-day tour through the best of Cambodia.
Sua s'dei! Welcome to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm tonight. If you have free time in the afternoon, perhaps stroll the streets of Phnom Penh and explore the city, taking in the interesting French colonial architecture. The National Museum, with its collection of classic Khmer craftsmanship, is well worth a visit. Consider a visit to Wat Phnom, a peaceful temple situated on a hill for which the city is named. According to legend, a 14th-century woman named Penh found sacred Buddhist objects in the nearby river and placed them here on the small hill. A great way to spend your first evening, after your important meeting, is to stroll along the famous Sisowath Quay and enjoy a coffee or cocktail at one of the many cafes while observing the busy river traffic.
Phnom Penh remains a living relic of the country’s past struggles and successes. Your included visits to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21) and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek tell the story of the tragic legacy of the Khmer Rouge. Tuol Sleng is a former school that served as a Khmer Rouge torture centre, and it’s estimated that more than 20,000 people were held and tortured here. The Choeung Ek Memorial is home to a stupa made up of some 8,000 human skulls, marking the site of the infamous Killing Fields. This was the execution ground for the torture victims of Tuol Sleng, and standing in this peaceful setting it's almost unthinkable to imagine that to date nearly 9,000 corpses have been exhumed from the area. In the afternoon, consider a visit to the Royal Palace. The private quarters of the Royal Palace are home to King Sihamoni and are closed to the public, but you can visit the Silver Pagoda that lies in the palace complex, which is the most sacred temple in the country. An ideal way to spend your second evening here is to relax in a cafe by the riverfront.
This morning, take a private vehicle to Kampong Cham (approximately 3 hours). This city lies on the banks of the Mekong River, and has all of the frontier charm and French colonial character. On arrival, you may like to head out to the 11th-century Wat Nokor complex, a former capital of the pre-Angkor period. This complex is a series of structures and temple ruins made of sandstone and laterite stone, built under the reign of Khmer King Jayavarman VII.
Sambor Prei Kuk
Travel by private vehicle to Sambor Prei Kuk and your homestay (approximately 3 hours). You will embark on a tour of the village with your local guide. The guide will introduce you to the way of life of the local people, your homestay facilities and your hosts for tonight. Facilities are simple at your homestay, but this is a fantastic opportunity to experience everyday life in rural Cambodia. The temple ruins at Sambor Prei Kuk nearby are some of the oldest in the country (dating back to the 6th century) and are well worth a visit. In the evening, relax and unwind as you enjoy a traditional Khmer dinner with your host family.
Travel by private vehicle to Siem Reap today (approximately 3.5 hours). The small but expanding town of Siem Reap is the gateway to Angkor. This is the most popular destination for travellers in all of Cambodia, perhaps even in South East Asia. You'll probably notice a change of pace here, so take a walk and enjoy the atmosphere. A visit to the old market is a must, even if you're not looking for souvenirs; wandering through the stalls and surrounding shops, the silks, cottons, sarongs, silver and statues are a riot of colour and a feast for the eyes. There's also a long tradition of shadow puppetry in the region, and if you're lucky you might catch a show at one of the local restaurants in the evening, perhaps while you're eating the speciality cuisine of Cambodia, amok – the name given to curry steam-cooked in banana leaves.
Siem Reap / Angkor Wat
Spend a full day temple-hopping with your local guide to make the most of your visit to the world-famous Angkor complex, built between the 9th and 13th centuries when the Khmer empire was the pre-eminent influence in South East Asia. 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 fully appreciate the great archaeological site. These include Angkor Wat, the Bayon and the jungle-covered Ta Prohm. The temples were believed to represent the cosmic world and were set in perfect balance, symmetry and composition. The intricately carved bas-reliefs and architectural designs are mind-blowing and there are spectacular photographic opportunities at any time of day – watching a sunrise or sunset is a must.
Siem Reap / Angkor Wat
Continue your exploration of the Angkor Complex this morning on a half-day tour. The constructions you’ll see yesterday and today include the eponymous Angkor Wat, the largest and most complete structure, and the only one of Angkor's temples that has its entrance facing west – the others face east. Then there is Angkor Thom, the 'Great Royal City', a temple that is famous for its series of colossal human faces carved in stone. Of all the temples visited, Bayon temple is the centrepiece, with over 200 smiling carved faces and more than 50 gothic towers. You’ll also visit Ta Prohm temple, where nature has taken over again and large trees are embedded in the stone foundations of the structure. Your afternoon will then be free and there are some optional activities to keep you busy. If you feel like some adventure, maybe do the Angkor zip-line course, which gives you a birds-eye view of the beautiful rainforest – and an adrenaline rush, of course. You could get to the heart of Cambodia through its food with a cooking class. Another option is to visit the sobering Landmine Museum. It's located a little further afield but is well worth the journey.
Today, travel by boat to Battambang (season depending). Cambodia's second-largest city, Battambang (pronounced Battambong), is a pretty riverside town of French elegance, friendly Khmer people and beautifully preserved colonial architecture. The city is famous for its many statues of animals and divinities that decorate the streets and buildings. The city lacks the traffic of Phnom Penh and the visitor numbers of Siem Reap, so it’s a great place to get a real slice of Cambodia. With a free afternoon, you may wish to visit the hilltop Wat Banan temple, offering 360-degree panoramic views over the Sang Ke River. There is also the Killing Fields and Caves in Battambang, which are well-worth the sobering experience. In the evening, perhaps walk along the riverfront where locals indulge in hobbies such as yoga and folk dancing.
This morning, enjoy a half-day bike trip through the beautiful surrounding countryside of Battambang. Stop along the way to discover the local rural way of life, discovering small cottage industries producing sticky rice, noodles, and fish paste. There are a number of activities for your free afternoon today. You can see students rehearsing in their circus and music school, and young painters at work in visual arts (open on Mondays and Thursdays). There’s also an optional cooking class to learn the secrets of local dishes such as amok, Khmer curry, and fried spicy chicken.
Embark on a 3.5-hour journey from Battambang to Kampong Chhnang – located near the mouth of the Tonle Sap Lake where it meets the river of the same name. Included for today is a boat trip to Tonle Sap lake, where you’ll pass by some 173 floating villages, known as the aquatic heart of Cambodia. This is a bird-watcher’s paradise, so keep your eyes out for the wildlife of the lake around and above. Later on, head to a pottery workshop, where you’ll learn the traditional ways in which locals create the pottery, and have a chance to try it out, if you’d like! In the evening, there is the option to enjoy dinner at a local home. Speak to your group leader if you would like to organise this.
Take a private vehicle to Kampot (approximately 4.5 hours) – one of Cambodia's most attractive old towns. Famous for its pepper, Kampot supplied most French restaurants with this vital spice for many years during colonial rule. Today, the region is more renowned for its plantations of durian, a spiky, pungent fruit that you’ll either love or hate – try it if you dare! In some free time, you might choose to stroll along the riverside and observe the French colonial architecture or have a cup of coffee on the veranda of one of the riverside restaurants and admire the view of Bokor Mountain Range. A traditional massage is also highly recommended. Certainly, one of the most enjoyable ways of supporting a local charity, you change into loose cotton pajamas before putting yourself in the capable hands of one of the blind masseurs or masseuses. In a country with no social security, the training and support provided by the centres such as Seeing Hands allows blind Cambodians to support themselves with dignity.
Enjoy a day out in the countryside, giving you the opportunity to discover the jewels of the Kampot Province. Visit the Pepper Project and learn why Kampot pepper has been acknowledged by international chefs as the world’s best. Also visit the Kampot salt field – the only salt field in Cambodia. A short walk through the rice fields and a climb provides a lovely outlook over the surrounding countryside. A few steps later and you enter the mouth of Phnom Chhnork limestone cave that has a small 7th century brick temple inside it. Explore the old buildings near Kep’s oceanfront. The town used to be Cambodia's most popular and prestigious beach town from the early 1900's until the 1960's. During the Khmer Rouge years, many of Kep's mansions and villas were destroyed, but the ghostly remains of many still stand as a silent reminder.