The trip may be quick, but it is packed full of experiences that will give you great insight into Cambodia in a short amount of time. Begin your adventure in bustling Bangkok, full of interesting sights and delectable cuisine. With the option of adding an extra couple of days before your trip begins, you’ll fit into the lifestyle of South East Asia straight away. As well as a guided tour, you’ll also have a three-day Angkor pass to cover your whole time in Siem Reap, so that 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 local village homestay to experience everyday life in rural Cambodia.
Set out on an insightful journey through the temple-strewn landscapes, traditional cultures and enthralling cities of Cambodia on this incredible nine-day express adventure. From the bustle of Thailand’s heady capital of Bangkok, dive straight into the stately grandeur of Angkor, the rural charms of a village homestay and the cosmopolitan flavours of Phnom Penh. This highlights adventure through the heart of Cambodia is sure to leave you with some unforgettable memories of a fascinating part of Asia.
Breakfast Included: 7 Lunches Included: Dinner Included: 1
Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Thailand. Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm. Bangkok has so much to offer those with time to explore, so perhaps arrive a day or two early and take a riverboat to Chinatown to wander the crowded streets, uncover the magnificent Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, pay a visit to Wat Pho (home to the country's largest reclining Buddha), wander down the tourist mecca of Khao San Road, or indulge in some Thai massage. After the meeting tonight perhaps gather your fellow travellers together and tuck into some world-renowned street food.
It's a long drive from Bangkok to Siem Reap by private minibus today (approximately 10 hours including border crossings and lunch). 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. Perhaps start by hitting the local markets to try some delicious street food.
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 ninth 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 sites. These include Angkor Wat, Bayon and 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 interwoven in the stone foundations of the structure. After the tour, you will then be free to do as you please in Siem Reap. There are a load of optional activities to choose from, or otherwise, go exploring the creative and cultural scene in the markets in town.
Today is free for you to choose your own adventure in Siem Reap. If you’d like, you can head back into Angkor Wat, as your site pass covers you for another day of exploring. Instead, 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. Depending on the season there may be a chance to visit Tonle Sap Lake and its floating villages. Your group leader has all the right people in the right places, so be sure to ask them for their recommendations and what’s possible to do today.
Sambor Prei Kuk
Travel by private minibus to Sambor Prei Kuk and your homestay (approximately 3.5 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 just nearby are some of the oldest in the country (dating back to the sixth century) and are well worth a visit, if you choose to do so. In the evening, relax and unwind as you enjoy a traditional Khmer dinner with your host family.
After breakfast, leave the village and travel to Phnom Penh in a private minibus (approximately 4 hours). The journey is a great opportunity to see the real Cambodia, with several stops at points of interest along the way. It may be possible to see the cottage industry at Santuk Silk Farm and sample the local cuisine of deep-fried spiders at Skuon. Cambodia's capital is set on a major junction of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers and boasts some fine examples of French-influenced architecture. This afternoon, enjoy some free time for optional activities. Perhaps explore Wat Phnom – a peaceful temple situated on a local hill. A great way to see the city's key landmarks is a cyclo tour, which generally covers the Psar Thmei (Central Market), US Embassy, Wat Phnom, Mekong riverfront, Independence Monument and Royal Palace. If you're in the mood for shopping, stop in at the Psar Thmei (Central Market), or travel out to Psar Tuol Tom Pong (Russian Market) for the best range of local souvenirs.
Phnom Penh remains a living relic of the country’s past struggles and successes. Your day includes visits to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21) and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, which tell the story of the tragic legacy of the Khmer Rouge. S21 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 Killing Fields of Choeung Ek are home to a stupa made up of some 8000 human skulls, marking the execution ground for the torture victims of Tuol Sleng. After visiting both sites, you’ll have free time for the rest of the day. Perhaps learn about a brighter period in Cambodian history with a visit to the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, while the National Museum, housed in a beautiful traditional building is a great place to see some excellent Khmer craftmanship. An ideal way to spend the late afternoon and evening is to stroll along the famous Sisowath Quay and enjoy a coffee or cocktail at one of the many riverside cafes.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. If you would like to spend some more time in Phnom Penh, we’ll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). You might enjoy one of the Urban Adventures offered: Mekong Sunset or Phnom Penh Street Food by Night. Your leader can assist you with booking the tour of your choice.