A night of leisure time in Bangkok is a golden opportunity for a street food feast. The Thai capital is quite arguably the world’s greatest open-air barbeque. Get a double dose of Angkor greatness. Explore not only the world-famous complex outside Siem Reap, but also the incredible and remote Banteay Chhmar, aka the Citadel of the Cat.. Enjoy a well-balanced activity schedule in Phnom Penh. After a Mekong mountain biking trip, spend some free time learning about the dark history of the Khmer Rouge.. Get off the beaten track in the Cardamom Mountains, trekking to rapids and a waterfall and staying overnight with a local family.
Discover the magic of Cambodia, from the palm-lined coastal fringes to the heart of the country’s Khmer heritage. Journey from bustling Bangkok to remote Banteay Chhmar and on to Angkor, where mind-blowing temples strike a dazzling pose in the setting sun. Mountain bike by the Mekong in Phnom Penh, stay with a local family in the Cardamom Mountains then relax and unwind on the perfect beaches of Ko Kong and Ko Chang. With something for everyone, this is the perfect two-week trip through Cambodia.
Breakfast Included: 11 Lunches Included: Dinner Included: 2
Welcome to Bangkok, the Thailand's steamy capital. Your adventure begins with a meeting at 6 pm, but if you arrive early there's more than enough to keep you occupied. You know what they say: one night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster, one day in Bangkok and you could take a riverboat to Chinatown, check out the magnificent Grand Palace, pay a visit to Wat Pho (home of Thailand's largest reclining Buddha) or indulge in a Thai massage. Yes, it's a lengthy saying. After meeting your group in the evening, why not head out with your new friends and eat your way through Bangkok's world-class street food including – you guessed it – pad thai.
Rise 'n' shine, travellers, there's a big ol' bus ride into Cambodia today. You'll depart Thailand through Aranyaprathet and enter Cambodia at Poipet, and your leader will help you through the bureacratic border procedure (if you're getting your visa at the border, be sure to have US dollars at the ready). From Bangkok to Banteay Chhmar it's an eight hour trip, which includes a lunch stop and the border crossing procedures. 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 its 9th-century temple is a top candidate for World Heritage status, with the ruins surrounded by a wall that stretches some nine kilometres across. Tonight you'll experience true Cambodian hospitality staying with a local family in a traditional 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.
Pack your bags after breakfast and travel to Siem Reap by private vehicle (approx. four hours). Your leader will take you on a short walk around town on arrival and give you the lowdown on this backpacker favourite, which is probably most well-known as the gateway to the Angkor complex. Temples aside, there's plenty to do in town. Start by hitting the markets – a top spot for cheap, tasty eats – then check out Pub Street, a buzzing thoroughfare crammed with bars and restaurants. Your leader can provide further recommendations.
Siem Reap / Angkor Wat
Tuck into some breakfast then prepare for a full day of temple-hopping with a local guide. Your destination is the Angkor Complex, home to a number of incredible temples and the remains of different capitals of the Khmer Empire, built between the 9th and 15th centuries. The site itself stretches over a vast distance, but the main cluster of temples is quite close to Siem Reap so you'll have plenty of time to explore. Highlights include the Bayon Temple, which features a number of carved faces, the root-covered Ta Prohm and, of course, the MVP of temples – Angkor Wat. The ornate carvings and architectural designs can be appreciated at any time of day, but they make for a truly magical spectacle at sunrise or sunset.
The Green Gecko Project, a local initiative, provides security, education and opportunities to former street children, their families and the broader community in a concerted effort to break the begging cycle. Today you'll learn about the work they do on a visit to the project's headquarters. The afternoon is yours to spend as you wish. Adventurous types may want to visit the Flight of the Gibbon zip-line and canopy walk for a bird's-eye view of the rainforest and an adrenalin rush, while epicureans can get out and taste traditional Khmer food on a Cambodia Cook-out Urban Adventure. Alternatively, spend some time learning about Cambodia's recent history on a visit to the Landmine Museum, which is located about 25 kilometres out of town. There's also the option of visiting the impressive Phare, the Cambodian circus, in the evening.
Leave Siem Reap behind and travel by public bus to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia (approx. six hours). Set on a major junction of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers, the city once known as the Pearl of Asia has experienced occupation, war and revolution in its recent history. The promenade along the Mekong offers open views of the city and Royal Palace complex, which is home to the beautiful Silver Pagoda, a stunning temple with 5000 silver tiles covering the floor. The afternoon is free for exploration and the National Museum is worth a museum, as is Wat Phnom if you're after a retreat from the sometimes chaotic city centre. If you're in the mood for some shopping, spend some time exploring the Art Deco Psar Thmei (Central Market) or Psar Tuol Tom Pong (the Russian Market).
Swap two feet for two wheels on a mountain bike adventure this morning. Begin by crossing the Mekong on a local boat, then pedal through villages on an island famous for silk weaving, agriculture and aquaculture. Cycle on quiet roads through orchards and past rice paddies, watching the locals working the land. The ride will cover about 25 kilometres in total, and in the afternoon you'll have free time sightseeing around Phnom Penh. Your leader will help organise many optional activities. We highly recommend visiting the Choeung Ek Memorial and Killing Fields – though they're no doubt confronting and sobering, they provide important insight to this beautiful nation's history.
Transfer to the village of Andong Teuk by private vehicle (approx. 3.5 hours), then jump in a local boat and putter up the Piphot River to the foothills of the Cardamom Mountains (approx. 2.5 hours). These hills are a biodiversity hotspot and one of the last remaining wild elephant corridors, which extends all the way down from China. Your remote destination, Chi Phat village, has been gaining additional income from travellers since a community project to stop forestry began in 2008. This project is an initiative of Wildlife Alliance and it's possible to do some tree planting whilst here. After a local lunch, embark on a trek to the Chhay Chrey rapids with a local guide (approx. 2 km) where you can relax and enjoy a swim. This evening you'll stay with a local family and experience everyday life in rural Cambodia.
Please note that facilities are basic. Linen, a mattress and a mosquito net are provided, and the food is simple but delicious. There are shared bathroom facilities with squat toilets.
Koh Kong City
Depart Chi Phat and travel to Koh Kong, located near the Thai-Cambodia border. Approximate travel time is 2.5 hours by boat and 2 hours by private vehicle. The journey will be broken up with a short trek to the Tatei waterfall, where you can take a refreshing swim beneath the four-metre falls. Continue to Koh Kong and settle in, relax and perhaps check out the beautiful, white-sand beaches lined with palm trees a short distance from the town. Koh Kong is close to the Thai border and is a laidback trading port with an occaisional barge drifting by.
Koh Kong City
Enjoy a free day by the coast. The Ko Kong province is quickly establishing itself as Cambodia' premier eco-tourism destination so there are a wealth of optional activities to choose from. You may like to visit the Peam Krasaop Wildlife Sanctuary, or take a boat trip out to the island of Ko Kong where the clear waters of the Gulf of Thailand lap against palm-fringed beaches.
Transfer from Ko Kong to a scenic, seaside border crossing at Cham Yaem/Had Lek. Complete the immigration process then travel by private vehicle and boat to Koh Chang, a journey of approximately two hours. Located off the coast of Thailand, the island of Koh Chang is home to beaches and fishing villages with its central areas covered by jungle. It's a relaxing finale to this adventure.
Today is free for you to enjoy the sun and sand. Your leader will help you arrange optional snorkelling or cycling trips if you wish to explore the island and its surrounding waters. Alternatively, keep it low key and find a quiet spot on the beach to soak up the laidback vibes.