PHNOM PENH / KAMPONG CHAM / KRATIE / KAMPONG THOM / ANGKOR / PHNOM SAMPEAU
Discover the Khmer life-style and its vivacious culture on this classic Cambodia insight tour. Guided by knowledgeable tour guides whom we work for over a decade and know the country upside down, you’ll explore Cambodia’s exciting cities, idyllic countryside and legendary Angkorian temples. You’ll also learn about local life while taking part in sustainable tourism projects.
Start your Cambodia holiday with a sunset cruise along the shores of Phnom Penh. Dine at fashionable Romdeng next, a restaurant with a social mission, will give you the opportunity to help former street children get hospitality training. You’ll also take a cyclo to explore the city and visit S-21, the infamous Khmer Rouge detention center set in an old school. For more reviews please visit out off the beaten Cambodia tours and holidays
Upon arrival you will be greeted by your guide and transferred to your hotel in the heart of Phnom Penh. If time permit, you will be enjoying an evening leisurely cruise down the Mekong river. Overnight Phnom Penh
DAY 2 – Today you’ll start your tour of Phnom Penh in a quintessentially Cambodian mode of transport: the cyclo [Rickshaw]. Your first stop will be Wat Phnom, located in the north of the city, which boasts some excellent examples of Khmer art and architecture. Next, you’ll ride along the lively riverfront to the Royal Palace, built in 1866. Today, it houses an impressive collection of Buddha images. Here, you’ll also visit the Silver Pagoda, which is named for the 5,000+ silver tiles that cover all of its floors. Originally called Wat Prakeo, or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, this building also houses Buddhas made from crystal, bronze, silver and gold.
Next, you’ll be taken on a visit to a grim but important site that will allow a deeper understanding of Cambodia’s recent history: the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum exhibits artifacts and historical remnants of the Khmer Rouge. The museum is housed in an old school that was taken over by the regime to serve as its infamous detention center, S-21.
Afterward, you can opt to wander through the labyrinthine Russian Market, a wonderful place to find Khmer textiles and handicrafts and to pick up a few souvenirs. In the late afternoon, we’ll head to Phnom Penh’s riverside promenade. Here, you’ll discover colonial French-style buildings and some great people-watching. Locals and visitors gather here for all manner of relaxing, mingling and socializing, including public Khmer dance classes.
Today, your classic Cambodia insight tour leaves the hustle and bustle of Phnom Penh behind for more rustic surroundings. After breakfast, you’ll travel 2.5-hours by private car to Kampong Cham, a former French trading post along the Mekong River. After a stroll through its charming town center, we’ll visit Wat Nokor, a Buddhist temple with 11th-century Angkor origins.
From Kampong Cham, it’s another 1.5-hour drive to Kratie, where you’ll take a short boat ride to Koh Trong Island. You’ll check into your hotel on this island in the middle of the Mekong River, and the afternoon will be free to explore the picturesque island at your leisure. As the stretch of river along Kratie is famous for its splendid sunsets, you might opt to enjoy the setting sun with a cool drink this evening.
Overnight on Koh Trong Island
Today, we’ll venture into the wild to view some of Cambodia’s rarest and most interesting local inhabitants: the Irrawaddy Freshwater Dolphin. After breakfast, you’ll take a scenic drive along the banks of the Mekong to the village of Kampi. Here, you’ll board a boat that will take you to the dolphins’ preferred habitats. When you’ve spotted your first dolphin, the driver will turn off the engine and you’ll have the opportunity to follow these fascinating creatures undisturbed for about 1 hour.
After your river adventure, we’ll head to the village of Sambo to visit Wat Sorsor Mouy Roy, known for its 100 Pillar Pagoda. The famous legend of “The Crocodile and the Princess” is believed to have taken place here, making it a significant cultural landmark. Enjoy lunch here on the pagoda grounds.
When you return to Koh Trong, you’ll have the option to take a horsecart or bicycle tour of the island. First, head to the island’s wat (temple), where a special activity awaits you. You’ll help cultivate the once-dense forest by planting your own tree in a project started by a local farmer. Your tree will carry your name as a memento of your contribution to environmental conservation. Your tour will continue with a stop at a Vietnamese floating village and a tasting of local fruits—the island is famous for its pomelo.
Overnight on Koh Trong Island
This morning after breakfast, you’ll leave Kratie and embark on a 5-hour drive by private car to Kampong Thom Province. Along the way, you’ll have the chance to stop at Phnom Santuk Mountain. If you wish, you can climb the 980 steps to the summit where a pagoda and splendid views over the countryside await.
Upon arrival in Kampong Thom, check-in to your hotel. The rest of the afternoon will be free for you to enjoy at your leisure. Perhaps you’d like to take a cycling tour along the river or spend the afternoon relaxing by the hotel pool. Overnight in Kampong Thom
Today your classic Cambodia tour will take you to an important cultural site: the little-known pre-Angkorian temples of Sambor Prei Kuk. Over 100 well-preserved temples built between the 6th and 7th centuries are clustered in the forest here. The site is currently under consideration to become Cambodia’s next UNESCO World Heritage Site. Walk along shaded forest paths and discover ancient reminders of a once-glorious civilization.
The villages that surround the temple complex still practice traditional craftmaking using indigenous materials such as rattan and bamboo. We’ll stop at a village to observe production, and we’ll visit the community-run Isanborei Craft Hut to peruse the hand-crafted goods. All purchases support the community project to empower locals. Meanwhile, a simple but tasty lunch will be prepared for you by local villagers, and you’ll dine near the temple complex.
From here, it’s a 3-hour drive on to Siem Reap, the gateway to Angkor Wat. Upon arrival, you’ll check-in to your hotel and enjoy the rest of your day at your leisure. Overnight in Siem Reap
This morning, we’ll rise early for one of the highlights of your classic Cambodia insight tour: a sunrise visit of Angkor Wat. Watching the first light dawn on the largest religious structure in the world is a moving experience.
Next, tuck into breakfast at the nearby Angkor Café, then begin your in-depth exploration of the temple. Built in the 12th century during the reign of King Suryavarman II, Angkor Wat was constructed to symbolize Mount Meru, a sacred mountain that was believed to be the center of all physical, metaphysical and spiritual universes. Within the temple, you’ll find its walls covered in stone carvings—the site boasts more than 2,000 Apsara dancers in stunning bas-relief. Angkor Wat is said to symbolize the soul of the Khmer people, and it is so revered by the nation that it is featured prominently on the Cambodian flag. It is the only flag in the world with a building on it.
This afternoon you have a chance to further explore the countryside with a trip to the Western Baray (reservoir). Here you’ll witness everyday Cambodian life—from water buffalo bathing and oxen pulling carts to farmers working their fields and children cycling to school. You’ll also visit the Angkor Silk Farm, just 15 kilometers west of Siem Reap, where you can observe the entire process of silk production, from the rearing of silkworms to weaving skeins of silk on wooden hand looms.
Later this afternoon, you’ll embark on a journey to view one of the Angkor complex’s most atmospheric temples: Ta Prohm. Built during the 12th and 13th centuries, Ta Prohm has been left largely as it was found. Overgrown by trees and vines, Ta Prohm is a moving sight as it crumbles gracefully back into the jungle that is reclaiming it. Overnight in Siem Reap
This morning, you’ll visit the last capital of the Great Khmer Empire, the ancient city of Angkor Thom. The impressive entrance through the South Gate, carved with elephants and four giant faces, will no doubt leave an indelible impression. Stroll through this ancient city surrounded by 8-meter-high walls that create a perfect-square periphery.
In the exact center of the city sits Bayon temple, a masterpiece of 12th century Khmer craftsmanship. Its 54 towers represent the 54 provinces of the Khmer empire, as well as magnificent bas-reliefs at the Terrace of the Leper King and the Terrace of the Elephants.
Later this afternoon, we’ll visit the shore of Tonlé Sap Lake, where you’ll have the opportunity to see and understand life on the lake. Tonlé Sap is Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake, although its size varies greatly depending on the season, swelling to roughly 4 times its size during the wet season. Aboard a local boat, you’ll visit Kampong Phluck, a lakeside village where houses on stilts offer an interesting sight: these stilts become completely submerged by water depending on the season. Along the way, you’ll pass floating cities and impressive flooded forests, giving you rare insight into lifestyles on the lake.
Today after breakfast, your Cambodia tour will take you to the remote temple of Beng Mealea. After a 1.5-hour drive, you’ll discover a temple that laid undiscovered for centuries, its ancient stones covered by roots and vines. Beng Mealea has only recently been made accessible, and with no restoration work it is one of the few temples that can be climbed, crawled over, and explored on foot. After your intrepid exploration, enjoy a picnic lunch.
Next up is the “gem of Angkor,” the temple of Banteay Srei. Known as the “Citadel of Women,” this is the only Angkorian structure made of pink sandstone. It is also the most well-preserved temple in Cambodia and boasts excellent examples of classical Khmer art in its renowned bas-reliefs.
On the way back, you might opt to stop at a village to mingle with local Khmer. Your expert guide can help you interact with villagers and learn about local lifestyles. No doubt you’ll have the opportunity to see how local products, such as rice paper, palm wine and palm sugar, are made—and perhaps you’ll even try a few samples! Overnight in Siem Reap
Today you’ll be treated to an iconic Cambodian experience: a stunning boat trip from Siem Reap to Battambang. You’ll travel roughly 3-hours on a private boat with marvellous views of the Cambodian countryside. A packed lunch will be provided on board. (Please note: Boat trips only run during the high-water period from July to December. From January to June, we’ll provide alternative road transfer, which takes roughly 6 hours from Siem Reap to Battambang.)
Battambang, situated along the Sangker River, is Cambodia’s second-largest city and was off-limits to travelers until recently because of its role as a Khmer Rouge stronghold. A result of this seclusion is that the city is home to some of the best-preserved French colonial buildings in Cambodia. Today, it has reopened to the outside world and is experiencing a renaissance in culture, cuisine and hospitality. After checking in to your hotel, the afternoon is free to spend as you wish, relaxing by the pool or exploring the charming town center. Overnight in Battambang
Today, we’ll head to Phnom Sampeau, which means “Ship Hill” in Khmer for its distinctive shape. As one of the few hills on this flat plain, Ship Hill stands out prominently. A temple at the summit affords fantastic views over the quintessentially Cambodian landscape of rice paddies and sugar palms. Phnom Sampeau also has historical significance: it is home to the notorious “killing caves,” which serve as harsh reminders of Cambodia’s tumultuous past.
Up next is a tour highlight: a ride on one of the world’s most unique trains, the Bamboo Train (or norry in Khmer). This local means of transport uses a small, mobile platform along the old train tracks to move people and goods from town to town. Led by your local guide, you’ll pass local villages and farms as you make your way to Wat Banan, an 11th-century temple built on a mountain summit and nestled between lush rice paddies and tranquil lotus ponds. Climb to the top and stroll through the ancient temple, which boasts beautifully scented flowering trees, and drink in the panoramic views over the countryside.
Afterwards, you’ll have the chance to visit a few of the cultural villages surrounding Battambang.
Depart Battambang this morning for a 4-hour drive to the famous pottery region of Kampong Chhnang. Here, you’ll see all the aspects of pottery making and local rice wine production. Then, continue for an hour past pagodas and quiet farming villages to the former royal capital, Oudong. Upon arrival, tuck into a picnic lunch in the countryside.
After your refreshment, climb the stairs of Mount Oudong to enjoy splendid views of the plains below. From Oudong, it’s roughly a 1-hour drive to Phnom Penh. Along the way, we’ll stop at the Silver Village of Koh Chen Island, named for the ornate silver items that the local people produce, including the delicately engraved tropical fruits that are used in traditional ceremonies.
Transfer to the airport for the departure flight back to your country. End o the 13 day Insight Cambodia tour