This grand journey of Cambodia will bring to some amazing and hidden treasures of the nation well off the beaten track.
Join us a tour of Cambodia off beaten trails and discover the magnificence of this ancient kingdom.
At a glance
- Thriving capital Phnom Penh and its history
- Kratie river dolphin spotting
- Mondulkiri and waterfalls
- Stung Treng and kayaking
- Remote Phreah Vihear Temple
- Amazing Angkor
Itinerary in Brief
- DAY 1: Arrival in Phnom Penh
- DAY 2: Phnom Penh Sightseeing
- DAY 3: Kratie
- DAY 4: Kratie Sightseeing
- DAY 5: Travel to Mondulkiri
- DAY 6: Mondulkiri Sightseeing
- DAY 7: Mondulkiri Sightseeing Cont.
- DAY 8. Travel To Stung Treng
- DAY 9. Atung Treng & Preah Vivear
- DAY 10. Travel to Siem Reap
- DAY 11. Siem Reap Highlights
- DAY 12. Siem Reap & Angkor Highlights
Private Transfer: Upon arrival Phnom Penh Airport, you will meet and greet by your Cambodian English speaking tour guide with a chauffeur transfer you to hotel for check in.
Sunset Cyclo Tour in Phnom Penh: We take to the streets of Phnom Penh with a cyclo tour of the city riverfront area in late afternoon, as the sun begins to set and the city comes alive with locals exercising to popular music, families out for a stroll or taking advantage of the food vendors to eat their snacks on the lawns in front of the King’s residence. We begin at the corner of Koh Pich Island where the recent addition of a funfair has brought the area alive with parents and children as we then head past the Hotel Cambodiana and Chaktomuk Theatre and take a break on the riverbank, looking west towards the glittering Royal Palace with the last rays of the sun lighting up the sky behind it. We continue along bustling Sisowath Quay, in front of myriad restaurants, bars and cafes and venture into the side streets before ending our journey with the exercising work-out groups and colourful fountain lights at the Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship Park.
Morning Visit Royal Palace and National Museum: This morning we explore the stunning Royal Palace complex, home to the Cambodian royal family and a symbol of the nation. We begin amid the beautiful royal gardens, landscaped with tropical plants and studded with gleaming spires. We enter the Throne Hall where the royal receptions are held and the Cambodian king’s coronation took place. We then pass the Napoleon III Pavilion made from iron, a gift from the French emperor in the 19th century. We continue to the Silver Pagoda, named after the 5000 silver tiles covering the floor, each weighing 1kg. Inside are some of the country’s most cherished treasures, including a life-size gold Buddha studded with 9584 diamonds, the largest weighing 25 carats. There is also a delicate emerald Buddha made of baccarat crystal, which gives the temple its Khmer name of Wat Preah Keo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha). We leave the Royal Palace and continue to the nearby National Museum, home to the world’s finest collection of sculpture from the Angkor period. The exquisite building was completed between 1917 and 1920 and features a lush courtyard garden surrounded by collections from the pre-Angkor, Angkor and post-Angkor periods. We concentrate on the incredible sandstone sculpture from Angkor, as well as the intricate bronzes.
Afternoon visit Toul Sleng and Killing Field: We come face to face with the horrific crimes of the Khmer Rouge. Tuol Sleng was a former high school that the Khmer Rouge turned into a centre for interrogation, torture and death. Today it is a museum of torture and serves to remind visitors of the terrible atrocities that came to pass in Cambodia. 17,000 people passed through the gates of this prison and only seven lived to tell the tale. The Khmer Rouge were meticulous in their record keeping, photographing all the prisoners and many of these haunting black and white images are on display in the cells. Enemies of the revolution were killed here, as well as many Khmer Rouge loyalists, denounced by an ever more paranoid political party. It became a production line for killing, as those that worked within its walls were unwaveringly loyal to Pol Pot. The party did not make mistakes, so those sent here had to be guilty. The role of the prison was not to prove innocence but to confirm guilt. Tuol Sleng is a profoundly moving experience and not everyone will want to visit. However, it is key to understanding the hell into which Cambodia descended and how far it has come in the years since. We then travel out of town to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. Prisoners from Tuol Sleng followed this same route to their fate. An old Chinese cemetery, Choeung Ek was turned into an extermination camp for political prisoners. The remains of 8985 people were exhumed from mass graves and are kept in a memorial stupa here. Despite the horrors of the past, it is a peaceful place to go and a tranquil spot to reflect on the tragic events that engulfed Cambodia and its people.
Evening CLA On Stage Shows at National Museum: It is a series of 3 rotating shows at the National Museum of Phnom Penh, featuring a wide range of traditional performing arts. With more than Apsara dances, we offer you the chance to discover the diversity of Cambodian culture and traditional arts through original and enjoyable pieces, set in the splendid gardens of the National Museum. In addition to giving a unique opportunity to experience Cambodian culture and arts, CLA (Cambodian Living Art) aims at creating regular, well-paid work for emerging arts professionals in the arts sector. Time: 7-8pm, doors open at 6.30pm. Days: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.
Journey from Phnom Penh to Kratie via Kompong Cham: We leave Phnom Penh and travel northeast to the bustling provincial city of Kompong Cham. En route, there is the chance to pause at Skuon, affectionately known as ‘Spiderville’, where it is possible to sample the local delicacy of deep fried tarantula. We arrive in Kompong Cham and visit the temple of Wat Nokor, an 11th century sandstone temple with a colourful modern wat set in its central courtyard. There are some intricate carvings at this temple and the kitsch contrast between the Hindu past and the Buddhist present is almost unheard of elsewhere in Cambodia. We then enjoy a local lunch in Kompong Cham. We continue northeast to Kratie, a sleepy Mekong port and gateway to an encounter with the rare freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins that inhabit the upper reaches of the Mekong in Cambodia. We check into our hotel and leave some time free to soak up the atmosphere of this charming town, with its well-preserved colonial-era architecture.
Shared Ferry Transfer: From Kratie town, we take a shared ferry transfer to Koh Trong Island for overnight stay.
Cycling Explore Koh Trong Island: This morning you will be taken on a tour of Koh Trong Island by bike. Koh Trong is a quiet island in the Mekong River facing Kratie Town. The peaceful island is a perfect place to get a slice of rural life in Cambodia. The locals here are very friendly, and you will be taken to visit a local community house, where you can assist in a community tree-planting program, and enjoy lunch at the community home. After lunch you will be returned to your hotel where the rest of the day will be free for you to relax and enjoy your peaceful surroundings at leisure.
Shared Ferry Transfer: This morning, we will leave Koh Trong by a shared ferry transfer to Kratie town for our trip to visit dolphins.
Morning Boat Trip to see Dolphins: After breakfast, we leave Rajabori Villa by wooden motorboat to Kratie the we travel to Kampi, one of the many deep pools where the rare river dolphins gather to feed. We board a local boat and cruise out into the mighty Mekong for a chance encounter with these gentle creatures. Viewing is commonplace, although it is easier to see the dolphins in the shallower waters of the dry season, than in the swollen river of the wet season.
Afternoon Journey from Kratie to Sen Monorom: After enjoying an hour or more of dolphin viewing, we then travel south towards the small junction town of Snuol, our gateway to the wilds of Mondulkiri. After a (very) local lunch in the small town of Snuol, we pass through patches of lush forest and areas of cultivation and plantations. After Khau Si Ma district, the road snakes up through the mountains that give Mondulkiri its name of ‘where the mountains meet’. There is lush jungle hugging the road and locals claim to see tigers on this stretch at night. Nearing Sen Monorom, the provincial capital, the scenery changes again, jungle giving way to clusters of pine trees and rolling grasslands. The scenery is unique for Cambodia and dotted with traditional Pnong villages, the main minority group in Mondulkiri. On arrival in Sen Monorom, we check into a comfortable local hotel for the night.
Full Day Shared Tour to the Elephant Valley Project: We meet at the Hefalump Café after breakfast and travel to the nearby Elephant Valley Project which, with the support of the Bunong villagers, rescues and rehabilitates captive elephants who have suffered injury and mistreatment. Enjoy a unique ‘Walking with the Herd for a day’ experience. You will be introduced to two herds of elephants and get to know more about their history, character, behaviour and body language while walking alongside them in their natural environment, the stunning Mondulkiri countryside. Later we return to Sen Monorom. Please note that the daily activities often vary depending on the season and weather as the elephants are able to roam over a wide area, however a unique experience is guaranteed. The walk may be as part of a small group. The project helps protect the elephants and contributes towards schooling for local children and health care for Bunong villagers.
Breakfast at your hotel and free time until transfer.
Full Day Jungle Trekking in the Seima Protected Forest with Sam Veasna Center: We start our adventure in the Seima Protected Forest, which covers 2000 square kilometres, at the Andong Kraloeng community site. The tented Jahoo Gibbon Camp will be our base as we wind our way through mixed evergreen forest and waterfalls with our target of seeing black-shanked Doucs and yellow-cheeked crested gibbons – the world’s largest known populations of both species – as well as macaques and langurs. The forest is also home to elephants, wild cats and other large mammals. There is an enormous diversity of birdlife, including the spectacular giant hornbill, which we will identify with the expert help of our experienced local guides. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.
ansfer to Yangon airport for your onward flight.
Morning visit Bou Sraa Waterfall and Minority Village: We leave Sen Monorom after breakfast and head east towards the double drop waterfall of Bou Sraa, one of the most famous in Cambodia. Along the way, we stop at a Pnong minority village to learn a little about their way of life. We may be invited to drink some rice wine, as Pnong villagers are extremely hospitable and welcoming of outsiders. We continue to Bou Sraa and explore the falls. It is possible to access both drops and there are swimming opportunities for those who want to take the plunge. We return to Sen Monorom later in the day, perhaps stopping to visit another minority village along the way.
Journey from Mondukiri to Stung Treng: We continue our journey from Sen Monorom of Mondulkiri to Stung Treng via Banlung. It’s takes around 4hurs drive and upon arrival Stung Treng, we will have an overnight stay in local basic hotel.
Morning Kayaking Adventure at Ramsar Wetland: Early this morning drive to Ou Svay from where you will start kayaking through the flooded forests to Vuen Sien village, located in the extremely remote Ramsar wetlands. The flooded forest supports a large variety of birds along the river. Enjoy the remoteness of the area, feeling completely at one with nature. We will stop on one of the many sandy beaches for a picnic lunch, before continuing to Koh Ky. On arrival at Koh Ky we will travel by boat to Stung Treng province.
Journey from Stung Treng to Preah Vihear: This afternoon, we leave from Stung Treng and continue our trip to Sra Em where we have overnight stay there. On arrival, we check into comfortable hotel.
Morning visit Preah Vihear temple: After breakfast, we travel north towards Preah Vihear temple. The snaking road up the mountain is very steep in places and we eventually emerge at the second enclosure of this king of the mountain temples and we explore the temple on foot. Some tourists cross over from the Thai side each day, but most have long gone and we have this incredible complex to ourselves. We continue onwards to the final level, clinging to a cliff face in the Dangrek Mountains, towering hundreds of metres above lowland Cambodia below. The views from this most mountainous of temple mountains are breathtaking, the foundation stones of the temple stretching to the edge of the cliff as it plunges precipitously away to the plains of Preah Vihear province below.
Journey from Preah Vihear to Siem Reap via Koh Ker Temple: After our own local lunch, we continue to Siem Reap, Angkor. Enroute, we head into the bush to the remote Angkor capital of Koh Ker. The history of Cambodia is riven with dynastic spats and political intrigue and one of the most memorable came in the 10th century when Jayavarman IV (928-942) fell out with his family, stormed off to the northwest and established the rival capital of Koh Ker. Although the capital for just 15 years, Jayavarman IV was determined to legitimise his rule through a prolific building programme that left a legacy of 30 major temples and some gargantuan sculpture that is on display in the National Museum in Phnom Penh. We climb to the summit of Prasat Thom, a seven-storey step pyramid, more Mayan than Khmer, with commanding views over the surrounding forest. Nearby is Prasat Krahom or Red Temple, named after the pinkish Banteay Srei-style stone from which it is built. There are many more temples in the area, including the five towers of Prasat Ling, each enclosing a giant linga or fertility symbol, the biggest and best found in situ anywhere in Cambodia. After visit, we continue to Siem Reap and stay in comfortable hotel.
Kbal Spean, ACCB, Banteay Srei, Landmine Museum and Banteay Samre: We journey north to Kbal Spean. The original ‘River of a Thousand Lingas’, Kbal Spean is an intricately carved riverbed deep in the foothills of the Cambodian jungle only discovered in 1969. The Khmers venerated its limestone bed with a riot of carvings, including thousands of lingams. A trip to Kbal Spean is one of the easiest ways to experience a short jungle trek in the Angkor area, as it is a steady but scenic climb to reach the river carvings.
After lunch we visit the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB), a rescue center for wildlife, which includes a range of monkey species, pangolin, civets, leopard cats and a boar. The tour lasts 1 hour 30 minutes. Regular guided center tour operates from Monday to Saturday, starting at 9:00 and at 13:00 sharp, from the ACCB entrance gate next to the car park at Kbal Spean. The tour lasts approx. 1 hour 30 mins
We then head to Banteay Srei, Angkor’s ultimate art gallery. This petite pink temple is the jewel in the crown of Angkor-era sculpture. The elaborate carvings here are the finest found in Cambodia and the name translates as ‘Fortress of the Women’, thanks to the intricate detail here, considered too fine for the hands of a man.
We also take the opportunity to visit the Cambodia Landmine Museum to learn more about the scourge of landmines and the shadow they cast over rural communities in Cambodia with a visit to this flagship museum promoting mine awareness and education.
Later we visit the 12th century temple of Banteay Samre. Built by King Suryavarman II, the genius behind Angkor Wat, this temple has been extensively restored
Early Morning Visit Ta Prohm (07:00am): We rise early morning to travel to Ta Prohm temple. Ta Prohm has been abandoned to the elements, a reminder that while empires rise and fall, the riotous power of nature marches on, oblivious to the dramas of human history. Left as it was ‘discovered’ by French explorer Henri Mouhot in 1860, the tentacle-like tree roots here are slowly strangling the surviving stones, man first conquering nature to create, nature later conquering man to destroy.
Walking Tour from Ta Nei to Preah Khan: We started our walk tour to visit a little temple of Ta Nei to one of Angkor’s most impressive sights and offers a real insight into the size and scale of Angkor. We begin our walk at Ta Nei, a beautiful and very atmospheric temple set in the forest. After Ta Nei, we continue our tour to the mighty temple of Preah Khan or ‘Sacred Sword’, built by King Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century. Sister temple to Ta Prohm, the cruciform corridors here are impressive and there are some wonderful carvings adorning the walls, including the spectacular hall of dancers. Look out for the curious two-storey structure that is almost Grecian in inspiration. This is one of the few temples originally dedicated to Buddhism and Hinduism. The original eastern entrance was for Mahayana Buddhists, while the other cardinal points represented the Hindu trinity of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma.
Lunch at Sala Kdei Khmer House: Enjoy a traditional Khmer lunch menu at Sala Kdei, an intimate location to eat and rest in the middle of the day while exploring the temples. Breakfast, sunset cocktails or a Khmer cooking class are also available at this gorgeous traditional wooden home on the banks of the Royal bathing pool at Sra Srang.
Afternoon Visit Angkor Thom & Bayon: Angkor Thom (Big Angkor) is a walled and moated royal city and was the last capital of the Angkorian Empire. After Jayavarman VII recaptured the badly damaged Angkorian capital from the Cham invaders in 1181, he began a massive building campaign across the empire, constructing Angkor Thom as his new capital city. He began with existing structures such as Baphuon and Phimeanakas and built a grand enclosed city around them, adding the outer wall and some of Angkor’s greatest temples including his state-temple, Bayon, set at the centre of the city. There are five entrances (gates) to the city, one for each cardinal point, and the victory gate leading to the Royal Palace area. Each gate, as well as much of Jayavarman VII’s architecture is crowned with four giant faces. The giant stone faces of Bayon have become one of the most recognizable images connected to classic Khmer art and architecture. There are 37 standing towers, most sporting four carved faces oriented toward the cardinal points.
Evening Visit Phare Modern Circus Shows: In the evening we head out to the home of the innovative circus performers from Phare Ponleu Selpak. Their regular modern circus show under the Big Top is proving very popular in Siem Reap and in each show they display a variety of disciplines including acrobatics, choreography, juggling, clowning, live music and much more. A pre-show dinner can also be arranged.
Modern city hotel in Yangon with excellent location. Jasmine Palace Hotel presents good value and high standards is the perfect base for exploring the city’s highlights.
- All sightseeing and transfer services as detailed in our itinerary
- Meals as indicated in itinerary as: B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner, drinks not included
- English speaking guide (local guide, one guide one place)
- All entrance fees as detailed in our itinerary
- Ground transportation in private A/C vehicle
- 2 bottles of water and 2 refreshing towels per person on full day excursions
- All permissions and local taxes
- Arrival and departure gifts
- Public liability insurance
- Kayak boat
- Ferry transfer sharing
- Boat trip on Tonle Sap
- Circus shows ticket
- CLA shows on stage ticket
- Bike for cycling tour
What's Not Included
- Tour services not detailed in our itinerary
- All meals not specified and no drinks except complimentary water
- Visa for Cambodia (Visa issued on arrival, USD 30/pax, please bring 1 passport photo)
- Overweight luggage
- Arrival/Departure flight to Cambodia
- Banking fees
- Early Hotel check-in
- Expenditure of a personal nature
- Tips and gratuities
- Other services not listed in ‘What’s In’
- Travel insurance (cover against all cancellation costs, medical expense, including repatriation in the event of accident or illness).
- Not including any additional charges from hotel during its peak season, the additional charge is to be advised up on the request of booking during peak season.
- Accommodation in double/twin shared room basis with daily breakfast as specified
- NOTE: The regular hotel check-in time is @ 1400 pm and check-out is before 1200 pm
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