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An exploration of Cambodia through three of its very different cities and their surrounds – Siem Reap, Battambang and Phnom Penh.
a Destinations d > Cambodia > Authentic Cambodia
Meals: 7 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Accommodation: 7 nights in hotel accommodation
Transportation: Transfers by private air-conditioned vehicles as specified, some short transfers by local modes of transport tuktuk
Sightseeing: Angkor Temples tour, Angkor Wat sunrise tour, Kbal Spean and Banteay Srei tour, Battambang rural half day tour, Battambang day tour with cycling, Battambang to Phnom Penh private transfer with Oudong tour, Phnom Penh tour.
*Price is per person based on twin share. Please speak to our team or view our terms and conditions for more information
Explore the temples of Angkor, from iconic Angkor Wat to the carved river bed of Kbal Spean. At the cultural centre of Battambang, enjoy its emerging art and food scene, its quiet rural communities and colonial architecture. Travel via the Cambodian countryside and former capital of Oudong to Phnom Penh, taking in the National Museum’s treasures, the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, and a sunset cruise.
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Exploring the charming town of Battambang, its temples, galleries and eateries, by foot, bike and bamboo train.
Walk through the jungle to the ancient riverbed sculptures of Kbal Spean.
Finish a day exploring the capital city of Phnom Penh with a sunset cruise on the Tonle River.
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On arrival you will be met by your local English speaking guide, who will accompany you to your hotel for check in. Settle in and enjoy some time at leisure to refresh.
In the evening enjoy a welcome dinner at Haven Restaurant, a social enterprise restaurant providing disadvantaged youths, and underprivileged adults, professional training and employment in the hospitality industry. Learn about its efforts while dining. (D)
Discover some of the the main Angkor sites on a leisurely bicycle ride about 2-3 hours. First, head to the ancient city of Angkor Thom. Angkor Thom was the last capital of the Great Khmer Empire under the reign of Jayavarman VII. This city is surrounded by an 8 m high wall drawing a perfect square. You will enter the city from the ancient South Gate, an impressive stone gate carved with Elephants and four giant faces. On each side of the entrance path, a row of 54 gods or demons is holding the sacred Naga snake.
From here, continue to Bayon Temple in the exact center of the city. This 12th century masterpiece is a study in grandeur and is well-known for its dozens of towers with enigmatic faces looking out over the provinces the Great Khmer Empire. The Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King are also must-visits as they are both known for their intricate bas-reliefs. Stroll through the grounds of the former Royal Palace to discover some small hidden temples that are rarely visited.
Return to the hotel for a relaxing break during the midday heat.
Spend the early afternoon, with a tour on remork (a local form of tuktuk) to Ta Prohm, built in the mid-12th to early 13th centuries. Ta Prohm is unique in that it is overgrown by jungle trees and vines, with many parts of the temple crumbling to the ground. Your visit can also include Banteay Kdei, a Buddhist monastery from the late 12th Century, and Srah Srang, also known as the “pool of ablutions. (B)
Start very early to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat –a memorable experience to see the first sun rays slowly appear over the five iconic towers. Explore the famous temple in depth. Built during the reign of King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century, Angkor Wat is constructed following the model of the temple mountain Mount Meru, the home of the gods. Inside the temple, the walls are covered with stone carvings and bas-reliefs depicting Hindu mythology and the wars Suryavarman II fought during his reign. More than 2,000 apsara dancers decorate the temple.
After the tour, return to your hotel for breakfast.
Next head north through pastoral countryside to visit Kbal Spean, one of the earliest Hindu pilgrimage sites in Cambodia. A short 3 km trek up the hill through dense jungle will reward you with excellent views over the plains and the Kulen hills. At the top, discover the “River of 1000 Lingas” with some remarkable stone carvings of Hindu gods, animals and other symbols in the river bed. During the raining season, you can enjoy a refreshing bath in the waterfall, which is extremely popular with the local families. Enjoy a picnic lunch close to waterfall compound. (Note: good mobility is required for the walk to Kbal Spean).
Then, visit the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB), the first nature conservation project established in Cambodia. A knowledgeable staff member will explain about the threats to Cambodia’s wildlife and the efforts of ACCB to protect the environment and promote wildlife conservation through education. As you stroll around the compound’s forested grounds, you will see various endangered local species, including otter, gibbon, etc. One of the centre’s important functions is the rescue and rehabilitation of injured and illegally trafficked wildlife.
Afterward, visit the “gem” of the Angkor area, the pretty temple of Banteay Srey. The so-called “Citadel of the Women” remains the best preserved temple in Cambodia. It displays some of the finest examples of classical Khmer art as this small temple is noted for its truly remarkable fine bas-reliefs.
Transfer back to Siem Reap in the late afternoon and the rest of time at leisure. (B)(L)
After breakfast you will be met for your transfer by road to Battambang, a trip of about 3 hours through some lovely rural scenery. Upon arrival in Battambang, check into your hotel.
This afternoon visit an an ancient house located in Wat Kor Village, the oldest standing Khmer timber house in Wat Kor Village, where you will learn about traditional rural life from one of the owners of the house.
Next, make a stop for a ride on the Bamboo Train, a famous local transport innovation . Travel the 8 kilometres to the next station through beautiful rural landscapes.
Dinner this evening is at the stylish Jaan Bai (meaning ‘rice bowl’ in Khmer), a social enterprise restaurant established by the Cambodian Children’s Trust to provide training and employment for disadvantaged youths, with all profits going to support the activities of the Trust. The restaurant was set up with the expertise and ongoing support of prominent Australian chef David Thompson. (B)(D)
Today begins with a fun morning cycle ride around the local villages surrounding Battambang with SoksaBike, a social enterprise set up to provide scenic and informative bike rides through the local countryside. During the tour there are plenty of stops to learn about the local lifestyle, including how the locals produce rice paper, prahok (typical Cambodian fish paste), grolan (sticky rice stuffed in bamboo), and other Cambodian treats.
This afternoon, experience Cambodia from a different perspective on a special art tour taking in unique glimpses of Battambang art scene. Start with a visit of the impressive Tep Kao Sol Gallery where the curator and artist will guide us through some of the workls. (The gallery is closed on Sundays).
Then continue to Phnom Sampeau, meaning “Ship Hill” in Khmer, due to its distinctive shape. This is one of the few hills standing on this otherwise pancake-flat plain. From the small temple on the top, you will have a fantastic view over the typical landscape of paddy fields and sugar palm trees. Phnom Sampeau is home to the notorious killing caves, which are cruel reminders of Cambodia’s troubled past. Stay here until dusk when clouds of bats emerge from a cave and create patterns as they fly in tandem across the sky. (B)
Depart early for the drivefrom Battambang to Phnom Penh. Your first stop is Kampong Chhnang, known for its traditional pottery, with many kilns at work in this province. Stop in a village near Kampong Chhnang to see the different aspects of pottery making and also experience the production of traditional rice wine.
Continue to Oudong, the former royal capital of Cambodia after the fall of Angkor. The drive passes through many rural villages and pagodas, and you will see the temple mountain with its dozens of stupas from afar. Upon arrival at Oudong enjoy a traditional Khmer lunch at a picnic hut at the foot of the hill.
Then, climb the stairs to the top of Oudong Mountain and enjoy magnificent views over the plains below. Your guide will explain the history of the area and its buildings as well as the religious culture of the Cambodian people. Take time to soak in the magnificent views over the plains below.
Before the final drive to Phnom Penh stop to take a look at the spectacular Vipassana Dhura Buddhist Meditation Center, also located in Oudong. Your guide can explain more about the school of Vipassana (Insight Meditation) as you tour the center.
From here, it is not far to Phnom Penh where you will reach in the late afternoon. Check into your hotel and enjoy the evening is at leisure. (B)(L)
This morning you will be greeted by a cyclo driver who will take you around Phnom Penh using this popular local mode of transport. First, visit Wat Phnom, with its typical Khmer architecture and imagery, then continue along the lively riverfront to the Royal Palace. The palace dates back to 1866 and houses the Silver Pagoda, named for the thousands of heavy silver tiles that cover its floors. The Silver Pagoda holds a dazzling collection of Buddhas in gold, silver, crystal, and bronze.
Next visit the National Museum, built in traditional Khmer style. The museum houses some of the great artistic treasures of the Khmer empire, with artifacts from the 4th to the 13th centuries.
For lunch you will be treated to a delicious Khmer meal at a local restaurant in town.
After lunch, learn about Cambodia’s recent dark history on a visit to the remarkable Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, housed in the former school used by the Khmer Rouge as its main detention and torture centre.
We then move to traditional Khmer performing arts with a visit to the Champey Academy of Arts, a non-profit school offering free training in traditional dance, music, drawing and painting. Champey’s mission is to inspire young people to preserve, protect and promote their nation’s culture. (The school is closed every Sunday).
Return to the riverside where a boat is waiting. Climb aboard and head out onto the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers for a sunset cruise. Admire the views of the city as the light casts brilliant colours across the city’s rapidly modernising skyline. (B)(L)
After breakfast, you will be at leisure until your check out and airport transfer. (B)
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