Cambodia in depth
A country imbued with ancient civilisation was the heart of the Khmer Empire. Cambodia was an empire that ruled much of southeast Asia. Relics of this powerful rule abound throughout the land from the magical and mysterious Angkor Wat to the walled city of Angkor Thom. Alongside such man made miracles is the birding paradise of Tonle Sap Lake, tigers and elephants, the beaches of Sihanoukville and of course the fascinating capital Phnom Penh.
This tour takes you to all of Cambodia’s main highlights as well as going off the beaten track. It offers the perfect mix of culture in Siem Reap, bustling city life and history in Phnom Penh, fantastic beaches in Sihanoukville and a trip to the jungle. This itinerary has something for everyone.
- Economy class international and domestic flights
- Accommodation & breakfast throughout
- Meals as detailed
- Local, English speaking private guides throughout (except during the Sihanoukville beach stay)
- Entrance fees for mentioned visits
- Boat trip as indicated in itinerary
- Airline departure taxes
PriceFrom $3,037.00 per person based on two people sharing*
Best time to go
The best time to visit Cambodia is between November and June when the weather is cooler and dryer.
- Temples including the famous Angkor Wat
- Tethered helium balloon flight over Angkor Wat (optional experience)
- Sampling local cuisine
- Cultural performances
- Sites of historic significance
Day 1: UK Departure
Depart on your overnight flight to Siem Reap from London Heathrow.
Day 2: Siem Reap
Welcome to Siem Reap, the charming gateway to the famed Temples of Angkor!
Upon arrival our local guide and driver will be waiting to provide transport to the hotel for check in. Settle in and enjoy some time at leisure to refresh.
Begin the afternoon with a first glimpse at the temples of Angkor. Head out to the early Angkor era temples of the Roluos Group. Visit the site’s three main temples: Bakong, Lolei, and Preah Ko. The beautiful surrounding countryside with its paddy fields and sugar palm trees is very typical for Cambodia. Enjoy this natural beauty on an ox cart ride to Roluos Pagoda, a fun way to get in touch with rural Cambodia and its friendly people. Upon arrival to the pagoda Buddhist monks will provide a private blessing ceremony, wishing you health and a safe journey. A unique experience!
Embark on an unforgettable tethered helium balloon flight at sunset. Enjoy amazing aerial views of Angkor Wat and other ruins within the surrounding jungle and rice paddies glimmering down below.
In the evening enjoy a welcome dinner at Viroth’s Restaurant. One of the long time residents of Siem Reap, Viroth’s is famously for being one of the best upscale restaurants in town. Boasting an extensive menu of Khmer and other Asian favourites and set in a chic, contemporary, intimate and mostly outdoor setting. This restaurant is definitely one to try whilst visiting the temples.
Accommodation: Victoria Angkor Hotel & Spa [Dinner]
Day 3: Siem Reap
After breakfast, discover some of the other main Angkor sites on a leisurely bicycle ride. 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 8m high wall drawing a perfect square. Enter the city from the ancient South Gate with its impressive stone carvings leading to Bayon Temple sitting in the exact center of the city. This 12th century masterpiece is well known for its 54 face carved towers, Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King. Continue with a 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 exploring Siem Reap’s colorful markets. Visit Artisans d’Angkor, an organisation established in 1992 to support Cambodian arts and crafts and to help young people find work in their local villages by continuing the practice of traditional arts. Discover how wood and stone carvings, lacquering, gilding, and silk paintings are created.
End the day with a tour to the temples of the Small Circuit. The most illustrious of these is Ta Prohm, which has been left largely as it was found: overgrown by jungle trees and vines, with many parts of the temple crumbling to the ground. The visit will conclude at Banteay Kdei, a Buddhist monastery from the late 12th Century, and Sra Srang, also known as the “pool of ablutions”.
Return to the hotel.
Accommodation: Victoria Angkor Hotel & Spa [Breakfast]
Day 4: Siem Reap
Begin the day at 4:30am to see an unforgettable sunrise at Angkor Wat. After breakfast in front of the monumnet at Angkor Café, explore the famous temple in depth. Built during the reign of King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century, Angkor Wat was constructed to represent Mount Meru: the Hindu/Buddhist home of the gods. Inside the temple the walls are covered with stone carvings, bas reliefs, and over 2,000 Apsara dancers. Construction of this national icon is thought to have taken around thirty years to complete.
Continue with a trip to the “gem” of the Angkor area: Banteay Srei. Also known as the “Citadel of the Women”. This remains the best preserved temple in Cambodia, displaying some of the finest examples of classical Khmer art with its remarkable bas reliefs.
Continue north to Kbal Spean, one of the earliest Hindu pilgrimage sites in Cambodia. A short 3km trek up the hill through dense jungle will be rewarded with excellent views over the plains and the Kulen hills. Enjoy a picnic lunch at the waterfall. During the rainy season, cool down by sitting under the flowing waterfall.
On the way back to Siem Reap, stop at the Landmine Museum, which works to promote mine awareness. Mr. Aki Ra, the museum founder, was trained as a child soldier during the Khmer Rouge regime and is working today as a de-miner. The museum serves also as a rescue center for a number of landmine amputee children that Aki Ra has brought off Phnom Penh’s streets or from impoverished rural communities. Transfer back to Siem Reap in the afternoon for some time at leisure.
Accommodation: Victoria Angkor Hotel & Spa [Half board]
Day 5: Siem Reap - Battambang
After an early breakfast, embark on a private boat ride across Tonlé Sap Lake to Battambang. Pass floating villages and flooded forests,offering a unique glimpse into life on the water. Enjoy a packed lunch on board.
NOTE: the boat ride is only possible during high water season. Alternatively there will be a road transfer.
Upon arrival in Battambang, enjoy some rest at the hotel. In the afternoon explore some of the many cultural villages around Battambang where it’s possible to learn how locals produce rice paper, prahok (typical Cambodian fish paste), grolan (sticky rice stuffed in bamboo) and other Khmer treats.
Enjoy a special performance by Phare Ponleu Selpak in the evening. Phare uses a variety of arts to provide education, support and entertainment to the poor communities in the region. A visit to one of their circus shows is an experience not to be missed when in Battambang. It will leave lasting memories of the wonderful Cambodian people with you.
Dinner this evening is at the stylish Jaan Bai, a social enterprise restaurant established by the Cambodian Children’s Trust to provide training and employment for disadvantaged youths. All profits go to support the activities of the Trust.
Accommodation: Bambu Hotel [Full board]
Day 6: Battambang
Spend a day experiencing local life in Battambang during this combination tour.
Begin the tour at 7:30AM at the offices of Battambang Bike for a bicycle fitting (either a mountain bike or sturdy basket bike). A few minutes of film footage will be shown here, which provides some very unique insight into how developed Battambang was in its heyday; a town that has passed from Cambodia to Thailand and back again several times in its history.
Continue with a tour of the main market, Psar Nath, including a sample of some local coffee. Walk a few metres to the river, crossing to the other side aboard a local boat. Visit Wat Povil temple where there will be an opportunity to pray alongside the monks. Once back on the other side, it is time to begin the cycle tour. The historic 2.5 Street is visited along with a Thai temple before arriving at a smaller market. Continue a short distance to Wat Kor Village, known for its many old Khmer heritage houses built around a century ago. Cycle along the river and cross a suspension bridge where only motorbikes and bicycles can pass. On the way back into town there is another short drinks stop before arriving back in the town at approximately 12:45 p.m.
Take a break at the hotel.
In the afternoon head to the Bamboo Train station. The Bamboo Train has been set up by the villagers in order to facilitate the transportation of goods and people. The “train” itself is very basic: one bamboo platform on 4-wheels, activated by a small motor. Sitting on the platform, travel 8km to the next station through beautiful landscapes and rice paddies.
Continue with a trip to Phnom Sampeau, meaning “Ship Hill” in Khmer. Named after its distinct shape, Phnom Sampeau is one of the few hills standing out in this otherwise pancake-flat plain. Gaze over fantastic views of the typical landscape of paddy fields and sugar palm trees from the small temple on the top. In addition to its natural beauty, Phnom Sampeau is also home to the notorious killing caves, which are cruel reminders of Cambodia’s troubled past. The visit will last until dusk, when millions of bats emerge from a nearby cave and create unique patterns in the sky.
Accommodation: Bambu Hotel [Breakfast]
Day 7: Battambang - Phnom Penh
Depart in the morning from Battambang to your destination of Phnom Penh.
Start the day early with a trip to Kampong Chhnang known for its production of traditional pottery. Stop in a village near Kampong Chhnang to see the different aspects of pottery making and experience the production of traditional rice wine.
Continue to Oudong, the former royal capital of Cambodia. The drive passes through many rural villages and past pagodas. Take note of 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.
Climb the stairs to the top of Oudong Mountain after the picnic and enjoy magnificent views over the plains below. The guide will explain the history of the area as well as the religious culture of the Cambodian people. Enjoy some time soaking in the magnificent views over the plains below.
Stop to take a look at the spectacular Vipassana Dhura Buddhist Meditation Center also located in Oudong. The guide can explain more about the school of Vipassana (Insight Meditation) during the tour through the center. Don’t miss the impressive jade Buddha, the mummified monk, and the brightly painted walls telling the story of the Ramayana.
From here, it is not far to Phnom Penh. Arrival will be in the late afternoon for check in at the hotel.
The evening is at leisure.
Accommodation: Raffles Hotel Le Royal [Half board]
Day 8: Phnom Penh
Embark this morning on a cycle tour through some of the most remarkable sights of Phnom Penh. First pay a visit to Wat Phnom, which is situated near the northern boundary of the city. Continue next along the lively riverfront to the Royal Palace. The Palace was built in 1866 and also houses the Silver Pagoda known for its 5 000 heavy silver tiles that cover its floors.
The next stop is the Khmer style National Museum housing one of the world's foremost collections (over 5,000 pieces) of ancient Khmer artistic, archaeological and religious artifacts from the 4th to the 13th centuries. In addition the roof space is home to a large bat colony!
For lunch, enjoy a delicious Khmer meal at the Sugar Palm Restaurant. This iconic boutique restaurant is set in a converted colonial villa and serves up some of the best local cuisine in the city.
Head to the Champey Academy of Arts (CAA) in the afternoon. A non profit school offering the youth of Phnom Penh free training in Cambodian traditional arts including dance, music, drawing and painting.
Continue with a more somber visit to explore some of Cambodia’s darker history. The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21) is a former schoolhouse that was turned into a detention and torture centre by the Khmer Rouge. A grim, but important visit that provides some unique insight into present day Cambodia.
That evening, enjoy an a la carte dinner at the renowned Foreign Correspondents’ Club along the Riverside. The building is a colonial gem with great views of the confluence of the Upper Mekong, Lower Mekong, Bassac, and Tonle Sap rivers.
Accommodation: Raffles Hotel Le Royal [Full board]
Day 9: Phnom Penh - Sihanoukville
After breakfast, transfer to the beach resort of Sihanoukville. Arrive around midday and check into the hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Accommodation: Sokha Beach Resort [Breakfast]
Day 10: Sihanoukville
Breakfast at the hotel and enjoy the day at leisure.
Ream National ParK.
The park was established in 1993 on a 210km² area on the Gulf of Thailand that includes thick pristine jungle, mangrove forests and off shore coral reefs. It's a nature lovers paradise with nearly 200 bird species, many kinds of monkeys and home to the elusive pangolin. Transport will be provided to one of Ream’s most scenic isolated beaches called Koh Sampouch. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant on the beach.
Accommodation: Sokha Beach Resort [Breakfast]
Day 11: Sihanoukville
Breakfast at the hotel and enjoy the day at leisure.
Three Islands tour.
Take a boat trip to explore the three islands of Koh Chaloh, Koh Tres and Koh Ta Kiev. Enjoy a day of relaxing, swimming or snorkeling. Koh Ta Kiev is particularly notable for its crystal clear waters filled with exotic fish and coral reefs perfect for swimming or snorkeling. Relax on the golden sand beaches and enjoy a provided lunch. In the afternoon, return to Sihanoukville.
Accommodation: Sokha Beach Resort [Breakfast]
Day 12: Sihanoukville - Phnom Penh - Departure
After breakfast, transport will be provided back to the airport in Phnom Penh for your flight to London Heathrow.
Visas, other meals were not mentioned in the programme, drinks, overweight luggage, personal expenses, travel insurance, tips & gratuities, Apsara Authority surcharges for the Ankor historical sites.
These itineraries are samples itineraries for previous clients. Speak to one of our travel experts at 020 7843 3531 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org to create your perfect holiday based on your travel requirements.
* This is a guide price, based on travel in low season