Departure Date: 10/10/2019
Cambodia is full of historic, natural and ecological sites, making it an ideal holiday destination for those seeking culture and art. There have been a lot of changes over the last few decades in terms of technology and lifestyle yet the country has managed to retain its traditions and values and these are demonstrated and evidenced through its many forms of amazing art and wonderful artefacts. Travelling the country is a truly exhilarating experience that will leave lasting memories.
Day 1: Phnom Penh, arrival
Day 2: Phnom Penh
Day 3: Phnom Penh – Siem Reap
Day 4: Siem Reap
Day 5: Siem Reap
Day 6: Siem Reap, departure
Day 1: Phnom Penh Arrival (D)
Upon arrival in Phnom Penh, you will be welcomed by your local English speaking guide, who will accompany you to your hotel for check in.
Phnom Penh was once considered one of the most beautiful cities in the Orient, and despite its recent turbulent history and recent development, it still retains a colonial charm. Cambodia’s capital is a bustling city, majestically located at the confluence of the mighty rivers of the Mekong and Tonlé Sap. Wide tree-lined boulevards and many colonial-era buildings reflect the glorious days and add to the allure of the city, where Asian and Western traditions meet in a fascinating way.
This evening you will have a welcome dinner at Bopha Phnom Penh Titanic, the kitchen serves tasty Khmer (and Western) cuisine on the terrace of a breezy terrace restaurant with sweeping river views. Apsara dancing is performed nightly between 7 - 9pm.
After the dinner you can either be dropped back at your hotel or at the night market on the riverfront. Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Distances and journey time: Phnom Penh Airport Phnom Penh (11 km): 20 mins
Day 2: Phnom Penh (B)
This morning, you will be greeted by a driver who will take you on a tour to the most remarkable sights of Phnom Penh in a Cyclo, an original Phnom Penh means of transportation and a fun way to explore this lively city. First, visit Wat Phnom, which is situated near the northern boundary of the city. The site contains some good examples of Khmer architecture and statues.
Continue along the lively riverfront to the Royal Palace. This palace dates back to 1866 and houses the Silver Pagoda, named for the over 5000 heavy silver tiles that cover its floors. Its original name is Wat Prakeo, meaning Temple of the Emerald Buddha. In this temple you will view a collection of Buddhas in gold, silver, crystal, and bronze.
Then visit the National Museum, which was built in traditional Khmer style. It houses the world's foremost collection of ancient Khmer artistic, archaeological, and religious artifacts from prehistory to the 17th century. Over 5,000 pieces are on display, constituting the repository of the Kingdom's cultural wealth. In addition, the roof space is home to a large bat colony!
Enjoy your afternoon at leisure or you can take part in an optional activity.
Optional: Tuol Sleng Museum & the Killing Fields (half day)
Gain insight into Cambodia’s recent dark history on a visit to the remarkable Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, housed in the former school that was taken over by the Khmer Rouge and used as its main detention and torture center named ‘S-21’. Further visit the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. A grim, but important visit that will allow you to dig below the surface and understand Cambodia better.
Optional – Cycling the Mekong Islands (half day)
Enjoy a leisurely bike ride through the countryside around Phnom Penh, discovering the diversity of the rural landscapes, passing small villages, schools and silk weaving houses. Travel by ferry to river islands and pedal on small roads with no traffic stopping to meet friendly locals and taste local delicacies. This is a tour that will bring travelers closer to the real Cambodia! Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Day 3 Phnom Penh – Siem Reap (B/L)
Depart from Phnom Penh and travel through the Cambodian countryside and small villages towards Kampong Thom. Stop en route at Skun Market to buy a bag of the ch’ngain (tasty) eight-legged creatures. The spiders are caught in the soft ground of the surrounding countryside and dug out of their burrows.
Also make a stop at Sambor Prei Kuk, one of the most important pre-Angkorian sites in the country that has recently been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sambor Prei Kuk was built in the Chenla period between the 6th and 7th centuries and there are over 100 well preserved temples scattered in the forest. The three main sites are linked by small and shady tracks. Enjoy a beautiful walk through the jungle with breathtaking views. Your visit supports a community-based tourism project.
The villages around the temple complex still practice the ancient art of craft making, using materials such as bamboo and rattan. Stop at one village to observe the local production. The community runs the Isanborei Craft Hut next to the temples and sells their products there as part of a community-based tourism project. You will have the chance to contribute to the sustainability of the people’s livelihood as the local community will prepare a simple but very tasty lunch for you near the temples. Continue to Siem Reap.
Overnight in Siem Reap. Distances and journey time: Phnom Penh – Siem Reap (320 km): 7 hrs
Day 4: Siem Reap (B)
After your breakfast, start your visit to the ancient city of Angkor Thom by ‘remork’(similar to the Thai tuk tuk). Angkor Thom was the last capital of the Great Khmer Empire under the reign of Jayavarman VII. This city is surrounded by an 8 metre high wall, with each side of the city being 4 km long, drawing a perfect square. Enter the city through 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.
Then continue to Ta Prohm temple, built in the mid-12th to early 13th centuries. Ta Prohm is unique in that it has been left overgrown by jungle trees and vines, with many parts of the temple crumbling to the ground. This makes the ‘Tomb Raider Temple’ one of the most picturesque and memorable of the Angkor temples. Alternatively, depending on the season and the crowds, you may wish to visit Preah Khan temple. Built by the same king in a similar style, this larger temple complex is also largely left in ruins and its labyrinthian layout and fewer visitors makes a more intimate experience even in the high season months.
Enjoy your afternoon at leisure or you can take part in one of the optional activities.
Optional: Angkor Silk Farm
Drive through the countryside around the Western Baray where you can spot water buffalos in swampy ponds, kids in school uniforms on their bicycles and oxcarts. Visit the Angkor Silk Farm 15 km west of Siem Reap, where you can witness the entire process of silk creation from growing and harvesting mulberry as food for the silk worms, the breeding process and life cycle of the silkworm to the spinning the silk, the dying process and the creation of beautiful silk weavings on wooden hand looms. Children will get the opportunity to feed the silkworms – a fun experience! No Charge
Optional: Horse Back and Quad Bike Rides
Fun half day outing to the heart of Cambodia, passing authentic local villages, rice fields and a peaceful Angkor temple. Here, life goes on much as it has for centuries.
Optional: Angkor National Museum
The modern museum showcases artefacts from the Golden Era of the Khmer Empire by use of multimedia technology to picture this interesting historical period. Experience Angkor at its best on a guided visit to the Museum.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Distances and journey time: Siem Reap – Temples (06 km): 10 mins
Day 5: Siem Reap (B)
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel and enjoy this morning at leisure or you can take part in one of the optional activities.
Optional: Floating Villages of Tonle Sap
This morning, embark on an interesting boat trip on Tonlé Sap Lake, where you will have the opportunity to learn about life on the lake. Tonlé Sap is South East Asia’s largest freshwater lake with its size varying greatly depending on the season, as it is swelling to about 4 times its size during the wet season. Board a local boat and visit Kampong Phluck, a village where you will see houses on stilts that are submerged when Tonlé Sap Lake extends. On the way, you will pass floating houses and impressive flooded forests, portraying life on the water. (Note: Due to low water levels during the dry season, the boat trip is only possible from July to February. However an alternative floating village at Chong Kneas can be arranged instead).
Optional: Roluos Group
Get a first glimpse of Angkor today at the early temples of the Roluos Group. Roluos is the site of an ancient center of Khmer civilization known as Hariharalaya. It was the first town built by the Angkorian kings in the 8th and 9th centuries and consists of three main temples: Bakong, Lolei and Preah Ko. The surrounding countryside with its paddy fields and sugar palm trees is very typical for Cambodia – enjoy the natural beauty on a ox cart ride, a fun way to get in touch with rural Cambodia and its friendly people. Your destination is Roluos Pagoda, where Buddhist monks will celebrate a private blessing ceremony for you, wishing you health and a safe journey – a memorable experience!
Optional: Cooking Class
Discover the secrets of authentic Khmer cuisine in a half-day cooking class. The tour starts with a guided trip to the market where you will learn everything about Cambodian vegetables, herbs, spices and other ingredients of which you will later be shown how to prepare these delicious dishes. Khmer cuisine is influenced by Thai, Indian, Vietnamese and Chinese food and not very spicy. At lunchtime, indulge yourself in your self-prepared meals.
Optional: Kbal Spean/Banteay Srei
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, be surprised about 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 at the waterfall.
Please note the trek is fairly easy going but as the walk is uphill and on uneven ground it is really only suitable for clients with a good level of fitness and not suitable for clients with mobility problems.
Continue to the countryside to see the “gem” of the Angkor area, the pretty temple of Banteay Srei. 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. Banteay Srei is unique in that it is constructed of pink sandstone, which is seen nowhere else in Angkor.
On the way back, you will have the possibility to stop at local communities along the way and your guide will help you to interact with the local community to learn about the way of life here. Seize the opportunity to see how rice paper is produced and to taste Palm Wine and Palm Sugar, which are a popular local produce (seasonal).
This afternoon visit the biggest religious temple in the world: the magnificent Angkor Wat Temple. Built by Suryavarman II, in early 12th century Angkor Wat is constructed following the model of the temple mountain symbolizing the Mount Merou, home of the gods. Considered as the masterpiece of the Khmer architecture, this Vishnuite temple is the King’s funerary temple. These are the main reasons to explain the West exposure of the temple. Inside the temple the walls are covered by carvings and bas-reliefs depicting the Hindu mythology and the wars Suryavarman II made during his reign. Stay at this magic place until the sun sets and witness how the warm evening light changes the appearance of the 2000 Apsara dancers decorating the temple. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Distances and journey time: Siem Reap – Temples (06 km): 10 mins
Day 6: Siem Reap – Departure (B)
Enjoy the day at your leisure.
Depending on your flight departure time spend the morning exploring Siem Reap’s colorful markets. Visit Artisans d’Angkor, established in 1992 in order 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.
Transfer to the airport for your individual onward flight. (Note: based on midday/afternoon departures)
Distances and journey time: Siem Reap - Siem Reap Airport (8 km): 15 mins
***End of Service***
Return flights from Johannesburg via Hong Kong to Phnom Penh and return via Bangkok and Hong Kong to Johannesburg, approx aiport taxes, 5 nights accommodation in a shared twin or shared double room, meals as indicated in the itinerary, English local guide, tours and transfers by private air conditioned vehicle (unless otherwise stated), entrance fees for mentioned visits, boat trip as indicated in the itinerary and daily drinking water during the tour.
5 Nights from R25,545 pps
These offers are brought to you by Travel Counsellors (Pty) Ltd. Valid: 10 October - 31 December 2019. Offers are per person sharing. Rates for other periods are available on request. Packages are subject to availability, seasonal surcharge; high season supplements, flight price increases and currency fluctuations. Packages excludes: items of a personal nature, meals, drinks, tours and entrance fees not included in the itinerary, tips and travel insurance. Supplier's terms and conditions are available on request. Additional information available on request. Valid for SA residents only. Terms and conditions apply. Prices and information correct at time of publishing. E&OE.