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- from $2,451 PP
- 7 Nights
- Sep - Mar
- 11 hrs from London / 19 hrs from NYC
Take in Cambodia’s greatest hits on this enticing and enthralling 8-day itinerary. Travelling with a private English-speaking guide and private driver throughout, you’ll move overland from vibrant capital Phnom Penh to the epic Angkorian ruins of Siem Reap, passing through colonial Battambang and the majestic Lake Tonle Sap en route. Highlights include an exciting dining tour of Phnom Penh; a full day private boat charter across the majestic Tonle Sap, taking in floating villages, flooded forests, and diverse birdlife en route; and a complete overview of Angkor, including sundowners at Banteay Kdei, and a picnic breakfast at deserted Ta Nei.
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- 7 nights in 4 or 5 star accommodation
- Daily breakfast plus other meals as per itinerary
- All tours and transfers on a fully private basis
- Private English-speaking guides for all mentioned sightseeing
- 24/7 support from our dedicated staff
- Flexible, personalized itinerary based on your interests
Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1 Phnom Penh: Arrival into Phnom Penh International Airport
Your 7-night trip begins with your arrival into Phnom Penh International Airport. You’ll be greeted by your private English-speaking guide, and then private driver, and together they will transfer you to your downtown hotel.
Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, is one of Asia’s most exciting and fastest-growing cities. Get settled into your room and enjoy the remainder of the day at your leisure. If you want to take a stroll, you’ll find a number of elegant colonial buildings and grand boulevards which saw Phnom Penh donned the “Paris of the East” during the 1920s. We highly recommend a visit to the Central Market, an astonishing piece of Art Deco architecture which contains vast hallways housing countless stalls selling all sorts of items.
Day 2 Phnom Penh: City tour of the Cambodian capital; Evening dining tour
After breakfast you will meet your guide and head out for a private tour of the city. Begin at the attractive Royal Palace, and then the neighboring Silver Pagoda, covered in approximately 5,000 silver tiles. Afterwards, you’ll explore the massive collection of Khmer sculptures and artifacts in the National Museum which were recovered from the ancient Angkor Empire. You will then learn more about the sober recent history of Cambodia, visiting the infamous Tuol Sleng prison and then the “Killing Fields” of Choeng Ek where over 17,000 civilians were killed and buried in the 1970s. These visits can be skipped should you prefer – please discuss locally with your guide. After the sightseeing you have the afternoon at leisure.
As the sun dips you will head back out to explore the vibrant Cambodian capital’s drinking and dining scene. Your guide will first take you to a rooftop bar for a sundowner accompanied by epic views. You’ll then be whisked away by ‘remork’ (as tuk-tuks are known in Cambodia) to a hidden back alley restaurant, where you’ll whet your appetite on local Cambodian-style tapas. Next stop is main course at another fantastic hidden gem, well known by locals and expatriates but far from the tourist trail, where you will feast on Cambodian barbeque and locally-brewed beer. End the evening with coffee and desert in the heart of Phnom Penh’s lively riverfront nightlife area. From here you can either be taken back to the hotel for a well-earned rest, or – armed with suggestions from your guide – continue the night independently.
Day 3 Battambang: Transfer to Battambang via Kampong Chhnang
After breakfast you’ll set off from Phnom Penh, heading north west along National Highway 05 towards the smaller city of Battambang. Several stops will be made en route – at former capital Udong, with its’ dramatic mountain-top palace; in the busy lakeside town Kampong Chhnang, where’ll you learn about traditional Cambodian pottery; and finally in Pursat, to visit its’ marble workshops. Draw into Battambang mid-afternoon and after checking into your hotel you have the rest of the day free.
Day 4 Battambang: Guided tour of urban and rural Battambang
Today you’ll explore Battambang and environs with your guide. Although Battambang is Cambodia’s second largest city, you’ll find it much more compact and laidback compared to Phnom Penh. The centre is a mix of semi-restored colonial shophouses and long tree-lined avenues, neatly bisected by the Sangker River. Start with a visit to Psa Nath – Battambang’s busy central market – and then move on to the 11th century Wat Ek Phnom, built by Suryavarman I, where in the adjacent rounds sits a 30m white Buddha statue surrounded by peacock trees. You’ll also learn about local food production techniques, visiting a local rice paper maker and then an intriguing, if pungent, visit to the fish paste market. Although a little sharp to Western noses, use of fish paste is an absolutely essential local seasoning, nicknamed ‘Cambodian cheese’ for its distinct aroma!
The afternoon will take you out of the city centre to Phnom Banan, an Angkorian ruin which sits on a hilltop overlooking surrounding villages. The temple boasts a dramatic staircase to the summit, and sits in atmospheric semi ruin, its core lintels still standing strong but surrounded by collapsed blocks and overhanging trees. You’ll then strike a more sombre note at Phnom Sampeau, which houses several Khmer Rouge cave execution sites. The caves are now home to large colonies of bats, and if fortunate you may get to witness a mass exit at sunset. On the way back to Battambang you might like to stop at Cambodia’s first (and currently only) winery for a taste of the local drop.
Day 5 Siem Reap: Private boat transfer across Lake Tonle Sap to Siem Reap; sundowners at Banteay Kdei
Today you’ll board a private boat for a full day transfer down the Sangker River and across the mighty Tonle Sap lake to Siem Reap. There is much to see across Cambodia’s great lake, so taking a private charter allows you to make numerous stops along the way. The first will be at Bak Prea, a Buddhist temple set on a small islet, entirely surrounded by stilt housing. The village is of equal interest to the temple, bearing witness to the simple water-based lifestyle of its inhabitants. Continue to Phum Trey village, amongst the lakes’ flooded forest, where you’ll also find the ‘Black Wood’ temple of Wat Cher Khmoa.
You’ll then begin to move through Preak Toal. Encompassing some 53,000 acres of wetland and flooded forest, Prek Toal is arguably Asia’s premier water bird habitat, seeing it classified as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1997. Some 100 species of bird make their life here, around 15 of which are endangered, and as you pass through you should keep a keen eye out for ibis, milky stork, painted stork, Oriental darter, and spot-billed pelican.
A picnic lunch will be included on-board, and you’ll eventually draw into the Siem Reap shores of the lake in the mid-afternoon. You’ll then be transferred into town to your hotel and then have some time to relax. Please note: this transfer is only possible when water levels are high from August through to January. At dry times of year an alternative road transfer will be arranged, taking in Banteay Neang and Sisophon en route.
In the late afternoon you’ll be taken for your first taste of Angkorian temples, exploring the labyrinthine Banteay Kdei, with its intricately carved hall of Dancing Girls. You’ll then be taken to the moat of Angkor Thom, enjoying a leisurely boat ride as the sun sets, with cocktail in hand.
Day 6 Siem Reap: Morning Temples of the Forest; Afternoon tour of Angkor Thom; Evening Phare circus
Wake early this morning to enjoy the lesser-visited corners of the Angkor complex at their quietest time of day. Head first to Srah Srang, Angkor’s expansive 700m x 350m reservoir, which glows a deep orange at sunrise. Continue to the legendary jungle temple Ta Prohm, its crumbling ruins now held together with roots and vines. A 15-minute walk through the forest north of Ta Prohm then takes you to Ta Nei where you’ll be served a delicious picnic breakfast. At this time of day you’re likely to have the entire temple site to yourselves. A short drive then brings you to the final stop of the morning – Ta Keo, known as the ‘Mountain of Bronze Peaks’, with its impressive five-tiered pyramid structure. You’ll be dropped back at your hotel in the mid-morning and have some time to relax.
In the afternoon your guide will take you on a walking tour through the mighty Angkor Thom – literally ‘Great City’. Start at the imposing Victory Gate, then continue along the 5m high former city walls to the ‘Death Gate’ and then the Terrace of the Leper King. A further short walk from the Buddhist sanctuary of Preah Palilay takes you through shaded woodland to the three tiers of Phimeanakas, flanked by beautiful lakes, and then to the Hindu temple Baphuon. The big finish arrives in the exact center of Angkor Thom at the Bayon, former state temple of Jayavarman VII. The Bayon is known for its captivating bas relief faces, carved in their hundreds, each telling a different story of daily life or epic events in the time of Angkor.
In the evening you’ll be taken to enjoy Siem Reap’s finest contemporary spectacle – the Phare circus. Tightrope walkers, contortionists and acrobats take to the stage for a dynamic artistic spectacle which blends visual art, music, dance, and circus skills. Phare arose from Battambang-based NGO Phare Ponleu Selpak, with all proceeds from the Siem Reap event going back to their mission of skilling impoverished children in the arts and performance. The NGO’s impact on rural Cambodia is genuinely remarkable, and the show itself hugely entertaining, so on all counts the 90-minute show (with private transfers to and from included) is an inspiring and invaluable use of your time.
Day 7 Siem Reap: Sunrise at Angkor Wat; Afternoon tour of rural Beng Mealea
Wake early this morning to visit Angkor Wat, the mother of all temples. You will visit at dawn, seeing the sunrise rise of the temple and bathe it in the softest and best light of the day. Return to the hotel for a well-earned breakfast, then have the rest of the morning to yourself. Enjoy your fine hotel or continue exploring Siem Reap and surrounds under your own steam.
In the afternoon you will drive out from Siem Reap to explore the more remote temple of Beng Mealea. This 12th century temple was built under the instruction of Suryavarman II, and is often described as the blueprint for Angkor Wat. Now overgrown with roots and vines, you’ll find it in a much-collapsed and highly atmospheric state. Traverse its long promenades taking in Naga balustrades, crumbling pilars, and small enclosed courtyards.
Day 8 Siem Reap: Departure day
Your memorable tour of Cambodia comes to an end today, with a private transfer to the airport in good time for your departing flight. If you’d like to explore more of Southeast Asia, chat with our travel experts who can help plan the ideal bespoke addition to your itinerary.
What's not Included
- As we have clients from all over the world. Our itineraries do not include flights. If you would like us to include flights in your trip, we are happy to do so. Please speak to your travel specialist at the planning stage to include them.
- Gratuities for local guides
- We strongly advise all guests to purchase comprehensive travel insurance
- Visas if required
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