- Explore Angkor Wat temple and the Royal Palace complex by "remork"
- Journey by boat through the floating villages of Tonlé Sap
- Hike and kayak for wildlife viewing in Botum Sakor National Park
- Snorkel and sunbathe on Koh Rong Island
|Arrive in Siem Reap, At Leisure
|Explore Angkor Temples by Remork (Full Day)
|HeroRATS, Banteay Srei, Floating Village Cultural Tour & Cambodian Circus
|Transfer to Phnom Penh via Spean Praptos, Santuk Silk Farm & Skuon
|Phnom Penh, Royal Palace & National Museum, Foodie Tour
|Botum Sakor: Cardamom Tented Camp & Afternoon Jungle Hike
|Botum Sakor National Park
|Full-Day Cardamom Tented Camp Hiking & Kayaking
|Botum Sakor National Park
|Botum Sakor National Park to Koh Rong
|Free Time in Koh Rong (Self-Selected Activities)
|Koh Rong to Phnom Penh, At Leisure
|Depart Phnom Penh
Day 1: Arrive in Siem Reap, At Leisure
Upon arrival at Siem Reap airport, you'll be met by your English-speaking tour guide and transferred to your hotel. Maybe you'll want to relax and adjust to the new time zone. Alternatively, depending on your arrival time, you may want to begin exploring this charming gateway town to Angkor, perhaps by joining the locals for a walk along the Siem Reap River or visit the Made in Cambodia Market, which brings together some of the finest authentic craftsmanship in Cambodia.
Later, you might pop in for happy hour at the chic FCC Angkor, in the former Foreign Correspondents' Club, then explore the alleys next to Pub Street, the city's culinary and nightlife hub, with plentiful boutique shops, restaurants, and bars. Cool down with Siem Reap's best ice cream at Gelato Lab. Alternately, you can discover Siem Reap's rising arts culture precinct of Kandal Village, home to a vibrant and eclectic new mix of cafés, galleries, arty homewares shops, and trendy fashion stores.
Day 2: Explore Angkor Temples by Remork (Full Day)
Spend the day exploring the astounding Angkor complex on a remork (motorcycle rickshaw) tour. Angkor Wat (the main temple after which the entire site is named) was founded in 802 by the self-proclaimed "God King" Jayarvaman II and served as the capital of the Khmer Empire for more than 500 years. The vast UNESCO World Heritage Site complex (the world's biggest single religious monument) covers 494 acres (2 sq km). It comprises more than 1,000 buildings, including scores of temples carved with thousands of bas-relief apsara, or heavenly maidens. Get an early start for the full experience.
Begin at the visitor center and moated Angkor Wat Hindu temple complex. Then head to the adjoining Angkor Thom complex, where top sites at the last Khmer Empire capital include the Bayon temple (the Temple of the Faces), the Terrace of the Leper King, and the Terrace of the Elephants. Then it's on to the former Royal Bathing Pool of Sra Srang, followed by Ta Prohm (the "Tomb Raider" temple), and perhaps the iconic Pre Rup crematorium temple. You're now ready to return to your hotel to relax or select your preferred temple for a sunset photo before returning to Siem Reap.
Day 3: HeroRATS, Banteay Srei, Floating Village Cultural Tour & Phare Cambodian Circus
This morning explore the countryside around Siem Reap for an immersion in local culture, beginning with a highlight visit to the APOPO Visitor Center, where you'll meet (and learn about) the famous giant hero rats that are used to harmlessly detect landmines that still litter the Cambodian countryside. Then continue north to explore Banteay Srei (Citadel of Women), a beautiful temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva and surrounded by lotus ponds. The temple is cut from red sandstone, adorned with intricate bas-relief carvings of women bearing lotus flowers, plus scenes from the Ramayana epic.
In the afternoon, head south to Tonlé Sap Lake, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. You'll hop aboard a traditional wooden boat to reach the stilted village of Kompong Phluck, where local women will row you through a seasonally flooded freshwater swamp forest. There'll be time to relax back in Siem Reap before ending your day by enjoying a performance by the Phare Cambodian Circus. Initiated in 1994 as vocational training for refugees, the company tells uniquely Cambodian stories using theater, music, dance, and modern circus arts.
Day 4: Transfer to Phnom Penh via Spean Praptos, Santuk Silk Farm & Skuon
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Depart Siem Reap after breakfast this morning for Phnom Penh, giving all day to enjoy the Cambodian countryside en route. Stop to marvel at the 12th-century Spean Praptos bridge—at 285 feet (87 m) long, it's the largest corbelled stone arch bridge in the world. Still in use, it features balustrades fashioned as nine-headed nagas (divine half-human, half-serpent). You'll then visit Santuk Silk Farm, where a guided tour provides fascinating insight into the incredible story of silkworms, silk production, and village weaving. Your visit helps the farm (founded by a war veteran) provide gainful employment for locals.
After a tasty lunch at the farm, continue southwards toward Phnom Penh. You'll stop briefly en route at Skuon—nicknamed "Spiderville" for its famous local specialty of deep-fried tarantula, sold at local markets and considered a delicacy by many Cambodians. Arriving in Phnom Penh in the late afternoon, you have the rest of the day to relax before exploring the capital city tomorrow.
Day 5: Phnom Penh, Royal Palace & National Museum, Foodie Tour
Begin appreciating the pulsating "Pearl of Asia" with a visit to the ornate, pagoda-style Royal Palace complex, built beside the Mekong River in 1866 and today home to King Norodom Sihamoni. A highlight among the many temples here, the Silver Pagoda features a floor of glittering silver tiles and countless Buddha statues, including, in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, three Buddhas of pure gold, pure silver, and pure bronze, and a fourth adorned with more than 2,000 diamonds! The National Museum awaits nearby, offering a millennium's-worth of Khmer history dating back to pre-Angkorian times.
Day 6: Botum Sakor: Cardamom Tented Camp & Afternoon Jungle Hike
You'll depart Phnom Penh this morning for Trapaeng Rung, a remote village that is the gateway to Botum Sakor National Park—Cambodia's largest protected wilderness area. You'll board a boat in Trapaeng Rung and journey down the Preak Tachan River to Cardamom Tented Camp, in the heart of the rainforest. The luxury ecolodge and safari camp is run in association with Wildlife Alliance and specializes in guided nature treks and boat and kayak trips that get you up close and personal with the thriving flora and fauna of Botum Sakor.
The park, which extends from the Cardamom Mountains to coastal wetlands, shelters all of Cambodia's endangered mammals, including the Asiatic black bear, Asian wild dog (dhole), clouded leopard, pileated gibbon, and sun bear. Plus, it hosts one of Cambodia's largest populations of Asian elephants. On arrival, you'll receive an introduction to Botum Sakor, Cardamon's sustainable tourism development project, and the Wildlife Alliance's conservation work before you thrill to a late afternoon hike into the jungle surrounding the camp. Then, enjoy a sunset from the comfort of your riverside safari camp.
Day 7: Full-Day Cardamom Tented Camp Hiking & Kayaking
Today offers an excellent chance to spot river otters, pileated gibbons, and—with luck—sunda pangolin, the Cambodian fishing cat, and others among Botum Sakor National Park's elusive endangered species, as well as countless species of bird. Join a Wildlife Alliance Ranger patrol in the morning and trek through the dense Cambodian jungle along abandoned poaching and logging trails. Since camp activities are geared toward engaging visitors to assist in nature conservation, you might find yourself setting up camera traps to monitor local wildlife or recording wildlife footprints along the trails.
You'll kayak up the Preak Tachan River and its tributaries with a guide this afternoon. Your two-hour journey to Preak Tachan Ranger Station is virtually guaranteed to be filled with wildlife sightings. Perhaps of macaques, smooth-coated otter, woolly-necked stork, great hornbill, peafowl, and pileated gibbons—especially along the riverbank, whooping excitedly in the early evening. Great hornbill and rare Oriental pied hornbill are also common along the Preak Tachan River and around the camp.
Day 8: Botum Sakor National Park to Koh Rong
Leave Cardamom Tented Camp behind as you journey by boat along the Preak Tachan River to Trapaeng Rung for a transfer to Sihanoukville, a coastal gateway to idyllic Koh Rong. You'll thrill on a high-speed ferry ride to this calming tropical island, where you can turn down the dial and indulge in four days of total relaxation.
The most popular of Cambodia's many islands, Koh Rong is rimmed by talcum-white sands and turquoise, bathtub-warm waters teeming with fish. Its growing popularity is such that today Koh Rong combines stunning natural beauty with a vibrant nightlife focused on Koh Tuch village. Use the balance of today to ooze into a relaxed do-nothing mode by the beach before focusing your next few days on experiencing more of the island.
Days 9-12: Free Time in Koh Rong (Self-Selected Activities)
You'll have three full days to enjoy Koh Rong's 27 miles (43 km) of deserted white-sand beaches, plus a vibrant bar and rave scene by night. Most restaurants and bars are found in Koh Tuch village, but paths connect the island's two dozen beaches (also accessible by water taxi), making it easy to escape somewhat crowded Koh Tuch. The island interior is covered by dense forest alive with the chatter of birds and monkeys. And the twin isles of Koh Rong and smaller Koh Rong Samloem are protected within Koh Rong National Marine Park—home to endangered sea turtles, dugongs, and Irrawaddy dolphins.
There's plenty to fill your three days, such as hiring a bicycle or water taxi to visit Koh Tuch's three small fishing communities: Doeum D'keuw, Prek Svay, and Sok San. Or, stroll the length of Sok San Beach, with its 4 miles (7km) of scimitar sands, then rent equipment and go snorkeling or scuba diving. You can island-hop to neighboring Koh Rong Samloem island and take a dolphin-watching excursion, especially during the March-May migration, when large pods of Irrawaddy dolphins pass by. And at night, walk to a peaceful, unlit beach to marvel at the phosphorescent plankton that glows in the tidal waters.
Day 13: Koh Rong to Phnom Penh, At Leisure
Depart Koh Rong by speedboat for an exhilarating ride back to Sihanoukville, where you'll be met for a transfer to Phnom Penh. Your last evening is at leisure. No visit to Phnom Penh is complete without a visit to the famous Elephant Bar at Raffles Hotel Le Royal—a local institution where not-to-be-missed late afternoon tea is served. You might want to try the signature Femme Fatale cocktail, supposedly first concocted for Jacqueline Kennedy during her visit to Cambodia in 1967.
There are many other fun and fulfilling ways to spend your evening. You can enjoy an early evening stroll along the Phnom Penh Riverside and join the locals enjoying the cooler air as the sun sets. Then dine at one of the hospitality training restaurants that help a good cause, such as Friends the Restaurant or Romdeng. Later, take in the majestic view from the Sora SkyBar, at the Rosewood Phnom Penh (reservations are required). Or visit one of the more casual rooftop bars, such as Le Moon at the Amanjaya hotel, or Juniper Gin Bar, atop The Point Hotel. Both have fantastic views.
Day 14: Depart Phnom Penh
You'll be transferred to Phnom Penh International Airport today for your departure flight.
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