- Uncover the temples & secrets of the ancient Angkorian Empire
- Ride through the countryside on Battambang's Bamboo Train
- Learn about Cambodia's tragic history and hopeful future
- Take a boat trip through the Cardamom Mountains
|Day 1||Arrival in Siem Reap||Siem Reap|
|Day 2||Angkor Thom City Tour||Siem Reap|
|Day 3||Angkor Temples & Siem Reap Countryside Tour||Siem Reap|
|Day 4||Angkor Wat, Apopo Visitor Center, & Phare Circus||Siem Reap|
|Day 5||Siem Reap to Battambang||Battambang|
|Day 6||Battambang Countryside Tour||Battambang|
|Day 7||Battambang to Phnom Penh via Odong Rossey||Phnom Penh|
|Day 8||Phnom Penh City Tour||Phnom Penh|
|Day 9||Phnom Penh to Botum Sakor National Park||Botum Sakor National Park|
|Day 10||Botum Sakor National Park Tour||Botum Sakor National Park|
|Day 11||Wildlife Boat Trip, Khmer Cooking Class, or Jungle Hike||Botum Sakor National Park|
|Day 12||Botum Sakor National Park to the Cardamom Mountains||Koh Kong|
|Day 13||Tatai River Boat Trip||Koh Kong|
|Day 14||Cardamom Mountains to Phnom Penh||Phnom Penh|
|Day 15||Departure from Phnom Penh|
Day 1: Arrival in Siem Reap
Welcome to Siem Reap, the gateway to the historic Angkor capital. Upon arrival at the city's small airport, you will be met by our English speaking tour guide and transferred to your hotel in the city center. The rest of the day is yours to spend however you would like.
Our recommendations include taking a walk along the river and enjoying a coffee or a happy hour drink in one of the myriad bars along the way, visiting the Psar Chas (old market) or the Made in Cambodia market, and exploring the quiet side alleys next to Pub Street which are filled with boutique shops, contemporary restaurants, bars, and food stalls. If you are into arts and culture then you might also want to visit Kandal Village, which is home to a vibrant and eclectic mix of cafes, galleries, arty homewares shops, and cool fashion stores.
If time allows, you could also go for a bicycle ride through the local villages, or even catch the sunset over Angkor Wat.
Day 2: Angkor Thom City Tour
This morning, take a tuk-tuk to visit the ancient city of Angkor Thom. Surrounded by walls that are over 26ft (8m) high and 7.5 miles (12 km) long, this 12th-century city was the last capital of the Khmer Empire. Five huge gates with huge stone faces provide access. Angkor Thom holds many important monuments including the famous Bayon Temple with its huge faces in the exact center of the complex, along with the Baphoun, the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King.
Take a guided tour through the ruins to learn more about the Khmer Empire, discover hidden passageways, and fascinating stories about the kings who built these temples nearly a thousand years ago. After exploring Angkor Thom, head to Preah Pithu. Often overlooked by tourists, you will most probably have the whole temple complex to yourself to wander freely and take photographs.
After, take a break for lunch at a local restaurant located near Sra Srang, the former Royal Bathing Pool, before heading back to the city. Spend the afternoon relaxing at the hotel or going exploring.
Day 3: Angkor Temples & Siem Reap Countryside Tour
Start your day with a trip out to Ta Prohm for Golden Hour, when the light perfectly illuminates this stunning temple. One of the only temples in the Angkorian complex that has been left to nature, vines and trees grow amongst the ruins of this 12th-century temple, adding to the ambiance. Featured in the Angelina Jolie movie, Ta Prohm is also colloquially known as the 'Tombraider Temple'.
After a guided tour of the temple, you'll head out into the Cambodian countryside to the temple of Banteay Srei, dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva. Although a little way from the rest of the Angkor temples, Banteay Srei is one of the most picturesque temples of the complex and is known as one of the most stunning achievements of Angkorian artisanship, featuring small yet exquisite carvings and bas reliefs. Its name means ‘Citadel of the Women’.
On your way to Banteay Srei, you'll stop at the roadside to see local sugar palm industries. The villagers use the tree in many ways, for everything from palm sugar, to palm beer, and palm fruit, to medicine and thatching for roofs on houses.
This afternoon, you'll make your way out to the small village of Kouk Thnout in the countryside for a very special dinner. The hour-long journey out to the village is part of the adventure, and includes a boat crossing across an ancient reservoir. Your local guides will show you how to source all the ingredients and give you a taste of Cambodian village life, before serving a delicious Khmer dinner as the sun sets over the rice paddies.
Day 4: Angkor Wat, Apopo Visitor Center, & Phare Circus
Wake up early to continue your exploration of the temples of Angkor with a visit to Angkor Wat. The largest religious building in the world, Angkor Wat is Cambodia's most iconic building and the most famous in the whole Angkor complex. Built by Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as a state temple and later as a mausoleum, Angkor Wat was originally a Hindu complex to honor Vishnu.
After a tour of the temple, make your way back to Siem Reap via the Apopo Visitor Center to learn about how hero rats are saving lives by detecting landmines that were left behind after almost three decades of war. Light enough not to trigger landmines, rats can smell the explosive and give a warning to their handler, so that the mines can then be isolated and removed. Although humans and dogs have made a major impact, hero rats have been used in Cambodia since 2015 to great success. Take a tour through the center to learn about their work and watch a live demonstration.
Spend the afternoon relaxing in Siem Reap, before making your way to the theater where you will see a performance of Phare, the Cambodian Circus. This immersive performance includes theater, music, dance, juggling, and contortion, along with other impressive acts. Originally a project set up in refugee camps to help encourage young people to express themselves through art, Phare has become a very positive example of responsible tourism in Cambodia.
Day 5: Siem Reap to Battambang
After a few days of relaxing and exploring in Siem Reap, it's time to make our way to Battambang. The drive through the lush Cambodian countryside to this sleepy colonial city should take around three hours.
Famous for its early 20th-century French colonial architecture, Battambang is quickly becoming Cambodia's center for arts and culture, but at its heart, it is a peaceful place, surrounded by friendly villages and beautiful countryside. This afternoon, make your way through the rice paddies for a ride on the city's Bamboo Train, a little wooden platform placed on four wheels and connected to a gasoline engine and driven along the train tracks. Speed through the countryside and enjoy the views, but bear in mind that when you meet another train coming the other way there will be a stand-off over which 'carriage' will be forced to dismantle so that the other one can pass!
This evening, have dinner at a local restaurant in a historic French colonial building in the heart of Battambang. Run by the Cambodian Children's Trust, this restaurant works to break the cycle of poverty in Battambang by empowering underprivileged children, and features an Asian-fusion menu, using local seasonal organic produce.
Travel Time: 3.5 hours
Travel Distance: 100 miles (160km)
Day 6: Battambang Countryside Tour
Spend the morning on a bicycle tour through the Cambodian countryside around Battambang. Along the way, you'll meet local families and learn about their farming techniques and traditional industries such as rice paper and rice wine production, and try delicacies such as bamboo rice cakes.
In the afternoon, visit Phnom Sampeau. This limestone outcrop has several temples at the top that offer excellent views of the countryside dotted with palm trees and rice paddy fields. However, this peaceful place also has a more sinister side, with a cave known as the Killing Caves, where Khmer Rouge executed many prisoners during the mass genocide in the 1970s. Many were thrown to the deaths through a skylight in the cave roof. Take a tour through the site and visit the nearby temples with their murals depicting the scenes.
As the sun starts to set, you'll make your way to the entrance of the caves to see millions of bats fly off into the night sky. They leave the cave one by one, creating patterns in the sky. This natural phenomenon is quite spectacular to behold. After, return to the city.
Day 7: Battambang to Phnom Penh via Odong Rossey
Say goodbye to Battambang as we make our way to Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh. On the way, we'll stop at the scenic pottery village of Ondong Rossey, where Cambodia's famous red pottery is made. Take a drive through the area, where you'll see families making the wares under every stilted house, and ox-carts lined up to transport them throughout the kingdom.
The village is surrounded by rice fields dotted with sugar palm trees, with bamboo ladders lined up against them so the villagers can take rice wine from the trees. After a quick tour, you'll stop for lunch before continuing the drive to Phnom Penh. Once you arrive, the evening is yours to relax or go exploring.
Travel Time: 6 hours
Travel Distance: 183 miles (295 km)
Day 8: Phnom Penh City Tour
Up until the 1960s, Phnom Penh was once a vibrant and culturally developed city, known as the ‘Pearl of Asia’. However, once the Khmer Rouge took power, the city was evacuated by Pol Pot's army and became a ghost town. Today, the capital of Cambodia is a city on the move, and although it is still many years behind its neighbors, this just adds to its charm, making it one of the most interesting cities in Asia.
You'll start your city tour with a trip back in time to the harrowing Khmer Rouge era. Visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Choeung Ek Killing Fields. Also known as S21, during the Pol Pot regime, Tuol Sleng was converted to a detention center, where prisoners were interrogated and tortured, before being sent to the Killing Fields where they were brutally tortured and murdered.
Before it became the Khmer Rouge's best known Killing Field, Choeung Ek was a Chinese Cemetery. The remains of almost 9,000 bodies have been excavated from mass graves in this area. It is now a memorial site for Cambodians and visitors from all over the world to pay their respects for those lost. A memorial stupa has been erected and displays over 5,000 human skulls, bones and clothes of the victims.
Although visiting these sites is a harrowing and depressing experience, it offers an important step into understanding Khmer culture today. One of the survivors of Tuol Sleng is often at the site where he signs copies of his book and talks about his experience.
Stop for lunch in a non-profit restaurant that has worked to improve and build the futures of former street children and marginalized young people in Phnom Penh since 1994. The set menu ranges from almost forgotten recipes from the provinces to contemporary creative Cambodian cuisine.
In the afternoon, continue on to the National Museum, which is home to a collection of Khmer sculpture including many of the original pieces from the Angkorian temples. Located in four pavilions, the museum also includes a garden where you can take a short rest after exploring the museum.
We'll round off our city tour with a trip to the Royal Palace. Home to the Cambodian royal family since 1866, the palace is currently home to King Norodom Sihamoni who has ruled Cambodia since October 2004. With its pagoda-style, ornate buildings the palace is an oasis of calm in a busy city. Wander through the complex, gardens and visit the interesting Silver Pagoda which houses a collection of Buddha statues, one of which is decorated with 9,584 diamonds.
Day 9: Phnom Penh to Botum Sakor National Park
This morning, make your way from Phnom Penh to Botum Sakor National Park. We will stop at the village of Trapeang Rung, where we will take a 40-minute boat ride along the river and through the lush jungle to our floating camp. Stop en route for coffee and lunch.
Upon arrival, settle into your comfortable private safari-style tent. This afternoon, you will go on an exploratory hike in the jungle around the camp. Learn about the unique flora and fauna of this beautiful and remote region, before relaxing at the riverside restaurant as the sun sets over Botum Sakor.
Travel Time: 5 hours + 40 minute boat ride
Travel Distance: 235 km (146 miles)
Day 10: Botum Sakor National Park Tour
After an early breakfast, meet with the park rangers and a guide to go on a walking tour through the dense jungle, keeping your eyes peeled for wildlife, like macaques, gibbons, and hornbills. This half-day trip will take you via the Ranger Station in the forest, where you will have lunch before kayaking back along the river or hiking back to camp along the trails.
Spend the afternoon relaxing and spotting wildlife from the veranda of your private balcony, before enjoying another sunset dinner on the riverside restaurant. On the way back to your tent, stop to check out the stars overhead. With no light pollution around, the night skies out here in the jungle are truly magical.
Day 11: Wildlife Boat Trip, Khmer Cooking Class, or Jungle Hike
Spend one last day enjoying the pristine nature in Botum Sakor National Park. Wake up early to go on a boat ride along the Preak Tachan river to see the wildlife as the jungle awakens with the rising sun. After, take the kayaks out for a paddle, or relax on the floating pier, or your balcony.
In the afternoon, you can go on a trek through the jungle, visit one of the wildlife hides or take a Khmer cooking class, before taking in another amazing sunset and a relaxing evening in this little-visited national park.
Day 12: Botum Sakor National Park to the Cardamom Mountains
Enjoy a leisurely morning at the camp before boarding the shared boat back to Trapeang Rung. Here, you will make your way into the Cardamom Mountains, where you will then take another boat ride along the river to your floating camp on a quiet stretch of the lush Tatai River through one of the largest and still mostly unexplored forests in Southeast Asia.
Upon arrival, check into your room and relax in your floating bungalow on the river. Take a dip in the water, go kayaking, fishing, or take a wander into the forest to see the fireflies at night. You can also take an optional sunset cruise.
Travel Time: 40 minute boat + 30 minute drive + 20 minute boat
Travel Distance: 39 miles (64 km)
Day 13: Tatai River Boat Trip
Today, take a boat trip up the Tatai River with its stunning backdrop of mountains, untouched jungle, and crystal clear rivers. Depending on the day, you might go to the nearby Tatai Waterfall, or go for a walk through the mangroves of Koh Kong Khnong, where you'll visit a stilted fishing village and meet the families who live out here in this quiet paradise.
The tour will last around five to six hours and includes lunch. After, return to your hotel where you can relax on your floating balcony and take in another epic sunset over the jungle.
Day 14: Cardamom Mountains to Phnom Penh
Spend your last morning relaxing in this natural paradise before making your way back to civilization. You'll start your journey with a boat ride to the mainland, before taking a private car back up to Phnom Penh.
The journey should take around five hours, excluding stops. Once you arrive back in the capital, it's up to you how you choose to spend your last evening in the Kingdom. Choose to go shopping for last-minute souvenirs, take a stroll along the riverside, or simply relax before your onward journey.
Travel Time: 5 hours
Travel Distance: 170 miles (273 km)
Day 15: Departure from Phnom Penh
It's time to say goodbye to Cambodia. After breakfast, spend your last day relaxing, shopping, or squeezing in some last-minute sightseeing before making your way to the airport for your onward journey.