This 15-day tour of Cambodia brings you to the wonders of Angkor, Phnom Penh, the heritage town of Battambang, the pristine natural beauty of the Cardamom Mountains, and the tropical island paradise of Koh Rong.  Get off the tourist trail and experience a different side of the Kingdom of Wonder, with visits to remote temple complexes and villages, and the chance to experience the Phare Circus and take a boat trip through the rainforest with a backdrop of mountains and rivers.

Highlights

  • Explore the famous Angkor Wat temple complex at sunrise
  • Visit ancient ruins hidden deep in the jungle in Koh Ker
  • Swim in the turquoise ocean on a beautiful tropical island
  • Take an exhilarating ride on the bamboo train in Battambang
  • Relax amongst the backdrop of the Cardamom Mountains

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Siem Reap Siem Reap
Day 2 Visit the Temples of Angkor Siem Reap
Day 3 Siem Reap Village Tour & Phare Circus Siem Reap
Day 4 Beng Mealea & Koh Ker Siem Reap
Day 5 Siem Reap to Battambang, City Cyclo Tour & Bamboo Train Battambang
Day 6 Battambang Village & Countryside Tour Battambang
Day 7 Battambang to Phnom Penh via Ondong Rossey & Udong Phnom Penh
Day 8 Phnom Penh City Tour Phnom Penh
Day 9 Phnom Penh to Cardamom Mountains, Koh Kong Koh Kong
Day 10 Koh Kong River, Rainforest & Waterfall Exploration Koh Kong
Day 11 Koh Kong to Koh Rong Island Koh Rong
Day 12 Koh Rong Koh Rong
Day 13 Koh Rong Koh Rong
Day 14 Koh Rong to Phnom Penh Phnom Penh
Day 15 Departure from Phnom Penh  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Siem Reap

Cambodia is renowned for its friendly, welcoming people
Cambodia is renowned for its friendly, welcoming people

Welcome to Cambodia! Your English-speaking guide and driver will meet you at the airport in Siem Reap and transfer you to your hotel in this beautiful historic town and gateway to the Angkor temples.

Depending on your arrival time, you may be able to visit Angkor Wat for sunset, learn about traditional Cambodian arts from a local artisan or visit a local market. Siem Reap has quite a small center, so you can wander to the Old Market and the riverbank and explore the historic French Quarter with its colonial and Chinese-style architecture and plenty of dining and drinking options, from street stalls to haute cuisine.

You could also visit a spa, relax in the pool, head out for sunset drinks in the myriad bars, or check out the Royal Gardens, which is a hive of activity, especially early in the morning and in the early evening, when locals go to exercise, socialize, and eat!

Day 2: Visit the Temples of Angkor

We go on a tour of Angkor Wat by tuk-tuk
One of the gateways to Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmer Empire

Today we have a full day to enjoy the highlights of the Angkor temple complex. Angkor, derived from the Sanskrit word for city, was the historic capital of the Khmer Empire, which was founded in 802 by Khmer-Hindu monarch Jayarvaman II, and lasted until the late 14th century. 

One of the new Seven Wonders of the World, the impressive ruins of the ancient city complex are home to over 1000 temples, which are said to rival the Taj Mahal in its beauty and splendor, and the Pyramids in their scale and historical importance.  You can choose whether you want to spend a full day exploring the temple complex, focus on a few specific temples, or see a few and head back to the hotel for a rest before coming back for sunset. We'll be exploring the temples by remork, or Cambodian tuk tuk.

We'll begin our tour at the most famous temple, Angkor Wat. Wake up before dawn to make it out to see the sun rise over the world's largest religious monument, which was built by Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as a Hindu complex dedicated to Vishnu. 

Angkor Wat is unlike other temples in that it is orientated towards the west, typically the direction of death. A magnificent moat surrounds the temple on all sides with a long causeway providing access. An alternative eastern entrance is the best way to start a morning tour and avoid the crowds. Take your time and appreciate the details of this spectacular building, which has more than 3,000 Apsara or ‘heavenly maidens’ bas reliefs carved into the stone, all of which are different.

We'll continue to the ancient city of Angkor Thom. Surrounded by huge walls over 26" (8m) high and 7.5 miles (12 km) long, this 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 Temple of the Faces, Bayon, which is located in the exact center, the Baphoun, the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King

At midday, you can opt to head to one of the local restaurants for lunch and a break, before we head to Ta Prohm,  colloquially recognized as the Tombraider Temple. This beautiful temple has been left to nature with trees and vines growing amongst the structures and is one of the most photogenic temples in the complex. Wander along the sandy paths and under the huge banyan trees as you explore this 12th-century temple.

After that, we'll take you to our favorite spot for sunset, or you can return to the hotel and spend the evening relaxing after a long day of adventuring.

Day 3: Siem Reap Village Tour & Phare Circus

Take a tour through the beautiful Cambodian countryside
Explore the beautiful Cambodian countryside on a village tour

After breakfast, we head out to a small village on the outskirts of Siem Reap, where we learn about the culture and village customs and gain new insights and experience into everyday life in Cambodia. 

Upon arrival, we will go for a 30-45 minute walk through the village and the countryside learning about local life. Along the way, we will stop to meet a family and share an activity such as transplanting rice, weaving wall panels, planting vegetable crops, tree planting, or making traditional Cambodian fish paste, prahok. Each visit to the village is different and activities will depend on the time of year, along with the individual family's needs, and goings-on in the village. It's designed to be fun and interactive rather than strenuous.

Continue the walk to see more of the village with a stop at a community center where you will learn about the work of a local NGO working in the village and meet the sewing team, before trying your hand at making your own reusable cloth bag. Around midday, we'll return to Siem Reap where you can go out for lunch at a local restaurant and enjoy the afternoon at leisure.

This evening, head to the theater to see a performance of Phare, the Cambodian Circus, by professional artists from Phare Ponleu Selpak. Originally a project set up by Cambodians who had been raised in refugee camps as a way to encourage young people to express themselves through art, Phare has become a worldwide name and is a prime example of responsible tourism and community projects that have become a success story. The show is a great, positive example of modern Cambodia and mixes theater, dance, music, juggling, and contortion.

Day 4: Beng Mealea & Koh Ker

Prasat Thom in Koh Ker is unlike any other temples in Cambodia
Prasat Thom in Koh Ker is unlike any other temples in Cambodia

This morning, we'll set off on a journey out to Koh Ker, a remarkable temple complex in the jungle two hours drive from Siem Reap. This historic site was the capital of the Khmer Empire from 928 CE until 944 CE and its relative remoteness means that you'll have the ancient temples almost to yourself. 

Enjoy the beautiful drive through the Cambodian countryside as we make our way to the city complex, where we will begin our tour with a visit to Prasat Krahom or, the Red Temple―so-called because of the red bricks from which it was constructed. Though many of the valuable carvings have been looted, a naga walkway and a crumbling statue of Nandin still remain to be seen.

Carry on your adventure of the isolated temple complex with a visit to Prasat Thom―an impressive pyramidic temple with seven tiers. This unique temple is very different from those seen at Angkor and more akin to those built by the Mayans in Mexico or Guatemala. Later, visit a couple of smaller temples where some of the largest Shiva Linga to be found in Cambodia can be seen.

Take a break for a picnic lunch, before we hit the road again and make our way to Beng Melea. When we arrive, we'll take a short walk through the forest on our way to the overgrown temple. A walkway has been constructed to follow through the complex, although there are plenty of opportunities to get off and clamber amongst the huge sandstone blocks.

As you explore these ancient overgrown ruins you will understand how it felt to be one of the first explorers who came amongst this undiscovered temple hidden in the jungle. Suryavarman II built Beng Mealea in the 12th century and the temple has a similar layout to Angkor Wat, although it is smaller and the surrounding moat is dried up.

Travel Time: 4.5 hours
Travel Distance: 150 miles (240 km)

Day 5: Siem Reap to Battambang, City Cyclo Tour & Bamboo Train

Take a ride on Battambang's famous Bamboo Railway
Take a ride on Battambang's famous Bamboo Railway

Today, we leave Siem Reap and make our way to the sleepy countryside town of Battambang. This charming town is famous for its early 20th-century French colonial architecture and as the thriving arts and cultural hub of Cambodia.

When we arrive, check into the hotel and relax before heading out into the city on a 2.5 hour Cyclo Tour through the temples, pagodas, European-style buildings and narrow streets of the city in order to understand the history of this fascinating place.

Later on in the afternoon, we'll drive out to the countryside and take a ride on one of the most fun and unusual 'train' rides you'll ever experience. Battambang's famous Bamboo Train consists of a nori or wooden platform placed on four wheels and connected to an engine. Used initially as a way of transporting goods between villages, today it is a popular way to transport tourists through the countryside with a little extra adrenaline added on this 5-mile (8 km) trip.

(Note – the future of the bamboo train is far from certain and is currently allowed to operate in agreement with the local police. Should the bamboo train ride stop we will arrange extra village visits)

Travel Time: 3.5 hours
Travel Distance: 102 miles (164 km)

Day 6: Battambang Village & Countryside Tour

Wat Banan is thought to be an early prototype of Angkor Wat
Wat Banan is even older than Angkor Wat

We start our day with a quick orientation tour of Battambang to show you some of the most beautiful buildings in the morning light, before driving out to the countryside to visit some of the local villages. Learn about the village industries, from drying fish to preparing grolan (rice steamed in bamboo shoots), and making rice wine and rice cakes.

Later we will go to one of the best-preserved temples around Battambang, Wat Banan. This historic temple is visited by climbing 358 stone steps to the top of a hill. Once a Buddhist temple, the origins of the temple are unclear although some believe that it could have been an inspiration for Angkor Wat as there are many similarities. Soak up the views over the surrounding rice fields.

In the afternoon, we visit a local winery before heading back to the city. We can also extend the tour to include visits to the Killing Cave and Phnom Sampeou, where we will learn more about Cambodia's tragic history, visit ancient temples, enjoy amazing vistas over the countryside, and have the opportunity to see millions of bats flying out of the cave at sunset. 

Day 7: Battambang to Phnom Penh via Ondong Rossey & Udong

Explore Cambodia's historic capital, Udong
Explore Cambodia's historic capital, Udong

Say goodbye to sleepy Battambang and hello to Cambodia's historic capital, Phnom Penh. The drive should take around six hours, but we'll make some stops en route to visit the scenic pottery village of Ondong Rossey, a short distance from the town of Kompong Chhnang and the historic capital, Udong.

Although it looks like a typical Cambodian village, Ondong Rossey is one of the main centers of pottery production in Cambodia. Everyone works in the industry here, and you'll see trucks laden with their wares moving throughout the country. Take a tour of the village and the surrounding countryside where the rice fields are dotted with sugar palm trees.  Keep your eyes out to see if any of the villagers are climbing up bamboo ladders to take the rice wine or toddy from the trees!

In the early afternoon, we'll continue the drive onto the former capital of Udong with its beautiful hilltop stupas. Udong was the capital of the Khmer Empire from the 17th century until 1866 when it moved to Phnom Penh. When we arrive, take a walk up the 509 steps to explore the various chedis and shrines and walk between the hills.

In Udong, we will also visit the impressive Vipassana Dhura Buddhist Meditation Centre which has beautifully painted walls and a jade Buddha. Then, we will continue on to Phnom Penh where we are scheduled to arrive in the late afternoon.

In Phnom Penh, we will stay just a stone's throw from the Royal Palace and Wat Botum Park, where locals gather in the early morning and at sunset to walk, dance, socialize, and eat. It's also close to the Riverside which is a nice place for a late afternoon/early evening stroll or to watch the sunset over the river from a rooftop bar.

Travel Time: 6 hours
Travel Distance: 182 miles (293 km)

Day 8: Phnom Penh City Tour

Aerial view of Phnom Penh and the Central Market
Aerial view of Phnom Penh and the Central Market

The capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh was once known as the ‘Pearl of Asia’ and like much of Cambodia was a vibrant and culturally developed city until the 1960s and early 1970s, when the city was evacuated by the Khmer Rouge and became a ghost town. It has taken many years to recover, and is decades behind neighboring Vietnam or Thailand, but with its unique blend of architecture and fascinating culture combined with its harrowing not-so-distant past, Phnom Penh is arguably one of the most interesting cities in Asia.

Prepare yourself for a harrowing journey back into the past this morning, as we visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. During the Khmer Rouge years from 1975 to 1979, tens of thousands of Cambodians were tortured and imprisoned in detention centers around the country, and over a quarter of the population were killed. Today's visits are a profoundly moving but also depressing experience. However, the insight into the cruel Khmer Rouge regime is educational and part of understanding Khmer culture as it is today. 

During the Pol Pot regime in the 1970s, Tuol Sleng was a former high school that was converted to a detention center known as S21. After being interrogated and tortured, most of the prisoners were transferred to the Killing Fields, where they were further tortured and brutally killed.  After taking a tour of the prison, you might even be able to talk to one of the few survivors who was imprisoned here.

Choeung Ek was a Chinese Cemetery before it became the Khmer Rouge’s best known Killing Field, where the remains of over 9,000 people have been excavated from mass graves. Today, Choeung Ek is a memorial site and museum for Cambodians and visitors from all over the world to pay their respects for those who lost their lives during this genocidal regime. A memorial stupa has been erected and displays over 5,000 human skulls, bones and clothes of the victims.

In the afternoon, we'll continue our tour of Phnom Penh with a visit to the National Museum, which is home to a collection of Khmer sculptures including many of the original pieces from the Angkorian temples. The four pavilions surround a beautiful garden where you can a short rest after exploring the museum.

We round off our city tour with a visit to the Royal Palace. Built in 1866, it is still home to the Cambodian royal family today, and its pagoda-style, ornate buildings provide an oasis of calm in a busy city. Wander through the complex and gardens before visiting the Silver Pagoda to see the royal collection of Buddha statues, including one which is decorated with 9,584 diamonds. The floor in this palace is also covered by 5,000 silver tiles.

Finish the day with a dinner cruise along the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers. With views of the popular Phnom Penh riverside and the Phnom Penh skyline, this is the chance to relax at the end of the day and enjoy a unique view of the beautiful city. 

Day 9: Phnom Penh to Cardamom Mountains, Koh Kong

Go kayaking along the river in Koh Kong's beautiful 4 Rivers Floating Lodge
Go kayaking along the river in Koh Kong

After an early breakfast, we'll leave Phnom Penh and make our way to the Cardamom Mountains for a relaxing riverside retreat. Once we get out of the city, the countryside is beautiful, with palm trees and rice paddies and little villages with stilted wooden houses, ox-drawn carts, and tractors. It should take around 5.5 hours to reach the boat jetty, where we will take a short boat ride to your accommodation.

Upon arrival, check into your floating tent and relax on your private veranda overlooking the river and the rainforest. Opt to go canoeing or take a dip in the river or chill out and enjoy being one with nature in this unique spot in the beautiful Cambodian jungle.

Travel Time: 5.5-6+ hours
Travel Distance: 170 miles (272 km)

Day 10: Koh Kong River, Rainforest & Waterfall Exploration

Go on a boat trip along the Tatai River in the Cardamom Mountains
Go on a boat trip along the Tatai River in the Cardamom Mountains

Spend the day exploring Cambodia's natural beauty as we go on a shared cruised along the river with a backdrop of mountains and rainforests. Depending on the day, we might end up going on a tour to the beautiful Tatai Waterfall or going for a walk through the mangroves of Koh Kong Khnong, taking in the sights and sounds of the jungle and meeting the families and fishermen who live in floating villages and call this slice of paradise home.

In the afternoon, return to the resort and relax on the veranda, take a dip in the river, enjoy a cocktail in the bar, or head out in a kayak before enjoying the stars from your balcony and spending another night relaxing in this natural haven.

Day 11: Koh Kong to Koh Rong Island

Relax in the glorious tropical island paradise of the Royal Sands Resort in Koh Rong
Relax in glorious tropical island paradise on Koh Rong

Leave the jungle behind as we make our way to the stuff of tropical beach dreams,  Koh Rong island just off Cambodia's picturesque coast in the Gulf of Thailand. Getting there is a little tricky, involving a short boat ride, a four-hour drive to Sihanoukville, and then a speed boat over to the island.

Once you arrive, spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the resort, swimming in the beautiful turquoise ocean or the pool, laze in a hammock sitting a cocktail or a coconut, or even a cocktail in a coconut! Speak to the resort if you wish to do a boat trip or go on a bicycle tour or excursion.

Travel Time: 4 hours driving + 1.5 hours boat transfers
Travel Distance: 135 miles (217 km)

Day 12: Koh Rong

Relax on the picture-perfect white sand beaches of Koh Rong
Koh Rong is Cambodia's tropical island paradise

Spend the day relaxing in paradise and enjoying the white sand beaches and pools of the resort. Swim, relax, go on a walk through the jungle or even to the waterfall or village on the other side of the island, or organize activities like boat trips through your resort.

The island's beaches also offer the opportunity to swim with bioluminescent plankton. After dark, go for a night-time dip in the ocean and look down to see the sparkly bioluminescence illuminate the water beneath you, while the stars light up the sky above.

Day 13: Koh Rong

Take an optional boat trip around the island at sunset
Take an optional boat trip around the island at sunset

Wake up in paradise and enjoy another day relaxing on the beautiful beaches of Koh Rong. Chill out and top up your tan by the pool, go on a beach or jungle walk, organize a boat trip with the resort, read a book, and make the most of your time in this tropical haven before we head back to civilization tomorrow.

Day 14: Koh Rong to Phnom Penh

Royal Palace in Phnom Penh
Royal Palace in Phnom Penh

Enjoy one last morning relaxing on the island before we leave Koh Rong on the speedboat back to the mainland. From there, we'll take a transfer up to Phnom Penh, where you will spend your last night in a hotel near the palace.

Spend the afternoon doing some sightseeing or shopping, or head to the riverside to have a drink on a rooftop bar and watch the sunset. After that, perhaps take a stroll or hop in a tuk-tuk to Independence Monument, which is nicely lit up at night and is a pretty social spot where locals come to exercise, eat, and hang out.

Travel Time: 5 hours + 1 hour 
Travel Distance: 142 miles (229 km)

Day 15: Departure from Phnom Penh

Say goodbye to this beautiful country and its amazing people
Say goodbye to this beautiful country and its amazing people

Enjoy your last day in Cambodia at leisure. Go exploring, buy some last-minute gifts and souvenirs from the Central Market, or just relax by the pool in the hotel before we take you to the airport for your onward transport.

Map

Map of Highlights of Cambodia: Siem Reap, Angkor, Phnom Penh, Koh Rong, & More - 15 Days
Map of Highlights of Cambodia: Siem Reap, Angkor, Phnom Penh, Koh Rong, & More - 15 Days