- Explore lesser-visited ancient temples & uncover secrets of the Khmer Empire
- Learn about traditional & contemporary Cambodian cuisine
- Enjoy an amazing sunrise over the ancient city of Angkor
- Watch a mesmerizing performance of Phare, the Cambodian Circus
|Day 1||Arrive in Siem Reap, Angkor Wat Sunset Tour||Siem Reap|
|Day 2||Visit Angkor Thom, Apsara Dance Performance||Siem Reap|
|Day 3||Siem Reap Village Cookery Class, Phare Circus||Siem Reap|
|Day 4||Angkor City Tour||Siem Reap|
|Day 5||Depart Siem Reap|
Day 1: Arrive in Siem Reap, Angkor Wat Sunset Tour
Welcome to Cambodia! Upon arrival in the historic town of Siem Reap, you will be met at the airport and taken to your hotel. The gateway to Angkor, Siem Reap was first settled around 802, although it was little more than a village by the time the French arrived in the 19th century and 'rediscovered' the ancient temple city in the jungle nearby. Nowadays, the UNESCO Heritage-listed Angkor Wat—meaning Temple City—is the most popular tourist destination in Cambodia, for good reason.
This afternoon, you'll begin your exploration of the world-famous temple complex with a visit to Angkor Wat, the largest religious building in the world. Angkor Wat is unlike other temples in Angkor in that it is orientated toward the west, typically the direction of death. A magnificent moat surrounds the temple on all sides with a long causeway providing access. As you walk through the temple, take your time to look at some of the 3,000 Apsara or "heavenly maidens: carvings and bas-reliefs, all of which are different. The late afternoon light provides a perfect opportunity to observe and photograph this architectural masterpiece.
After watching the sunset over the iconic temple, you'll leave the Angkor complex and head back to town via tuk-tuk. On the way, you'll stop to visit the local night market. Here, you can find a wide array of exotic and unusual foods, from deep-fried insects like crickets and water beetles to fried or stuffed frogs, fertilized duck eggs, as well as dishes like noodles, fish, and tapioca desserts. Experience a more authentic side of Siem Reap, and join the locals as they sit on mats on the floor to enjoy these traditional delicacies.
After, you can choose to go on to a restaurant or make your way back to the hotel.
Day 2: Visit Angkor Thom, Apsara Dance Performance
Wake up early this morning and get out to the temples to enjoy the beautiful sunrise light and make the most of the cooler morning before heading back to the city around lunchtime so you can relax during the hottest hours of the day. You'll start your day with a trip to the temples in a remork (Cambodian tuk-tuk). Today, you'll be visiting the ancient walled city of Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmer Empire, and the home of some of the most impressive temples and buildings in the Angkor complex, like the famous Bayon temple.
The only purpose-built Buddhist temple in Angkor, Bayon was built by Jayavarman VII, at the end of the 12th century, as the centerpiece of his walled city. Some say that the temple's 216 huge stone faces bear a striking resemblance to the 'Warrior King' himself, while others say that they resemble the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokitesvara or Lokesvara. Decide for yourself as we tour the historic temple, before making our way to the Baphoun, the Terrace of the Elephants, and the Terrace of the Leper King.
Around lunchtime, return to the city. Spend the afternoon relaxing at the hotel or exploring the historic streets, markets, and riverside of this peaceful city, before heading out for a delicious Khmer dinner and a traditional Apsara dancing show. Unchanged for centuries, this beautiful dance was first performed in the court of kings at Angkor.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 3: Siem Reap Village Cookery Class, Phare Circus
This morning, you'll take a short drive into the countryside outside Siem Reap, where you'll visit a local village to learn about traditional food, and growing methods, and try your hand at making a three-course meal in a Cambodian cooking class. Although not as well known as Thai or Vietnamese food, Khmer cuisine is arguably equally as good, combining fresh seasonal produce with spices to create unique and flavorful dishes.
After meeting your chef, you'll take a walk through the village to meet a local family and see the different vegetables growing and being cultivated. Learn about farming techniques and pick some produce, before making your way back to the cooking school, where you'll get stuck and learn about the history of Khmer cuisine, surrounded by rice paddies and palm trees. Once you have enjoyed the fruits of your labor, return back to the city, where the afternoon is free to relax or explore further.
In the evening, enjoy a mesmerizing performance of Phare, the Cambodian Circus, by professional artists from Phare Ponleu Selpak. Originally a project set up in refugee camps as a way to encourage young people to express themselves using art, the Phare Circus has slowly become a worldwide name and is a great success story for responsible tourism. The hour-long show blends together theater, dance, music, juggling, and contortionism.
Day 4: Angkor City Tour
Leave the hotel around 5 am to experience sunrise at the pyramid-shaped Pre Rup. Ascend the lion-guarded staircase for an excellent view over the forest canopy, and see the sun rise over the rice paddies with the iconic towers of Angkor Wat in the distance. Make your way to Sra Srang, the royal bathing pool, with a quick stop-off in a nearby village to enjoy an authentic Cambodian breakfast soup—an energizing blend of rice noodles and a fish-based green curry gravy made from lemongrass, kaffir lime, and turmeric, topped with fresh greens—freshly prepared by a local family in their traditional wooden house.
After eating your fill, hop back in your tuk-tuk for the next stop on the Angkor City tour, Ta Prohm. Arguably the most well-known temple in the complex, after Angkor Wat itself, Ta Prohm is one of the most photogenic temples in the historic city, due to the giant strangler fig branches and roots that are slowly reclaiming the temple to the jungle. Also known as the "Tomb Raider" temple, this 12th-century monument is quite the spectacle.
The rest of the day's itinerary depends on you. Your guide and driver can take you to see temples of the Grand Circuit such as Preah Khan and Ta Som. Alternatively, you can choose to head a little further afield and visit the beautiful Banteay Srei—the Citadel of the Women.
In the early evening, enjoy a pre-dinner aperitif of infused rice wine known as Sombai—which means ‘some rice please’ in the Khmer language. This delicious fusion is made by blending together rice liquor with local spices and fruits. Visit the Sombai workshop in a charming wooden stilt house just a few minutes drive from Siem Reap town. These beautiful hand-painted bottles also make for an interesting and authentic souvenir of your time in Cambodia.
After a quick tour of the workshop, go for dinner at one of Siem Reap’s most popular Khmer restaurants, Chanrey Tree. Located on the banks of the river, with a lush tropical garden and an intimate dining area, this contemporary restaurant will take you on a journey through Cambodian cuisine, including many recipes that were almost lost from history during the Khmer Rouge.
Day 5: Depart from Siem Reap
It's your last day here in the Kingdom of Wonder. Depending on the time of your flight, you can spend the day wandering around the city, grabbing some last-minute souvenirs in the Old Market, or just relaxing before you head out. When it's time to go, we'll drop you off at the airport with plenty of time for your onward journey.
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