- Explore Angkor Thom, the "Grand Circuit" & Ta Phrom—the "Tomb Raider" temple
- Watch the sun rise behind the spires of Angkor Wat
- Enjoy a sunset cruise on the Mekong River in Phnom Penh
- Visit Kep crab market and catch a boat to Rabbit Island for the day
|Day 1||Arrive in Siem Reap, Visit Ta Phrom Temple||Siem Reap|
|Day 2||Explore Angkor Thom & Grand Circuit by "Remork" (Full Day)||Siem Reap|
|Day 3||Sunrise at Angkor Wat, Banteay Srei, Banteay Samre & HeroRATS||Siem Reap|
|Day 4||Siem Reap to Phnom Penh via Kompong Khleang, Spean Praptos Bridge & Skuon||Phnom Penh|
|Day 5||Royal Palace & National Museum, Champey Academy of Arts||Phnom Penh|
|Day 6||Phnom Penh to Kampot, Sunset River Cruise||Kampot|
|Day 7||Kampot Backroads Cycling Tour, Afternoon/Evening at Leisure||Kampot|
|Day 8||Kampot to Kep with Pepper Farm Visit||Kep|
|Day 9||Kep Crab Market, Rabbit Island Excursion||Kep|
|Day 10||Free Morning in Kep, Return to Phnom Penh & Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Siem Reap, Visit Ta Phrom Temple
Upon arrival at Siem Reap airport, you'll be met by an English-speaking guide and transferred to your hotel—a chance to freshen up and relax before your afternoon adventure.
This afternoon, launch into your exploration of the Angkorian temples by visiting 12th-century Ta Prohm—the renowned root-entangled "Tomb Raider" temple, so-named for its appearance in the eponymous 2001 Angelina Jolie movie. Dating from 1186, the now semi-derelict Buddhist temple built by King Jayavarman VII is a jumble of courtyards, corridors, and carved stone walls engulfed by the octopus-like grip of giant ficus tree roots. After returning to your hotel, the balance of the day and evening are at leisure.
Day 2: Explore Angkor Thom & Grand Circuit by "Remork" (Full Day)
Spend the whole day exploring the temples of Angkor by remork (tuk-tuk). Begin with the picturesque South Gate of the ancient city of Angkor Thom before visiting Bayon Temple, whose 54 towers are decorated with giant smiling bas-relief faces. Then head to the nearby Baphoun Temple, which represents the sacred five-peaked Mount Meru and is adorned with bas-relief panels of ornately jeweled and sensual apsaras (heavenly maidens). You'll also explore the Terrace of the Leper Kings and Terrace of Elephants, then head to the Royal Bathing Pool of Sra Srang before lunch at a local restaurant.
This afternoon, visit the highlight temples of the "Grand Circuit" outside Angkor Thom, beginning with Preah Khan, where monumental carved stone garudas (eagle-like divine beings) adorn fortified walls. Then head to Ta Som, with well-preserved towers depicting Avalokiteshvara (personification of compassion), plus its eastern entrance gate wrapped by a strangler fig. You'll also visit Eastern Mebon temple, with the life-sized elephants at each corner, and, finally, pyramid-shaped Pre Rup, entered via a staircase guarded by lions. Return after a great day to your hotel for an evening at leisure.
Day 3: Sunrise at Angkor Wat, Banteay Srei, Banteay Samre & HeroRATS
Rise early today and settle in front of the reflecting pond to watch the sun rise behind Angkor Wat—the largest religious building in the world. Then explore the site, with its more than 3,000 individual carvings of apsaras. You'll return to your hotel for a late breakfast before journeying through the Cambodian countryside to the well-preserved, pink sandstone Banteay Srei temple, dedicated to Shiva and featuring exquisite carvings depicting tales from the Ramayana. You'll lunch at a village famous for its nam ben chok rice noodles.
This afternoon en route back to Siem Reap, you'll stop at the APOPO Visitor Centre to meet the "HeroRATS"—giant African rats trained to sniff out landmines, which still litter the Cambodian countryside. You'll learn how the rats are trained and get to witness a HeroRAT in action. The balance of the afternoon and evening are free to explore Siem Reap at leisure.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Siem Reap to Phnom Penh via Kompong Khleang, Spean Praptos Bridge & Skuon
Depart Siem Reap for Tonlé Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and renowned for its "floating villages," such as Kompong Khleang, with its combination of stilted and floating houses. After learning about the local lifestyle, you’ll enjoy lunch at a traditional wooden house before continuing to Kampong Kdei to admire the ancient Spean Praptos Bridge. The world's largest corbelled stone-arch bridge, Spean Praptos Bridge is protected by nine-headed nagas (mythical half human and half cobra deities).
Continue to the small town of Skuon, where you may be tempted to try the local delicacy—deep-fried tarantulas!—at the local market. You'll arrive in Phnom Penh, the capital city, in the late afternoon and check in to your hotel for an evening at leisure. You might want to join the locals and enjoy an early evening stroll along the Phnom Penh Riverside. Or take in the majestic view from one of the city's many rooftop bars, such as Sora SkyBar, at the Rosewood Phnom Penh, or try a signature Femme Fatale cocktail at the iconic Elephant Bar, at Raffles Hotel Le Royal, where a popular afternoon tea is also served.
Day 5: Royal Palace & National Museum, Champey Academy of Arts
This morning, visit the pagoda-style Royal Palace complex, built in 1866 by King Norodom and including the Silver Pagoda, named for its floor of 5,000 glittering silver tiles; don't miss the life-sized gold Maitreya Buddha, decorated with more than 2,000 diamonds. Then, on to the National Museum, with its superb collection of Khmer sculptures and other pre-Angkorian antiquities, before enjoying lunch at the colorful and bustling Central Market, designed in 1937 in art deco fashion with a massive domed roof and four wings of shops and stalls.
Your afternoon will be exceedingly joyful as you visit the Champey Academy of Arts, the art school of the local Kasumisou Foundation NGO, dedicated to improving the lives of disadvantaged children by teaching them traditional Cambodian arts. Your visit here includes a demonstration of enchanting classical Apsara dancing. Your final evening in Phnom Penh is free to enjoy the capital city's nightlife as you like.
Day 6: Phnom Penh to Kampot, Sunset River Cruise
This morning, you'll transfer by road from Phnom Penh to laid-back Kampot, on the Gulf of Thailand. The charming time-worn city boasts many examples of French colonial architecture. You'll have a few hours free to join locals strolling the riverside promenade, explore the wharfside fish market, or perhaps hire a remork to visit the nearby coastal salt ponds for which Kampot is famous.
In the late afternoon, you'll enjoy a relaxing scenic river cruise on the Kampong Bay River. As you chug upstream beneath Kampot's iconic Old French Bridge, you'll see the fishing boats heading out for their nightly catch and cruise past Cham Muslim villages (populated by Vietnamese Cambodians). Watch the sun set behind Bokor Mountain, then marvel at the dancing lights of fireflies that emerge as night falls before returning to Kampot.
Day 7: Kampot Backroads Cycling Tour, Afternoon/Evening at Leisure
Mount up today for a fun, short, and easy bicycle ride into the countryside around Kampot with a knowledgeable guide. You'll head into the rice paddies to learn about rice production and how rice noodles and rice cakes are made—you can even try your hand at making the noodles! You'll have the afternoon at leisure to explore Kampot, or more of its surrounds, including Kampot market—durian central, with dozens of durian vendors.
Kampot is practically synonymous with the delicious yet evil-smelling durian fruit. Be sure to check out the giant durian in the Durian Roundabout in the center of town, or hire a remork (or arrange a guided tour) and head north 5 miles (8 km) to visit a durian plantation and cool off in the river cascade at Teuk Chheu. This evening you can head to one of the many excellent restaurants hanging right over the water, including in the former Fish Market building—an art deco, open-air masterpiece built in 1938.
Day 8: Kampot to Kep with Pepper Farm Visit
Take a short journey inland this morning to La Plantation spice plantation, reflecting another of Kampot's claims to fame—as a center for the production of pepper. Here, you'll tour the plantation and learn about the production of aromatic plants, chilies, ginger, and green, black, white, and red peppercorns. You'll also enjoy a ride around the local countryside in a thatched cart hauled by water buffalo, including a stop at Secret Lake, where the buffalo love to cool off in the water.
After lunch at the plantation, head back through Kampot, the short distance to Kep for two nights. Once favored by the Cambodian elite, the royal family, and the French colonialists as a beachfront retreat, Kep suffered greatly under the Khmer Rouge regime. It has recently bounced back to popularity as a laid-back (even torpid) resort renowned for delicious seafood—especially locally caught crab. This evening try a crab dinner at one of the fishing shacks overlooking the seafront.
Day 9: Kep Crab Market, Rabbit Island Excursion
After breakfast, head to the Kep's famous and colorful Crab Market, teeming with vendors selling live blue-legged crabs kept in wooden baskets in the shallow waters along the shore, along with prawns, squid, flapping fish, and other fresh-caught seafood. Then head to the pier to catch a local boat for an excursion to Koh Tonsai—Rabbit Island, a serene beach-rimmed isle where you can laze a few hours away sunning, snorkeling, or simply swinging from the palms in a hammock. Or you can walk around the island perimeter along a narrow hiking trail.
Then, enjoy a seafood BBQ lunch and more time to relax before a mid-afternoon return by boat to Kep. The balance of the day and evening are at leisure. If you haven't yet done so, here's your chance to try the local signature dish of crab and seafood seasoned with spicy Kampot hot pepper at the seafront crab market's open-air restaurants.
Day 10: Free Morning in Kep, Return to Phnom Penh & Depart
Depending on your departure flight from Phnom Penh, you might enjoy the morning at leisure in Kep—an opportunity to relax at the hotel pool, visit Kep Butterfly Garden, or hike one of the clearly labeled trails in Kep National Park. Then transfer by road to Phnom Penh International Airport for your onward flight.
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