An enchanting land steeped in history, Cambodia beckons the intrepid traveller. Focus on Phnom Penh and Siem Reap to connect the country’s intriguing past with its present charm. See the icon sites and then dig deeper for a better understanding of Khmer culture and traditions.
Travel with expert local guides who provide deeper insight to Cambodia’s history by sharing personal stories and experiences.
Skip the flight and travel by private car through the countryside to discover the rural charm of Cambodia
Tap in to local culture with a boat trip on the Tonle Sap River, stopping in villages untouched by time
Cambodian Discovery - 7 Days / 6 Nights
Upon arrival in Phnom Penh, you will be welcomed by your local English speaking guide, who will accompany you to your hotel for check in.
Phnom Penh was once considered one of the most beautiful cities in the Orient, and despite its recent turbulent history, it still retains much colonial charm. Cambodia’s capital is a bustling city, majestically located at the confluence of the mighty rivers of the Mekong and Tonlé Sap. Wide tree-lined boulevards and many colonial-era buildings reflect the glorious days and add to the allure of the city, where Asian and Western traditions meet in a fascinating way.
You will have some free time to relax and freshen up after your flight before this evening having a welcome dinner at the stunning Malis Restaurant, one the best Khmer fine dining restaurants in the capital.
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
This morning, gain insight into Cambodia’s dark history on a visit to the remarkable Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, housed in the former school that was taken over by the Khmer Rouge and used as its main detention and torture center named ‘S-21’. Also visit the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. A grim, but important visit that will allow you to dig below the surface and understand Cambodia better.
After learning about some of Cambodia’s tragic past it is time to put a smile back on your face and experience modern Khmer life. It is not far to Stung Meanchey, a local neighbourhood that is home to the humanitarian organization Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (for the smile of a child) that provides education and job training to street children that used to be scavenging the municipal dump, and give them skills and hope for a brighter future. Whilst a visit to the school is not included, to avoid disruption to the learning process, there is time to visit the centres shop to buy some souvenirs followed by lunch at Le Lotus Blanc, the center’s training restaurant, where you can support the training of these kids by being their guest. (Note: Le Lotus Blanc is usually closed during national holidays and for the entire month of April over the Khmer New Year holiday.)
After lunch you will transfer back to the hotel where you will be greeted by a driver who will take you on a tour to the most remarkable sights of Phnom Penh in a Cyclo, an original Phnom Penh means of transportation and a fun way to explore this lively city. First, head to the Royal Palace. This palace dates back to 1866 and houses the Silver Pagoda, named for the over 5000 heavy silver tiles that cover its floors. Its original name is Wat Prakeo, meaning Temple of the Emerald Buddha. In this temple you will view a collection of Buddhas in gold, silver, crystal, and bronze.
Continue to the National Museum, built in traditional Khmer style. It houses the world's foremost collection of ancient Khmer artistic, archaeological, and religious artifacts from prehistory to the 16th century. Over 5,000 pieces are on display, constituting the repository of the Kingdom's cultural wealth. In addition, the roof space is home to a large bat colony!
After a visit to Wat Phnom temple, the founding place of the city on a small hilltop. Continue to the renowned Foreign Correspondents’ Club located on the Riverside to finish the day with sunset drinks. The building is a colonial gem with great views of the confluence of the Upper Mekong, Lower Mekong, Bassac and Tonle Sap rivers.
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
This morning, embark on an interesting tour on a private wooden riverboat that will take you up on Cambodia’s lifeline, the Tonlé Sap River. This part of the country is rarely visited by other travelers, due to its sole accessibility by boat. Discover Cambodia as only few foreigners have before!
Travel North along Tonlé Sap River, passing many floating villages and fishing stations. Spot pagodas, mosques and Chinese temples and visit local villages. The people of Koh Chen, so-called ‘Silver Island’, specialize in silver and copper smithing. See how they make ornamental items, used in traditional ceremonies at the pagoda or for marriages. Lunch will be served on board. Return to Phnom Penh by boat in the afternoon.
Spend the rest of the day browsing through the colourful markets of Phnom Penh. Visit the Central Market, an art deco landmark and one of the largest markets in the city, if not all of Cambodia. You can find clothes, souvenirs, jewellery, and food. Also visit the Russian Market, the best place in the city for wood and stone carvings, jewellery, clothes and Cambodian silk souvenirs.
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
After an early breakfast this morning, you will be transferred overland to Siem Reap (duration 6 hours), the gateway to the majestic temples of Angkor and a charming little city. A little outside of Phnom Penh stop in the town of Skuon to see their most famous speciality being sold: deep-fried tarantula! A favourite snack of many Cambodians many buses and pick-ups stop at the market to buy a bag of the ch’ngain (tasty) eight-legged creatures. The spiders are caught in the soft ground of the surrounding countryside and dug out of their burrows. After a short stop continue to Siem Reap.
Upon arrival, check into your hotel. Enjoy a break at your hotel before embarking on a first discovery tour.
After a relaxing break at the hotel, discover more secrets of the Angkor period on a guided tour of the Angkor National Museum. The interactive museum showcases artifacts from the Golden Era of the Khmer Empire by use of multimedia technology to picture this interesting historical period.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Get a first glimpse of Angkor today at the early temples of the Roluos Group. Roluos is the site of an ancient center of Khmer civilization known as Hariharalaya. It was the first town built by the Angkorian kings in the 8th and 9th century and consists of three main temples: Bakong, Lolei and Preah Ko. The surrounding countryside with its paddy fields and sugar palm trees is very typical for Cambodia – enjoy the natural beauty on a cow cart ride, a fun way to get in touch with rural Cambodia and its friendly people.
Your destination is Roluos Pagoda, where Buddhist monks will celebrate a private blessing ceremony for you, wishing you health and a safe journey – a memorable experience!
Take a break around midday back at the hotel.
In the afternoon visit the ancient city of Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Great Khmer Empire under the reign of Jayavarman VII. This city is surrounded by an 8 m high wall, drawing a perfect square. Enter the city through the ancient South Gate, an impressive stone gate carved with Elephants and four giant faces. On each side of the entrance path a row of 54 gods or demons is holding the sacred Naga snake.
From here, continue to Bayon Temple in the exact center of the city. This 12th century masterpiece is a study in grandeur and is well-known for its 39 towers with enigmatic faces looking out over the provinces of the Great Khmer Empire. The Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King are also must-visits as they are both known for their intricate bas-reliefs.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Start your day with a tour to the temples of the Small Circuit by local ‘remork’(similar to the Thai tuk tuk). The most illustrious of these is Ta Prohm, built in the mid 12th to early 13th centuries. Ta Prohm is unique in that it is overgrown by jungle, trees, vines, and with many parts crumbling to the ground, it is one of the most picturesque Angkor temples. Your visit to Ta Prohm will also include Banteay Kdei, a Buddhist monastery from the late 12th Century, and Srah Srang, also known as the “pool of ablutions”. Alternatively, depending on the season and the crowds, you may wish to visit Preah Khan temple. Built by the same king in a similar style, this larger temple complex is also largely left in ruins and its labyrinthian layout and fewer visitors makes a more intimate experience even in the high season months.
Return to the hotel for a break during the midday heat.
This afternoon, set out to visit the legendary Angkor Wat. Built during the reign of King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century, Angkor Wat is constructed following the model of the temple mountain symbolizing Mount Meru, the home of the gods. Inside the temple, the walls are covered with stone carvings and bas-reliefs depicting Hindu mythology and the wars Suryavarman II fought during his reign. Angkor Wat is well known for the more than 2,000 Apsara dancers decorating the temple. Construction is thought to have taken around thirty years of intensive labor. Today, Angkor Wat is figured on Cambodia's national flag as the temple symbolizes the soul of the Khmer people.
As this is your last evening in Cambodia, a Khmer farewell dinner accompanied by traditional Apsara dance will be an experience to remember.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Enjoy the day at your leisure.
Depending on your flight departure time spend the morning exploring Siem Reap’s colorful markets. Visit Artisans d’Angkor, established in 1992 in order to support Cambodian arts and crafts, and to help young people find work in their local villages by continuing the practice of traditional arts. Discover how wood and stone carvings, lacquering, gilding, and silk paintings are created.
Transfer to the airport for your individual onward flight. (Note: based on midday/afternoon departures)
Our services include:
Our services do not include:
Not quite right or still need some more inspiration? Take a look at the journeys below and discover what other people who liked this tour also looked at!
We love to talk travel. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch. We're here to help!