Imagine a country full of ancient and modern history, saturated with beautiful religious monuments, teeming with wildlife, and lush with rice fields, grasslands, and rivers. This is probably not how most people think of Cambodia, but after travelling through the country on this 12-day tour, your opinion is likely to change. Get off the tourist trail and let Asia travel experts show you the real heart of Cambodia.Day 1 - Phnom Penh - Arrival (D)
Upon arriving in Phnom Penh, your guide will meet and transfer you to your hotel. In the afternoon, you will explore the rich history and waterways of the capital. Visit the opulent Royal Place, home to Cambodia's Royal family, and the National Museum, with its superb collection of Khmer art. End the day with a delicious Khmer welcome dinner at Romdeng. A charity restaurant housed in a restored colonial building where former street children are taught the principles of hospitality. Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Day 2 - Phnom Penh (B,L,D)
This morning, 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. First you will visit Wat Phnom which demonstrates some good examples of Khmer architecture and statues. Continue along the riverfront to the Royal Palace. This afternoon, you will gain insight into Cambodia's recent history on a visit to the remarkable Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, housed in a former school that was taken over by the Khmer Rouge and used as its main detention and torture center named 'S-21'. A grim, but important visit that will allow you to dig below the surface and understand Cambodia better. Ovenight in Phnom Penh.
Day 3 - Phnom Penh – Kampong Cham – Kratie (B,L,D)
Driving to Kampong Cham, soak in the scenery of rural Cambodia as you drive past cashew nut plantations, rice fields, and traditional villages. Tour the town centre of Kampong Cham, a former French trading post on the banks of the Mekong before continue to Wat Nokor, an evocative 11th century sandstone Buddhist shrine. Spend the afternoon at your lesiure in the sleepy riverside town of Kratie.This evening you will visit Wat Rokakandal on the banks of the Mekong to see the unique wall paintings before enjoying a special dinner served within the grounds. Overnight at Kratie.
Day 4 - Kratie (B,L,D)
This morning, stroll through this laid-back northern town, visiting the local market where vendors sell everything from fresh fruits and meats to motorbike tires and helmets. Set out for a countryside tour and then board a boat in the afternoon to try and catch a glimpse of the endangered, freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins. This afternoon, cross the river to the island of Koh Trong and experience typical Cambodian village life. Upon arrival, you can decide whether you would like to take a local horse cart or pedal yourself around the island on a bicycle. Visit the islands Wat where you will take part in a tree planting project initiated by a local farmer, in order to recultivate the once densely forested island. Continue with a visit to the Vietnamese floating village on the southern tip of the island. Return to Kratie by boat this afternoon.
Overnight at Udom Sambath, Kratie
Day 5 - Kratie – Kampong Thom (B,L,D)
Depart for Kampong Thom passing through lush grasslands- home to a plethora of waterbirds- and watch out for ox-carts along the road, the main form of local transportation in this region. Although there are almost 1000 steps, climbing up Phnom Santuk Mountain offers spectacular vistas of the surrounding countryside and houses a small pagoda at the top. After soaking in the view, descend the steps and continue by road to Kampong Thom. This afternoon, will be spent at your leisure.
Overnight at Kampong Thom
Day 6 - Kampong Thom –Siem Reap (B,L,D)
Sambor Prei Kuk, 30 kms north of town, is a jungle-enclosed temple complex that receives very few tourists due to its remote location. However, a visit to these Pre-Angkorian ruins should not be missed. As you travel through the ruins on bike and foot, you will be awe-struck at the melding of architecture and nature, as the brick structures here blend seemlessly with the nature surrounding them. You will have the chance to visit and contribute to the sustainability of the people's livelihood as the local community will prepare a simple but tasty lunch for you near the temples. Continue towards Siem Reap (3h). On arrival, check in to the hotel and enjoy the remainder of the afternoon at leisure.
Overnight in Siem Reap
Day 7 - Siem Reap (B,L,D)
Rise early to experience the sunrise over Angkor Wat before enjoying breakfast at Angkor Café Angkor Wat, filling you with the energy required to discover the temples in more depth. Continue the tour from the elevated perspective of a hot air balloon and then proceed on to the ccountryside around the Western Baray area, where you will observe local life. Carry on to Angkor Silk Farm 15 km west of Siem Reap, here you will witness the entire process of silk creation from the breeding process and life cycle of the silk worm to the spinning of the silk. Return to Siem Reap for a midday break. This afternoon, explore the highlights of the Small Circuit. Start your tour with a visit to Ta Prohm temple, built in the mid 12th to early 13th centuries. Enjoy the evening at your leisure.
Overnight in Siem Reap
Day 8 - Siem Reap (B,L,D)
This morning, visit to the ancient city of Angkor Thom in an eco friendly electric vehicle. Surrounded by an 8 m high wall, Angkor Thom was the last capital of the Great Khmer Empire under the reign of Jayavarman VII. Continue to Bayon Temple in the exact center of the city. This 12th century masterpiece is a study in grandeur. The exterior gallery walls have extensive, superb bas-reliefs, particularly the East and South Galleries. This afternoon, you will continue on to the biggest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, Tonlé Sap, where you will have the opportunity to learn about life on the river. Board a local boat and visit charming village of Kampong Phluck. On the way, you will pass floating houses and impressive flooded forests, portraying life on the water. The rest of the day is spent at your leisure.
Overnight in Siem Reap
Day 9 - Siem Reap (B,L,D)
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the quiet Beng Mealea (1 h drive). Enjoy a short walk through the dense jungle and discover the wonders of an overgrown temple, Beng Mealea, which lay undiscovered for centuries. From here, travel to the "gem" of the Angkor area, the pretty temple of Banteay Srey. The so-called "Citadel of the Women" displays some of the finest examples of classical Khmer art. This afternoon, you will have the opportunity to stop at local communities and interact with locals, followed by an introduction into the production of rice paper before sampling some Palm Wine and Palm Sugar, both local produce. Close your day perfectly, with a rural sunset over the paddy fields and the beautiful countryside from the pyramidal Pre Rup temple.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 10 - Siem Reap - Battambang (B,L,D)
Today, you will embark on one of the most stunning boat trips in Cambodia, as you will be taken from Siem Reap to Battambang by a comfortable wooden boat. Cruising along the Tonlé Sap Lake you will encounter a rich and diverse eco-system and stilted houses, as you absorb the tranquil rhythms of life on the river. This afternoon, you will arrive in Battambang. Home to some of the most well preserved colonial French buildings in the country, Cambodia's second largest city had long been off limits to the tourist trail. After checking into your hotel the rest of the day is spent at your leisure.
Overnight at Angkor Century, Siem Reap.
Day 11 - Battambang (B,L,D)
Today will be spent encountering friendly locals and exploring this unique city. After breakfast you will proceed to Phnom Sampeau, home to the killing caves and a small temple, representing both serenity and inhumanity in one place. Continue the tour with a ride on a bamboo train. Disembark as your guide leads you through local villages and farms on the way to Wat Banan, an 11-century temple on a mountain top situated between lush paddy fields and beautiful lotus ponds. Climb to the top and enjoy the views over the beautiful countryside and wander around the ancient temple, which is also home to scented flowering trees. This afternoon, you will be taken to some of the many cultural villages around Battambang, where you will learn how the locals produce rice paper, prahoc (typical Cambodian fish paste), grolan (sticky rice stuffed in bamboo), and other Cambodian treats. You will also visit a weaving and handicraft centre.
Overnight in Battambang.
Day 12 - Battambang – Kampong Chhnang – Oudong – Phnom Penh (B,L,D)
This morning you will depart from Battambang and travel to Kampong Chhnang, known for its traditional pottery. Continue to Oudong, the former royal capital of Cambodia. Upon arrival at Oudong, enjoy a traditional Khmer lunch at a picnic hut on the foot of the hill. An ox cart will pick you up for a fun ride through the Cambodian countryside, past rice fields and local farms - a unique way to experience Cambodia. You will then climb the stairs to the top of Oudong Mountain and enjoy magnificent views over the plains below as your guide explains the history of the area and its buildings as well as the religious culture of the Cambodian people. This afternoon, you will drive to Phnom Penh stopping at Koh Chen, an island in the Tonlé Sap River known as the 'Silver Village' due to its production of 'silver' based crafts. From here it is not far to Phnom Penh where you will reach by mid afternoon.
For your last evening in Cambodia you will enjoy an authentic Khmer farewell dinner.
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Day 13 - Phnom Penh Departure (B,L)
Enjoy today at leisure until it is time for your transfer to Phnom Penh International Airport for your individual departure.