Cambodia in depth

Monks in Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh
Floating village
Floating village
Bayon temple
Bayon temple
Cambodia riverside
Cambodia riverside
Sihanoukville Beach
Sihanoukville Beach
Sunset in Phnom Penh
Sunset in Phnom Penh
National Museum
National Museum
Royal Palace
Royal Palace
Tonle Sap Lake
Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei

Day 1: Arrival Phnom Penh    (-)
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 as one of the most beautiful cities in the Orient, and despite its recent turbulent history, it still retains a 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.

After a relaxing break, 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 5,000 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.

Next head along the riverside area of Phnom Penh, a pleasant French style promenade that is great for people viewing. In the early evening (and morning) various activities take place include exercise classes, Khmer dancing and plenty of snacking on local food. You can participate in a Khmer dance class which is a lot of fun for all! A stop will be made at Blue Pumpkin to enjoy an ice-cream each! 

This evening is free at leisure and we are happy to recommend family friendly restaurants for you to enjoy.

Optional: CLA show at National Museum
This evening get inspired by Cambodian arts as you watch a traditional dance performance by Cambodian Living Arts (CLA). A rotating program is offering consisting of 3 unique performances: Children of Bassac (Classical and Folk Dance), Mak Therng and Passage of Life (Music and Theatre). Oct-Mar shows daily except Sun, Apr-Sep on Fri/Sat only. 
All the shows last one hour and are held in the atmospheric gardens of the National Museum. After many years of gaining recognition for preserving many Cambodian art forms the CLA are today striving towards providing the artists the tools required to make their skills sustainable and also so they can make a competitive income from their work.

Children aged between 2 and 12 years at the time of travel will receive a 10% discount off the Adult Price.

Overnight in Phnom Penh.  

Distances and journey time:

Phnom Penh Airport Phnom Penh (10 km): 15 mins

Day 2: Phnom Penh    (B/D)
After your orientation day you can choose to relax and pick your own points of interest to visits. However there are a range of optional tours which we recommend should be booked before arrival:

Optional: Free The Bears - (Full day)
Early this morning, travel by private vehicle to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre, located an hour’s drive from Phnom Penh, and the world’s largest sanctuary for sun bears and has educated hundreds of thousands of Cambodians about the threats facing their wild bear populations. 
On arrival meet the staff at Free The Bears, located within Phnom Tamao. Free The Bears is a registered charity that was set up by an Australian lady, Mary Hutton  to protect, preserve and enrich the lives of bears throughout the world. The 100+ bears that you will see at Phnom Tamao may have faced death or a torturous life in order to provide medicinal benefits or exotic food to the Asian market. Twenty one forested enclosures have been built over 7 hectares to house a mixture of Sun bears and Asiatic black bears of different ages and personalities.
After visiting the various different bear houses take part in a fun activity of preparing enrichment toys. There will also be time to visit some of the other endangered species kept at Phnom Tamao. Lunch will be taken at a simple local picnic hut ‘Khmer style’. In the afternoon it is time to hide the food in the bear’s forest enclosures and watch them enjoy the fruits of your labour.
Leaving Phnom Tamao drive the short distance to visit Tonle Bati Temple, an Angkorian-style temple which remains largely intact and the pretty garden enhances the atmosphere. Whilst being very small in size the temple is one of the best preserved and picturesque you can visit in Cambodia.
On the way back to Phnom Penh stop to try some local seasonal fruits before arriving at approximately 6pm at your hotel. (Note: please note that direct contact with the bears is not possible under any circumstances, these are rescued wild animals. It is recommended to bring closed footwear, sunscreen and suitable clothing for a day in the forest).

Optional: Islands of the Mekong half day cycling tour - (Full day)

Enjoy a leisurely ride to the countryside around Phnom Penh by use of public boats and ferries and cycling on small roads with no traffic for most of the time. The tour is very diverse and passes through very different landscapes. This is a low environmental-impact tour that will bring you closer to the real Cambodia! Take a boat across Tonle Sap River and cycle north along the far bank of the river, an area mainly populated by Cham communities. Pass coriander gardens and small wooden houses before crossing the peninsula. While waiting for the ferry, visit a Chinese style pagoda. Take a ferry to Koh Otnyahdei, where a gentle ride will take you around this small Island with its fertile farmland and small villages. Stop at a typical modern Khmer Wat and a silk weaving house to see how silk scarves are produced. Continue along small trails to an abandoned zoo and relax in an overgrown resort project before riding back by a different route.

Optional: Cookery Lesson – (Half day – Morning only)

Discover the secrets of authentic Khmer cuisine in the course of a half-day cooking class at Frizz restaurant. The course begins with a guided trip to the market where you will learn about Cambodian vegetables, herbs, spices and other ingredients and their uses in Khmer Cuisine. Return to the school where you will be shown how to prepare these delicious dishes. The hands-on experience is a great way to learn about the cuisine. At the end of your course, indulge in a lunch of your own prepared meals.

In the evening enjoy an atmospheric sunset dinner river cruise and watch how Phnom Penh’s popular riverfront comes to life in the early evening. Enjoy a relaxing 2hours cruise on board as you enjoy watching Phnom Penh from a different angle whilst you dine.

Day 3: Phnom Penh – Battambang    (B/L)
Travel along National Highway 5 today as you head from Phnom Penh to the town of Battambang. The travel time is approximately 5½ hours not including stops. Outside of Phnom Penh traffic is lighter and the whole journey is scenic as you head towards the northwest of the country. 

Travel first to Kampong Chhnang, known for its traditional pottery, with many kilns at work in this province. In a village near Kampong Chhnang stop to see the different aspects of pottery making in one of the most scenic locations in Cambodia. You can try your own hand at creating a jug or pot if you like!  

Enjoy a packed lunch at one of the local houses and watch the daily activity of the village.

After continue to Kompong Luong from where you will board a simple local boat to visit a series of floating villages on the Tonlé Sap Lake. Floating factories to make ice for fish preservation, church, pagoda, service stations, fish farms, stores, boat or television repair shops, video club, karaoke bar, police station...everything is on the water. All trades are represented and everybody from children to grandparents go by boat through the network of canals that cross this area.

Continue to Battambang. You will be taken directly to your hotel for check in. Even though Battambang is Cambodia’s second largest city, you will find that the atmosphere is very laid-back in a charming and relaxed river town full of fine examples of French-colonial architecture.

Optional: Phare Ponleu Selpak
A special visit awaits you at Phare Ponleu Selpak. School of Music, Visual & Performing Arts - Phare Ponleu Selpak combines the Arts to provide education, support and entertainment to the poor communities. This project is a success story of how humanitarian aid work can turn into a display of zest for life, genuine warmth and creativity, against all odds. A visit to one of their circus shows will leave you with a lasting memory of the wonderful Cambodian people and should not be missed when in Battambang. (Note: The circus performance is only performed regularly on each Monday & Thursday. On other days private performances are available on request and for a supplement.

Overnight in Battambang.

Day 4: Battambang    (B/L)
Optional: Village bike ride with Soksa Bike
Today have a fun morning cycling around local villages with Soksa Bike, a social enterprise initiated set up to provide scenic and informative bike rides through the local countryside. During the 30km cycle tour there are plenty of stops 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. The local countryside is beautiful and the Battambang area is known for the high quality rice and also oranges grown in the area.

Children aged between 2 and 12 years at the time of travel will receive a 10% discount off the Adult Price.

Optional: Walking tour with museum, temple visits
Spend a couple of hours exploring the town of Battambang on foot. Battambang has passed from Cambodia to Thailand and back again several times in its history and has an excellent collection of early 20th century French colonial architecture that is better preserved and respected than in many other parts of the country. Visit the main market, Psar Nath and try a local coffee. Enter a Chinese temple and see the train station where time has literally stood still.

Take lunch at Fresh Eats Café, set up by a non-profit NGO operating with orphans and vulnerable children that live on the streets or have been trafficked. The organization helps them to reintegrate into society by giving them a safe family environment, access to education and vocational training as well as health treatment.

After head off to the Bamboo Train station. The Bamboo Train has been set up by the villagers in order to facilitate the transportation of goods and persons as there are no regular trains running any more. The “train” itself is very basic: one bamboo platform on 4-wheels is activated by a small motor. Sitting on the platform (we will provide some cushions for your comfort), you will travel the 8 km to the next station through beautiful landscape and rice paddies (depending on season of visit). A true rollercoaster ride without loops!
(Note: the train tracks from Battambang to Phnom Penh are currently being rebuilt. The long term future of the bamboo train ride cannot be guaranteed. Should the service stop we will arrange alternative sightseeing).
Continue to Phnom Sampeau, meaning “Ship Hill” in Khmer, due to its distinctive shape, and one of the few hills standing out in this otherwise pancake-flat plain. From the small temple on the top, you will have a fantastic view over the typical landscape of paddy fields and sugar palm trees. Phnom Sampeau also has a troubled past and is home to the notorious killing caves, which are cruel reminders of Cambodia’s troubled past. Serenity and inhumanity represented in one place make this an interesting visit…the visit to these is optional. 

Your visit at Phnom Sampeau will last until dusk – a time when millions of bats emerge from a cave and create patterns as they fly in tandem across the sky – a nightly spectacular show of nature! 

Overnight in Battambang.

Day 5: Battambang – Siem Reap (B)
A private vehicle will take you on a ride through the beautiful Cambodian countryside towards Siem Reap (transfer time 3 hours) where your local English speaking guide will be waiting for you to accompany you to the hotel for check in.

This afternoon travel by remork (similar to the Thai ‘tuk tuk’) to the countryside to see the “gem” of the Angkor area, the pretty temple of Banteay Srei. The so-called “Citadel of the Women” remains the best preserved temple in Cambodia. It displays some of the finest examples of classical Khmer art as this small temple is noted for its truly remarkable fine bas-reliefs. Banteay Srei is unique in that it is constructed of pink sandstone, which is seen nowhere else in Angkor.

On the way back, at the Landmine Museum which promotes mine awareness. Mr. Aki Ra, the museum founder, was trained as a child soldier during the Khmer Rouge regime and is working today as a de-miner. The museum serves also as a rescue center for a number of landmine amputee children that Aki Ra has brought off Phnom Penh’s streets or from impoverished rural communities. 

From the museum it is a short drive to the Banteay Srei Butterfly Centre (BBC), where it is possible to experience butterflies feeding and flying very close at hand and to witness the complete life cycle of many species. The exhibit consists of a netted tropical garden with thousands of free-flying butterflies, all of which are native species to Cambodia.  Revenue generated by tourist admissions provides support for local poverty alleviation and conservation projects.

After return to Siem Reap.

Optional: Phare Ponleu Selpak in Siem Reap – (evening)

This evening attend a performance of ‘Phare, the Cambodian Circus’. Starting at 7pm, professional artists of Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPS) will perform an inspiring show suitable for people of all ages. Set up in Battambang in 1994 by young returnee Cambodians from the refugee camps who learned about using art as a means of coping with trauma, PPS has played an influential role in promoting and developing Khmer culture over the years after the Khmer Rouge genocide. The hour long show mixes traditional and modern theater, music, dance, acrobatics, juggling and contortion performed in a story about Cambodian lives and society. Student performances can still be seen twice weekly in Battambang but now the circus has arrived in Siem Reap!

Overnight in Siem Reap.

Day 6: Siem Reap (B/D)
After breakfast start your visits to some other Angkor sites. First, head to the ancient city of Angkor Thom. Angkor Thom was 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. You will enter the city from 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. The exterior gallery walls have extensive, superb bas-reliefs, particularly the East and South Galleries. 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. 

After visit Ta Prohm temple, that children will probably enjoy the most. The ‘Tomb Raider’ movie was movie was set and filmed here. Ta Prohm is unique in that it has been left largely as it was found: overgrown by jungle trees and vines, with many parts of the temple crumbling to the ground. This makes Ta Prohm one of the most picturesque and memorable of the Angkor temples.

Return to your hotel in time for midday/early afternoon. In the afternoon you can choose from a range of optional activities or take a break to enjoy the hotel swimming pool or exploring the town of Siem Reap on your own accord.

Optional: 2-3 hrs village cycle tour
Explore some local villages and to experience the “real” Cambodia in the Siem Reap area. Discuss a route in advance with your guide in order to meet your own fitness and interests. The excursion is designed to give you a more extended bike ride mixed with cultural interactions. A support vehicle is provided in case you need to take a break along the way.Optional: Horseback riding at Happy Ranch

Head to the Happy Ranch outside of Siem Reap, a western style horse ranch. There, you will get acquainted with your horse of pure Cambodian breed, a descendant of the Mongolian wild horses. Enjoy the countryside on horseback! During the 2 hour trail ride you will get to places far outside the tourist area, through the rice fields and local villages to the rarely visited temple of Wat Atvea. Explore the peaceful temple ruins of the Angkor-era, a truly authentic experience.

Children aged between 2 and 12 years at the time of travel will receive a 10% discount off the Adult Price.

Note: Happy Ranch can arrange lead rides on gentle ponies for young children. Their experienced staff will walk alongside and lead them or just assist them when necessary. 

Optional: Quad Bike Adventure

An unforgettable experience as you will ride a quad bike especially designed for off road terrain through the beautiful countryside of Siem Reap Province. The 12 km guided tour will take you to local villages, where you can learn about the way of life in rural Cambodia and have the chance to meet and chat with the wonderful and friendly people. The highlight of the 2 hour tour is the sunset in the rice fields.

Note: 2 adults can ride on the same quad bike with maximum weight of 130 Kgs.

In this case, the driver must have experience of riding a quad bike. 
Children are welcome to sit with their parents as passengers.
From 14 to 16 years old, children can ride their own quad only with an instructor as a pillow.
17 years old children can be allowed to ride alone their own quad only if they have an adult size and a similar or bigger quad at home.

Enjoy dinner at HAVEN, a training restaurant for young adults (orphans, half-orphans and abandoned children), who have to leave orphanages when they come of age. By giving them vocational training in hospitality or as a cook and teaching them life skills they gain experience to support the transition from institution to real world. HAVEN serves flavourful Asian and Western food – including some Swiss specialities and many fresh vegetarian tidbits – at the same time you are supporting a training programme and are thereby helping a young adult orphan to achieve a secure and independent future.  (Note: open Mon-Sat 11am-10pm – closed Wed 11am-5.30pm for student training, Sunday all day).

Overnight in Siem Reap.

Day 7: Siem Reap  (B)
This morning is at leisure with a range of optional activities to suit children and adults alike.

Optional: Angkor Silk Farm – (Half day)
Drive through the countryside around the Western Baray where you can spot water buffalos in swampy ponds, kids in school uniforms on their bicycles and oxcarts. Visit the Angkor Silk Farm 15 km west of Siem Reap, where you can witness the entire process of silk creation from growing and harvesting mulberry as food for the silk worms, the breeding process and life cycle of the silk worm to the spinning the silk, the dying process and the creation of beautiful silk weavings on wooden hand looms. Children will get the opportunity to feed the silk worms – a fun experience!

Optional: Cooking Class at Cassia Restaurant – (Half day)

Discover the secrets of authentic Khmer cuisine in a half-day cooking class at Cassia Restaurant. The tour starts with a guided trip to the market where you will learn everything about Cambodian vegetables, herbs, spices and other ingredients of which you will later be shown how to prepare these delicious dishes. Khmer cuisine is influenced by Thai, Indian, Vietnamese and Chinese food and not very spicy. At lunchtime, indulge yourself in your self-prepared meals.

Optional: Beng Mealea temple visit (half day)

After breakfast, you will head out to the beautiful Cambodian countryside, as you will drive to the quiet Beng Mealea, around 65 km from Siem Reap. Feel like an explorer when you discover the completely overgrown temple. Undiscovered for centuries, Beng Mealea has only recently been made accessible and remains unrestored. It is one of the very few temples that actually give the opportunity to climb through it. After your adventurous exploration, return to your hotel in central Siem Reap.  

Children aged between 2 and 12 years at the time of travel will receive a 10% discount off the Adult Price.

In the afternoon you will visit the famous Angkor Wat, built during the reign of King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century; it is constructed following the model of the temple mountain symbolizing the Mount Meru, 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. Moreover, 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.

After a wonderful tour at the temple, enjoy a relaxing cruise in a gondola paddle boat at the moat of Angkor Thom compound while watching a spectacular sunset at Prasat Chroung temple. Canapés and a soft drink will be available on the boat, as your boat paddles slowly along the ancient moat.

Overnight in Siem Reap.

Day 8: Siem Reap – Sihanoukville      (B)
Enjoy some time at leisure to relax at the hotel or to discover Siem Reap town on your own until the transfer to the airport for your afternoon flight to Sihanoukville (1 hr).

On arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Overnight in Sihanoukville.

Day 9: Sihanoukville    (B)
Breakfast at the hotel.

Enjoy your day at leisure or enjoy with the optional tour.

Ream National Park
The park was established in 1993 on a 210 km² area on the Gulf of Thailand that includes thick pristine jungle, mangrove forests and off-shore coral reefs. It's a nature lovers paradise with nearly 200 bird species, many kinds of monkeys and it is also the habitat of the pangolin. You will be transferred to one of Ream’s most scenic isolated beaches, called Koh Sampouch. A BBQ seafood lunch is included in this shared excursion.

Overnight in Sihanoukville.

Day 10: Sihanoukville      (B)
Breakfast at the hotel.

Enjoy your day at leisure or enjoy an optional tour.

Three Islands tour
Take a boat trip departing 9am to explore three islands giving you the chance to snorkel, fish or just rest and relax. At the first stop you will see colorful corals and fishes at the island of Koh Chaluh. At Bamboo Island enjoy swimming with in the clear waters or relax on a long yellow sandy beach with a coral reef. Have a seafood BBQ lunch with cool drinks and fruit on the beach. After an easy walk of 10 minutes to the other side of Bamboo Island before departing to either Koh Tres for some snorkeling or Koh Takiev for some more beach (please advise at the start of the tour which option you prefer). In the afternoon return to Sihanoukville to arrive 4-5pm. 

Day 11: Sihanoukville     (B)

Final day at leisure. Relax or take one of the optional tours suggested for Days 9/10.

Overnight in Sihanoukville.

Day 12: Sihanoukville – Phnom Penh - departure     (B)
Breakfast at hotel. Free at leisure until midday transfer back with driver only to Phnom Penh.

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