20
DAY

Different faces of Cambodia tour

Enjoy trip around Cambodia

Tour Code: PNH20D007

Introduction

  • Visit Royal Palace & National Museum, Tuol Sleng, Killing Fields 
  • Visit Spider city at Skun village; see the 'fusion' temple of WatNokor, an 11th century sandstone temple
  • Explore the impressive pre-Angkorian capital of Isanapura, visit ancient Angkor bridges
  • Explore Preah Vihea Temple, Roluos Group, Tonle Sap, Kbal Spean, Banteay Srei, Landmine Museum, Ta Prohm Temple 
  • Explore Beng Mealea, Koh Ker, Sunset tour at Angkor Wat, visit Banteay Cheay Chhmar Temple
  • Experience Battambang Countryside & Bamboo Train, Explore Temple in Battambang & Museum
  • Visit a local pottery village in Kampong Chhnang, Udong Mountain, 
  • Relax on nicest beach in Asia- Sihanoukville 

Day 1: Phnom Penh Arrival –Visit Royal Palace and National Museum [-L-D]


Welcome to Cambodia! Upon arrival in Cambodia at Pochentong Airport, you will clear customs and immigration, getting your visa on arrival. Be sure to bring two passport photos. Exiting to baggage claim, you will be met by our local guide, holding a sign with your name on it. He will take you to your hotel to drop your bags and wash up before touring the city.

This afternoon, we explore the stunning Royal Palace complex, home to the Cambodian royal family and a symbol of the nation. We begin amid the beautiful royal gardens, landscaped with tropical plants and studded with gleaming spires. We enter the Throne Hall where the royal receptions are held and the Cambodian king's coronation took place. We then pass the Napoleon III Pavilion made from iron, a gift from the French emperor in the 19th century. We continue to the Silver Pagoda, named after the 5000 silver tiles covering the floor, each weighing 1kg. Inside are some of the country's most cherished treasures, including a life-size gold Buddha studded with 9584 diamonds, the largest weighing 25 carats. There is also a delicate emerald Buddha made of baccarat crystal, which gives the temple its Khmer name of WatPreahKeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha). We leave the Royal Palace and continue to the nearby National Museum, home to the world's finest collection of sculpture from the Angkor period. The exquisite building was completed between 1917 and 1920 and features a lush courtyard garden surrounded by collections from the pre-Angkor, Angkor and post-Angkor periods. We concentrate on the incredible sandstone sculpture from Angkor, as well as the intricate bronzes.

 

Day 2: Phnom Penh – Tuol Sleng, Killing Fields- Local Markent [-L-D]

We come face to face with the horrific crimes of the Khmer Rouge. Tuol Sleng was a former high school that the Khmer Rouge turned into a centre for interrogation, torture and death. Today it is a museum of torture and serves to remind visitors of the terrible atrocities that came to pass in Cambodia. 17,000 people passed through the gates of this prison and only seven lived to tell the tale. he Khmer Rouge were meticulous in their record keeping, photographing all the prisoners and many of these haunting black and white images are on display in the cells. Enemies of the revolution were killed here, as well as many Khmer Rouge loyalists, denounced by an ever more paranoid political party. It became a production line for killing, as those that worked within its walls were unwaveringly loyal to Pol Pot. The party did not make mistakes, so those sent here had to be guilty. The role of the prison was not to prove innocence but to confirm guilt. TuolSleng is a profoundly moving experience and not everyone will want to visit. However, it is key to understanding the hell into which Cambodia descended and how far it has come in the years since. We then travel out of town to the Killing Fields of ChoeungEk. Prisoners from TuolSleng followed this same route to their fate. An old Chinese cemetery, ChoeungEk was turned into an extermination camp for political prisoners. The remains of 8985 people were exhumed from mass graves and are kept in a memorial stupa here. Despite the horrors of the past, it is a peaceful place to go and a tranquil spot to reflect on the tragic events that engulfed Cambodia and its people.

In the afternoon, we travel to the Russian Market, one of the premier shopping destinations in the Cambodian capital. Known as PsarTuol Tom Pong, it earned its nickname in the 1980s, when Russians were the only tourists in Cambodia. A rambling place, it is bursting with bargains, including handicrafts, carvings, silk and textiles, clothing and footwear, and lots of pirated software, CDs and DVDs, not forgetting enough motorcycle parts to assemble a homemade moped.

After some time here to browse or buy, we travel to the impressive Central Market, one of the city landmarks. Originally completed by the French in 1937, this striking structure is known as PsarThmei in Khmer or New Market. The huge dome is wonderfully ventilated, a testament to the design, and this market is loaded with anything and everything available in Cambodia. Buy with caution, as this market has a reputation for overcharging or 'shaving your head' as Cambodians like to call it.
We then make for Wat Phnom, a symbol of the city. Located on one of the few hills in this pancake-flat capital, the first pagoda was originally built in 1373 to house Buddha statues discovered in the Mekong by a woman named Penh. This gives us the modern name of the city, Phnom Penh or Hill of Penh. Cambodians come to the shrine to pray for luck in love and life, employment and exams, so there it is always a bustling place.
Rest of the day at leisure

Day 3: Phnom Penh – Kampong Thom via Kampong Cham [-L-D]


We leave Phnom Penh and travel northeast to the bustling provincial city of Kompong Cham. En route, there is the chance to pause at Skuon, affectionately known as 'Spiderville', where it is possible to sample the local delicacy of deep fried tarantula.

Later we see the 'fusion' temple of WatNokor, an 11th century sandstone temple with a colourful modern wat set in its central courtyard. There are some intricate carvings at this temple and the kitsch contrast between the Hindu past and the Buddhist present is almost unheard of elsewhere in Cambodia. We then enjoy a local lunch in Kompong Cham. After lunch, We journey ahead west to the provincial capital of Kompong Thom.

Day 4: Kampong Thom – SamborPreiKuk – Phnom Santuk [-L-D]

After breakfast in Kompong Thom, we explore the impressive pre-Angkorian capital of Isanapura, known today as SamborPreiKuk. The first major temple city in South-East Asia, the brick temples of SamborPreiKuk are a peaceful contrast to their more illustrious relatives at Angkor. Visiting these ancient structures before our pilgrimage to Angkor offers a fascinating chronological insight into the development of temple architecture during the Khmer Empire. We explore the main temples here, including Prasat Tao with its elaborately coiffured lions and PrasatSambor, with its crumbling sanctuaries. After lunch we will visit the Santuk Silk Farm and see the entire silk production cycle from silkworm to weaving karmas and sampots. This is one of the few places in the country where you can witness the whole process of silk-weaving from beginning to end. Then we make our way to the nearby sacred and holy hill of Phnom Santuk, some 18kms south of the city. The hill, with over 800 steps to the top, is a series of pagodas and shrines amidst a collection of large sandstone boulders, on which many Buddhist motifs and figures have been carved, including several large reclining Buddhas. The monks are very friendly, so why not take the opportunity to receive a blessing from the monks or laypersons at the pagoda. There are also wonderful views across the flat plains of the countryside below the mountain and we stop to enjoy the late afternoon sunset from the mountaintop before we return to Kompong Thom.

Day 5: Kampong Thom – Siem Reap [-L-D]
After breakfast in Kompong Thom, we continue northwest on National Highway 6. This was an old Angkor road and we stop in KompongKdei to see one of the ancient Angkor bridges that were built to span the rivers. Spean Praptos or the Praptos Bridge has more than 20 arches and is a spectacular sight, reinforcing the impression that the Khmers were like the Romans of Southeast Asia. We continue to Siem Reap where we check into our hotel and enjoy a local lunch in this buzzing town.
Rest of the day at leisure

Day 6: Siem Reap – Preah Vihear – Siem Reap [-L-D]


We leave Siem Reap after an early breakfast on our journey into remotest Cambodia towards the magnificent mountain temple of PreahVihear. We break for lunch at AnlongVeng, a former Khmer Rouge stronghold until the end of the civil war in 1998. Now a boomtown, there is also the option to visit the former house of military strongman Ta Mok. We then continue east towards PreahVihear. The snaking road up the mountain is very steep in places and we eventually emerge at the second enclosure of this king of the mountain temples. We explore the temple on foot. Some tourists cross over from the Thai side each day, but most have long gone and we have this incredible complex to ourselves. We continue onwards to the final level, clinging to a cliff face in the Dangrek Mountains, towering hundreds of metres above lowland Cambodia below. The views from this most mountainous of temple mountains are breathtaking, the foundation stones of the temple stretching to the edge of the cliff as it plunges precipitously away to the plains of PreahVihear province below. Later we then leave this sacred mountain and continue our journey back to Siem Reap for overnight.

Day 7: Siem Reap – Roluos Group and Kampong Pluk [-L-D]


We follow small back roads through rural landscapes and picturesque villages. Our first stop is the temple of Bakong in the Roluos group, the first of the great pyramid mountains which later kings were to copy. From Bakong, we continue into Roluos town to visit a very local market, untouched by tourism. After some refreshments here, we follow the course of the Roluos river to the nearest navigable point where we board small wooden boats for the trip to KompongPluk.
Cruising down a narrow waterway, we enter this medieval floating village, where the houses stand atop stilts as much as seven metres above the water. Everything lives on the water, pigs, dogs, crocodiles and people, all jockeying for space in this incredible floating town. We explore the local wat here, before boarding a bigger boat to take us through the flooded forest and across the Great Lake to Chong Kneas and the holy mountain of Phnom Krom. We then continue the visit in The late afternoon at
Next we visit WatAttvea a realtively unknown temple to the south of Siem Reap, Cambodia. It is a Hindu temple and it consists of a laterite square wall with four Gopuras and the temple itself.

Day 8: Siem Reap – Kbal Spean, Banteay Srei and Landmine Museum [-L-D]


We journey north to Kbal Spean. The original ‘River of a Thousand Lingas’, Kbal Spean is an intricately carved riverbed deep in the foothills of the Cambodian jungle only discovered in 1969. The Khmers venerated its limestone bed with a riot of carvings, including thousands of lingams. A trip to Kbal Spean is one of the easiest ways to experience a short jungle trek in the Angkor area, as it is a steady but scenic climb to reach the river carvings. We head to BanteaySrei, Angkor’s ultimate art gallery. This petite pink temple is the jewel in the crown of Angkor-era sculpture. The elaborate carvings here are the finest found in Cambodia and the name translates as ‘Fortress of the Women’, thanks to the intricate detail here, considered too fine for the hands of a man.On the way back to Siem Reap, we visit the Cambodia Landmine Museum to learn more about the scourge of landmines and the shadow they cast over rural communities in Cambodia with a visit to this flagship museum promoting mine awareness and education

Day 9: Siem Reap – Ta Prohm at dawn Angkor Thom [-L-D]


We rise early to travel to Ta Prohm in the dawn light. Ta Prohm has been abandoned to the elements, a reminder that while empires rise and fall, the riotous power of nature marches on, oblivious to the dramas of human history. Left as it was ‘discovered’ by French explorer Henri Mouhout in 1860, the tentacle-like tree roots here are slowly strangling the surviving stones, man first conquering nature to create, nature later conquering man to destroy. After soaking up the unique atmosphere of Ta Prohm, we continue to the giant pyramid of Takeo, one of the highest temples in the Angkor area. Built at the end of the 10th century, it was never completed. Some scholars contend this was due to an inauspicious lightning strike during construction. Others have suggested the high quality sandstone was simply too hard to carve in detail. This morning we also visit the remains of an old Angkorian bridge which once spanned the Siem Reap river. Like the Romans before them, the Khmer kings built long, straight roads connecting the outposts of their empire and these included many magnificent bridges. There is also the option to visit the smaller temples of ChauSeyDevada and Thommanon for avid temple enthusiasts.

In the afternoon, we visit the immense walled city Angkor Thom that was the masterpiece of King Jayavarman VII. Following the occupation of Angkor by the Chams from 1177 to 1181, the new king decided to build an impregnable fortress at the heart of his empire. The scale is simply staggering and we are immediately overwhelmed by the audacity of Jayavarman on arrival at the city’s gates. The causeway is lined by an intricate bridge depicting the Churning of the Ocean of Milk from Hindu mythology in which the devas (gods) and asuras (devils) play tug of war with a naga (seven-headed serpent) to obtain the elixir of immortality. We begin our visit at the Terrace of the Leper King. This intricately carved platform was the royal crematorium and the statue that was originally thought to be the leper king is now believed to be Yama, the god of death. We continue along the Terrace of Elephants, originally used as a viewing gallery for the king to preside over parades, performances and traditional sports. At the southern end lies the Baphuon, once of the most beautiful temples at Angkor, dating from the reign of Uditayavarman in the 11th century. It has undergone a massive renovation by the French and is now once again open for viewing.Our climax is the enigmatic and enchanting temple of the Bayon. At the exact centre of Angkor Thom, this is an eccentric expression of the creative genius and inflated ego of Cambodia’s most celebrated king. Its 54 towers are each topped off with the four faces of Avalokiteshvara (Buddha of Compassion), which bear more than a passing resemblance to the king himself. These colossal heads stare down from every side, exuding power and control with a hint of compassion, just the mix required to keep a hold on such a vast empire. Before clambering upwards, we unravel the mysteries of the bas-reliefs, with their intricate scenes of ancient battles against the Chams and their snapshot of daily life during the Angkor period.

Day 10: Siem Reap – Beng Mealea and Koh Ker [-L-D]


We travel to the lost temple of BengMealea, the titanic of temples, a slumbering giant lost for centuries in the forests of Cambodia. It is the most accessible of Angkor’s lost temples, a mirror image of Angkor Wat, but utterly consumed by the voracious appetite of nature. Constructed by Suryavarman II (1113-1150), the builder of Angkor Wat, the forest has run riot here and it is hard to get a sense of the monument’s shape amid the daunting ruins.Here it is possible to enjoy an Indiana Jones experience clambering about the vast ruin. For those who want a more gentle adventure, there is also a sturdy wooden walkway running right into the heart of the temple. It is also possible to visit a nearby Angkor-era quarry from where stone was cut to build these massive monuments.

We then head into the bush to the remote Angkor capital of Koh Ker. The history of Cambodia is riven with dynastic spats and political intrigue and one of the most memorable came in the 10th century when Jayavarman IV (928-942) fell out with his family, stormed off to the northwest and established the rival capital of Koh Ker. Although the capital for just 15 years, Jayavarman IV was determined to legitimise his rule through a prolific building programme that left a legacy of 30 major temples and some gargantuan sculpture that is on display in the National Museum in Phnom Penh.We visit Prasat Thom, a seven-storey step pyramid, more Mayan than Khmer, which has commanding views over the surrounding forest. Nearby is PrasatKrahom or Red Temple, named after the pinkish BanteaySrei-style stone from which it is built. There are many more temples in the area, including the five towers of Prasat Ling, each enclosing a giant linga or fertility symbol, the biggest and best found
insitu anywhere in Cambodia.


Day 11: Siem Reap – Angkor Wat Sunrise tour [-L-D]


Angkor Wat sunrise and exploration; Rising at the crack of dawn, we journey out to the Mother of all temples, Angkor Wat. Believed to be the world's largest religious building, this temple is the perfect fusion of symbolism and symmetry and a source of pride and strength to all Khmers. Built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II, this is most famous temple at Angkor. We stay at Angkor Wat to enjoy a picnic breakfast. As the crowds return to their hotels, we venture into Angkor Wat to enjoy its magnificence in peace and quiet. We begin by unraveling the mysteries of the bas-reliefs that tell of tales from Hindu mythology and of the glories of the Khmer empire. Stretching for almost one kilometre, these intricate carvings are a candidate for the world’s longest unbroken piece of art.Following in the footsteps of the devout and the destructive before us, we then continue to the upper levels of the inner sanctuary. The final steps to the upper terrace of Angkor are the steepest of all, as pilgrims of old were to stoop on their pilgrimage to encounter the Gods. Finally the pinnacle, the sacred heart of Angkor Wat, a blend of spirituality and symmetry so perfect that few moments will measure up.

Rest of the day at leisure

Day 12: Siem Reap – Battambang via Banteay Chhmar Temple [-L-D]


We leave Siem Reap after breakfast and travel west towards the trading town of SvaySisophon. We then head deeper into BanteayMeanchey province to the incredible jungle temple of BanteayChhmar, famous for its signature faces of Jayavarman VII. After travelling through some beautiful stretches of Cambodian countryside, we start at the enigmatic temple of Banteay Top. Here the central tower has collapsed, only to be rebuilt and resembles a precarious tower of building blocks. The interior includes original wooden supports, a rarity in this tropical climate. We continue to the main temple of BanteayChhmar for a thorough exploration.

We see the magnificent carvings of Lokesvara with 32 arms, nicknamed loksam-pee (Mr 32) by Khmers, as well as the beautiful Hall of Dancers, similar to the famous Preah Khan. After clambering about among this sleeping giant, we continue to explore the outer complex, including the outer gate of Ta Prohm, like a smaller cousin of the impressive Angkor Thom gates and protected by a moat. After a picnic lunch around BanteayChhmar, we travel south through Sisophon once more before continuing to Battambang, a historic riverside city on the banks of the Sangker River. We spend the night in a comfortable local hotel.

Day 13: Battambang Countryside and Bamboo Train Experience [-L-D]

After breakfast, we travel to WatKoh district to visit a local village and learn about rural life in Cambodia. We learn about the rice harvest, fruit farming and how the sugar palm is used. After our village visit, we board the bamboo train to travel back towards Battambang. These 'local trains' are bamboo platforms with wheels and they fly along the rail tracks offering great views of the surrounding countryside. We then continue to Phnom Sampeau, a sacred mountain dotted with interesting pagodas and stupas. There is also a moving memorial to Khmer Rouge victims who were thrown into one of the many caves that pepper this holy mountain.
Rest of the day at leisure

Day 14: Battambang - Explore Temple and Museum [-L-D]

After breakfast, we travel to WatKoh district to visit a local village and learn about rural life in Cambodia as well as visiting one of the ancient houses that have been preserved. We learn about the rice harvest, fruit farming and how the sugar palm is used. We then travel to the hilltop temple of WatBanan. Arriving at the temple, we ascend to the summit and are rewarded with striking views of the surrounding plains. There are five towers here, leading some ambitious Battambang residents to claim it may have been the inspiration behind Angkor Wat. After lunch in town, we make a brief visit to Battambang’s provincial museum and take a ride past a few of the city’s former French colonial buildings before we head out towards the ruined and atmospheric 11th century temple of WatEk Phnom, passing through the rice paper making village of PheamEk. A sunset visit to the ruined temple completes our day in Battambang.

Day 15: Battambang - Phnom Penh via Oudong [-L-D]

We leave Battambang after breakfast and travel southeast towards Pursat province. We pass through typical Cambodian landscapes of endless ricefields dotted with sugar palms. We explore the sacred hills here, which include historic pagodas and several stupas containing the remains of Cambodia's former kings. After an extensive visit to this historic place, we continue to the busy riverside town of KompongChhnang where we stop to enjoy a local lunch. There may also be the opportunity to visit a local pottery village, as KompongChhnang is famous for producing undecorated items for the Cambodian home. We then drive to the former Cambodian capital of Udong. We explore the sacred hills here, which include historic pagodas and several stupas containing the remains of Cambodia's former kings. Later we continue to the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. We check into our hotel and soak up the atmosphere of this quixotic riverside capital.

Day 16: Battambang - Sihanoukville [-L-D]


We leave Phnom Penh and travel south on National Highway 4 towards the south coast. As we leave behind the suburbs of Phnom Penh, the scenery gets more interesting. We pause to pay our respects to Yeay Peau, a protective spirit who looks after travellers on the road. The Pich Nil Pass is where the road cuts through Bokor and Kirirom National Parks to the east and west and is lined with shrines and incense. We continue south to the popular resort of Sihanoukville, home to Cambodia's finest beaches. We check into our hotel and leave the rest of the day free to enjoy the beautiful beaches and warm waters.

Day 17: Sihanoukville - enjoy the beach[-]

Day is free to enjoy the beach.

Day 18: Sihanoukville - Free at Leisure [-]

Day is free to enjoy the beach.

Day 19: Sihanoukville – Phnom Penh [B-]


We leave Sihanoukville and travel north on National Highway 4 towards the Cambodian capital. We pause to pay our respects to YeayPeau, a protective spirit who looks after travellers on the road. The Pich Nil Pass is where the road cuts through Bokor and Kirirom National Parks to the east and west and is lined with shrines and incense.
We continue to Phnom Penh, the lively riverside capital of the country and check into our hotel.

Day 20: Phnom Penh Departure [B-]


Hotel check out time is 12:00 noon. Meet your private driver and transfer to airport for onward your flight time.

Day 1: Phnom Penh Arrival –Visit Royal Palace and National Museum

Day 2: Phnom Penh – Tuol Sleng, Killing Fields- Local Markent

Day 3: Phnom Penh – Kampong Thom via Kampong Cham

Day 4: Kampong Thom – SamborPreiKuk – Phnom Santuk

Day 5: Kampong Thom – Siem Reap

Day 6: Siem Reap – Preah Vihear – Siem Reap

Day 7: Siem Reap – Roluos Group and Kampong Pluk

Day 8: Siem Reap – Kbal Spean, Banteay Srei and Landmine Museum

Day 9: Siem Reap – Ta Prohm at dawn Angkor Thom

Day 10: Siem Reap – Beng Mealea and Koh Ker

Day 11: Siem Reap – Angkor Wat Sunrise tour

Day 12: Siem Reap – Battambang via Banteay Chhmar Temple

Day 13: Battambang Countryside and Bamboo Train Experience

Day 14: Battambang - Explore Temple and Museum

Day 15: Battambang - Phnom Penh via Oudong

Day 16: Battambang - Sihanoukville

Day 17: Sihanoukville - enjoy the beach

Day 18: Sihanoukville - Free at Leisure

Day 19: Sihanoukville – Phnom Penh

Day 20: Phnom Penh Departure

 


Inclusions:
- All transfers and transport as per the program:
1pax -2pax: comfortable car 4 seats with air-conditioning
3pax -6pax: comfortable Van 15 seats with air-conditioning
- All accommodation as per program (based on double/Twin sharing room)
- All meals as mentioned (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)
-English speaking station guide as mention on the itinerary.
-All Entrance fee mentioned in itinerary
-Fresh water & Tissue

Exclusions:
- Air tickets both domestic and international
- Insurance
- Personal expenses
- All drinks
- Visa fees and/or visa authorization
- Tips
-Early Check in/Late Check Out
- Other expenses that not mentioned on the itinerary
- Any peak season surcharge (normally New Year period)

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