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Cambodia – 9 days

Discover the fabled temples, overnight stay in wooden home with local family, explore the uncovered part of Cambodia. For travellers on a budget who are after an experience of temples, this tour showcases natural marvels without missing the greater Mekong and its most famous flooded forests. From the shining marble of Angkor Wat and the King of the Mountain Temples, Preah Vihear to Mekong Wetlands, connect with the culture and nature of this incredible land. This tour can be started from a perfect gateway to the fabled temples of Siem Reap and end in vibrant renaissance capital, Phnom Penh or in reverse.
What’s Included
7 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 2 dinners.
Hotels (6 nts) and tent/homestay (1 nts).
All activities and transfer services.
Private air-conditioned vehicle with drinking water during the tour.
In BriefFull ItineraryTrip DetailsHotels & Prices
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Day 1: Siem Reap (Arrival).
After welcoming you at the Siem Reap Airport, a Cambodian Pride Tours representative will transfer you to a comfortable hotel in the city. The rest of the day is for you to settle in and relax.
Overnight in Siem Reap
Day 2: Angkor Complex by Bike Cycle (Small Circuit 30km return).
We start our day after breakfast by cycle from the hotel toward the check-point of Angkor pass. From there you will begin to see Kravan temple, Banteay Kdei, and stop at the famous Ta Phrom, embraced by the roots of enormous fig trees and gigantic creepers. Visit Ta Phrom that was built in 12th century by the famous King Jayavarvan VII indicated to his mother. The ruined Ta Prohm (Tomb Raider) temple was made famous by Angelina Jolie. This temple has been left to the forces of nature by archaeologists as it was ‘discovered’ by French explorer Henri Mouhot in 1860, many parts of its structure being embraced by the roots of gigantic trees, giving the ruin a special atmosphere, as well other structures on the Small and Grand Circuit.
We continue our cycling tour through small circuit passing Ta Keo temple, Chao Say Tevoda, Tommanon before reaching to Angkor Thom city. There you will see, Terrace of Leper King, Terrace of Elephant, Baphoun, Phimean Akas and of course Bayon temple. Angkor Thom was built by Cambodia’s greatest king, Jayavarman VII. An eight-meter high wall encloses this ten square kilometre city, which is encircled by a moat. The famous Bayon, in the geographical heart of Angkor Thom, is a remarkable 54-tower temple. Initially the temple appears to be a shapeless mass of grey and brown stone, but it is only as you get closer that you realize every tower has the carved face of Avalokiteshvara on it.
We continue to South Gate of Angkor Thom for taking photo. We enjoy cycling on the back road on the great wall of Angkor Thom city. Then, we visit the magnificent 12th century Angkor Wat. It is visually, architecturally and artistically breathtaking. Angkor Wat is a massive three-tiered pyramid crowned by five beehive-like towers rising 65 meters from ground level. The Mother of all temples, Angkor Wat is believed to be the world’s largest religious building built in order to dedicate to the Hindu god, Vishnu. Later, we return back to the hotel in Siem Reap. In the evening of the day, you can take your own time to enjoy Siem Reap central point, just try something like Dr. Fish massage. (B)
Overnight in Siem Reap
Day 3: Angkor Wat Sunrise, Kbal Spean, Banteay Srei & some temples (Grand Circuit).
Rise early for sunrise over the Mother of all temples, Angkor Wat, which is believed to be the world’s largest religious building. 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 Banteay Srei, 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.
Then we return to visit the temples in the grand circuit, Preah Khan was built in the second half of the 12th century in AD 1191 by King Jaya-varman VII, dedicating to his father Dharanindravarman. The inscription indicates that Preah Khan was built on the battle site where King Jaya-varman VII finally defeated the Chams. In those days it was known as Nagarajayacri which mean the city of Preah Khan. The Buddhist complex covers 56 hectares served as the nucleus of a group that includes Neak Pean, was originally designed for medical purposes (the ancients believed that going into these pools would balance the elements in the bather, thus curing disease); it is one of the many hospitals that Jayavarman VII built. It is based on the ancient Hindu belief of balance. Four connected pools represent Water, Earth, Fire and Wind and Ta Som, long Jayatataka Baray the last of the great reservoirs to be built in Angkor. (B)
Overnight in Siem Reap
Day 4: Bike cycle to Roluos Group, Tonle Sap Lake and Silk Farm with van support.
We travel to one of the earliest capitals in the Angkor area, built by King Indravarman (877-889) and originally called Hariharalaya and now known as Roluos. These made up of the three temples: Lolei, Preah Ko and Bakong temples. Many of the later temples in the Angkor complex are based on these earlier temples. We encounter Bakong, the earliest of the temple mountain, which later became the signature of Khmer kings. It is a giant pyramid, its cardinal points marked by giant elephants. Then we travel to visit Tonle Sap is Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake, providing livelihoods for over 10% of Cambodia’s population. Its water level varies considerably and the inhabitants of six of the seven villages at Chong Kneas live in houseboats that need to be moved with the changing levels. As with other fishing communities in the flooded area of the Tonle Sap, the way of life for the 5,000 or so inhabitants is strongly tied to the seasonal rise and fall of water. In the dry season, the floating villages anchor in a small inlet at the edge of the lake, where there is ready access to fishing grounds and some protection from storms and waves. For the residents of the floating villages of Chong Kneas, life on the water is not a cultural tradition that people cherish and wish to preserve. When the villagers were consulted about their living conditions, they said that they would prefer to live on the land and have access to clean water and sanitation as well as have their children go to proper schools instead of the poorly maintained floating school. Afterward, we travel to the rural district of Puok, home to the Artisans d’Angkor silk weaving project. We visit a working silk farm where it is possible to learn about all aspects of the production process. Then, transfer to hotel for overnight. (B)
Overnight in Siem Reap
Day 5: Preah Vihear Temple.
We leave Siem Reap and head north to the mountainous border region and the last outpost of the Khmer Rouge at Anlong Veng, where we visit the house of the former military strongman Ta Mok. Anlong Veng was the last Khmer Rouge stronghold to surrender to government forces in the late 1990s. We then head east to explore an imposing mountain-top temple guards the border between Cambodia and Thailand, Preah Vihear temple which was registered to be the world heritage 2008, perched on a pinnacle overlooking Cambodia and the object of recent battles with Thailand. We climb to the top of the Preah Vihea temple via the snaking road up the mountain which 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 and 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. Later we come to Sra Em and check in a comfortable hotel. (B)
Overnight in Sra Em
Day 6: Mighty Mekong Falls & Preah Rumkel Community Homestay.
We leave behind the historical, cultural, and temple part of the country to encounter the Greater Mekong Regions. Traveling through one of the newest and remotest road there many opportunities to photograph and enjoy the nature. Having arrived to Preah Rumkel in the afternoon, you will be welcomed by leader of Preah Rumkel Community Base Ecotourism and have a sort break. After a traditional lunch prepared by the family at Anlong Cheuteal, we journey with community boat up the rapid to survey Sopheakmet Waterfall; that thwarted the grand designs of French imperialists (and which now mark the Lao border). Along the way there is an opportunity to see Cambodian-Laos fisherman and you can learn about their fishing style. There are a few different places for viewing the falls depending on the time of the year. Your guide will make decision for you. If time is available we will take the boat across the river to visit Hang Khone, which is the southernmost tip of Laos. The French used this as a ferry port where goods were then transferred back to the ferry by train before they continued their travel by river. Sunset here is some of the most beautiful sunset across the Mekong River. Tonight, you will have an overnight stay in a traditional Cambodian home under mosquito net at one of the local family who live on the bank of the Mekong River; experience bucket shower like Khmer people and only a few hours generator run for own electricity. (B,L,D)
Overnight Preah Rumkel Community Homestay
Day 7: Mekong Flooded Forest Kayaking.
Join breakfast next to the dolphin viewing pool. Then, we enjoy a short boat trip down to O’Svay where we will start our paddling tours to explore the Ramsar Wetlands area. It stretches south along the Mekong River from the border with Laos to Stung Treng. Only accessible by boat, it is a haven for critically endangered mammals, birds and fish and a unique riverine flooded forest system that is a photographer’s dream. With only birdcalls announcing our presence, we maneuvered our way leisurely downstream for a couple of hours before reaching the only village on that stretch of the river, Veun Sien, where we beached our kayak for lunch break and wandered around the village. Our paddling tour of the forest continue until one point that you feel enough, then we return back to O’Svay by boat before we travel by road to the provincial capital of Stung Treng. We check in to a comfortable local hotel for the night. (B,L)
Overnight in Stung Treng
Day 8: Travel to Kratie. Dolphin Watching & Some other activities.
We leave behind Stung Treng and travel on the new highway 7. We then turn right to the old highway 7 at Sre Treng and continue along the Mekong River. We then reach Kampi, one of the many deep pools where the rare river dolphins gather to feed. We board a local boat and cruise out into the mighty Mekong for a chance encounter with these gentle mammals. Viewing is guaranteed. After enjoying an hour or more of dolphin viewing, we travel to a sleepy Mekong port and charming town of Kratie, perhaps taking ferry across the Mekong to experience rice whiskey making, rice noodle production and famous grapefruit farm. Or taking a local ferry across the Mekong River to Koh Trong for a 9km cycling around the island. We will see farm of famous grapefruit and other seasonal fruit and vegetable as well as floating village. (B)
Overnight in Kratie
Day 9: Transfer to Phnom Penh.
After breakfast it is time to make your return journey back to Phnom Penh. Travel south, back through the old river port of Chhlong, home to some of the best examples of French colonial architecture in the country. Have lunch on the road, returning to your Phnom Penh hotel between 2 and 5pm, depending on weather and traffic. (B)