Arrival in Phnom Penh, meet at the airport and transfer for sightseeing in Phnom Penh - Cambodia’s capital sits
at the confluence of the Mekong, Bassac and Tonle Sap Rivers. Considered the loveliest of the French-built cities of Indochina, it was founded as a small monastery in 1372 by a rich Khmer woman called Penh, after she found four Buddha statues in a tree trunk on the banks of the Mekong. She set up the monastery on a nearby hill – or ‘phnom’ in Cambodian. Visit Wat Phnom, Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, National Museum, and Central Market.
Free time for shopping and leisure
Overnight in Phnom Penh
WAT PHNOM: set on top of a 27m-high tree-covered knoll. According to the legend, the first pagoda on this site was erected in 1373 to house four statues of Buddha deposited here by the waters of the Mekong River and discovered by a woman named Penh.
ROYAL PALACE and SILVER PAGODA: stands on the site of the former citadel, Banteay Kev (built in 1813), fronts Samdech Sothearos Boulevard. Since King Sihanouk's return to Cambodia, visitors are only allowed to visit the palace's Silver pagoda and its surrounding compound. The silver pagoda is often called the Pagoda of the Emerald Buddha or Wat Preah Kaeo after the statue housed there. King Norodom originally built the wooden temple in 1892 and inside; its floor is comprised of more than 5000 silver blocks.
NATIONAL MUSEUM: designed by a French archeologist and painter, George Groslier, in Khmer style in 1920. The most significant displays of sculpture include the eight-armed statue of Vishnu for the 6th or 7th century, the statue of Shiva and the sublime statue of Jayavaraman VII seated. The museum also contains displays of the pottery and bronzes dating from the pre-Angkorian periods of Funan and Chenla, the Indravarman, the classical Angkorian, as well as more recent work. There is a permanent collection of the post-Angkorian Buddhas, many of which were rescued from Angkor Wat when the civil war erupted.
CENTRAL MARKET (PSAR THMEI): a covered market distinguished by its central dome (built in 1937). It is filled with shops selling jewelry, fabrics, and all kinds of souvenirs. A great place for browsing.
After breakfast at the hotel, excursion to Takeo Province south of Phnom Penh with several interesting historical sites such as Tonle Bati, Ta Prohm, Phnom Chisor, Phnom Da, Zoo Phnom Tamao including Angkor Borei
Overnight in Phnom Penh
TONLE BATI: a lake south of Phnom Penh, with a beach and the impressive laterite temple of Ta Prohm.
TA PROHM: a temple built by King Jayavarman VII (who ruled from 1181 to 1201) on the site of a 6th century Khmer shrine. A stele found here a date from 1574 and inside the north gate is a damaged statue of the Hindu god Preah Noreay. Women come here to pray for the birth of children.
PHNOM CHISOR: the main temple stands at the eastern side of the hilltop. Constructed of laterite and brick with cared lintels of sandstone, the complex is surrounded by the partially ruined walls of a 2.5m-wide gallery with windows.
ANGKOR BOREI: was known as Vyadhapura when its served as the capital of water Chenla in the 8th century, one of many competing kingdom in the pre-Angkorian era. It is one of the pre-Angkorian sites in Cambodia, dating back to the 5th century. Angkor Borei is actually a small modern town, but in this instance it is used to refer to the remains of an ancient walled city in the vicinity.
PHNOM DA: a few kilometers south of Angkor Borei. Four artificial caves, built as shrines, are carved into the northeastern wall of the hill. On top of Phnom Da is a square laterite temple open to the north, dating from the 8th century.
ZOO PHNOM TAMAO: is the site of Cambodia's leading wildlife sanctuary, a home for animals confiscated from traffickers or saved from poachers traps. It feels like a zoo crossed with safari park, and gradually some of this space being used to provide a better habitat for the larger animals.
Day 3 Phnom Penh - Kampong Cham - Kampong Thom
After breakfast at the hotel, by vehicle from Phnom Penh to Kampong Cham - Journey north through the Mekong River basin. If time permits, visit the spider merchants at Skoun.
Sightseeing in Kampong Cham: Kampong Cham is a lively port on the banks of the Mekong River with some good examples of colonial-era architecture. Visit Phnom Pros and Phnom Srei Hill, which offer beautiful views of this central part of Cambodia, The sandstone temple Wat Nokor, Rubber Plantation, Local Market to see the local produce and to meet the local people and Wat Nokor Bayon.
Overnight in Kampong Thom
PHNOM PROS and PHNOM SREI: these two hills, each with a temple, translate as ‘Man hill’ and ‘Woman hill’ respectively. The hills offer beautiful views of this central part of Cambodia.
WAT NOKOR: a Buddhist Mahayana temple, made from sandstone and laterite that was built in the 11th century.
RUBBER PLANTATION: visit a rubber plantation at Chhup.
LOCAL MARKET: an interesting place to see the local produce and to meet the local people.
WAT NOKOR BAYON: located 2 kilometers from the river, this is an 11th century Mahayana Buddhist shrine made of sandstone and laterite with a large reclining Buddha and numerous alcoves containing Buddha images.
By vehicle from Kampong Cham to Kampong Thom Journey northwest through the Tonle Sap basin, a low-lying alluvial plain where the vast majority of Cambodians live and grow rice. The rich sediment deposited during the Mekong's annual wet season flooding has made for very fertile agricultural land. Travel through Skun, Phnum Tet Srei, Kampong Thonor and Trapeang Veng.
Day 4 Kampong Thom - Siem Reap
After breakfast at the hotel, sightseeing in Kampong Thom: Kampong Thom town is situated on the Stoeng Sen River and is a good base from which to visit the important archaeological sites at Sambor Prei Kup, 35 kilometers from town. Visit Sabor Prei Kuk, Phnom Santuk and Wat Andri.
By vehicle from Kampong Thom to Siem Reap Journey northwest across the provinces of Kampong Thom and Siem Reap passing through Stoung, Kompong Kdei and Dam Deik. Many streams and rivers flowing south into the Tonle Sap basin are crossed.
SAMBOR PREI KUK: also known as Isanapure, it is an ancient Chenla capital dating from the 6th century and the reign of King Isanavarman. It is believed to be the most impressive group of pre-9th century monuments in Cambodia.
PHNOM SANTUK: have 809 steps and an eclectic collection of shrines, carved Buddha, great views of the surrounding countryside and an active monastery.
WAT ANDRI: near Route 6 on the way to Siem Reap, the highest ranked Buddhist monk in Kampong Thom province lives here. It is home to 50 monks and 20 nuns.
Day 5 Siem Reap
After breakfast at the hotel, sightseeing in Angkor: visit Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Phimeanakas, Former Royal Palace, Terrace of Elephants, Terrace of the Leper King, and enjoy spectacular view of Angkor Wat during sunset over Phnom Bakheng.
Overnight in Siem Reap
ANGKOR WAT: a temple dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu by King Suryavarman II, who reigned between 1131 and 1150. It was constructed over a period of 30 years and is world famous for its beauty and splendor. Angkor Wat features the longest continuous bas-relief in the world, which runs along the outer gallery walls and narrates stories from Hindu mythology. In 1992 the UNESCO declared the monument and the whole city of Angkor a World Heritage Site.
ANGKOR THOM: a fortified Royal City (10 square kilometers) built by King Jayavarman VII, who ruled from 1181 to 1201. The city has five monumental gates and is encircled by a moat 100 meters wide. In the center of the walled city are the city’s most important monuments including Bayon, Baphuon, the Terrace of Elephants, the Terrace of the Leper King and Phimeanakas with Royal Enclosure.
BAYON: Jayavarman VII's temple mountain that stands at the center of Angkor Thom. It is one of the most popular of Angkor's monuments and a place of narrow corridors, steep flights of stairs and an amazing collection of towers decorated with over 200 smiling faces.
BAPHUON: the pyramid shape represents the mythical Mount Meru and marks the center of the city that was here before Angkor Thom.
PHIMEANAKAS: near the center of what was once the royal palace within Angkor Thom. Phimeanakas means ‘Celestial Palace’, though today there is not much left to indicate its former splendour.
FORMER ROYAL PALACE: nothing remains today except two pools that were used by royalty for washing.
TERRACE OF ELEPHANTS: this terrace was used for viewing public ceremonies and was a base for the King’s grand audience hall. The famous lines of elephants are at either end of the retaining walls.
TERRACE OF THE LEPER KING: North of the Terrace of Elephants is a platform named ‘Terrace of the Leper King’. On the platform is a nude statue – one of Angkor’s mysteries.
TA PROHM: one of the most popular attractions of Angkor as much of the jungle has not been cleared and it looks very much as most of the Angkor monuments would have appeared when European explorers first stumbled across them.
PHNOM BAKHENG: hilltop temple ruins which provide one of the best views of Angkor Wat, especially at sunset.
Day 6 Siem Reap
After breakfast at the hotel, discover Angkor: visit Banteay Srei, a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva, which are decorated with male and female divinities and beautiful filigree relief work. Bantea Samre, take boat trip explores Tonle Sap, the lake’s fishing villages. Phnom Krom with spectacular views over the lake and a temple dating from the 10th century. Chong Kneas, a floating village on the lake where both Khmer and Vietnamese live.
BANTEAY SREI: built in the late 10th century, it is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva. The temple is square with entrances on the east and west. Of main interest are the three central towers, which are decorated with male and female divinities and beautiful filigree relief work.
BANTEAY SAMRE: large restored temple about 3 km off the grand circuit. Constructed around the same time as Angkor Wat, the similar style is particularly obvious in the towers and balustrades. Carvings are in excellent condition.
TONLE SAP LAKE: this lake takes up much of the center of Cambodia and changes in size depending on the season. During the dry season in February it shrinks to a tenth of its original size and is then one of the richest fishing grounds in the world. The boat trip explores the lake’s fishing villages.
PHNOM KROM: a hill south of Siem Reap with spectacular views over the lake and a temple dating from the 10th century. The three towers on it are dedicated to Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma.
CHONG KNEAS: a floating village on the lake where both Khmer and Vietnamese live.
Day 7 Siem Reap
After breakfast at the hotel, continue sightseeing in Angkor: visit Preah Khan, Neak Pean, Pre Rup, Ta Som and East Mebon before transfer to the airport for departure
PREAH KHAN: a temple built by King Jayavarman VII with towered enclosures and shoulder-hugging corridors. Preah Khan covers a very large area but the temple itself is enclosed within a rectangular wall of around 700 by 800 meters.
NEAK PEAN: built by King Jayavarman VII (ruled 1181 to 1201), it is a Buddhist temple consisting of a square pool with four smaller square pools arranged on each axis. In the center of the large central pool is a circular island encircled by two nagas with intertwined tails.
PRE RUP: built by Rajendravarman II (ruled 944 to 968), it consists of a pyramid shaped temple with the uppermost of the three tiers carrying five square shrines arranged as a quincunx. The name means ‘turning the body’ and refers to the traditional method of cremation.
TA SOM: built in the late 12th century by Jayavarman VII for his teacher ‘Som’. Ta Som means ‘the old Som’.
EASTERN MEBON: temple erected by Rajendravarman (ruled from 944 to 968), it is located on a former islet in the center of the Eastern Baray. The base of the temple is guarded at its corners by stone figures of harnessed elephants
End of Services **Note: Itinerary subject to change due to flight schedules.