Day 1: Phnom Penh
Upon your arrival, you are greeted at the airport and transferred to your hotel.
Day 2: Phnom Penh
Tour the city that lies at the confluence of two great rivers, the Mekong and the Tonle Sap. Your whirlwind day begins with stops at the Royal Palace and the National Museum. Then walk up the small hillside to Wat Phnom, the city’s namesake serving as a religious sanctuary for prayers and offerings since 1373. Watch out for the cheeky monkeys that roam the area and see what your fate holds from one of the many fortune tellers. Next, visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, which documents atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s – a sobering glimpse into Cambodia’s violent history. Then, on a lighter note, shop for practically anything you can think of at Phnom Penh’s airy Central Market.
Day 3: Phnom Penh – Siem Reap
Take a half-day trip to Koh Dack, a Mekong Island renowned for its silk weaving. Travel around the island, stopping to observe local artisans at work on hand looms. This rare example of traditional silk production is slowly in decline as many silk producers are transitioning to factory jobs. Return to Phnom Penh to catch an afternoon flight to Siem Reap. After checking into your hotel, spend the afternoon exploring the town.
Day 4: Siem Reap – Angkor Complex
This morning explore Angkor Thom ancient city. Enter through the south gate and before arriving at the Bayon, the centerpiece of this late 12th century complex. The structure encompasses 54 towers that are decorated with more 200 smiling stone faces. You will also visit the Royal Enclosure a walled-off area which housed the wooden palace complex of the Angkor kings, followed by the Terrace of Elephants, and the Terrace of Leper Kings. A final highlight is the tree entwined Ta Prohm Temple, featured in the popular 2001 film Tomb Raider.
After lunch explore explore the magnificent Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious monument. This visually spectacular temple is a massive three-tiered pyramid, rising 65 metres from the ground and crowned by five lotus towers. It’s the national symbol of Cambodia and proudly appears on the country’s flag. The day ends with a jungle sunset from Pre Rup Temple.
Day 5: Siem Reap – Tonle Sap Lake
Today, drive to the edge of Tonle Sap Lake where you will board a longtail boat. Motor out toward Kompong Phluk, an isolated Khmer community of three villages built on stilts above the lake. The community has about 3,000 inhabitants and the stilt houses range in height from from six to eight metres, enabling the homes to withstand the massive lake’s annual flood pulse. Cruise through a submerged mangrove forest that plays host to many species of birds, fish and mammals, and you’ll see why Cambodia’s swampy deltas are internationally recognized havens of biodiversity.
After lunch, receive a blessing from a monk in saffron robes at one of Siem Reap’s best-known pagodas. The 30-minute ceremony includes prayers, flowers, offerings and the gifting of a red thread that is meant to bring good luck and prosperity. The experience is a wonderful glimpse of Cambodia’s rich Buddhist heritage.
Day 6: Siem Reap – Local Community Village
Today, visit a rural village and immerse yourself in the traditional practices of rural Khmer farmers. The proceeds from your visit go towards the employment of the villagers and to a community fund to improve conditions such as health and sanitation. Take the opportunity to interact with the villagers and join them in fishing, farming or animal husbandry, depending on the season. You might like to help prepare a traditional meal or learn how to produce handicrafts. Not only will you have an amazing day out but a great way to experience authentic Khmer traditions first-hand!
Day 7: Siem Reap – Departure
Spend the day just as you wish before transferring to the airport for your onward flight.