Classic Culture Cambodia 6 Days
Day 1: Phnom Penh Arrival (B)
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.
Optional: Khmer Welcome Dinner - Welcome dinner at Bopha Phnom Penh Titanic, the kitchen serves tasty Khmer (and Western) cuisine on the terrace of a breezy terrace restaurant with sweeping river views. Apsara dancing is performed nightly between 7-9pm.
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Day 2: Phnom Penh (B)
This morning, 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, visit Wat Phnom, which is situated near the northern boundary of the city. The site contains some good examples of Khmer architecture and statues. Continue along the lively riverfront to the Royal Palace. This palace dates back to 1866 and houses the Silver Pagoda, named for the over 5000 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. Then visit the National Museum, which was built in traditional Khmer style. It houses the world's foremost collection of ancient Khmer artistic, archaeological, and religious artifacts from the 4th to the 13th centuries. Over 5,000 pieces are on display, constituting the repository of the Kingdom's cultural wealth. In addition, the roof space ishome to a large bat colony! Enjoy your afternoon at leisure or you can take part in an optional activity.
Optional: Tuol Sleng Museum & the Killing Fields - Gain insight into Cambodia’s recent dark history on a visit to the remarkable Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, housed in the former school that was taken over by the Khmer Rouge and used as its main detention and torture center named ‘S-21’. Further visit the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. A grim, but important visit that will allow you to dig below the surface and understand Cambodia better.
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Day 3: Phnom Penh – Siem Reap (B)
Depart from Phnom Penh and travel through the Cambodian countryside and small villages towards Kampong Thom. Stop en route at Skun Market to buy a bag of the ch’ngain (tasty) eight-legged creatures. The spiders are caught in the soft ground of the surrounding countryside and dug out of their burrows.
Optional: Sambor Prei Kuk - Visit Sambor Prei Kuk, one of the most important pre-Angkorian sites in the country that is enlisted to potentially become Cambodia’s next UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sambor Prey Kuk was built in the Chenla period between the 6th and 7th century and there are over 100 well preserved temples scattered in the forest. The three main sites are linked by small and shady tracks. Enjoy a beautiful walk through the jungle with breathtaking views. Your visit supports a community-based tourism project. The villages around the temple complex still practice the ancient art of craft making, using materials such as bamboo and rattan. Stop at one village to observe the local production. The community runs the Isanborei Craft Hut next to the temples and sells their products there as part of a community-based tourism project.
Continue to Siem Reap.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 4: Siem Reap (B)
After your breakfast, start your visit the ancient city of Angkor Thom by ‘remork’(similar to the Thai tuk tuk). 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, with each side of the city being 4 km long, drawing a perfect square. Enter the city through 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. Then continue to Ta Prohm temple, built in the mid-12th to early 13th centuries. 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. Enjoy your afternoon at leisure or you can take part in one of the optional activities.
Optional: Angkor Silk Farm - 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: Horse Back and Quad Bike Rides - Fun half day outings to the heart of Cambodia, passing authentic local villages, rice fields and a peaceful Angkor temple. Here, life goes on much as it has for centuries.
Optional: Angkor National Museum - The modern museum showcases artefacts from the Golden Era of the Khmer Empire by use of multimedia technology to picture this interesting historical period. Experience Angkor at its best on a guided visit to the Museum.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 5: Siem Reap (B)
Breakfast at the hotel and enjoy this morning at leisure or you can take part in one of the optional activities.
Optional: Roluos Group - Get a first glimpse of Angkor today at the early temples of the Roluos Group. Roluos is the site of an ancient center of Khmer civilization known as Hariharalaya. It was the first town built by the Angkorian kings in the 8th and 9th century and consists of three main temples: Bakong, Lolei and Preah Ko. The surrounding countryside with its paddy fields and sugar palm trees is very typical for Cambodia – enjoy the natural beauty on a cow cart ride, a fun way to get in touch with rural Cambodia and its friendly people. Your destination is Roluos Pagoda, where Buddhist monks will celebrate a private blessing ceremony for you, wishing you health and a safe journey – a memorable experience!
Optional: Cooking Class at Cassia Restaurant - 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: Kbal Spean/Banteay Srei - One of the earliest Hindu pilgrimage sites in Cambodia. A short 3 km trek up the hill through dense jungle will reward you with excellent views over the plains and the Kulen hills. At the top, be surprised about the “River of 1000 Lingas” with some remarkable stone carvings of Hindu gods, animals and other symbols in the river bed. During the raining season, you can enjoy a refreshing bath in the waterfall, which is extremely popular with the local families. Enjoy a picnic lunch at the waterfall.
Continue to the countryside to see the “gem” of the Angkor area, the pretty temple of Banteay Srey. 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 Srey is unique in that it is constructed of pink sandstone, which is seen nowhere else in Angkor. On the way back, you will have the possibility to stop at local communities along the way and your guide will help you to interact with the local community to learn about the way of life here. Seize the opportunity to see how rice paper is produced and to taste Palm Wine and Palm Sugar, which are a popular local produce (seasonal).
This afternoon visit the biggest religious temple in the world: the magnificent Angkor Wat Temple. Built by Suryavarman II, in early 12th century Angkor Wat is constructed following the model of the temple mountain symbolizing the Mount Merou, home of the gods. Considered as the masterpiece of the Khmer architecture, this Vishnuite temple is the King’s funerary temple. These are the main reasons to explain the West exposure of the temple. Inside the temple the walls are covered by carvings and bas-reliefs depicting the Hindu mythology and the wars Suryavarman II made during his reign. Stay at this magic place until the sun sets and witness how the warm evening light changes the appearance of the 2000 Apsara dancers decorating the temple.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 6: Siem Reap – Departure (B)
Embark on an interesting boat trip on the Tonlé Sap Lake, where you will have the opportunity to learn about life on the lake. The Tonlé Sap Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and officially designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, covering an area of around 250,000 hectares in the dry season. Due to a unique phenomenon, when the monsoon begins, the swollen waters of the Mekong River force the Tonlé Sap River to reverse its flow northwards, feeding the Great Lake and spreading over the surrounding flood plain. Board a local boat and visit Kompong Phluck, a village where you will see houses on stilts that are submerged when Tonlé Sap Lake extends. On the way, you will pass floating houses and impressive flooded forests, portraying life on the water. (Note: Due to low water levels during the dry season, the boat trip is only possible from June to March. However an alternative floating village at Chong Kneas can be arranged instead).
Enjoy this afternoon free at leisure to relax at the hotel or to do some last minute souvenir shopping at Siem Reap’s colorful markets. Transfer to Siem Reap International Airport for your individual flight home. (based on afternoon flight departures).
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