Day 1 Arrival in Phnom Penh (-/-/D)
Upon arrival in the Cambodian capital, transfer to your hotel for a two night stay. The rest of the day is free to relax before a welcome dinner at the Bopha Phnom Penh Restaurant.
Day 2 Phnom Penh (B/-/-)
Today you will begin your exploration of Cambodia with a cyclo tour of the city, visiting a selection of the main sights. The first stop will be the Royal Palace which was built in the mid-19th Century to serve as the residence of the Kings of Cambodia. Within the complex you will witness the Throne Hall and the Silver Pagoda. This impressive marble temple replaced the previous wooden structure and is home to the Emerald Buddha as well as another solid gold Buddha statue. Be sure to dress appropriately when visiting the Royal Palace – shoulders should be covered and trousers or a long skirt should be worn.
The tour will then continue on to the striking National Museum of Arts which was built in a Khmer-style and is host to a treasure trove of prehistoric, pre-Angkor and post Angkor relics. This afternoon visit the sombre Tuol Sleng Museum which was once a prison used by the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s. The final stop of the day is the revered Buddhist temple of Wat Phnom which was originally built in the 14th Century.
Day 3 Phnom Penh to Battambang (B/L/-)
A day of travelling to Battambang by road awaits (approx. 8 hours with stops). En route the group will visit the historic city of Udong which was the capital of the Khmer kingdom between 1618 and 1866. You will be able to witness the temples, stupas and shrines that have become a pilgrimage site for the Khmer people. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant and is followed by a visit to a hamlet in Kampong Chhnang which is renowned for its traditional pottery production.
Day 4 Battambang (B/L/-)
This morning partake in a morning local livelihood tour visiting the homes of local artisans in the villages that surround Battambang. You will have the opportunity to watch as local produce is created in front of you, and you may also have the chance to join in. After lunch at a local restaurant you will visit the village of Wat Kor to see a traditional Khmer house. Continue to Phnom Sampov, an important natural and historical site with a tragic past. The pagoda offers panoramic views over the countryside and it is one of the most important religious sites in Cambodia. Learn about the haunting history of the Killing Caves and visit the memorial to the victims of the Khmer Rouge. Next, continue to the Bat Cave. This evening join a Battambang foodie tour which includes tastings and takes you into the old colonial quarter of the city and along the banks of the Sangke River.
Day 5 Battambang to Siem Reap (B/L/-)
The journey to Siem Reap today is by boat, cruising along the Tonle Sap Great Lake which takes from 6 to 7 hours (in the dry season the cruise can take up to 10 hours and when the water level is extremely low it may be necessary to travel to Siem Reap by road). Enjoy lunch on board, take in the sights and sounds of everyday life on the lake and view the beautiful landscapes. On arrival in Siem Reap you will transfer to your hotel where you will spend four nights.
Day 6 Siem Reap (B/-/-)
The city of Siem Reap acts as a gateway to the world-famous archaeological ruins of Angkor, and today you will begin your exploration of this fascinating UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit the Roluos group which consists of the Preah Ko, Bakong and Lolei temples – some of the oldest structures in Angkor. Continue to the Prolung Khmer Pottery and Weaving Training Centre which aims to revive the ancient Khmer craft traditions and provide young Khmer women with the skills to create beautiful pottery and weaved products. A real highlight of the tour is this afternoon’s visit to the beautifully preserved 12th Century Angkor Wat, the most popular and spectacular of Angkor’s many temples. There are a couple of optional excursions late this afternoon – an Angkor Gondola trip to see the South Gate of Angkor Thom or an evening at the world-famous Phare Cambodian Circus.
Day 7 Siem Reap (B/-/-)
Rise early for a chance to witness the sun rising over Angkor Wat before returning to the hotel for breakfast. This morning there will be a half-day cooking class at Siem Reap’s Ecole Paul Dubrule. Begin the class at a local market where the chef will teach you about Cambodian vegetables, herbs and spices. On return to the kitchen you will set about preparing your Khmer dishes under the guidance of the chef before tasting your creations. The afternoon will be spent at the South Gate of Angkor Thom, which was built in the late 12th Century and served as the last capital city of the Khmer empire. A particularly fascinating site at Angkor Thom is the central Bayon temple with its massive stone faces that adorn the structure’s many towers. The rest of the day includes visits to the Royal Enclosure, the Elephant Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King as well as the breathtaking Ta Phrom temple where trees grow out of the ruins, unlike many others of Angkor’s temples, which have been left much the way they were found.
Day 8 Siem Reap (B/-/-)
Today has been set aside for you to explore at your own pace, perhaps returning to one of the iconic temples you have already visited, experiencing the city’s growing arts scene or heading to some of Angkor’s lesser frequented temples. Alternatively, relax and enjoy the facilities at your hotel. There is the option to join an additional excursion to the temple of Beng Mealea, which is located approximately 2½ hours’ drive east of the city, in the morning, before heading to the Angkor temples of Banteay Srei and Banteay Samre later in the day. This evening you can look forward to a farewell dinner with a show at Por Cuisine restaurant.
Day 9 Siem Reap (B/-/-)
The final day of the tour begins with a visit to the Les Artisans d’Angkor arts and crafts school and artisans’ studio Theam’s House before you return to the hotel and transfer to the airport for your flight back home.