Day 1Arrive Phnom Penh
Upon arrival, you will be welcomed by our representative and transferred to your hotel.
Overnight in Phnom Penh
Day 2Phnom Penh
Explore this morning the iconic highlights in the city including the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda and the National Museum, home to the world’s finest collection of sculptures from the Angkor period.
After enjoy a meaningful lunch stop at a restaurant supported by PSE, a local non-profit that provides training and employment to disadvantaged youth.
Then head out to Toul Seng Prison Camp and the Killing Fields to learn about the grueling era of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, known commonly as the Khmer Rouge regime who ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979.
Overnight in Phnom Penh
Day 3Drive about 4.5h from Phnom Penh to Chhlong
Today you will journey to the former colonial outpost of Chhlong, a small rural town by the Mekong River. This off beaten path area hardly sees any visitors, making it a charming area to see the endangered freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins and explore crumbling colonial era architecture. You can make several interesting and optional stops along the drive, most are located about 2 to 2.5h drive out from Phnom Penh.
Fascinating stops include Skoun Spider Village, about 1.5h drive from Phnom Penh, this small provincial town is famous for a local delicacy, tarantula spiders. Continue another hour to Cheung Kok Village, a charming rural village to see traditional crafts like making of Khmer Krama scarves, traditional weaving, palm sugar harvesting and utensils from locally grown trees like coconut and bamboo.
Other stops include Phnom Srey and Phnom Pros Temples located on two separate small hill tops with a good view of Kampong Cham province. Phnom Pros hill was a big detention center during the Khmer Rouge era, accessible by a short drive up. Phnom Srey is accessible by only by climbing 308 stairs without the crowds and monkeys.
At Chhlong, check-in at your boutique hotel built originally in 1916. This charming colonial villa was lovingly restored in 2018 with just 10 rooms, a restaurant and swimming pool. Take a stroll around the small town to see local life in a small rural town, old architecture and a 100 Pillar House built in 1884.
Overnight in Chhlong
Day 4Day trip to Kampi & Koh Trong Island
Depart early this morning for about an hour’s drive to Kampi where you would board a private local boat for possible sightings of the endangered Irrawaddy River Dolphins. Spend about an hour around one of the deep pools where the dolphins are best sighted early morning or late afternoon. A kayaking option is available too if you are interested.
Later, explore some old colonial architecture around the former French outpost at Kratie. Take a short local ferry ride to go across the Mekong River to Koh Trong, a small island. Explore by bicycles, visiting local farms and learn about typical rural life out here. Meet a rural Cambodian family, learn about the fruits and vegetables they grow, sample seasonal fresh fruits in season. You can also visit a floating Vietnamese fishing village at the southern tip of the island.
Overnight in Chhlong
Day 5Drive about 4h from Chhlong to Kampong Thom
Depart this morning for Kampong Thom, the second largest province in Cambodia by area.
About 3h drive from Chhlong, stop at Santuk Silk Farm, a social enterprise for traditional silk weaving. Started by an American war vet and his Khmer wife, the workshop hires local weavers from impoverished villages to produce high quality silk products at better prices than city shops. From here, it’s just about 20min drive to your hotel in Kampong Thom.
This afternoon, explore the impressive pre-Angkorian capital of Isanapura. Known today as Sambor Prei Kuk, it was declared a UNESCO Heritage Site in 2017. The now ruined complex dates back to Pre-Angkorian Chenla Kingdom in the late 6th to 9th century and it was the first major temple city in South-East Asia. Visiting these ancient structures before your pilgrimage to Angkor offers a fascinating chronological insight into the development of temple architecture during the Khmer Empire.
Overnight at Kampong Thom
Day 6Drive about 3h from Kampong Thom to Siem Reap
Depart this morning northwest along an old Angkor road with stopover at Kompong Kdei to see one of the ancient Angkor bridges that were built to span the rivers. Spean Praptos has more than 20 arches and is a spectacular sight. Continue about 3 hours drive to Siem Reap.
Afternoon, visit the mighty temple of Preah Khan or ‘Sacred Sword’, built by King Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century. Sister temple to Ta Prohm, the cruciform corridors here are impressive and there are some wonderful carvings adorning the walls, including the spectacular hall of dancers. End the day with a beautiful sunset over the rice fields from the royal crematorium of Pre Rup, a classic view of the Cambodian countryside.
Overnight at Siem Reap
Day 7Siem Reap
To avoid the crowds, depart this morning by 7:30am for Beng Mealea temple, about 90min drive from town. The jungle temple of Beng Mealea is a slumbering giant lost for centuries in the forests of Cambodia. Built as a Hindu temple, the history of the temple is unknown and dated only by its by its architectural style, identical to Angkor Wat. This temple is largely un-restored with trees and thick bush thriving amidst its crumbling towers, the spectacular sight ranks among the Khmer empire’s larger temples.
Then, continue about one-hour drive to Tonle Sap Lake and board a small wooden boat to Kompong Khleang to see a rustic side of Cambodia and floating villages, where houses stand atop stilts as much as seven meters above the water. Your boat trip is organized by a local non-profit and you will be guided by a local resident from this area. During your boat cruise, you will make several stops such as a local home, a rural market, the village temple and the local school that the non-profit supports.
Overnight in Siem Reap
Day 8Siem Reap
Rise early morning with your guide and visit the majestic temples of Angkor. Believed to be the world’s largest religious building, this temple was built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II. You can ask your hotel to prepare a picnic breakfast box to enjoy by the temples or return to your hotel for breakfast after the sunrise tour.
Later in the day, visit the highlights of Angkor Thom, the last capital of the great Khmer Empire. You will visit the sprawling Elephant Terrace, the Terrace of the Leper King and the enchanting Bayon. This 12th century masterpiece lies at the very center of Angkor Thom City and is an archaeological wonder of symmetry and grandeur.
In the evening, you will enjoy an interactive traditional Cambodian puppet performance at an informal outdoor space, along with live music performances incorporating Cambodian rock n roll tunes from the 60s! This is not a just typical performance as you will interact with the performers and have an opportunity to play with the puppets too. We love supporting local artists and this is a meaning way to help local communities preserve this traditional art that is fast vanishing in Asia. A delicious local dinner will be served after the performance.
Overnight in Siem Reap
Day 9Depart Siem Reap
Transfer to airport for onward journey.