- The Red Journal
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Cambodia’s history is still raw and often provides an unusually emotional travel experience that is both educational and rewarding. Most travelers to Cambodia are inspired by the beautifully resilient people who have moved beyond their country’s recent troubles. This trip starts at Cambodia’s modern and vibrant capital city of Phnom Penh where you will learn a dark chapter of their history before exploring the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat and other majestic temples of the Khmer people.
Visit Cambodia’s modern and vibrant capital city of Phnom Penh, explore stylish boutique shops and lively dinning options along the Mekong River. Then fly to Siem Reap and explore the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat and other majestic temples of the Khmer people.
Upon arrival at the airport, you will be welcomed by your guide and transfer to your hotel. Rest of the day is free to rest up and explore the vibrant waterfront restaurants and shops on your own.
Overnight in Phnom Penh
Start your trip with iconic architecture heritage of Phnom Penh, known as the “Pearl of Asia,” considered one of the loveliest French-built cities in Indochina.
Your first stop is Wat Phnom, the city’s first pagoda was erected here in 1373 at the behest of the city’s founder, Madame Daun Penh. Continue on to the Post Office square, including a look at the gorgeous French colonial-era buildings that have been restored such as Van’s Restaurant.
Head up the riverfront to visit some little known historic buildings in the city, including some hidden Chinese temples in the back streets of the capital. Emerge along Monivong Boulevard near the French Embassy, the site of the final evacuation of foreigners still in the city when the Khmer Rouge took over in 1975. Heading south again, stop at the Le Bibliotheque, the striking national library, and the classic Raffles Hotel Le Royal. Nearby is the beautiful Phnom Penh Railway Station.
Head up to a high point with a bird’s eye view over the city before exploring the Art Deco Central Market with a refreshing fruit shake or iced coffee.
Afternoon, visit the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda and the National Museum, home to the world’s finest collection of sculptures from the Angkor period.
Overnight in Phnom Penh
Today you will 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.
Starting first at Toul Seng Prison Camp in the morning, if opportunity permits, meet with one the last survivors from the prison camp and hear about his experience with the tribunal trials. Then continue to the outskirts to visit the Killing Fields.
Your tour will also include a very meaningful lunch stop at a restaurant supported by PSE, a local non-profit that provides training and employment to disadvantaged youth.
Overnight in Phnom Penh
Take a short flight to Siem Reap, gateway to the majestic Angkor Temples.
Afternoon visit Angkor Museum with an archaeologist for about 2 hours. Receive an introduction to Angkor Wat history while viewing the artifacts and hear about on-going archaeological excavation around the temples.
This evening, enjoy a unique 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
This morning you will a spiritual experience with the Jayavarman 7th city of Angkor Thom. Beginning with a traditional Buddhist blessing at one of the small pagodas, you will get a glimpse of monastic life and undertake a simple water blessing before touring the 11th century city. The city is full of temples of varying size and majesty, topped off by enigmatic and enchanting temple of the Bayon. As you unravel its mysteries, with its massive stone faces and intricate wall carvings of everyday life in ancient times, you also peer into the future with a fortune reading by one of the achars, or lay people at the temple. This is a popular past time for local Cambodian visitors to the temple.
Afternoon visit Ta Prohm, the “jungle temple” famous for the tentacle-like tree roots slowly strangling the surviving stones. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992, this temple was built in the late 12th and early 13th century by King Jayavarman VII as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university. End the day by experiencing sunset over the rice fields from the royal crematorium of Pre Rup, a classic view of the Cambodian countryside.
This evening, enjoy a special dinner at a local restaurant by a local celebrity chef who has risen to international fame with his unique take on traditional Khmer street food served contemporary style.
Overnight in Cambodia
Rise early for a spectacular sunrise view of the majestic temples of Angkor. Believed to be the world’s largest religious building, Angkor Wat was built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II.
Discover beautiful religious artworks where two brothers work with local communities to preserve traditional Khmer skills. They specialize in using natural lacquer and textures to produce custom Buddha images and various decorative art pieces. At their workshop, you can meet young craftsmen working with various raw materials like eggshell, copper leaf, parchment and lacquer.
Afternoon drive about one-hour drive to Tonle Sap Lake, the largest fresh water lake in South East Asia. Take a boat ride 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. During your boat cruise, you will make several stops such as a local home, a rural market, the village temple and a small local school. A picnic lunch will be served on the boat.
Overnight in Siem Reap
Transfer to airport for onward journey.
Our private tours include the things that make it so you don’t have to worry about logistics for your trip.
Consider a pre- or post-tour extension to this itinerary in either Thailand or Singapore depending on which city your international flight is routed through. It’s quite easy to add a couple of days in Bangkok to indulge in authentic local food at our secret locations or Singapore, the ultra modern city state rumored to be the cleanest country in the world.
Explore authentic century old neighborhoods including one of the world's largest Chinatown established in 1782 and a Thai-Portuguese Quarter. Discover hidden small eateries known only to local foodies, sample unique snacks and dishes you will never find on your own!
Go behind the glitzy skyscrapers where locals live and learn true facts about the Singapore life. Despite being one of the most modern city states in Asia, this tiny island offers some of the most fascinating multicultural experiences under one roof.
Here’s an explanation of what to expect and the planning process with a Red Lantern Journeys travel consultant.
The price for this trip will vary based on many factors including:
Your personal travel consult to work with you to prepare your itinerary, recommend tours and activities and accommodation and explain the reasoning behind every aspect of your tour.
You'll have your own private, chauffeur-driven vehicle for all of your airport transfers and daily excursions. These will also include your personal, English-speaking guide who is licensed and will provide the insights to make each of your tours an exceptional experience.
We've inspected hundreds of hotels and can recommend accommodation that fits your style and budget.
We have access to a wide range of activities to make your trip truly memorable. Activities range from visiting iconic sights to meeting local personalities, adventure sports, and exclusive dining experiences!
The best times to travel in Cambodia are from early November to early March when temperatures are cooler and the weather is typically good. It is still possible to travel other times of year, but it is very hot in April and May while June through early October is the monsoon season. However, crowds at places like the ancient Angkor temples will be much sparser during the off season.
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