Highlights of Cambodia
14 Days / 13 Nights
Experience the highlights of Cambodia on our unique tour of the country which encompasses the most important sights while offering you true experiences to meet and interact with the locals and immerse youself in the local culture with Seven Senses. Visit hidden villages, local homes, explore the countryside and magnificent temples off the tourist trail.
Our itineraries are suggestions and are fully customisable according to your needs, interests and budget.
Treat these itineraries as inspiration and one of our experts will create your uniquely tailored holiday with your requests in mind so that you can truly experience Cambodia with Seven Senses.
Day 1. Arrive Siem Reap, the Gateway to Angkor (-/-/-)
Welcome to Cambodia, the Kingdom of Wonder!
Meet your guide and driver upon arrival and be transferred to your hotel.
The rest of the day remains free.
Day 2. Beng Mealea and Banteay Srei (B/L/-)
Depart the hotel after breakfast for Beng Mealea, which was built between the late 11th and the first half of the 12th century and is one of the largest ensembles in the Angkor region. The temple is regarded as a standalone masterpiece situated 40km east of the main temples of Angkor along the ancient road that connected the Angkor Kingdom with Prasat Bakan. It is assumed that King Suryavarman II ordered the construction of Beng Mealea, maybe even as a prototype of its larger brother; Angkor Wat, but no actual proof can be found in its depictions. The ruins of Beng Mealea are overgrown with vegetation, allowing a real “wilderness experience.” In recent years a wooden pathway has been constructed throughout the temple to allow people to observe the beauty of the temple in ease. However, most people venture of the beaten track and find their own way through the temple allowing them to experience the feeling the first explorers must have felt when they uncovered this magnificent structure. Continue afterwards to a local Pagoda called Preah Bat Boun Than. Your guide takes you around the premises and explains Buddhism further. The pagoda is decorated with colourful paintings and shrines. After your visit, sit down for a nice picnic lunch in the forest overlooking the Pagoda. Enjoy a drink and come to peace far away from the crowds. Early afternoon, continue to one of the jewels in the Angkor area, Banteay Srei, which dates back to the late 10th century. The enchanting temple is nearly everyone's favourite site. The special charm of this temple lies in its remarkable state of preservation, small size and excellence of decoration. It was built by a Brahmin of royal descent who was a spiritual teacher to Jayavarman V, which is unique as this makes Banteay Srei the only major temple built by a non-King. A special feature of the exquisite decoration was the use of hard pink sandstone.
Day 3. Angkor Highlights by Tuk Tuk or Jeep (B/L/-)
Getting away from the crowds at Angkor is an art that not many people have mastered but we tried to design an itinerary for you to be able to experience Angkor away from the crowds as much as possible visiting hidden gems and the unmissable sights at a time of day when it is the least crowded. Start in the early morning with a Tuk Tuk Ride to Ta Prohm. Constructed in the Bayon style between the late 12th and early 13th century, Ta Prohm was left pretty much untouched by archaeologists. The trees that grow out of the ruins allow for a mysterious feeling filled with photogenic opportunities. Leave the temple at the backside and enjoy a short hike to the back entrance of Banteay Kdei, which is known also as the “Citadel of Monks”. Exiting the temple at the east side will bring you to Sras Srang. Continue with a nice walk of 30 minutes from Sras Srang to Batchum temple. Pass through a typical Khmer village with its wooden houses on stilts and observe the daily activities of its people. The TukTuk waits at this small temple that dates back to the middle of the 10th century. An early lunch is served nearby at a local home.
Continue by TukTuk to Angkor Wat, and enter from the East Gate. Around this time of the day, most people head back for lunch in town, leaving the masterpiece relatively quiet for exploration. King Suryavarman II constructed this magnificent temple and built it to become the largest religious monument in the world. Leave Angkor Wat through the West Gate and continue by tuktuk to the South Gate of Angkor Thom. Take the opportunity to photograph the impressive entrance to Angkor Thom, which translates to “Great City”. The TukTuk will drop you at a small temple, beautifully overgrown with trees called Palilay. From here walk through the forest to the Phimeanakas and the Baphuon, both structures built in the pyramid style in the 11th and 10th century respectively. Continue to the centerpiece of the city; the Bayon, which served as a Mahayana shrine dedicated to Buddha. Its most distinctive features are the 216 serene stone faces that seemingly face all directions. Visit the Terrace of the Elephants, which is a 300 meters long terrace. The south stairway is framed with three-head elephants gathering lotus flowers with their trunks. The central stairway is decorated by lions and garudas in bas-reliefs in a stance of support for the stairways. Likewise, the Terrace of Leper King was constructed in the 12th century. The curious name of this terrace refers to a statue of the Leper King that is on the platform of the terrace. Finally, visit the Victory Gate from where a short hike brings you to the East Gate, also known as the Gate of the Death. This gate remains beautifully untouched in a very quiet part of the complex surrounded by forest. It is the perfect place to end the day with a snack and cool drink before you return to town where you enjoy a free evening.
Note: Above temples are standard temples most people see. Not all temples we visit are mentioned. The program and timings are flexible depending on weather conditions.
Day 4. Angkor to Battambang (B/-/-)
Leave Siem Reap after breakfast and drive towards Battambang. It is the second largest city of Cambodia and considered as the rice bowl of the country. On the way, stop in Me Chhrey. Located on the north-western tip of the Tonle Sap Lake, Me Chhrey village allows for an authentic floating village experience. The small village is home to families who unlike other floating communities still live in wooden house boats. The village moves throughout the year, depending on the water levels of the lake. At the end of the dry season when the lake’s water levels are at its lowest, the villagers move closer to shore and live primarily from agricultural activities on land. By visiting a local home you get a better understanding of life on the lake and your guide would be more than happy to translate your questions to your hosts. Return to the port and visit the Silk Farm of Artisans d’Angkor, located a 15 minute drive away. Here people with underprivileged backgrounds are given an opportunity to improve their livelihoods by reviving the ancient crafts of making art and producing silk. A local representative accompanies you and walks you through the farm and explains all the steps necessary to produce quality silk. Continue to Battambang afterwards.
Day 5. Countryside Tour - Battambang (B/L/-)
Start the day early and drive by TukTuk through villages in rural Battambang. Take a hike through one of the villages and visit a local house. Meet with the family and get to understand the daily chores of the family. Your guide is happy to explain their way of life and translate your questions. Continue the tour and learn how the local people produce sticky rice, rice noodles, rice paper and fish paste. Observe how rice paper is made, taste some rice wine or try to make some rice noodles yourself. Continue afterwards to the Bamboo Train. This small engine powered train has a bamboo platform of 3 by 3 meters and can be considered the smallest passenger train in the world. The train can be completely dissembled to allow other transportation to pass on the single railway. A 45 minute ride will take you through Cambodia’s countryside and without a doubt will put you in touch with friendly local people transporting anything from fresh market produce to motorbikes and construction materials on the way. Return to town for lunch and visit Phnom Banan temple in the afternoon. The hillside temple is located 25km south of Battambang and is like a smaller version of Angkor Wat. Built in the 10th century, its location is stunning, providing a beautiful view over the plains below. Return to Battambang for a free evening afterwards.
Day 6. Battambang to Phnom Penh (B/-/-)
Leave Battambang behind and drive towards Phnom Penh. Stop in Kampong Chhnang and enjoy an exceptional countryside experience. The starting point of the rural exploration is Phnom San Touch, a small hill located 3km from the provincial capital. The hill is a perfect spot overlooking the beautiful paddy fields below and the Tonle Sap in the distance. Continue to explore the modern style pagoda before setting out for a casual and shorty bicycle ride through the beautiful surroundings. Use small dirt roads through endless paddy fields to the pottery making villages. “Chhnang” means pottery in Khmer and this is the place where the traditional ceramic cooking pots are made. Visit also a local home where palm wine is being produced and learn how the palm wine is collected. Continue afterwards to Oudong, which was the capital of Cambodia between 1618 and 1866. On the top of the hill, there are several stupas containing the ashes of Khmer kings, including the King Ang Duong, the founder of today's capital, Phnom Penh. Arrive in Phnom Penh early evening.
Day 7. Phnom Penh (B/-/-)
The Royal Palace was built by the French in 1866 on the site of the old town. The main building on the compound is the Throne Room. It was built in 1917 in the traditional Khmer style and has a tiered roof and a 59-meter tower, which is influenced by Angkor Thom’s Bayon Temple. On the compounds of the Royal Palace, the Silver Pagoda stands out in its own distinctive way. The Pagoda’s steps are of Italian marble. On the inside the floor is comprised of more than 5000 silver tiles, which together weigh nearly 6 tons. The pagoda houses a magnificent 17th century Emerald Buddha statue and a 90kg gold Buddha studded with 9584 diamonds. Right next to the palace, the National Museum of Phnom Penh was designed by French historian George Groslier also following traditional Khmer architecture. The museum itself is a landmark and masterpiece in the capital. It houses some of the most valuable Khmer Art and is home to a permanent display of Post-Angkorian Buddha statues. Original statues from Angkor have a permanent home at the National Museum, while they have been replaced by replicas at Angkor itself. Finally visit the Wat Phnom located on a man-made hill, 27m high. It is believed that Daun Penh, a wealthy widow, found four Buddha statues in a Koki tree floating on the river. She built a small pagoda in 1373 to house the statues after which in 1437 King Ponhea Yat ordered the construction of Wat Phnom, what eventually lead to the city’s namesake: Phnom Penh.
Although far from pretty, learning more about Cambodia’s recent history is essential and helps to increase one’s perception of Cambodia’s development and the people’s mentality. When on 17 April 1975 Phnom Penh fell, the Khmer Rouge evacuated the city with force leaving and left the capital as a ghost city. Pol Pot turned the former High School of Chao Ponhea Yat into the S-21 (Tuol Sleng) prison camp where “enemies of the regime” were tortured and later killed. All of its prisoners were registered and photographed and nowadays these pictures deck the narrow halls of the Genocide Museum of Tuol Sleng. It is believed that over 17.000 people were imprisoned at Tuol Sleng, all of them but seven known survivors, eventually found their death. Prisoners who did survive the torture of Tuol Sleng were brought to Choeung Ek, which is known as “The Killing Fields”. This seemingly peaceful area located 17km from Phnom Penh was for everyone entering the site the end of the line. Nowadays it is home to a memorial stupa containing over 5000 skulls, which allows the Khmer people to return and honor their ancestors who died during the Pol Pot regime.
Day 8. Phnom Penh to Kep (B/-/-)
In the morning transfer to Kep. Kep used to be the main beach retreat for the French and Khmer elite between the 1920’s and 60’s. The town quickly fell in despair after the Khmer Rouge took over power in the mid 1970’s and it was only until very recently that Kep started to attract investors and tourists again, making it a quiet and very peaceful retreat for people seeking a haven away from the crowds. On the way to Kep visit a small but beautiful Angkorian style temple named Tonle Bati. The temple grounds are well taken care of and colourful flowers around the temple give the place a real attractive sight. Continue the transfer to Kep where in the early afternoon you check into your hotel.
Day 9. Kep Pepper Tour (B/-/-)
Pepper production is currently resurging as top chefs around the world have rediscovered the uniqueness of Kampot Pepper. As one of the main agricultural products this region has to offer, a visit to a pepper farm is high on many people’s lists. Pepper farms are dotted throughout Kep and Kampot and we can include several other sights in this tour. A morning in which you will enjoy the pepper but also the amazing coastal countryside of Kep.
Day 10. Kep to Kampot via Bokor Mountain (B/-/-)
In the morning depart for Kampot. This laidback provincial capital is a perfect place to absorb the real local life style and take in the beauty of the country. Kampot is famous for its colonial style buildings, the relaxing atmosphere and the beautiful riverside that provides a stunning view of the Elephant Mountains. Visit Bokor Hill first. This plateau is located on top of the Elephant Mountain Range and provides a stunning view over the Gulf of Thailand. The French colonial rulers build their own retreat on the plateau with villas, a church and a casino. The casino these days has been renovated and is back in business where the church, retreat villas and other structures remain untouched, standing mysteriously on the plateau overlooking the forest and sea below. Continue to Kampot and visit the small city and its market. The rest of the day remains free.
Day 11. Kampot to Sihanoukville (B/-/-)
Transfer in the morning to Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s beach destination.
Enjoy white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters.
Day 12 & 13. Sihanoukville (B/-/-)
Enjoy two days at leisure at the Gulf of Siam.
Day 14. Transfer to Phnom Penh Airport (B/-/-)
Your guide will take you back to Phnom Penh international airport according to your flight schedule and will bid you farewell and a safe journey home. Board your flight back towards the UK.
The itinerary may be subject to change depending on circumstances.
PRICES AND INCLUSIONS
Projects you support while traveling this program:
A local family: As part of our commitment to help the local community, we always pay a small contribution when we visit a local home, have a lunch at a family’s home or when the family allows us to make use of any service or equipment they are able to offer us.
The Pagoda: A Pagoda is a community institution. If you had lunch on the grounds of a pagoda, or visited a pagoda and met with a local monk, we donate to that pagoda. The Pagoda usually uses the money for development of its grounds, which benefits the entire community they are located in as everyone is allowed to make use of the pagoda, its facilities and its guidance.
Kok Dong Community School: Even if you haven’t visited the Kok Dong Community School, we still support the school with materials, computers, and donations and any other materials and advice needed for the school to continue to develop the young minds of Cambodia.
14 DAYS / 13 NIGHTS FROM £1,200 per person + flights
based on 2 people travelling together
The price includes:
13 nights medium range hotel accommodation in twin/double room
Air conditioned private vehicle with driver for the full duration of the tour as described in the itinerary
All tours mentioned in the itinerary with private English speaking guide
Meals: breakfast in the hotels, 1 picnic lunch and 2 lunches at local homes
(B/L/D) = (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)
All entrance fees and permissions to the sites visited
The price does not include:
Return flights from the UK to Cambodia
Anything not specifically mentioned above
Visa fee for Cambodia
Tips to the guide and driver
Personal costs such as drinks, laundry, etc.
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