Explore Cambodia in depth
This varied round trip is a unique opportunity to experience the land and culture of the Khmer first-hand.
Various excursions – by bike, bamboo train, boat, on elephant back or simply on foot – and a homestay with a Khmer family provide lasting impressions of the country’s enormous cultural treasures.
Cambodia’s great nature reserves as well as memorable encounters with the inhabitants of a country still largely undiscovered by mass tourism are other highlights of this journey.
Overview14 Days (13 Nights) from / to Phnom Penh
- Day 1 Phnom Penh: city tour by cyclo
- Day 2 Udong and country life in Kampong Chhnang
- Day 3 Floating village on the Tonle Sap; overland journey to Battambang
- Day 4 Explore Battambang
- Day 5 Scenic boat journey across the Tonle Sap Lake to Siem Reap
- Day 6 Discover Angkor by bicycle
- Day 7 Cycling tour around Siem Reap
- Day 8 Overland journey to the Mekong town of Kratie
- Day 9 Encounter with the Mekong dolphins and homestay on a river island
- Day 10 Journey into the wilderness of Mondulkiri
- Day 11 Jungle trek on elephant back
- Day 12 Bicycle tour and spectacular double waterfall of Bou Sra
- Day 13 Return via Kampong Cham to Phnom Penh
- Day 14 Check out and transfer or start of ongoing programme
Day 1: Arrive in Phnom Penh, where you are picked up by our tour guide and transferred to your hotel. Later we embark on a city tour by cyclo, visiting the spectacular Royal Palace complex, including Wat Preah Keo Morokat with the spectacular Silver Pagoda, decorated with a floor made up of 5,000 silver tiles, the National Museum which houses the world’s finest collection of sculptures from the Angkor period, Wat Phnom, the city’s landmark, and the notorious Toul Sleng Genocide Museum. In the evening we enjoy a scenic dinner cruise on the Mekong.
Day 2: Our first stop today is the former capital of Udong. There are a number of stupas on the top of nearby Phnom Udong, where former kings and queens are buried. We enjoy the magnificent views over the plains below as our guide provides us with information about the historical and cultural significance of this sacred hill before we travel to Kampong Chhnang for lunch. We continue with a tour of the countryside around Kampong Chhnang and learn more about the traditional techniques of making Khmer pottery and palm wine on the way. Before returning to Kampong Chhnang for the night we visit Wat Touch and Phnom Touch. A short climb up the hill will bring us to an interesting rock formation that overlooks Kampong Chhnang province and offers excellent views over the unspoilt countryside and Tonle Sap Lake in the distance. Wat Touch is an interesting pagoda that is worth exploring. We head back to Kampong Chhnang and check into our hotel where we have dinner.
Day 3: After a good night’s sleep in Kampong Chhnang we enjoy a local breakfast before making our way to Kampong Chhnang port. A private boat takes us for a tour of the nearby floating village. Every aspect of life takes place on water, and there are floating schools, floating petrol stations and even pigs are kept on rafts. We stop at one of the floating restaurants and enjoy a drink. We cross the river to Kampong Leaeng, a remote and picturesque area which we explore by motorbike taxi. On our tour we pass several pagodas, villages and the ancient temple ruins of Samrong Sen and Prasat Prah Srei. We have a picnic lunch at a scenic country pagoda before we head back to our boat which brings us back to Kampong Chhnang, from where we continue overland to Battambang.
Day 4: We start the day with a visit to the 12th century hilltop temple of Wat Banan, from where we enjoy the spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. We then continue to Phnom Sampeu, another sacred mountain which hosts a number of interesting pagodas and stupas as well as a moving memorial to the Khmer Rouge victims that were murdered in one of the killing caves in the mountain. Perhaps the highlight of the day comes in the form of a Bamboo train ride. As the Cambodian railway railways is largely disused, small rail trolleys are used by locals to transport people and goods. We board a train and are driven through the picturesque countryside before returning back to Battambang.
Day 5: After an early breakfast we are transferred to the pier where we board a boat for one of the most scenic boat journeys in Cambodia. Following the Sanker River, then crossing the Tonle Sap lake we pass floating villages, glide through protected wetlands, catching a glimpse of the spectacular wilderness and getting an insight into the lives of the local fisherman before we reach Siem Reap in the afternoon.
Day 6: Today we start our bicycle exploration of the temples of Angkor. First, we ride to the ancient walled city of Angkor Thom which also houses the Bayon with its mysterious four-faced towers, the royal palace and the terraces of the Elephants and the Leper King. In the afternoon we explore Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious building and national symbol of Cambodia. With its perfect layout and unsurpassed bas-reliefs that depict tales from Hindu mythology, Angkor Wat is considered the masterpiece of Khmer architecture. After lunch we visit the Ta Prohm which has been left to the forces of nature by archaeologists as it was rediscovered, many parts of its structure being embraced by the roots of gigantic trees, giving the ruin a special atmosphere, as well other structures on the Small and Grand Circuit. In the evening we witness the scenic sunset over one of the temples.
Day 7: Early in the morning we head to the temple mountain of Pre Rup, before driving further north to Kbal Spean, a carved riverbed in the Kulen Hills. A twenty minute walk up a jungle path brings us to the ‘River of a Thousand Lingas’, as Kbal Spean is often referred to in English. The thousands of lingams (phallic symbols) in the riverbed symbolise the creative powers of Vishnu and were believed by the Khmers to lend the river water magical power. The area is also dotted with numerous detailed carvings of Hindu deities. Back at the foot of the hill, we continue by car to Banteay Srei. Compared to other structures, this Hindu temple almost seems petite, but is magnificently decorated with countless elaborate carvings which are the finest found in Cambodia. The name translates as “Citadel of the Women”, due to its intricate decoration. Banteay Srei is also the starting point of today’s bicycle tour. We ride along country paths and side roads through the picturesque countryside and idyllic villages. In one of the villages we prepare and enjoy a simple lunch with a local family. We continue to the hill of Phnom Bok. If we have enough energy left we climb to the top. On the last stretch we make a detour to the less frequently visited Banteay Samre. Built by King Suryavarman II, the same king who built Angkor Wat, the structure with its high temple tower has undergone extensive restoration.
Day 8: Today we leave Siem Reap and drive overland to the Mekong town of Kratie. On our way we visit a rubber tree plantation and learn more about how rubber is produced and harvested. After our picnic lunch we continue east to the west bank of the Mekong which we cross with a small ferry and continue overland to Kratie, where we enjoy the scenic sunset.
Day 9: Early in the morning we travel upriver to the natural dolphin pool of Kampi, one of the places where the critically endangered Mekong dolphins (Irrawaddy dolphins) can be encountered. Aboard a traditional fishing boat we cruise to their habitat and have a chance to observe the gentle creatures from close range. After lunch we take a ferry to the scenic Mekong island of Koh Trong, a peaceful retreat where the typical rural life in Cambodia can be experienced. We rent bicycles for this purpose, and our local guide will take us along narrow paths as we pass traditional wooden Khmer houses and pagodas. On the way we make several stops to taste some of the local produce and fruit. Late in the afternoon we are welcomed by our homestay family. We have the opportunity to learn more about their life as we enjoy dinner together before we settle in for the night.
Day 10: After a typical Cambodian breakfast we say good bye to our hosts and cross the Mekong back to Kratie. Our journey to Mondulkiri takes us through Snoul Wildlife Sanctuary to Sen Monorom, the small provincial capital. If we have time we finish the day with a quick excursion to Sen Monorom waterfall for a refreshing swim before dinner in Sen Monorom.
Day 11: After breakfast we transfer to the village of Putang, from where we continue on elephant back along a jungle path to a scenic river. We have the opportunity to wash and feed the elephants and enjoy a picnic lunch and swim in the river before the elephants bring us back to the village. Just before sunset we walk up to Phnom Dak Reimon, a hill from where we admire what the locals call the ‘Sea Forest’, because of the countless hills that look like the waves in the sea in the sunset light.
Day12: We start early today with a 20 km mountain bike ride along scenic forest and hill paths to Romnear waterfall, where we have the opportunity to swim and enjoy our picnic lunch in one of the wooden huts along the river. We head back to town by car and onwards to the spectacular double drop waterfall of Bou Sraa, where once again we have time to relax and swim in one of the natural pools at the bottom of the falls before heading back to Sen Monorom in the late afternoon.
Day 13: Today we leave Mondulkiri and travel back to Phnom Penh. On the way we stop at Kampong Cham and visit Phnom Hanchey and Wat Nokor. Wat Hanchey is a beautifully situated hilltop pagoda that overlooks the Mekong, affording magnificent views of the mighty river. The brick structures of Wat Hanchey date back to the 8th century. It was an important religious centre during the period of the pre-Angkorian Chenla Empire. 11th century Wat Nokor is a temple within a temple. The original complex is a Buddhist shrine made of sandstone and laterite which has been extended with a contemporary Theravada wat. We continue to Phnom Penh, where we arrive in the early evening.
Day 14: Time free at leisure until your check out and transfer or the beginning of your onward programme
The above tours are therefore sample itineraries.
Battambang is Cambodia’s second largest town and is easily reached by boat from Siem Reap across the Tonle Sap Lake and up the River Sanker. Battambang hosts much colonial architecture, giving the town a special atmosphere.
As well as being one of Cambodia’s prime agricultural regions, the idyllic countryside around Battambang lends itself well for activities such as bamboo train rides or farm visits.
Other attractions in the area include the Angkorian temple of Wat Banan, the sacred mountain of Phnom Sampeu and Wat Ek Phnom.
The picturesque town of Kratie (pronounced Krachay) is situated on the banks of the Mekong, which dictates every aspect of life in and around town.
Kratie’s main attraction are the Irrawaddy Dolphins which live a few kilometres upriver and can be observed from small boats throughout the year. Kratie also offers many boating and cycling opportunities, for example on and around one of the idyllic Mekong islands.
Another rewarding experience is a homestay with a Khmer family on one of the islands.
Wildlife, waterfalls, trekkings & minority groups
Located at an elevation of approx. 700 metres, Mondulkiri is one of the remotest provinces and both climatically and culturally different from lowland Cambodia. Mondulkiri is also the home of minority groups, the largest of them being the the Pnong.
There is an enormous wealth of wildlife found in the jungle covered hills as well a number of impressive waterfalls, Bou Sraa being the best known.
With its relatively cool climate, Mondulkiri is ideal for trekking tours or jungle excursions on the back of an elephant.
Phnom Pro and Phnom Srei
Kampong Cham is Cambodia’s most populous province and famous for its vast rubber plantations.
For travellers the provincial capital mainly serves as stopover on the way to the Northeastern provinces. Attractions include Wat Nokor, an 11 century Buddhist shrine and the hills of Phnom Pro and Phnom Srei (man and woman hill) offering great views over the surrounding countryside.
A visit of a rubber plantation is likewise an interesting activity.
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