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Cambodia Explorer

(14 Days - Departs Daily on a Private Basis)

Phnom Penh, Kratie, Mondulkiri, Kompong Cham, Battambang, Siem Reap

 

This varied and clourful tour of Cambodia covers the main highlights of the Angkor Temples & Phnom Penh with the lesser-known areas of Modulkiri, Kratie and Battambang. After time to explore the capital follow the path of the Mekong River to the colonial town of Kratie to stay in an atmospheric guesthouse on a river island, and take a boat trip to search for rare Irrawaddy dolphins. Continue east for some wildlife experiences in Mondulkiri Province, home to protected forests, waterfalls and a fascinating elephant conservation project. After a short stay to explore the river port of Kompong Cham, drive north to Battambang to see the historic old town and fertile lands of the northeast where rural lifestyles have changed little in generations. The final stage of the tour is a private boat journey across Lake Tonle Sap to Siem Reap, gateway to the temples of Angkor.

 

** All our tours are Exclusive Private Tours, so you will not be put together with other guests **

 

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Day 1: Welcome to Phnom Penh

Fly to Phnom Penh, CAMBODIA                                                      

 

Welcome to Cambodia. Upon arrival at Phnom Penh Airport, obtain your Cambodia visa (please refer to your Special Program Note), and then clear Immigration and Customs.  After collecting your baggage, exit the airport to meet outside a local Guide of Global Travel & Tours. He/she will be holding a sign with your names on it. Please note that local guides are not allowed inside the airport.

 

From the airport, you will be privately transferred to your lovely boutique hotel. This city was once considered one of the most beautiful in Orient, and despite its recent turbulent history it still retains a colonial charm. Settle in and enjoy the afternoon and evening at your leisure.

 

Accommodation: Stay 2 nights in Phnom Penh

 

First Class 4 Star Hotels: La Rose Suites, The Pavillon, Arunreas Hotel

 

Luxury 5 Star Hotels: Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra

 

Day 2: Phnom Penh

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Today, meet your personal guide and driver and drive to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek (16 km south of Phnom Penh). Between 1975 and 1978 about 17,000 men, women, children and infants (including nine westerners) detained and tortured at S-21 prison were transported to the extermination camp of Choeung Ek. They were often bludgeoned to death to avoid wasting precious bullets. Fragments of human bone and bits of cloth are scattered around the disinterred pits. Over 8,000 skulls, arranged by sex and age, are visible behind the clear glass panels of the Memorial Stupa, which was erected in 1988. You'll then continue to visit the notorious Tuol Sleng Museum. In 1975 Tuol Svay Prey High School was taken over by Pol Pot's security forces and turned into a prison known as Security Prison 21 (S-21). It soon became the largest such center of detention and torture in the country. More than 17,000 people held at S-21 were taken to the extermination camp at Choeung Ek to be executed; detainees who died during torture were buried in mass graves in the prison ground. Room after room the museum displays photographs of men, women and children covering the walls from floor to ceiling; virtually all the people pictured were later killed.

 

After lunch at a local restaurant, continue to discover the Royal Palace built in 1866 by King Norodom. See the different structures of this pagoda-style compound and stroll in its beautiful garden. Visit the Silver Pagoda so named because of its floor that is comprised of 5,000 silver tiles. A gold Buddha encrusted with 9,584 diamonds and a small 17th century emerald and baccarat crystal Buddha are also housed here. Next, visit the National Museum. Built in 1917 it is an exceptional example of traditional architecture and is exclusively devoted to preserving and displaying Khmer art and sculptures. Hundreds of pieces are housed here including both pre-and post-Angkorian pieces. Finish your tour at the city's namesake, Wat Phnom. Founded in 1373, the pagoda was built to house Buddhist relics washed ashore by the river. Later this afternoon enjoy one-hour sunset cruise on the Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers. The boat will pass past floating villages, providing great views of the city’s rapidly changing skyline.

 

Day 3: Phnom Penh – Kratie

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Road journey from Phnom Penh to Kratie with sightseeing: Leave Phnom Penh and travel northeast to the bustling provincial city of Kompong Cham. En route, there is the chance to pause at Skuon, affectionately known as 'Spiderville', where it is possible to sample the local delicacy of deep fried tarantula. Arrive in Kompong Cham mid-morning and visit the sacred hills of Phnom Pros and Phnom Srei (man and woman hill). Later you will stop at the 'fusion' temple of Wat Nokor, an 11th century sandstone temple with a colourful modern wat set in its central courtyard. There are some intricate carvings at this temple and the kitsch contrast between the Hindu past and the Buddhist present is almost unheard of elsewhere in Cambodia. You will then enjoy a local lunch in Kompong Cham. Afterwards the road journeys continues on the east bank, passing through the old river port of Chhlong, a small and peaceful village on the Mekong River Bank with typical Khmer and Colonial architecture, and enjoy the diversity of landscapes of the surrounding pretty country side. On reaching Kratie, a sleepy Mekong port and gateway to an encounter with the rare freshwater Irrawaddy dolphin that inhabit the upper reaches of the Mekong, you will take a small ferry boat to the island of Koh Trong situated in the middle of the Mekong River opposite Kratie town check into your hotel.

 

Accommodation: Stay 1 night at the Rajabori Villas (Bungalow Room)

 

Day 4: Kratie – Mondulkiri

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Irrawaddy dolphin spotting trip: After breakfast travel to nearby Kampi and set off in search of the rare Irrawaddy dolphin which inhabits this stretch of river. Travel by motorised boat to access the deep pools where the dolphins are found before switching to local paddle boat to avoid disturbing these gentle creatures. Viewing is commonplace, although it is easier to see the dolphins in the shallower waters of the dry season, than in the swollen river of the wet season. After spending some time alone with these rare creatures, return to the mainland for your onward journey to North of Kratie, visit Wat Phnom Sambok to see the Buddhist monasteries and enjoy the magnificent views of the surrounding countryside from the hilltop.

 

Road Journey from Kratie to Sen Monorom: Later this morning travel south towards the small junction town of Snuol, our gateway to the wilds of Mondulkiri. After a (very) local lunch in the small town of Snuol, leave behind the surfaced roads of civilization and take on the red earth roads of hill country. The first half of the journey from Snuol is flat, passing through patches of lush forest and areas of cultivation and plantations. After Khau Si Ma district, the road snakes up through the mountains that give Mondulkiri its name of 'where the mountains meet'. There is lush jungle hugging the road and locals claim to see tigers on this stretch at night. Nearing Sen Monorom, the provincial capital, the scenery changes again, jungle giving way to clusters of pine trees and rolling grasslands. The scenery is unique for Cambodia and dotted with traditional Pnong villages, the main minority group in Mondulkiri.

 

Accommodation: Stay 3 nights at the Mayura Hill Resort (Superior Villa)

 

Day 5: Mondulkiri

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Tour of Bou Sraa Falls and minority villages: Early morning, visit the local market where many of the Phnong people from the nearby villages are coming to trade with their distinctive baskets they carry on their back. Full day visit to the nearby hill tribes villages and the pretty waterfalls just a few kilometers away from the sleepy capital. There are hundreds of minority villages around Sen Monorom. One of the largest and easiest to access being Phlung village inhabited by Phnong chunchiets. The curious huts have woven wooden walls and thatched roofs almost to the floor. Three or more families often live in just one hut. You will be lucky to see more than a handful of people during daytime, as they are all out working in the fields.

 

Next, you’ll head east towards the double drop waterfall of Bou Sraa, one of the most famous in Cambodia. Stop along the way at a Phnong minority village to learn a little about their way of life. You may be invited to drink some rice wine, as Pnong villagers are extremely hospitable and welcoming of outsiders. Continue to Bou Sraa to explore the falls. It is possible to access both drops and there are swimming opportunities for those who want to take the plunge.

 

Day 6: Mondulkiri

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Visit to The Elephant Valley Project: Depart Sen Monorom after breakfast and travel to the nearby Elephant Valley Project which, with the support of the Pnong villagers, rescues and treats domestic elephants who have suffered illness or injury. To enjoy a unique ‘be a mahout for a day’ experience, you will be introduced to the elephants and get to know more about their behaviour, their body language and to learn to direct and control them before your first opportunity to enjoy this traditional form of transport. After lunch take an elephant trek through the stunning Mondulkiri countryside to a waterfall for a refreshing swim and elephant bath. In the afternoon return to Sen Monorom.

 

Day 7: Mondulkiri – Kompong Cham

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Road journey from Sen Monorom to Kompong Cham: This morning leave behind the wilds of Mondulkiri, dropping off the windswept, pine-clad hills through teaming jungle back to the lowlands of Cambodia. Arrive in the provincial city of Kompong Cham in time for lunch.

 

Tour of Koh Paen & the Bamboo Bridge: Drive 1km south of central Kompong Cham to the famous bamboo bridge, a structure made from scratch each year at the start of the dry season out of local materials. Cross the bridge and set foot on the laid back Mekong island of Koh Paen, a great place to see daily lives of the local fisherfolk and farmers on this fertile stretch of the river. The best way to see the island is on a hired bicycle, which your guide can arrange for you.

 

Accommodation: Stay 1 night at the Monorom VIP Hotel (Deluxe Room)

 

Day 8: Kompong Cham – Battambang

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

After breakfast, depart Kampong Cham for Battambang by overland transfer (5 hours’ drive). Journey to the busy riverside town of Kompong Chhnang where you stop to see the silversmith village and the pottery village. Continue drive to the small town of Krakor and turn off the main road to visit the incredible floating town of Kompong Luong. The largest floating community on the Tonle Sap Lake, there are almost 10,000 inhabitants living here. Everything floats on water, including the schools, the clinic, the shops and the petrol station. You will explore by boat and experience life in a real floating community untouched by mass tourism.

 

After lunch, drive to Pursat and visit the stone carving in Pursat. Later continue to Battambang, the second largest city in Cambodia. It is located on a rich and fertile plain, which provides much of the rice and other important crops for the country. Check into your hotel La Villa was constructed in the 1930's by a tradesman from Battambang, this colonial architecture was very fashionable during the French colonial period. The proprietor, Mr Eap Heo later bequeathed his home to his two youngest children who then lived in the residence till the coup d'etat in 1975. Leave the rest of the afternoon free to soak up the atmosphere of this quixotic riverside town or walk through the town to discover its beautiful colonial architecture.

 

Accommodation: Stay 2 nights at the La Villa Battambang (Superior Room)

 

Day 9: Battambang

Meals Provided:  B 

 

Full day tour of Battambang: After breakfast drive along the picturesque Sangker River to Wat Slaket pagoda, the residence of the provincial Buddhist patriarch. Visit a Khmer Ancient House and make a stop to see the production of rice paper used for making spring rolls. Continue to visit Wat Ek Phnom. Visit the Provincial Museum and the local market. Next, transfer to a local village for a ride on the Bamboo Train. The train comprises of a simple bamboo platform on 4 wheels with a small motor, and was created by local villagers to facilitate the transportation of goods. Travel 8km on the train to the next village through beautiful landscape and rice paddies. On arrival at the village visit a workshop specialising in wooden sculpture. Afternoon, visit Phare Ponleu Selpak, this centre supports around 30 orphans and trafficking victims and is schooling more than 1,200 pupils, over 400 of who study visual arts, music, Circus, drama and dance for leisure or vocational training. Then continue to visit Phnom Banon. The winding road follows the Sangker River and passes by many traditional wooden homes, offering an authentic glimpse of rural Cambodia. Arriving at the temple, with its five sandstone towers on top of a hill and enjoy a magnificent view of the surrounding plains until sunset.

 

Day 10: Battambang – Siem Reap

Meals Provided:  B 

 

Full day private boat trip across Lake Tonle Sap to Siem Reap: This morning depart Battambang by road to boat port. On arrival at the lake board your private wooden boat for the 6-7 hours cruise to Siem Reap, crossing along the Sangker River. Enjoy unspoiled landscapes and traditional daily-life scenes. Stop at Cheur Khmao Pagoda, “Black Wood Pagoda”, in Bak Prier floating village and cross the floating village of Prek Tuol. Continue by boat across the Tonle Sap Lake to Chhong Kneas floating village. A packed lunch is included on board. From here you will be transferred to your lovely boutique hotel. Siem Reap is the base for exploring the fabled temples of Angkor, the ancient capital of the Khmer empire.

 

Settle in and enjoy the afternoon and evening at your leisure.

 

Accommodation: Stay 4 nights in Siem Reap

 

First Class 4 Star Hotels: Shinta Mani Resort, Viroth’s Boutique Hotel, Pavillon d’Orient Boutique

 

Luxury 5 Star Hotels: Park Hyatt Siem Reap, Belmond La Residence d’Angkor, Victoria Angkor Resort

 

Day 11: Siem Reap

Meals Provided:  Breakfast

 

These temples were built from the 9th to 12th centuries by a Khmer empire that controlled not only Cambodia but large parts of what are now Laos, Thailand and Vietnam as well. With their grandeur of scale and extraordinary delicacy in detail, the temples rank among humankind's most supreme artistic expressions. Spend the early morning visit the ancient capital of Angkor Thom (12th century). See the South Gate with its huge statues depicting the churning of the ocean of milk, visit Bayon temple (unique for its 54 towers decorated with over 200 smiling faces of Avolokitesvara), Baphuon (recently re-opened after years of restoration), the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, the Elephants Terrace, and the Terrace of the Leper King.

 

In the late afternoon and sunset hours, explore the most famous of all the temples on the plain of Angkor: Angkor Wat. The temple complex covers 81 hectares and is comparable in size to the Imperial Palace in Beijing. Its distinctive five towers are emblazoned on the Cambodian flag and the 12th century masterpiece is considered by art historians to be the prime example of classical Khmer art and architecture. Angkor Wat’s five towers symbolize Meru’s five peaks – the enclosed wall represents the mountains at the edge of the world and the surrounding moat, the ocean beyond. Sunset at Angkor Wat.

 

After dusk, you'll be returned to your hotel with the evening free to relax or explore independently.

 

Day 12: Siem Reap

Meals Provided:  Breakfast

 

Today, meet your personal guide and driver. Rise early to travel to Ta Phrom. Built in 1186, Ta Phrom was dedicated to the mother of Jayavarman VII. Its atmospheric dark gray sandstone towers and courtyards exude an aura of reverence and mystery. Unlike most of the other inner temples of Angkor, Ta Phrom has been left to the elements and looks very much as it must have when "discovered" by Henri Mouhot in the 1860s. Navigating through its narrow passages, immense kapok trees and jungle-covered ruins is an unparalleled experience and one of the highlights of Angkor. Next, you’ll visit 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. Look out for the curious two-storey structure that is almost Grecian in inspiration. This is one of the few temples originally dedicated to Buddhism and Hinduism. The original eastern entrance was for Mahayana Buddhists, while the other cardinal points represented the Hindu trinity of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. Next, to Banteay Kdei This temple was the first great Buddhist monastery in Cambodia, constructed by Jayavarman VII during the 12th and 13th centuries. Its system of galleries and vestibules that were added after the construction of the main towers makes it look like a cloister. It was built in sandstone, which has deteriorated quite badly. However, there remain some very beautiful lintels and pediments. Although it is in a ruinous state. You’ll then visit Ta Keo King Suryavarman I commissioned this temple in the 10th Century, but it was never completed so has no elaborate decoration like its contemporaries. It is a pyramid on 5 levels and is dedicated to Shiva. Some scholars contend this was due to an inauspicious lightning strike during construction. Others have suggested the high quality sandstone was simply too hard to carve in detail.

 

Later this afternoon, journey north to visit Banteay Srei. This petite pink temple is the jewel in the crown of Angkor-era sculpture. The elaborate carvings here are the finest found in Cambodia and the name translates as ‘Fortress of the Women', thanks to the intricate detail here, considered too fine for the hands of a man. Originally believed to date from the latter part of the Angkor period, inscriptions at the site suggest it was built by a Brahman in 967. However, some architectural historians have suggested that the inscriptions may date from an earlier structure on this site and the temple is in fact later, marking a high-water mark in Khmer sculpture. Stop at a local village to visit families who are producing palm sugar. Make a short stop at the Land Mine Museum, a rather humble look at the land mine problem, past and present, in Cambodia. Finish your tour with visit Banteay Samre, one of the most complete complexes at Angkor due to restoration using the method of “anastylosis”. The name Samre refers to an ethnic group of mountain people, who inhabited the region at the base of Phnom Kulen and were probably related to the Khmers. No inscriptions have been found for this temple, but the style of most of the architecture is of the classic art of the middle period similar to Angkor Wat.  The proportions of Banteay Samre are splendid. A unique feature is an interior moat with laterite paving, which when filled with water must have given an ethereal atmosphere to the temple.

 

This evening, walk up Phnom Bakheng for a sunset view of Angkor Wat and the surrounding areas. This view provides a wonderful overview of the entire area. (Please note that this site becomes very crowded at sunset, so you may choose to walk up to Pre Rep instead.) 

 

Day 13: Siem Reap

Meals Provided:  Breakfast

 

This morning you will be met at your hotel at 8.00am and travel to the lost temple of Beng Mealea, the titanic of temples, a slumbering giant lost for centuries in the forests of Cambodia. It is the most accessible of Angkor’s lost temples, a mirror image of Angkor Wat, but utterly consumed by the voracious appetite of nature. Constructed by Suryavarman II (1113-1150), the builder of Angkor Wat, the forest has run riot here and it is hard to get a sense of the monument’s shape amid the daunting ruins. Here it is possible to enjoy an Indiana Jones experience clambering about the vast ruin. For those who want a more gentle adventure, there is also a sturdy wooden walkway running right into the heart of the temple. It is also possible to visit a nearby Angkor-era quarry from where stone was cut to build these massive monuments.

 

We then head into the bush to the remote Angkor capital of Koh Ker is an Angkorian site in northern Cambodia 70 miles northeast of Siem Reap; it was briefly the capital of the Khmer empire between 928 and 944 under king Jayavarman IV and his son Hasavarman II. After the Khmer empire had been established in the Angkor area (Roluos), Jayavarman IV moved the capital in 928 to Koh Ker. Here a vast number of temples were built under his reign, until his successor returned to the Angkor area about twenty years later. The Koh Ker site is dominated by Prasat Thom, a 30-meter-tall temple-mountain raising high above the plain and the surrounding forest. Great views await the visitor at the end of an adventurous climb. The area was only recently de-mined and the road improved. This makes Koh Ker very attractive for anyone who would like to experience what Angkor must has been like half a century ago. Picnic lunch at Koh Ker.

 

After exploring Koh Ker through the afternoon, begin the drive back to Siem Reap arriving this evening for a well-deserved opportunity to freshen up and good night's rest.

 

Day 14: Depart Siem Reap

Meals Provided:  Breakfast

 

This morning, visit Les Artisans D'Angkor, a non-profit organization funded by the European Union to encourage the revival of traditional Khmer craft skills. See the work of the trainees who learn the art of stone carving, wood ornamental sculpture, the making of small furniture, the art of lacquer and polychrome. Observe the various training methods and view completed projects. Drive from Siem Reap to the district of Puok to the Silk Farm. Learn the different stages of the complex process of producing handmade silk, including the growing of the mulberry trees, silk worm breeding, and training in the ancient craft of silk dyeing and weaving.

 

You will have free time in the afternoon until transfer to the Siem Reap airport in time for your flight to the next destination. We wish you a safe and pleasant journey.

 

 

Price guideline:

 

The above tour costs from $1,755*per person, based on 2 people sharing a double or twin room.

 

*Please note this price is subject to change at the time of booking, and depends on the date of travel and the availability of accommodation.

 

Our price includes (Private tour): 

• Accommodation base in a shared double or twin room throughout

Daily buffet breakfast at hotel and all hotels taxes and service charges.

Pick-ups and transfers by private air-conditioned vehicle as specified in the itinerary.

Travel by private, air-conditioned vehicle with an experienced, safe driver.

Private sightseeing with local, English-speaking guides as indicated in the itinerary.

Meals included as indicated as in program: B: breakfast, L: lunch & D: dinner.

Boat cruise as specified in the programmed.

Entrance fees according the above program.

Local bottled water while sightseeing and transfers.

VAT and all taxes and service charge.

 

The price does not include

International flight tickets and Visas

Any items of purely personal nature such as laundry and telephone calls

Personal, travel and health insurance

Early check in and late check out

Drinks during meals

Meals that are not specified

Gratuities/tipping to tour guide, driver and hotel staff and restaurant’s staff

 

 

All of our itineraries can customized as you wish, add extra days, change a hotel, and see different sights. For information on this or our other tours please email us at: info@globaltravel-asia.com