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Cambodia’s North East

(16 Days - Departs Daily on a Private Basis)

Siem Reap (Angkor Wat), Kompong Thom, Kratie, Rattanakiri, Phnom Penh, Kampot, Kep

 

This itinerary offers the more adventurous traveller a fantastic opportunity to explore the hidden gem that is Cambodia’s North East. The tour starts with a couple of days spent touring the spectacular Angkor temples. From there you get completely off the tourist trail, visiting pre-Angkorian ruins in Kampong Thom and Kampong Cham, taking a boat trip to spot Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River, before spending a few nights in the remote market town of Ban Lung in the forests of Ratanakiri. Spend two days soaking up the unique atmosphere of the capital city, then head south to a luxuriously converted colonial villa in the French-discovered seaside resort of Kep.

 

** 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 Siem Reap

Fly to Siem Reap, CAMBODIA                                                           

 

Welcome to Cambodia. Upon arrival at Siem Reap 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. 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 2: 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 3: 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 4: 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 5: Siem Reap

Meals Provided:  Breakfast

 

This morning, depart Siem Reap for a tour of the surrounding countryside and take an ox-cart ride through the villages and the rice fields. At the end of your ride, have a fresh coconut drink with the family and do not hesitate to talk with the local people to get to know more about their lives. Then drive to the fishing village of Kompong Pluk (if the road is passable) near Siem Reap and board a private boat. Visit Kompong Pluk village with its houses standing on stilts and board a pirogue to discover the seasonally flooded forest. Enjoy the natural splendor of the country during a cruise across the Tonle Sap Lake to the village of Chhong Kneas. Visit the floating village and discover the centuries-old lifestyle of the inhabitants of the lake.

 

Afternoon at leisure: This afternoon is at leisure to relax at your hotel, or explore independently.

 

Day 6: Siem Reap – Kampong Thom – Kratie

Meals Provided:  Breakfast

 

Road journey from Siem Reap to Kratie: This morning depart Siem Reap and head north East to Kratie. Break the journey at en-route, visit traditional villages and stop at the ancient Naga Bridge (Spean Pratpo), located 40 km from Siem Reap. Continue your journey to the temples of Sambor Prei Kuk.

 

Guided tour of Sambor Prei Kuk: The impressive pre-Angkorian capital of Isanapura, known today as Sambor Prei Kuk, was the first major temple city in South-East Asia. The brick temples of Sambor Prei Kuk are a peaceful contrast to their more illustrious relatives at Angkor. Explore the main temples here, including Prasat Tao with its elaborately coiffured lions and Prasat Sambor, with its crumbling sanctuaries. You will pass Kompong Thom Province, stop for a Village called Samnak Village’s stone sculptors carving out their giant Buddhas. The craftsmen use rocks from Phnom Santuk’s foothills to craft spectacular statues of all shapes and sizes. You’ll then continue to 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 7: Kratie – Rattanakiri 

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 Ratanakiri: Continue the journey east by road towards to Banlung, capital of Ratanakiri, nicknamed “The Red City” because of the omnipresent laterite. We cross the Srepok River along the way, the river depicted in the seminal war film Apocalypse Now, where Martin Sheen travels upriver into Cambodia in search of renegade Colonel Kurtz, played by Marlon Brando. We arrive in Banlung and check into our hotel.

 

Accommodation: Stay 3 nights at the Terres Rouge Lodge (Standard Room)

 

Day 8: Rattanakiri

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Exploring the Kreung Communities in Ta Veng District: This morning depart along the Ta Veng road to a small Kreung village where we begin a walk along a river valley. Descending into a valley of bamboo thickets, we wade across the river in places before climbing up the other side of the valley. Criss-cross remote Kreung farms where we stop for a picnic before arriving at the large Kreung village of O La-or. Visit the communal long house where important village meetings take place and may be lucky enough to see a tall groom house, built by young men ready to entertain their new wives. We then return to Banlung by road.

 

Day 9: Rattanakiri

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Visit Voen Sai village & waterfall with an elephant ride: This morning travel by road to the small town of Voen Sai on the banks of the San River, passing through some pristine stretches of forest along the way. Take a local boat across the river to a Lao village on the other side and follow the riverbank to an interesting Chinese village that dates back over a hundred years. Chinese is still the language of choice among residents and in places it looks like a slice of rural China. Continue on foot to another Lao village with a wooden pagoda, and take a boat up stream to the Tompuon village of Kachon, passing some beautiful sections of river along the way. Kachon is home to a traditional Tompuon burial ground complete with carved effigies of the deceased. Family groups are buried side by side and elaborate ceremonies are held after a period of mourning.

 

Return to Banlung by road in time for lunch.

 

In the afternoon travel by road to a small Kreung village that still breeds working elephants. Saddle up and take a leisurely ride through the rubber plantations of Ratanakiri.  Follow the course of a small river which the elephants eventually wade across, and descend to the base of the waterfall at Kaa Tien. A superb horseshoe shaped waterfall set in the jungle, it is possible to clamber behind the falls and swim in the huge splash pool below. Some of the jungle vines hanging down from the gorge are strong enough for a swing and this is a great way to relax. Walk back to the Kreung village and return to Banlung.

 

Day 10: Rattanakiri – Kompong Cham

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Road journey from Banlung to Kompong Cham: This morning leave behind the wilds of Ratanakiri, 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 Hotel (VIP Room)

 

Day 11: Kompong Cham – Phnom Penh

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Road journey from Kampong Cham to Phnom Penh: After breakfast this morning depart Kampong Cham for Phnom Penh. You’ll 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.

 

After getting settled, you'll head out with your guide and spend the afternoon visit 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. Continue to visit to 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.

 

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 12: 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. Next, continue visit the Russian Market (Psah Tuol Thom Pong), a lively outdoor market where you will find antiquities, silver and gold jewelry, gems, silk, kramas, stone and wood carvings, as well as T-Shirts, CDs and other souvenirs.

 

Afternoon Leisure: This afternoon is at leisure to relax at your hotel, or explore the town of Phnom Penh.

 

Day 13: Phnom Penh – Kampot – Kep

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Road journey from Phnom Penh to Kep via Kampot: After breakfast this morning depart Phnom Penh for Kampot and travel towards the old French seaside resort of Kep with sightseeing en route. Situated on the south bank of the Teuk Chhou River, Kampot is one of the most charming places to visit in Cambodia. It was once a bustling trading port, populated mostly by Chinese merchants, the relatives of whom still live there today. In town, there are colonial shop houses whose architecture is characteristic of the 1900s. Visit the colorful and lively market where many bargains are to be found. Discover the French colonial and post-colonial Kampot, Chinese way of life, architecture and institutions. Finish your excursion with a Kampot pepper farm. Next, we continue to the visit Phnom Chhnork, a large cave that contains a 7th century brick temple in remarkable condition, this hidden temple is a very sacred place for local Khmers. Continue to the coastal village of Kep. This quiet fishing village is the ideal place to relax at the end of your holiday. On arrival in Kep check in to your beachside accommodations and enjoy the remainder of the day and evening at leisure.

 

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

 

Accommodation: Stay 3 nights in Kep

 

Medium Class 3 Star Hotels: Veranda Nature Resort, Samanea Beach Resort

 

First Class 4 Star Hotels: Knai Bang Chatt

 

Day 14: Kep – Rabbit Island – Kep

Meals Provided:  Breakfast & Lunch  

 

Guided excursion to Rabbit Island: After breakfast you will be transferred to the port from where you will take a local fishing boat to Koh Tonsay (perhaps better known as Rabbit Island). The boat ride will take 40 minutes and on arrival you will have a day to explore the island or relax on the beach. Today's lunch will be served at a beachside restaurant which is famous in the region for its signature dish of swimmer crab and Kampot pepper.

 

Late afternoon you will begin the return journey to Kep by boat and then by car and enjoy the remainder of day free at leisure to explore more of Kep independently.

 

Day 15: Kep

Meals Provided:  Breakfast

 

Today is at leisure to relax at your hotel, or explore more of the local area independently.

 

Day 16: Kep – Phnom Penh

Meals Provided:  Breakfast

 

Road journey from Kep to Phnom Penh: You will have free time in the morning and afternoon until your guide and driver picked up for the drive back to Phnom Penh airport to check in for your return flight home or next destination. We wish you a safe and pleasant journey.

 

 

Price guideline:

 

The above tour costs from $2,515*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