City: Siem Reap
Priced From: R26 150.00
Exp Date: 2015/06/30
Act Date: 2015/02/16
* Return flights into Siem Reap & out of Phnom Penh
* Domestic flights
* Boat trip from Siem Reap to Battambang
* Pre-payable airport/security taxes
* Return airport/hotel transfers
* 3 nights accommodation at the Angkor heritage Boutique Hotel in Siem Reap
* 2 nights accommodation at the Au Cabaret Vert in Battambang
* 2 nights accommodation at the Villa Langka Hotel in Phnom Penh
* 2 nights accommodation at the Rainbow Lodge in Koh Kong
* Breakfast daily plus selected lunches & dinners
* Assistance of an English speaking local guide
* Touring by private vehicle
* Entrance fees for mentioned visits as per the itinerary
Day 1: Siem Reap – Arrival
Upon your arrival in Siem Reap, you will be welcomed by your local English speaking guide who will accompany you to your hotel for check in.Enjoy some time at leisure.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 2: Siem Reap
After your breakfast, start your visit the ancient city of Angkor Thom by ‘remork’(similar to the Thai tuk tuk). Angkor Thom was the last capital of the Great Khmer Empire under the reign of Jayavarman VII. This city is surrounded by an 8 m high wall, drawing a perfect square. Enter the city through the ancient South Gate, an impressive stone gate carved with Elephants and four giant faces. On each side of the entrance path a row of 54 gods or demons is holding the sacred Naga snake.
Then continue to Ta Prohm temple, built in the mid-12th to early 13th centuries. Ta Prohm is unique in that it has been left largely as it was found: overgrown by jungle trees and vines, with many parts of the temple crumbling to the ground. This makes Ta Prohm one of the most picturesque and memorable of the Angkor temples.
Lunch at Angkor Café.
This afternoon visit the biggest religious temple in the world: the magnificent Angkor Wat Temple. Built by Suryavarman II, in early 12th century Angkor Wat is constructed following the model of the temple mountain symbolizing the Mount Merou, home of the gods. Considered as the masterpiece of the Khmer architecture, this Vishnuite temple is the King’s funerary temple. These are the main reasons to explain the West exposure of the temple. Inside the temple the walls are covered by carvings and bas-reliefs depicting the Hindu mythology and the wars Suryavarman II made during his reign. Stay at this magic place until the sun sets and witness how the warm evening light changes the appearance of the 2,000 Apsara dancers decorating the temple.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 3: Siem Reap
Breakfast at the hotel and enjoy this morning at leisure or you can take part in one of the optional activities:
Optional: Tonle Sap Lake
Embark on an interesting boat trip on the Tonlé Sap Lake, where you will have the opportunity to learn about life on the lake. The Tonlé Sap Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and officially designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, covering an area of around 250,000 hectares in the dry season. Due to a unique phenomenon, when the monsoon begins, the swollen waters of the Mekong River force the Tonlé Sap River to reverse its flow northwards, feeding the Great Lake and spreading over the surrounding flood plain.
Board a local boat and visit Kompong Phluck, a village where you will see houses on stilts that are submerged when Tonlé Sap Lake extends. On the way, you will pass floating houses and impressive flooded forests, portraying life on the water. (Note: Due to low water levels during the dry season, the boat trip is only possible from June to March. However an alternative floating village at Chong Kneas can be arranged instead).
Optional: Beng Mealea temple visit (half day)
After breakfast, you will head out to the beautiful Cambodian countryside, as you will drive to the quiet Beng Mealea, around 65 km from Siem Reap. Feel like an explorer when you discover the completely overgrown temple. Undiscovered for centuries, Beng Mealea has only recently been made accessible and remains unrestored. It is one of the very few temples that actually give the opportunity to climb through it. After your adventurous exploration, return to your hotel in central Siem Reap.
Optional: Phare Ponleu Selpak in Siem Reap – (evening)
This evening attend a performance of ‘Phare, the Cambodian Circus’. Starting at 7pm, professional artists of Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPS) will perform an inspiring show suitable for people of all ages. Set up in Battambang in 1994 by young returnee Cambodians from the refugee camps who learned about using art as a means of coping with trauma, PPS has played an influential role in promoting and developing Khmer culture over the years after the Khmer Rouge genocide. The hour long show mixes traditional and modern theater, music, dance, acrobatics, juggling and contortion performed in a story about Cambodian lives and society. Student performances can still be seen twice weekly in Battambang but now the circus has arrived in Siem Reap!
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 4: Siem Reap – Battambang
After an early breakfast, embark on a private boat that will take you on a fascinating journey across Tonlé Sap Lake to Battambang. You will pass floating villages and flooded forests, portraying life on this body of water that forms Cambodia’s heart. Packed lunch on board. (Duration 6-7 hours). (Note: This boat trip is only possible in the high water period from July to December as water levels are too low during the dry season and transfer times can be extremely long. From January to June alternative transfer by road.)
Arrive in Battambang and enjoy some rest at the hotel. This afternoon, explore some of the many cultural villages around Battambang, where you will learn how the locals produce rice paper, prahoc (typical Cambodian fish paste), grolan (sticky rice stuffed in bamboo), and other Khmer treats.
Optional: Phare Ponleu Selpak in Battambang – (evening)
If you didn’t get a chance to take in the performance in Siem Reap, or would like to see on of their different shows, then tonight, a special visit awaits you at Phare Ponleu Selpak. School of Music, Visual & Performing Arts – Phare Ponleu Selpak combines the arts to provide education, support and entertainment to the poor communities. This project is a success story of how humanitarian aid work can turn into a display of zest for life, genuine warmth and creativity, against all odds. A visit to one of their circus shows will leave you with a lasting memory of the wonderful Cambodian people and should not be missed when in Battambang! (NOTE: The circus performance is only performed regularly on each Monday & Thursday. On other days private performances are available on request and for a supplement).
Overnight in Battambang.
Day 5: Battambang
Spend the morning on a tour that combines walking, a boat ride and then cycling along and across the Sangke River to experience Battambang daily life. The tour includes prayers with monks as well as rich explanations of the city’s design and artistic heritage.
Begin the tour at 7.30 a.m. at the offices of Battambang Bike and get fitted for your bicycle (either a mountain bike or sturdy basket bike).
Watch a few minutes of film footage which will help you imagine how developed the town was in its heyday. Battambang has passed from Cambodia to Thailand and back again several times in its history and has an excellent collection of early 20th century French colonial architecture that is better preserved and respected than in many other parts of the country.
A tour of the main market, Psar Nath includes trying a local coffee. Then walk the few metres to the river and cross a couple of minutes on a local boat to the other side of the Sangke River. Visit Wat Povil temple and take the opportunity to pray with the monks (Note: the monks may observe different rituals according to their calendar though can be seen on a daily basis). It is usually possible to accompany the boats back across the river as they begin their morning alms collection.
Once back on the other side it is time to begin the bike tour. The historic 2.5 Street is visited along with a Thai temple before you arrive at a smaller market. Again time for a coffee or a sugar cane juice. Continue a short distance to Wat Kor Village, known for its many old Khmer heritage houses built around a century ago. Visit one of the best preserved homes.
Cycle along the river and cross a suspension bridge where only motorbikes and bicycles can pass. On the way back into town there is another short drinks stop before arriving back in the town at approximately 12:45 p.m.
The Battambang Bike
Set up by a Canadian national who is a lover of architecture and cycling know as Jam. The above tour was designed exclusively for Exotissimo though alternatives can be provided such as dedicated architecture or amateur photography rides. All their tours are pay-as-much-as-you-can for Cambodians in order to provoke interest about their history and the city. The long term goal of Battambang Bike is to pass ownership to a Cambodian to provide a substainable and well structured business.
Take a break back at your hotel.
In the afternoon head to the Bamboo Train station. The Bamboo Train has been set up by the villagers in order to facilitate the transportation of goods and persons as there are no regular trains running any more. The “train” itself is very basic: one bamboo platform on 4-wheels is activated by a small motor. Sitting on the platform, you will travel the 8 km to the next station through beautiful landscape and rice paddies (depending on season of visit). A true rollercoaster ride without loops!
(Note: the train tracks from Battambang to Phnom Penh are currently being rebuilt. The long term future of the bamboo train ride cannot be guaranteed. Should the service stop we will arrange alternative sightseeing).
After head towards Phnom Sampeau, meaning “Ship Hill” in Khmer, due to its distinctive shape, and one of the few hills standing out in this otherwise pancake-flat plain. From the small temple on the top, you will have a fantastic view over the typical landscape of paddy fields and sugar palm trees. Phnom Sampeau is home to the notorious killing caves, which are cruel reminders of Cambodia’s troubled past. Serenity and inhumanity represented in one place make this an interesting visit…Your visit will last until dusk – a time when millions of bats emerge from a cave and create patterns as they fly in tandem across the sky – a nightly spectacular show of nature !
Overnight in Battambang.
Day 6: Battambang – Phnom Penh
Depart Battambang for the overland transfer to Phnom Penh (duration 5½ hours not including stops).
Starting early travel first to Kampong Chhnang, known for its traditional pottery, with many kilns at work in this province. In a village near Kampong Chhnang, to see the different aspects of pottery making and also experience the production of traditional rice wine.
Continue to Oudong, the former royal capital of Cambodia. The drive passes through many rural villages and pagodas, and you will the temple mountain with its dozens of stupas from afar. Upon arrival at Oudong enjoy a traditional Khmer lunch at a picnic hut at the foot of the hill.
Then, climb the stairs to the top of Oudong Mountain and enjoy magnificent views over the plains below. Your guide will explain the history of the area and its buildings as well as the religious culture of the Cambodian people. Take your time to soak in the magnificent views over the plains below.
Before heading to Phnom Penh stop to take a look at the spectacular Vipassana Dhura Buddhist Meditation Center, also located in Oudong. Your guide can explain more about the school of Vipassana (Insight Meditation) as you tour the center. Don’t forget to see the impressive jade Buddha, the mummified monk and the brightly painted walls telling the story of the Ramayana, the epic Sanskrit poem that decorates many pagodas seen around the country.
From here, it is not far to Phnom Penh where you will reach in the late afternoon. Check into your hotel.
The evening is at leisure.
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Day 7: Phnom Penh
This morning, you will be greeted by a driver who will take you on a tour to the most remarkable sights of Phnom Penh in a Cyclo, an original Phnom Penh means of transportation and a fun way to explore this lively city.
First, head to Wat Phnom temple, the founding place of the city on a small hilltop. Then continue along the riverfront to the Royal Palace. This palace dates back to 1866 and houses the Silver Pagoda, named for the over 5000 heavy silver tiles that cover its floors. Its original name is Wat Prakeo, meaning Temple of the Emerald Buddha. In this temple you will view a collection of Buddhas in gold, silver, crystal, and bronze.
Afternoon is free at your leisure to explore the lively capital and its markets independently.
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Day 8: Phnom Penh – Koh Kong
This morning head out of Phnom Penh and towards the Cardamom Mountains (4½ hours journey).
After arriving at Tatai Bridge you will be transferred by private boat (approximately 20 mins) to tonight’s accommodation, a peaceful retreat with overwater tented villas, set on a quiet bend in the river with the lush Cardamom Mountains as the idyllic backdrop.
Spend this afternoon at your leisure exploring the river on by kayak, swimming in its clear waters or fishing from your private terrace. Wildlife is abundant here and you might spot colorful butterflies and bizarre-looking insects as well as some of the 550+ bird species found in this area such as brahminy kites or great hornbills if you are lucky. In the evening take a short boat trip to see a spectacle of nature: fireflies lighting up a tree as if were a Christmas tree! (subject to weather conditions).
Dinner will be served at the lodge.
Overnight in Koh Kong Province.
Day 9: Koh Kong
Full day at leisure to relax and kayak on the river with the optional private excursion:
Optional: Tatai Falls – (Half day)
Today spend a relaxing day on a private excursion. Away from the tranquility of your lodge, the thunder of the majestic Tatai Falls reveals the river’s true power as it drops 6 meters to the rocks below. Your day, depending on the tide, starts at around 10am for the 45-minute boat ride past Tatai village to the falls. A local English speaking guide will lead the tour.
Turning on to a tributary you head into the heart of the Cardamom jungle to the far-off sounds of exotic birds and its secretive wildlife. Within minutes you are at journey’s end, gazing down into the turbulent waters of the falls. Soon it’s time for your picnic lunch, maybe a few moments hydro-massage and a refreshing drink as you find some shade for a picnic and relax amongst the sights and sounds of the jungle. Kayaks are available for the last stretch to add some fun and adventure or you can stay on board the boat.
On your return to the lodge the late afternoon is free at leisure for you to relax or do some more kayaking or fishing.
Dinner at the lodge.
Overnight in Koh Kong Province.
Day 10: Koh Kong – Phnom Penh – Departure
This morning, you will transfer to Phnom Penh for your departure flight.
NOW – 21 JUN 2015 & 13 JUL 2015 – 30 SEP 2015
* Disclaimer: Subject to availability and currency fluctuations. E&O Excluded.