|SUMMARY OF ACTIVITY
|Arrive in Siem Reap, evening Apsara dance performance and dinner
|Cycle tour of the temples, including Angkor Wat, Bayon Temple and Ta Phrom
|Kompong Khleang floating village, Roulous and Bakong temple
|Landmine museum, Phnom Kulen mountain and waterfall, Beng Mealea temple
|Travel to colonial-era Battambang and Ek Phnom temple
|Phnom Banan mountaintop ruins and Battambang exploration
|Kampong Chhnang pottery town, ancient Oudong and Phnom Penh
|Phnom Penh city tour including the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
|Village day trip meeting the local community
|The Killing Fields and Kep seaside town
|Kampot local villages and produce tour
|Rabbit Island day trip with beachside relaxation
|Return to Phnom Penh for departure
APSARA DANCE AND DINNER
Your guide will meet you at Siem Reap International Airport and transfer you to your accommodation to check in.
This evening we attend a traditional Apsara dance performance and dinner. Apsara dancers mirror the traditional Cambodian dances that date back to the Angkorian era – you can find carvings of them at many of the ancient temples. Their elaborate costumes and deft hand gestures all have symbolic meanings, and the dancers are accompanied by traditional music played on xylophones, drums and fiddles.
CYCLE TOUR OF THE TEMPLES
This gentle cycle ride gives you the chance to explore the hidden wonders of the Angkor complex, travelling along magical jungle paths and dirt roads only accessible by bike. Mango Cambodia developed this unique route specifically to avoid the throngs of tourists, and it’s become our most popular temple tour. In-between the main sights, there is often not another soul in sight.
We start the day early, transporting you to the temple complex by vehicle and then cycling to the stunning, jungle-clad temple of Ta Phrom. You’ll see how the tentacle-like tree roots are slowly strangling the surviving stones. It’s an evocative sight. Admire the temple in the early morning light and with fewer people around than later in the day.
Our journey continues with a tour of the South Gate of Angkor Thom, where we see the smiling faces of the Bayon Temple, the Terrace of Elephants and Terrace of the Leper King. After an early lunch we visit the spectacular Angkor Wat. During this time of the day the crowds are at a minimum letting you view this amazing structure at its most serene. If at any time you have had enough of cycling, we can relieve you of your bicycle and continue the tour in the support vehicle, which will never be far away, with copious supplies of ice cold bottled water available.
Please note: While Mango Cambodia has developed our own route, please discuss with your guide your expectations. We are happy to provide adventuresome cycling, single-track or a more sedate route.
FLOATING VILLAGE AND BAKONG TEMPLE
Today we visit the remote stilted village of Kompong Khleang, on the floodplains of the Tonle Sap Lake.
During the dry season the 6-metre stilted homes tower above the low water line, exposing the various livestock of the villagers, including chicken, pigs and dogs.
The villagers are fishing folk with shrimp harvesting their primary source of income. Giant sheets covered with pink shrimp drying in the sun can be seen on the lake shore and along the main street.
Water levels allowing, it may be possible to board a smaller dugout boat to explore the surreal flooded mangrove forest before disembarking for a walk through the village to meet some of the community and observe their lifestyles close up.
We then continue to the charming Roulous village and from there the pre-Angkorian jungle temple of Bakong before heading back into town. This is a truly special day out and one you will never forget.
PHNOM KULEN MOUNTAIN AND BENG MEALEA TEMPLE
Today we head north towards the old front of the civil war, taking in the fascinating Landmine Museum along the way, before crossing into former Khmer Rouge territory and making the pilgrimage to Cambodia’s most spiritual site – and the birthplace of the mighty Khmer empire – Phnom Kulen. Around 56 Angkorian temple ruins are located on the hilltop alongside earlier ruins and modern day pagodas.
At the top of Phnom Kulen is the river of a thousand lingas and the enormous reclining Buddha carved from rock at Ang Thom Pagoda. A series of tiered waterfalls and bathing pools give the perfect opportunity for cooling off. Bring along your bathing suits and take a refreshing dip in the cooling waters of Phnom Kulen. Lifejackets are available for children. The afternoon is spent relaxing and enjoying the surrounding natural beauty and serenity, perhaps enjoying a local lunch by the waters. There are options to either drive or trek further on to the summit, where the views are simply stunning.
In the afternoon we venture out to visit one of the larger, but further afield temples of the Angkor region, deep in the jungle at Beng Mealea. It has been described as “unquestionably one of the most beautiful Angkorian sites,’ and possibly served as the direct model for Angkor Wat itself.
Battambang city is full of wonderful colonial-era architecture and historic old pagodas. The surrounding countryside offers some of the most picturesque rice paddies and rural scenery in the country. Our tour incorporates a stop at Ek Phnom, an 11th century Angkorian-era ruin and Wat Ek Phnom, a modern pagoda, which sits next to the ruin. The river road route out to Ek Phnom from Battambang passes through small villages and rice paddies, providing intriguing insights into rural Cambodian life.
This morning we travel to Phnom Banan, 20 km from Battambang, to visit this stunning Angkorian-era ruin. The 11th century temple is located on a mountain top and at 400 meters offers spectacular views over the surrounding countryside. The ancient temple is well preserved and offers some interesting Apsara and dolphin carvings on the lintels. After our visit we return to the town centre and the rest of the day is free for you to wonder the streets of Battambang and soak up the atmosphere of the town.
KAMPONG CHHNANG AND OUDONG
After breakfast, we will drive south to Phnom Penh. We will stop at Kompong Chhnang, a provincial town located in the heart of the country. It was known as a centre of pottery some 5,000 years ago, and is still famous today for its undecorated clay pots. Then continue to the ancient city of Oudong, which served as the capital of Cambodia between 1618 and 1866.
Oudong Mountain, with panoramic views of the countryside and a stunning display of 3,000 Buddha statues, will give you a moment’s pause for thought as you imagine what it must have been like to live and work here in the past.
Arrive into Phnom Penh by late afternoon. Check in to your hotel and take in your first moments of this energetic capital city.
PHNOM PENH CITY TOUR
We explore “the hidden pearl of Asia” with a guided tour of the city stopping at sites of interest along the way, including the spectacular Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda (Emerald Buddha), the pagoda at Wat Phnom, the Independence Monument and the newly erected statue commemorating the late King Father (Sihanouk).
For an insight into Cambodian religious life, visit a pagoda. In the late morning, depending on your time of arrival at the pagoda, you may also be able to see the monks chanting, (not guaranteed) prior to their lunch.
After lunch (included), we continue our tour of Phnom Penh by taking a sobering walk through Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21). Here there are stark and moving reminders of Cambodia’s recent tragic past. Our expert guide will explain the historical, political and social context of the bleak period of Khmer history which followed the fall of Phnom Penh in April 1975.
Return to your hotel by early afternoon and the remainder of the day is free and easy for you.
GOOD DAY CAMBODIA
Our most popular day trip! Embark on a colourful journey of discovery to a rural village, learning key historical and cultural facts about the area and its people along the way. A guided ox-cart or horse-cart ride to the rice fields will reveal the farming techniques used in Cambodia, close up.
After a tasty home cooked lunch, meet and chat with the delightful family and learn about their lives. Explore the village, meet the locals and get a real feel for what it’s like to live in a rural Cambodian community.
THE KILLING FIELDS AND KEP
Then continue on to Choeung Ek Memorial -one of the infamous Killing Fields, where the Khmer Rouge executed around 17,000 of the estimated 2 million Cambodians who perished under the Pol Pot regime.
From here we continue our journey to the faded colonial coastal retreat of Kep. Kep is a charming, sleepy coastal town – a luxury destination of the rich and famous in colonial days. Nowadays, the old villas are in ruins after the ravages of civil war and Kep is known more for its oceanfront crab shacks, relaxed tropical resorts and laid-back atmosphere.
We will arrive by early afternoon, in good time to check-in to your hotel and get into ‘relaxed mode’ for the remaining few days in this quiet oceanside town.
KAMPOT DISCOVERY TOUR
Discover the jewels of Kampot province’s countryside, renowned for the quality of its fruits (durian, coconut, mango, etc.), its sea salt and its famous Kampot pepper, much sought-after by gourmets worldwide. Call in at villages along the scenic rural journey, meeting the locals and witnessing their daily lives.
Today we visit Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay) which is just a short boat ride from the mainland but you will be entering a whole other world. Here you can get a massage on the sand, swim in the warm water or lie in a hammock at the beachside restaurants, snacking on fresh seafood.
Free and easy until we transfer you to Phnom Penh International Airport, for your outbound flight.
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