8 Nights/9 DaysThis 8 night cultural tour of Cambodia immerses you into the culture of this captivating country including exploring the bustling capital Phnom Penh, the ancient temples of Angkor, rural village life and the sleepy riverside towns of Kampot and Kep. During this touring itinerary you will be escorted by expert local guides who know their country inside out. This includes visiting the Angkor temples at special times of day to avoid the crowds. Local profits from this tour will be invested into local schools to help improve education in Cambodia. It is possible to visit one of these schools if you wish.Day 1 Arrive Phnom PenhYou will be met by your guide before Immigration at Phnom Penh Airport with VIP fast track service to avoid the queues, then you will be driven to the Raffles Hotel Le Royal for a two-night stay. This bustling capital is expanding at a rapid rate leaving its troubled past behind. Street stalls and mopeds add to the colourful chaos against a backdrop of the glimmering Royal Palace, saffron-clad monks and the Mekong river. This afternoon, meet your guide for a visit to the Royal Palace, built in 1866 by King Norodom. Visit the Silver Pagoda, still in use today, with its floor of over 5,000 silver tiles. If there’s time, visit the National Museum and linger among the outstanding relics removed from Angkor Wat to prevent looting. Day 2 Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
This morning, gain an insight into the events of the late 1970’s under the despotic Khmer Rouge regime of Pol Pot. A difficult journey, but one that reveals much of what continues to shape present day Cambodia. Firstly visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, formerly the Khmer Rouge Security Prison S-21, where only 7 inmates survived of the thousands imprisoned. Follow the route that many S-21 prisoners took, ending their journey around 15km to the southeast of the city at Choeung Ek, one of hundreds of Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge regime. This afternoonyou have the option to visit the bustling Russian Market in Phnom Penh before your late afternoon flight to Siem Reap. Siem Reap has undergone a recent renaissance but at its heart it is still a small charming city by the Tonle Sap River with tree-lined boulevards and old French shop-houses. On arrival in Siem Reap, you will be transferred to La Residence d’Angkor for three nights. This evening, have dinner accompanied by traditional Khmer Royal ‘Apsara’ folk dancing.Day 3 Siem Reap and Angkor Wat
Your guide will take you to Ta Prohm temple (11km away) after breakfast, a 12th century temple often photographed for the banyan roots that wrap around its ancient stones. An early start should allow you to see the jungle clad Ta Prohm nearly undisturbed. Then head through the forest to the temple of Ta Nei, a beautiful but little visited Angkorian temple. Continue to Ta Keo temple to climb its awe inspiring five-tiered pyramid structure known as the 'mountain with golden peaks' for an expansive view over the surrounding jungle. Return to the hotel for lunch (not included). After lunch, travel to the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom, memorable for its colossal heads of gods and demons. Next walk to the monumental and newly restored 11th century Baphuon temple and onward to the 10th century Phimeanakas, with its hidden bathing pools. Continue to the Terrace of the Elephants. This long succession of elephant carvings shows them in battle alongside fantastical creatures of Hindu mythology. Rejoin the vehicle for the short ride back to Jayavarman’s state temple of Bayon at the centre of the ancient city. Explore this important temple considered especially enigmatic for its 37 towers carved with multiple faces of eerie serenity. End the day by climbing aboard one of the rowing boats that cruise the moat of Angkor Thom for sunset cocktails accompanied only by bird song in the warm glow of the setting sun. Day 4 Siem Reap
Travel 35 km east to explore a village on Tonle Sap. These fishing communities live in houses on stilts up to 10m high to cope with seasonal variation in the water levels. After a short boat trip out to the lake, past floating houses, fishermen and mangroves, we will be invited to climb up into one of the houses to speak with the villagers to gain a unique insight (your guide will translate). Pause for a gourmet picnic lunch looking out at life on the lake. This afternoon, continue to Phnom Kulen, the mountain quarry source for Angkor’s extraordinary monuments. Near its base, stop to visit Beng Mealea, often described as the blueprint for Angkor Wat. This 12th century temple overgrown with roots and vines is an explorer’s dream. Return to Siem Reap.Day 5 Siem Reap
To witness one of travel’s greatest glories, motor through the darkness of the Cambodian night and welcome the dawn on the stones at Angkor Wat. Immediately after sunrise is the best time to visit this iconic structure, before the crowds arrive and when the light is at its best. Return to the hotel for a late breakfast. Later this morning, perhaps hop in a tuk-tuk to the Old and Central Markets for souvenir shopping or to Psa Leu to mix with the locals buying their exotic edibles. This afternoon, head into the countryside for a leisurely guided walk around a village giving an insight into the rural way of life. Arrive at your own traditional private village house to enjoy panoramic views of the paddy fields with sunset drinks, as daily life continues below. Enjoy traditional Khmer cuisine with an intimate dinner in this stunning setting. Return to your hotel for the evening.Day 6 Siem Reap to Kep
Transfer to the airport for a morning flight from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. On arrival, you will drive to the scenic province of Takeo (around 2 hours). Stop to explore this region by road and boat. Many pre-Ankorian sites were built here between the 5th and 8th centuries including Tonle Bati and Phnom Chisor. Visit Phnom Da twin hills for lovely views and the artificial caves built as Hindu shrines that were also used as hide-outs during the Khmer Rouge war. Continue onto Kep (around 1.5 hours) and check-in to Knai Bang Chatt hotel.Day 7 Kep
Explore the quiet riverside towns of Kep and Kampot with your guide. Here is an attractive mix of colonial French and local architecture, just a few kilometres from the Gulf of Thailand. Visit the surrounding pepper plantations, for which Kampot is best known, and take in the nearby salt fields. Be sure to savour Kep’s seafood, especially the delectable crabs cooked with Kampot pepper. Enjoy a relaxing afternoon at leisure. This evening, catch the spectacular sunset from the Knai Bang Chatt Sailing Club. Day 8 Kep and Koh Tonsay
This morning, catch a boat from Kep Pier to Koh Tonsay, ‘Rabbit Island’ to enjoy the undeveloped beach, with a few shacks selling drinks and fresh seafood. Sit back and unwind. Return later to Kep.Day 9 Kep to Phnom Penh Departure
Return to Phnom Penh by road (approximately 3.5 hours) in time for your departure flight.Prices from £3090 per person OUR PRICE INCLUDES• Return scheduled flights with Malaysian Airlines via Kuala Lumpur from London to Phnom Penh in economy class• Return domestic flight from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap• Breakfast and accommodation sharing a twin or double room.• One lunch and two dinners (as specified in the itinerary) • Private transfers and sightseeing tours in an air-conditioned large car• Services of an English-speaking guide• Entry fees for all visits included on the itineraryOUR PRICES DO NOT INCLUDE• Visas• Meals, except as specified above • Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses• Camera fees where applicable• InsuranceHOTEL LIST FOR THE ABOVE ITINERARYPhnom Penh, Raffles Hotel Le Royal, a grand historic hotel that imparts the old-world charm through its style and decor, in the heart of the city – Landmark RoomSiem Reap, La Residence d’Angkor, an intimate Orient-Express hotel on the banks of the tree-lined river. There are two restaurants and a lovely spa – Deluxe Poolside RoomKep, Knai Bang Chatt Hotel, this enchanting lifestyle resorts sits on the coast and features 11 individually decorated rooms, large terraces and breath-taking sea-views – Pavilion Sea View
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