(Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Kep)
The peaceful, welcoming smiles of the Cambodian people have survived a challenging past that makes for a rich, vibrant and deeply touching travel experience that will change your perspective.br/>
This is a land that has survived centuries of Vietnamese and Siamese occupation, French colonization, the devastation of the Vietnam War, and the nightmare of the Khmer Rouge. The deep scars are still evident in the jungle ruins of Preah National Park, haunting deserted temples of Sambor Prei Kuk, eerie serenity of the flooded forests of Tonle Sap Lake, and crumbling colonial city of Kep. Other highlights include elephant rides through the ancient temple complex at Angkor Wat; tasting seasonal fruit at Seam Reap’s vibrant outdoor markets; discovering a protected eco park aboard a traditional ox cart; and a humbling experience at the Killing Fields Museum.
This is a confronting but ultimately up-lifting travel experience. Knowledgeable guides reveal the tragic stories of the past as you journey deeper into this mysterious land than most tourists dare. But it’s the interactions with the remarkable local people that will lift your spirits. From playing with the children at one of the country’s many orphanages and meeting the Chan people of the floating islands of Tonle Sap Lake, to touring Phnom Penh with a Khmer professor of architecture, you’ll meet a kind, spirited and optimistic people.
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Transfer between the airport and your hotel by private vehicle with an English-speaking guide.
Heritage Suite Hotel (5*) guests will stay in a sumptuous colonial villa where bamboos, lotuses and white water lilies exhale the perfumes of meditation. This sophisticated boutique retreat is nestled in tropical gardens within what is called the village, a few paces from the peaceful Siem Reap River. Some suites are up to 150 sq. m with private Jacuzzi - bath time is a memorable experience in an oversized bathtub with a view of the gardens. A “temple” of rest in one of the world’s most stunning archaeological sites. The hotel is only 6 kilometers from the renowned Angkor temples and 15 minutes from Siem Reap international airport. It takes a gratifying 4 minutes tuk tuk ride to reach the Old Market, the new fascinating National Museum and lively Pub Street. The architecture, the beautifully spacious suites, the unequalled kindness and efficiency of the staff and its culinary delights make Heritage unique as a luxurious sanctuary.
Today, you will get up at 4 AM to head to the temples and enjoy Sunrise at Angkor Wat, then return back to your hotel for breakfast. After breakfast you will transfer about half an hour outside the city to visit one of the more remote temples, Banteay Srei. After touring around this temple with your guide, you will head back towards Siem Reap, and en route you will stop for a quick visit to the Landmine Museum. This museum was opened in 1997 by Aki Ra, a former child soldier, and proceeds go toward clearing landmines across Cambodia. It is a safe and educational place to learn about the impact that these devices have had on Cambodia, and what is being done to rid the country of their threat. Transfer back to the city for lunch in a local restaurant. After lunch, head to one of Siem Reap's lively local markets where you can buy small gifts to bring along on your next visit, to one of the schools for local orphaned children near Wat Bo. Play with the children, tour the facilities, sit in on a lesson, and interact with the local community here along with your guide, in an experience that is sure to offer some inspiring insight into the Khmer people. In the later afternoon transfer back to your hotel in Siem Reap. ***A portion of the tour cost will be donated to both the Landmine Museum and Orphanage, of course, further donations are welcome!
Today, along with your guide you will travel privately to Tonle Sap Lake. Each year the lake floods causing a seasonal phenomonon that inundates the 6 provinces with water and is a big resource for local fishermen. Travel through the lake by boat. Experience the wide open marshes and also the tight tree lined passageways that make up the body of this great lake. With its magnificent flooded forests, experience a new untraveled destination named Mechrey Eco tourism community situated just 9 km west of Siem Reap. Waiting for you to explore the community is an old means of Cambodian transportation: the Ox cart. Along the journey through the Eco park you can see sugar palm trees, local wildlife and fauna and feel totally relaxed as your guide takes you through the beautiful rural Cambodian countryside. After the tour concludes you will be transferred back to your hotel.
You will be picked up from your hotel or the airport where you will be taken on a sightseeing tour. Enjoy a half day tour visiting the South Gate of Angkor Thom, Bayon temple complex by Tuk Tuk. After the tour you will be transferred back to the hotel or to the airport.
As part of your temple touring today, you will ride between South Gate and Bayon by elephant!
Early in the morning, around 7AM, you will be picked up by your local guide and driven the 5-6 hours from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. Along the way, you will stop by Naga Bridge and then head onward to visit Sambo Prei Kuk Temple complex. We will visit Prasat Tor, Prasat Yeah Puon and Prasat Sambor. Spend 3 hours visiting these temples, which date to the pre-Angkor period, and are some of the oldest remaining in Cambodia. Enjoy a Khmer lunch at a local restaurant. Continue your drive toward Phnom Penh, stopping at a local rice paddy, and tasting local seasonal fruit at Skun Market.
Raffles Hotel Le Royal is the premier hotel in Phnom Penh, a hotel with those rare attributes of history and style. First established in 1929 and later reopened in 1997. After a careful restoration and refurbishment program by Raffles International, Raffles Hotel Le Royal is Phnom Penh’s premier hotel with historical style and charm. The grand hotel fulfils all the requirements of a modern world-class hotel with its facilities and amenities, but imparts an old-world charm through its style and decor, which is elegant yet comfortable, classic yet casual. Ideally located, it is within easy access of the city's attractions such as the Royal Palace, Central Market, Russian Market and the National Artifacts Museum. Come experience this magnificent hotel in the vibrant city of Phnom Penh.
Today, you will be picked up at your hotel at 8 am for a very special tour, escorted by a Khmer Professor of Architecture. First transfer to visit the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) as well as the Institute of Foreign Languages (IFL). At RUPP you will see three remarkable campuses. The first was built in the 1960’s on the Russian Boulevard. The Institute of Technology of Cambodia is designed in a Soviet manner, and the 'modern baroque' Institute of Foreign Languages (a group of three buildings by Vann Molyvann, his last work of the 1970s). Finish up at the Royal University of Phnom Penh by Leroy and Mondet. Take a quick look at the Phnom Penh Royal Railway Station, and head to lunch at the famous FCC restaurant. After lunch continue on with your tour, and visit the National Museumand Cambodia Post Office. Lastly you will visit Olympic Stadium. The National Sports Complex, known as the Olympic Stadium, built in 1963-64 to accommodate the GANEFO games of 1964 and became the location for the reception of many visiting dignitaries and state occasions. Designed by Vann Molyvann, the remarkable and heroic complex has been renovated and brought back into popular use by sporty Cambodians. Visit the stadium which seats 84,000, the sports-hall with its amazing concrete 'mushroom' roof, and the Olympic-size swimming/diving pools.
Visit Toul Sleng, a high school prior to 1975, an interrogation prison known as S-21 during the Khmer rouge era and today it as a museum. It tells the sad story of the thousands of innocent Cambodian people who were tortured on its grounds. Spend a half day visiting the site with your local guide, and learn about the prison itself, as well as the greater genocide that occured throughout Cambodia. In the afternoon you will travel outside of town to the Killing Fields Museum. Continue onward to see the Independence Monument and take a stroll along the Mekong River. Afterwards, you will be transferred back to your hotel.
Transfer today from Phnom Penh to Kep (approx. 3 hours). En route, you will stop at Kampong Trach to visit some limestone caves. Kampong Trach was also one of the last holdouts of the Khmer Rouge, due to its isolated location and dramatic landscape. You will also see Chinese and Vietnamese pagodas, which are maintained by the local community.
Veranda Natural Resort is a great retreat to get away from all the hustle and bustle. The resort is dedicated to offering the finer things of life, beauty, tranquility and great food. It is hidden below Kep National Park that overlooks the Gulf of Thailand, Vietnam Island and Bokor Mountain. Here, just a few hours from Phnom Penh airport you feel light years away from the crowds, ready to experience the true Kep in its entire splendor. The retreat presents a unique concept featuring raised wooden walkways made of stones, wood and is connected through all the private bungalows in the resort. Visit some of the island’s most iconic attractions or find your own hidden gems. Or maybe just lounge by one of the biggest salted pool in Kep whilst enjoying the natural surroundings like uncounted exotic fruit trees and the tropical breezes. Veranda Natural Resort represents a light and unobtrusive feeling. It is about personalized comfort and design combined with natural, pure interior style inspired by its natural surroundings. Each guest’s bungalow has its own individual beauty, which agrees with people who care enormously about little things.
This morning you will book a local taxi for the day with the help of your hotel (approx. $70-$80 USD, paid locally). Transfer to Thansur Bokor, where you will join with their daily trekking and historical tour inside Bokor National Park. First visit Wat Sampov Pram where there are five oddly-sculpted rocks nearby resembled boats. Then continue to see the beautiful 2 tiered Popokvil Waterfall. Next, spend 3 hours exploring beautiful and wild Cambodian jungles. In the afternoon, visit the infamous French Palace. This grand and hauntingly beautiful colonial building used to be part of the French resort town for social elites to escape from the humidity & heat of Phnom Penh. Due to war, the entire area has been abandoned, and now lays in ruin, and is often used in movies. The old Catholic church at Bokor Hill Station looks like the priest has locked it up only yesterday. Inside, bits of glass still cling to the corners of the windows and the altar remains intact. You will see King Monivong Residence & Black Palace. From the top of the Mountain, view amazing panoramas of the Gulf of Thailand.
With a rented mountain bike, available at Veranda, you can explore King Sihanouk's old Palace built in the early 1990s, see abandoned colonial villas, and spend time along the historical, and uniquely Cambodian seaside boulevard.
A private vehicle will provide a transfer from Kep to Phnom Penh.
Please note obtaining a visa is your responsibility. These requirements change often and therefore it is best that you check with the Embassy of Cambodia for the most up to date visa information.
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