Classic Cambodia

Cambodia

Culture | Christmas

Khmer temples, colonial towns and warm locals

Dates & Prices

Intro

Cambodia is a country with a truly remarkable past. From its proud heritage - as evidenced by the incredible scale and elegance of the temples of Angkor – to its horrific experience at the hands of Pol Pot’s regime, Cambodia has learned to absorb all this and move on. Meet Cambodians and marvel at their capacity to look forward with a smile. The temples at Angkor are a truly miraculous feat and the main attraction. But there is plenty more to Cambodia – explore Phnom Penh by traditional cyclos, enjoy the seafront charms of Kampot and Kep, learn to cook some classic Cambodian dishes and explore remote temples in stunning rural settings.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Learn to cook traditional Khmer cuisine
  • Explore the heritage of Phnom Penh
  • The grisly history of the Killing Fields
  • Hindu mythology and Khmer architecture of the Angkor Temples
  • Colonial architecture of Kampot and Kep

Places Visited

Phnom Penh - The Killing Fields - Battambang - Udong - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat - Bantaey Srei - Kampot - Kep - Ta Phrom - Phnom Chisor

What's Included

Airport pick-up & drop-off
Ground transport
Accommodation
Entrance fees to sites
Breakfasts and some other meals (refer to itinerary for meal plan)
Drivers and guides
Itinerary & Map
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Day 1 : Phnom Penh - Arrival

Arrive in Phnom Penh, where you will be met by a Travel The Unknown representative and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to enjoy at your leisure. Overnight in Phnom Penh. 
 

Meal plan: n/a

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Day 2 : Phnom Penh

In the morning enjoy a foodie tour. In the afternoon, depart on a traditional cyclo tour around Phnom Penh. Stop to visit Tuol Sleng, the genocide museum & Killing Field. Overnight in Phnom Penh. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Phnom Penh is the capital and largest city in Cambodia. Founded in 1434, the city is a significant tourist destination and was once considered the “Pearl of Asia”. Phnom Penh’s colonial heritage is evident through the many French-style buildings scattered along the grand boulevards. The city sits on the banks of the Tonle Sap, Mekong and Bassac rivers and is home to over two million people. The city’s main sights include the National Museum, the Royal Palace, Tuol Sleng Genocide museum and the killing fields.

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Day 3 : Killing fields - Udong - Battambang

Drive from Phnom Penh to Battambang. Along the way, stop first at the infamous Killing Fields and then at Udong, the former capital of Cambodia. Overnight in Battambang. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

In the 1970s, Cambodia's Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, held a regime of terror over the country. The regime arrested anyone who had committed minor or political crimes; if a person received two warnings, they were sent for "re-education" - which meant torture, and in the majority of cases, execution. The Killing Fields are a series of mass graves containing the bodies of an estimated 2 million such victims. Some of the graves were dug by the victims who were so weak they could only manage to dig shallow graves; as such, in rainy weather, bones and clothing often make their way above ground. There is a museum at Tuol Sleng commemorating the genocide, as well as a Buddhist memorial at Choeung Ek.

Derived from the Sanskrit word "uttunga", meaning 'supreme', Udong was the former capital of Cambodia. Founded in 1601 by King Srei Soryapor, the city really flourished under King Ang Duong with the construction of canals, bridges and hundreds of pagodas. Today you can visit the site which is made up of a row of stupas and shrines in a variety of conditions, some well-preserved but little more than piles of stones.

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Day 4 : Battambang

Take on your private Remok (tuk-tuk) with your local guide and ride about 5 km from town to the Bamboo train, you will have the chance to ride this unique contraption on train tracks that were initially built by the French to transport goods.
 
Continue to to Ek Phnom, an ancient and seldom visited temple. Along the way we pass small villages where people are making bamboo sticky rice (korlan), fish paste, rice paper and banana paper.
 
Enjoy your lunch at a scenic local restaurant along the river. Afterwards visit the site of the "Killing Caves" at Phnom Sampeou. There is a Khmer Rouge memorial as well as an interesting temple on top of this hill. When at the top, you will have a commanding view over the Cambodian countryside. If you choose to stay until sunset you will see countless bats exit from the cave down below, while enjoying a cold drink from a comfortable chair set up by enterprising locals. After sunset, you will be dropped off at your hotel.

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

An important trading centre since the 18th Century and home to some of the best preserved French architecture in Cambodia, Battambang is well-known for its rice production. It is also famous for its statues and a fine selection of art deco buildings.

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Day 5 : Siem Reap

Today you will be driven to Siem Reap. The  rest of the day is free to enjoy at your leisure. Overnight in Siem Reap. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 6 : Angkor Temples

This morning you will visit the South Gate of Angkor Thom and the temples of Bayon, Baphoun, Phimean Akas, The Royal Enclosure and the terraces of Elephant and Leper King. Lunch will be at a local restaurant. The whole afternoon will be set aside to visiting Angkor Wat, one of mankind's greatest achievements. Finish the day watching the sunset on top of Bakheng Hill. Overnight in Siem Reap. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Angkor Wat, which translates as the "City of Temples" in Khmer, is the largest religious monument in the world. Dating back to the early 12th Century, the complex was constructed by the Khmer King Suryavarman II as a Hindu Temple dedicated to the god Vishnu. In the late 13th Century, Angkor Wat became a Buddhist place of worship, and has remained so ever since. Built on a rectangular man made island surrounded by a 190 metre wide moat, the temple structure is in the classical style of Khmer architecture. The moat helped prevent Angkor Wat from being submerged by the encroaching jungle; the only access is by an earthbank to the east and a sandstone causeway to the west. Angkor Wat is famed for the intricate carvings on almost all of its surfaces - walls, columns, lintels and roofs illustrate miles of scenes from Indian literature; the gallery wall alone depicts almost 1,000 square metres of bas-relief freezes. Detailed decorations include carvings of mythical beasts such as unicorns, griffins and winged dragons, as well as warriors on elephants and dancing girls. Because of its unique architecture, the temple complex has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status.

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Day 7 : Bantaey Srei - Tonle Sap - Siem Reap

Early morning visit to Banteay Srei. In the afternoon enjoy an excursion to Mechrey Village. Stop at Ampil Peam en route to stroll through traditional villages. Board a local-style boat to further explore the area and Tonle Sap Lake. Continue on to the Handicraft centre 'Artisans d'Angkor' to learn more about silk weaving and stone and wood carving. Overnight in Siem Reap. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Banteay Srei is a ruined Hindu temple built in the 10th century and dedicated to Shiva. It is made of red sandstone which is easy to carve and some of the elaborate wall carvings are still visible today. The buildings themselves are small in size by Angkorian standards. In the 11th century the temple was subject to expansion and at some point came under the control of the King and its dedication changed. The temple was rediscovered in 1914 and was the subject of an art theft in 1923, when four devata statues were stolen.

Mechrey Village is a floating village located on Tonle Sap Lake, which can only be visited by boat. During the rainy season, the whole village seems to float and bob on the water.

Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. Unusually, the direction of its flow changes twice a year (known as the turning of the waters) and the lake also expands and shrinks dramatically depending on the season.

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Day 8 : Kampot - Kep

After breakfast you will drive to Kampot. En route, stop at Ta Prohm Temple, Yeay Peau Temple and Phnom Chisor. Continue to Kep. Overnight in Kep. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Famous for its aromatic black pepper, the relaxed riverside town of Kampot is a great escape from the larger, busier cities of Cambodia. Kampot's French colonial past is still evident in much of the remaining architecture. The excellent Epic Arts Café in Kampot, a non-profit that helps deaf and disabled artists through employment and selling art pieces, is well worth a visit.

Kep is a sleepy seaside resort famed for its seafood, white sand beaches and crumbling colonial architecture. It is slowly being rediscovered by foreign travellers, but remains one of the country's best hidden gems.

7th Century Ta Phrom was built by the King Jayavarman VII. Superb sculptures of Apsaras and low-reliefs from Angkorian period can be seen. Nearby Yeay Peau Temple, which is surrounded by a modern pagoda, was built in the 7th century and named after King Ta Prohm's mother.

Over 130 metres tall, Phnom Chisor offers exceptional views over the surrounding landscape. On top of the hill sits a temple constructed in the 11th century which is dedicated to the Hindu gods Shiva and Vishnu.

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Day 9 : Phnom Kampong Trach - Phnom Penh

Today you will travel through the countryside to Phnom Kampong Trach cave. Later, continue your journey and visit a pepper plantation and salt fields. Drive back to town, stopping at colonial buildings along the river. Sample local Khmer coffee as you have lunch on the riverbank. After lunch, take a local boat along Stung Kampong Bay. Enjoy a superb view of the sunset. Overnight in Phnom Penh. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

The limestone caves of Phnom Kampong Trach, carved into the mountain, are a popular tourist site. The roof of the large central cave collapsed some time ago, leaving a small, enclosed jungle. It has a magical and slightly unreal feeling about it.

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Day 10 : Phnom Penh - Departure

After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Accommodation

Accommodation

All accommodation subject to availability. Final accommodation choices will be confirmed after booking.

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Villa Langka

Villa Langka is located in central Phnom Penh, overlooking the ancient Wat Langka Pagoda and only a few minutes from the Independence Monument. The hotel has a contemporary design, which is blended with traditional Cambodian decor. Its bedrooms are clean and spacious, providing a comfortable stay for visitors exploring the city. Guests can enjoy local Cambodian dishes on the restaurant's terrace, overlooking the hotel courtyard and swimming pool. 

Visit hotel's site
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Au Cabaret Vert Hotel

The colonial style villas of Au Cabaret Vert eco-resort are situated in Battambang. The hotel's villas are decorated in a simple, yet elegant fashion, that hints towards Cambodian colonial heritage. These rooms have access to wifi, air-conditioning and a private terrace that overlooks the courtyard, gardens and natural pool. Its restaurant offers a fusion of French and Cambodian cuisine to its guests. 

Visit hotel's site
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Natura Resort

Natura Resort is located in Siem Reap, just minutes away from historic sights, including temple ruins and an authentic Cambodian pagoda. The resort can be found nestled within the Angkorian forest - its decor, both inside and out, reflect its natural surroundings. The bedrooms are spacious, each having large bay windows that open out onto tranquil rural surroundings. Guests are free to enjoy the salt water pool, bars and restaurants. 

Visit hotel's site
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Kep Lodge

The bungalows of Kep Lodge can be found just outside of Kep National Park. The grounds of the lodge are busy with lush greenery colourful, exotic flowers and fruit trees. Guests can enjoy views of the surrounding wildlife from the outdoor pool and restaurant terraces. The lodge itself, along with the bedrooms, are decorated in a simple and traditionally Cambodian style that suits the rustic nature of the lodge resort. 

Visit hotel's site
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Hidden Indochina (21 days)

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Hidden Cambodia (14 days)

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Classic Cambodia (10 days)

Khmer temples, colonial towns and warm locals

Reviews

The Cambodia/Indonesia trip was a wonderful experiential journey into another world filled with life, history, myths, legends, spiritual edifices and lovely people.

Jenny Lee Robins , Cambodia & Java

Our holiday to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam with Travel the Unknown was a huge success. We had a fascinating itinerary, well-informed and friendly guides who really looked after us, and lovely accommodation. Every time there was a change of vehicle or guide, the next one was always there and waiting. All stages of the planning and booking process were efficiently done, so all we had to do was enjoy it!

Erika & Robert Hollingdale , Tailormade Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam

A well-planned itinerary that crammed an impressive amount into 16 days, without ever feeling rushed. Cambodia and Vietnam are both fantastic destinations, offering stunning natural scenery and beautifully preserved historical sites, together with truly delightful and welcoming people. Our guides made our trip extraordinary, weaving their personal histories in to the many insights they gave us of two countries that have experienced such difficult pasts.

Mark Pettengel & Jo Martin , Tailormade Vietnam & Cambodia

This is my fifth visit managed by Travel the Unknown. I will continue to travel with them as they always deliver exactly what I enjoy - I travel alone. Any local input they select is without exception first class. My ideas are followed up, with gentle dissuasion if unrealistic, & time left in my stay is padded out with imagination. I always feel safe, & have a smile on my face for a month after returning home.

Christine Barratt , Tailor-made Vietnam and Cambodia

Our trip with Travel The Unknown was one of our best trips ever. All went as planned, wonderful guides, perfect hotels - best of all: excellent scheduling of activities and time to rest - balance was just what we needed!! Thank you to all staff involved!

Greg & Jan Sheffer , Classical Indochina, Indochina
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