Cambodia family lifestyle is a depth journey to explore the unique culture and the diversity on offer beyond the highlights in this beguiling Kingdom. Get off the beaten track to uncluttered areas along the beautiful Mekong River, to surrounding mountains, forest and waterfalls in the remote northeast. Minority tribes and endangered wildlife, both dolphins and elephants, await our arrival in the Kratie and Mondulkiri region. Not forgetting about flooded forests of the Mekong Wetlands in Stung Treng and onto the pinnacle of the Khmer Empire at Angkor. A timeless testament to the ingenuity of the Khmer people, we immerse ourselves in the numerous stone monuments including Angkor Wat, the art of shadow puppetry and classical Khmer dance at its best. Visit the graceful town of Battambang, before continuing onto the country’s prime beach of Sihanoukville for some relaxation downtime and sun worship.
After welcoming you at the Phnom Penh Airport, a Cambodian Pride Tours representative will transfer you to a comfortable hotel in the city centre for overnight.
Visit the horrific crimes of the Khmer Rouge. Tuol Sleng was a former high school that the Khmer Rouge turned into a centre for interrogation, torture and death. Today it is a museum of torture and serves to remind visitors of the terrible atrocities that came to pass in Cambodia. Tuol Sleng is a profoundly moving experience and not everyone will want to visit. However, it is key to understanding the hell into which Cambodia descended and how far it has come in the years since. We then travel out of town to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. Prisoners from Tuol Sleng followed this same route to their fate. Despite the horrors of the past, it is a peaceful place to go and a tranquil spot to reflect on the tragic events that engulfed Cambodia and its people. We spend the rest of the morning looking around the city such as Wat Phnom, Independent monument and Russian Market which is one of the premier shopping destinations in the Cambodian capital. In the afternoon, we explore home to the Cambodian royal family and a symbol of the nation, the spectacular Royal Palace complex, including Wat Preah Keo Morokat with the spectacular Silver Pagoda, decorated with a floor made up of 5,000 silver tiles. We leave the Royal Palace and continue to the nearby National Museum which houses the world’s finest collection of sculptures from the Angkor period.
End your day with a private boat for a sunset cruise and on the Tonle Sap River, which famously reverses direction each year, acting as the world’s largest natural flood barrier for the Mekong River. We cruise past the Royal Palace compound and around the Chrouy Changvar Peninsular onto the mighty Mekong River.
Today is a long drive up to 9 hours but interesting. 8:00am-8:30am hotel pick-up time depending on location. Your friendly English speaking and knowlegable guide greets you with a traditional Khmer welcome. We leave Phnom Penh and travel northeast to the bustling provincial city of Kompong Cham. En route, there is the chance to pause at Skuon, affectionately known as ‘Spiderville’, where it is possible to sample the local delicacy of deep fried tarantula. We then enjoy a local lunch in Kompong Cham. During dry season (Jan-May), we can visit the bamboo bridge built across the mighty Mekong River connecting mainland to Koh Pen Island. Our road journey continues on the east bank of the Mekong River past many rubber farms. There are many opportunities to stop along the way to experience rubber collecting and pepper plantation. We travel east towards the small junction town of Snuol, our gateway to the wilds of Mondulkiri highland. We turn right and leave behind the surfaced roads of civilization to take on the red earth roads of hill country. The first half of the journey from Snuol is flat, passing through patches of lush forest and areas of cultivation and plantations. After Kau Sima district, the road snakes up through the mountains that give Mondulkiri its name of ‘where the mountains meet’. We might also see wild monkeys out on the road. We reach Mondulkiri capital Sen Monorom around 5:00pm and check in to a comfortable lodge.
We leave Sen Monorom after breakfast and drive 9km to the Bunong village of Putang which is the elephants village. Then we start walking from this village to look for elephants in the forests. Once we find them, you will be introduced to the herd of elephants and get to know more about their history, character, behavior, body language and relationship with mahout family. You will be able to feed the elephant buckets of bananas before walking alongside them or riding on the neck through the countryside and forest to O’te waterfall. At noon, the elephant must be taken to pastures for at least 2 hours in order to make sure they get enough food for the day. Elephants eat up to 300 kg of vegetation per day in order to sustain themselves. While the elephant is grazing, you will have a picnic Takeout Lunch by the waterfall. In the afternoon, the mahout will bring the elephant to the river for a wash. You are welcomed to get in the water and give them a hand. You can ask your mahout to try riding the elephant’s neck on your way back. Closer to the village, there is a big hill so you will challenge yourself. Later we return to Sen Monorom with an option to go up the hill of Sen Monorom for an amazing panoramic view of the Sea Forests.
We leave Sen Monorom and head east towards the double drop waterfall of Bou Sraa, one of the most famous in Cambodia. It is possible to access both drops and there are swimming opportunities. Along the way, we may stop at a Pnong minority village to learn a little about their way of life. After a visit to Bou Sra Waterfall we come to visit a local coffee grower (Unique product in the province).
After lunch in Sen Monorom, we leave behind the wilds of Mondulkiri, we travel to provincial city of Kratie, a sleepy Mekong port and gateway to an encounter with the rare freshwater Irrawaddy dolphin that inhabit the upper reaches of the Mekong in Cambodia. Once we arrive Kratie, we check in to hotel where we will spend the night.
After breakfast, we visit the central Market of Kratie where you will see the local trades. Then, we go off the beaten track to the rural villages where you will experience of true rural Cambodian life; seasonal crops, rice whisky making and noodle making. Be welcomed into the home of a village family and share a delicious homemade meal featuring local products and specialties. Later in the afternoon, we go to Kampi, one of the many deep pools where the rare freshwater Irrawaddy river dolphins gather to feed. We board a local boat and cruise out into the mighty Mekong for a chance to encounter with gentle creatures. Viewing is almost guarantee, although it is easier to see the dolphins in the shallower waters of the dry season, than in the swollen river of the wet season. After enjoying an hour or more of dolphin viewing, we travel back to Kratie.
After breakfast at the hotel, it is time to make your journey to Siem Reap, the gateway to the fabled temples of Angkor. Traveling south through the old river port of Chhlong, home to some of the best examples of French colonial architecture in the country. Have lunch on the road. En route, we visit one of the largest and least-visited villages on the Tonle Sap Lake, Kompong Khleang, about 55km from Siem Reap. It’s population of 10,000 all make a living from the fishing industry. We explore the canals (wet season) or streets (dry season) of this incredible town. In the wet season, the houses appear to be floating, as water laps at the verandas, but in the dry season towering stilts are revealed, the houses almost like wooden skyscrapers. We will take a boat and cruise into the open water of the great lake to see a small floating village and learn some more about this incredible natural flood barrier. Later we arrive to your Siem Reap and check into a comfortable hotel.
We start our day after breakfast by cycle from the hotel toward the check-point of Angkor pass. From there you will begin to see Kravan temple, Banteay Kdei, and stop at the famous Ta Phrom, embraced by the roots of enormous fig trees and gigantic creepers. Visit Ta Phrom that was built in 12th century by the famous King Jayavarvan VII indicated to his mother. The ruined Ta Prohm (Tomb Raider) temple was made famous by Angelina Jolie. This temple has been left to the forces of nature by archaeologists as it was ‘discovered’ by French explorer Henri Mouhot in 1860, many parts of its structure being embraced by the roots of gigantic trees, giving the ruin a special atmosphere, as well other structures on the Small and Grand Circuit.
We continue our cycling tour through small circuit passing Ta Keo temple, Chao Say Tevoda, Tommanon before reaching to Angkor Thom city. There you will see, Terrace of Leper King, Terrace of Elephant, Baphoun, Phimean Akas and of course Bayon temple. Angkor Thom was built by Cambodia’s greatest king, Jayavarman VII. An eight-meter high wall encloses this ten square kilometre city, which is encircled by a moat. The famous Bayon, in the geographical heart of Angkor Thom, is a remarkable 54-tower temple. Initially the temple appears to be a shapeless mass of grey and brown stone, but it is only as you get closer that you realize every tower has the carved face of Avalokiteshvara on it.
We continue to South Gate of Angkor Thom for taking photo. We enjoy cycling on the back road on the great wall of Angkor Thom city. Then, we visit the magnificent 12th century Angkor Wat. It is visually, architecturally and artistically breathtaking. Angkor Wat is a massive three-tiered pyramid crowned by five beehive-like towers rising 65 meters from ground level. The Mother of all temples, Angkor Wat is believed to be the world’s largest religious building built in order to dedicate to the Hindu god, Vishnu.
Rise early for sunrise over the Mother of all temples, Angkor Wat which is believed to be the world’s largest religious building. Then, we head to the temple mountain of Pre Rup, before driving further north to Banteay Srei, Angkor’s ultimate art gallery. This petite pink temple is the jewel in the crown of Angkor-era sculpture. The elaborate carvings here are the finest found in Cambodia and the name translates as ‘Fortress of the Women’, thanks to the intricate detail here, considered too fine for the hands of a man. On the way back to Siem Reap we make a detour to the less frequently visited Banteay Samre. Built by King King Suryavarman II, the same king who built Angkor Wat, the structure with its high temple tower has undergone extensive restoration. In the afternoon we visit Neak Pean, a small island temple situated in the middle of an artificial pool, which translates as “intertwined serpents” due the coiled serpents encircling the base of the structure. We then continue on to Preah Khan or “sacred sword”, a huge monastic complex which features elaborate carvings. Overnight at hotel in Siem Reap.
Early morning, you will be transferred to the boat port where you will experience local boat journey passing through typical Cambodian landscapes to the historic riverside city Battambang. Though this is a seasonal journey only due to water levels, travel time is usually between September and January. Upon your arrival to boat port, we transfer you check into a comfortable hotel and take a rest.
After breakfast, we travel to Wat Koh district to visit a local village and learn about rural life in Cambodia. We learn about the rice harvest, fruit farming and how the sugar palm is used. After our village visit, we board the bamboo train to travel back towards Battambang. These ‘local trains’ are bamboo platforms with wheels and they fly along the rail tracks offering great views of the surrounding countryside.
After lunch in town, we travel to the hilltop temple of Wat Banan. The winding road follows the Sangker River and passes by many traditional wooden homes, offering an authentic glimpse of rural Cambodia. Arriving at the temple, we ascend to the summit and are rewarded with striking views of the surrounding plains. We continue to Phnom Sampeau, a sacred mountain dotted with interesting pagodas and stupas. There is also a moving memorial to Khmer Rouge victims who were thrown into one of the many caves that pepper this holy mountain. We then return to Battambang town for the night.
We leave behind the rice bowl of Cambodia, Battambang and travel to country’s prime beach location of Sihanoukville. We journey through Pursat province, passing through typical Cambodian landscapes of endless ricefields dotted with sugar palms. There may be an opportunity to visit a local pottery village, as Kompong Chhnang is famous for producing undecorated items for the Cambodian home. After lunch break in Phnom Penh, we continue south on National Highway 4 towards the Cambodian capital. We pause to pay our respects to Yeay Peau, a protective spirit who looks after travellers on the road. The Pich Nil Pass is where the road cuts through Bokor and Kirirom National Parks to the east and west and is lined with shrines and incense. We arrive in Sihanoukville late afternoon and check into our hotel. We leave the rest of the day free to soak up the charm of this beautiful seaside.
Days free at your own leisure. You may want to relax on one of the beaches or use your time to go on a day trip, for example to one of the unspoilt islands off the coast. Please optional program below. Overnight at hotel in Sihanouk Ville.
Today, we will transfer you back to Cambodia capital city of Phnom Penh and drop you at the airport for your flight.
Guest Name: Mr. Mac
N.of Person: 2 pax
Booked: Best Cambodia and Vietnam Highlight Trip
Tour Style: Classic Highlight Tours
Duration: 10 Days