Discover the very best that the province of Siem Reap has to offer: From the splendour of Angkor Wat to the ruins of the Jungle Temple of Beng Mealea. We explore countryside and lake to give a taste of the real Cambodia from a photography perspective.
Transfer to hotel from Airport/ bus station. Free time (unguided) we can arrange for car /tuk tuk for those arriving during the day (additional charge).
We start with briefing at 07:30 and drive to Wat Bo one of the oldest of the local pagodas. We can view and photograph some the Buddhist monks here. You will find a 24-70 mm lens ideal for the photography of the monks and artisans. There is a small museum here and you can often see musicians practicing and monks praying before their lunch. We cross the river to the old French Colonial part of Siem Reap Town. We visit the local Psah Leu (upper Market) There is plenty of chance for atmospheric photos here. Bring a fast lens for the dark interior if you have one! (if you have Nikon or Canon I have a fast 50mm lens for you to use).
We enjoy a lunch at a Khmer restaurant and drive to one of the unseen wonders of Angkor: Baray Teuk Thla. The Western Baray is an immense reservoir over 8kms long and over 2 kms wide. It was the most important part of the vast irrigation system that formed the basis of the Agriculture that the Khmer Empire economy was based on. You will see the massive earth banks of the reservoir, the small beach resort on the sandy shore. You will have the opportunity to take a boat ride out to the small island temple in the middle; used as a Khmer style picnic spot.
We continue to Me Chreay a nearby village known for the use of traditional style buffalo carts. A short cart ride is a fun way to see the villagers, farmers and fishermen; who are often casting nets into the canals that run through the village. We usually see the farmers with livestock returning to the village at sundown. This can give stunning images of the dusty farmers and cattle backlit by the setting sun with a backdrop of sugar palms.
We start at 7am, to look at some of the less well known sites near the South gate of Angkor Thom and take you to unusual viewpoints of the moat and gateway. We proceed to The Bayon; with its stone faces which have become some of the defining images of Khmer Kingdom. We visit the spectacular Baphoun temple, which was re-opened in mid 2011 after 50+ years of restoration. The views from the upper galleries are impressive. To the rear of this temple is an incomplete but impressive reclining Buddha 70 metres long. We continue through the forest to the Royal Palace complex, Phimineakas pyramid and the Royal Pools Sras Srei. We take a look at a small pagoda where Buddhists blessed by water. We finish up the morning at the Elephants and Leper King terraces, to see hidden reliefs unearthed during 20th Century restorations.We break off for lunch and optional image editing session. or you can relax and enjoy the pool at our hotel.
We return in the mid afternoon for Angkor Wat. Built in the 12th Century was the masterpiece of the Hindu King Suryavarman II. It’s the largest Religious monument in the World. It is surrounded a vast moat 1600m x 1200m representing the celestial oceans. It has magnificent architecture, vast open spaces; reflecting pools, astounding bas reliefs and fine sculpture. The 5 lotus flower towers at its centre symbolize the 5 peaks of the mythical Mount Meru.
5am pick up for Sunrise; at Angkor before moving to the atmospheric temple of Ta Prohm early to avoid the crowds. We take you to see spectacular and sinister root systems growing through the ruins. We visit areas which are unseen by most of the visitors here. We continue to nearby Banteay Kdei a smaller and less visited temple, which is a delight to explore and photograph.
After Lunch we visit Preah Khan. It’s the second largest temple in the Angkor Group. We take in the little visited South Gate and atmospheric parts of this huge temple complex that relatively few people visit. Preah Khan and has a maze of passages and courtyards leading to the Halls of the dancers and the north east quadrant; one of my favourite areas with naga balustrades and a unique 2 story round columned building. The East Gopura has the most spectacular tree in temple shots at Angkor. We will be working in some confined dark places, so a fast wide-angle lens will be useful. We may be lucky and catch a dramatic sunset over the Angkor Thom South Gate on the way back to Siem Reap.
We have a 7am departure to the lake villages of Kompong Khleang. It is a fabulous place to practice portraiture of people in their environment. We drive to the small town of Dam Dek and drive via a local market to the Villages of Kompong Khleang. We take a boat cruise past the impressive stilt houses that line the riverbanks along ancient causeways, which flood in the rainy season. A highlight is the floating fish market. We have lunch in a typical stilt house village home of our boat owner. It’s a working home son you will see life as it is and not something put on for general tourists.
Then, with just a pleasant one-hour drive through local countryside - we'll arrive at what many people say is the highlight of the tour; the incredible jungle temple of Beng Mealea. This largely un-restored temple is in much the same condition when it was re-discovered. It is a wonderfully atmospheric temple with ample shade, vegetation and individual opportunity to explore it's hidden treasures.
Back to Siem Reap late afternoon
Guest Name: Mr. Mac
N.of Person: 2 pax
Booked: Best Cambodia and Vietnam Highlight Trip
Tour Style: Classic Highlight Tours
Duration: 10 Days