Highlights of Cambodia – the Kingdom of the Khmer

Cambodia in a Nutshell
Who: Couples, Honeymoons and Solo Travellers

13 Days

From £5,920pp

Frances, Holly and Rosie are here to help give you the inside track.

Unlock the mysteries of Angkor, the ancient city at the heart of the Khmer Empire, before exploring the buzzing present day capital, Phnom Penh. Treat yourself to a stay at an exclusive private island resort in the delightful Koh Rong archipelago to round off your trip.

Itinerary at a Glance
  • Uncover centuries of history at Angkor's sprawling temple complex
  • Enjoy a private boat trip to the floating villages of the Tonle Sap
  • Experience the thrill of a Cambodian circus performance
  • Explore Phnom Penh, Cambodia's fascinating capital city
  • Visit the harrowing but essential Killing Fields
  • Retreat to a private island resort in the Koh Rong archipelago

Why Book with Original Travel?

Just a few of the extra touches that come as standard on an Original Travel holiday...
100% Carbon Off-setting
UK Departure Assistance
Fast Track UK Check-in
Fast Track UK Security
UK Airport Lounge Access
Pre-booked Airline Seats
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When To Travel

jan

feb

mar

apr

may

jun

jul

aug

sep

oct

nov

dec

Average temperature -
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All of the holidays we create are completely tailor-made to you

This sample itinerary is intended to give you a flavour of what we can do
Day 1: Destination Cambodia

Today (most likely in the afternoon, depending on your routing) you will board an overnight flight from London to Siem Reap, connecting through your chosen hub city in Southeast Asia. Options include routing through Singapore and Bangkok, and the combined flight times should be in the region of 14 or 15 hours with a roughly two-hour connection.

Additional Activities

  • If you fly via Singapore you can visit the butterfly garden at Changi Airport while you wait for your connecting flight.
Day 2: Arrival in Siem Reap

After changing planes (your bags will be checked all the way through), you will disembark from your connecting flight in Siem Reap where a personal immigration officer will be waiting to greet you.

Making short work of the visa application process and immigration formalities, you'll skip the queues and complete customs checks with a minimum of fuss. You then have a private transfer to the hotel of your choice, where you'll have ample time to relax and settle in.

Day 3: Angkor’s Hidden and not so Hidden Gems

Up and out at first light, your driver will take you to the Archaeological Park where your first stop is photogenic Ta Prohm, one of Angkor's busiest sites, but your early start will help you miss the worst of the crowds.

Explore tranquil Ta Nei and the vertiginous temple mound of Ta Keo, which are considerably further from the beaten track.

After lunch in Siem Reap, return to Angkor Thom, the largest city in the world in the 12th century. Enter from the little-used East Gate and make your way to the iconic Terrace of the Elephants and the adjacent Terrace of the Leper King, named after a weathered statue that had the gnarled appearance of someone afflicted by leprosy. A detour will take you to Preah Palilay, a small Buddhist sanctuary tucked away in the woods, and then onto scalable Phimeanakas and its beautiful ponds.

Pause to see how the jungle has reclaimed Baphuon before finally reaching King Jayavarman's masterpiece, the Bayon, with its instantly recognisable oversized faces.
End the day, G&T in hand, on a leisurely boat ride on Angkor Thom's moat as the sun slips gently below the horizon.

Angkor is so busy nowadays that planning a perfect crowd-avoiding route is almost as much an art form as the temples themselves. We keep constant tabs on the movements of the big coach groups, and our guides are experts in adapting the tour so you can be where the crowds aren’t.
frances
Frances Mavor
Day 4: From Stilt Homes to Stilt Walkers

Board Ella, our custom wooden boat, for a tour of the great Tonle Sap lake, Southeast Asia's largest freshwater lake.

From your comfortable vantage point, take in the classic rural views against a soundtrack of bird calls and gently lapping water. The lake is one of the region's great geographical anomalies - as the mighty Mekong River switches direction during the monsoon, the swollen waters back up and have no choice but to flow into the lake.

This morning you'll gain an understanding of how the local people have adapted to the enormous variation in water level caused by this seasonal phenomenon. You'll see close up the stilt homes of those who live at the margins of the Tonle Sap. Visit the floating village of Meachrey for an opportunity to board one of the bobbing homes to see what life is like for the families who survive through subsistence fishing.

Back on board, enjoy a brunch of croissants, tropical fruit and freshly brewed coffee as you cruise back in the direction of Siem Reap. This afternoon is free to do as you please. Later, pay a visit to the circus, an enthralling blend of visual arts, dance, traditional music and of course, the classic acts you'd expect from a circus.

Additional Activities

  • Private Helicopter Tour over the Temples of Angkor
Day 5: Cambodia’s Captivating Countryside

This morning's drive out to Banteay Srei Temple takes you through picture postcard villages perched amid verdant rice paddies.

This temple, constructed from pink sandstone, is highly prized for both its detailed carvings and its setting.

Return via the Golden Silk Farm where you'll be treated to a tour of the mulberry farm and a demonstration of the techniques involved in weaving this highly desirable fabric. Resistance is futile when it comes to bagging a souvenir - or several.

This afternoon, continue your foray into a rural landscape little changed for centuries. Ride in an ox cart and explore on foot or by boat off the beaten track villages and homes which provide an intriguing insight into the legacy of the Khmer Kingdom. Learn about the ingenious engineering that created the Western Baray manmade reservoir, have a blessing from Buddhist monks and sip a sundowner in the still of the sunset hour. This evening you'll be serenaded by traditional Khmer musicians while you enjoy a delicious dinner in this magical setting.

Additional Activities

  • Tethered balloon or hot air balloon over the verdant countryside surrounding Angkor Archaeological Park

Day 6: Behind the Scenes at Angkor

Angkor Wat is at its best at sunrise, when the first rays of light inch up behind the temple's distinctive lotus-shaped towers, flooding the sky with an ethereal rose glow.

Take the time to appreciate the beauty of the UNESCO listed temple reflected in its extensive moat before setting off to explore at close quarters. Around every corner is a delightful bas relief, statue or hidden courtyard.

Later this morning, we can arrange for you to go behind the scenes. You'll have a rare opportunity to learn about the valuable conservation work of the German Apsara Conservation Project, and visit temple sites usually inaccessible to regular visitors.
Exact programmes depend on current work schedules, but previous guests have had the privilege of scaling the scaffolding at Angkor Wat and discussing conservation methods with the team at Prasat Kravan.

Later, you'll transfer to the airport for the short hop to Phnom Penh, where you'll enjoy a city tour. Highlights include the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda and National Museum.

Begin your tour of Angkor Wat at the rear of the temple complex where you’ll find a seemingly endless corridor enriched by bas-reliefs without away from the crowds.
Image of Rosie Whitefield
Rosie Whitefield
Day 7: Trouble in Paradise

Gentle Cambodia hides a dark past. In the late 1970s, the reign of terror of the infamous Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, tore the country apart.

The resultant genocide left the survivors with both visible and intangible scars. The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum documents this brutal episode in the country's history. The former high school which the Khmer Rouge converted into an interrogation centre and prison is now a museum and memorial to those that were tortured there. It's a difficult but compelling visit, essential to anyone who wishes to understand today's Cambodia.

After Tuol Sleng, you'll be taken to the Killing Fields Memorial at Choueng Ek. The term refers to the mass graves dug for the victims of the genocide. This is another harrowing yet poignant site.

The afternoon has been left free, giving you time to process what you've seen. This evening, you'll have the chance to experience Phnom Penh after dark. A tuk-tuk will take you to a hard to find restaurant where you'll be treated to a Cambodian barbecue. Be sure to head down to the riverfront to end your evening in style.

Additional Activities

  • Visit the bar at the Foreign Correspondents Club, the former hangout of journalists and now the meeting place for expats and adventurers. Whether you choose a sunset cocktail or a post-dinner brandy, the stools overlooking the waterfront are the best seats in town.
Day 8: Transfer to Paradise

The buzz of the city is all well and good, but paradise is calling.

Tourists are only just discovering the idyllic islands of the Koh Rong archipelago as the luxury market unveils its newest jewel.

For the ultimate in bragging rights, choose one of the private island resorts where understated elegance and discreet service are the underpinning principles. It will take around four to five hours by car to transfer from Phnom Penh to the jetty where a speedboat waits to whisk you over to the resort.

The rest of the day is yours to relax and unwind while enjoying your exquisite surroundings. Indulge in a leisurely lunch, take a nap, have a swim - spoil yourself.

Additional Activities

  • The warm shallow waters of Cambodia are rewarding for divers, who'll have the chance to glimpse sharks, barracudas and turtles amid the colourful coral.
Day 9: Channelling your Inner Robinson Crusoe

Start the day by boosting your energy at a morning yoga session, filling you with positivity and firing up your metabolism.

After breakfast, set out to explore the neighbouring Koh Rong Island. The silhouette of this lushly vegetated tropical island comes into view as you disembark, ready to explore its native flora and fauna with your conservationist guide. You'll learn about the island from a cultural and historical perspective also, as you venture into what was once, almost unbelievably, a training ground for Khmer fighters. Your private tour will conclude with a picnic on Koh Rong. In your secluded spot, your guide will lay out blankets, cushions and umbrellas. Recline in style as you enjoy a selection of delicious food and toast each other's health and happiness.

Day 10: Learn to Cook like a Local

You'll have enjoyed some of the finest Khmer cuisine during your time in Cambodia, so why not attempt to recreate one of its most famous dishes for yourself?

The country's signature dish is amok trey - a freshwater fish fillet covered with kreung, a paste made from lemongrass, garlic, galangal, turmeric and kaffir lime. Wrapped in banana leaves and steamed, it is fragrant and has a silky texture. Whatever you cook, you'll do so under the supervision of a talented local chef and sample your creation for lunch.

Afterwards, you'll have time to swim and snorkel. Later still, enjoy a relaxing spa treatment from your vantage point overlooking the ocean. Film fans might be keen to round off the day with an early dinner and a private movie screening within the confines of the villa.

Day 11: Cocoon Yourself from the Pressures of the Outdoor World

Switch your phone to silent and concentrate only on the waterscape that surrounds you as you spend your last lazy day on the island.

Perhaps you'll pamper yourself as you book a spa treatment or two. Maybe you'll ask the hotel's therapists to arrange a meditation session. Later, savour a private dinner set up for your final evening, as the hotel staff prepare a candlelit dinner in a secluded spot on the island.

Day 12: Last Chance to Relax

It's worth waking early to make the most of your final hours in the beautiful setting of the Koh Rong archipelago.

Don your snorkel mask or slip through the calm waters in a kayak. Through the clear waters, it is easy to spot a plethora of marine life, from turtles to tropical fish.

You'll make the return journey to Phnom Penh by boat and road, in time for your international departure flight. As before, you'll connect through a hub city in Southeast Asia en route back to the UK, once again flying overnight.

Day 13: Arrive Home

Having flown overnight you will arrive back in to the UK today.

All of the holidays we create are completely tailor-made to you

This sample itinerary is intended to give you a flavour of what we can do
£

A Rough Idea of Price

While all of our holidays are completely tailor-made and prices will vary based on things like time of year and level of accommodation, we want to give you as good an idea of how much this itinerary will cost.

This Itinerary

If you would like to book the itinerary mentioned above, with economy flights, during mid-season and staying in our preferred room category at our preferred hotels.

From

£6,575pp

Bare Necessities

If you would like to pare back the above itinerary by travelling at non-peak times, staying in a standard room and removing some or all of the guided activities.

From

£5,920pp

Bells & Whistles

If you are looking for something extra special, we can discuss with you upgrading your accommodation, flights or activities.

From

£7,890pp

The guide prices shown are designed to provide you with a broad indication of how much to budget for your trip. There are a number of factors which will influence the price; these include the standard of accommodation, the season, the class of flights, the airline used and the level of private guiding versus shared excursions.

Frances, Holly and Rosie are our experts for this itinerary and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.

Image of Rosie Whitefield
Holly in the mountains
frances