NOTE : Tour direction can be reversed. Start Siem Reap then to Phnom Penh
Your driver will collect you from your designated collection point, and welcome you with refresher towelettes and cold drinks. You will then transfer to your hotel for check in and refreshing.
When you are ready, we’ll start a short tour, in air conditioned comfort and drink in hand, around Phnom Penh, starting along the banks of the mighty Mekong River. Visit the hill after which the city was named, and around the grand Russian Market and Royal Palace.
Enjoy an evening meal along the river banks while watching the locals exercise and play as the sun slowly sets on this bustling city, known once as the “Pearl of Asia”.
This morning, after a good night’s sleep and breakfast at your hotel, we drive to S21, the genocide museum. This complex, originally a Cambodian High School, served as one of the many prisons and torture centres of the Khmer Rouge during their horrific years in power in the 1970’s. A guided audio tour is included in the price of admission.
From here we travel to the outskirts of Phnom Penh, approximately 30 minutes, to explore one of the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge. So named by Dith Pran, an interpreter for the New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg. Pran’s story was told in the Oscar and BAFTA Award Winning movie. “The Killing Fields”.
After visiting these horrors of the war, move back into the capital, and enjoy a relaxing, and life affirming lazy lunch at a venue of your choice. We are happy to recommend depending on your food preference.
After lunch, we progress to the majesty of the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda. This complex, which serves as home to the Cambodian Royal family, is set amongst beautifully landscaped gardens. It provides a peaceful haven from the always busy, and somewhat chaotic, capital city that looms around its high walls.
The evening is at your leisure. Maybe a dinner cruise along the river, or enjoy a meal with the locals on the many side streets, or the famous (infamous) Foreign Correspondent’s Club with its balcony views over the waters.
This morning, after breakfast, we travel to the province of Mondulkiri, approximately 7 hours in your private air conditioned vehicle with cold drinks supplied. This province is Cambodia least populous, and its capital, Sen Monorom, is often compared to frontier towns of the US Wild West.
Surrounded by jungle and forests, the population is made up almost entirely of peoples of the surrounding hill tribes. Bordering Vietnam, the climate of the province is cooler than the other provinces of Cambodia, dropping to the low 20’s Celsius during the rainy season – June – October each year.
When you arrive and check in, relax by the pool. Or alternatively, wander the local village noting the difference in the pace of life between here and Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, only some 400 km’s south. After dinner, enjoy the local Mondulkiri coffee for which the province is rightly famous.
This morning, after a good night’s sleep and breakfast at your hotel, we head to one of Cambodia’s most famous, and yet rarely visited, waterfalls – Bou Sra. This triple tied fall is easily viewed from the ground. However, with the recent addition of platforms, it is now possible to get an even closer view from above and alongside the falls.
After the falls we head deeper into the vibrant green country to meet and interact with a local herd of the great, gray giants of the jungle. Follow along as this family graze’s, plays and wanders their forest home.
Enjoy a delicious Khmer style buffet lunch and learn more about the elephant herds, and the local hill tribes that work to protect them. This is Cambodia’s only sanctuary for the elephants, who once roamed the freely, before illegal poaching, took its toll.
In the late afternoon visit and learn the art or coffee cultivation, high up in the hillsides of the province. With your guide, sample different types and textures of coffee – much more than the instant Nescafe we’re used to at home. The variations and subtlety of each blend will captivate you.
Please note: While you are strongly encouraged to interact with the elephants, especially playing in the waters with them, no riding of the elephants is permitted. Also, please do not wear strong perfumes or other scented products like sunscreen, as the olfactory system of the elephants is strong. Well, given the size of their trunk, it’s not surprising.
After, return to the hotel at approximately 5pm.
Today, after visiting a local market we travel on to Kratie.
After check in at your hotel, stroll along the picturesque river banks, with its sandbars reaching out into the slow flowing waters. Or take a step back in history, and an opportunity to see and capture on film the original French colonial architecture that, here at least, survived the civil strife.
We start today by crossing the river waters in a traditional Cambodian boat, shared with the locals, heading to the Island of Koh Trong. After with disembark, hop onto one of the riverside bicycles with your guide, and explore the original local villages. Contrast the architecture of the wooden Khmer houses, to those French built in the township of Kratie. After, we return to the town, to enjoy lunch.
After lunch we will head back to the waters, this time to the north, to see the increasingly rare Irrawaddy Dolphins. With a population in decline due to changing fishing patterns, these rare creatures must be seen before they are lost.
Shaped in appearance to a miniature Beluga whale they are more genetically aligned to the Killer whale of the seas. With a blunt, rounded nose, its beak is sometimes difficult to discern. Light gray in colour, their blowhole is located, unusually, to the left of centre and blows out across the front of the dolphins head.
On return to the shore, we journey to the 100 Pillar Pagoda. Built on the same grounds as the Royal Palace Temple of Sam Phu Borak, then the capital of the province, the pagoda consists of four temples, pointing in the directions of the compass: North, South, East and West..
Return to Kratie for the evening.
Day 7 Kratie to Kampong Thom vis Hill Top Pagoda (Phnom Suntuk):
Leaving Kratie crossing from Kratie to the far shore of the river, we head towards Kampong Thom. Along the way we stop to visit the hill village of Ko Koh. From this village, take a wander up the single stone pathway to the Pagoda of Phnom Suntuk, and Pagoda of Phnom SunTuk.
This white walled temple contains a large (33 foot) reclining Buddha, carved from rock, and is inhabilted by Monks and monkeys alike. Watch the monkeys! They like to “borrow” sunglasses. Then again, so do the Monks.....
Arriving in Kampong Thom mid –afternoon, enjoy your evening along the riverside township, with its markets and stalls. Try your taste buds with wonderfully exotic street foods, or dine in one of the many local restaurants.
Day 8 Hidden Temples of Sambor Prie Kuk | Floating Village of Kampong Khleang | Siem Rea:
Here, in Cambodia’s second largest province bordered on one side by the great Tonle Sap lake, we visit the hidden gem that is Sambor Prie Kuk. This area encompasses over 100 temples, scattered through the local forests, and a plethora of community based tourism initiates.. Named as Cambodia’s third UNESCO Heritage Site, the sandy trails looping throughout provide a tranquil and serene reach back in time to the reign of the 7th century King, Isanapura.
Leaving Kampong Thom behind us, we drive on to visit the floating village of Kampong Khleang. More of a township than a village, with its own intricate Pagodas, the houses stand tall overlooking the water of the lake.
Further out from Siem Reap, this village receives less interest from tourists, and is steadily becoming more popular, if for that fact alone. Glide along the waters and witness tis unique and challenging lifestyle. Watch as the fishermen go about their daily rituals and sample some of the sticky rice and other delicacies as you float by.
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