Cambodia is not just a paradise for lovers of ancient stone it is also a tropical country, whose coastline is bathed by the waters of the Gulf of Siam, scattered with islands and lined with beaches of white sand covered with luxuriant vegetation. The direct flight which connects the temples of Angkor to Sihanoukville facilitates the mix of cultural visits and resort stays. It is possible to integrate into your program additional activities in Siem Réap (bike, boat, horse riding, quad bike), as well as excursions, such as leaving Sihanoukville to the islands or to Ream national park.
Cambodia, temples and beaches
Day 1: SIEM REAP
Cambodia, temples and beaches visits begin with the Group of Temples called Roluos. Located 13 km to the south-east of the city, this complex houses the oldest buildings, which constitutes the origin of classic angkorien art. Visit to the three main temples: Lo Lei, Preah Ko and Bakong, an interesting preamble before addressing the Golden Age site. Sunset viewing at Pre Rup, one of the last temples built in brick in 961. It marks the end of an era and offers a superb view on the whole of the site and the towers of Angkor Wat.
2nd Day: SIEM REAP
The morning is devoted to Angkor Wat, the most majestic and famous mountain style temple in Khmer civilization. The enormous building is entirely an allegorical representation of Hindu mythology, where the episodes are illustrated in the bas-reliefs which surround the central body like a massive comic strip. In the afternoon move 40 km out of the city to visit Banteay Srei, also called the “Temple of Women”, because a legend relates that it was kept, for a time, by a garrison made up entirely of women. Banteay Srei is especially famous for the beauty of its stone roses and the quality of its bas-reliefs, considered by many specialists as superior to those of Angkor Wat. On the return journey a visit to Banteay Samré, a small and very attractive temple in the same style as Angkor Wat.
3rd Day: SIEM REAP
Morning visit of Angkor Thom, “The Great City,” entering by the South Gate, preceded by the aisle of the giants and demons. Inside, the first building you see is the Bayon, a mountain temple to the glory of Jayavarman VII, great Buddhist King and builder of the new capital. Then a walk to the Baphuon, majestic state temple recently restored by the EFEO with a base measuring 120 m by 100 m, and then to the Akas Phimean built in the Xth century. From there, we pass to the Elephant Terrace and Leper King. It is most certainly here that took place all official aspects of court life, with ambassador receptions, religious dedications and state ceremonies. In the afternoon to see the Four temples of the Grand Circuit, such as designed by Henri Mouot during the re-discovery of Angkor in 1859. Firstly Preah Khanh, one of the most vast and majestic temples with its aisles lined by trees probably since a millennia. Then Neak Pean, Hindu inspired, single sacred building surrounded by a moat, where the plan is taken from a mandala. Followed by Ta Som, a Buddhist temple with towers covered with faces, today almost engulfed by vegetation similar to the next temple. Finally, Ta Prohm, certainly the most romantic, with roots of the huge kapok trees entangling the galleries and its sculptures.
4th Day: SIEM REAP – SIHANOUKVILLE
Moving to a village located 9 km from the city. From there, continuing by ox cart up to the boarding point from where you will depart to discover a floating village away from the usual mass tourist sites. When the lake waters are high, the homes gather around the Pagoda, which is built on a mound; when the waters recede, the village then scatters down into the adjacent canals. Landing and transfering to Siem Reap airport in time for the flight to Sihanoukville. Arrival and booking into the hotel.
5th and 6th DAY: SIHANOUKVILLE
Days are free for staying at the beach resort, with an option for possible excursions. (see descriptions below).
7th Day: SIHANOUKVILLE – PHNOM PENH
Free morning, transfer to Phnom Penh during the afternoon (250 km, 4h30 approximately).
8th Day: PHNOM PENH
Half-day tour of the city starting with the Royal Palace wherein stands the Silver Pagoda. Norodom Sihamoni, the current King of Cambodia, resides in the building called the “Khemarin Palace”, to which access is prohibited to the public. The “Silver Pagoda” is the name that the Western countries have given to the Royal Temple for its splendid floor which is paved in silver tiles, a gift from Napoleon III. Then the National Museum for Fine Arts: an elegant building in red sandstone in Khmer style which houses a superb collection of sculptures, as well as objects of daily use, mostly from Angkor. Last stage Wat Phnom, Buddhist temple linked to the foundation of Phnom Penh. The legend relates that a “madam Penh ” found by chance several statuettes of Buddha on the shores of the Tonle Sap river and brought them back on to the site, where she founded a temple to keep them housed. Depending on the time available a visit to the Central Market or the Russian market for any last purchases. Transfer to the airport in time for the departure flight.
End of suggestions.
Optional trips to Sihanoukville
Ream National Park
Koh Rong Island