These are the three main themes that inspired the creation of this itinerary. The must see visits plus the discovery of a unique and hidden environment and ending finally with time enough to relax. The trip begins with the cultural aspect, the Angkor temples, then continues with the country landscape, with its rivers and a forest ecosystem as beautiful as never seen before, and ending with a beach stay on the coast or on an island. Anyway, sufficient enough to allow a complete change of scenery, an immersion into a completely different atmosphere with a clean break from modern daily life.
A half day visit that includes the group of temples called Roluos. Located 13 km southeast of the city, this resort boasts the oldest buildings, which are the cradle of classical Angkorian art. We visit the three main temples: Lo Lei, Preah Ko and Bakong, before approaching the site of the Golden Age. Visit the three main buildings: Lo Lei, Preah Ko and Bakong. Transfer to Angkor complex to admire the sunset from Pre Rup, one of the last brick temples, built in 961. It marks the end of an era and offers a beautiful view of the towers of Angkor Wat.
In the 1920s, archaeologists drew up two routes, the “small circuit” of 5 km and the “grand tour” of 23 km, which are still the best logical options to discover and to follow the changing of styles through successive periods of time. The first was of Hindu inspiration: it makes sense to stop to admire the beautiful reliefs carved in the brickwork of Prasat Kravan, built in the tenth century and recently restored, representing Vishnu and his wife Lakshmi, the goddess of beauty. Then walk to a village to discover aspects of daily life, such as stilt houses guarded by spirit altars (an example that ancient animistic beliefs are still present) and green areas of fruit and vegetable gardens. Because Angkor is still inhabited and this is one of its charms. The afternoon is devoted to Angkor Wat, the most famous and majestic temple-mountain site. The whole massive building is an allegorical representation of Hindu mythology, where the episodes are shown in the reliefs that surround the central body like a giant comic strip.
Amarita Note: our guides are committed to seek out at all times the best conditions for you to make the most of your visit. In this context, they sometimes may suggest to change the order and schedules, especially depending on the number of people involved, the weather or the season.
Trip to Banteay Srei, also called the “Temple of Women” because legend relates that once upon a time there was an all-female garrison there. Banteay Srei is famous for its beautiful pink stones and the quality of its reliefs, considered by many senior specialists to be better than those of Angkor Wat. On the way back a stop at Banteay Samre, a small, attractive temple in the style of Angkor Wat. The afternoon is free for optional activities, resting, or visiting markets and traditional craft shops.
Whole day devoted to discovering the Tonle Sap, the largest body of fresh water in Southeast Asia. Heading towards the north shore of the lake, with stops along the way, to visit a morning market with its small stalls all selling traditional specialties along the way. Then 15 km later, we leave the road to take a canal by boat to a village of original residents whose homes are still built on old bamboo stilts and high above water level. The site was placed under the protection of UNESCO for its ethnological interest. A walk among the houses to see the life and daily activities of the locals, mostly related to fishing and shrimp farming. Then continuing on via a second canal that passes through a water forest, now preserved by the national authority for the protection of flora and fauna. When the lake level is at its highest, only the treetops emerge: we can then plow through the forest by canoe, passing under the canopy of foliage. At the canal exit we enter the lake, where we can take stock of its size and the silence; very special. Arrival, after 1h30 of navigation, to a second entirely floating village, inhabited mostly by Khmer and Vietnamese fishermen: here the houses rise and descend, depending on the level of the lake, and all daily life and activities take place on the water. Landing a little further on, then return to Siem Reap.
Morning visit to Angkor Thom, “The Big City”, returning by the South Gate, via the driveway of Giants and Demons. Inside, the first building you see is the Bayon temple mountain in honor of Jayavarman VII, the great Buddhist king, builder of the new capital. Then Phimean Akas, from the tenth century and the Baphuon, majestic temple whose base measures 120 m by 100m, recently restored by the EFEO. From there we move on to the Elephant Terrace and the Leper King. This is most certainly the place where official court life took place, with ambassadorial receptions, sacred representations, State ceremonies. In the afternoon on to see the four temples of the Grand Circuit, as conceived by Henri Mouot, during the re-discovery of Angkor in 1859. First Preah Khanh, one of the largest and majestic, with its tree-lined fairways which have probably been around for a millennia. Then Neak Pean, of Hindu inspiration, only sacred building surrounded by a moat, and the plan is taken from a mandala. Ta Som, a Buddhist temple topped by towers covered in faces, now almost engulfed in vegetation as in the following case: Ta Prohm, certainly the most romantic, with the roots of gigantic kapok trees that entangle the galleries and sculptures. The day ends with a flight to Phnom Penh, arrival and checking into the hotel.
City tour starting with the Royal Palace, which extends along and faces the Tonle Sap. Built in 1913 by French and Khmer architects, it consists of several pavilions, divided into two large compounds: the royal palace to the north, and the Silver Pagoda to the south. The first is not worth visiting and is still inhabited by the royal family. The Silver Pagoda is definitely the most valuable and prestigious building; it owes its name to its floor, consisting of 5,000 silver tiles donated by Napoleon III, each weighing more than 1 kg. Not far away, the National Museum of Fine Arts: an elegant building in Khmer style of red sandstone that houses a superb collection of sculptures, as well as everyday objects, mostly from the Angkorian period. Then Wat Phnom, which gave its name to the capital. This small temple plum in the center is very popular with locals who come to consult astrologers and oracles, and making offerings to various deities supposed to bring wealth and luck. Then a visit to the Central market, with time available for shopping. In the evening, you can stroll along the river, where restaurants and bars give the Cambodian capital the sensation of a small French Riviera in Asia.
Departure by road to Tatai, near the Thai border, and settling into an eco-lodge in the foothills of the Cardamom Mountains. (280 km, about 4h30). The road follows the coast line, with to the right the Elephant chain: a very scenic route, between sea and green mountains. The guide leaves you once you board the taxi boat to the lodge. 12 floating villa/tents on the Tatai River, lost in the heart of a tropical forest, home to over 100 mammals including several endangered species such as the spotted leopard or lar gibbon or the malaysian bear. The lodge offers a refined version of ecotourism: comfort and quality service in an isolated environment. An unforgettable stay in a preserved environment, with high-end luxury working in harmony with nature, so giving it the chance to dazzle the visitor with its kaleidoscope of colors and images.
Dinner at the lodge.
Free day with possibility of excursions organized by the lodge: visit the waterfalls and surrounding villages, local markets, walking in the jungle, sunset cruise, kayak trip, Mangrove forest, fishing trips with the locals.
Early morning departure from the lodge to Sihanoukville.(220 km, about 3h30). Arrival and checking in. Rest of the day is free.
Amarita Note: a seaside holiday can also be organized either in a luxury resort or on a private island.
Free days for a seaside holiday with the possibility of optional trips. (see description below).
Optional : stays are also possible on the islands, with 2 different types of accommodation on offer: a luxury resort on a private island, or a boutique eco-resort on the largest island, far enough from the coast and therefore less visited than the beaches found in Sihanoukville.
Return to Phnom Penh during the day, transfer to the airport in time for the departure flight.
End of services.