Cambodia in Style
Phnom Penh, Kep, Kampot, Koh Kong, Phnom Penh, Tonlé Sap, Siem Reap, Angkor Temples, Beng Mealea, Koh Ker
The latest edition to our Cambodia repertoire and frankly we think it's bordering on perfection. Cambodia's south coast has finally come of age after many years in the doldrums, and Cambodia in Style takes full advantage.
Travel the south coast, with its National Parks and glorious beaches, from east to west, before heading north for the crazy streets of Phnom Penh, and finally on to Siem Reap and the unmissable Angkor Temples.
As with all our holidays, we have created lots of free time for you to enjoy as you please. If you would prefer a more ‘complete’ travel programme, we will be happy to oblige. We can also tailor this holiday to meet your exact needs - your holiday, your way.
arrive Phnom Penh, Kep
Upon arrival in Phnom Penh you will be met by your guide at the airport. Drive directly out of the city, travelling in a south-easterly direction to the coastal town of Kep, one of Cambodia’s up-and-coming south coast destinations.
Once a favourite seaside resort for the elite of Phnom Penh, today the town is having something of a resurgence thanks to imaginative ex-pats and local businessmen who are ensuring that the town retains its Colonial-era charm. Whilst this delightful town has only a small beach, Rabbit Island is just a short boat ride away and makes for a great day trip.Overnight in Kep.
Your day is at leisure.Overnight in Kep.
Kep, Rabbit Island
After breakfast, your driver will transfer you to Kep Port where you will board a boat for the 30 minute crossing to Koh Tonsay, or Rabbit Island. Just seven fishing families live on the small island, each having now developed a few backpacker-friendly huts and rustic restaurants. Whilst the idyllic island has grown in popularity with the recent increase in visitors to Kep, it still makes for a very special day trip with the quiet sands and exceptional seafood providing sufficient draw for most!
Upon arrival, disembark and explore the small village before spending the remainder of your day relaxing on the beautiful beach. A BBQ lunch will be served and snorkelling equipment is easily available. Return to Kep by boat in in the late afternoon.Overnight in Kep.
Your day is at leisure.Overnight in Kep.
For those that wish there is the option of taking an afternoon excursion to the Phnom Chngouk temple cave.
The 4th-5th century AD temple is located in a limestone cave, set amongst stalagmites and stalactites that are slowly growing back into the temple ruin.
Continue to the provincial capital of Kampot City, located near the base of the Elephant Mountains. A visiting to Kampot is a great way to get a taste of provincial Cambodia, experiencing the the relaxed atmosphere of the small riverside cafes and pub. Relax with a cold drink as the sun gently set behind the mountains before returning to Kep. Close
Kep, Koh Kong Conservation Corridor, Koh Kong, 4 Rivers Floating Lodge
Morning departure for Koh Kong, travelling the entire length of the south coast. As you drive further west, your journey will take you along the Koh Kong Conservative Corridor which stretches along either sides of NR48 from Koh Kong Town to the Gulf of Sihanoukville. It is home to many of Cambodia’s outstanding natural sites including the southern and central Cardamom Protected Forests, the mangrove forests of Peam Krasaop Wildlife Sanctuary, the beaches of Koh Kong and the Botum Sakor National Park (not accessible).
Shortly before Koh Kong you will arrive at the Tatai Bridge from where you will be transferred by private boat to the truly remarkable 4 Rivers Floating Lodge. Having ‘checked in’ to your luxurious safari-style tent (floating of course), enjoy a sunset drink and soak up the peaceful atmosphere of your incredible setting.Overnight near Tatai.
4 Rivers Floating Lodge
Your day is at leisure.
There are optional excursions arranged daily by the lodge (at additional expense payable locally). These include boat trips through the mangrove forest, trekking and waterfall visits and last just a few hours or all day.Overnight near Tatai.
4 Rivers Floating Lodge, Phnom Penh, Family Dining Experience
After a leisurely breakfast at 4 Rivers, transfer back to Tatai Bridge where you will be met by your driver for the journey back to Phnom Penh, taking approximately five hours.
In the afternoon accompany your guide on a visit to a local family, carefully selected by Selective Asia, spending time at their home and joining them for an evening meal. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the way of life for the city folk of Phnom Penh.
Having visited Wat Ounalom - reputedly one of the oldest Buddhist foundations in the city - meet your hosts at their home before accompanying a member of the family to the nearby market to purchase any ingredients required for the evening's meal. Upon return there will be plenty of help required in the kitchen before joining the family at the table for a typical Khmer meal. Always a fun and casual affair, the evening is usually as informative for your hosts as they are for you!
Return to your hotel by moto, stopping at the night market if you wish (weekends only).Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Phnom Penh, Tuol Sleng & Cheung Ek Tour, City Tour
In 1975, after years of guerrilla warfare, the radical Communist Khmer Rouge party, under its leader Pol Pot, seized power of Cambodia and declared ‘year zero’. They immediately abolished money and private property, and ordered the entire population of Phnom Penh from their homes and into the countryside to cultivate the fields. Over the next three years an estimated 2 million Cambodians died, many from starvation and exhaustion. Many others were tortured and executed for being supposed ‘enemies of the state’.
The morning is spent learning more about these terrible years, through visits to the infamous Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocidal Crimes and Cheung Ek, better known as the ‘Killing Fields’. It is an incredibly moving experience, but these are two visits you will be glad to have made. During your visit to Cambodia, you will barely meet a single person who didn’t lose a member of their family during these years, yet they are all willing to talk openly about it with you. They wish you to hear about it and see these places, to ensure that it never happens again.
Lunch is at Friends a ‘kindness restaurant’ where ex-street children are trained in hospitality and restaurant skills, helping them to break away from life on the streets.
In the afternoon visit the Royal Palace, situated on the site of the former citadel and built by King Norodom in 1966, the Palace still serves as the King and Queen's residential quarters. Also within the walls of the Palace is the Silver Pagoda, so called because of five thousand silver tiles that line its exquisite floor. If time permits there is also the option of visiting the National Museum, which houses the worlds leading collection of Khmer art and sculpture, and Wat Phnom the founding site of the city. All are within easy walking distance of each other and are a great introduction to this laid-back city.Overnight in Phnom Penh.
In addition to your guided programme in Phnom Penh you may wish to consider a few additional activities or visits. In most instances the following work best as an addition to the time with your guide and may require an extra day in the city – please speak to your consultant for further details.
The Apsara Art Association
The AAA is a dancing school set up to train orphans and children from poor families in the art of traditional Khmer dancing, providing them with a future career. The centre is only 15 minutes by car from the city centre and can easily be included in a morning or afternoon with your guide. Any visitor to the training centre will confirm that the children enjoy there new found skill!
Community-based tourism project
Visit the village of Daem Po, or 'Banyan Tree ', where the villagers run a ‘Rice Bank Project’ aimed at ensuring that even the poorest farmers in the region can obtain good quality rice seeds, in turn improving the day-to-day life for their families. The village welcomes a small number of tourists each year to learn about the project and also to experience a little bit of daily life, by joining them harvesting and planting in the fields, and around the village preparing food and eating together.
Visit the nearby island of Koh Dach, also known as 'silk island'. Having travelled by public ferry from Phnom Penh, disembark and explore a village that is dedicated almost entirely to silk weaving. A typically rural Cambodian stilted village, throughout the morning you will see a variety of traditional silk weaving techniques and observe the local weavers at work. Many of the silk products sold in Phnom Penh are weaved in Koh Dach thanks to the very high quality of the work. There will be time to drive round the small island before returning back across the Mekong River to Phnom Penh in the early afternoon. Close
Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Angkor Temples
Morning departure for Siem Reap by car (driver only). Taking just five hours, you’ll pass through provincial towns, villages and roadside hamlets giving you the opportunity to observe life away from Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.
Siem Reap is the base for exploring the fabled temples of Angkor, the ancient capital of the Khmer empire. Over 100 temples are spread over a vast area and the site easily lives up to its status as one of the seven wonders of the forgotten world.During any visit to the Angkor temples, we ensure your day(s) remain both flexible and personal. Having met with your guide, you will be able to discuss in detail what you are looking to achieve from your time at the temples. Whilst some wish to explore as many temples as they can during their stay, others like to travel at a slower, more relaxed pace.
Maximum experience, minimum crowds
Whether it’s sunrise at Angkor Wat or sunset at Pre Rup, climbing through the snake like roots that engulf Ta Prohm or swimming in the quiet waters of the West Baray Reservoir (or a combination of these), you can be sure that your visit to one of the seven wonders will not be easily forgotten. Unlike some archaeological tours, the Angkor temples never seem to lose that initial ‘wow factor’. Every site is as outstanding as the last, and it will be with a mixture of regret and excitement that you'll get back into your air-conditioned transport to visit the next site. We do still appreciate that some visitors are wary of becoming ‘templed-out’ and to combat this we can create more varied days with visits to other sites such as floating villages and flooded forests on the Tonlé Sap Lake, museums and exhibitions, cooking schools or simply time at leisure to explore Siem Reap or laze by the pool.
All our guides are highly experienced Angkor specialists, fully trained and licensed to work at the temples. Along with their exceptional knowledge of each temple and the civilisations that built them, Selective Asia’s guides know how best to avoid the bus-loads that descend on any given temple at certain times of the day, and know every trick in the book when it comes to getting the best photos and the most tranquil moments.
If you have any specific requirements or special interests, be sure to let us know and we will arrange the guide with the most suitable expertise.
You may also wish to consider visiting some of the further lying such as Beng Melea & Koh Ker, Sambor Prei Kuk or Preah Vihear. Excursions to these less-visited temples always enhance your experience however they do change things logistically and therefore visits must be arranged well in advance of your arrival.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
For clients wishing to stop en route between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh a guide can be arranged, allowing you to explore several points of interest including the pre-Angkor temples of Sambor Prei Kuk. Lesser known than Angkor complex, visitors to the temples will be rewarded with space and tranquillity – two commodities often hard to come by at Angkor.
Alternatively you can visit Phnom Santuk, a ‘holy mountain’ located 20km south of Kampong Thom and set high above the surrounding countryside. Various hillside boulders were carved with images of Buddhas and a series of pagodas built as early as the 13th century. To get to the top you have to climb the 809 stairs that wind their way up through a forest, emerging at a colourful pagoda with many small shrines. The views of the surrounding countryside are superb and, just beneath southern summit, there are several large reclining Buddhas.
For guests who want to take things a little slower and enjoy life on the water, there are a number of luxury cruise boats sailing the waters between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, with some continuing their journey through the Mekong Delta to Vietnam. Cruises are operated on a number of vessels including The Toum Tiou, The Jayavarman and The Bassac. Operating in either direction, each vessel offers a different itinerary and cruises of varying durations, but with each you will make frequent stops at floating villages, fishing ports, craft villages and places of natural and cultural interest.
Once airport transfers and formalities are taken into account the journey by air is barely quicker than the direct road journey, but for guests who prefer to fly, scheduled flights departing regularly throughout the day and take approximately 50 minutes.
Siem Reap, Koh Ker & Beng Mealea
With the crowds at the most famous Angkor temple sites often being counted in their 1000’s, many visitors are unaware that there are further lying temples where the crowds can often be counted on just one hand.
Departing early from Siem Reap and driving two hours north east, your first stop is the 10th century capital of Koh Ker. Whilst there are known to be over 200 temples within the boundaries of this ancient city, only 96 have been discovered thus far and in fact most of your morning is likely to be spent at just one; Prasat Thom, much of which is partially buried. Whilst the visitor numbers vary from one day to another they are always low, and it is not uncommon for you to have the site to yourself. At the far end of Prasat Thom there is towering pyramid, somewhat reminiscent of the Mayan or Inca architecture.
Having seen more of the surrounding temples, return in the direction of Siem Reap, stopping to explore another of the lesser visited temples - Beng Mealea, similar in size to the better known Angkor Wat (both were built by Jayavaram VII). Utterly swallowed by jungle, and with minimal restoration work, it is easy to imagine what it must have been like for early explorers discovering these temples for the first time.
Return to Siem Reap in the late afternoon.Overnight in Siem Reap.
Siem Reap, Angkor Temples
Continue your tour of the Angkor Temples...
Siem Reap has expanded at a phenomenal rate in recent years, with another hotel seemingly opening every other month. However, the old town retains much of its original charm and there are a number of sites of interest such as museums, galleries and the local market. The town also has a wide choice of restaurants and bars, with something to suit every taste.Overnight in Siem Reap.
We appreciate that before witnessing the scale of the temple site for yourself it is hard to grasp what’s achievable in a day. Along with including any temples on your wish list, with the assistance of your experienced guide, you will also be able to dictate the amount of time and the hours of the day you are at the temples. This is very advantageous when you consider it can be hot work clambering amongst the incredible structures and your hotel pool is just 15 minutes away! By travelling with Selective Asia you truly have free reign of your programme whilst at the Angkor Temples.
4 temples in focus
Angkor Wat – certainly the most famous of all the Angkor temples and, some would argue the most impressive. The temple, built in the early 12th century by King Suryavarman II contains three storeys of libraries, galleries and towers surrounded by a thick retaining wall and an imposing moat. Many visitors aim to visit the temple at sunrise to capture one of the most iconic Angkor photos.
Ta Prohm - a temple left in much the same condition as when it was found - creating one of the most photogenic and atmospheric temples of the entire Angkor site. The tree roots of enormous fig trees and gigantic creepers can be seen breaking through the walls and stone carvings. Any visit is truly an adventure.
The Bayon - built in the 13th century as the state temple of King Jayavarman VII, standing at the centre of his capital - Angkor Thom. The Bayon’s most distinctive feature is the multitude of huge faces carved into large towers which rise up to form the central peak. The Bayon sits at the exact centre of Angkor Thom and roads lead to it from each of the city's cardinal points.
Due to the distance from Siem Reap both temples are far less visited than Angkor Wat and you will be able to explore the temples in more solitude.
Banteay Srei - one of the most unusual and widely recognisable temples of Angkor. Built largely of red sandstone, it is covered with elaborate and deeply carved decoration. All the buildings are miniature in scale and it is this, along with the beautiful carvings, that have made it such a popular temple. Close
depart Siem Reap
Your day is at leisure until your transfer to Siem Reap Airport for your onward flight.)
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