Day 1 Arrive Siem Reap
Upon arrival in Siem Reap you will be met and transferred your hotel
Day 2 In Siem Reap
Today you will have sightseeing in Angkor including the crowning jewel of Khmer architecture, ANGKOR WAT which is the national symbol and the highlight of any visit to Cambodia. The largest, best preserved, and most religiously significant of the Angkor temples, Angkor impresses visitors both by its sheer scale and beautifully proportioned layout, as well as the delicate artistry of its carvings. To approach the temple, first cross the vast moat, continuing along a broad causeway lined with naga balustrades. As you enter the main building, ascend through a series of galleries and a courtyard before reaching the central sanctuary, which offers beautiful views back over the causeway and across the surrounding countryside. Along the way, stop to enjoy the intricate stone carvings that adorn nearly every surface, with some 1,700 Apsaras or celestial dancers sculpted into the walls. Along the outer gallery walls run the longest continuous bas-relief in the world, which narrates stories from Hindu mythology, including the famous Churning of the Ocean of Milk. Angkor Wat is stunning at any time of the day, but sunrise and sunset are especially beautiful times to watch the play of light on the stones. Continue to the fortified city of ANGKOR THOM which covers an area of 10 square kilometres. Enclosed by a wall and wide moats, the city includes many of Angkor's most popular sights. Enter by the monumental SOUTH GATE over a causeway lined on either side by statues of demons and gods, each carrying a giant naga. Continue to the TERRACE OF THE ELEPHANTS and the TERRACE OF THE LEPER KINGS, former spaces for public ceremonies. Visit the ruined BAPHUON, ROYAL ENCLOSURE and PHIMEANAKAS before continuing to the mysterious BAYON TEMPLE. In this temple, one of the most popular and compelling in Angkor, explore the galleries of beautifully preserved bas reliefs and ascend narrow stairs to reach the central sanctuary, where you will find giant stone faces smiling enigmatically down at you from every angle. Visit TA PROHM: one of the most popular attractions of Angkor as much of the jungle has not been cleared and it looks very much as most of the Angkor monuments would have appeared when European explorers first stumbled across them. End the day with a sunset over the Cambodian countryside from the upper terraces of an ancient Angkorian temple.
Day 3 In Siem Reap
This morning you will continue your sightseeing of the Angkor temples. Seemingly miniature in comparison to the other Angkor temples, BANTEAY SREI is considered to be the jewel of classical Khmer art. Built in pink sandstone, the walls are covered in exquisitely preserved carvings. Because of its small size, fairy-like atmosphere and extraordinary examples of Khmer sculpture, this temple is often a favourite with visitors. Continue to BANTEAY SAMRE is a mid-12th century temple dedicated to the god Vishnu. Continue to TONLE SAP (Great Lake) which is located in the heart of Cambodia, this extraordinary lake swells up to seven times its original size during the monsoon season. Its ecosystem is one of the richest and most diverse in the region. The boat trip will explore the floating fishing villages that live at the edges of the lake, passing submerged forests and fishing farms.
Day 4 In Siem Reap
Start the day's sightseeing with PREAH KHAN: a temple built by King Jayavarman VII with towered enclosures and shoulder-hugging corridors in a jungle setting. Preah Khan covers a very large area but the temple itself is enclosed within a rectangular wall of around 700 by 800 metres. Continue to NEAK PEAN: built by King Jayavarman VII (ruled 1181 to 1201), it is a Buddhist temple consisting of a square pool with four smaller square pools arranged on each axis. In the centre of the large central pool is a circular island encircled by two nagas with intertwined tails; PRE RUP: built by Rajendravarman II (ruled 944 to 968), it consists of a pyramid shaped temple with the upper-most of the three tiers carrying five square shrines arranged as a quincunx. The name means turning the body and refers to the traditional method of cremation; TA SOM: built in the late 12th century by Jayavarman VII for his teacher, Som. Ta Som means old Som; EASTERN MEBON: temple erected by Rajendravarman (ruled from 944 to 968), it is located on a former islet in the centre of the Eastern Baray. The base of the temple is guarded at its corners by stone figures of harnessed elephants.
Day 5 In Siem Reap
Today's sightseeing includes PHNOM KULEN, a sacred mountain and pilgrimage site, where Jayarvarman II declared himself a divine ruler and marked the beginning of the Angkor period. Walk down to the riverbed and see spectacular rock carvings, some of which are submerged under the running waters of the stream. Continue to BENG MEALEA, a mysterious temple in the middle of the Cambodian jungle. Surrounded by a vast moat, this 12th century temple follows a complex floor plan similar to Angkor Wat, but with a haunting jungle atmosphere similar to Ta Prohm. Visitors that make their way through the ruined stone blocks and wandering tree routes are rewarded by the sight of beautiful classical bas reliefs. After exploring these sprawling ruins, return to Siem Reap.
Day 6 By vehicle from Siem Reap to Kampong Thom
This morning you will be transferred by vehicle to Kampong Thom. On arrival transfer to the Stung Sen Royal Garden Hotel. Travel just outside Kampong Thom to see key archaeological sites, starting with SAMBOR PREI KUK, perhaps the most important grouping of pre-Angkorian monuments in Cambodia. Before the rise of the Angkor, this was the capital of Chenla during the sixth century, known as Isanapura; today, over 100 small temple ruins sit peacefully in a forest setting. Explore the main central complex and gain an insight into the early architectural styles of Cambodia. Afterwards, continue to the modern-day shrines of WAT ANDRI, a thriving monastery, and climb the 980 steps of the holy mountain PHNOM SANTUK, enjoying the colourful, somewhat eclectic shrine at the peak as well as lovely views over the surrounding countryside.
Day 7 By vehicle from Kampong Thom to Kampong Cham and on to Phnom Penh
Kampong Cham is a lively port on the banks of the Mekong River with some good examples of colonial-era architecture. After visiting the LOCAL MARKET and exploring the town, travel in to the countryside to PHNOM PROS (Man Hill) and PHNOM SREI (Woman Hill). According to local tradition, two teams of men and women competed to build a Stupa on the summit of each hill before dawn. After being tricked into thinking that daybreak had already come, the men lost the competition and as a result forever after had to be the ones to approach the women for their hands in marriage. Continue to WAT NOKOR BAYON, a thriving modern-day monastery founded on a 11th century Mahayana Buddhist shrine. En route to Phnom Penh visit the spider market of Skuon. This tiny crossroads town of SNOUL is famous for an unusual delicacy; here, spider merchants sell different varieties of large, furry arachnids for locals and adventurous tourists to snack on. Continue to your hotel in Phnom Penh.
Day 8 In Phnom Penh
Today you will explore PHNOM PENH, a chaotic, energetic and always fascinating city. Graceful tree-lined boulevards and riverfront promenades are reminders of bygone eras. Today they teem with life and activity, as motorcycles weave in and out of traffic, vendors hawk their wares and pedestrians go about their business. Start your tour at WAT PHNOM, the birthplace of the capital; according to legend the city began here when a woman named Penh found four Buddha statues and built the temple to house them. Afterwards, see the splendour of Cambodia's royal heritage by visiting the ROYAL PALACE, still the official residence of King Norodom Sihamoi, the adjacent SILVER PAGODA, also known as the Pagoda of the Emerald Buddha, and the elegant NATIONAL MUSEUM, which contains a comprehensive collection of Khmer art. In the afternoon, learn about a chapter from Cambodia's more recent, tragic, past at the TUOL SLENG MUSEUM (Museum of Genocide). Formerly the Tuol Svay Prey High School, in 1975, this became the interrogation and torture facility for the Khmer Rouge regime - at that time known as Security Prison 21, or simply S-21. Kept largely unchanged, this prison now showcases photographs and exhibits about the thousands of victims that passed through these doors - only seven of whom came out alive. Finally, explore the modern-day city, visiting one of Phnom Penh's markets, the CENTRAL MARKET, located in a distinctive domed Art Deco building or the sprawling RUSSIAN MARKET, a labyrinth of stalls selling everything from CDs and DVDs to silks, crafts, jewellery and more.
Day 9 In Phnom Penh
Today you will travel by vehicle from Phnom Penh to Takeo which is a province south of Phnom Penh. Visit TONLE BATI: a lake south of Phnom Penh, with a beach and the impressive laterite temple of Ta Prohm. TA PROHM: a temple built by King Jayavarman VII (who ruled from 1181 to 1201) on the site of a 6th century Khmer shrine. A stele found here dates from 1574. Inside the north gate is a statue of the Hindu god Preah Noreay. PHNOM CHISOR: the main temple on this hill is constructed of laterite and brick with carved lintels of sandstone. The inscriptions found here date back to the 11th century and the wooden doors to the sanctuary are decorated with interesting carvings. ANGKOR BOREI: a 6th century monument built in laterite by King Rudravarman of Funan. His patron deity was Vishnu and many Hindu statues survive from this site. It is one of the few remaining sites with traces of the Kingdom of Funan (a kingdom influenced by India and thought to have spread as far as southern Burma and Indonesia). PHNOM DA: a hill south of Angkor Borei with four artificial caves built as shrines. On top of the hill is a square laterite tower. Return to Phnom Penh.
Day 10 Exit Phnom Penh
You will be transferred to the airport for your exit flight