Insight to Cambodia
- Gain an insight to Cambodia by getting off the beaten track and spending a night with a host family in a countryside community
- Learn about growing, cultivating, processing and preparing delicious local food
- Explore the temples of Angkor including those away from the crowds
- Connect with rural people and learn about their livelihoods
- Meet monks living in the forest dedicated to their protection
- Sleep at a hilltop meditation centre and learn Vipassana from a group of Buddhist nuns
- Feast on fresh seafood on a tropical beach
- Cycle through villages on an island on the Mekong
Day 1 – Arrive Siem Reap
Welcome to Cambodia! Your guide will meet you from the airport and take you to your hotel. Depending on your time of arrival, you will have some free time to settle in and explore at your own pace. This evening, we have a welcome dinner, where your guide will inform you of what to expect in the coming days, and introduce you to Khmer culture and history to set the scene for your Cambodian adventure!
Day 2 – Siem Reap countryside & city
Siem Reap is known across the world as the city of Angkor and is now a thriving tourism destination. Not so long ago, this sleepy town was a quiet riverside town. Luckily, despite the high visitor numbers, tranquility of the countryside is within very easy reach. This morning, you’ll visit a nearby village that feels a million miles away from the city. Explore the agricultural way of life and learn how people here live, including a visit to the village pagoda (where, if available, you’ll meet a monk practicing an ancient style of fortune telling) and spirit house. You’ll eat lunch with a local family and see how many ingredients are cultivated from their back garden. The afternoon will be spent exploring Siem Reap’s backstreets by bicycle, for an insight into everyday life here, including bustling local markets and sights of historical significance. You’ll get chance to meet various storytellers and try a variety of local snacks along the way. Dinner will be by yourself, and we can help point you in the right direction for the best of local cuisine. We’d recommend exploring the night market for shopping.
Day 3 – Temples of Angkor
You’ll start the day early to catch the sunrise at the mighty Angkor temples. You’ll spend the morning visiting famous temples such as Bayon and its smiling faces, and Ta Phrom entangled in the encroaching jungle, as well as some quieter and lesser-known sites too. (This can be done by tuktuk of bicycle) We’ll return to town around lunchtime, which you can take at your own leisure. We’ll meet again in the evening for an early dinner before visiting the Cambodian circus. Prepare to be amazed, this inspiring social enterprise supports disadvantaged young people by providing an education and training in performing arts.
Day 4 – Monk activists
Today you’ll head north to the rural town in the north of the country. You will spend the day with a group of environmental activist monks, who have together formed an organisation working to protect and preserve Cambodia’s natural beauty and diversity. As part of their work they go out into forest to ordain trees, blessing them and wrapping them in saffron robes.
Day 5 – Temple homestay
After breakfast, we head to the beautiful village of Banteay Chhmar. A fantastic community based tourism program has been put in place here to promote equitable tourism development that benefits the local people, whilst preserving the ancient temples that lie here. We’ll arrive for lunch and an afternoon wandering around the crumbling and quiet temples. This evening, you’ll stay with a host family in their home for a taste of living in a Cambodian village. Dinner will be served by candlelight in the temples themselves, which will be a magical and memorable experience for sure!
Day 6 – Battambang
The morning will be spent soaking up life in the countryside, exploring the village and some more temple sites. After lunch, we’ll hit the road to the city of Battambang. Set next to the river and laid-back cafes, this city is famed for French colonial architecture and riverside activities; many Cambodians regard this is as the most beautiful city in the country. You can spend the rest of your afternoon wandering the pretty streets of Battambang at your own pace. Dinner tonight will be at a local street food place where freshly pulled noodles will be pulled before your eye.
Day 7 – Local livelihoods
Cambodian countryside is best explored on two wheels, so we join cycle guide from a young social business that provides employment for student. We’ll do a half-day bicycle tour out of town into the stunning countryside, where you can learn more about local livelihoods and connect with local people (included in the trip: fresh coconut, seasonal tropical fruits and a shot of rice wine!). In the late afternoon we’ll visit a hilltop pagoda for beautiful views across the surrounding countryside. Just before the sun goes down you can marvel at thousands of bats flying out of a cave in the hill. Dinner this evening can be taken at your own leisure.
Day 8 – Holy mountain retreat
Today’s transfer is the longest of the trip, but we’ll include plenty of stops to break it up. We will arrive at the holy mountain retreat centre mid afternoon. Here we will spend time soaking up the hilltop views and the calming energy this place brings, before meeting a small, interesting group of nuns for a special afternoon learning about their lives and Buddhism. Tonight we’ll be staying at a beautiful Vipassana meditation retreat, an idyllic way to reflect on your journey so far and find inner peace for the next half of your trip.
Day 9 – Kep
After a night in simple surroundings, it’s on to the beach for some indulgence. We drive on to the coastal town of Kep. We’ll arrive in time for an afternoon at the beach. Kep is well known for its delicious fresh seafood, so tonight we’ll explore the crab market and dine besides the sea.
Day 10 – Free day: beach time!
Today is a free day to relax at the beach. We recommend taking a short boat ride to the neighbouring small tropical island. Picture yourself here: long sandy beaches, palm trees, thatched bungalows, and the warm waters of the Gulf of Thailand! You can spend the day relaxing under palm trees and swimming. Alternatively, if you’re not a fan of lounging on the beach, there are options nearby to visit a Kampot pepper farm or the abandoned hilltop resort at Bokor Mountain.
Day 11 – Phnom Penh
After breakfast we transfer to the capital, Phnom Penh. Phnom Penh was once regarded as the Paris of the East before the war, but the city is well and truly bouncing back and regaining its title as an exciting cosmopolitan hub in this region. In the afternoon, we’ll visit the Royal Palace, a complex of buildings that serves as the royal residence of the king of Cambodia, and the Silver Pagoda. Dinner this evening will be at a social enterprise restaurant.
Day 12 – Phnom Penh
To understand Cambodia as it is today, it is important to understand it’s recent difficult history. This morning we visit S21, a former school turned-prison during the Khmer Rouge regime. After lunch, to complete the picture, we visit the Killing Fields. To round off an emotional day, we share watching the sunset over the mighty Mekong River reflecting on the things we’ve learned, and dinner this evening is at a riverside location. During the Khmer Rouge period, Cambodian arts were almost wiped from history, so we’ll discover the inspirational story and importance of preserving and bringing these arts back to life. This evening we’ll watch a stunning traditional arts performance at the National Museum.
Day 13 – Phnom Penh
We’ll escape the hustle and bustle of the city this morning by taking a bike ride to the Silk Islands that lie on the Mekong River. It’s an eye-opening journey that just a few kilometres form the capital city lies rural village life. Expect to see farms, silk weaving, fishing, and rural pagodas, as we travel along quiet dusty paths. We return to the hotel after lunch and your afternoon is free for you to relax or do some last minute shopping before your departure. Your guide will join you for your final dinner.
Day 14 – Departure
Your guide will take you to the airport and wave you off for your onward journey.
If you’d like to book this tour, or one like it, please contact us.