The Highlights of Cambodia

7 Days / 6 Nights

Phnom Penh – Siem reap

  • Duration:7 Days / 6 Nights
  • Tour type:Private
  • City:Phnom Penh
  • Availability:Year round
  • Group size:Upon enquiry
  • City:Siem Reap

Trip Overview

highlights of your journey
  • Strolling around the vibrant Phnom Penh capital and witnessing its tumultuous pastYou will explore the city’s highlights including the Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda, and the National Museum. Learn about the recent history of the Khmer Rouge regime as you visit these genocide memorials - the harrowing Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum & the notorious Killing Fields of Choeung Ek.
  • The Marvelous Temples of AngkorExplore the infamous World Heritage site of Angkor, the "City of Temples" and witness Angkor Wat at its stunning time – at dawn and sunrise.
  • Escape from crowds and go beyond the Siem Reap's limitsDiscover the jungle overgrown temple of Beng Mealea - gives a very ‘Indiana Jones’ feel to the experience, the intricating pink temple of Banteay Srei “the Citadel of Women”, and the fascinating boat trip on Tonle Sap Lake, the Southeast Asia's largest freshwater lake.

Trip Itinerary

day by day program

DAY 1 - Phnom Penh Arrival / Welcome to Cambodia

On arrival in Phnom Penh, your tour guide meets you as you exit from the Restricted Area at the airport and offers you a private transfer (45-60 minutes) to your hotel.

Optional: Sunset cruise on the Mekong Rivers & Dinner
Early this evening, you are transferred to a bustling riverside and embark a private wooden boat cruising up the mighty Mekong River. Watch a spectacular sunset over the Phnom Penh skyline and Royal Palace and witness this charming capital’s beauty at dusk (1-hour cruise) while cheering up some nice local beer. Finally, enjoy a delicious Khmer set dinner at a local restaurant (food only).

Overnight in Phnom Penh (2 nights)

DAY 2 (B/L) - Phnom Penh / Full day city tour

Today enjoy a full day exploring the Kingdom capital’s highlights.

The glittering Royal Palace was built in 1866 by King Norodom to serve as the residence of the King of Cambodia and the royal family. The Royal Palace complex houses several buildings and lovely gardens all set inside walled grounds overlooking a riverfront park. The Silver Pagoda, also known as “Wat Preah Keo”, is a dazzling sight with its floor covered by over 5,000 silver tiles, each weighing about two pounds.

From there, walk to stroll around the National Museum, home to the world’s foremost collection of ancient Khmer archeological, religious and artistic artifacts. Built in 1917 in traditional Khmer style, the museum grounds also feature a peaceful, palm-shaded central courtyard and lotus ponds – ideal places to contemplate one of Asia’s richest cultures.

Afternoon absorbs moving reminders of Cambodia’s troubled recent history of the Khmer Rouge regime. Start with the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former high school turned into the S-21 prison essentially a torture center by the murderous Khmer Rouge regime. During the three years of Khmer Rouge brutality, the prison became synonymous with terror.  Over 17,000 people held at Tuol Sleng (S-21) were interrogated and tortured before being sent to the killing fields at Choeung Ek for execution, while those who died during torture were buried in mass graves on the prison grounds.

The notorious Killing Fields of Choeung Ek lies approximately 30 minutes from the city and is the site of the infamous “Killing Fields” of the Khmer Rouge. Here, tens of thousands of people, including some foreigners, were executed and thrown into mass graves. In 1980 the remains of over 8,900 victims were exhumed while an estimated 43 mass graves (of a total of 129) have been left untouched. A solemn memorial – a stupa with glass panels encasing over 8,000 skulls (arranged by age and sex) – was erected in 1988 to commemorate the victims of this period of madness.

*Special note: If you do not wish to visit these horror sites, you may spend this afternoon exploring the spiritual Wat Phnom, a city landmark, for which the capital was named and a popular place for worship and the famous Central Market (Phsar Thmei), which is a unique colonial-style building constructed in 1937. The location where the Central Market now sits was once a swamp area occupied by a lake known as Beng Decho. Today, this beautiful market has become a prominent landmark in Phnom Penh.

Overnight in Phnom Penh 

DAY 3 (B/L) - Phnom Penh / Siem Reap by overland

After breakfast, drive to Siem Reap and enjoy some sightseeing along the way. On a good paved road, the journey takes approximately 6 hours (314 km). Make a first stop at Skun “the Spider Village”, where fried tarantulas are vending as a snack. This place is a popular attraction for tourists passing through. It’s good for photo taking, testing is not compulsory.

Continue to Kompong Thom province and detour to explore Sambor Prei Kuk – Archaeological Site of Ancient Ishanapura. Sambor Prei Kuk, a vast complex of over 100 Hindu temples that predate Angkor, became Cambodia’s third UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017. Located about 30 kilometers from the provincial capital of Kampong Thom, this majestic temple site was once known as Isanapura and served as the capital of the ancient kingdom of Upper Chenla in the early 7th century. Later, it became the capital of the Khmer Empire before Angkor.

Take a leisurely bike ride around the temple complex and enjoy a Khmer lunch before continuing on to Siem Reap. Upon arrival in Siem Reap, proceed to check in your hotel and free at your leisure.

Overnight in Siem Reap (4 nights)

DAY 4 (B/D) - Siem Reap / Angkor Tour with Sunrise

Today rise early to catch the spectacular sunrise over the world’s largest religious ruins of Angkor Wat and discover this mighty temple at dawn, regarded by many as the quintessential Angkor experience. The temple’s greatest sculptural treasure is its 1-mile-long bas-relief that wraps around the walls of the outer gallery along with the 2000 figures of Khmer Devas and Apsaras.  After exploring the ruins in detail led by your professional tour guide, return to the hotel for a late leisurely breakfast. 

Later this afternoon, depart to visit the encroaching jungle Ta Prohm, also known to be the undisputed capital of the “Kingdom of the Trees”. Once home to 600 exquisite dancers, Ta Prohm is a wondrous site, with giant fig and kapok trees strangling the ancient stonework in a photogenic interplay of man and nature. This temple has been featured in several Hollywood movies such as Tomb Raider, Indiana Jones, and Two Brothers.

Continue to discover the ancient fortified city of Angkor Thom, built in the 10th century by the greatest Khmer ruler, King Jayavarman VII (1181 – 1201). Travel to the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom. Walk along the 8m-high laterite wall (500m) of the ancient city to the relatively unvisited and magical East Gate. The crematoria built against the outside of the city wall are best seen from up on the wall and give rise to the popular name of ― Gate of Death. Then take another 1.5 Km walk to Bayon temple “The Giant Smiling Faces temple”. The structure of the giant faces of Bayon temple is staggering in its construction. Sixteen chapels inside the structure indicate its religious importance, while on the outer perimeter over 1,200 meters of exquisite bas-relief record scenes of daily life from 11th century Angkor. Its third level is stunning – 49 towers are adorned with 172 smiling faces of the omnipresent Avalokitesvara. 

Move on to visit the nearby Terrace of the Elephant, and the Terrace of the Leper King to view their detailed stone carvings. From there walk through the shaded parkland to visit the triple-tiered mountain temple of the Baphuon, also known as the Pyramid temple in Angkor. As the sun begins to set, walk to the Ta Kav Gate (West Gate of Angkor Thom) to view the beautiful sunset over the rice fields and the reflection of the golden light over the city gate.

Dinner with Apsara Dance Performance & Siem Reap’s night market tour
Finally, enjoy your enchanting evening with authentic Khmer cuisine while witnessing the hundred-year-old “Royal Ballet of Cambodia” or “Apsara Dance”. Stroll around the live Siem Reap night market before returning to your hotel for a good night’s sleep.

Overnight in Siem Reap

DAY 5 (B/L) - Siem Reap / Go off the beaten track

Today, your guide will take you through timeless rural Cambodian villages and countryside escaping from crowds and go beyond the Siem Reap’s limits to discover Beng Mealea, ‘Lotus Pond’ in Khmer, for a unique jungle experience. Undiscovered for centuries, Beng Mealea is one of the very few temples of which elevated wooden walkways allow you to walk above the ruins’ collapsed galleries and towers whilst shaded by the jungle canopy, giving a very ‘Indiana Jones’ feel to the experience.

Lunch will be served at “Bong Thom Khmer House”, a nice local restaurant at outskirt of Siem Reap that offers the real taste of Khmer food.

After lunch break, the famous Banteay Srei temple “the Citadel of Women”. Built in pink sandstone, the walls are covered in exquisitely preserved carvings of unusual delicacy. Because of its small size, fairy-like atmosphere, and extraordinary examples of Khmer sculpture, this temple is often a favorite among visitors.

Conclude today with Kampong Phluk “Harbour of the Tusks”, a fascinating fishing community on the fringes of the magnificent Tonlé Sap Lake, Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake. Embark on a captivating boat trip to see its glory as you pass through the floating village where the fisherman and their families live in stilted houses. Relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery dominated by the tranquility of the lake that dots the landscape.

Overnight in Siem Reap

DAY 6 (B) - Siem Reap / Design your own day

Enjoy a free day at your leisure. Relax and reflect on your memorable journey so far.
Or you may opt for other activities/tours:

Option 1: Private Khmer Cooking Class with a local market visit 
This morning at 9 AM, travel the local way with a Remork (Tuktuk) – an easy and comfortable, to explore a local market, where the colors and aromas of fresh, vibrant ingredients will thrill your senses led by one of the kitchen brigades with a shopping list for today’s menu as your guide. You will be led through the labyrinth of tunnel-like passageways that weave from one area of the market to the other. Return to the indoor kitchen where you will be guided through time-honored Khmer cooking techniques to create some of its most storied dishes from preparation to cooking. Lastly, time to enjoy your culinary creation serving as your lunch. 
*Duration: Half-day (9.00 am – 1.30 pm)

Option 2: The Kulen Elephant Forest Sanctuary
8.00 a.m., enjoy a 1-hour scenic drive to the Kulen Elephant Forest sanctuary where you will learn about the project, enjoy nature, and interact with elephants: Introductory briefing, elephant meets and greet, observation trek (2km), and watch the elephants play by the pond.
*Duration: Half-day (8.00 am – 1.30 pm)

Option 3: Explore Angkor’s less-visited temples
Venture on a less-traveled road deep into Angkor Park to discover the hidden gems of Angkor – another fascinating corner of Angkor including the mountain temple of Pre Rup, the East Mebon temple built within the Eastern Baray (guarded at its corner by stone figures of harnessed elephants), Ta Som is a captivating and charming temple (like Ta Prohm, there is a tree growing through part of the structure which provides excellent photo opportunities), Neak Pean, or the “coiled serpents” is a fountain built in the middle of a pool, and Preah Khan or “Sacred Sword” – constructed as a monastery and teaching complex in 1191 by Jayavarman VII, it is unique in its sense of religious tolerance, with sections dedicated to Buddhism, ancestor worship, and the Hindu gods Shiva and Vishnu. Once inside the second enclosure, look for the delicate frieze of ‘apsaras’ or celestial dancers, in the Hall of Dancers.
*Duration: Half-day (morning or afternoon)

Option 4: Experience local traditions and Siem Reap’s atmospheric countryside
Travel a bit further away from town to Rolous village to immerse yourself in the local culture with a walk into the life of the Khmer people – an insider’s look at the intriguing culture and Siem Reap’s atmospheric countryside beyond Angkor Wat. You will visit a Buddhist monastery – offer alms to a Buddhist monk to earn some merits in Buddhist tradition and practice the arts of giving followed by a blessing in the Pali language from the monk, the way the locals do for the wishes of good luck and happiness in life. Then wander through the nearby Bakong temple, Angkor’s first mountain temple dating back to the 8th and 9th centuries and still remarkably well preserved. Next soak up the views of the rural village, paddy fields, and swaying palm trees while crossing quiet lanes by ox cart.
*Duration: Half-day (morning or afternoon)

Option 5: Siem Reap Quade Bike adventure
Take a break from temples and enjoy guided tours on Quads (Terrain Vehicles) around the countryside and traditional local villages of Siem Reap. You can enjoy the tour as long as you want to start from 1-hour adventure to a full day off-the-beaten-track excursion. The sunset tour by quad bike is an exciting experience; this allows you to see the real rural area of Siem Reap and have the opportunity to spot a spectacular sunset view over paddy fields.
*Note: Sunset quad bike tour (1 hour+, start @5.00 pm)

Evening option: Visit Phare Circus Performance by Phare Artists:
“Phare, the Cambodian Circus” is an offshoot project of Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPS), performed by students and professional artists from the center and used to perform around the world. It’s an amazing blend of traditional and modern theatre, music, dance, acrobatics, juggling, and contortion beautifully choreographed and performed in a story about Cambodian lives and society.

Overnight in Siem Reap

DAY 7 (B) - Siem Reap / Departure

Enjoy some free at your leisure until it’s time for the transfer to the Siem Reap Angkor International Airport for your flight home or next destination.

*** End of Service ***

Sunset Cruise on the Mekong Rivers

The Silver Pagoda in the Royal Palace

The National Museum

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21)

Killing Fields of Choeung Ek

Sambor Prei Kuk – Archaeological Site

Angkor Wat at sunrise

Ta Prohm temple

The giant smiling faces of Bayon temple

Apsara Dance Performance

Beng Mealea temple

Banteay Srei temple

Floating Village on Tonle Sap Lake

Khmer Cooking Class

The Kulen Elephant Forest Sanctuary

Preah Khan temple

Ox cart ride in a local village

Quad bike tour

Service Terms

inclusions & exclusions
  • Tours and transfers as mentioned by private air-conditioned vehicle unless stated otherwise
  • English-speaking local guide (for other languages supplements apply)
  • Selected accommodation at each destination with daily breakfast
  • All admission fees for mentioned visits
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner)
  • Boat trip as indicated in itinerary
  • Daily drinking water during the tour
  • All taxes and service charges
  • Gratuities
  • Camera/video entrance fees (if any)
  • Cambodia visa fee (if any)
  • Meals & drinks not specified in the above inclusions
  • All personal and travel insurances
  • Other personal expenses
  • Optional tours/services

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