You can arrive at any time on day 1 as there are no activities planned. Meet your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) and fellow travelers around 6pm for a welcome meeting. Please check at reception for a notice detailing the actual time and place. Head out afterwards for an optional local Thai meal. Bangkok is a fantastic city and there is endless sightseeing to be done. Undoubtedly the best way to get around Bangkok is by water taxi, as the streets are often crazy with traffic. From the Chao Phraya River you have an excellent view of this vast metropolis. Perhaps take a longtail boat to explore the canals. The life that goes on along these canals seems like a different world. We also recommend visiting Wat Pho, home of the reclining Buddha. You can have a traditional Thai massage either here at a school that teaches massage within the temple, or choose somewhere near the hotel - this is highly recommended!
This morning after breakfast we head to the Cambodian Border by private minivan,a journey of approximately 4 hours through the heart of Thailand. Upon arrival at the Poipet border we cross by foot through immigration. Please be aware that this can sometimes take up to 1.5hrs to complete formalities. Once in Cambodia we board our private bus and continue to Battambang (2 hours). Upon arrival we check into our hotel and have a few hours to explore this riverside city before dinner. Battambang is considered the 'rice bowl' of Cambodia. 90% of the population of this province lives an agrarian lifestyle and in the rich sedimentary soil grows everything from delicious tropical fruits to unique Khmer herbs and vegetables. Cambodia's 2nd largest city was originally founded in the 11th Century by the Angkorian Empire, was a major Siamese commercial center for 500 years and is also renowned for its rich colonial French architecture.
The morning of Day 3 is free for an optional motorcycle tour of the countryside visiting temples, local cottage industries and the unique experience of the Bamboo Train. You may also like to try your hand at Khmer cuisine with a cooking class then enjoy the results over a leisurely lunch. This afternoon we head off on our private bus around Tonle Sap Lake to Siem Reap, a trip of roughly 3 hours. On Day 5, enjoy a local Khmer dinner in nearby village at the Planeterra-supported New Hope. Siem Reap in the North West of Cambodia is your portal to the remains of the once great Angkorian Empire. This welcoming city is adorned with myriad markets, artisans, bars and restaurants and is very accessible to the casual wanderer along it's colorful streets and lane ways. Ruling much of South East Asia for over 500 years from the 8th to the 14th Centuries, the Khmer Emperors built successively more magnificent temples and cities. Throughout Days 4 and 5 your knowledgeable, licensed, local Khmer guide will lead you through the pages of history as you explore these amazing edifices, explaining the stories, examining the intricate carvings and the towering monoliths that time forgot. From the awe inspiring Angkor Wat as the sun rises over the worlds biggest religious building, to the 'Tomb Raider Temple', Prum Bayon, swallowed by the jungle over the aeons that it remained undiscovered, you will be captivated by these archeological wonders.
Travel to the 3rd largest city in Cambodia, Kampong Cham. With lots of free time today why not rent a bike and cruise along the river exploring the countryside to meet friendly locals or visit the 11th Century Vat Nokor temple. A very traditional Cambodian experience awaits you in this remarkably rural City. Enjoy an included local dinner tonight.
Early this morning we commence our 4 hour drive from the North West to the North East of Cambodia passing through villages, negotiating roaming herds of water buffalo and eventually arriving at Kratie on the banks of the mighty Mekong River. This afternoon we head out on this massive waterway with local boatmen to try and spot the endangered Irrawaddy Freshwater Dolphin. As the golden late afternoon sun warms your face, the feeling as one of these wonderful creatures breaks through the surface nearby is truly inspiring and will lift your heart.
Returning to Phnom Penh this morning we check into our hotel and head out on a Cyclo Tour of the city. Cyclo drivers are some of the poorest urban dwellers. Most come from rural areas moving to Phnom Penh in search of work. Our drivers are sourced through the Cyclo Center, an NGO set up in 2004 which provides health programs, micro-finance, language lessons, home comforts and a cyclo workshop for the drivers. This is a fantastic way to see the city and provides some amazing photo opportunities whilst supporting a very worthy cause. Afterwards,you have free time to explore the city's many sights: the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, and the National Museum. There is time to visit the huge Russian Market packed with silver, souvenirs and all the necessities of daily life. Late afternoon is a great time to visit Wat Phnom where the sanctuary for which the city is named once stood. It is a Buddhist shrine, although a Taoist goddess, numerous monkeys and occasionally an elephant also reside here. A drink in one of the many riverside café’s watching the sunset is a fitting finale to the day.
Drifting eastward along the coast today a 2 hour drive brings us to Kampot, home of the Bokor National Park and world famous for the Kampot peppers. You may wish to visit Rabbit Island or spend some time at the beach-side town of Kep, famous for its fresh crabs.
Our bus journey today angles through the heart of Cambodia initially to the Capital City of Phnom Penh for lunch, and then onwards South West to the beachside town of Sihanoukville. Named for the former King, Sihanoukville's coastline is bedecked with sandy beaches and sprinkled with picture perfect tropical islands fringed with swaying coconut trees. Feast on fantastic local seafood, take a day trip snorkeling the coral reefs and exploring the islands, or just sit back in a deck chair and let the warm breeze caress you as the waves wash gently at your feet. It doesn't get much better then this.
After breakfast we meet our local guide and witness the dark side of Cambodian history with visits to Choeng Ek, the site of the infamous Killing Fields, and Tuol Sleng prison, the notorious Khmer Rouge prison where thousands of Cambodians perished. This afternoon we return to Bangkok. A relatively short flight but the hustle and bustle of this modern city will feel like a world away from laid back Cambodia. You will have plenty of time today to catch up on last minute shopping at the malls and markets or a visit to the sites that you may have missed earlier before we meet for our final night dinner.
Depart at any time.