When to Travel

Late October to March is when the temperature is most pleasant. However, Indochina is a year-round destination although conditions may vary. During May and June it can get particularly hot and July to September is the season of the south-western monsoon, when wet conditions bring welcome respite.


Whilst many people avoid the “off season”, there are plenty of good reasons to travel during this time, when hotel rates are reduced and the attractions are delightfully free of crowds. During the rainy season in Cambodia, for example, Angkor Wat is particularly photogenic, with its full, reflecting pools and surrounding moats and clear atmosphere.


Key Info

For more information contact us on +44 (0) 7414 00 66 03paul@greigsmithtravels.com

Greig Smith Travels Ltd. Registered Company Number 7786310.

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Classic Cambodia - Tailor made tour

This classic journey not only takes in the magnificence of the temples of Angkor but also explores further afield. Floating villages are visited along the way and the daily lives of the Cambodian people can be observed on the  Tonle Sap lake. Take in the breath takingly beautiful beach destinations of Kep and Sihanoukville, before finally staying in luxury tents perched over a river in the lush forested region of the Cardamom mountains.

Highlights

  1. Angkor Wat, Tha Prohm & Bayon Temples

  2. Floating village of Kampong Phluk

  3. Stay at the scenic coastal spots of Kep & Sihanoukville

  4. Visit the picturesque “Rabbit Island”

  5. Stay in a luxury floating ecolodge


Day 1 – Siem Reap

Guests arrive in Siem Reap @ TBC.

On arrival in Cambodia at Siem Reap International Airport, you will clear customs, immigration and visa control. You will need to ask for a ‘Tourist Visa at a cost of $20 - be sure to bring two passport photos. Exiting to baggage claim, you will be met by our representative, holding a welcome sign with your name on it.


Transfer to Hotel with the rest of the day to be enjoyed at your leisure.


Day 2 – Siem Reap

We depart the city for an unspoiled floating community called Kampong Phluk, which is astonishing due to its stilted-house villages and flooded forest.


Stop on the way for the Rolous Market tour. This is a great chance for you to take the photos of locals selling indigenously grown vegetables, different fish species and other local produce. Have a glimpse of one of the bridges built by the French colony and overlook at the Rolous River, whose waters flow into the Great Lake Tonle Sap. After this market tour we’ll all have a boat trip to the floating community of Kampong Phluk, visit an island pagoda with a school and houses standing on 8 or 10m high stilts, fish farms and learn about the village life.


Stop and have lunch in a family’s house before getting into a row boat and venturing beyond the villages into the flooded forest, the habitat to some water-bird species. Eventually we jump back into the big boat and set off for the largest fresh water lake in SE Asia, Tonle Sap, before returning to your hotel at around 3:30pm.


You have the option to start with an introduction to the magnificent temples by leaving the hotel at 4pm to go and watch the sun set over Angkor Wat from the vantage point of Phnom Bakheng.


Day 3 – Siem Reap

Rising early, we journey after breakfast out to the Mother of all temples, Angkor Wat. Believed to be the world's largest religious building, this temple is the perfect fusion of symbolism and symmetry and a source of pride and strength to all Khmers. Built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II, this is most famous temple at Angkor. We begin by unravelling the mysteries of the bas-reliefs that tell tales from Hindu mythology and of the glories of the Khmer empire. Stretching for almost one kilometre, these intricate carvings are a candidate for the world’s longest unbroken piece of art.


Following in the footsteps of the devout and the destructive before us, we then continue to the upper levels of the inner sanctuary. The final steps to the upper terrace of Angkor are the steepest of all, as pilgrims of old were to stoop on their pilgrimage to encounter the Gods. Finally the pinnacle, the sacred heart of Angkor Wat, a blend of spirituality and symmetry so perfect that few moments will measure up.


Also this morning, we continue to Ta Prohm temple, which has been abandoned to the elements, a reminder that while empires rise and fall, the riotous power of nature marches on, oblivious to the dramas of human history. Left as it was ‘discovered’ by French explorer Henri Mouhot in 1860, the tentacle-like tree roots here are slowly strangling the surviving stones; man first conquering nature to create, nature later conquering man to destroy.


In the afternoon, we visit the immense walled city of Angkor Thom that was the masterpiece of King Jayavarman VII. Following the occupation of Angkor by the Chams from 1177 to 1181, the new king decided to build an impregnable fortress at the heart of his empire. The scale is simply staggering and we are immediately overwhelmed by the audacity of Jayavarman on arrival at the city’s gates. The causeway is lined by an intricate bridge depicting the Churning of the Ocean of Milk from Hindu mythology in which devas (gods) and asuras (devils) play tug of war with a naga (seven-headed serpent) to obtain the elixir of immortality.


We begin our visit at the Terrace of the Leper King. This intricately carved platform was the royal crematorium and the statue that was originally thought to be the leper king is now believed to be Yama, the god of death. We continue along the Terrace of Elephants, originally used as a viewing gallery for the king to preside over parades, performances and traditional sports. At the southern end lies the Baphuon, once of the most beautiful temples at Angkor, dating from the reign of Uditayavarman in the 11th century. It has undergone a massive renovation by the French and is now once again open for viewing.


Our climax is the enigmatic and enchanting temple of the Bayon. At the exact centre of Angkor Thom, this is an eccentric expression of the creative genius and inflated ego of Cambodia’s most celebrated king. Its 54 towers are each topped off with the four faces of Avalokiteshvara (Buddha of Compassion), which bear more than a passing resemblance to the king himself. These colossal heads stare down from every side, exuding power and control with a hint of compassion, just the mix required to keep a hold on such a vast empire. Before clambering upwards, we unravel the mysteries of the bas-reliefs, with their intricate scenes of ancient battles against the Chams and their snapshot of daily life during the Angkor period.


Day 4 – Siem Reap

We start the day with a wonderful end to your time in Siem Reap, with a morning visit to the fascinating local silk farm situated just outside of Siem Reap. Once here you get an insight into the life cycle of silk from the mulberry plants to the weaves to the finished article. We finish off at the ‘Artisans d’Angkor’ shop where you are able to pick up some high quality traditional Cambodian silk.


You do have a number of other options:

  1. -Another day exploring the temples within the Angkor Complex

  2. -A day trip to visit one of the outer temples of Beng Melea or Banteay Srey

  3. -A day’s Photography Tour (All Standards)

  4. -Angkor National Museum

  5. -Any of the other activities we offer such as Cookery Classes, Helicopter Ride, Horse Riding, Micro Lighting, Golf etc....


We end your time in Siem Reap with the fabulous and unique ‘Smile of Angkor’ stage show that showcases Cambodian history through a big stage dance and cultural show. You will be picked up from your hotel at 6pm so you have plenty of time to enjoy the elaborate buffet dinner with an array of choice. This is then followed by the show performance at 7:15pm. You will then be picked up and transferred back to your hotel or into town at 8:45pm, for you to enjoy the rest of the evening as you wish.


Day 5 – Siem Reap to Phnom Penh

We leave after breakfast for the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, pausing at Skuon, affectionately known as 'Spiderville', where it is possible to sample the local delicacy of deep fried tarantula. We then arrive in Phnom Penh and check into your hotel before being taken to the waterfront for lunch.


After lunch you are then free to spend the afternoon visiting the Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda under your own steam. As an alternative you can visit Wat Phnom before spending time for a bit of shopping at the Russian and central markets.


Day 6 – Phnom Penh

We start the day by discovering the streets of Phnom Penh with a cyclo tour of the city. A popular form of transport throughout Southeast Asia, the cyclo is still widely used in the Cambodian capital and is a comfortable way to see the sights. We start at Wat Phnom, a symbol of the city, before heading west past the National Library. We pass Phnom Penh train station before winding our way down to Psar Thmei, the leading market in the city. We then snake through some of the smaller back streets, including 178 St, brimming with art shops, and Bohemian 240 St with its cafes and boutiques. We pass Independence Monument, modelled on the central tower of Angkor Wat and continue stopping to visit the infamous Tuol Sleng museum (S-21) before returning to the elegant riverfront. We pass the glittering Royal Palace compound and the stunning National Museum before winding up back at your hotel or by the water front for lunch.


After lunch you are then free to spend the afternoon visiting the Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda under your own steam. As an alternative you can visit Wat Phnom before spending time for a bit of shopping at the Russian and central markets.


Day 7 – Phnom Penh to Kep

We begin the day with a visit to Choeung Ek (Killing Fields) which is located about 17km southwest of Phnom Penh, and is the best known of the various Killing Field sites in Cambodia. After some time for reflection we leave Phnom Penh and travel south on National Highway 2 towards the south coast, journeying to the old Frenchera seaside resort of Kep.


On the way to Kep we stop off for a brief stroll along Kampot’s river front and stop for lunch at Rikitikitavi. After lunch you will be met by our local guide who will take you on a fabulous sunset boat trip. At 4pm you will be welcomed aboard DIVA - a 42 foot river boat - once belonging to King Norodom Sihanouk. She was once referred to as the “Royal Vessel”. You depart to enjoy a leisurely cruise out towards the mouth of the South China Sea, enjoy a glass or two of icy-cold “Laughing Lizard” Sauvignon Blanc and camembert and crackers as the scenery slowly rolls by. Children frantically wave as they sit on the veranda of their Muslim Cham, you pass mosques,

mangroves and the salt fields with a view of Phu Quoc Island in the distance. After the sunset melts into the horizon you return back to Kampot at 6pm. Returning from the boat trip you will continue to Kep where you have the evening to enjoy at the hotel or wander across to the crab market to try some of the local delicacy.


Day 8 – Kep

We travel to the boat pier to board a local boat for the journey to Koh Tonsay or Rabbit Island. We journey across calm waters to this beautiful palm-fringed island, home to a small community of fisherfolk and farmers. We have the whole day to enjoy the white-sand beaches along the circumference of the island, the sun, sea and sand before we travel back to Kep by boat.


Day 9 – Kep to Sihanoukville

We leave behind the beaches of Kep and head west towards the popular resort of Sihanoukville, home to Cambodia's finest beaches. We pass through the charming riverside town of Kampot where we may stop for some refreshments. From here, the pretty road passes under the shadow of Bokor Mountain and hugs the coastline for much of its length. We pass through some pretty fishing villages before we arrive in the small town of Veal Renh on National Highway 4. We head south to Sihanoukville, check into our hotel and leave the rest of the day free to enjoy the beautiful beaches and warm waters.


Day 10 – Sihanoukville

Day of Leisure on the beach – see List of Activities & Top 10’s.



Day 11 – Sihanoukville – Koh Kong

We leave behind the beaches of Sihanoukville and head back in land and then along route 48, which cuts straight through the jungle with dramatic views of the magnificent Cardamom Mountains. The resort is situated in Tatai, near Koh Kong and you embark at the steps of the bridge in the village of Tatai at 2pm. You then take a boat trip downstream from the bridge to the resort, which takes about 25 minutes in a cruising boat. Once at the floating resort you have the remainder of the day to get settled in to your luxury floating safari tent and to enjoy the beautiful and peaceful surroundings.


Day 12 – Koh Kong

One of the must-sees of the region is a day trip to the Tatai Waterfall. Away from the tranquillity of 4 Rivers Floating Lodge, the thunder of the majestic Tatai Falls reveals the river’s true power as it drops 6 metres to the rocks below. Your day, depending on the tide, starts at around 10am for the 45-minute boat ride past Tatai village to the falls. Turning on to a tributary you head into the heart of the Cardamom jungle to the far-off sounds of exotic birds and its secretive wildlife.

Within minutes you are at journey’s end, gazing down into the turbulent waters of the falls. Soon it’s time for lunch, maybe a few moments to hydro-massage and a refreshing drink as you find some shade for a picnic and open your senses to the sights and sounds of the jungle. We will also arrange to transport some kayaks for your added fun and adventure. After leaving the falls, we stop at the mouth of a small river where you can paddle your kayak to a traditional Cambodian farm; you will see rice fields and some fruit trees depending of the season.


Day 13 – Koh Kong

Today you have to decide what you would like to do on the last day of your holiday. You can just completely unwind and relax on your private pontoon or take out the lodge’s kayaks and explore the surrounding mangroves. Alternatively you can decide to take one of the day trips, such as the source of life tour which allows you to discover the forest of the surrounding areas or a short excursion to a nearby local village where you will get an insight into a local Khmer village. Or finish the day with a short kayak trip to see the beautiful flickering light of the river fireflies in the evening.


Day 14 – Koh Kong to Phnom Penh

After breakfast we leave the river behind and transfer back to Phnom Penh, with plenty of time for your departing flight. We will arrange for you to take a sandwich packed lunch with you for the journey. Please note that the $25 per person departure tax should now be included in your plane ticket. Your flight also needs to be mid to late afternoon to make sure we have plenty of time to get to the airport.


*You can either choose to spend an additional night in Phnom Penh or Bangkok before your flight home.


Tour Includes:

  1. All transfers as per itinerary

  2. All sightseeing as per itinerary with an English speaking guide.

  3. Excursions as mentioned

  4. Transportation in private A/C vehicle

  5. English speaking guide

  6. Meals as mentioned (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner - excludes drinks)

  7. Public liability insurance

  8. All taxes

  9. Accommodation on a bed & breakfast basis throughout the tour.



Tour Excludes:

  1. All International flights & Visa fees, currently $20 per person

  2. International airport tax (Included in Airline Ticket)

  3. Meals, unless mentioned differently

  4. Optional tours & activities mentioned in the itinerary.

  5. Beverages and personal expenses

  6. Other excursions and entrance fees

  7. Travel insurance (cover against all cancellation costs, medical expenses, including repatriation, in the event of accident of illness)



ACCOMMODATION.

3, 4 & 5 star options available. For more information

regarding accommodation used in this tour please get in touch.



Entry requirements

All UK passport holders and most other nationalities require  visas for Cambodia

It is possible to get visas on arrival at airports in Cambodia, typically these cost $20. Alternatively you can get it  in advance from your nearest embassy. Typically 6 month multiple entry visas are usually sufficient. No vaccinations are mandatory for entry, however it is advisable to a be protected against TB, polio, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis A and to take malaria prophylactics. Above all, it is essential to consult your GP about your individual requirements as soon as possible before travelling. In addition, the following website “National Travel Health Network and Centre” is useful in preparing for your trip: http://www.nathnac.org/ds/map_world.aspx


Flights

It is possible to fly via hubs such as Bangkok. Bangkok is an excellent hub and the frequency and number of flights means any stopover is usually just a few hours.  Unless you would like an extension in Bangkok, in which case please enquire for details.

Preferred airlines include BA, Thai Airways, Eva Air, Emirates and Quatar for the main international sectors and airlines such as Air Asia are used for flights between countries in Indochina.