Join us on a journey of discovery stretching back centuries to ancient times and the most famous period of Cambodian art, the Khmer Empire. Throughout Cambodia’s history, religious principles guided and inspired its arts and culture. Now is your opportunity to experience this first hand.
Depart the UK with international economy flight to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We can also arrange departures from your local airport at no extra cost.
You are welcomed by our local guide at Phnom Penh Airport on arrival. Transfer to your hotel in city centre and relax after your flight. In the late afternoon, enjoy a romantic time on a sunset cruise. You will have time to enjoy the beautiful sightseeing along Mekong River.
Today you will take a city tour of Phnom Penh and see the Independence Monument which commemorates the end of French rule in 1953 and pays homage to those who fought for their country’s liberty. Continue with a visit to Wat Phnom. Officially inaugurated in 1920, the Museum displays a range of sculptures dating from different periods of Cambodia’s history. Visit the Royal Palace built in 1866 by King Norodom and comprising different structures grouped together in one enclosure. These house a remarkable collection of Khmer art. Here you’ll find the Silver Pagoda whose key works include a golden Buddha encrusted with 9584 diamonds and weighing 90kgs, and a Buddha featuring emeralds and Baccarat crystal dating from the 17th century. Afterwards travel to the south of the city to learn about the darkest period of Cambodia’s history: the regime of the Khmer Rouge. Here, you will visit the genocide museum of Tuol Sleng, an old secondary school which was transformed into a detention centre under the Khmer Rouge. The prison gates carry the name
Leave your hotel in the morning to the airport for a short flight to Siem Reap. Arrive and welcome at Siem Reap Airport. Check in at the hotel. We visit the Angkor National Museum which focuses on the magnificent National Heritage that Angkor temples represent. There are 8 galleries in total, showcasing various aspects of Buddhist religion and the different temples of the Angkor complex.
Then you meet Mr. Theam. He returned to Cambodia in 1995 after studying in France for several years at the Ecole Boule and Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. For over 10 years, he was the artistic director of “Artisans d’Angkor“; a Cambodian arts and crafts company dedicated to the revival and preservation of Cambodian traditional know-how.
Theam’s House is an artist’s studio; including a workshop and a gallery in which his collections are displayed. Above all, the studio welcomes artist apprentices trained by Theam himself. Here, the young Cambodian generation can acquire an understanding of Cambodian aesthetics and culture.
Theam’s work is fascinated by nature in transformation, impassioned with the Khmer culture and the revival of Cambodian life after decades of war and silence. Contemporary creations with Khmer influence give birth to some wonderful artefacts, such as customised elephants originating from Kampong Chhnang, customised meditation statues and triptychs.
You will visit Artisan D’Angkor, an organisation focusing on training unschooled rural youth in traditional handicraft skills. Here you can discover traditional Cambodian handicraft skills and observe the artisans at work.
Today you will visit a golden silk farm – 15km far from Siem Reap. You will be able to see all the steps of traditional silk production, from raising the worms to making the silk and colouring it. Continue to visit Banteay Srei where a most impressive jewel of Khmer art exists. Erected in the 10th century, this small pink sandstone temple is known as the Citadel of Women.
We then head back to Siem Reap town and visit the world famous and awe inspiring Angkor Wat, a world heritage site with soaring towers and extraordinary bas reliefs. It is one of the most amazing man-made monuments in the world, erected in the 12th century in honour of Vishnu.
In the evening, attend a new circus called â€œPhare, The Cambodian Circusâ€ – a NGOs which support community development through providing social, educative and cultural services to children and their families.
In the morning leave by tuk-tuk for the northern end of Angkor, beginning the day with Preah Khan Temple, built by Jayavarman VII in 1191 in honour of his father. This monument was both a city and a place for Buddhism studies. Of the same era is Neak Pean, the only island temple of Angkor, and also known as Entwined Nagas. The large central basin is linked with four smaller basins which represent the four great rivers flowing from the earth’s four cardinal points. One of the most interesting features of this site is the superb statute of Balaha, representing the legendary saviour of shipwrecked boats. Continue your exploration of Angkor by heading further south to visit the two very beautiful temples – Thommanon and Chau Say Tevoda – dating from the 12th century and built during the reign of Suryavarman II. They stand out because of their very beautiful sculptured images honouring Shiva and Vishnu. In the afternoon, visit Angkor Thom (the Great City) beginning by the south gate and the famous Bayon of the 12th and 13th centuries, dedicated to Buddhism and composed of 54 gigantic towers featuring 216 smiling faces of Avalokitesvara. Then, visit the Elephant Terrace, which was used as a giant reviewing stand for public ceremonies and served as a base for the king’s grand audience hall; and the raised Leper King Terrace, built in the 12th century and which features many beautifully sculptured Apsaras.
Then enjoy a Gondala cruise, a very pleasant cruise to relax and cool down from a day of temple visits while enjoying some lovely views. The Gondola boat will collect you at the pier, and you’ll be welcomed with a cold hand-towel and a cool fresh drink. A perfect way to end a busy day!
Today we have a full day excursion to the river of the Thousand Lingas, known as â€œKbal Speanâ€- the head of the bridge. To get there, after travelling by car, it should take aboutÂ 45 minutes of walking through the jungle before you reach the river that contributes to the irrigation of Angkor. The bed of the river is lavishly sculpted. Numerous lingas lay there, caressed by the crystal-clear waters. Bas-reliefs depict scenes from the Brahman pantheon such as Vishnu lyingÂ or Brahama born out of a lotus. Lunch at a local restaurant.
After that drive to Temple of Bang Mealea in the jungle. The temple was built during the reign of Suryavarman II, in the middle of the twelfth century. It gives the visitor the impression of being the first explorer to discover the temple. Far from the bustle of Angkor Wat, Beng Mealea lends itself particularly to feelings of peaceful meditation and now inhabited only by depictions of celestial dancers (Apsaras), you will find the symbiotic relationship between vegetable and mineral most surprising as the roots of the trees that have gently wrapped this temple seem to marry their forms together. After exploring, return to Siem Reap. In the evening, enjoy an Apsara dinner.
In the morning, leave for Kompong Khleang. Here all the houses are on stilts providing an exceptional natural environment offering breathtaking views of floodplains, rice fields and water views as far as the eye can see. After walking through the village and meeting the locals, travel by boat over the canals to a large lake where Vietnamese people live when they are displaced from their homes because of the seasons. Return to the village and have a picnic lunch in a villager’s home.
In the afternoon, visit a Lotus farm where you can discover all the stages from the spinning to the weaving. In fact, the lotus stem provides an exceptional and ecological lotus fibre. It is very unique to get the lotus threat from the lotus stem.
At the end of the day, we will introduce you the art of palm leaf handicraft in Smok Village. Smok is a Cambodian traditional palm leaf box, which is made by locals for many different varieties of usages. They are widely used as a lunch box, a souvenir box, a traditional cake wrapping or a flute box and are perishable and recyclable for the good of our environment.
Relax by hotel’s pool or spend more time to explore the Old Market of Siem Reap as you wish before transfer to airport for departure flight.
Phnom Penh – 5* Sofitel Phnom Penh (for information click here)
Siem Reap – 5*
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