Day 1: Phnom Penh Arrival
On arrival at the airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel (your room will be ready at noon). This afternoon, you will discover the Phnom Penh City, visit Wat Phnom, an ancient pagoda standing on the hill, the Independence Monument which commemorates the end of Cambodia’s rule by France in 1953, and Wat Unalom, which is the oldest Buddhist foundation in the city, probably predating the abandonment of the capital at Angkor in the 15th century. Then you will continue your visit to the National Museum built in 1917-18 which is exclusively dedicated to Khmer arts. We then visit the Royal Palace built in 1866 and the beautiful Silver Pagoda located within the Royal Palace compound. Dinner will be at a local restaurant. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 2: Phnom Penh – Siem Reap
After breakfast we will visit the famous Tuol Sleng Museum and Cheung Ek, better known as the Killing Fields, where large numbers of people were killed and buried in mass graves. Then we go back to the city and, if time permits, we will visit the Russian market before going for lunch. You will then transfer by private car (without our guide) to Siem Reap. On arrival in Siem Reap you will be met by our guide, and then transferred directly to the hotel for your overnight stay.
Day 3: Siem Reap – Temples
Breakfast will be served at the hotel, after which you will visit the Rolous group of temples. The monuments of Rolous which served as the capital of Indravarman I (who reigned from 877-89), are among the earliest large, permanent temples built by the Khmers, and mark the beginning of Khmer classical art. Preah Ko was erected by Indravarman I in the late 9th century, and was dedicated by the king to his ancestors in 880. Bakong is the largest and most interesting of the Roluos group of temples, with an active Buddhist monastery just to the north of the east entrance. Lolei was built on an islet in the center of a large reservoir (now rice fields) by Yasovarman I, the founder to the first city at Angkor. After this you will continue your visit to the jungle-covered temple of Ta Prohm, which is an incredible sight. There are enormous fig trees and gigantic creepers which embrace themselves in the stone foundations of the structure, giving the impression of man’s creation being reclaimed by the powerful forces of nature. We explore this masterpiece as well as some of the surrounding temples including Banteay Kdei, Sra Srong, Ta Keo, Thommanon and Chau Say Tevado. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 4: Siem Reap – Temples
Breakfast will be served at the hotel. Today you will visit the ancient capital of Angkor Thom (12th century). We will see the South Gate (with its huge statues depicting the churning of the ocean of milk), Bayon Temple (unique for its 54 towers decorated with over 200 smiling faces of Avolokitesvara), the Royal Enclosure, the Phimeanakas, the Elephant Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King. In the afternoon, we will visit the most famous of all the temples on the Angkor plain: the great Angkor Wat. The temple complex covers 81 hectares and is comparable in size to the Imperial Palace in Beijing. Its distinctive five towers are emblazoned on the Cambodian flag and the 12th century masterpiece is considered by art historians to be the prime example of classical Khmer art and architecture. The Angkor Wat’s five towers symbolize Meru’s five peaks, the enclosed wall represents the mountains at the edge of the world, and the surrounding moat symbolizes the ocean beyond the sunset from Phnom Bakheng, one of two hills dominating the plain of Angkor, from where you will have a spectacular view of the Western Baray and Angkor Wat. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 5: Siem Reap – Bantey Srei – Tonle Sap Lake
Today we start the day off with an early morning. We will first drive to visit the famous Banteay Srei (Citadel of Women) about 35 km from Siem Reap town. Then we continue with a visit to Banteay Srei temple (10th century), regarded as the jewel in the crown of classical Khmer Art. You will continue your visit to Banteay Samre, build in the third quarter of the 12th century. It consists of a central temple with four wings preceded by a hall and accompanied by two libraries, and is remarkably well preserved. Then we travel back to Siem Reap and continue with a visit the floating village of Chong Khneas, located 10 km south of Siem Reap. You will have an opportunity to visit the village and to take an excursion in a traditional wooden boat on the Tonle Sap Lake; the “Great Lake” of Cambodia, one of the largest in Asia, and then visit the Les Artisan D’ Angkor. You will be free to stroll at your leisure in some of the local markets or do some shopping until your transfer to Siem Reap Airport for departure.