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Day 1 (Saturday): Phnom Penh
After arrival at the airport, welcome by our guide and transfer in. Proceed for a visits of Phnom Penh. Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Day 2 (Sunday): Phnom Penh (B, L)
Full day boat trip to Koh Dach, an island in the middle of the Mekong River that is famous for Khmer silk weaving. You will find most of families have at least one loom underneath their wooden stilt houses. Lunch is on the island. This is a great place to wander around meeting local people in their natural habitat with no traffic noise or pollution.
Return to Phnom Penh and visit the Central and Russian Markets. The Central Market (Psar Thmey) is distinctive for its central domed building built by the French in 1937 with 4 wings leading off it. The Russian Market (Psar Toul Tom Pong) is an excellent place to pick up a few bargains, especially antiques, souvenirs and cheap brand-name clothes. Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Day 3 (Monday): Phnom Penh-Ratanakiri (B, L, D)
(NB: Flight departs Monday, Wednesday, Sunday only)
We fly to Banlung, Ratanakiri and transfer to hotel. Lunch at hotel. In the afternoon, we travel to the crystal clear waters of the Yeak Loam crater lake, surrounded by lush jungle. Working in close partnership with community-based ecotourism project DRIVE, we learn about the life of the Tompuon people on a walk with a local tribal guide. We walk around the shores of stunning Yeak Loam Lake before walking through forest to visit a Tompuon farms and their nearby village. Dinner and accommodation at hotel.
Day 4 (Tuesday): Exploring Ratanakiri (B, L, D)
We travel by jeep to the remote district of Andong Meas, about 80km from Banlung. From Andong Meas, we continue on foot to nearby Jarai villages where we learn about their lifestyle. We walk to the banks of the San River where we find a Jarai cemetery in the forest complete with many ancestral tombs. From here, we take a boat across the river to a small, isolated Jarai community before continuing downstream back to Andong Meas. We return to Banlung by jeep. Dinner and accommodation at hotel.
Day 5 (Wednesday): Ratanakiri-Phnom Penh (B)
After a morning at leisure we fly back to Phnom Penh. We transfer to your hotel. In the afternoon, visit to the harrowing genocide museum at Tuol Sleng and the Killing Fields of Choeng Ek, both enduring memorials to the gruesome and brutal rule of the Khmer Rouge. Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Day 6 (Thursday): Phnom Penh-Siem Reap (B)
Breakfast at hotel. In the morning, we fly to Siem Reap on the first flight. We begin our visit with some of the most beautiful temples on the small circuit, including the huge pyramid of Takeo, built in the 10th century. We continue to jungle-clad Ta Prohm. This temple was a monastery built by Jayavarman VII as a residence for his mother. Ta Prohm has been controversially left to the destructive power of the jungle by French archaeologists to demonstrate the awesome power of nature. It has been largely consumed by the jungle and as you climb through the dilapidated stone structures you see many giant trees growing out of the top of the temple itself. We continue to visit Sras Srang, the royal pool situated opposite the East Gate of Banteay Kdei. It is known as the King[chr:39]s bathing pond. Finally we take in Prasat Kravan, an elegant brick temple from the 10th century with some fine brick carvings in the interior.
We continue our Angkor encounter with a visit to the spectacular temples of the grand circuit. We first explore Preah Khan or Sacred Sword, one of the largest temples at Angkor with huge corridors extending in every direction. Built by Jayavarman VII in the 12th century, this is a highlight of Angkor. We continue to Neak Poan, a delicate temple set in a square pool and surrounded on all sides by fountains and ponds. Next is Ta Som and its famous strangler fig tree smothering the eastern gate. We wind up at Pre Rup, built in the 10th Century by Rajendravarman. Pre Rup means turning the body and the Khmer people believe this temple was used for cremations. This is the perfect place for sunset over the beautiful Cambodian rice fields. Overnight in Siem Reap.
DAY 7 (Friday): Siem Reap (B)
We rise early today to catch the sunrise over the mother of all temples, the world’s largest religious building, Angkor Wat. We return to the hotel for breakfast and later in the morning explore Angkor Wat in more detail to view its architecture and bas reliefs. This temple is the largest religious buildings ever constructed and is truly one of the wonders of the world. Believed to have been undertaken as a temple and mausoleum for King Suryavarman II at the peak of the Khmer empire in the first half of the 12th century, Angkor Wat is the best-preserved of the Angkorian temples.
We visit the sites of Angkor Thom. This Royal city was first built under the reign of Udayadityavarman II in the 11th Century. It was destroyed when the Chams from Vietnam rose up against the Khmers and invaded, sacking the city, and was subsequently renovated by King Jayavarman VII at the end of the 12th Century. Its vast walls, some 6m wide, 8m high and 13km in length contain many monuments. We begin by visiting the South Gate, flanked by demons and gods engaged in a tug of war to obtain the elixir of immortality. We continue to the Bayon, a temple mountain built by Jayavarman VII. It is situated in the center of the city of Angkor Thom. It is a three-tiered pyramid with its entrance facing east. The central shrine is surrounded by 54 towers all crowned by gigantic faces, representing Avalokiteshvara but with the features of Jayavarman VII. We also visit other important sites in this immense walled city, including the pyramid of Baphuon, Phimean Akas, and the royal viewing stands known as the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King. Overnight in Siem Reap.
DAY 8 (Saturday): Siem Reap (B)
This morning, we head north to visit the elegant temple of Banteay Srei built by a Brahman in the 10th Century, this temple was dedicated to Shiva. The famous pink sandstone structure bears a series of beautiful sculptures, lintels, pediments and friezes. It is said they must have been carved by women as the detail is too fine for the hands of a man. This gives us the origin of the Khmer name, Fortress of the Women. Continue to Kbal Spean, commonly known as the River of a Thousand Lingers, this is an area of riverbed carvings and lush jungle. There are several carvings of Hindu deities in the sandstone here, as well as thousands of lingers in the riverbed itself. This site was only ‘rediscovered’ in 1969 and is a tranquil place with an attractive waterfall. It is 50km north of Siem Reap. In the afternoon we head to Phnom Krom to visit typical floating villages and view Tonle Sap Lake. Then return to town for the night.
DAY 9 (Sunday): Siem Reap departure (B)
Breakfast at hotel. We leave the morning free for own shopping before heading to the airport for your onward flight.
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