Hike, cycle, and kayak across Cambodia on this active itinerary. Start with a water blessing ceremony before exploring the Angkor Archaeological Park. Continue to Battambang, a laid-back riverside town with ancient temples and the country's only winery. Support community and wildlife initiatives with stays at Smiling Gecko Resort and Cardamom Tented Camp. End in the bustling capital of Phnom Penh, a city with a dark history that is now filled with vibrancy, warmth, and rapid development.
Arrival - Siem Reap
Welcome to Cambodia!
Upon your arrival, transfer to the hotel.
Despite having the eighth wonder of the world in its backyard, Cambodia's real treasure is its people. Thanks to an unbreakable spirit and infectious optimism, the Khmers have prevailed with their smiles intact. No visitor comes away without a measure of admiration and affection for the inhabitants of this enigmatic kingdom.
Rise and Shine! Start the day with a unique visit to a neighborhood Buddhist pagoda for a water blessing ceremony, believed to cleanse the bad spirits while ushering good luck for the coming years. The offering of a Sadok (traditional gift of sugar, milk, tea, amongst other items) for the monk will be provided. Your guide will also assist with translation if you wish to sit and converse with a monk.
Continue to the fabulous jungle temple of Ta Prohm before the main temple, Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is one of the mankind's greatest achievements, and the intricate carvings at the temple of Angkor Wat demonstrates the skill of the Khmer builders It was constructed in the early 12th century and then mysteriously abandoned by the Khmer civilization two centuries later. Now, Angkor Wat is one of the main reasons that tourists visit Cambodia.
After lunch at a local restaurant, you will be transferred back to your hotel for time at leisure.
In the afternoon, hop on your cycle and ride past the King's Siem Reap residence and through the Royal Gardens. Continuing up the Siem Reap River, ride past private homes and small riverside markets. Crossing the river, wind your way along red clay roads and small dirt trails, through a series of local villages, crossing small farms and passing school children on their way home. Cycle towards the west edge of Angkor Park.
After a brief stop to refuel on cold water and fresh fruit, bypass the crush of visitors exiting the park instead follow single track lanes, past stunning rice fields and small, historic family parcels where life appears unchanged for generations. As the temples close, access Park roads and trails to view this remarkable historic site in a different context, twilight, and poise ourselves for a glimpse of sunset as the day comes to a close.
To complete the evening, enjoy a peaceful Dragon Boat ride on the moat of Angkor Thom, with local sips and snacks. Return to your hotel for an evening at leisure.
After breakfast, meet your guide for an adventurous day away from the crowded Siem Reap hotspots.
Phnom Kulen is the birthplace of the Khmer Empire. The mountain range is considered a holy place for Cambodians because of its religious significance for Hindus and Buddhists.
After a 1.5 hour drive, you will reach the starting point for the 13km trek. Start hiking through an open-air trail leading to a lush rainforest, caves, and ancient relics. Along the way you will reach giant stone elephants, guardians of the mountain.
Stop half-way to enjoy a breathtaking view of the Siem Reap Province and have lunch near an ancient, abandoned temple. After lunch, the hike continues through cashew plantations. Listen to a thousand birdsongs and taste local wild fruits. Time permitting, you can enjoy a beautiful waterfall swim before returning to the hotel.
Evening at leisure and overnight.
Siem Reap - Battambang
In the morning, your private driver will transport you to Battambang (3 hours). With its riverside setting and cozy cafes, the laid-back city is a fusion of urban modernity and small-town friendliness.
Afternoon at leisure and overnight.
This morning, join your guide on a private Remok (Cambodian tuk-tuk) and ride about 5km from town to the Bamboo train. You can ride this unique contraption on tracks that were initially built by the French to transport goods.
Continue to Ek Phnom, and ancient and seldom visited temple. Along the way, pass small villages where people are making bamboo sticky rice (korlan), fish paste, rice paper, and banana paper.
Enjoy your lunch at a scenic local restaurant along the river. You will then visit the site of the "Killing Caves" at Phnom Sampeou. There is a Khmer Rouge memorial as well as an interesting temple on top of this hill. When at the top, you will have a commanding view over the Cambodian countryside. If you choose to stay until sunset, you will see countless bats exit from the cave down below, while enjoying a cold drink from a comfortable chair set up by enterprising locals.
After sunset, return to the hotel.
Battambang - Kampong Chhnang
In the morning, drive 5.5 hours to the Smiling Gecko Farmhouse Resort. Located between the Aoral Wildlife Sanctuary and Tonle Sap, the rural resort is an important pillar of the Smiling Gecko project. The community initiative brings sustainable education to rural Cambodia with a western-style school, carious farms, and manufacturing facilities. With beautiful bungalows, a spa sanctuary, and farm-to-table cuisine, Smiling Gecko offers exclusively and philanthropy in the Cambodian countryside.
Evening at leisure and overnight.
Your day can be spent enjoying the resort or discovering rural Cambodia. At the 150 hectare Smiling Gecko Campus, learn about the community projects and visit the elementary school. You can also visit the clothing factories in Phnom Penh and gain a deeper understanding of the harsh working conditions for mostly female laborers - a rare opportunity to dive into a deeper dialogue with locals. We also recommend visiting temple hill at sunset.
Kampong Chhnang - Cardamom Tented Camp
In the morning, your private driver will transfer you to Trapeang Rung pier (5 hours). From here, you will embark for the one-hour trip over the Preak Tachan River to Cardamom Tented Camp.
Situated in western Cambodia's Koh Kong Province, Botum Sakor National Park is the country's largest park. A pristine biodiversity comprising of gently sloping lowlands and coastal habitats, it is home to some of the world's most endangered species.
Cambodia's vast forests and pristine natural resources are threatened by illegal logging, poaching, and habitat destruction. By adhering to sustainable tourism practices, Cardamom Tented Camp is making a stand against these catastrophic trends. Their objective is to support the conversation efforts of Wildlife Alliance in cooperation with the local community, enabling guests to participate in activities that protect the evergreen forest and its animals.
Settle into your comfortable safari-style tent. Later, set out on an exploratory hike in the jungle around the camp.
Cardamom Tented Camp
After an early breakfast, meet the Wildlife Alliance Rangers and embark on patrol over a network of abandoned poaching and logging trails through the dense forest. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. The half-day hike will stop by the Ranger Station, where confiscated snares, traps, and improvised hunting rifles are on display. A local Khmer lunch will be served, followed by time at leisure or a swim in the river.
Later in the afternoon, kayak along Prek Tachan back to camp. Overnight.
Cardamom Tented Camp - Phnom Penh
In the morning, return to the pier for your boat back to Trapeang Rung. Your private driver will transfer you to Sihanoukville airport for your short flight to Phnom Penh.
Welcome to Cambodia's bustling capital! Phnom Penh is not just another metropolis - it's the old Asia you dream of with beautiful architecture, aromatic street food, endless markets, and saffron-colored monks passing on the streets. This fascinating city with a dark history of war and turmoil is now filled with vibrancy, warmth, and rapid development.
Evening at leisure and overnight.
In the morning, enjoy the tastes of Phnom Penh. First, visit Pshar Kandal and enjoy some local delights such as Mi Char (fired noodle) Lort Char, Sach kor ang (BBQ beef) with papaya salad, noodle soup, and Nom krok, small traditional snacks made from rice and coconut juice cooked in a clap pan. Continue to Pshar Chas and sample Banh Srung, a small noodle dish with coconut milk and spring roll slices.
After breakfast, walk to Phnom Penh's old French quarter - home to a selection of fine colonial era architecture. Here you will be able to see several Belle Epoque and Art Deco designs.
Continue to Wat Phnom, a Buddhist temple located in the heart of the city. Built in 1373, it is the tallest religious structure in the capital. Legend states that Daun Penh, a wealthy widow, found four bronze statues inside a Koki tree in the Mekong. They built the shrine to house the sacred relics, giving Phnom Penh its name. Wat Phnom is a different style from the colonial French quarter, displaying Phnom Penh's amazing variety of architecture.
Walk to Cambodia's largest market and a Phnom Penh landmark, Psah Thmey. Psah Thmey (meaning grand market) is an amazing art deco building built in 1937 by French architect Louis Chauchon. When opened, it was the biggest market in Asia. Sample local snacks and try a refreshing Teuk Ampil, a popular Khmer drink consisting of sugar cane juice poured over ice.
End the afternoon with a tuk-tuk ride and visit Tuol Sleng Prison to glimpse the devastating horrors that prevailed during Cambodia's ultra-radical Marxist movement. The excursion may prove distressing for some; however it is an important piece of Cambodia's recent past. After, take an excursion to Choeng Ek, the site of a former orchard where more than 17,000 civilians (men, women, children, and infants) were killed and buried in mass graves by victims of the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979.
Evening at leisure and overnight.
Today, transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
11 nights of Hotel Accommodations
Meals as outlined
Airfare from Sihanoukville - Phnom Penh
Private air-conditioned vehicle with driver as per the itinerary
Phnom Penh walking tour
Comprehensive touring as listed in the itinerary, including a private English speaking guide
Hike and kayak with Wildlife Alliance Rangers in Botum Sakor National Park
2 night stay at Smiling Gecko Farmhouse
Private airport transfers with representative
Road/interstate taxes, fuel surcharges, and parking fees