Siem Reap is not only the gateway to the magnificent Angkor Archaeological Park but also to Tonle Sap Lake, the largest in south east Asia, community projects and outlying temples. Below are a selection of excursions that can be included within your holiday.
Angkor Temples Highlights Day Tour (Private)
This is the most popular excursion we offer, bringing four of the most famous, varied and magnifect temples together with your own private guide who will bring the history alive.
This morning your private guide will pick you up for a private guided tour of the iconic Angkor Archaeological Park. Start off at Angkor Thom, the last great capital of the Khmer Empire. Highlights include the magnificent Bayon, one of the most recognisable sites because of the 54 towers adorned with 216 enigmatically smiling stone faces, the Terrace of Elephants, a giant viewing stand for public ceremonies and the Terrace of Leper Kings, whose walls boast beautifully carved nagas, demons and other mythological beings. In the low morning sun the carvings really stand out and as you stand on the Terrace of Elephants you get a great view across a parkland scene interspersed with giant trees protected in the National Park.
Then move onto the temple of Ta Phrom, jungle covered and pretty much left as originally found by European explorers to create a mystical atmosphere.
Back to Siem Reap (15 minutes away) for lunch in a local restaurant and a rest in the hot midday. This afternoon return to explore Angkor Wat, the most famous and best preserved of all the Angkor temples. You’ll have time for a thorough exploration before climbing to the top of Pre Rup temple to watch the sun set over the jungle. Back to the hotel by early evening.
Tonle Sap Lake & Stilted Villages Morning Tour (Private)
Most clients spend 3 nights in Siem Reap and combine the Angkor Highlights Tour with this morning tour to Tonle Sap Lake that shows a very different side of Cambodia life.
This morning you’ll be collected by your guide and transferred 45 minutes through the Cambodia countryside to Tonle Sap Lake where you board a longtail boat to explore the lake and visit Kompong Phluk, an isolated community of three villages built on stilts. These scenic villages are flooded for around half the year and you will board a local boat, rowed by a villager, to explore the local community. You will also be taken through the flooded mangrove forests that are the main building block of this valuable ecosystem that supports a variety of wildlife. Back in Siem Reap in time for a late lunch.
Half Day Tour to Banteay Srei & Banteay Samre Temples (Private)
This can either be enjoyed on its own or added to the morning Tonle Sap Lake tour. A great way to see a bit more of Angkor Archaeological Park.
This morning (or afternoon)you head a little further into Angkor Archaeological Park to visit Banteay Srei and Banteay Samre. These exquisite examples of Khmer history are a bit off the beaten track with fewer visitors and so all the more enjoyable to explore. Banteay Samre’s name is derived from the Samre people who live to the east of the baray and according to legend the temple was named after a farmer who killed the king and ascended to the throne.
The half hour ride also offers an insight into everyday life as you pass through villages. Look out for sugar palm kilns, scarecrows that keep evil spirits at bay and paddy fields that carpet the land. Back at the hotel in time for a late lunch and the rest of the afternoon is free.
Evening Trip to Traditonal Circus (Private)
The circus performs nightly in a big top in the centre of Siem Reap and can be added to any day of the holiday.
One evening why not include a trip to the circus that plays nightly in the centre of town. This is organised by the NGO Phare and aims to assist poor and handicapped children gain education and livelihoods. The circus mixes traditional acts with theatre, music, dance and acrobatics. More than a show, it's a joyful celebration of Cambodian culture.
Kbal Spean walking Day Tour & Banteay Srei Temple (Private)
This will appeal to those who would like to explore a more natural setting with less formal temple viewing.
Your private guide will take you for an hour’s easy walking up the wooded slopes of the Kulen Hills, past waterfalls and archaeological ruins to the carvings of Kbal Spean. The carvings start on a natural stone bridge and take the form of linga, the phallic representation of the Hindu God, Shiva. There is said to be 1000 of these carved into the stone and from the bridge they spread out and take the form of various gods, beasts and effigies. They finally end at a waterfall that is called Royal King’s Bath. The religious and mythological symbols were carved to sanctify the water as it tumbled down the hill to the people below.
Lunch will be in a local restarant in Siem Reap and then this afternoon you head into Angkor Archaeological Park to visit Banteay Srei, “Citadel of the Woman”. Built using stone with a delicate pinky hue it has some of the most intricate and best-preserved carvings in Angkor. Back late afternoon.
Morning Tour of Beng Mealea (Private)
Beng Mealea Temple is about 60 kms from Siem Reap and offers a contrasting experience to the main temple viewing in the park. Slightly off the main tourist trail you will also get to see a little more of the countryside.
Your guide will collect you at around 7am for the private guided half day tour to Beng Mealea. A mystical and secluded temple that’s not heavily visited due to its relatively remote location, it attracts the more adventurous who want to see a temple left to nature. The majority of the temple has now collapsed but has adequate wooden walkways that weave their way through the remaining structures. Still largely submerged in lush vegetation, it’s similar in structure and design to Angkor Wat. Back to the hotel in time for a late lunch.
Community Village Day Tour (Private)
The tour visits a local community who are benefiting from small numbers of tourists who visit their village and experience traditional local life. Funds from your tour go directly to the families providing the services, as well as a portion which is donated to the community fund. Witness and participate in the village’s daily life activities which vary according to the season.
The day begins with a drive to the village of Chan Sar, about 40kms outside Siem Reap. Along the way stop at the headquarters of a local non-profit organization that employs village women who specialise in the traditional craft of mat weaving. The mats are then sold in the markets, providing an income for the women.
You’ll stop just outside the village and hop aboard an ox cart for a fun ride through the fields and to the home of a Khmer family who specialises in making brooms. Watch how they make brooms from natural materials and if you like, have a go. Then take a guided walking tour around the village where you have the opportunity to participate in fishing, farming or animal husbandry depending on the time of year. Enjoy a simple Khmer lunch followed by more activities or just spend time chatting with the locals. On the way back to Siem Reap, you'll stop at a Buddhist temple to receive a blessing from the monks.
Beng Mealea, Chan Sar Community Homestay & Kbal Spean Overnight (Private)
This two day walking excursion offers a slightly less touristic view of Angkor, allowing you to explore the region on foot and also experience the traditions and ways of life that make the country so fascinating.
This morning transfer by car to Beng Mealea, a mystical and secluded temple that is not heavily visited due to its remote location and so attracts the more adventurous who want to see a temple left to nature. The majority of the temple has now collapsed but has adequate wooden walkways that weave their way through the remaining structures. Still largely submerged in lush vegetation, it’s similar in structure and design to Angkor Wat.
Lunch will be a picnic and then it’s on to the village of Chan Sar. You’ll stop just outside the village and hop aboard an ox cart for a fun ride through the fields and to the home of a Khmer family who specializes in making brooms. Watch how they make brooms from natural materials, and if you like have a go! Then take a guided walking tour around the village where you have the opportunity to participate in fishing, farming or animal husbandry depending on the time of year. Enjoy a simple Khmer lunch followed by more activities or just spend time chatting with the locals.
Tonight you will stay in the modest home of a Khmer family. You will be provided with a mattress, mosquito net, sheets, pillow and a towel. There are basic bathroom facilities with a bucket for bathing with fresh well water. Join the family for dinner and a chat over a game of cards with your guide.
This morning join your guide to trek downhill through the forest to the River of 1000 Lingas. The carvings start on a natural stone bridge and take the form of linga, the phallic representation of the Hindu God, Shiva. There is said to be 1000 of these lingam carved into the stone which gives the area its common name, River of 1000 Lingas. From the bridge the carvings spread out and take the form of various gods, mythological beasts and effigies. They finally end at a waterfall which is called Royal King’s Bath where you can take a dip. The religious and mythological symbols were carved to sanctify the water as it tumbled down the hill to the people below. The hike ends and you can relax before being transferred back to Siem Reap in time for a late lunch.