Discover the highlights of Cambodia: its fascinating capital Phnom Penh and the majesty of Angkor Temples! This tour, that you can easily add at the beginning or the end of your trip, has been conceived to show you the contrast between the old and the new. Phnom Penh grew under the French colonization, as it was the administrative capital of this region of Indochina. You can imagine why this city was considered as “The Pearl of Asia”: the mix between the French colonial-style buildings and the Cambodian temples makes the city unique.
And the Angkor temples are the national pride of Cambodia: its silhouette is the emblem of the national flag. Once it wasa the capital of the Khmer empire and the biggest city of the world during XI-XIII centuries, now is considered as the biggest archeological site of the world. Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Ta Phrom… We don’t pretend to make an extensive list, we just pretend to invite you to your once-in-a-lifetime travel experience
|DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION||Phnompenh/Siem Riep|
|DEPARTURE TIME||Please arrive by 7:15 AM for a prompt departure at 7:30 AM.|
|RETURN TIME||Approximately 6:30 PM.|
|WEAR||Comfortable athletic clothing, hiking boots, hat, jacket and sunscreen.|
DAY 1: Arrive Phnom Penh, Cambodia
In the afternoon, your sightseeing tour begins at the Royal Palace, still in use as the royal residence. Tour the exterior, lush palace grounds, including the Silver Pagoda, named it so because its floor is made up of 5000 silver tiles. It is one of the most exquisite structures in Cambodia and the most sacred temple in the country. Visit the elegant National Museum to view some of its 5000 works of art, including pre-Angkorean pieces, and special pieces from the temples.
Next visit Central Market located in a distinctive domed Art Deco building, and the sprawling Russian Market, a labyrinth of stalls selling a plethora of goods and souvenirs. Hand-loomed silk scarves and silver jewelry are particularly good value. Visit the large food section, taking the opportunity to sample some of the local dishes such as Khmer curry chicken or shrimp won tons.
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
DAY 2: Phnom Penh to Siem Reap (B)
This afternoon, drive to the biggest religious temple in the world, magnificent Angkor Wat. It was built by Suryavarman II in the early 12th century, to honor Vishnu, a god-king. The temple complex covers 80 hectares; comparable in size to the Imperial Palace in Beijing, Angkor Wat is considered by art historians to be the prime example of classical Khmer art and architecture. Its soaring five towers, with their distinctive extraordinary bas-reliefs, are seen emblazoned on the Cambodian flag.
End the day at Phnom Bakheng, to watch the sunset over the Cambodian countryside. Overnight in Siem Reap.
DAY 3: Siem Reap (B)
Arise early this morning, to visit the jungle-covered temple of Ta Phrom while it is still cool, and not as crowded. Ta Prohm, is one of the most beautiful temples in the area, and has been left untouched, still being swallowed by the jungle. After returning to the hotel for breakfast, depart for your full day of sightseeing.
Begin your temple exploration at Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmer Empire. It was a fortified city enclosing residences of priest, palace officials, and the military. The city is notable for its five monumental gates. The 20 meters tall gates are decorated with stone elephant heads, and crowned by four gargantuan faces of the Bodhisattva Avalokitessvara. In front of each gate, there stand 54 gods (to the left of the causeway) and 54 demons (to the right of the causeway). The complex comprises a variety of important temples with the prominent Bayon Temple at the center. The Bayon Temple is unique for its 54 towers decorated with over 200 smiling faces of Avalokitessvara. See the Royal Enclosure, the Phimeanakas, the Elephants Terrace, and the Terrace of the Leper King – former spaces for public ceremonies, both adorned with dramatic bas-reliefs.
In the afternoon, take a drive outside Siem Reap to the enchanting temple of Banteay Srei. Built in 967 by Jayavarman V’s guru, it showcases the most exquisite, deep and complex carvings in all Khmer architecture. An added feature of the exquisite decoration is the use of a hard pink sandstone (quartz arenite) giving the temple a beautiful red color. Continue on the Grand Circuit to the Preah Khan or “Holy Sword” Temple. This large temple Buddhist complex covers 56 hectares, and was built in the late 12th century by King Jaya-varman VII, and dedicated to his father Dharanindravarman. The main shrine and its adjoining buildings are richly decorated with Buddhist motifs and scenes from Hindu epics.
Back to the hotel. Overnight in Siem Reap.