Phnom Penh, the Pearl of Cambodia, houses much sensational colonial architecture and iconic landmarks. The tour starts with your visits to the Royal Palace and Wat Phnom. Afterwards, we will head to Siem Reap and visit the famous Angkor Wat. Once in Siem Reap, you will also have a chance to see the famous temples of Angkor including Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, Banteay Srei, and Preah Khan. All these Khmer-style temples, built between the 10 – 13th centuries, are impressive and should not be missed once you are in Cambodia.
DAY 1: Arrive Phnom Penh, Cambodia
In the afternoon, your sightseeing tour begins at the Royal Palace, still in use as the royal residence. Visit the exterior, lush palace grounds, including the Silver Pagoda, which has its name because of the 5000 silver tiles that made up its floor. 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 5000 works of art, including pre-Angkorean pieces, and special pieces from the temples.
Next, visit the central market located in a distinctive domed Art Deco building, and the sprawling Russian Market, a maze of stalls selling many nice products and souvenirs, particularly hand-loomed silk scarves and silver jewelry are particularly good value. Take this opportunity to sample some of the local dishes such as Khmer curry chicken or shrimp wontons in the wide food section.
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
DAY 2: Phnom Penh to Siem Reap (B)
In the afternoon, drive to the biggest religious temple in the world, the magnificent Angkor Wat. It was built by Suryavarman II in the early 12th century, to honor God-kingVishnu. The temple complex covers 80 hectares, a size comparable to the Imperial Palace in Beijing. Angkor Wat is considered by art historians to be the iconic example of classical Khmer art and architecture. Its five towers with their distinctive and extraordinary bas-reliefs have been emblazoned on the Cambodian flag.
You will end the day at Phnom Bakheng to watch the sunset over the Cambodian countryside. Overnight in Siem Reap.
DAY 3: Siem Reap (B)
We will start early in the morning to visit the jungle-covered temple of Ta Phrom while it is not yet crowded and the weather is still cool. Ta Prohm, is one of the most beautiful temples in the area and has been left untouched, swallowed by the jungle. After returning to the hotel for breakfast, depart for your full day of sightseeing.
Your temple exploration begins at Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmer Empire. It was a fortified city enclosing residences of priests, 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 Avalokitesvara. In front of each gate, there are 54 gods standing to the left and 54 demons standing to the right of the causeway. The complex comprises a variety of extraordinary 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 Avalokitesvara. 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. Then you will 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 Jayavarman VII, and dedicated to his father Dharanindravarman. The main shrine and its junctional buildings are richly decorated with Buddhist motifs and scenes from Hindu epics.
Back to the hotel. Overnight in Siem Reap.
DAY 4: Depart Siem Reap (B)
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