This unique trip throughout the « Smiling Country » spans 19 to 22 days,
depending on the time that you want to devote to the discovery of the temples and the Angkor area, since its program includes a 3, 4, 5 or 6 days stay in residence at Siem Reap Angkor.
It will allow you to discover almost all of the points of interest in Cambodia:
- Ethnic minorities, lost in the jungle of the Highlands in the northeastern Province of Ratanakiri
- The Khmer temples from the 5th to the 13th century all along the centerline of the country and the region of Angkor temples, including the fabulous temple of Angkor Vat, close to the town
of Siem Reap
- The fishermen and farmer’s life in the plains that surround the Grand Lake Tonlé Sap
- The western Provinces, at the foot of Cardamoms’ Mountain
- The capital, Phnom Penh, at the confluence of the Tonlé Sap and the Mekong River, with the Royal Palace, the Archaeological Museum and its crowdie market places
- The large rice fields of Southeast and the natural caves with pre-angkorian worship places
- Finally, white sand beaches and turquoise sea, between the small resorts of Kep and Kampot and the commercial port of Sihanoukville, on the Gulf of Thailand.
Note that this trip is only available during the dry season, from early November to late March as visiting temples as well as seaside is much more pleasant before the April heat wave that now exceeds regularly 40°C. Some tracks in the Northeast are impassable during the monsoon. They are also very narrow and the comfortable accommodation capacities of the provincial capital, Banlung, are limited.
We therefore propose this extension to small groups of maximum 6 people. For larger groups, booking and confirming their reservation at least three months in advance, we could quote the Ratanakiri part of this trip with two vehicles.
The arrival and departure airport is Phnom Penh and the schedule of this program is as follows:
Day 1: Arrival at PHNOM PENH. First contact with the capital.
Welcome by your guide and your driver at the international airport of Phnom Penh, in the morning. After storing your luggage at your hotel and took some rest, you will make a city tour and will dive in the unique atmosphere of its markets. In late afternoon, you will enjoy a boat cruise on the confluence of the «Four Rivers» to watch the sunset over the city, the floating village and fishing boats.
Day 2 (B): PHNOM PENH – KRATIE (300 km). Towards the Ratanakiri.
To reach the first step towards the Ratanakiri Province you will follow up the course of the Mekong River, passing through Kampong Cham, the main town of the Muslim community in the country. Route then crosses the first plantations of rubber trees (you’ll see many of them in the northeast quarter of Cambodia), and joined the Mekong River at Chhlong, that you follow again on a 30km drive. After storing your luggage at your hotel in KRATIE, you take the small road along the River to the village of KAMPI. During a silent cruise on the Mekong River in late afternoon, you can probably see some of latest freshwater dolphins coming catch their breath at the surface, and then watch the sunset on the River.
Day 3 (B): KRATIE – BANLUNG (270 km). The RATANAKIRI and Jaraï tribes.
You are now on the way to the capital of the Province of Ratanakiri. At halfway, the road becomes a track and enters the forests. By imperceptibly rising towards the Northeast Highlands, up to an average altitude of 500 meters, you arrive at BANLUNG. There, you reach the “Terres Rouges Lodge”, the former residence of the Governor, now the best hotel of the city with its saltwater swimming pool in which you will surely take time to relax yourself.
There, you will meet your local guide who will take the less bad tracks through the dense jungle areas, and will facilitate your contacts with ethnic minorities during your stay in the region.
The afternoon will be devoted to approach Jaraï tribes’ people in several villages along the trail that leads to Andong Meas. You will cross rubber trees, cashew nuts and coffee plantations and see the dangerous work of miners looking for precious stones and zircon. (3 to 4 hours and 100 km of track, round trip).
Day 4 (B – L): The RATANAKIRI and Kroeung tribes
Departure for Kachanh waterfalls for a refreshing moment and the discovery of the traditional costumes of Kroeung tribe. You then drive full North to Ta Veng Leu by stopping at the Tiger Cave and in several Kroeung villages. You’ll see the singles’ houses built during the short period of the soul mate search. You’ll also see old women with largely pierced ear lobes which are gradually stretched over the years. And everywhere you meet wonderful children, a little bit shy, but so endearing. (About 130 km of track, round trip, with picnic included on the way)
Day 5 (B – L): The RATANAKIRI and Kachork and Tampoun tribes
Departure for your last visit in Ratanakiri and the discovery of funeral rites of the Tampoun tribes. The track passes through bamboo forests and leads to the village of Voeun Say, on the left bank of the great Se San River, tributary of Mekong River. A one-hour and a half canoe cruise will lead you to Kos Peak village inhabited by Kachork tribe. On the way back, you stop at Kachaun to discover an impressive Tampoun tribe cemetery. A little away from the village, the tombs consist of side opened shelters surrounded by barriers and decorated on their four corners by carved wooden totems. One year after the death, a big celebration brings together all villagers to dance around the tomb, with bowls of rice alcohol, and two wooden elephant tusks are added to the decoration of it. (About 70 km of track and 3 hours of canoe, round trip, with picnic included on the way).
Day 6 (B): BANLUNG – KAMPONG CHAM (400 km). Rubber trees plantations.
Leaving now Ratanakiri, you drive back down to the Mekong River, where you find a good road at Ou Pong Moan, after approximately 120 km and 2h30 track drive. About 15 Km to arrive at Kampong Cham, after having crossed large plantations of rubber trees, largely renewed since the « Michelin’s Plantations » of the colonial years, you stop at CHUP to visit an important latex processing plant.
Arrival in KAMPONG CHAM and installation at your hotel.
Day 7 (B): KAMPONG CHAM – SIEM REAP ANGKOR (320 km)
This day will be your first discovery of Khmer temples.
Morning: By leaving Kampong Cham, you will visit the temple of VAT NOKOR. Built in the 11th century, this vast sandstone monument is also a current monastery nested inside the old construction. There, you will also see a curious reconstitution of Buddha’s life associated with the representation of various deities by life-size figures. You resume the road towards SKUN (with its fried Tarantulas’ specialty…) then northward, towards Kampong Thom, to visit small KUHA NOKOR temple, built in the 11th century and very well preserved in its luxurious greenery.
Afternoon: Not far after Kampong Thom, you will leave the main road for approximately 30 km of track and reach SAMBOR PREI KUK site (7th century). On the site of a former capital of the Kingdom, in a deep forest, you will discover three groups of small temples in unique architecture: Prasat Sambor, Prasat Tao and Prasat Yai Poan.
End of the trip to SIEM REAP and installation at your hotel.
Day 8 and following days: the AREA and the TEMPLES of ANGKOR
It now belongs to you to decide on the number of days that you want to dedicate to the visit of the temples and the Angkor area.
Our three, four, five or six days’ programs will allow you to have a minimalist or very thorough vision of them, according to your whishes and curiosity.
This sedentary stay is voluntarily placed at the center of your trip, so that you can enjoy your hotel facilities (swimming pool, spa, massages, etc…) as well as the very relaxing and pleasant provincial life, in comparison with the frenzy of the capital, where you have immersed as soon as you arrived in Cambodia.
Day 8+N (B): SIEM REAP – BATTAMBANG
(N being the number of days of your visit to Angkor)
Morning: Departure to BATTAMBANG (190 km and 3 hours drive)
You drive round the Tonle Sap great Lake north end and through the town of Sisophon to Battambang, the economic capital of the Northwest.
Afternoon: You visit ancient pagodas and the Museum of the city, and then you install at your hotel.
Day 9+N (B): BATTAMBANG
Morning: Departure with your local Guide to visit the Khmer temple of VAT EK (11th century and 10 km north of the city) and the current Pagoda with its giant Buddha, passing through the small villages along the Sanké River, where you will see the various daily activities of the inhabitants.
Afternoon: You drive along the Sanké River for about 20 km to the South, by the track that leads to the Khmer temple of VAT PHNOM BANOM (11th century). If it fits to you climbing a 337 steps stairs, you will have a magnificent view on the entire region. Driving back to Battambang, you will discover Thai Chhoeut vineyards on small hillsides bordering the River.
Day 10+N (B): BATTAMBANG – PHNOM PENH and the daily life of the villages
Morning: Departure for PHNOM PENH (300 km and 5 hours by the direct route). Driving along the great Lake Tonlé Sap by the western side, you first reach the city of PURSAT, famous by its marble carvers. Near the town of KAMPONG CHNANG you visit handicraft pottery manufacturing and exploitation of palm sugar trees in the small village of Ondoung Rossey, at the foot of the mountains of Cardamoms.
Afternoon: Leaving KAMPONG CHNANG, you drive up to the small fishing port of KOMPONG TRALACH, to have an overview of the Tonle Sap River and visit a pagoda of the 17th century, very nicely decorated with frescoes. To reach PHNOM PENH, in the late afternoon, you then drive along the PHNOM OUDONG site. Stupas built between 1623 and 2002, Preah Ataras (17th century), Chinese temple and Cham temple overlook a former capital of the Kingdom in the 19th century from the top of a 500 steps stairs. End of the journey to PHNOM PENH and installation at the hotel.
Day 11+N (B): PHNOM PENH
Morning: You will begin your tour of typical monuments of the capital by the ROYAL PALACE (1866) and the SILVER PAGODA (1892) whose name is due to the almost 6000 solid silver plates covering the ground. Around the pagoda, you can « read » the legend of the RAMAYANA on a long serial of frescos painted on the wall. (Open from 7:30 at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.). You will then visit the ARCHEOLOGICAL MUSEUM. Built in 1917 in traditional Khmer style and designed by Frenchman Georges Groslier who remained its administrator till 1942, it presents very large collections of artifacts and statues of angkorian and pre-angkorian periods. (Open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.).
Afternoon: You will visit the VAT PHNOM Pagoda on a small hill overlooking the city, where various events are commemorated as the founding of the city by Mrs. Penh in the 13th century and the return to Cambodia of the Northwest Provinces by the Kingdom of Siam, under the French protectorate. Then, you can have some shopping at the CENTRAL MARKET, built in the 1930’s in pure art deco style, the complete renovation of which is nearing completion.
Day 12+N (B): PHNOM PENH – TAKEO – KEP
Morning: Departure at 7:30 pm and route to TA KEO (80 km and 2 hours drive). You will take a boat for a three hours cruise on broad channels dating back to the time of the FUNAN (first name of Cambodia in the IV and V centuries). They will lead you to the ruins and the small Museum of ANGKOR BOREI, through large water rice fields and ducks’ farms. Your last step will allow you to discover the island and the temple of PHNOM DA (7th century).
Afternoon: Back to TA KEO, you drive towards KEP (80 km and 2 hours by the direct route). About 30 km before arriving at KEP, you will visit the caves of KAMPONG TRACH. It is a place of worship and meditation since pre-angkorian time, in which one enters through a natural 20 meters long tunnel to discover a magnificent rock circus with open sky. There you will see a huge reclining Buddha and the old cells of the monks. Arrival at KEP and installation at the hotel.
Day 13+N (B): KEP – KAMPOT – SIHANOUKVILLE
Morning: After a city tour, to see the old colonial villas and what has been a very nice resort until 1979, you take the road towards SIHANOUKVILLE (125 km and 3 hours of direct route). Prior to arriving at KAMPOT, famous for its pepper (to buy at the market), you will leave the main road to visit the caves of PHNOM CHHNORK. A comfortable two hundred steps staircase provides access to the main cave which houses a small pre-angkorian temple. This temple is built around the conjugation of a stalactite and stalagmite of impressive dimensions. You will then arrive at SIHANOUKVILLE (also called Kampong Som) which is divided by several hills between the commercial harbor of Cambodia, to the West, and the beautiful tropical seaside resorts in the South, with its hotels, its long white sand beaches and turquoise waters. Installation at the hotel.
Afternoon: Free time to enjoy the beach and the facilities of your hotel.
Day 14+N (B – L): Sihanoukville : The REAM NATIONAL PARK
Day: Departure by car to the village of REAM and the visit of the NATIONAL PARK. This is a full day excursion by boat and on foot to visit the mangrove forest and bird sanctuary with picnic lunch (included) on the beach.
Day 15+N (B – L): Sihanoukville : THE THREE HEAVENLY ISLANDS
Day: Departure by boat from the beach (*), for the visit of three beautiful islands in the South-East of Sihanoukville, with picnic lunch (included) on the beach.
(*) Held bathing suit under the jeans, « tong » shoes type and small closed bag, as well as solar cream and long sleeves are recommended…
Day 16+N (B): SIHANOUKVILLE – PHNOM PENH
Morning: Free time to enjoy the beach and the facilities of the hotel.
Departure and drive towards PHNOM PEHN International Airport (220 km and about 4 hours drive) to arrive two hours prior the boarding time for your return flight. Airport is situated in the South-West of the capital and on your route, so that you will access directly without enter the city
Note: the letters B-L-D after the Day’s Nr indicate meals included in the price of the stay according to the following code: B = breakfast – L = lunch – D = dinner. For not included meals, your guide will advise you suitable meals places all along your way.
Have a nice trip with MERU TOUR !
MERU TOUR: The whole of Cambodia for You… A personalized trip throughout the Khmer Country.