ITINERARY BY DAY
DAY 1 – PHNOM PENH ARRIVAL
Upon arrival to Phnom Penh, our English speaking guide and driver will be waiting to provide transport to the hotel for check in.
Phnom Penh was once considered one of the most beautiful cities in the Orient. Despite its recent turbulent history, it still retains much of its former colonial charm. The city is a bustling place, sitting strategically at the confluence of the Mekong and Tonlé Sap Rivers. Wide tree-lined boulevards and a range of colonial-era buildings reflect the capital’s glory days, adding to the allure of the city.
After a relaxing break, begin the tour with a cyclo ride through the major sites of the city. First stop of the day: Wat Phnom temple, the founding place of the city on a small hilltop. After visiting the Wat, continue along the riverfront to the Royal Palace. Dating back to 1866, the Palace also houses the Silver Pagoda, named for its over 5000 heavy silver tiles that cover its floors.
Stop next at the Khmer-style National Museum, housing the world’s foremost collection (over 5,000 pieces) of ancient Khmer artistic, archaeological, and religious artifacts from the 4th to the 13th centuries. In addition, the roof space also houses a large bat colony!
Later in the afternoon, enjoy an atmospheric sunset river cruise to watch Phnom Penh’s riverfront spring to life in the early evening.
Dinner this evening will be held at the renowned Foreign Correspondents’ Club located along the Riverside. The building is a colonial gem with great views of the confluence of the Upper Mekong, Lower Mekong, Bassac and Tonle Sap rivers.
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
DAY 2 – PHNOM PENH CITY
The morning of Day 3 is set aside for learning a bit about Cambodia’s recent dark history with a visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. Housed in a former school taken over by the Khmer Rouge, S-21 (as it was called) was used as their main detention and torture center. After the visit, head to the equally as poignant Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. Visiting both sites provides guests with some excellent insight into the current state of Cambodia.
After learning about the country’s tragic past, return to central Phnom Penh for lunch at Le Lotus Blanc, a training restaurant for the humanitarian organization Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (for the smile of a child). The restaurant provides education and job training to street children that once made a living scavenging the municipal dump. The visit helps support the training of these kids by being their guest. (Note: Lotus Blanc closes on Sundays)
Spend the rest of the afternoon browsing the colorful markets of Phnom Penh. Visit the art-deco Central Market, one of the largest markets in Cambodia, where everything from clothes and souvenirs to jewellery and food can be found. Next pay a visit to the Russian Market, the best place in the city for wood and stone carvings, jewellery, clothes, and Cambodian silk souvenirs.
In the evening enjoy a 1-hour show by Cambodian Living Arts (CLA), located within the National Museum. A rotating program consists of 3 unique performances: Children of Bassac (Classical and Folk Dance), Mak Therng, and Passage of Life (Music and Theatre).
Oct-Mar shows daily except Sun, Apr-Sep on Mon/Wed/Fri/Sat only.
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
DAY 3 – PHNOM PENH – OUDONG
Start the day early with a trip to Wat Botum. Originally founded in 1422, Wat Botum is one of Phnom Penh’s five original Wats. Known as the ‘Temple of the Lotus Blossoms,’ the compound displays many beautifully decorated stupas, some of which contain the ashes of royalty. Here, Buddhist monks happily provide a private blessing ceremony, wishing health and safe journeys – a very special experience!
After the blessing ceremony, learn all about Khmer cuisine with a hands-on cooking class. Start the day with a guided tour through the local food market where the chef will explain Cambodian fruits, vegetables and spices. Be amazed at the vast array of colors, smells, and tastes for sale – from the ubiquitous, smelly fish sauce to sweet, fragrant mangoes. Heading back to the cooking school, explore the secrets of traditional food preparation under the guidance of the chef. Observe and then craft some of these delectable dishes for lunch.
Travel by private vehicle over scenic back roads to Cambodia’s former capital, Oudong, about 39km from Phnom Penh. The drive will pass rural villages, local pagodas, and scenic rice paddies before reaching the main hill of Oudong. Visit a family that is producing palm sugar at their house, and later climb to the top of the stupa-filled hill of Oudong for great views over the rural plains.
Before returning to Phnom Penh, stop to take a look at the spectacular Vipassana Dhura Buddhist Meditation Center, also located in Oudong. The guide will happily explain more about the school of Vipassana (Insight Meditation) during the tour of the center. Don’t forget to visit the impressive jade Buddha, the mummified monk, and the brightly painted walls telling the story of the Ramayana. Return to Phnom Penh.
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
DAY 4 – PHNOM PENH – DEPARTURE
Enjoy the day at leisure before transport is provided to the airport for the departing flight.