Day 01: Phnom Penh to Battambang (Dinner included)
An early start as you are met at your hotel and leave the hustle and bustle of Phnom Penh behind as you head north. Your first stop will be Kompong Luong, a silversmith village, here you will see silversmiths everywhere in front of their wooden homes fashioning silver objects – from delicate chicken and fish boxes, to large fruit-shaped bowls. Close by you will see the Royal Mountain of Oudong, a former capital of Cambodia. Today Oudong still holds great significance as the 3 hills are home to various stupas containing the remains of several former Khmer kings. The main stairway (over 500 steps!) leads you to the newest of the temples which is home to a Buddha relic, and from here the views of the surrounding countryside are breathtaking. You will continue to the small riverside town of Kompong Chhnang which is famous for its pottery, a style which has remained unchanged for centuries.
Here you will get to visit a potters village and see them at work. This area is also famed for the sugar palm tree (a real national symbol), here you can taste the caramel coloured sugar sold in large cakes and also sugar palm wine. On arrival in laid-back Battambang, once Cambodia's second city, you will be taken to the ancient remains of Wat Ek Phnom, a lovely sunset location.
Day 02: Battambang Temples & Traditional Village (Breakfast / Lunch included)
This morning you visit the striking hilltop pagoda of Phnom Sampeau. This massive limestone outcrop is dissected by a number of caves some more accessible than others, with some containing unexpected reminders of Cambodia’s history. During the Khmer Rouge era, some of the pagoda buildings were used as a prison and interrogation centre – victims were then pushed through a hole in the roof of a cave to fall to their deaths.
After lunch you will drive to the village of Ksach Puoy on the banks of the Sangker River. As well as being home to many well preserved traditional Khmer wooden stilted homes, this area grows a variety of tropical fruits and after the rainy season farmers plant all kinds of vegetables along the fertile river banks, here you can learn about traditional agriculture –also a great opportunity to taste juicy oranges, sweet pineapples, and many other fruit… Not far from Ksach Puoy is Cambodia’s first vineyard – Prasat Phnom Banan Vineyard – you can pop in if you like, learn about producing wine in the tropics and of course enjoy a spot of wine tasting! A few kilometers further south you arrive at the well preserved 11th century mountaintop Angkorian temple of Phnom Banan. After climbing the 350+ steps you are treated to a wonderfully peaceful setting with superb views across the surrounding countryside, with small villages dotting the endless rice paddies, punctuated with the characteristic sugar palm trees – a wonderful sunset location...
Day 03: Banteay Chhmar & Traditional Homestay (Breakfast / Lunch/Dinner included)
After breakfast you will visit Battambang Museum, it is then time to bid farewell to Battambang as you head 120km north, to the seldom visited north western province of Banteay Meanchey to visit the ancient temple of Banteay Chhmar (Fortress of the Cat or Narrow Fortress), a large temple that is rarely visited by tourists due to its remoteness, thus it makes a refreshing change from the crowds at Angkor Wat. A low key community tourism project has recently been established in the village to help these poor people supplement their income.
On arrival the local community will welcome you and you will enjoy a traditionally prepared Khmer lunch. Afterwards you will be introduced to your host family and shown to their home where you will spend the night. The accommodation is basic, traditional wooden stilted houses, with no electricity (outdoor western style toilets and washing facilities have been built and mosquito nets are provided). After freshening-up a Community guide will lead you to Banteay Chhmar temple which you will almost certainly have to yourself. Clambering over piles of stones and in between large shady trees, you will discover the remains of fallen towers and walls.
The western enclosing wall still has the remains of intricate carvings including scenes of daily life during the Angkorian period, and the spectacular 32 armed god Avalokiteshvara. This is a peaceful temple and having it to yourself as the sun sets across the baray is a most memorable experience. A local Khmer dinner will be served by torch light in the grounds of the temple - a unique experience! Enjoying dinner together with the local community is the perfect opportunity to discuss village life in Cambodia. As the night wears on you will return to your homestay and fall asleep to the sounds of the countryside.
Day 04: Village Way of Life & Beautiful Silk - Departure (Breakfast / Lunch included)
After breakfast there is the opportunity to learn more about village life as you experience an ox-cart ride and visit the rice fields, drop-in on the village bee-keeper, stroll around the grounds of the village pagoda, and visit a local organisation that is helping to revive the silk weaving industry. Depending on the time of year you may also wish to assist your host family with their farm activities. You will have a picnic lunch overlooking a large lake where you can spot various birdlife.
After lunch you will bid farewell to Banteay Chhmar's local community and head off towards Siem Reap. However, before travelling too far you will stop off at Banteay Top, another wonderful and remote ancient temple.
Close to Siem Reap you reach the village of Puok which is home to the Artisans d’Angkor Silk Farm. Here you will witness the entire silk production process, from the silk worm munching on the Mulberry leaves, to spinning their cocoons, the cocoons being harvested and turned into silk thread, women weaving, and of course the beautiful finished silk products, which you can purchase at the on-site boutique, a wonderful souvenir of Cambodia. On arrival in Siem Reap you will be dropped-off at your hotel. End of our service!
Tour Package inclusive:
ü Private transfers and tours with local English speaking guides
ü Accommodation in deluxe hotels
ü Meals as specified in the program
ü Entrance fees, service charges, room tax and baggage handling.
Tour Package Excludes:
ü Visa stamping fee
ü Travel assurance
ü Tips and gratuities
ü Meals and drinks not mentioned in the program
ü International air tickets and airport departure taxes
ü Personal expenses & other services which are not mentioned in the program.