Culture, wildlife & bird-watching in Cambodia - 20 days / 19 nights

Route to include the following:- Phnom Penh – Ratanakiri – Mondulkiri – Stung Treng – Kratie – Kampong Cham - Siem Reap – Battambang – Phnom Penh

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DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN PHNOM PENH    (-/-/-)

DAY 2: PHNOM PENH FULL DAY CITY    (B/-/-)

DAY 3: PHNOM PENH – RATANAKIRI    (B/-/-)

DAY 4: RATANAKIRI – GIBBON SPOTTING CAMBODIA Join tour    (B/-/D)

DAY 5: GIBBON SPOTTING CAMBODIA - RATANAKIRI    (B/-/-)

DAY 6: RATANAKIRI - MONDULKIRI    (B/-/-)

DAY 7: MONDULKIRI – STUNG TRENG - FLOODED FOREST - ISLAND CAMP    (B/-/D) 

DAY 8: STUNG TRENG – KRATIE    (B/-/-)

DAY 9: KRATIE – KAMPONG CHAM    (B/-/-)

DAY 10: KAMPONG CHAM – KHMER VILLAGE HOMESTAY    (B/L/D)

DAY 11: HOMESTAY KAMPONG THOM – KAMPONG THOM GRASSLANDS – SIEM REAP    (B/-/-)

DAY 12: SIEM REAP    (B/-/-)

DAY 13: SIEM REAP - PREK TOAL BIRD SANCTUARY – SIEM REAP    (B/-/-)

DAY 14: SIEM REAP - ANG TRAPAENG THMOR (ATT) DAY TRIP BY SAM VEASNA CENTER    (B/-/-)

DAY 15: SIEM REAP – PREAH VIHEAR    (B/-/-) 

DAY 16: SRA EM – KOH KER – KOMPONG KHLEANG – SIEM REAP    (B/-/-) 

DAY 17: SIEM REAP – BATTAMBANG    (B/-/-)

DAY 18: BATTAMBANG – SIEM REAP    (B/-/-)

DAY 19: SIEM REAP AT LEISURE    (B/-/-)

DAY 20: SIEM REAP DEPARTURE    (B/-/-)


DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN PHNOM PENH (-/-/-)

Welcome to Phnom Penh – the city retains its traditional Khmer and colonial styles with French villas and large tree-line sidewalk. Arrive at the international airport and meet up with your tour guide and transfer to the hotel.  The remainder of the day is free for you to relax. Overnight in Phnom Penh. 

Please note!: Hotel check-in time is 14:00


DAY 2: PHNOM PENH SIGHTSEEING (B/-/-)

Today you will visit the impressive and colourful Khmer-style royal palace complex built in 1866 by the Predecessors of King Norodom. Nearby is Silver pagoda (the emerald Buddha temple), which contains plenty of Buddha Statues decorated and made of gold, diamond, gemstone and silver.  Stop at the Independence monument and explore the National museum; a beautiful Khmer architecture building that contains more than 5000 art antiques made of bronze, wood, gold, silver, copper, sandstone and others. Thereupon, visit Choeung Ek museum, where between 1975 and 1978 about 17,000 men, women, children and infants were detained and tortured at S-21 and were transported for the extermination. Continue to Tuol Sleng prison, now a Genocide Museum, the most secret part of the Khmer Rouge regime. It is also called S-21 (abbreviated for Security Office 21), a Khmer Rouge's premier security camp, specifically designed for the interrogation and extermination of anti-Angkor elements. 

Pass through the river-front park where 4 rivers meet at a junction including the mystical Mekong. Walk up to the sacred hill Phnom Daun Penh - also the name of a pagoda and name of the capital nowadays. Overnight in Phnom Penh.


DAY 3: PHNOM PENH – RATANAKIRI (B/-/-)

After breakfast, transfer to Rattanakiri province which will take around 6 hours to reach. Upon arrival, transfer to hotel and check in.  Afternoon visit to Yeak Laom Lake, a lake in the middle of a mountain which was formed many centuries ago from a volcano. The lake is about 800 meters in diameter and 48 meters deep during the dry season. The water is clear and suitable for swimming. Return to your hotel via a local market.  Overnight in Ratanakiri!


DAY 4: RATANAKIRI – GIBBON SPOTTING CAMBODIA (B/-/D) Join tour

The Gibbon Spotting Cambodia guide will arrive at 8am to collect you from your hotel before departing at around 8:30am. After a short drive (35km) you will arrive at Kachon village. From here you will take a traditional boat and head upstream to Kackork Village (20km) where you will stop to visit a traditional village and cemetery. You will then return to your local boat and cruise downstream along on the Sesan River and onwards to the town of Veun Sai (32km). Before reaching Veun Sai you will stop for lunch (your own account) on the banks of the river.

After lunch, continue by boat and dock on the west side of the river. You will then be met by your local community guide who partners your general guide. At this point you have time to buy any last-minute items needed for your time in the jungle and your bags are then loaded onto a moto and taken in to camp. In Veun Sai you will be asked to stop of at the conservation office and sign in to the National park.

You will then take a local moto past I Tub village; a Loatian community approximately half way to camp, located at the beginning of the Veun Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area. The trail for this part of the ride is mainly flat though expect to cross a few bridges on the way. From here you will then trek in to camp which will take approximately 1 hour along fairly flat terrain. Along the way you have time to enjoy the walk and your wonderful surroundings.

You arrive at camp at around 4pm. You then have time to relax, take a basic shower, cool off and explore the paths surrounding the camp or get acquainted with the surroundings. It is also possible to talk to some of the team based at camp to gain a deeper understanding of the project as well as other Cambodian wildlife that is being studied in the area. At dusk you will venture out of the camp on a 1 hour nature walk around the area. On this walk you will learn about the forest and see first-hand the problem that the area is having with illegal loggers. It is important that you understand the problems that are happening in the area and how you can help. Once back at camp you have time to cool off before a delicious camp dinner at about 7:30pm. After dinner you are free again to relax and prepare for the gibbon trek the following morning. The camp generator will then go off between 9:30pm and 10pm so this is the time to pack your day bag for the early morning wake up call. Overnight at Gibbon Spotting Cambodia. 


DAY 5: RATANAKIRI – GIBBON SPOTTING CAMBODIA (B/-/D)

Today you will rise early at around 3:15am. After a quick coffee you leave camp and trek to the edge of the jungle savannah. The aim is to arrive before dawn so you can be ready to hear the gibbons call as the sun rises. Once the gibbon song begins you have about a 15 minute window to locate the gibbons before they stop. Thankfully your guides have an amazing knowledge of the jungle and know roughly where the gibbons will be as they do have some favourite trees. To find the gibbons you will be walking and sometimes even running after your guide until they are spotted. Hearing the gibbon song getting louder is such a thrilling experience. However, once they have been spotted all the effort is 100% worth it.  You have the opportunity to follow the gibbons for a couple of hours and in some cases you can get to within 15 meters of them, providing excellent opportunities to take pictures. At different times of the year the behaviour changes depending on the weather and how far they have to go in search of food. After your intimate time in the jungle with the gibbons which are currently a family of 5 (A mother, father, 2 adolescent boys and a baby) you will leave and return to camp for a well-deserved breakfast.

The conversation over breakfast is usually firmly fixed on the fantastic gibbon experience. After breakfast you have time to freshen up before packing up and leaving camp.  You will travel by moto’s to take you all the way from camp to Veun Sai. Here you will then say goodbye to your community guide before crossing the Sesan River on the local ferry. You will be met by your driver who will take you to one final stop; the beautiful volcanic crater lake of Yaek Lom. Once there, you can walk around the lake or take a refreshing swim in its fresh water if you wish. After your time here you will be taken back to your hotel in time for a late lunch and to relax for the rest of the day at your hotel in Ratanikiri for overnight. 


DAY 6: MONDULKIRI - RATANAKIRI (B/-/-)

After breakfast, overland to Mondulkiri which will take around 3 hours - arrival at noon time and check in to hotel for a short relaxing time before visiting Busra waterfall, located in Pich Chenda district about 43 kilometers northeast of Mondulkiri provincial town, Sen Monorom. Busra is considered by many to be the most beautiful waterfall in Mondulkiri. Overnight in Mondulkiri


DAY 7: MONDULKIRI – STUNG TRENG - FLOODED FOREST - ISLAND CAMP (B/-/D) 

In the early morning you will travel by car from Phnom Penh directly to Stung Treng where you will go to the Flooded Forest; wake up by the sounds of birds and rare freshwater dolphins surfacing around the island. Following breakfast, you will start your day with a kayaking trip down river through the remote flooded forests of Cambodia’s amazing Ramsar Wetlands. A boat will provide backup. Many varieties of birds live in these forests and the scenery is unique. Lunch (your own account) will be served at a scenic spot along the river and return to Stung Treng late in the afternoon for your overnight stay. Late afternoon, board a boat and continue to a small island where your camp will be set up on a sandy beach and enjoy dinner around a campfire.


DAY 8: STUNG TRENG – KRATIE (B/-/-)

After breakfast at hotel travel overland to Kratie taking around 3.5 hours, arriving at about noon time - check in to your hotel and have a short time to relax. Mid-afternoon visit Kampi Resort, a great natural resort which is home to Dolphins. Having an excursion to Sambok district and exploring the Dolphin preserved area on Mekong River. Then visit Phnom Sam Bok, a cultural and main tourist resort of Kratie province. Return to hotel. Overnight in Kratie.


DAY 9: KRATIE – KAMPONG CHAM (B/-/-)

After breakfast, departure by overland to Kampong Cham, also called "The Garden City" and the main town in the province of that name. You will have a first stop at Skuon Land for a visit at Spider Village. Then visit a Phnom Pros (the hill of men) and Phnom Srei (the hill of women) from which you can admire the surrounding panorama. You will also visit the Rubber Plantation and a Rubber Factory by crossing Kizona Bridge. 

Afternoon sightseeing, travel to Wat Hanchey, 25km North of Kampong Cham, a beautifully located hill top pagoda that was an important religious center during the Chenla period. Then Wat Nokor, a modern Theravada Buddhist pagoda squeezed into the walls of an 11th-century Mahayana Buddhist shrine of sandstone and laterite. The last visit is to a local village to learn how they make their living. Overnight in Kampong Cham.


DAY 10: KAMPONG CHAM – KHMER VILLAGE HOMESTAY (B/L/D)

After breakfast, transfer to Homestay in Kampong Thom, where you will spend time overnight.

Morning:

- Introduction to Khmer Homestay upon arrival.

- Lunch

Afternoon: Cultural Activities.

- Pony Cart ride.

- Visit Handicraft center/Weaving.

- Khmer Noodle making

Evening: Cultural Activities.

- Ox-cart ride to watch sunset.

- Dinner with dance show and overnight in Homestay.


DAY 11: HOMESTAY KAMPONG THOM – KAMPONG THOM GRASSLANDS – SIEM REAP (B/-/-)

After breakfast, you will be picked up at your hotel and transfered by 4WD to Stung District located in Kampong Thom province. Get off the National Road No.6 for a few more kilometers before reaching the grasslands area to search for the critically-endangered Bengal Florican. Raptors including Eastern Marsh Harrier, Pied Harrier and Greater Spotted Eagle are often seen cruising over the grasslands here. You might be able to see Manchurian Reed Warbler and Oriental Plover. On the way back, visit Kampong Kdei Old Bridge on Angkor Ancient road.  Check in to hotel for overnight in Siem Reap.


DAY 12: SIEM REAP (B/-/-)

After breakfast, explore South Gate of Angkor Thom known as Big Angkor, a 3km2 walled and moated royal city and was the last capital of the Angkorian Empire, The famous Bayon Temple was an architectural muddle, in part because it was constructed in a somewhat piecemeal fashion for over a century. Terrace of the Elephants is an impressive, two and a half meter tall, 300 meter long terrace wall adorned with carved elephants and gradual that spans the heart of Angkor Thom in front of Baphuon - huge temple mountain in the heart of Angkor Thom, Royal Palace Area and Phimeanakas - impressive rite and sandstone pyramid. Terrace of the Leper King is at the north end of the Terrace of the Elephants, a double terrace wall with deeply carved nag as, demons and other mythological beings. Lasty, visit Ta Prohm temple which is a wonderful combination of human genius and natural beauty. Giant trees have grown here for centuries.

Afternoon visit Angkor Wat temple, the founder of the temple was Suryavarman II who reigned Cambodia from 1113 to 1152 and built the five towers in the 12th century to dedicate to the Hindu God Vishnu. The plan of the pyramidal conception of the temple combined with spaces, alleys, ditches is an ancient masterpiece of architectural design and construction. It is time to view lovely sunset from Pre Rup temple. Overnight in Siem Reap.


DAY 13: SIEM REAP - PREK TOAL BIRD SANCTUARY – SIEM REAP (B/-/-)

Southeast Asia and during the wet season the rising water level of the Mekong River backs up into the lake causing the lake to grow from 2500sq km to more than 13,000sq km. This seasonal flow of water also moves vast quantities of nutrients making Tonle Sap an incredibly rich spawning ground for fish. The lake is the largest inland fishery in the world. Once you arrive at the lake you will board your motor-powered sampan for the journey to Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary. Along the way you will wind through floating villages and flooded forests and have a chance to observe the different fishing methods used on the lake. The bird sanctuary and biosphere reserve of Prek Toal protects some of the rarest water birds in Southeast Asia and if you are lucky you could see both lesser and greater adjutant storks, spot-billed pelicans, milky storks and perhaps even a saris crane. Besides the big wading birds, the sanctuary is home to a host of other bird species and the concentrations can be staggering. We will return to Siem Reap in the early evening for overnight.


DAY 14: SIEM REAP - ANG TRAPAENG THMOR (ATT) DAY TRIP BY SAM VEASNA CENTER FOR WILDLIFE CONSERVATION (B/-/-)

We will depart very early this morning for Ang Trapeang Thmor Sarus Crane Reserve (ATT). Located about an hour and half northwest of Siem Reap, the reservoir and flooded fields of ATT provide critical habitat for more than 200 species of birds including the endangered and charismatic Sarus Crane. Up to 350 Sarus Cranes forage in this reserve which is also home to a great diversity of other water birds such as Painted, Milky, Woolley-necked and Lesser Adjutant Storks; Comb Ducks and Cotton Pygmy Geese; Black-headed Ibis; Spot-billed Pelican; and many species of herons, bitterns and cormorants. Pied and Eastern Marsh Harriers often course over the grasslands looking for prey. The grasslands and reed beds also play host to a wide variety of songbirds. Beyond the avian attractions ATT is home to an important population of endangered Eld’s Deer and we will do our best to see this special mammal during our visit. You will have breakfast along the way and after a full morning of birding we will have the opportunity to visit the Phnom Srok Village which is famous for their silk weavings. After your visit to the village and a chance to shop for silk handicrafts you will have lunch at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s reserve headquarters. After lunch (your own account) you will continue your explorations of ATT looking for any species we might have missed in the morning. We should arrive back in Siem Reap and our hotel around 5:00. Overnight in Siem Reap.


DAY 15: SIEM REAP – PREAH VIHEAR (B/-/-) 

After breakfast, head to Preah Vihear province. Upon arrival visit Prasat Preah Vihear: Preah Vihear is known as the Temple Mountain which was built at the beginning of the 10th century as a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva. The temple had further works added to it by the following three kings. The temple today is still a Hindu site, but Buddhist Monks pray at the temple to the Gods. The temple area consists of three stories surrounded by two galleries. Your guide will lead you through the temple area explaining the sites ancient and recent history. The temple was declared a Word Heritage UNESCO site in 2008. Overnight in Preah Vihear.

 

DAY 16: SRA EM – KOH KER – KOMPONG KHLEANG – SIEM REAP (B/-/-) 

Early start to travel to Koh Ker. Visit Koh Ker (Prasat Pram, Prasat Thom, Prasat Balang, Prasat Krachap, and Prasat Damrei Krap): We head into the bush to the remote Angkor capital of Koh Ker. In the 10th century Jayavarman IV (928-942) fell out with his family, stormed off to the northwest and established the rival capital of Koh Ker. Although being the capital for just 15 years, Jayavarman IV left a legacy of 30 major temples and some gargantuan sculpture that is on display in the National Museum in Phnom Penh. You will visit Prasat Thom, a seven-storey step pyramid, more Mayan than Khmer, with commanding views over the surrounding forest, nearby Prasat Krahom or Red Temple and other temples, including the five towers of Prasat Ling, each enclosing a giant Lingas or fertility symbol, the biggest and best found in situ anywhere in Cambodia. 

Travel to Kompong Khleang, boat trip in the sunset: Floating Villages, located 10 kilometers south of Siem Reap. Take a ride in a traditional wooden boat on the Tonle Sap, the "Great Lake" of Cambodia and the largest in Asia. Here you will see plenty of examples of the Khmer way of life on the Tonle Sap. Enjoy sunset on the boat. Travel to Siem Reap for overnight.


DAY 17: SIEM REAP – BATTAMBANG (B/-/-)

After breakfast, transfer to Battambang province taking around 3 hours. Upon arrival, check in to your hotel and have some free time to relax. 

Afternoon visit Phnom Banon; the temple has five towers similar to Angkor Wat, but it was constructed separately. At the foot of the mountain, there is a moat and two natural wells, Bet Meas and Chhuong. Then turn to Odam Bang village, we enjoy a small bamboo train ride to Ousrolao village almost 2 hours there and back. You will visit local villages and people to experience their lifestyle. Return to Odam Bang village by the same small train and on to your hotel.  Overnight in Battambang.


DAY 18: BATTAMBANG – SIEM REAP (B/-/-)

After breakfast, visit Phnom Sampov, on top of the mountain a 100-meter-high pagoda stands and three natural caves. Then transfer to Phnom Penh, taking around 5 hours. Upon arrival check in hotel and take your relaxing time after a long traveling. Overnight in Siem Reap.


DAY 19: SIEM REAP AT LEISURE (B/-/-)

Breakfast at hotel. Have leisure time today. 

Overnight in Siem Reap.


DAY 20: SIEM REAP – DEPARTURE (B/-/-)

Breakfast at hotel, free leisure on own arrangement until time transfer to airport for flight onwards! 

Please note!: Hotel check-out time is 12:00

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