Essential Cambodia

Cambodia, Thailand, Viet Nam,

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16 people
12 days
Code: GTRA
Activity and Adventure, Adventure, Beach, Tours
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Overview of Essential Cambodia

You’ll start in Ho Chi Minh then hightail it to Phnom Penh, then there’s beach time in Sihanoukville, island visits near Kampong Cham, ancient wonders in Siem Reap and… fish pedicures in Bangkok?

Forget everything you know about traffic lights, pedestrians and stop signs. They don’t matter here. Wait until you’re safely on the other side before you start high-fiving your success.

Trip Summary for Essential Cambodia

Start Location: Ho Chi Minh City,   End Location: Bangkok

Countries Visited: Cambodia, Thailand, Viet Nam, 
Meals Included: Breakfast: 2   Lunches: 0   Dinners: 1
Highlights:

    • Your trip begins in action-packed Ho Chi Minh City, the perfect place for a taste of Vietnam
    • Is Angkor the most incredible thing in Southeast Asia? Decide for yourself as you temple-hop with an expert local guide
    • A homestay in Chambok puts you right in the heart of everyday village life in Cambodia
    • Need some time to chill? This trip has got you covered, with two days in Sihanoukville, your launching pad to secluded island beaches and mangrove forests
    • End your trip in Bangkok, a frenetic wonderland of delicious street food and tuk tuks, and the ideal launching pad for further travel
    • There’s loads of free time to make your own fun and have your own experiences

 

Day 1 - Ho Chi Minh City
Arrive in hectic Ho Chi Minh! There will be a pre-departure meeting at around 6 pm. Look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. There's nothing planned for the first day, so go get amongst it. A good place to start is the Ben Thanh Market, where you can snack on chao tom (barbecued shrimp paste on sticks of sugar cane). If you have time, a visit to Reunification Palace or War Remnants Museum are both recommended.

Day 2 - Phnom Penh
Travel to Phnom Penh by public bus today (approximately 6–7 hours). If you're looking for a tasty beverage on arrival, hit the Foreign Correspondents Club for a mojito on the rooftop. Or you can explore the city on a cyclo tour – generally these go to the central market, US Embassy, Wat Phnom, Mekong river front, independence monument and Royal Palace. Phew! Maybe it's time for a traditional Khmer massage. Look no further than Seeing Hands, a great cause supporting visually impaired masseurs.

Day 3 - Chambok Homestay
Travel by private bus into rural Cambodia (approximately 3 hours) to the region of Kampong Speu and the village of Chambok. It's right next to the beautiful Kirirom National Park, so you can imagine how serene it is here. A homestay tonight is your chance to really immerse yourself in everyday life. Not to mention feast on a traditional Khmer dinner, prepared by your lovely hosts. Weather permitting, you might be able to trek to the awesome 40-metre waterfall nearby today too (this is optional).

Day 4 - Sihanoukville
Take a private bus to Sihanoukville (approximately 4 hours). Whether you like your beaches lively or chillaxed, Sihanoukville has something for you. You might get a clue as to why this place was named after royalty when you see the natural splendour that surrounds it. And the people are super nice and welcoming.

Day 5 - Sihanoukville
You might take the option of scooting out to the nearby islands on a boat tour (barbeque lunch anyone?). Another excellent choice is to go on a tropical safari in Ream National Park, a wonderland of birds and wildlife. Coooowee!

Day 6 - Phnom Penh
Shake the sand off your feet and jump on a bus back to the capital (approximately 4 hours). Here there's the option of visiting Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum or Choeung Ek (Killing Fields) – both pretty sobering but important and informative. The very different Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda are also well worth visiting, offering brighter aspects of the past. You might also head for the National Museum or Wat Phnom (more like 'Wat Phenomenal'). If your Riels are burning a hole in your pocket, look no further than the Central or Russian markets, both choice places interact with the locals.

Day 7 - Kampong Cham
Kampong Cham in nutshell: frontier charm, French-colonial character. Take a private bus there (approximately 3 hours) and soak it all up. Koh Paen Island is a good option while you're here, and you can hire a bike and get there with no fuss (you'll just have to take a ferry over the water if you visit during wet season). The 11th-century Wat Nokor is also worth a look. A little further away are the twin 'mountain temples' of Phnom Pros and Phnom Srei which, as well as being fascinating sites of religious, historic and spiritual significance, are more than Instagram-worthy.

Day 8 - Siem Reap
Take a public bus to Siem Reap (approximately 5 hours). Your leader will take you on an orientation walk to get you acquainted with the town. Afterwards you might want to hit the markets for some cheap and tasty street food, then get some rest and relaxation before tomorrow's visit to... (drumroll please!)... Angkor Wat!

Day 9 - Siem Reap / Angkor Wat
Get your camera ready, strap on your walkin' boots and get excited: Angkor is one of Southeast Asia's number one highlights, possibly THE highlight. The obvious banger is Angkor Wat, which is every bit as amazing as everyone says it is, especially at sunset). But you'll also spend plenty of time visiting the other gems of this sprawling complex, like the giant carved faces of Bayon and the crazy jungle-juxtaposition of Ta Prohm (a temple that looks like it's being swallowed by the vice-like grip of Mother Nature's tentacles). And yeah, Tomb Raider.

Day 10 - Siem Reap
Kick back in Siem Reap and wander around town, visiting its market, shops and restaurants. You may be a little templed out, so take this opportunity to explore your options and do something different. Depending on the season, you might be able to visit Tonle Sap, the big freshwater lake, for a glimpse of local life. Adventure-seekers and adrenaline-junkies can do the Angkor zip-line course that will have you soaring like an eagle over the lush rainforest. For even more bragging material, you can learn the tricks of the trade in a Khmer cooking class. And if you just can't not go back to Angkor, longer passes than the standard 1-day ones are available, just ask your leader.

Day 11 - Bangkok
Drive from Siem Reap to Bangkok in a private mini van (approximately 8–9 hours, including border crossing and lunch). Again, your leader will assist with the border-crossing formalities. If you expect a soothing and charming backwater, think again – it's go, go, go in Thailand's frenetic capital. If you don't go home exhausted from here, you didn't do it properly! Still, the khlongs (canals) are a great escape from it all – maybe take a boat to the highly recommended Chinatown for a delicious street food dinner. A Thai massage may also be a good option at this point. Those staying on can perhaps visit the Grand Palace, Temple of the Emerald Buddha, or the very cool Jim Thompson museum.

Day 12 - Bangkok
Your adventure comes to an end today, with no more activities planned. You're free to depart the accommodation at any time. If you are staying longer in Bangkok check out some of our Urban Adventure tours, a great way to see the sights with a local guide.

Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
Meals Included: Breakfast: 2 Lunches: 0 Dinners: 1
Highlights:

Your trip begins in action-packed Ho Chi Minh City, the perfect place for a taste of Vietnam
Is Angkor the most incredible thing in Southeast Asia? Decide for yourself as you temple-hop with an expert local guide
A homestay in Chambok puts you right in the heart of everyday village life in Cambodia
Need some time to chill? This trip has got you covered, with two days in Sihanoukville, your launching pad to secluded island beaches and mangrove forests
End your trip in Bangkok, a frenetic wonderland of delicious street food and tuk tuks, and the ideal launching pad for further travel
There's loads of free time to make your own fun and have your own experiences

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