Day 1: Home - Phnom Penh. Depart for Phnom Penh.
Day 2: Phnom Penh. Upon arrival, you will be greeted by your guide and transferred to your hotel.
Day 3: Phnom Penh - Siem Reap. After breakfast, explore Phnom Penh, a chaotic, energetic and always fascinating city, graceful tree-lined boulevards and riverfront promenades are reminders of bygone eras; today they teem with life and activities, as motorcycles weave in and out of traffic, vendor hawk their wares, and pedestrians go about their business. Start your tour with an insight into Cambodia’s cultural heritage with a visit to the Royal Palace, still the official residence of King Norodom Sihamoi and the adjacent Silver Pagoda, also known as the Pagoda of the Emerald Buddha. Continue to the elegant National Museum, which contains a comprehensive collection of Khmer Art. Finally, explore the modernday city, visiting one of the Phnom Penh’s two great markets, the Central Market, located in a distinctive domed Art Deco building, and the sprawling Russian Market, a labyrinth of stalls selling everything from CDs and DVDs to silks, crafts, jewelry and more. You will then be transferred to airport for a short flight ot Siem Reap.
Upon arrival, visit the fortified city of Angkor Thom that covers an area of square km. Enclosed by a wall and wide moats, the city includes many of Angkor’s most popular sights. Enter by the monumental South Gate over a causeway lined on either side by statues of demons and gods, each carrying a giant naga. Continue to the Terrace of The Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King, adorned with dramatic bas reliefs. Visit the ruined Baphuon, Royal Enclosure and Phimeanakas before continuing to Bayon Temple. In this temple, one of the most popular and compelling in Angkor, explore the galleries of beautifully preserved bas reliefs and ascend narrow stairs to reach the central sanctuary, where you will find giant stone faces smiling enigmatically down at you from every angle. Watch the sunset over the Cambodian countryside from the upper terraces of an ancient Angkorian temple. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 4: Siem Reap. The crowning jewel of Khmer architecture, Angkor Wat is the national symbol and the highlight of any visit to Cambodia. The largest, best preserved, and most religiously significant of the Angkor temples, Angkor Wat impresses visitors both by its sheer scale and beautifully proportioned layout, as well as the delicate artistry of its carvings. To approach the temple, first cross the vast moat, continuing along a broad causeway lined with naga balustrades. As you enter the main building, ascend through a series of galleries and courtyard before reaching the central sanctuary, which offers beautiful views back over the causeway and across the surrounding countryside.
On the way, stop to enjoy the intricate stone carvings that adorn nearly every surface, with some 1,700 Apsaras, or celestial dancers, sculpted into the walls. Ta Prohm, one of the most popular attractions of Angkor as much of the jungle has not been cleared and it looks very much as most of the Angkor monuments would have appeared when European explorers first stumbled across them. Banteay Srei is considered to be the jewel of classical Khmer art. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 5: Siem Reap. Take an excursion this morning outside of Siem Reap to Kampong Keang situated northeast shore on the edge of Tonle Sap Lake. The boat trip on the lake will explore the floating fishing villages that live at the edges of the lake, passing submerged forests and fishing farms. Return to Siem Reap to visit the Cultural Village, a unique open air museum with exhibits that represent the various ethnicities and cultures in Cambodia. Exhibits include replicas of important buildings and building styles, traditional apsara dances, ethnic performances and demonstrations of traditional Khmer rituals. Then visit the Chantiers Ecoles (Artisans d’Angkor), a vocational center that trains 650 apprentices a year in fine arts and crafts. Guided tour will visit different workshops.
Day 6: Siem Reap - Luang Prabang. Transfer to airport in the morning, and fly to Luang Prabang. Upon arrival, you will be greeted and transferred to your hotel. (Flights operate on Mondays Tuedays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays only currently). Balance of the day is free to explore the fascinating town on your own.
Day 7: Luang Prabang. Set between the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers, Luang Prabang is an enchanting town filled with historic temples and colonial style buildings. The entire town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. Start the day at Wat Visoun. The oldest living temple in Luang Prabang, Wat Visoun dates back to 1513 and contains a collection of antique wooden Buddha. Visit the nearby Wat Aham before continuing to Wat Xieng Thong, the crowning jewel of all the monasteries and temples in the city. Its many ornate buildings feature exquisite mosaic and gold-stenciled murals. From there, stroll down the main street of Luang Prabang, stopping at some of the many temples that line its sides, including Wat Sibounheuang, Wat Si Moungkhoun, Wat Sop and Wat Sene.
Continue to the National Museum (Royal Palace), a modest but graceful building which combines traditional Lao and French beau-arts motifs.This turn-of-the-century royal residence has been preserved as it was when the royal family last lived here and provides unique insights into the history of Laos. (Closed on Tuesdays). Afterwards, visit Wat Mai. Today’s last stop will be Mount Phousi for great sunset. Climb 328 steps starting from entrance on the opposite side of National Museum to the small temples atop Phou Si, the 150 m high hill which sits in the middle of the town, offering beautiful views over the temples and river.
Day 8: Luang Prabang. Travel up the Mekong River by boat to the steep limestone cliffs overlooking the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers, home to the Tham Pak Ou Caves. These extraordinary caves are filled with Buddha images of every style and materials imaginable. On the way to Pak Ou Cave, stop at Ban Xang Hai Village, a local village famous for the production of lao lao, the local rice wine whisky. Continue by vehicle to Kuang Si Waterfall, to visit local minority village. Continue by car to Kuang Si Waterfall located in a perfect natural setting near Luang Prabang. This multi-tiered waterfall tumbles over limestone formations into a series of turquoise pools. Enjoy swimming in the clear water or just relax in the natural environment. Visit local village on the way, before returning to Luang Prabang by vehicle.
Day 9: Luang Prabang - Vientiane. In the morning, fly to Vientiane, the capital of Laos. Vientiane still feels like a sleepy city with relaxed charm, tree-lined boulevards, interesting wats and colorful markets. Tour the different highlights of the city, including Pha That Luang, a leaning golden stupa which is perhaps the most important national monument in Laos; Ho Pha Keo, the formal royal temple, now a museum with beautiful examples of Buddhist sculpture; Wat Si Saket; and PaTuxai, a monumental arch inspred by the Arc de Triomphe, but executed with Lao motifs. Overnight in Vientiane.
Day 10: Vientiane - Home. After breakfast, you will be transferred to airport in time for departure.
Note: Daily departure year-round.
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Asia Cambodia Laos Local Culture Cultural Journey