Secrets of Cambodia with Laos
This 11 Day Secrets of Cambodia with Laos Trip takes you inside the sights and stories of two of Asia’s most fascinating nations. Embrace the timeless charm and generous spirit of Cambodia on this Hidden Journey through ancient lost capitals, remote rural villages and extraordinary natural wonders, peeling back the layers of centuries-old culture and heritage through beautiful choreographed performances and traditional cooking customs and superstitions.
Planning your holiday is easy,and speak to your friendly Consultant.
Day 1: Arrive Phnom Penh
A riot of colours, smells and swarm of scooters on Phnom Penh’s busy streets signal the start of our Hidden Journey. An Indochina gateway to the spiritual heart of Cambodia. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel. This evening meet your Travel Director and fellow adventurers for a Welcome Reception with drinks and appetisers.
Hotel: Sokha Phnom Penh, 2 nights
Day 2: Phnom Penh
Exotic flavours are yours to explore this morning on an in-depth City Tour with a Local Specialist. Begin with a visit to Wat Phnom temple from which the city takes its name. Delve into the legend of Lady Penh who discovered the four statues of Buddha deposited on this tree-covered hill. The golden spires of the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda with its bountiful national treasures are our next stop on this exploration of Cambodia’s capital. Visits includes the National Museum, where we gain a unique insight into Khmer art and sculptures from different periods throughout Khmer history. Delving deep into the turbulent, terrifying history of the Khmer Rouge years, we travel along a dusty road to the outskirts of the city to visit the former school turned torture, interrogation and execution centre of Tuol Sleng. The history of that time is depicted in the thousands of S-21 portraits of victims that are on display at the Museum of Genocide, providing an insight into the horrors of Cambodia under Pol Pot’s rule. Our journey back in time continues on to the Cheung Ek Killing Fields, a memorial built to commemorate the 17,000 victims who died under the reign of the Khmer Rouge. Spend the evening at leisure.
Day 3: Phnom Penh – Siem Reap
A leisurely start to your morning gives you an opportunity to soak up the sights and sounds of the city. Transfer to the airport for your flight to Siem Reap, the gateway to the magnificent temples of the lost city of Angkor. Spend the afternoon exploring Siem Reap’s busy streets on a walking tour. Visit to the labyrinthine Old Market where the locals spend their early mornings shopping for fresh fruit, vegetables and spices. Wander past the busy stalls. See authentic Khmer soups and freshly baked baguettes. a remnant of the country’s French heritage. Tonight, we watch enthralled by the energy, emotion and enthusiasm of the talented Phare performers who use theatre, music, dance and modern circus arts to tell uniquely Cambodian stories.
Hotel: Le Meridien, 4 nights
Day 4: Angkor Wat & Siem Reap
Venturing deep into the Cambodian jungle and through a pyramid-shaped gateway into an ancient world. Serene stone faces watch over us as we cross the stone causeway suspended over a moat into the spiritual heart of the ancient lost city of Angkor. Enjoy a rare opportunity to gain in-depth insight into the fascinating ancient empire of the Khmer. Join a renowned scholar and Local Specialist who will bring to life the stories behind the intricate carvings and murals of celestial nymphs and mythical serpents along the abandoned hallways of Angkor Wat. We leave the mystical lotus-shaped temple towers behind us for your choice of activities. Visiting the National Museum to explore the history, art and culture of the Khmer civilisation. Collections date as far back as the 9th century. Or learning about the delicate traditions of silk making at a local silk farm. Return to the hotel for an afternoon at leisure or join an Optional Experience.
Day 5: Angkor & Siem Reap
Our intimate encounter with a lost empire continues today. Uncover other iconic sites of the ancient abandoned city of Angkor that have been devoured by the Cambodian jungle. Explore its ancient ruins in the company of saffron-clad monks and mischievous monkeys that clamber up and over the roots of centuries-old trees that have carved their way deep into the Great City’s walls. Begin our day with a visit to the fortified Angkor Thom. Seeing such iconic sites as the Terrace of Elephants, the Royal Enclosure and the Temple of Bayon. With its giant smiling faces of Buddha that have watched over the heart of the lost city for centuries. Venture underneath the dense tree canopy to the crumbling, moss-covered ruins of the Buddhist temple of Ta Prohm. Featured as the location for the film ‘Tomb Raider’. Exploring its towers courtyards and corridors to uncover the intricate stone reliefs that are shielded by the surrounding foliage. The fresh flavours of Khmer cuisine are explored during a Cultural Insight cooking class in Siem Reap. Amble through the vibrant local market and learn about cooking customs, ingredients and food superstitions. Joining a local chef at his restaurant, learn how to craft and cook various peppery Khmer specialities. After the class, share your creation with your travel companions over dinner.
Day 6: Angkor & Peak Sneng village
The terracotta-hued walls of Banteay Srei Temple are our first stop today. A red sandstone temple dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva, whose 10th century delicate carvings of women with lotus flowers are said to have been too delicate to have been carved by a man. Hence its name, “Citadel of the Women”. Deep in the heart of the Cambodian countryside, we come face-to-face with the rich Khmer culture. Join a local family in their 80-year-old wooden house. Located on their dragon fruit farm for a Be My Guest lunch of traditional dishes freshly cooked with locally grown produce. Our interaction with the local Khmer villagers continues as we visit their local school. Chat to some of the children who join us on our rambling through the village to see how they spend their day-to-day lives. Enjoy a unique opportunity to learn some of the time-honoured craft traditions. Weaving is Cambodia’s national hats made from palm leaves, or folding Lotus flowers into delicate works of art, a Cultural Insight. Our in-depth interaction with Cambodia has sadly come to an end. We return to our hotel later and join our Travel Director and fellow expeditioners for a Farewell dinner.
Day 7: Siem Reap – Luang Prabang
Your morning visit to Wat Damnak will give you an in-depth insight into Buddhism, enjoying a rare opportunity to take part in a private blessing ceremony where a sacred thread will be tied around your wrist to protect against evil spirits. Later, we visit Artisans d’Angkor for a Cultural Insight into the exciting revival of Khmer arts and crafts at a training school, which creates job opportunities for young people living in rural areas. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure before your flight to Luang Prabang. On arrival, meet your Travel Director and transfer to your hotel. This evening, the smells of Padek, garlic and lao-lao rice wine permeate the air as we share a traditional Lao dinner together with our fellow adventurers at our hotel.
Hotel: Villa Maly, 4 nights
Day 8: Luang Prabang Sightseeing
This morning, we embark on a walking tour around the ancient royal capital of Luang Prabang admiring the effortless fusion of traditional Lao architecture and French flair, and the natural beauty of a colonial city encircled by mountains and set on the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers. Our in-depth exploration of this UNESCO World Heritage Site includes a visit to the Royal Palace Museum to uncover the history and culture of Laos, and Wat Xiengthong, the so-called ‘Temple of the Golden City’, whose tree of life mosaic and rare Buddhist deities make it one of the most beautiful temples in all of Laos. The mighty Mekong is our host for the afternoon as we board a traditional long-tail boat bound for the mystical Pak Ou Caves. We pass Laotian villages and wooden canoes bobbing by the shore attached to bamboo poles before enjoying lunch at a local restaurant and then coming face to face with thousands of Buddha icons that fill the limestone caves, paying homage to the river spirit at her cavernous shrine. Boarding our long-tail boat, we cruise back to Luang Prabang stopping en route at Ban Muang Keo village for a Cultural Insight into the tradition of lao-lao brewing in the dark earthenware jars that seem to flood the tiny village.
Day 9: Luang Prabang
Before the palm-lined boulevards of the city come to life, join the local Laotians who rise before dawn to pay their alms to hundreds of saffron-robed monks and then follow their journey down to the bustling morning market where the locals buy their groceries for the day. If you’re feeling energetic, climb the winding steps up Mount Phousi for panoramic views of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, stopping every so often to rest under the shady trees or offer blessings at the temples along the way before returning to the hotel for breakfast. Alternatively, enjoy a leisurely start to the day before joining your fellow travellers for a visit to the Friends Visitor Centre, a local non-profit community project, to learn about the work done at the Friends Lao Hospital for Children. Return to your hotel for a leisurely afternoon or take part in an Optional Experience.
Day 10: Luang Prabang
This morning, we drive south towards one of Luang Prabang’s most spectacular natural sites, the Kuang Si Waterfall. En route, we stop at Phou Si market to watch the local Laotians trade their fresh produce and at the Ock Pop Tok Weaving Centre for one-on-one interactions with local craftswomen whose traditional handicrafts are on display and for sale, a Cultural Insight. On arrival at Kuang Si National Park enjoy a rare opportunity to witness rescued Asian bears playing and feeding at the Asian Bear Rescue Centre. We then venture deep into the national park, enjoying a leisurely walk through to the 60-metre cascade that collects in turquoise blue pools as it flows downstream. We return to our hotel for an afternoon at leisure or join in an Optional Experience, before joining our Travel Director and new friends for a Lao-inspired Farewell Dinner.
Day 11: Depart Luang Prabang
Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
|2018 Dates & Prices||Twin Share||Solo Traveller|
|Meals:||10 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 5 Dinners|
|Transport:||Airport Transfers & Luxury air-conditioned coach|
|Flight:||Air Ticket: Phnom Penh / Siem Reap / Luang Prabang|
|Accommodation:||10 nights accommodation|
|Guide:||An expert Travel Director and Separate Driver|
|Entrance Fees & Touring:||Entrance fees & activities as per itinerary|