ITINERARY BY DAY
DAY 1 – PHNOM PENH – KAMPONG CHAM – STUNG TRENG
Begin this Mekong tour by heading north from Phnom Penh to Stung Treng. While quite a bit of the day will be spent on the road, there will be plenty of opportunities to stop on the way to break up the journey.
Near Kampong Cham, pay a visit to Wat Nokor, a temple that is famous for its beautiful wall paintings. After a short tour of the provincial capital and its typical market, continue to one of the many rubber plantations of this area. On a guided tour, learn about the cultivation and production of rubber. A packed lunch will be provided.
Arrive in Stung Treng in the afternoon and head straight to the hotel for check in. Tonight, experience a special dinner at Tonlé Tourism Training Center, where young locals are being trained in the principles of hospitality to ensure a better future in Stung Treng. Dining here means some delicious Khmer food paired with a very personalized service.
(Note: The Center is closed at weekends – if the visit coincides with a Sat/Sun then dinner will be at the hotel or a local restaurant instead).
Overnight in Stung Treng.
DAY 2 – STUNG TRENG
In the morning, cross the river by local ferry and continue by road to Preah Rumkel (approx. 1hr). At Preah Rumkel, there will be an opportunity to spot dolphins at the Anlung Cheuteal dolphin pool. This is one of the best places to view the rare Irrawaddy Dolphins along the Mekong.
Continue with a visit to Sopheak Mitt Waterfall which is accessed by a 3km trek. The waterfall is close to the Cambodia-Laos border; a unique place to see the mighty Mekong River and the perfect location for a picnic lunch.
Return to Stung Treng in the afternoon. The last stop today is to Mekong Blue, a local silk weaving centre offering work and a source of income to disadvantaged young women in this remote area. Tour the workshops and get the chance to shop for beautiful silk items that carry the ‘UNESCO Seal of Excellence’ (Note: Mekong Blue closed Sundays).
Overnight in Stung Treng.
DAY 3 – STUNG TRENG – KRATIE
Breakfast will be served at a local restaurant near the market in Stung Treng.
From here, transfer south towards Kratie. On the way, stop to visit Wat Sorsor Mouy Roy in the village of Sambo. The vihara (temple sanctuary) of the so-called ‘100 Pillars Pagoda’ is an important historical and cultural building.
Housed in the grounds of the 100 Pillar Pagoda and partnered with the Buddhist monks that reside there, is a small Turtle Conservation Center. Their goal is to conserve one of the world’s rarest and largest freshwater turtles (the Cantor’s softshell turtle) through a community-led nest protection scheme. The largest known wild population survives in the Mekong River but it is endangered here and almost extinct in Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
Continue to another temple, Wat Rokakandal, a beautiful temple from the early 19th century with some unique wall paintings located on the banks of the Mekong.
Arrive in Kratie and enjoy some down time to explore the town. This afternoon, hop on the (shared) lodge boat to Koh Trong Island, only a short 10 minutes boat ride away from Kratie. This Mekong island displays typical Cambodian village life, where people’s livelihood largely depends on rice farming and fruits cultivation (Koh Trong is famous for its pomelo!). Upon arrival, check in to the hotel and enjoy some time at leisure to enjoy the environment.
Overnight on Koh Trong Island.
DAY 4 – KRATIE
After enjoying breakfast at the hotel, visit the island via local horse cart or bicycle. The first destination will be the island’s wat, where a special activity awaits: a tree planting project initiated by a local farmer, in order to cultivate the once densely forested island. Contribute to the project by planting a tree here and leaving behind a name tag. A very positive thing to leave behind on the island!
Continue the island tour, where it will be possible to sample some local fruit and visit a Vietnamese floating village on the southern tip of the island. Return to the hotel in the afternoon and enjoy some down time to relax.
This evening (weather permitting) enjoy the spectacular sunset over the Mekong that Kratie is famous for.
Overnight on Koh Trong Island.
DAY 5 – KRATIE – CHHLONG – KAMPONG CHAM – KAMPONG THOM
After enjoying breakfast at the hotel, drive south towards Kampong Thom. En route, stop to visit Chhlong (transfer time 45 minutes), a tiny town with many French colonial houses that are amongst the most beautiful in Cambodia.
Upon arrival in Kampong Cham (transfer time 2.5 hours), a delicious lunch will be served at a local restaurant. After a short tour of the provincial capital and its typical market, continue to Kampong Thom (transfer time 2 hours) to enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.
Overnight in Kampong Thom.
DAY 6 – KAMPONG THOM – SAMBOR PREI KUK – SIEM REAP
After breakfast at the hotel, head towards the rarely visited Sambor Prei Kuk, one of the most important pre-Angkorian sites in the country and (potentially) Cambodia’s next UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sambor Prei Kuk was built in the Chenla period between the 6th and 7th century and boasts over 100 well preserved temples scattered throughout the forest. The three main sites are linked by small and shady tracks. Enjoy a beautiful walk through the jungle with breathtaking views.
The villages around the temple complex still practice the ancient art of craft making, using materials such as bamboo and rattan. Stop at one village to observe the local production. The community runs the Isanborei Craft Hut next to the temples and sells their products there as part of a community-based tourism project; the local community will prepare a simple but very tasty lunch near the temple.
Continue towards Siem Reap, about 2.5 hours away. Upon arrival, check in at the hotel and enjoy a break.
Late in the afternoon, set out by local ‘remork’ to see one of the major highlights of Southeast Asia: the magnificent Angkor Wat. Built in the early 12th century, this Mount-Meru temple represents the Hindu/Buddhist home of the gods. Inside the temple, the walls are adorned with stone carvings, bas-reliefs, and more than 2,000 Aspara dancers. The visit will coincide with sunset, when Angkor Wat is less visited and is, arguably, the most beautiful. Return to the hotel just after sunset.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
DAY 7 – SIEM REAP CITY
After an early breakfast, take a short transfer to the East entrance of Angkor Wat. Begin trekking from temple to temple through dense jungle on this 6km hike.
After a few kilometres, approach Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Great Khmer Empire, known for its 8m high perfectly square wall.
Continue on foot to Bayon Temple, sitting in the exact center of the city. This 12th century masterpiece is known for its 54 face-carved towers representing the 54 provinces of the Great Khmer Empire.
Finish the walk and drive to visit Ta Prohm. This temple is unique in the fact that it has been left largely as it was found: overgrown by jungle trees and vines, with many parts crumbling to the ground.
Break up the day with lunch at “Mahob,” a culinary hotspot taking traditional Khmer cuisine to a new level. Using only locally produced ingredients, this beautiful restaurant serves up some of the best local delicacies that Siem Reap has to offer.
Later in the afternoon, embark on a boat trip across Tonlé Sap, Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake. Cruise to Kampong Phluck, a village where houses are built on stilts to combat the rising waters of the wet season (when the lake swells to four times its size). On the way, pass floating houses and impressive flooded forests, portraying the unique life here on the water.
(Note: Due to low water levels during the dry season, the boat trip is only possible from June to March. However an alternative floating village at Chong Kneas can be arranged instead).
Overnight in Siem Reap.
DAY 8 – SIEM REAP – DEPARTURE
Enjoy the morning free at leisure; relax at the hotel or do some last-minute souvenir shopping at Siem Reap’s colourful markets.
Transport will be provided to Siem Reap International Airport for the individual flight home.