Cambodia’s Lake, Rivers & Mountains
Cambodia is best known for its astonishing temple complex of Angkor Wat, but it should also be known for its wildlife, much of which is extremely rare, and for its gloriously rich and scenic forests and wetlands. This Cambodia lake, rivers, and Cardamom Mountains tour is a soft adventure for ecotourists that also includes the Angkor temples, cultural interaction and exploration of the history and architectural wonders of Phnom Penh.
Tonle Sap Lake and the Temples of Angkor
Begin your tour by kayaking on the great Tonle Sap Lake, paddle through a floating village where you will be welcomed by the warm smiles of the local residents. Keep your eyes peeled for rare bird species from the nearby wildlife sanctuary. Explore Angkor Wat, one of the modern wonders of the world. Stroll through the intricately carved hallways and take your time to see every part of this amazing complex. Cycle to the ancient city area of Angkor Thom, with its carved-stone faces standing as silent witnesses to former days of glory, and Ta Prohm, a temple complex slowly being reclaimed by the jungle. You’ll also visit Banteay Srei and many more.
Your Mekong Cruise
Board a luxurious, art-inspired colonial styled riverboat for a downriver cruise along the mighty Mekong. See the Koh Paen Bamboo Bridge, visit the enchanting pre-Angkorian temple of Wat Hanchey and observe the daily activities of the young, novice monks. Step back in time at the small village of Angkor Ban, famous for its traditional houses. On the island of Koh Oknha Tey, witness the fascinating methods involved in the making of silk. Explore a Khmer pottery village. Learn about the process of making palm sugar. Visit a local school and travel by ox-cart through the countryside, rice fields, and Cambodian backroads.
Phnom Penh and surroundings
Learn about Cambodia’s tragic past at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, the former site of the Security Prison S-21 established by the Khmer Rouge regime. Visiting the Killing Fields at Choeung Ek is not a warm experience but it is essential if you want to understand what happened in Cambodia during the time of the Pol Pot regime. Admire the stately columns of the Royal Palace, visit the National Museum, the Silver Pagoda, and enjoy a “cyclo” ride along the bustling streets of downtown Phnom Penh. Later, relish a private evening tuk-tuk tour and discover some of the city’s coolest hidden bars. Spend a full day bicycling in the charming countryside surrounding Phnom Penh, exploring markets, villages, pagodas, the silversmith village of Koh Chen and the remarkably well-preserved wall paintings at Wat Kampong Tralach Leu. Visit Cambodia’s foremost wildlife rescue center and meet pileated gibbons, Malaysian sun bears, Siamese crocodiles, Greater Adjutant storks and many more.
The Cardamom Mountains
Travel through jungle scenery to the community-based tourism project of Chi Pat, which seeks to protect the wildlife and showcase the regional beauty of the area. Board a motorboat for a 90-minute river journey to your riverside guesthouse; make a small jungle trek and swim in the fresh clear mountainous river water. Spend another day swimming and boating on the Cattle Skin River and return to Phnom Penh to watch an Apsara Dance Show.
This adventure tour can be tailored in accordance with your personal wishes. All excursions and transfers are on a private basis, with the exception of the cruise portion, which is shared with other passengers.
Itinerary & Prices
|Boutique||$ 4,610||$ 7,000|
- Angkor Thom
- Angkor Wat
- Siem Reap
- Phnom Penh
- Animal Rescue Centers
- Back-Country Bike Rides
- Experience Village Life
- Explore Ancient Archaeology
- Practice Tai Chi
- Temples & Spirituality
- UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Unique Photo Opportunities
Welcome to Cambodia!
Welcome to Siem Reap – a getaway to the ruins of ancients Angkor.
Your guide will meet you at the arrival hall of the airport. If you require a visa on arrival, we will have a representative at the immigration office to take care of the process. Once you have your visa stamped and your luggage collected, you will transfer to the hotel by private car. The remainder of the day is yours to rest and relax before the upcoming adventure.
Kayaking Tonle Sap and Angkor Wat Exploration
AM: Early birds are welcome to join the daily morning exercise on the terrace deck (Tai Chi or Yoga). As we cruise along in the morning, our local expert hosts a lecture about Asian elephants, particularly the Laotian species, their cultural importance in the past, and the current threats which have brought them to the brink of extinction. PM: After lunchtime, we arrive in the small town of Pakbeng. We pass by the local market scene and visit a beautiful hilltop temple with amazing views of the gently flowing Mekong below. We then have the chance to expand on the knowledge from our morning lecture when visiting an elephant preservation sanctuary. The elephants here used to work as logging elephants and can live in peace and safety here as they cannot now survive in the wild. Back on board, the journey continues for a few more hours – lay back and enjoy the scenic views as the Anouvong proceeds towards her next destination. At a secluded sandbank, the local ethnic Lao, Khmu, and Hmong residents welcome us to the tiny village of Kop Aek. Dive into centuries-old traditions and practices as you immerse yourself in a unique Laotian experience. As we remain at the sandbank into early evening, kick back with an aperitif accompanied by a classical dance performance by the local people. After the show, we have another highlight in store for our guests – a barbecue dinner on the terrace deck as we take in the sights and soothing sounds of nature.
Angkor Temples by Bike
Start the day with a ride to Ta Prohm. This beautiful temple is Angkor’s jewel and is overgrown with fig trees, giving a haunting yet exotic atmosphere. The magnificent roots of the trees have merged themselves over the centuries with the temple’s huge stone blocks, emphasizing a ‘forgotten city’ feeling.
Continuing to Banteay Kdei, which is one of Angkor’s largest structures in the area and well worth a visit.
In the afternoon visit the ancient royal city of Angkor Thom with its magnificent centerpiece; the Bayon. At first glance, it may seem like a shapeless mass of stone, but further scrutiny reveals towers with enigmatic faces of former King Jayavarman VII looking into every direction. The faces are believed to be protecting the city from potential attackers.
Continue the exploration with a visit to the Terrace of the Elephants, which served as a platform from where the King could welcome back his victorious army. Next door is the Terrace of the Leper King which holds perfect carvings winding along a narrow passageway that leads to the Baphuon complex. (Maximum of 14 kilometers cycling)
Cruise and Young Monks
After breakfast, you will be picked up from your hotel to transfer to the Jayavarman – overland ride to the town of Kampong Cham, where the ship awaits us (approximately 4.5 hrs transfer time including rest stop). To keep you entertained during the ride, our expert guides share interesting insights about Cambodia and the region we journey through.
After you settle in, come outside to the sun-deck or enjoy the views from the balcony, as the Jayavarman sets sail on a journey downriver.
This afternoon you learn more about the education of the young Cambodians. Children from the small village of Chiro come on board, always excited to show their skills in music and dance. The Organization for Basic Training (OBT) provides free, supplemental education in English, maths, and the arts to these local youths. Shower the young performers with applause and in return, you are bestowed upon with the most genuine and happy Cambodian smiles. With smiles on our faces, we prepare to leave the ship for a bus excursion to a nearby spectacle only present during the Mekong’s low water season (December to May). The Koh Paen Bamboo Bridge connects the mainland with Koh Paen Island and is re-built by the local community every November when water levels drop.
We continue our land journey to the enchanting pre-Angkorian temple of Wat Hanchey (7th century). Formerly built to honor the Hindu god, Hirahara, the complex is now a Buddhist temple, a testament to the country’s past and present religious beliefs. This small complex sits on a hilltop with breath-taking views over the Mekong. Many young, novice monks live on the compound of Wat Hanchey, and we have the chance to observe their daily activities.
Meals: B, L, D
Silk Making and Secluded Village
Wake up early to witness the spectacular scenery at the break of dawn. Join our daily morning Tai Chi class before breakfast.
Today, the small village of Angkor Ban is our first destination. The village is famous for its unspoiled community and beautiful, traditional houses. It feels like being transported back a hundred years, into an era unaffected by modernity where villagers are characterized by their unbridled warmth.
Back on board, a monks’ blessing ceremony delivers spirits and wishes for health and prosperity for us all. While we sail downstream, afternoon tea is offered at the bar. The Jayavarman’s staff is keen to show you a variety of traditional Khmer fashion the local people still wear on special occasions.
Meanwhile, we arrive at the island of Koh Oknha Tey in the middle of the Mekong, famous for manufacturing high-class silk products. We go sightseeing along the island’s roads a bit via tuk-tuk before arriving at the village’s workshops and witnessing the curious process of making silk, starting from a tiny silkworm larva to cocoon, then dyeing, spinning, and weaving the fibers into high-quality Cambodian silk.
Tonight, we pass the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Rivers, and the boat anchors near Kampong Chhnang for the night.
Meals: B, L, D
Phnom Penh and its History
Welcome to Phnom Penh – the city once named Paris of the East. Despite its rapid development, it has retained its rustic charm and elegance. It is an amazing town with centuries of incredible history and culture which can still be felt at many street corners.
Start with a full sight-seeing tour right after breakfast. By bus, we visit the Killing Fields outside the city and afterward the centrally located prison “S21”. Both historic sites display the sad and cruel chapter of the country’s history when the Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia with terror and oppression. Those places have not changed much since this horrific time back in the early seventies and it can be quite heart-breaking. Alternatively, you may explore the city on your own in the morning before rejoining the group.
We have lunch at a well-renowned restaurant in town and experience the elegant air Phnom Penh’s top addresses are known for. Our exploration of Phnom Penh continues with the cultural highlights of the city’s heritage. The golden edifice of the Royal Palace with its Silver Pagoda and the exceptional Khmer crafts at the National Museum top the list of the city’s must-sees. The day trip ends with a “cyclo” ride along the bustling streets of downtown Phnom Penh and back to the ship.
Take some rest or join fellow passengers at the bar for refreshing drinks. Today’s evening is a special one: let us invite you to a wonderful open-air gala featuring a barbecue dinner feast. The dinner is accompanied by a classic Apsara dance performance along with other folklore dances.
As the evening unwinds, enjoy your supper with a good glass of wine and marvel at the skyline of Phnom Penh and the calming flow of the Tonle River.
Meals: B, L, D
Leisurely Day and Nightlife of Phnom Penh
AM: Disembark Jayavarman after breakfast and meet your driver for a transfer to your hotel early check-in.
PM: Take a day to explore the city on your own and meet your guide in the evening for a tour discovering the coolest hidden bars while exploring Phnom Penh by private tuk-tuk with a local expert. This all-inclusive tour offers locally produced drinks at 4 unique bars for a glimpse into the city’s incredible and emerging craft beverage and nightlife scene.
On Bicycles Through the Countryside
Spend a full day bicycling 30km (19mi) in the charming countryside surrounding Phnom Penh, exploring markets, villages, and pagodas.
Depart Phnom Penh on a 12km (7mi) drive to Prek Phnov, the starting point of a full day’s cycling trip. Cycle from the busy market, and over dikes, through beautiful countryside, passing pagodas and traditional houses. Continue to Udong, the capital of Cambodia between 1618 and 1866 and home to impressive Khmer architecture recalling the glory days of Cambodia. Climb the main stairway that leads to an impressive stupa to admire panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the surroundings of Udong before continuing to the small handicraft village of Koh Chen. The artisans in this village produce all kinds of silverware. Continue to the riverside town of Kampong Tralach by bicycle or private vehicle, home to an ancient pagoda. Observe the remarkably well-preserved wall paintings at Wat Kampong Tralach Leu depicting scenes of rural life over a century ago.
Return to Phnom Penh by private vehicle.
Meals: B, L
Wildlife Rescue Center
Spend a full day exploring Phnom Tamao, Cambodia’s foremost wildlife rescue center.
The 1,200ha (2,965ac) park is home to the world’s largest captive collections of pileated gibbons and Malaysian sun bears. Other rare species which can be observed here include Siamese crocodiles and Greater Adjutant storks.
Drive 45min southeast of Phnom Penh to Phnom Tamao and meet with a local caretaker who will show you around the park. A large number of the animals found here are endangered species and many of them have been rescued from the hands of poachers or from being held as pets. With its spacious grounds, large animal enclosures, and excellent caretakers, Phnom Tamao is a refreshing change from some of the lesser-equipped and cramped zoos elsewhere in Southeast Asia.
Enjoy lunch in the park before returning to Phnom Penh by car.
Meals: B, L
Cardamon Mountains Community of Chi Pat
Today, leaving before 8am you will drive the 5 – 7 hours out to the far eastern plains of Cambodia and into the Cardamom Mountain area. (Depending on traffic around the city and the condition of the road)
First driving along the major highways, until you branch off into the more jungle scenery that this areas is famous for. Once you enter the unsealed red soil roads, your ride will become more adventurous as you cut a path, known well in this region as the only route through to the community based tourist project of Chi Pat. This area was once home to the Khmer Rouge strongholds, who fought at the borders until fairly recently and animal poaching where large amounts of money change hands for the rare species found in this area.
Now turned around, into a community tourism outreach the former poachers seek to protect the animals and showcase the regional beauty, under the watchful eye of the Wild Life alliance.
Upon arrival to the designated river location, your motor boat will be waiting to take you the 1.5 hour journey via the creek – to the booking office.
Pass by beautiful scenery and breathe in some of Asias most freshest air and untouched scenes.
Lunch will be served at the arrival guest house, as the owner settles you into your basic but well equipped accommodation.
After some relaxing you make the small jungle trek to the Rapid Waters for swimming in the fresh clear mountainous water!
Dinner is served family/ buffet style this evening, and you can retire to bed or enjoy the stars at leisure. Overnight in your charming but simple guest house.
Meals: B, L, D
Rivers in the Mountains
Leaving just before sunrise, you will head out by motorboat into the beautiful waters of the Cardamom Mountains for around 1 hour.
As the river changes pace, you will change the boat into a traditional rowing boat for around 2 hours, trying to spot local birds along the quieter stretch of the Cattle Skin River. A simple boxed Breakfast is taken as you wish.
Arrive into the Damnak Kos area, a perfect place for swimming and sunbathing for an hour or so as you wish, before returning to Chi Pat Community, and your guest house.
Dinner is taken family-style, and you’re free to relax at leisure
Meals: B, L, D
Return to Phnom Penh and Apsara Dance Show
After early breakfast embark on a ride back to Phnom Penh.
In the evening your driver will pick you up for a short ride to the National Museum, for the Traditional Dance Show.
The performance showcases intricate and elegant pieces of classical dance descending from the former Royal Courts of Cambodia, including the iconic Apsara and the ritual dance Moni Mekala. In addition to the traditional folk dance, you will experience and immerse yourself in a range of more upbeat, relaxed pieces, inspired by daily life around Cambodia. Featuring 30 talented artists, wonder at the abundance of sights and sounds presented on the stage set with a special backdrop in the beautiful grounds of the National Museum of Cambodia.
Return to your hotel at 10 pm.
CRUISES & LODGES
This floating art gallery and French-colonial masterpiece comes with heartfelt Khmer hospitality.