Angkor Wat Holiday

Small group adventure in Cambodia
Empire Explorers

Take this special set departure Tell Tale trip around Cambodia to discover the wonders of Siem Reap, artistic Battambang, majestic Phnom Penh, and the seaside village of Kep.

Joining a small group of like-minded people you'll visit the magnificent remains of the Khmer Empire and discover modern Cambodia from the locals themselves. You'll marvel at the beauty of the temples of Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Phrom, and feel like a real explorer in the jungle-clad remains of Beng Mealea. You'll have food experiences galore, enjoying street food and restaurant meals, visiting markets, gardens and a pepper plantation – you'll even get to cook something delicious yourself. You'll also get to trek into the jungle and meditate with a monk. And at the end of it all, you'll hop over to the wonderfully-named Rabbit Island for some rest and relaxation.

There is no single supplement on this small group tour, but unlike many other adventure companies this does not mean you have to share – you'll have your own room throughout. The maximum group size is 11, but we often close a departure once we reach 7, so early booking is advised.

Day 1
Fly to Bangkok on a direct flight from London Heathrow with Thai Airways. If you don't live in the UK, we may be able to arrange flights for you, or you are welcome to arrange your own. Please call us to discuss.

Day 2 dinner (meals included in the tour cost)
Land in Bangkok and take a short connecting flight to Siem Reap, where the famous Angkor temples are to be found. From there it's a short dirve by private minibus to a lovely boutique hotel in the older part of the city. You'll have time to settle in and relax before a delicious welcome dinner. Depending on flight timings, there may even be time for a dip in the pool.

Day 3 breakfast
Today we'll explore the main temples of Angkor with a private guide. Within the Angkor Archaeological Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) are the magnificent remains of the Khmer Empire's various capitals, the earliest dating from the 9th century. Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, with its beautiful Bayon Temple, are the most famous, and you may well recognise the sprawling Tha Phrom, still partly overgrown with giant fig trees, as the stunning backdrop to Lara Croft Tomb Raider.

Day 4 breakfast
Today we're heading further afield to the jungle-clad remains of Beng Mealea, again by car with our private guide. A firm Tell Tale Towers favourite, you can't fail to feel like a true explorer here! The atmosphere here is so tranquil, with abundant birdlife and towering trees.

Day 5 breakfast, lunch
Time to get a taste for Khmer food! We'll head out of Siem Reap into the countryside, where we'll learn the secrets of Khmer cuisine. Budding chefs can try their hands at preparing the dishes before we all feast on your efforts. After lunch we'll head to the 'pink temple' of Banteay Srei, the Citadel of Women. Set in a beautiful, peaceful place, this small sandstone temple is decorated with intricate carvings.

Day 6 breakfast, lunch
You can spend today as you please – relax by the pool, revisit your favourite temples, or pop to the Made in Cambodia handicraft market which is a great way to support local artisans. Or you can take the following excursion (supplement applies):

It's an early start (but worth it) for a boat trip to the enormous Tonle Sap lake, a unique ecological wonder and UNECSCO biosphere. This day is run with Osmose, an NGO. You'll be heading to a bird sanctuary named as no less than 'the single most important breeding ground in Southeast Asia for globally threatened large waterbirds'. Birds of prey and waterbirds like the Painted Stork, and Greater and Lesser Adjuncts will be easy to spot, and your private guide will point out many others to you. You'll eat lunch locally and meet the people who live on the lake, some of whom are fishermen and crocodile farmers. They'll tell you how they live their lives and how they handle the threat of water hyacinth (much scarier than it sounds, trust us!). The lake shoreline waxes and wanes over the course of the year, so some of the people are nomadic, towing their homes along the water.

Day 7 breakfast
Off to Battambang today, in the southwest. Originally a centre for the arts, Battambang changed during Khmer Rouge times. These days it is enjoying something of a renaissance and there's plenty of art to be found. In the evening we're off to the circus, which is a fantastic initiative for young Cambodians and a spectacle that you are sure to talk about for a long time to come.

Day 8 breakfast, lunch
The sacred mountain of Phnom Sampeau calls today, a site of pilgrimage where you'll learn more about the Khmer Rouge at a moving memorial to their victims. Once you reach the summit you'll discover a complex of temples, from which you can take in the view. After a delicious local lunch, we're off to visit a village and a family-run fruit farm by boat, returning at sunset (photographers take note!)

Day 9 breakfast, dinner
Off to the city of Phnom Penh for a food tour with a stop on the way at the sleepy village of Ondong Rossey, the birthplace of the red pottery of the Kampong Chhnang province. Once you've settled into your hotel in Phnom Penh, it's time to explore the city by night. Take your pick of the delights on offer at the local market – fried tarantula, anyone?* – and then dine at a local restaurant before sampling delicious traditional Khmer desserts. *There are plenty of more palatable morsels to choose from.

Day 10 breakfast, lunch
Rickshaws at the ready – we're off to explore Phnom Penh with our private guide today. You'll see the main sights, such as the the Royal Palace with its Silver Pagoda and diamond-encrusted Buddha. Later we'll visit an initiative that helps young people from disadvantaged backgrounds train in traditional Cambodian arts. Finally, we'll go to the National Museum, which houses a myriad of amazing Khmer art and sculpture.

Day 11 breakfast
There's no rush this morning, so have a lie in, or explore your surroundings and maybe pick up some souvenirs (have a look in your Tell Tale pack for ideas). We'll be heading to the seaside later to stay at the boutique resort of Knai Ban Chatt in Kep, which offers stunning views and simple elegance. The afternoon is your own to spend as you please – we find the infinity pool very inviting. In the evening have dinner in the resort, walk to a nearby local expat hotspot or dine at a local restaurant.

Day 12 breakfast
It's a great day for keen photographers as we set off early to the fish market in nearby Kampot. As the sun rises, you'll see the fishermen return to the shore with their catch to sell at the market. Then it's time to explore the faded grandeur of the area, discovering how life was in times gone by. You'll also get to try different flavours of pepper at an organic pepper plantation – which also happens to make the perfect lightweight souvenir.

Day 13 breakfast
Time to pack your bags – for swimming – but don't forget your walking shoes. We're off to Kep's crab market first and then on to Kep National Park for a spot of jungle trekking, followed by some meditation with a monk. Later on we'll head back to the sea, to the lovely coconut-fringed Rabbit island, just a short boat ride away. Here you can take a leisurely stroll around the tiny island and enjoy some well-deserved downtime.

Day 14 breakfast
Time to do as you please at your boutique beach resort, before returning to Phnom Penh to pack and check out. Then it's a short flight to Bangkok, with an official connection to your overnight flight.

Day 15 breakfast The wheels will hit the tarmac at London Heathrow at about 7am.

This special set departure 15-day tour costs £3,000 per person and includes direct international flights with Thai Airways from London Heathrow to Bangkok, connecting flights to Siem Reap (outward) and Phnom Penh (inward), accommodation (your own room with ensuite), activities/excursions, private transfers and meals as specified. It is also possible to book this tour excluding all flights from £2,250 per person. Dates for 2019 are November 10th to 24th.

Please allow approx overall £75-100 per person for entrance fees payable locally at the site office on the day (we recommend buying a 3-day pass at Angkor). The Day 6 optional excursion costs £135 per person for the NGO (this includes entrance fees).

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Banteay Srei cooking class child in cambodia food evening kep-jungle.jpg kep-jungle.jpg Kep jungle trek Photo credits to Tell Tale Travellers:
boy on boat by Rita Csuri-Magosi

Full moon rising over Angkor Wat by Gary Baxter click to see more of Gary's photos in a bigger size on his website)