Day 1: Arrival - Phnom Penh - Kampong Cham - Stung Treng (L, D)
Today, you will head north to Stung Treng. You will spend quite some time on the road, but there will be plenty of opportunities to stop on the way to break up the journey. Near Kampong Cham, visit 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, you will 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. The students are as excited to meet their guests as the guests themselves to meet the students. (Note: The Center is closed at weekends – if your visit coincides with a Sat/Sun then dinner will be at the hotel or a local restaurant instead). Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Day 2: Stung Treng (B, L)
This morning take the local ferry to cross the river and continue by road to Preah Rumkel (1hr). At Preah Rumkel you will have the opportunity for a spot of dolphin watching at Anlung Cheuteal dolphin pool. This is one of the best spots to view the rare Irrawaddy Dolphins along the Mekong and can be seen from the river bank itself. After visit Sopheak Mitt Waterfall which is accessed by a 3km trek. The waterfall is close to the Cambodia-Laos border and you can see how the mighty Mekong follows its path at this scenic stretch of the river. This is also the perfect location for your packed lunch to be eaten. Return to Stung Treng in the afternoon. Your last visit stop today is to Mekong Blue, a local silk weaving centre offering work and an income to disadvantaged young women in this remote area. You can tour the workshops and, if you like, 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 (B, D)
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 and quite famous for its legend involving a princess and a crocodile.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 fresh water turtles – the Cantor’s soft-shell 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, where you will have some time at leisure to discover the small town by yourself. This afternoon, hop on the lodge boat (may be shared with other passengers) 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 your hotel and enjoy some time at leisure to enjoy the environment.Overnight on Koh Trong Island.
Day 4: Kratie (B, L)
Breakfast at the hotel. Now you are ready for a visit the island that is your home during your visit to Kratie. You can decide whether you would like to take a local horse cart or pedal yourself around the island on a bicycle. Your first destination is the island’s wat, where a special activity awaits you: a tree planting project initiated by a local farmer, in order to recultivate the once densely forested island. Contribute to the project by planting your own tree here and it will carry your name tag and leave a positive trace on the island. After toughening up, relax with a beautiful Khmer lunch under pomelo trees at a typical local house right by the river. Continue by horse cart or cycling around the island, where you will be able to taste local fruit and visit a Vietnamese floating village on the southern tip of the island. Return to your hotel this afternoon, where you will have some time to relax. This evening, you might be lucky to see the spectacular sunset over the Mekong that Kratie is famous for. Overnight on Koh Trong Island.
Day 5: Kratie - Chhlong - Kampong Cham - Kampong Thom (B, L)
Breakfast at the hotel. Now it is time to drive south, towards Kampong Thom. On the way, stop to visit Chhlong (transfer time ca. 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 ca. 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 ca. 2 hours), where you will have the rest of the day at leisure to relax by your hotel’s beautiful pool or to discover the provincial capital on your own. Overnight in Kampong Thom.
Day 6: Kampong Thom - Sambor Prei Kuk - Siem Reap (B, L)
Breakfast at your hotel.Today, you head towards the rarely visited Sambor Prei Kuk, one of the most important pre-Angkorian sites in the country that is enlisted to potentially become Cambodia’s next UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sambor Prei Kuk was built in the Chenla period between the 6th and 7th century and there are over 100 well preserved temples scattered in the forest. The three main sites are linked by small and shady tracks. Enjoy a beautiful walk through the jungle with breath-taking 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. You will have the chance to visit and contribute to the sustainability of the people’s livelihood as the local community will prepare a simple but very tasty lunch for you near the temple. Continue towards Siem Reap, about 2.5 hours away. Upon arrival, check in at your hotel and enjoy a break. Late afternoon, set out by typical ‘remork’(similar to the Thai tuk tuk) to see one of the major highlights of Southeast Asia awaits you: the magnificent Angkor Wat. Built during the reign of King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century, Angkor Wat is constructed following the model of the temple mountain symbolizing Mount Meru, the home of the gods. Inside the temple, the walls are covered with stone carvings and bas-reliefs depicting Hindu mythology and the wars Suryavarman II fought during his reign. Angkor Wat is well known for the more than 2,000 Apsara dancers decorating the temple. Construction is thought to have taken around thirty years of intensive labor. Today, Angkor Wat is figured on Cambodia's national flag as the temple symbolizes the soul of the Khmer people. You will be there during sunset time, when Angkor Wat is less visited and the Apsaras will shine in the most beautiful light. Return to the hotel just after sunset. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 7: Siem Reap (B, L)
After an early breakfast take a short transfer that will bring you to the beginning of your temple exploration experience at the East entrance of Angkor Wat. You set out like the first explorers did on foot, trekking through the dense jungle of the magnificent temples of Angkor on a 6km trek. Walking from temple to temple is a unique way to see these magnificent ruins.After a few kilometres you will reach the city of Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Great Khmer Empire under the reign of Jayavarman VII. This city is surrounded by an 8m high wall, drawing a perfect square. Continue on foot to Bayon Temple in the exact center of the city. This 12th century masterpiece is a study in grandeur and is well-known for its 54 towers with enigmatic faces representing the 54 provinces of the Great Khmer Empire. Finish the walk and drive to visit Ta Prohm temple built between the mid 12th to early 13th centuries. Ta Prohm is unique in that it has been left largely as it was found: overgrown by jungle trees and vines, with many parts of the temple crumbling to the ground. This makes the ‘Tomb Raider Temple’ one of the most picturesque and memorable of the Angkor temples. Break up your day with lunch at Sala Bai back in Siem Reap, a school training young Cambodians from poor family backgrounds in the principles of hospitality in order to give them a future. You will will have plenty of opportunities to talk to the students and can go on a tour of the school after the meal (Note: Sala Bai is open from Monday - Friday and it is usually closed during national holidays and for the entire month of April over the Khmer New Year holiday). Later this afternoon, embark on an interesting boat trip on the Tonlé Sap Lake, where you will have the opportunity to learn about life on the lake. Tonlé Sap is South East Asia’s largest freshwater lake with its size varying greatly depending on the season, as it is swelling to about four times it size during the wet season. Board a local boat and visit Kampong Phluck, a village where you will see houses on stilts that are submerged when Tonlé Sap Lake extends. On the way, you will pass floating houses and impressive flooded forests, portraying life 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 (B, L)
Enjoy this morning free at leisure to relax at the hotel or to do some last minute souvenir shopping at Siem Reap’s colorful markets. Transfer to Siem Reap International Airport for your individual flight home. Ends of services.