Day 1: Arrive in Phnom Penh
A riot of colors, 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 and this evening meet your Travel Director and fellow adventurers for a Welcome Reception with drinks and appetizers.
Meals: Dinner; Accommodations: Sokha Phnom Penh
Day 2: Phnom Penh Sightseeing
Exotic flavors are yours to explore this morning on an in-depth City Tour with a Local Specialist which begins 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, which includes a visit to 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 center 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.
Meals: Buffet Breakfast; Accommodations: Sokha Phnom Penh
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 before transferring 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, including a 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 and 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.
Meals: Buffet Breakfast; Accommodations: Le Meridien
Day 4: Angkor Wat and Siem Reap Sightseeing
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, as we 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 civilization, with collections dating 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.
Meals: Buffet Breakfast; Accommodations: Le Meridien
Day 5: Angkor and Siem Reap
Our intimate encounter with a lost empire continues today, as we uncover other iconic sites of the ancient abandoned city of Angkor that have been devoured by the Cambodian jungle. We 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. We 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. We venture underneath the dense tree canopy to the crumbling, moss-covered ruins of the Buddhist temple of Ta Prohm, which 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 flavors of Khmer cuisine are explored during a Cultural Insight cooking class in Siem Reap, where we amble through the vibrant local market and learn about cooking customs, ingredients and food superstitions, before joining a local chef at his restaurant to learn how to craft and cook various peppery Khmer specialties. After the class, share your creation with your travel companions over dinner.
Meals: Buffet Breakfast and Dinner; Accommodations: Le Meridien
Day 6: Angkor and 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, joining a local family in their 80-year-old wooden house 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 and 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-honored craft traditions such as weaving 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.
Meals: Buffet Breakfast, Be My Guest Dining and Farewell Dinner; Accommodations: Le Meridien
Day 7: Depart Siem Reap
Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
Meals: Buffet Breakfast