Experience

Best of Cambodia: Khmer Culture & Hidden Beaches

Cambodia always comes in near the top of Far East travel wish lists. So these days it’s all about getting off the beaten track and really delving into the heart of this fascinating country. Just beneath the tourist veneer, there are some incredible landscapes, a vibrant culture and a wealth of history (much of it turbulent) to take in – and believe us, it’s worth putting in the extra effort to find it. Our travel experts have delved deep beneath the surface to introduce you to a more authentic side to this beautiful Asian nation. Full fo temples, tales and tropical tranquillity – it’s near-on impossible to resist.

A bit of history

Staying at the beautiful Phum Baitang, start your adventure in the northern city of Siem Reap where you will uncover Angkor Wat; not only one of the modern wonders of the world but also one of the most recognised religious monuments on our planet. Get a privileged bird’s eye view as you fly high over the temples in a hot air balloon as the sun creeps up above it, before touching down to enjoy the awe-inspiring sight all by yourself. In the afternoon, your expert guide will bring this ancient empire to life as you set off on a bike ride through Ta Prohm (that’s the famous ‘Jungle Temple’ to you and me). Here you’ll journey through swathes of virgin jungle, once home to the Khmer Rouge, that remains untouched by the western world. A visit to the Khmer heartland wouldn’t be complete without a stop off at the Terrace of the Elephants, a platform where the King would welcome his victorious army. Its detailed carvings and ancient history make for a fascinating and inspiring visit.

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See it through their eyes

Next, it’s onto Phnom Penh where you will stay at the luxurious and elegant Rosewood. In the morning, start with a cyclo tour through the streets of Phnom Penh to admire the mix of Khmer and French colonial architecture. With our local expert in tow, get an insider’s view into the chequered history and architecture of the buildings including the Old Post Office, the Railway Station and the Central Market. After lunch head over to the Phnom Penh Charity Institution, set in a beautiful colonial villa, to examine the painful, heart-wrenching reminders of Cambodia’s ugly past under the Khmer Rouge regime. We will arrange a special tour just for you (one that you are not likely to forget in a hurry) to the infamous “Killing Fields”; the former detention, torture and execution centres during the Cambodian civil war. Later in the evening, to complete your unique Khmer experience, we will take you to a local family’s home. Your host for dinner is a well-educated Cambodian national, whose wife will prepare a delicious Khmer meal. Enjoy a cosy home-cooked dinner with the scholar and his family at his simple yet comfortable home. This is a great opportunity to interact with a local family and share life experiences and learn more about the rich history of Cambodia and how the Khmer Empire flourished in the 12th and 13th century.

Into the Jungle

From the city, you’ll then leave civilization behind as you head deep into the jungles of Cardamom National Park. The adventure begins before you even arrive at your next hotel here as you fly through the jungle on a zipline to be greeted by your personal butler and an ice-cold drink. Welcome to Shinta Mani Wild. Three nights here and the options are endless as you engage in everything from butterfly trails in the company of Bong Mac to anti-poaching trails with Wildlife Alliance deep through the forest. So whether you’re setting camera traps or enjoying a spot of reflexology by the pool, settle in and feel your cares fade away – just don’t be late for sundowners in the heart of the Raging Sisters River. We’d hate for you to miss that.

Head to Cambodia’s hidden beaches

Last, but by no means least, you will be transferred to Song Saa. A visit to this unspoilt duo of private islands will ensure you are sun-kissed and so relaxed you’ll be walking on the clouds. Admire the exquisite coral, enjoy fresh seafood and soak up the rays from your luxurious jungle villa; the perfect ending to your Cambodian adventure.

Simply put, Cambodia is stunning; the people and their hospitality are unrivalled, and the sights and activities are beyond compare. So have we tempted you to get in on the secret?