Sua s'dei! Welcome to Cambodia. You are picked up from centrally located hotels between 8.00 and 8.45am by your local guide for your day tour in Siem Reap. We start our Angkor adventure with a visit to Angkor Wat temple easily the most famous and best-preserved of all temples within the Angkor complex. We then move on to Angkor Thom visiting Bayon, with its 54 towers decorated with more than 200 enigmatic smiling faces, Phimeanakas, Baphoun, Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King. We finish the morning with a stop at the very photogenic South Gate of Angkor Thom City where the gods and demons line the road leading to the gate struggling in a cosmic tug-of-war. The Gate itself is crowned with four large faces facing in the cardinal directions. Lunch is Khmer style in a local restaurant. Regain your energy enjoying a sumptuous Khmer feast near Sras Srang, the Royal Pool of Ablutions, originally reserved for the King and his consorts. Enjoy a spread of great local food followed by a nap lazing in a hammock, or explore to see the traditional way of life and say hello to the Cambodians near here. After lunch we continue our day tour by visiting the beautiful Ta Prohm (Tomb Raider) temple which was made famous by Angelina Jolie. Feel like one of the early explorers as you visit this temple which has been left to be reclaimed by the jungle. If time permits finish the day climbing one of the oldest buildings in the Angkor complex, the brick pyramid-shaped temple of Pre Rup. Your evening will be free for you to do as you wish. You might like to hit the night markets for some cheap and delicious street food, or maybe indulge in a traditional massage.
Take a trip through the countryside to the small village of Kbal Spean. On the way to Kbal Spean, stop to watch seasonal activities like rice planting and harvesting, and try local snacks such as sugar palm candy. Stop at the base of nearby mountains and embark on a jungle trek (about 40 minutes) to the River of a Thousand Lingas. Here, encounter Hindu sculptures which were carved into the river's granite banks and bed more than a thousand years ago. The path can be a little slippery in the wet, but the more difficult sections have bamboo hand-rails and wooden steps. It is a 1.5km uphill walk to the carvings, but well worth the climb for the view of the valley below. On your return to the base of Kbal Spean visit the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (an Intrepid Foundation Project) which is home to a collection of animals that have been saved from trafficking. Creatures housed here include gibbons, monkeys, anteaters, storks, snakes, giant ibis, turtles, and the bright eyed and cuddly lorus. Afterwards enjoy a tasty Khmer lunch before heading to visit the temple of Banteay Srei. Banteay Srei is a small and charming pinkish sandstone Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva. Considered by many to be the jewel in the crown of Angkorian art, this temple boasts some of the finest and best-preserved stone carvings in the site. If time and weather permit return to explore the lovely Banteay Kdei temple, a sprawling former monastic complex which stands largely unrestored, and enjoy sunset at the picturesque reservoir Sras Srang. This was constructed by the same architect as the Pre Rup temple and has a multi-tiered platform adorned with naga balustrades and lion guardians. During the dry season the remains of a temple in the centre of the lake can be seen. Return to your hotel and you will have free time tonight. Perhaps try a meal at Marum restaurant, one of Friends International initiatives that serves delicious food and supports a great cause.
Discover Siem Reap's secrets as you explore by remork (Cambodian tuk tuk) on a half day tour in Siem Reap. Leaving Siem Reap we travel through the countryside to Tonle Sap Lake. The Tonle Sap one of the world’s most productive bodies of fresh water. In the wet season, the Tonle Sap Lake swells to 12,000 km². During the dry half of the year, the lake shrinks to as small as 2,500 km², draining into the Tonle Sap River. Each year, millions of fish come to spawn in the seasonally flooded forest surrounding the lake, attracting a myriad of water birds as well as people, who have settled in villages along the shores and who live with the rhythm of the water. This ecosystem was classified as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1997. Take a boat trip around the lake to see floating villages and get a taste for life ruled by monsoonal rains and water-based agriculture. Afterwards jump back on the remork to return to Siem Reap. Take the back roads back to town on this half day tour in Siem Reap and witness seasonal agricultural activities like cricket catching, rice planting and harvesting, smoking fish, fish paste (prohoc making), and duck farming. Stop at a local village to pick up Khmer snacks and explore. Visit a Buddhist monastery before heading back to town Your trips finishes at approx 12 noon on day 3. No accommodation is included tonight.