A replica from the Balâha Horse sculpture from Neak Pean (pronounce Neak Poan) Temple – located at the roundabout of Siem Reap Angkor International Airport - will welcome you upon landing. It is in fact the Avatara form taken by the Boddhisatva Lokeshvara as the Savior of Humanity.
Your guide will tell you more about the legend and belief attached to the sculpture, as you settle at your hotel and enjoy the day at leisure to preparing yourself for a “Voyage back in the Angkor Times”!
Optional: Should time permits, start your first day afternoon with a comprehensive visit to the Angkor Museum and its interactive activities to better understand the evolution of the Angkor Architecture spanning the 10 centuries of the Khmer Empire! The One-Thousand Buddha Gallery is a real “Must-See”!
(with supplement) / OR can be done on Day-05 (see Day-05)
In the morning, we invite you to start your Journey back to the Angkor Times with the visit of the pre-Angkorian Roluos Group, site of King Jayavarman II’s Capital City, Hariharalaya consisting of three major temples: Preah Ko, Bakong and Lolei. You will better apprehend the evolving architectural styles from day to day.
After the visit of the temples, stop by the Krama Yu-Yu Center to purchase superb “Khmer Krama” (pronounced Kroh-Mah), the traditional scarf that can be used in many ways and which constitutes the Khmer identity “par-excellence”, as well as a short stop at the Lo Yu-Yu for the Khmer Ceramics near Lolei Temple!
You will then discover in the afternoon, the life of the Khmer people on the Great Tonlé Sap Lake as you will embark on a traditional boat for a trip to the visit of Kompong Phluk a floating village surrounded by the flooded forests (in high water season only) as to understand the importance of the water management in the construction of the Angkor Temples.
After your boat trip, get back to the city and head to “Artisans d’Angkor”, a place where the Khmer identity is being well safeguarded and youngsters trained in sculpting on wood and stone, as well as maintaining alive the art of the Khmer silk weaving.
If time permits, stroll through the local market in Siem Reap so you have a different view of the “modern Khmer lifestyle and culture”.
We will then take you to a dinner and cultural show with some traditional dances as to get another view of the Khmer Culture.
On this third day, early in the morning, we will take you to the visit of Kbal Spean and the site of the One-Thousand Linga River that have its source at Phnom Kulen (the Litchi Mountain). Take an approximately 45-minute trek (about 1.50 km) through the forest up to the top and be rewarded by your effort! Assimilated to the Ganges River in India, the very bed of the river is carved on over 200 meters long with 1.054 lingas and sculptures representing the Hindu Gods in the Ninth century. The water feeding the Steung Siem Reap River in the lower part is thus being “sanctified” after rolling and passing over the thousand carved lingas, thus, fertilizing the lower valley and Angkor plain.
Then, visit Banteay Srey Temple, considered as the jewel of the Classic Khmer Arts. Cleared from the creeper plants and trees that invaded it, Banteay Srei - which means “the Citadel of Women” - is indeed of an absolute and rare beauty and fineness. Every single detail of this sculpted pink sandstone temple is a real enchantment to the human eyes!
On your way back, have a short stop at a traditional village for a demo about the collect of the sugar palm juice and the making of the palm sugar (October to April for the collecting season), and to finally stop by Prasat Kravan, the sole monument in brick dating back from the tenth century in the Angkor Archaeological Park, and famous for its unique and sophisticated sculpture on brick of the Hindu Gods.
Set off for an early dinner, and then… Show Time! Join the talented and energetic young artists from Phare, The Cambodian Circus for a show that will leave you breathless and enthusiastic about the resilience of these youngsters from difficult backgrounds!
After the show, stroll around at the Night Market to discover the historic Temple City by night!
Your morning will be dedicated of with the visit and discovery of the famous Angkor Wat which five towers with a rosé-colored light - according to the luminosity of the day and season - still adorn the Cambodian flags of all the various successive Cambodian régimes.
Your exploration continues in the afternoon until sunset with the visit of Angkor Thom (the Great Angkor/City) and get started with the monumental Southern Gate lined on both sides with the Gods and the Giants; it is one of the five gates leading to the Bayon Temple and Center of the Khmer Empire, so you may understand the strategic structure of the first Angkorian King from the XIIth century who embraced Mahayana Buddhism as the State religion. Carry on your discovery to the recently restored Baphuon and its huge Reclining Buddha, then stroll within the compound of PhimeanAkas, the ancient Royal Palace to finally reach the Elephant Terrace and then end with the Leper King Terrace.
You will start your day with a visit to Angkor National Museum that consists of several galleries, spread over two floors. A “must-see” place before or after the discovery of the Angkor site. The collections exposed (in part from the Angkor Conservation) are beautiful and there even are a number of very educational films to better understand the History of the Khmer Civilization.
We will then offer you a walking tour of the City of Siem Reap. This small town having been under Siamese control (currently Thailand) during more than a century and which was returned to Cambodia back in 1907 hides and holds in its history, some of the vivid images in the collective memory of the Cambodian People, even in the popular songs by the beloved “Golden Voice” of the Sixties, Sinn Sisamouth (who was killed during the dark Year under the Khmer Rouge régime).
Check out the song “Champei Siem Reap”
“O Champei (Frangipani) Siem Reap, you indeed is the elixir that healed and mended my broken heart from the loss of my Battambang Love …!”
Seduced by its ethereal beauty and charm, His Majesty the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk built a Royal Residence in the very heart of the city during the period of the French Protectorate. Some Royal Audiences with Great Former Diplomats and Heads of State also took place in this Royal Residence.
The City of Siem Reap - like Paris with its Sainte Geneviève Statue - also has its "Saints Protectors” of the City and Province, this from a strictly religious point of view, and especially in the History of the Preah Ang Chhek - Preah Ang Chhorm Statues. You also have a statue of Yama (God of Death) also known as Yeay Tep which Shrine sees infertile women often come to pray to be able to bear a child.
Then, take a stroll along Steung Siem Reap, the historical River of the Temple City which takes its source on Phnom Kulen (Lychee Mountain) - the Sacred Mountain of the Khmer people – which was the site of the very first Angkorian capital in the 9th century (circa-802). Also be aware that the use of water from the River in ancient times had a religious purpose, be it at home or in the rice field, hence, the annual water Festival held to thank the Deities that live deep in the waters.
Your Walking Tour will then lead you into the «religious» Past of Siem Reap if you wish so! Discover and enter the oldest pagoda in the city, Wat Bo where painted frescoes that adorn the interior walls of the Vihear (sanctuary and main temple) are more than a century old. We will then offer you to continue your journey along the River to get to another slightly newer and renovated pagoda, Wat Prohm Roath to have two different perspectives on the architecture of the Khmer pagodas.
And to finally complete your discovery of Architectural Walking Tour of Siem Reap, we will take you to the Old Market where colonial buildings stand as a testimonial to the French presence during the Protectorate, and to make you discover the daily life of the inhabitants of Siem Reap.
In the morning, a road journey to Koh Ker takes you through the Cambodian countryside, and further to the Northeast of the Kulen National Park. A further 85 kms from the small village of Seong, passing through some remote villages and a beautiful forest populated by deer, be amazed by the imposing pyramid temple that dates back to the 9th to 12th century, and is also known by its ancient former name Chok Gargyar. The ensemble consists of five successive brick towers aligned in a single row – a not so common style indeed – with thw massive pyramid at the background. The site of this former capital city – and contemporary to Angkor itself – is covered with an impressive 80 known-temples!
On your way back to Siem Reap, the little temple of Boeung Mealea (11th century) is indeed worth a visit! The vast expanse of this “Jungle Temple” covers an approximate 1.20 square kilometers and is being invaded by the forest. Built in the Angkor Wat style, Boeung Mealea must have served of a prototype of sort for Angkor Wat, and is located at about 60 kms from Siem Reap (about a 2hr30 road journey time). Its solemn beauty is certainly due to its peaceful and out-of-time atmosphere and to the constant fight between Mother Nature and the Mineral Stones!
In the morning, you will begin the visit by the Interpretation Centre of the Khmer Habitats located in the heart of the Angkor Archaeological Park, the center is being built in view to sharing and promoting the richness of the Khmer architecture from the pre-Angkorian period up to nowadays. The tour will continue by an ox cart ride towards North Srah Srang Village where you can see the wood carving and the way of life of today’s Khmer people.
Moreover, at the entrance of the village, before starting the ride, you will enjoy a real scene of the daily life of the Cambodian people in the countryside: the local market!
After the ox cart ride which will take you directly to the entrance of the temple of Ta Prohm, your late afternoon is devoted to admire this unique work. One of the most extraordinary works of nature is concentrated here in this temple where huge trees extend their roots through the temple stones, lifting them and gradually disrupting the original configuration of this unique temple!
Back in town, you have a visit at Cambolac, the Cambodian Lacquer Association. This social enterprise, with its production of boxes in lacquer, manages to involve poor communities to the development of tourism in Siem Reap. This activity helps disadvantaged people to have a perennial activity and regain their pride in manufacturing objects, thus safeguarding and developing the art of antique lacquer.
Your morning is devoted to a refreshing trek and short walk (about 1h30 - 2h00) in the real forest of Angkor, starting with the visit of the temple of Ta Nei. In its overgrown state by the jungle, this work by King Jayavaraman VII succeeded in evading large number of tourists with its secluded location. You can admire the beauty of this Buddhist temple of the 12th century and its bas-reliefs within the tranquil peace of mind and in a meditative state!
The trail of the trek starts after the visit of Ta Nei to first visit a water dam built during the period of the French protectorate (1863-1953) to regulate and control water within the Angkor Archaeological Park, hence its name as “the French water dam”. Then continue contemplating the luxuriant forest accompanied by the chirping sounds of birds (depending on the season) along the route towards the Tree nursery which includes all types of vegetation existing in Angkor.
Then enjoy the serene beauty of the Northern Baray (the man-made Water Reservoir built in the 12th century by King Jayavaraman VII) and its sophisticated history before the completion of the temple of Preah Khan, a Buddhist monastic complex named Jayaçri (“Glorious Victory” in sanskrit) in honor of the victory over the Chams by King Jayavarman VII who erected it in 1191.
The site also served as the temporary Capital City during the construction of Angkor Thom and the monastery was finished after Jayavarman VII the Builder King was installed in his new Palace (1190). It is dedicated to Dharanindravarman Varman II, the father of the Builder King who is idealized here in the form of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara.
Finally, your day will end with the exploration of Neak Pean, with its four basins being used for religious purifying rites built during the reign of the greatest Cambodian King, Jayavaraman VII, and located right in the Middle Northern Baray also named Jayatatâka.
Day free at leisure to ponder and meditate at leisure on your experience of this amazing once-in-a-lifetime “Step back in Angkor Times” Experience!
You will then be transferred to Siem Reap International Airport for your return flight home or to another destination...
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Extension to Preah Vihear Temple, the newly inscribed UNESCO World Heritage Site (2008)
(Contact us for more information)
“Ever dreamt of embarking in a time machine and take a Chronological Voyage through Angkor Times”?