Cambodia holiday, wildlife & culture

Description of Cambodia holiday, wildlife & culture

Explore Cambodia on this 15-day tailor-made holiday and discover much more than the temples of Angkor. Delve into the bustling capital of Phnom Penh to stroll the Royal Palace complex and marvel at the Silver Pagoda. Drive out to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek and learn about the reign of the Khmer Rouge in the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.
Become a bear keeper for the day and learn about the process of helping rescued sun bears and take a jungle walk with a rescued herd of elephants - watch them take a cooling dip in a nearby waterfall. Glide along the Mekong in search of the rare Irrawaddy dolphin before driving through the Cambodian countryside ranging from lush jungle landscapes to sprawling rubber plantations.
Temple-hop through the vast Angkor complex including lesser visited sites such as Beng Mealea, a slumbering giant almost entirely lost to the Cambodian jungle and pretty in pink sandstone Banteay Srei with its elaborate carvings. And of course no trip to Cambodia would be complete wiithout a visit to iconic Angkor Wat, the mother of all temples, a fitting end to a magnificent holiday.

Day-by-day experiences

Day 1Depart the UK on an overnight flight to Phnom Penh.
Day 2Land Phnom Penh and enjoy the afternoon at leisure. Early evening enjoy a fun cyclo ride through the city followed by a sunset river cruise.
Day 3Spend the day exploring Phnom Penh with visits to the Royal Palace complex, home to the Silver Pagoda. In the afternoon visit the Genocide Museum known as S-21 and drive out to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, the resting place of many of the victims of S-21. (B)
Day 4Drive to Phnom Tamao and spend the day as a bear keeper. Enjoy a behind the scenes discovery tour to learn how the centre looks after the resident sun bear population, a unique and fulfilling experience. (B,L)
Day 5Depart for Mondulkiri and en-route stop at the small town of Skuon to sample deep fried tarantula, a local delicacy. Continue on the snaking roads to the Elephant Valley Project and check-in. (B)
Day 6Today spend time with the elephants in the reserve. Enjoy a jungle walk with the small herd, help bathe and feed them and learn about their history and personalities. Watch the animals enjoy a cooling dip in a remote waterfall. (B,L)
Day 7Drive to a local Pnong minority village today, this community is very welcoming and love to meet new people. Sample some of their rice wine. Continue to the Bou Sraa waterfall and enjoy a picnic lunch by the falls. (B,L)
Day 8Journey through the Cambodian lowlands to the port of Kratie. Take lunch in town before heading out on the river to search for the rare Irrawaddy dolphins, a critically endangered species. Continue to the temples of Phnom Sombok for a sunset view. (B,L)
Day 9Depart for Kompong Thom, a journey which travels through the rubber plantations the area is known for. If you wish a stop can be made to learn about the process of tapping the trees. Pass through Kompong Chom and visit the temple of Wat Nokor. (B)
Day 10Spend the morning at the Chenla-era temple complex of Sambor Prei Kuk, an important piece of Cambodian temple history. Continue the drive to Siem Reap and enjoy the afternoon at leisure. (B)
Day 11Today is spent exploring the remote jungle temples including Beng Mealea, a wild and rugged temple site, and Prasat Thom the unique seven-storey step pyramid which appears more Mayan than Khmer. (B)
Day 12Travel to Kbal Spean, a fascinating carved riverbed. Access to the site is via a steady but scenic climb through the jungle. Return to the Angkor complex to visit Banteay Srei. En-route stop at the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity, an important wildlife rescue centre. There is also a late afternoon visit to the Cambodian Landmine Museum. (B)
Day 13Drive to the Tonle Sap Lake and explore a fishing community to discover their way of life. Head out on the water to explore Kompong Pluk, a medieval floating village. (B)
Day 14Rise early this morning and explore Ta Prohm the jungle temple in the cool dawn light. The temple is almost entirely consumed by the surrounding jungle and is a must-see temple. After breakfast visit Angkor Thom, the Terrace of the Leper King and the Terrace of Elephants. End the day marvelling at the faces of the Bayon. (B)
Day 15Another early start this time to watch the sun rise over Angkor Wat, thought to be the world's largest religious building. Enjoy a picnic breakfast at the temple while the bulk of the crowds return to their hotels for breakfast leaving you to explore the area with far fewer people. The afternoon is at leisure until your transfer to the airport for the flight back to the UK. (B)
NOTE FROM RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL: Phnom Tamao Wildlife Sanctuary is run by Wildlife Alliance, and all of the animals kept here have been rescued from the illegal wildlife trade. They are rehabilitated and released when possible, but unfortunately the physical or psychological harm they have suffered means that most will not be able to leave the sanctuary. There is one elephant who has been involved in performances – something which Responsible Travel does not usually support. However, in this case, the elephant has been trained using positive reinforcement methods, and is demonstrating how she carries out tasks. Training is necessary to ensure vets and handlers can treat her safely. As the sanctuary is carrying out extremely important work, and the overall impacts are positive for wildlife, we have decided in this case to continue to support Phnom Tamao Wildlife Sanctuary.

Responsible Travel, Travel Team

Travel Team

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Vouchers
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Cambodia holiday, wildlife & culture

Environment

Our local Cambodian agents use bio diesel for their vehicles in Siem Reap which is more sustainable than normal diesel. They also arrange a clean-up of the local area around the hotels in Siem Reap every six months or so to pick up litter, etc. Guests at their wholly owned hotels are encouraged to only use fresh towels when they need them which is in common with other hotels across the world. All the guides are trained to minimise environmental impact with simple things like not littering and not leaving cars running idle.

Over the last 5 years our local agent has become the top tour operator supporting the Sam Veasna Centre and the Elephant Valley Project which are both doing important conservation work. They have consulted on eco-tourism initiatives like behind the scenes at Phnom Tamao and Wildlife Alliance's Cardamom Mountains trip. They also work closely with these and other eco-tourism initiatives, advising them on the tourism sides of their initiatives thereby helping Cambodia develop as an eco-tourism destination.

The HanumanAlaya hotel aims to be as eco-friendly as possible with water conservation practices and recycling of all paper, glass, cans and plastic. In-room bathroom toiletries often provided in plastic bottles are dispensed in ceramic dispensers to avoid the use of excessive amounts of plastic and low-wattage lightbulbs are used throughout. The hotel also takes part in the annual 'keep the community clean'.

Community

Our local agent in Cambodia is entirely locally-owned and locally-staffed and firmly believes that tourism has a role to play in the economic development of poor rural villages. They aim to ensure that their community-based itineraries bring a positive experience to local people and visitors and allow the local communities a greater level of control over the activities in their region. They support many sustainable community tourism activities, many of which we can arrange suitable visits to, and endeavours to take guests to remote areas to discover the real Cambodia.

Such initiatives include Artisans d’Angkor which promotes the sustainable development of Cambodian arts and crafts to benefit rural communities. The centre provides training to young Cambodians in traditional arts enabling them to make a living in their own villages. This initiative has helped to create over 1,000 jobs.

Another initiative supported is the Cambodia Landmine Museum, established by a former child soldier to promote awareness and education for tourists and locals on the ongoing problem with landmines. Over 100 people a year are still killed by unexploded landmines and many more injured. The facility also provides a home and school for children affected by mines and poverty.

In Siem Reap our local agents support the Hospital for Children which offers free healthcare to the regions children. The hospital regularly treats 300-500 children per day and is also committed to training health care professionals from around the country. Our local agents have donated equipment to the hospital.


NOTE FROM RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL
Phnom Tamao Wildlife Sanctuary is run by Wildlife Alliance, and all of the animals kept here have been rescued from the illegal wildlife trade. They are rehabilitated and released when possible, but unfortunately the physical or psychological harm they have suffered means that most will not be able to leave the sanctuary. There is one elephant who has been involved in performances – something which Responsible Travel does not usually support. However, in this case, the elephant has been trained using positive reinforcement methods, and is demonstrating how she carries out tasks. Training is necessary to ensure vets and handlers can treat her safely. As the sanctuary is carrying out extremely important work, and the overall impacts are positive for wildlife, we have decided in this case to continue to support Phnom Tamao Wildlife Sanctuary.

1 Reviews of Cambodia holiday, wildlife & culture

5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 12 Mar 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Free the bears, the Elephant Valley Project and exploring Cambodia generally.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


There are a lot of early starts and a decent level of fitness is required for the EVP and jungle trips. Anti malarial's may make you feel unwell so drink lots
of water and take Imodium and rehydration salts. The tour guides provide great insights into how Cambodian people live. The kratie island hotel stay involves a journey via small boat ride, motor bikes and tuktuk so take a back pack and leave any large suitcases in the minivan if possible.

Shops and restaurants won't accept $ that aren't perfect (because the banks won't take them' so check any change you are given. Also get $ in small notes - anything larger than $50 and you'll have trouble getting change in the markets

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Absolutely incredible

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