AITO: The Association of Independent Tour Operators
Cambodia Off the Beaten Track

Cambodia Off the Beaten Track

Cambodia Off the Beaten Track Overview

If you want to get off the beaten track in Cambodia and see the country a little differently to everyone else, then this is the perfect tour for you. If you don’t mind walking through the jungle with rescued elephants, sleeping in a luxury tent besides a remote temple or kayaking through green, luscious mangroves, that is.

DAY 1 - Welcome to the Kingdom of Smiles. You will be met at Siem Reap Airport by your private driver who will take you to your hotel where you can rest and soak up your surroundings. The Mulberry is a peaceful haven, with rooms set around a lovely swimming pool, but it is also ideally located and a short stroll from the bars and restaurants of Siem Reap.

DAY 2 - Rise early this morning to catch sunrise over the largest and most breathtaking temple; Angkor Wat. Spend the morning exploring one of man’s most magnificent creations before returning to the hotel for a late breakfast. Later, explore the fortified city of Angkor Thom as well as Bayon, Baphuon, Phimeanakas, and the Terraces of the Elephants and Leper King. Finish your day tour with the sunset at Pre Rup Temple – its red bricks are accentuated by the sinking sun and there are fewer crowds here than elsewhere.

DAY 3 - This morning you will visit Bantrey Srei (by tuk-tuk), which for many years was off limits due to its remote location and Khmer Rouge activity, as well as the majestic Ta Phrom Temple, which was famed for becoming the Tombraider set. This afternoon you’ll board a small local-style boat to see a floating village on Tonle Sap Lake. Round the day off with a fantastic performance by the Phare Cambodian Circus – this non-profit organisation trains young Cambodians in the arts.

DAY 4 - Early this morning, depart Siem Reap for Kulen Mountain, which is considered by Khmers to be the most sacred mountain in Cambodia and the perfect setting for a picnic lunch. Afterwards, visit Beng Mealea, the seldom-visited ruin and a spectacular jungle temple where almost no restoration of the area has been undertaken. Intricately carved depictions have been well preserved, including scenes from the sacred Hindu Vedas. Lunch – included.

DAY 5 - This morning you will be driven by 4WD to the exquisite 12th century Temple complex of Banteay Chhmar. The bumpy ride will take you three hours west of Siem Reap, near the Thai border. You can explore the ruins on foot and enjoy a picnic in the grounds before visiting another astonishing temple across the village, where children play among the ruins. Tonight you will camp in a luxury tent in the temple grounds and enjoy a private meal with local music. Lunch – included.

DAY 6 - This morning you can walk through a local market before travelling to Banteay Top Temple, passing typical rural Cambodian landscapes of oxcarts, buffalo and local villagers working the fields. You can enjoy a picnic brunch in the grounds before driving to the quaint town of Battambang, stopping at a lake that was created during the brutal Pol Pot regime under, as you can imagine, horrific conditions. Tonight you can check into Bambu Hotel, which is a home from home. Lunch – included.

DAY 7 - Today you will explore Battambang’s culture and history, beginning with a drive from town to the lovely Pagoda in Kor village, where you can listen to monks chanting and offer some small alms. Later today, your guide will show you some traditional villages and local industries including a winery before stopping for lunch on the river. This afternoon you have the opportunity to ride the unique bamboo train, which is like a wooden raft with a lawn-mower engine attached that hurtles along an old track! Lunch – included.

DAY 8 - After breakfast your private driver will take you to Phnom Penh, which will take you the best part of the day. Along the way you will stop at Udong, which was the capital of Cambodia from the early 17th century until 1866. Today it has lovely views, with several temples, stupas and other structures covering three hills. The drive takes six hours not including any stops. Upon arrival in Phnom Penh you can check into the cosy Villa Langka – we recommend visiting the charming riverside tonight.

DAY 9 - Start the morning with a food walking tour in the amazing Art Deco central market. You will stop for a local-style breakfast and have the chance to sample different delicacies on offer. This afternoon make a trip to Tuol Sleng Prison, housed in a high school, and the Killing Fields to glimpse the devastating horrors that prevailed during the years of Polpot’s genocide. If time permits, you can also visit the Apsara Arts Association, which teaches Cambodian dance and music to disadvantaged and orphaned children. Lunch – included.

DAY 10 - This morning, after breakfast, your guide and driver will drive you to Mondulkiri, a rural province east of the capital. The journey will take about six hours and when you arrive, you can check into the gorgeous Mayura Hill Resort where you can relax and take advantage of the fabulous swimming pool and luscious gardens. We have not planned anything for you for the rest of the day. Lunch – included.

DAY 11 - Today you will visit the Elephant Valley Project, which is a unique opportunity to get close to the elephants and observe them in their natural habitat. You will spend a full day shadowing two elephant families in the jungle – learning about the way they live, the local mahouts and the forest. (Please note elephant riding is not permitted). To make the most of the day here, you can stay in one of the four basic huts on the site tonight and enjoy dinner at base camp. Lunch and dinner included.

DAY 12 - Today you will remain in the company of the majestic elephants – you can spend half the day in the jungle with them and half the day volunteering to help the not-for-profit organisation that looks after the injured elephants. Be prepared to get your hands dirty as you will probably spend this afternoon helping out on one of farms to help grow supplementary food for their elephants. After an exciting and educational day with the elephants you will return to Mayura Hill Resort. Lunch – included.

DAY 13 - This morning you will leave Mondulkiri Province for an area called Kratie, which is most famed for its rare Irrawaddy river dolphins. Your private driver and guide will stop en-route at Kampi Pool, which is often a good place for dolphin spotting. Upon arrival at Kratie you will take a local boat to Koh Trong, an island in the Mekong River. Here you will check into an authentic-style Khmer bungalow Rajabori Villas and rest for the night. Lunch – included.

DAY 14 - This morning, you can enjoy the natural habitat of the river-island where you are staying. There is one 9km circuit road around the island’s perimeter which you could leisurely cycle, walk or even take an ox-cart through traditional Khmer villages, fruit orchards and rice fields while observing the rituals and routines of traditional village life. Afterwards, you will make your way back to Villa Langka in Phnom Penh, where you can rest for the night before heading south. Lunch – included.

DAY 15 - This morning, your guide and driver will escort you to Kampot in South Cambodia, stopping at a wonderful sanctuary for ill-treated bears on the way. The Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre cares for animals that have been saved from the wildlife trade. You can also visit the Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre before enjoying lunch and continuing to Kampot. Tonight you will stay in a rural river spot at the Champa Lodge, one of the most unique and wonderful accommodation spots in all of Cambodia. Lunch – included.

DAY 16 - Welcome to Kampot. This sleepy hamlet was once the administration centre during the French era and this town is dotted with buildings from the Colonial past. This morning, you’ll take a bike ride through rice fields and orchards against the scenic backdrop of the ‘Elephant Mountains’. Stop at local villages along the way to meet and speak with the local people – your destination will be the rapids on the Kampot River, where you can enjoy a local picnic lunch. Then take a local boat along Stung Kampong Bay to watch the sunset. Lunch – included.

DAY 17 - Today you can relax at the lovely Champa Lodge or visit the nearby paper plantation, salt fields and pepper plantations, where you can inspect the vines and buy some of this world-famous and much sought after product. We also really recommend visiting a local handicraft village where they make baskets from bamboo and is a great example of sustainable trade in Cambodia. Later this afternoon, enjoy kayaking through the mangroves on the river – it’s an unforgettable experience where you can enjoy complete peace and quiet. Lunch – included.

DAY 18 - After an incredible insight into Cambodia, one of the most fascinating countries in the world, it is time to head to Paradise to kick back and relax. This morning you will drive about 2.5 hours to the the south coast and board the public speed boat to the idyllic island of Koh Rong Samloem, stopping at Koh Tas, which is a lovely swimming and snorkelling spot. On your island you will be staying in a little bungalow on the 5km stretch of pure white sand. Lunch – included.

DAYS 19 & 20 - Take two full days relaxing on one of Asia’s most beautiful beaches. Koh Rong Samloem is much quieter than neighbouring Koh Rong, and you can really live the castaway dream here. The accommodation is simple and it might be one of the last places on earth without wi-fi (true at the time of writing!) but we can’t think of a better way to round off this trip of a lifetime. Your little beach hut is on the doorstep of the crystal, clear waters.

DAY 21 - The time has come to bid farewell to this beautiful country of smiles. You will catch the boat back to the mainland and your private driver will transfer you four hours back to Phnom Penh where you can catch your flight home. Bon voyage… we think you’ll be back!
Find out more about the Off the Beaten Track in Cambodia