We asked Cambodia Specialist Panha what he’d include in his own ideal trip, and the result is Impact Cambodia…

Highlights

  • Get back to nature the extraordinary Shinta Mani Wild resort

  • Explore the buzzing city of Phnom Penh

  • Learn how Cambodians are recovering from their horrific recent history

  • Experience sunset over the fabled ruins of Angkor

  • Soar over outlying temples in a helicopter

  • Navigate the Tonlé Sap lake in a private boat

  • Revel in a performance-with-a-difference by Phare Circus

  • Help build a local house with the Shinta Mani NGO

  • Kick back on tropical Koh Rong

Kirirom National Park, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Tonle Sap, Angkor Temples, Koh Rong

Itinerary idea in detail

Includes international flights from a choice of UK airports, including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

  • Day 1

    Panha is a big fan of beginning a holiday far away from any cities, because doing so gives a much greater sense of arrival. Kirirom was Cambodia’s first national park, and covers a picturesque forested area with good walking trails, tranquil lakes and scenic waterfalls. Immediately to its north lies Shinta Mani Wild, the low-impact high-glamour resort created by the designer of the Four Seasons Golden Triangle Elephant Camp in Thailand. Painstakingly planned to protect the surrounding habitat and employ hundreds of local people, the resort offers an extraordinary level of comfort and a highly bespoke experience. Aided by your very own ‘Adventure Butler’, you’ll spend your time here getting back to nature in style, by exploring the forest, messing about on the river, foraging for ingredients and relaxing around the resort.

    On arrival in Cambodia, you’ll be met by a representative from Shinta Mani, who will accompany you to the resort.

  • Day 2

    Discover how much of the jungle is edible on a foraging trek with one of Shinta Mani Wild’s expert chefs, with the option to cook your finds in the camp’s kitchen. Explore the valley’s wild terrain at a pace that suits you, whether that’s a gentle downhill walk or a bouldering expedition!

  • Day 3

    Climb aboard one of the resort’s home-made expedition boats to explore the backwaters with a picnic and possibly a cold beer or two. You can play in the water on an inner-tube or a kayak, and relax on a sun-lounger on the top deck. Return to the resort for some time in the spa, with its amazing waterfall setting.

  • Day 4

    Cambodia’s capital is one of Asia’s fastest growing cities, booming and blooming as the country recovers from its time under Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime. Your stay will include a visit to the ornate royal palace, a streetfood tour, cycling in the countryside and trips to significant Khmer Rouge sites. You’ll stay at the historic Raffles Le Royal, which opened in 1929 and has welcomed Charlie Chaplin and Jackie O amongst its significant guests, along with housing international journalists during Cambodia’s civil war.

    – Drive to Phnom Penh, city & streetfood tours

    Depart by car for Phnom Penh, where your local guide will help you explore the lavish Royal Palace complex and intriguing National Museum. At 5pm, climb aboard a tuk-tuk for a food-focused tour of the city. Stop for a cocktail at a lively bar on Sisowath Quay and watch the sun set over the river, before heading down to the river, where roadside stalls sell a variety of edible bugs. Your guide will be on hand to decipher the surprisingly tasty offerings! Continue by tuk-tuk to the Russian Market, which draws local diners with typical Khmer food such as banh cheo, chicken rice porridge and beef skewers. Choose what you fancy, pull up a plastic stool alongside the locals, and soak up the atmosphere. Your final food stop for the evening will be freshly BBQ’d seafood, before you return to your hotel, again by tuk-tuk, and probably ready to loosen your waistband…

  • Day 5

    You’ll be driven out of town to hop on two wheels for a pleasant cycle through the countryside, taking in villages and rice fields with plenty of panoramic views to enjoy along the way. Your destination is Phnom Oudong, whose beautifully ornate white stupa sits amongst a cluster of historic buildings atop a hill with rewarding views across the surrounding plains. Drive back to Phnom Penh for lunch at ‘Friends’, a restaurant which trains ex-street children and other vulnerable groups in the hospitality trade. The food also happens to be excellent! The afternoon will be a far more sombre experience: Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocidal Crimes and the Cheung Ek ‘killing fields’ will open your eyes to the true brutality of the Pol Pot regime. There’s no sugar-coating this deeply disturbing insight into human capacity for cruelty – but it’s essential to understanding Cambodia and its people today. Your guide will have almost certainly lost loved ones to the regime, and will answer your questions as you try to comprehend what you’ve learnt.

  • Day 6

    Siem Reap is the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Angkor, the ruined capital of a historic Cambodian empire, and one of the ancient wonders of the world. The town is booming thanks to these fabled ruins, but remains low-rise by royal decree, and retains much of its original charm. 100s of temples and palaces lie scattered around Siem Reap, largely hidden by jungle. You’ll have plenty of time to discover them with a knowledgeable guide, along with a private boat trip of Tonle Sap lake, a spectacular helicopter tour of some of Angkor’s outlying archaeological sites, and a performance by the NGO Phare Circus. You’ll stay in the unique Sala Lodges, a handful of carefully restored traditional dwellings.

    – Fly to Siem Reap, sunset at Angkor Wat

    Fly from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, where you’ll be escorted to your hotel to check in before heading out to the Angkor complex. Your expert local guide will show you the Ta Prohm Temple half hidden under a tangle of gigantic roots, the crumbling Bayon Temple, and finally an extensive tour of Angkor Wat itself, finishing in time to watch the sun set over its distinctive silhouette.

  • Day 7-8

    Step aboard the Ella, a lovely wooden launch, to explore the backwaters of Tonle Sap, which is South-East Asia’s largest freshwater lake and defines central Cambodia. Drift past the lake’s protected bird biosphere looking out for bright wings darting amongst the flooded vegetation, enjoying fine food and drink as you relax on board. Having returned to your hotel for some time at leisure, dinner will be at Romdeng, a sister restaurant of Friends.

    – Helicopter tour of remote temples, Phare Circus

    Start the morning in style with a helicopter tour of some of Angkor’s outlying temples, enjoying a bird’s eye view of their layout. This particular mode of transport allows a greater perspective of the country and its landscape, allowing you to see features that are difficult to appreciate from the ground, not to mention fitting in many more significant sites without getting worn out! Spend the rest of your day at leisure until it’s time to head out to the Phare Circus for the evening performance. This is not your average circus experience – the performers are all graduates of an NGO school and professional arts training centre which offers opportunities for disadvantaged youth, and they use theatre, music, dance and circus arts to tell uniquely Cambodian stories.

  • Day 9

    Help build a house with the Shinta Mani Foundation

    Spend the day with the Shinta Mani Foundation in Siem Reap, which works to provide opportunities for Cambodians to overcome poverty. Along with its hospitality school and small business loans, the foundation works directly with villages to implement World Health Organisation goals such as sanitation and clean drinking water. Today you’ll have the opportunity to join them in building a house. You can be as involved as you wish, and it’s a great chance to give something back as well as really making a difference to your holiday.

  • Day 10

    ==
    Koh Rong – 4 nights

    These gorgeous tropical islands, with their sandy beaches powder-puff white and their waters crystal clear, are developed enough to extend a luxurious welcome, but remain largely untainted by tourism. Resorts here are truly restful, designed to give you every opportunity to relax completely. Spend your time in the spa or the jungle, out on the water or on the sand. Enjoy the laid back but lively nightlife of Koh Rong’s main beach, or seek picture-perfect seclusion in hidden spots around the coast. There’s no light pollution here: once the sun goes down, you can experience the night sky in all its glory, and keep an eye out for the magical spectacle of bioluminescent plankton sparkling in the shallow waters.

    Journey by boat and car to Sihanoukville, where you will board a shared speedboat to the island of Koh Rong or neighbouring Koh Rong Samloem. Time to kick off your shoes and sink your toes into the sand!

  • Day 11-13

    Enjoy a few days relaxing on the beach & making the most of your resort’s facilities.

  • Day 14

    Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

Accommodation options

While the itinerary price reflects the suggested accommodation, Audley trips are 100% tailor-made, and a specialist can help you select the option best suited to your tastes and budget.

Booking Policy

English speaking, local guide
All accommodation listed
Land transportation by private air-conditioned vehicles
Any domestic flights listed (unless marked otherwise)
All admission fees at attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
All meals listed

Entry visas
International airport departure taxes
Any meals not listed in the itinerary
Drinks, other than water on activity days
Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, drinks, tip…)
Travel insurance
All other services not listed in ‘inclusive’

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