THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED: CAMBODIA’S SOUTH

Discover hidden Cambodia on this 12-day tour. Explore the southcoast’s jungles and beaches, and marvel at Angkor’s lesser-seen temples

TOUR INTRODUCTION

12 Days, 11 Nights     FROM US$ 1922 PER PERSON

The south of Cambodia offers beautiful coastline, isolated islands, lush national parks, and even a few lesser-seen Angkorian temples. Find yourself discovering a whole new side of Cambodia on a 12-day tour that takes you deep into the wild of the Cardomom Mountains to a floating tent lodge, to pepper plantations in search of the perfect Kampot pepper, through idyllic rural countryside, and onto secluded beaches washed by the Gulf of Thailand’s sparkling waters.

Arrive in Siem Reap, the gateway to the temples of Angkor, where you’ll start your off-the-beaten-path Cambodia tour with a fascinating boat trip on the Tonlé Sap, Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake. Take the opportunity to explore the magnificent Angkorian temples by bicycle and see Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon Temple, Ta Prohm and Srah Srang at your own pace. Follow it up with a sunset gondola ride along the moat of Angkor Thom, and then it’s a foodie’s dream come true: a guided tour of the all best Khmer eateries and local hangouts in Siem Reap!

From Siem Reap, head to Phnom Penh to see all the higlights of this deeply historic, cosmopolitan capital city. You’ll have the chance to get a deeper understanding of Cambodia’s history at the Killing Fields, as well as a chance to drink in riverside life on a Mekong dinner cruise.

In Kep, a laid-back coastal town, you’ll visit the little-seen Angkorian temple Phnom Chisor, enjoy a delicious meal of Kep’s famous crab, and stroll past the colonial facades that reveal the city’s history as an exclusive seaside resort.

On the way to tropical Sihanoukville, you’ll stop at a Kampot pepper farm to learn all about this world-famous pepper. Then while away the hours on Sihanouville’s crescent beaches, with options to explore Ream National Park or to go island-hopping. When you continue to Koh Kong, you’ll spend two nights in a floating tent villa on a beautiful river at the foot of the Cardomom Mountains. Enjoy the rich wildlife here, journey to a waterfall and find serenity in nature before we transfer you back to Phnom Penh.

 

“Southern Cambodia has a wonderful coastal culture, amazing seafood, tropical islands, diverse highland wildlife and even some Angkorian ruins. This tour combines all that with the top-rated sites in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. You can’t go wrong!”

Phan Sophea, Backyard Travel Cambodia Specialist

THE BACKYARD TRAVEL DIFFERENCE

Stay in a floating tented camp on the Tatai River amidst the Cardomom Mountains
Indulge in a sunset gondola ride along the ancient moat of Angkor Thom
Relax by the sparkling sea at Sihanoukville, or island-hop for prime snorkeling
Take a boat trip through mangrove forests to stunning Ream National Park



Daily Itinerary

Daily Itinerary

  • Start
  • Day 1: Siem Reap

    Welcome to your off-the-beaten-path tour of Southern Cambodia! Upon your arrival at Siem Reap International Airport, your lcoal guide will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. Siem Reap is a charming riverside town and the perfect base from which to explore the temples of Angkor.

    Take some time to relax at the hotel before heading out in the afternoon for a boat trip on Tonlé Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. Aboard your private boat, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about this UNESCO-designated Biosphere Reserve, as well as to observe local life on the lake. Your boat will take you to Kompong Phluck, a fascinating village of stilted houses. Along the way, you’ll pass flooded forests and floating villages, complete with floating schools, hospitals, pagodas, and more. (Please note: During the dry season of April and May, water levels drop significantly and the boat trip is not possible. If you are traveling during this period, we can arrange a visit to a floating village at Chong Kneas instead.)

    Tonight you’ll tuck into a delicious dinner at HAVEN, a social enterprise restaurant that gives underpriveleged youth valuable training in the hospitality industry. (Please note: HAVEN is open from 11am to 10pm, but closed on Wednesdays from 11am to 5:30pm for student training, and closed all day on Sundays.)

    Overnight in Siem Reap

    Meals included on this day: Dinner

    Floating-House- Houseboat-the-Tonle-Sap-lake-Battambang-Siem-reap-CambodiaCambodian-Floating-Village_2.jpg
  • Day 2: Siem Reap

    Today you’ll start the day with a guided cycling tour of the temples of Angkor, with a remork (a local open-air vehicle similar to the Thai tuk tuk) following you for backup.

    After breakfast, your private remork will pick you up at your hotel and bring you to the bicycle outfitters to be briefed and fitted for your bike. Then, your remork will bring you to Angkor Wat, the grandest and most famous of all the Angkorian temples. Explore Angkor Wat on foot as your remork brings your bicycle to the complex’s exit for you to ride after you are done.

    Built in the 12th century during the reign of King Suryavarman II, Angkor Wat was constructed to symbolize Mount Meru, a sacred mountain that was believed to be the center of all physical, metaphysical and spiritual universes. Within the temple, you’ll find walls covered in stone carvings—the site boasts more than 2,000 Apsara dancers in stunning bas-relief. Angkor Wat is said to symbolize the soul of the Khmer people, and it is so revered by the nation that it is featured prominently on the Cambodian flag. It is the only flag in the world with a building on it.

    Next, you’ll cycle to the last capital of the Khmer Empire, the ancient city of Angkor Thom. The impressive entrance through the South Gate, carved with elephants and four giant faces, will no doubt leave an indelible impression. Stroll through this ancient city surrounded by 8-meter-high walls that create a perfect-square periphery.

    In the exact center of the city sits Bayon temple, a masterpiece of 12th century Khmer craftsmanship. Its 54 towers of enigmatic faces represent the 54 provinces of the Khmer empire. Cycle past the magnificent bas-reliefs at the Terrace of the Leper King and the Terrace of the Elephants to Ta Prohm, perhaps the most memorable and atmospheric of all the Angkorian temples. Left largely as it was found, Ta Prohm is unique in that it is overgrown with vines and trees. The temple makes for a moving sight as it crumbles gracefully back into the jungle that is reclaiming it.

    Continue on to Srah Srang, what was once the royal bathing pool, also known as the “Pool of Ablutions.” Enjoy a picnic lunch here while you gaze over the serene, expansive reservoir.

    Up next is the most scenic part of your cycling tour: you’ll leave the temples and cycle through Cambodia’s idyllic countryside of rice paddies and rural villages. You’ll pass through Pradak Village, which is famous for its ka tien, or Khmer noodles, and soon arrive at the “gem” of Angkor, Banteay Srei, a unique temple made entirely of pink sandstone. Also known as the “Citadel of Women,” this temple is considered the best-preserved of the Angkorian sites and boasts remarkable bas-relief carvings.

    Afterward, hop into your remork and transfer back to Angkor Thom, where a sunset gondola ride in the ancient city’s moat awaits you. Glide along to the ruins of Prasat Chrung and watch the sun set over the beautiful landscape.

    This evening, take a rest at your hotel before your remork takes you on a journey into foodie heaven. Starting at the town center, your guide will take you on a tour of local Cambodian cuisine. You can sample pickled fruit and even fried insects at the market, then head to Street 60, Siem Reap’s favorite local hangout. Lined with picnic mats for hire, this lively street becomes a barbecue and dining hotspot every night. Try exotic fruits, roast frog, grilled chicken, crispy duck, chive cakes and more!

    Next, your guide will bring you to Triangle Restaurant, another local hotspot, where you’ll round out your food saga with more delicious regional fare and drinks accompanied by live music.

    The evening exploration will end at the Sombai rice wine distillery. Throughout history, the Khmer people have infused rice wine with traditional herbs and medicines to extract health benefits. You’ll get to sample these tropical elixirs with an assortment of sweets and snacks.

    Afterward, return to your hotel, or be dropped off at Pub Street to continue an evening of nightlife at your leisure.

    Overnight in Siem Reap

    Meals included on this day: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

    Angkor Thom, Cambodia – A traveler goes by a tuk-tuk, visiting the ancient city of Angkor ThomBas-Reliefs at the Outer Walls of The Bayon, Angkor Thom, Cambodia
  • Day 3: Siem Reap

    Today after breakfast, head to Kompheim, which translates to “Ladybug Village,” located about 16 kilometers outside of Siem Reap. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to get off the tourist trail, mingle with locals, and get a true taste of Cambodian rural life. (Please note, in order to avoid negatively impacting the traditions or culture of the village, each journey will be adapted to the events, ceremonies, or seasonal activities that may be underway at the village at the time of your visit.)

    Take an ox cart ride through the village, and if you wish, try your hand at steering! Meet your host family for the day and assist with their seasonal tasks. You might help them plant rice, harvest crops, thresh rice, repair thatched roofs, plant trees, or make prahoc (Cambodian fish paste)—it all depends on the family’s needs and the time of year. This is a great opportunity to snap some wonderful photos of life in a Cambodian village.

    We’ll have lunch at the village, where Western food will be available but you can try some Khmer local dishes if you wish. Go on a guided walk through the village before transferring back to Siem Reap in the mid-afternoon.

    In the evening, your off-the-beaten-path Cambodia tour offers a special treat. At 8pm, you’ll watch the phenomenal performance of Phare Circus, an internationally renowned local performance arts troupe. The hour-long show combines music, dance, modern and traditional theater, juggling, contortion and acrobatics to tell a story about Cambodian history and society. All performers are graduates of the Phare Ponleu Selpac arts school, a social enterprise established to give underprivileged youth training in the arts, as well as a way to use the arts to cope with trauma.

    Overnight in Siem Reap

    Meals included on this day: Breakfast and lunch

    Bike on a PorchRice field Road, Cambodia
  • Day 4: Siem Reap - Phnom Penh

    After breakfast, you’ll have the morning free to enjoy at your leisure. Then in the mid-afternoon, hop on a 1-hour flight to Southern Cambodia to continue your tour in Phnom Penh. Upon arrival, you’ll be met by your local guide and transferred to your hotel for check-in.

    Once considered one of the most beautiful cities in Asia, the bustling capital of Cambodia still retains its colonial-era charm despite its turbulent history. Here, at the confluence of the Mekong and Tonlé Sap rivers, Eastern and Western traditions intersect in fascinating ways. You’ll catch glimpses of this cultural exchange along the city’s wide, tree-lined avenues and the imposing colonial facades.

    After refreshing at your hotel, you’ll be picked up by a cyclo to embark on an open-air tour of Phnom Penh’s cultural highlights. You’ll pass through the French Quarter and continue to the Royal Palace, built in 1866. Today, it houses an impressive collection of Buddha images. Here, you’ll also visit the Silver Pagoda, which is named for the 5,000+ silver tiles that cover all of its floors. Originally called Wat Prakeo, or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, this building also houses Buddhas made from crystal, bronze, silver and gold.

    Next, make a stop at the National Museum of Cambodia, built in the traditional Khmer style and containing the world’s largest collection of Khmer art, most of which date back to the 4th to 13th centuries. The roof of the museum is also home to one of Cambodia’s largest bat colonies!

    The rest of the afternoon is free to spend at your leisure. In the evening, you’ll board the Kanica cruise boat and enjoy a shared dinner cruise along the mighty Mekong and Tonlé Sap rivers. Aboard the Kanica, you’ll take in commanding views of the riverfront and the Phnom Penh skyline.

    Overnight in Phnom Penh

    Meals included on this day: Breakfast and dinner

    A tuk tuk driver carrying his customer and her shopping in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.Royal-Palace-Phnom-Penh-Cambodia1000x600
  • Day 5: Phnom Penh

    Today, embark on a journey of Cambodia’s culinary delights. Although not as well-known as the cuisines of its neighboring countries, Cambodia’s cuisine offers a diversity of national dishes that warrant in-depth exploration.

    You’ll start with a 2-hour guided tour of the local market. Walk down the various aisles of produce and spices as your guide explains the traditional Khmer ingredients. You’ll have the opportunity to taste seasonal fruits along the way. End your tour at a local restaurant for a lunch of traditional dishes. Try the delicious num pang (French-style baguette) and nom banh chok, a rice noodle dish topped with green fish curry and fresh veggies.

    After lunch, take the opportunity to go souvenir hunting at the labyrinthine Russian market, the best spot in Phnom Penh for wood carvings, jewelry, and Cambodian silk. Then, visit the historically significant Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum for insight into the notorious Khmer Rouge. The museum is housed in an old school that was taken over by the regime to serve as its infamous detention center, S-21.

    Continue on for an audio-set-guided tour of the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. The audio set is available in 15 different languages. The harrowing but informative stories from survivors and liberators of the camp add elucidating insights into this country’s recent history.

    In the late afternoon, we’ll head to Phnom Penh’s riverside promenade. Here, you’ll discover colonial French-style buildings and some great people-watching. Locals and visitors gather here for all manner of relaxing, mingling and socializing, including public Khmer dance classes. Feel free to join in!

    Overnight in Phnom Penh

    Meals included on this day: Breakfast and lunch

    A busy scene of shoppers and market vendors in Siem Reap Market
  • Day 6: Phnom Penh – Kep

    This morning, your Southern Cambodia tour heads further south to Takeo Province and the small, coastal town of Kep.

    En route, you’ll stop by Phnom Chisor, where you can climb a 133-meter-high hill where the atmospheric ruins of an 11th-century Khmer temple ruins stands at the summit. From here, you’ll also enjoy views of the stunning Cambodian countryside.

    A tasty lunch will be served at a local restaurant in the town of Takeo. Afterward, board a glass-bottom boat and cruise up an ancient canal to the temple ruins of Phnom Da and the archaeological museum of Angkor Borei, which features artifacts from Cambodia’s Funan and Chenla eras. The route is one of the best opportunities in Cambodia to see genuine riverine communities and lifestyles.

    In the afternoon, arrive in Kep, a popular seaside resort town of the 1960s that is now experiencing a cultural renaissance. Impressive colonial façades and calm, turquoise waters await you.

    Overnight in Kep

    Meals included on this day: Breakfast and lunch

    Kep-seaview-cambodiasunset-sihanoukville-cambodia1000x600
  • Day 7: Kep

    Enjoy your day in Kep at your leisure, or opt for a tour of Rabbit Island. As you stroll through this atmospheric colonial town, keep an eye open for signs of its heyday as an exclusive seaside retreat in the 1900s and again in the 1960s, before the town was abandoned during the reign of the Khmer. You’ll see fascinating colonial buildings—some restored, some still in an elegant state of decay—that offer a historical glimpse into the picturesque town.

    OPTIONAL ACTIVITY: Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsai)
    Relax on a beautiful tropical island just 25 minutes by speedboat from Kep. As you while away the hours on Rabbit Island’s pristine crescent beach, we’ll prepare a seafood barbecue lunch. Return to Kep in the mid-afternoon to enjoy the rest of your day at your leisure.

    Overnight in Kep

    Meals included on this day: Breakfast

    bridge-kep-beach-cambodia 1000×600Jungle-close-to-a-white-tropical-beach-at-Rabbit-Island-Cambodia
  • Day 8: Kep – Kampot – Sihanoukville

    Get a taste for fresh Southern Cambodian seafood this morning on a walking tour of the Kep crab market. You’ll see the 8-legged creatures that this region is famous for being stored in shallow water, prepared and cooked at the market. The rickety wooden shacks that hug the shoreline next to the market are known for serving the freshest and best seafood in the nation.

    After breakfast, head to the nearby riverside town of Kampot. En route, you’ll stop at Starling Farm, a family-run pepper plantation near picturesque Secret Lake. Kampot pepper is renowned as one of the best peppers in the world, and you’ll have the opportunity to get to know its production on a guided tour of the plantation. Learn about the differences between white, black, green and red peppers, then enjoy a delicious lunch at the Starling Restaurant.

    In Kampot, take a break to stretch your legs and explore the laid-back town with its colonial architecture. The last leg of your journey will bring you to the beaches of Sihanoukville by mid-afternoon.

    The rest of your evening is free to spend at your leisure. Ask your knowledgable guide about recommendations for beaches, restaurants and activities close to your hotel.

    Overnight in Sihanoukville

    Meals included on this day: Breakfast and lunch

    remote-island-Cambodiacrab-Kep-cambodia
  • Day 9: Sihanouville

    Today, after breakfast at your hotel, enjoy the southern charms of Cambodia at your leisure, or take an optional tour:

    OPTIONAL ACTIVITY: Ream National Park
    This 210-square-kilometer national park on the Gulf of Thailand boasts thick mangrove forests, lush jungle and off-shore coral reefs. With over 200 bird species, various species of monkey and the pangolin calling this park home, it’s a nature-lover’s paradise. Transfer by boat to one of Ream National Park’s most scenic islands, Koh Sampouch, where you can enjoy an isolated beach setting and a seafood barbecue lunch.

    OPTIONAL ACTIVITY: Three Islands Tour
    Depart at 9am on a speedboat to go snorkeling, fishing, swimming or beach-bumming at three nearby islands. You’ll see brilliant-hued corals and fish as you snorkel at your first stop, Koh Chaluh. Then, continue to Bamboo Island where you can relax on a long, yellow-sand beach. We’ll cook you a seafood barbecue lunch with cool drinks and fruit right on the beach. Then, take another quick cruise to Koh Tres for some excellent snorkeling or head to Koh Takiev for more beach relaxation. Return to Sihanoukville at 4 or 5pm. (Please advise which islands you would like to visit in advance.)

    Overnight in Sihanouville

    Meals included on this day: Breakfast

    Sihanoukville Beaches Cambodia (4)fisherman-coming-home-sihanoukville-cambodia
  • Day 10: Sihanoukville – Koh Kong

    Today your off-the-beaten path Southern Cambodia tour will continue in Koh Kong. After breakfast, embark on a scenic 3.5-hour journey to Koh Kong Province. A shared boat ride of approximately 20 minutes will bring you to a unique highlight of this tour, the 4 Rivers Floating Lodge.

    Have the rest of the day free to spend at your leisure. Take a dip in the clear waters, explore the river by kayak, or fish from your private terrace. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to spot the abundant wildlife here, from colorful butterflies to rare birds, such as fish eagles and kingfishers.

    In the evening, take a short river cruise to see a beautiful sight: fireflies illuminating a tree as if they were fairy lights! Afterward, enjoy dinner at the lodge.

    Overnight at the 4 Rivers Floating Lodge

    Meals included on this day: Breakfast and dinner

    Birdview from 4 Rivers Floating Eco-Lodge
  • Day 11: Koh Kong

    On the final day of your southern Cambodia tour, indulge in a private exploration of the thundering Tatai Falls, a majestic natural site. At roughly 10am, you’ll embark on a 45-minute boat ride along the beautiful river that brings you past lush riverside jungle and past Tatai Village to the falls. A local English-speaking guide will lead the tour.

    After turning onto a tributary where the surrounding forest is rich with the call of exotic birds, you’ll come to the falls, which drop 6 meters onto the rocks below. Enjoy a picnic lunch, then go for a dip, sit under the falls, or find some shade to relax in near the water.

    You can opt to return to the lodge by kayak or simply hop back aboard the boat for a relaxing ride. Upon your return, spend the free afternoon at your leisure. Dinner will be served at the lodge.

    Overnight at the 4 Rivers Floating Lodge

    Meals included on this day: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

    Landscapes from 4 Rivers Floating Eco-Lodge
  • Day 12: Koh Kong – Phnom Penh – Departure

    After breakfast, enjoy some time at your leisure before transferring back to Phnom Penh International Airport via a 4.5-hour drive overland.

    Koh-Rong-Island-Cambodia1000x600

All of our Tours can be Tailored, Just Ask!

Local vietnamese woman

Tour Details

All of our itineraries can be tailored to your requirements, allowing us to create the perfect holiday just for you. Contact us with your holiday ideas, no matter how big or small, and we’ll start planning your unique personalized trip!

Tour prices are a guideline only, and are based on two persons travelling together, sharing a double or twin room in luxury accommodation. Each tour price and can be adjusted depending on budget, activities included and standard of accommodation desired.

Tour and airfare prices include all applicable taxes and are subject to change without prior notice until services are booked.

You, your holiday and booking direct: Backyard Travel are on the ground year-round in Asia, which means you are booking direct with a local travel company, allowing you to save on the cost of your holiday. Our tailor-made tours are designed by local Travel Specialists who investigate every aspect of the trip themselves, giving you a unique view of each destination.

icon Included in this Backyard Travel tour:

Accommodation with daily breakfast at selected hotels
Private tours, transfers and all services as mentioned in the itinerary
Services of a private driver and air-conditioned vehicles
Service of English speaking guides in every location
Entrance fees for all mentioned sights visited
Meals as mentioned in the itinerary

icon Not included in this Backyard Travel tour:

Domestic and international flights
Departure taxes if applicable
Meals other than those mentioned in the itinerary
Early check-in and late check-out at hotels
Personal expenses (such as laundry, telephone, drinks, etc.)
Tips for guides and drivers
Personal travel insurance
Visa fees (contact us for further information)

Why Backyard Travel?


Our experienced travel specialists possess years of local insider knowledge, because they live here.

We have offices in all of our destinations in asia, fully staffed and open all year-round.

With backyard travel you are booking direct, allowing you to save and benefit local residents.

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Our advantage lies in having local expertise to create unique, bespoke tours. Whether you’re looking to cruise down Asia’s tranquil rivers, bike the peaceful rural roads, or eat at bustling night markets, Backyard Travel’s in-country Travel Specialists can plan your ideal trip. Send us a message about your ideas, and we'll send you our best suggestions.


 

 

 

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Our local travel specialists are eager to discuss your tour ideas in their destinations. Just drop us a line.
Ask a Travel Specialist
Our local travel specialists are eager to discuss your tour ideas in their destinations. Just drop us a line.
Ask a Travel Specialist
Our local travel specialists are eager to discuss your tour ideas in their destinations. Just drop us a line.