Amazing Cambodia: Kingdom of Wonder
A cross-country journey from the capital city to the awe-inspiring ruins of Angkor Wat
Welcome to Phnom Penh, the political and cultural centre of Cambodia! You'll begin your trip exploring the remnants of Cambodia's turbulent past with trips to the S-21 Genocide Museum and the infamous Killing Fields. This interactive morning will introduce you to the country's complex history and give you a solid cultural and historical base before you journey deep into the countryside. Then lighten things up in the afternoon with a trip to the eclectic Russian Market, where you'll find traditional woodcarvings, modern Cambodian artwork and hand-woven silks to bring home for your friends and family.
Splash in the Waves
Koh Tonsay, translated Rabbit Island, is the perfect place to spend the day in a hammock with a cold fruit shake in hand. Snap photos in the early morning light as boats weave between nets cast by local fishermen and marvel at the fascinating, simple life of the island. After an evening bonfire and a game of cards beneath the bright stars, you'll settle in to your beachside bungalow, located just a few yards from the crashing waves.
From the relaxing murmur of the waves at Koh Tonsay, you will head up into the mountains to check out Phnom Kulen National Park. Known as the holiest mountain in Cambodia, Phnom Kulen is home to ancient sandstone carvings and beautiful waterfalls. Here you will marvel at over 1,000 small carvings that are etched into the river bed, climb up the mountain for spectacular views, and pay your respects at the mountain's reclining Buddha.
Siem Reap, home to some of the world's most exotic temples, is the best place to take in the kingdom's ancient splendor. Witness a breathtaking sunrise at Angkor Wat and marvel at the intricate carvings in this massive stone fortress. In addition to Angkor Wat, you will visit Angkor Thom, Bayon, and Ta Prohm (also known as the Tomb Raider temple). Pass the evenings walking through the enchanting night market, and cap off your trip with a traditional Cambodian feast of exotic local fare before you say goodbye to the kingdom.
This program easily connects with all of our other amazing trips in Southeast Asia and India.
Amazing Cambodia: Kingdom of Wonder
Day 1 (Thursday)
Suis-day! Welcome to Phnom Penh! Once known as the Pearl of Asia, Phnom Penh has long been a centre of international intrigue. Situated between the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers, this amazing city serves as the political hub and economic centre of the country. As you exit airport customs, your Rustic Pathways trip leaders and fellow travellers will be waiting just outside the door. From here you will take a private van to the hotel and have a chance to freshen up before heading over to the bustling riverside for your welcome dinner.
Day 2 (Friday)
Rise and shine for your first full day in Cambodia. After you grab some Khmer breakfast, you will begin your tour of the country. First stop: the beach! You will head south to the beautiful Khmer coast. The town of Kep is a sleepy seaside village known for its fresh crab and black pepper farms. From here you will board a boat and head over to Koh Tonsay, Rabbit Island. Rest, relax, and go for a swim. After a local dinner you will build a bonfire, chill out, play some cards, and dig your feet in the sand before falling asleep in a beachside bungalow.
Day 3 (Saturday)
Good morning! The sounds of breaking waves and crowing roosters will let you know you're not in Kansas anymore. You will hike around the island, have a leisurely lunch, and head back to Phnom Penh to catch the night market. Use your bargaining skills to bag some good gifts for your friends and family back home.
Day 4 (Sunday)
Cambodia has one of the most resilient narratives in modern history. Delve deep into the cultural psyche as you visit historical sites that tell the tales of both tragedy and triumph.
You will visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields during the first half of the day and hear first-hand stories of survival from our local guides. After lunch, you will meet up with our tuk-tuk drivers who will be waiting to take you through the city for the second half of the day. The next stop will be the Royal Palace, home to the Silver Pagoda and the famously disputed Emerald Buddha – you will find out the story behind its authenticity when you get here.
Your chariot awaits! You will hop back aboard your tuk-tuk and wind your way through the city to Wat Phnom. At this hilltop temple, you will look for Sambo the elephant and view the city as the sun sets and clouds of incense drift by.
Day 5 (Monday)
Buckle your seatbelt, you are heading north to the true Kingdom of Wonder! Haystacks, palm trees, and golden pagodas will whiz by the window as you make your way up the national road, through the towns and villages that make up the nation's heartland. One stop along the way will be the town of Skun, where the truly adventurous can hop out for a quick snack: fried tarantulas! Crunchy spiders not for you? Don't worry, upon your arrival in Siem Reap you will head to dinner at the Blue Pumpkin, a staff favourite.
Day 6 (Tuesday)
This morning your trip leaders will give you an early wake-up call so that you can catch one of the most spectacular sunrises you will ever see over Angkor Wat, one of the man-made wonders of the world. You'll be a little sleepy at first but this will quickly wear off as the cool air brushes past your face in the back of your tuk-tuk. Once the sun has risen and you've snapped more than enough photos, you will have some breakfast and explore Angkor Thom, also known as the ‘Tomb Raider' temple, which was made famous by Angelina Jolie in the movie of the same name. After this exciting day of temple hopping, you will head to dinner downtown and to the famous Siem Reap Night Market.
Day 7 (Wednesday)
You have already seen a lot, but you're not done yet! Today you will head into Phnom Kulen National Park and hike around the ancient sandstone carvings and waterfalls that run through this sacred site, known as the holiest mountain in Cambodia. Beneath the surface of the water, over 1,000 small carvings are etched into the riverbed. From here, you will climb further up for spectacular views of the countryside while standing beneath a giant statue of the reclining Buddha reaching Nirvana. Once back down the mountain, you will grab some lunch and then hit the pool! Relax and reflect on the amazing sights you've seen while drinking cold coconut juice poolside. In the evening you will get cleaned up and hit the town for your last night in Cambodia!
Day 8 (Thursday)
Off you go to continue your journey. Whether it's home or on to your next amazing destination, your time spent in Cambodia will stay with you for a lifetime. After hugs, and maybe a few tears, it will be time to say goodbye… Lee-hi! Cambodia will miss you!
An Important Note about Schedule Changes:
Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity. The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.
Amazing Cambodia: Kingdom of Wonder
A quick note: Many students over-pack and sometimes have to pay for overweight bags on domestic flights. The weight limit is 15 kilos. You'll have frequent access to laundry on this program, so you won't need that many clothes. We won't tell on you if you wear the same t-shirt twice!
Carry-on Luggage: A small backpack works best.
- Passport and Wallet
- A photocopy of your passport
- A durable camera, smaller is better for this program
- A good book
- A pen
A duffel bag, suitcase, or large backpack. Wheeled suitcases are fun, but may not roll so well in rice paddies. All items listed with "Plastic Bag" should be packed inside a plastic bag in case bottles leak or break.
- 2 Photocopies of your passport
- Long pants - one lightweight pair and one heavier pair.
- Pants that have zip-off legs to convert to shorts are great.
- Shorts-two or three pairs
- Underwear - 5 pairs
- Socks - 5 pairs lightweight fast drying synthetic athletic socks are best
- Shirts t's, tank tops and athletic shirts.
- A collared shirt for visiting the schools.
- One long sleeve shirt.
- Materials such as polypropylene dry fast and help you stay cool.
- Sweatshirt or jacket-lightweight and breathable
- Rain jacket-lightweight, vented is nice
- One casual, but nice-looking outfit for going out to dinner and visiting temples. If you're thoughtful, you can accomplish this without packing any clothing in addition to what's listed above.
- Sneakers - light, breathable, fast-drying
- Thongs are the old standby for Thai footwear. Sandals that strap to your heel work great and are adequate for many of our activities
- Water bottle
- Personal first aid kit
- Several band aids of assorted sizes
- Double antibiotic ointment
- Medical Tape
- Preferred mild pain reliever
- Sterile bandages - 4-6
- Ace bandage
- Antiseptic wipes 10
- Sunscreen - PLASTIC BAG
- Insect repellent with DEET, one small bottle-PLASTIC BAG
- Hand sanitiser - 2 small bottles PLASTIC BAG
- Medications - don't forget to let the staff know which meds you take
- Travel toothbrush, toothpaste
- Travel soap container and soap
- Contact lens care supplies if needed
- Pictures of home, family to share with the Khmer people you'll meet
- A Deck of Cards
- Khmer / English phrasebook
- Travel pillow
- A bag for dirty clothes-this can be a mesh bag, a pillowcase or even a rubbish bag
$150-$300 The Lotus Market in central Battambang has an amazing variety of crafts, clothing, and unbelievable miscellaneous trinkets and shopping there is a real treat, so budget more if you're a big time shopper and less if you're a go light, less is more, bring home only the memories kind of traveler
Frequently Asked Questions
Amazing Cambodia: Kingdom of Wonder
Is Cambodia dangerous? Should I be worried about land mines?
Granted, Cambodia has had a rough past but the country is experiencing a booming recovery thanks in large part to tourism. Both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are incredibly tourist friendly. As far as the danger due to land mines, the areas where we will be have been thoroughly cleared and very safe. That being said, we always take further precautions like walking only on well-travelled paths to ensure our safety.
What is the route we will be travelling?
Students will fly into Phnom Penh and have their first night to get settled. After that we are heading to the beach and the island Koh Tonsay. After some time here we will take the short drive back into Phnom Penh for our travels north. Next will be the riverside town of Kampong Cham before we end up in Siem Reap, home of Angkor Wat and Phnom Kulen. Students will depart from Siem Reap International Airport.
Will I be able to talk to my child?
All our staff members in Cambodia have cell phones and are in constant contact with the main Rustic Pathways office. In the case of an emergency, we will be notified by our main office and pass any necessary information on to your child. Our students, however, are not permitted to have cell phones because these tend to interfere with group dynamics. Our staff members will notify you by email within 24 hours of your child's safe arrival in Cambodia. Almost every area we will be visiting has access to Internet and on some evenings students will have time to use Internet cafes.
Should I be taking Malaria medication in Cambodia?
This decision is best made by you, your child, and your family physician. For up to date information to help your decision please visit the World Health Organisation website (http://www.who.int/en) and consult your physician.
Do I need a mosquito net?
We provide mosquito nets when necessary so no need to bring your own!
What should I bring?
Check out the packing list but please pack lightly! Remember that you are in charge of carrying your bag so the lighter your bag the easier on your shoulders! It is very easy to purchase additional clothing or items that were forgotten at home.
Where will we be staying?
Students will stay in very nice accommodations throughout the entire trip. All hotels have air-conditioning and hot water. Cambodia is going through some major changes for the better and foreign investment has helped to bring in building beautiful hotels and resorts. While on the beach we will be sleeping in bamboo bungalows, which are built 100 metres from the sea. Each bungalow has a bed and mosquito net. Staff stays with students 24-7 in all of the accommodations.
Are there still spots available on Amazing Cambodia?
Yes! Please contact the main office at 1800 321 435 to find out about availability so you can come join us this year!