Temples of Angkor & Floating Life at Tonle Sap

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Overview

Combine the magnetism of Angkor with a boat ride around one of the most authentic floating villages in the Immense Tonle Sap Lake. 

The chance to experience the magnificence of Angkor Wat with a day around one of the most authentic villages at the vast Tonle Sap lake, the  largest fresh water lake in Southeast Asia, containing an exceptional large variety of interconnected eco-regions with a high degree of biodiversity and designated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Floating schools, floating markets, floating shops, even floating petrol stations. We bring you to know how the daily life for its residents is. Get on board!
 

Highlights

  • The Temples of Angkor, one of the most awe-inspiring man-made wonders ever built.
  • Getting to know the fascinating Angkorian History in a deeper way.
  • Hitting the waters of the Tonle Sap to explore a remote floating village.
Unraveling the majesty of the Angkor Temples

Day 1 Unraveling the majesty of the Angkor Temples

Meals: not included | Accommodation: Deluxe room, Siddharta Boutique Hotel (or similar), Siem Reap

We will travel in the morning through the traditional village of Preah Dak to the 12th century temple of Banteay Samre. Built by King Suryavarman II, the genius behind Angkor Wat, this unique temple has been extensively restored. 

We will continue further North to Banteay Srei, Angkor’s ultimate art gallery. This petite pink temple is the jewel in the crown of Angkor-era sculpture. The elaborate carvings here are the finest found in Cambodia. Indeed the name of the temple means ‘Fortress of the Women’, since the intricate detail here are considered too fine for having been made by the hands of a man. Originally believed to date from the latter part of the Angkor period, some inscriptions at the site suggest that it was built by a Brahman in 967. However, some architectural historians have suggested that the inscriptions may date from an earlier structure on this site and the temple is in fact later, marking a high-water mark in Khmer sculpture. 

In the afternoon, we will head to the mighty temple of Preah Khan or 'Sacred Sword'. The cruciform corridors here are impressive and there are also some wonderful carvings adorning the walls, including the spectacular hall of dancers. Look out for the curious two-storey structure that seems of Greek inspiration. This is one of the few temples originally dedicated to Buddhism and Hinduism. The original eastern entrance was for Mahayana Buddhists, while the other cardinal points represented the Hindu trinity of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. We then will continue afterwards with the elegant curves of Neak Poan, with its ornamental fountain and series of elaborate     gargoyles, including the heads of lions and elephants. 

We will witness how the sunset casts its soft light over Angkor Wat from the mountain temple of Phnom Bakheng. A winding path cuts through the jungle. This temple is the signature spot for sunsets, it can get very crowded. Please advise the guide if you prefer to enjoy the sunset at a quieter location. 


 

Ta Prohm, Takeo, Angkor Thom & Bayon

Day 2 Ta Prohm, Takeo, Angkor Thom & Bayon

Meals: breakfast | Accommodation: Deluxe room, Siddharta Boutique Hotel (or similar), Siem Reap

We will rise early today and travel to Ta Prohm, a temple ‘abandoned to the elements’, a reminder that while empires rise and fall, the riotous power of nature keeps going on, oblivious to the dramas of human History. Left as it was ‘discovered’ by the French explorer Henri Mouhout in 1860, we will see how the tentacle-like tree roots here are dramatically strangling the surviving stones.

After soaking up the unique atmosphere of Ta Prohm, we will go to the giant pyramid of Takeo, one of the highest temples in the Angkor area. Built at the end of the 10th century, it was never completed. Some suggest that the high quality sandstone was simply too hard to be carved in detail. This morning we also visit the remains of an old Angkorian bridge which once spanned the Siem Reap river. Like the Romans before them, the Khmer kings built long, straight roads connecting the outposts of their empire and these included many magnificent bridges. For avid temple enthusiasts, there is also the option to visit the smaller temples of Chau Sey Devada and Thommanon.

In the afternoon, Angkor Thom, the immense walled city and masterpiece of King Jayavarman VII, will be awaiting us. Following the occupation of Angkor by the Chams from 1177 to 1181, the new king decided to build an impregnable fortress at the heart of his empire. The scale is simply staggering and we will immediately feel overwhelmed by the audacity of Jayavarman upon our arrival at the city’s gates. The causeway is lined by an intricate bridge depicting scenes from Hindu mythology in which the devas (gods) and asuras (devils) play tug of war with a naga (seven-headed serpent) to obtain the elixir of immortality.

We will begin our visit at the Terrace of the Leper King and reach climax with the enigmatic and enchanting temple of the Bayon. At the exact centre of Angkor Thom, this is an eccentric expression of the creative genius and inflated ego of Cambodia’s most celebrated king. Its 54 towers are each topped off with the four faces of Avalokiteshvara (Buddha of Compassion), bear more than a passing resemblance to the king himself. These colossal heads seem to stare down from every side, exuding power and control with a hint of compassion, just the mix required to keep a hold on such a vast empire.
 

Angkor Wat Sunrise & Floating life at the Tonle Sap

Day 3 Angkor Wat Sunrise & Floating life at the Tonle Sap

Meals: breakfast | Accommodation: not included

Our journey today will get started by the Mother of all temples, Angkor Wat. Believed to be the world's largest religious building, this temple is the perfect fusion of symbolism and symmetry and a source of pride and strength to all Khmers. Built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II, this is most famous temple at Angkor. 

We will enjoy our picnic breakfast in Angkor Wat while the crowds return to their hotels. We will start our exploration beginning by unraveling the mysteries of the bas-reliefs that tell of tales from Hindu mythology and of the glories of the Khmer empire. Stretching for almost one kilometer, these intricate carvings are a candidate for the world’s longest unbroken piece of art. We will continue to the upper levels of the inner sanctuary, experiencing how the final steps to the upper terrace of Angkor are the steepest of all, as pilgrims needed to stoop in order to encounter the Gods. We will find ourselves by the pinnacle, the sacred heart of Angkor Wat, a blend of spirituality and symmetry so perfect that few moments will measure up.

In the afternoon we will head to one of the largest and least-visited villages on the Tonle Sap Lake, Kompong Khleang, about 55km from Siem Reap. It has a population of about 10,000 people, all of whom make a living from fishing. We will explore the canals (wet season) or streets (dry season) of this incredible town. In the wet season, the houses appear to be floating, as water laps at the verandas, but in the dry season towering stilts are revealed, the houses almost like wooden skyscrapers. We will also visit one of the pagodas here, built on the site of an ancient temple.  We may stop off to visit a house in the village to learn a little more about local life. We will also cruise into the open water of the great lake to see a small floating village and gain some more insight about this incredible natural flood barrier. Later we will return to Siem Reap by road. 
 

Price per person based on a group tour

Group Size Price per person
2 pax 350 USD
3 - 5 pax 298 USD
6 - 8 pax 255 USD

 

* Prices valid till 1st October 2019 for the ready-to-book adventure outlined on this detailed program which has been handcrafted by our production team and that includes the best of every destination (highlights and some lesser known assets as well!). Our travel consultants will also be glad to customize this journey to suit your specific interests and travel-style. 

* Would you like to adapt the itinerary, accommodation or any activity as per your needs and preferences? Then just forward us your comments at info@handspan.com.

* Special prices for larger groups and for children, and the possibility to connect the tour with other stages of your trip around Indochina by contacting us. 

* A private trip for a solo traveller is also available with a surcharge.

Included

  • Accommodation in shared double room as mentioned on the program (upgrades possible with a supplement)
  • Transportation with experienced drivers as stated.
  • Meals as specified. 
  • All entrance fees, visits and activities mentioned on the program.
  • The services of experienced local English-speaking guides.
  • VAT and other taxes.

Not included

  • Flights and visas.
  • Personal travel Insurance.
  • Child or adult in triple sharing room.
  • Beverages, gratuities and personal expenses.
  • Supplements on peak season.

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