Here then are those temples which for so long seemed like visions... Here are the foundations, the plinths, the galleries, the extraordinary domes resembling multi-ringed tiaras.
-Claude Farrere, L'illustration, 1931
Have a positive impact on the lives of local people in Cambodia. Volunteering options include the capital of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and small villages, focused on children, and wildlife. The beach resort of Sihanoukville is the backdrop for child welfare and educational projects that create a safe environment and a platform for children to express their creative talents. In Battambang we enjoy the country's quiet 2nd city and then head to Banteay Chhmar for some adventure and to support the local community. The glorious monuments of Angkor beckon and they share centre stage with responsible tourism projects that benefit the local community including training for the blind and those affected by landmine injuries.Room to Read sponsors the building of libraries (rooms to read) in the region and one of their great successes is Cambodia. We'd be happy to arrange a visit one of their partnership schools in either Phnom Penh or Siem Reap where you children can meet with local children and teachers informally and learn about each other's lives. Read more about Room to Read. Cambodia also enjoys a presence of numerous other charities and NGOs, including those focused on assistance to women and families including the Somaly Mam Foundation. We would be pleased to arrange visits with these organizations as well. Please see our list of regional charities and NGOs.
Enjoy a traditional Khmer-style picnic lunch in a beautiful wooden Khmer home just outside Siem Reap. If we are visiting the earliest capital in the Angkor area, Hariharilaya (now known as Roluos) after a morning spent traveling back in time with a visit to the giant pyramid Bakong, the earliest of the temple mountains which later became the signature of Khmer kings we can also arrange a Khmer-style picnic lunch at the beautiful wooden home of one of the country’s foremost archaeological experts. This may also be arranged en route to the floating village of Kompong Pluk.
Designed by renowned Khmer architect Hok Sokol from the Center for Khmer Studies, where he worked as a co-leader of a three-year study program funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, this two-story house is a striking contemporary take on the traditional Khmer house and is located near the rural town of Roluos. A picnic lunch will be provided as you rest and relax, admiring the pleasant setting and learn about Khmer traditional architecture as well as history of the temples themselves.
After lunch, we can plan to visit the medieval floating village of Kompong Pluk, where the houses stand atop stilts as much as seven yards (meters) above the water. Everything lives on the water, pigs, dogs, crocodiles and people, all jockeying for space in this incredible floating town and its nearby flooded forest.
View Hok Sokol's projects
We can organize short flights over the temples to longer flights of one ot three hours, including the stunning clifftop setting of Preah Vihear, landing to explore the temples by foot.
Vietnam & Angkor Photography Series Our last photography series tour of Vietnam & Angkor concentrated on places providing exceptional photography opportunities, including the stoic capital, Hanoi, overnight on Halong Bay, hilltribes and mountain vistas of Sapa, and the emerald green vistas of the Mekong Delta. In Cambodia, the now bustling capital city of Phnom Penh was visited, and the tour culminated in shooting at what was the center of a great civilization, the grand temples of Angkor. View some of the the images taken by participants on the trip here: Vietnam & Angkor Images Gallery.
The ancient temples of Banteay Chhmar are among of the most significant, yet least understood, archeological complexes. The temples date back to the Angkor period, which ended in the late 14th century. Sadly, the Banteay Chhmar complex was severely looted throughout the 1990's because of its remote location and proximity to the Thai border. Now considered one of the most endangered sites in the world, the complex is in desperate need of renovation.
The restoration of Banteay Chhmar temples is crucial as it has the potential to draw more tourists to the region, giving a much-needed boost to the local economy. In addition, the temples serve as symbol of the precious history of the area, which would otherwise be lost if not for the preservation efforts by volunteers and local organizations.
This unique cooking class follows Ramsay, Bourdain and Stein’s Cambodian adventures. Gordon Ramsay trying his hand at stuffed frog in his Roluos cooking class Gordon Ramsay trying his hand at stuffed frog in his Roluos cooking class.
This unique cooking class follows in the footsteps of the famous and infamous television chefs that have passed through Cambodia on their global culinary journeys. This course takes us deep into the Cambodian countryside around Siem Reap where we visit the local market of Roluos, a traditional town far removed from the tourism industry around Angkor. After browsing the local market for some fresh ingredients, we travel to the beautiful wooden house of Sala Roluos, contemporary take on a traditional Cambodian design. This was the location where Gordon Ramsay learnt to cook stuffed frog with kreung paste, a delicious Cambodian dish involving lemongrass, turmeric, garlic and more, as part of his Gordon’s Great Escape series. Guests will learn this dish in the same surrounds and will also be shown options for how it might work with a more traditional meat such as chicken.
Other celebrity chefs have passed through Cambodia and we will take inspiration from their journeys. Kitchen Confidential chef Anthony Bourdain visited Cambodia for his No Reservations show and we will learn how to make delicious fresh spring rolls as he did when in Cambodia. Finally we will look to Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey for inspiration and learn to cook amok, Cambodia’s national dish involving a mild baked fish curry in banana leaf. Note that the menu can be varied to take into account dietary requirements or individual tastes.
Indiana Jones and Lara Croft come alive during this one-of-a-kind adventure! Escape the crowds, heading off-the-beaten-path to explore abandoned and unvisited jungle temples beyond Angkor. Tented camping next to the walls of the more remote monuments, such as the massive Ben Mealea "Lotus Pond", captures the experience of early French explorers, encountering unrestored temples left to the jungle. would have experience of old, timeless temples with not a visitor in sight. For children, an exciting night safari with flashlights, exploring the temples under the dark skies will be an unforgettable experience.
The tents will be familiar to anyone who has been on safari in Africa, include fully-appointed hotel-style bathrooms, complete with flush toilet, wash basins and stylish toiletries. All wooden furnishings, including full-size single beds, tables and chairs and clothes rails, complemented by antique brass fan.
The best season for undertaking a safari is from November through to April. Contact us for detailed information on safari options.
Opened only recently, this dynamic not-to-miss "street circus" features a unique format and social mission. Uniquely Cambodian, the circus shows tell stories that touch on themes strong in Cambodian tradition, ethos and spirit; A modern ghost story – many Cambodians are petrified of ghosts, A run-away boy – abused by his mother, ignored by his drunken father – tragically too real in Cambodia, A man shunned because of a disability, wreaks revenge, until the whole situation gets out of hand... These are authentic Cambodian stories. Accompanied by Khmer music there are feats of daring, including contortion, juggling, acrobatics, balancing mixed with dance, and modern and traditional theater.
Performers are from an art school, founded to provide education for poor, impoverished children from Battambang who would have no options for schooling. The school now provides services for over 1,200 students, include work with the circus. As well as the circus, we can arrange a visit to the school to meet with students. By your degree of interest in the arts, we can arrange a private encounter with the troupe before and after the show. During the show, we also arrange best seats in the auditorium.
Picture yourself in Humphrey Bogart's African Queen during this day trip to Preak Toal biosphere, your guide chopping a path through the reeds as you float by boat through the villages and flooded forest on a traditional wooden boat to the premier bird-viewing destination in Southeast Asia, Preak Toal, home to rare, large water birds such as the painted stork, ibis, crane and pelican. Guide Michael Buckley writes: "Preak Toal, which encompasses nearly 52,737 acres of wetlands and flooded forest, is recognized as Asia’s premier habitat for large waterbirds. In 1997, the United Nations declared Lake Tonle Sap and its shores (including Preak Toal) a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Over 100 species of birds have been spotted here, 15 of them endangered." The day trip also affords visiting local villages in the area where few other travelers venture.
Angkor on two wheels! We offer a range of original rides to some of the most spectacular temples and sights in the area through our adventure wing, VeloAsia (www.veloasia.com). We can organize a variety of half-day or full-day rides, which include the temples, beautiful countryside and floating villages, all on back trails and paths away from the crowds.
As well as new innovative rides, we also offer the classic rides of old, including the Grand Circuit of Preah Khan, Neak Poan, Ta Som, Eastern Mebon and Pre Rup over the course of a leisurely day, or the Small Circuit of Ta Keo, Ta Nei, Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei and Sra Srang.
Finally there is the option of exploring Angkor Thom on bicycle for those who want a short ride among the temples, perfect for families with younger children. The shorter trips can be organized for children of all ages (most rides are flat on packed dirt roads, away from traffic, with support).
Longer, full-day rides will keep even the fittest rider pleased. Note: Like horseback riding, cycling is organized during the dry season only (from October until May) and we recommend rides starting earliest in the day to avoid the high heat.
The early morning is considered a precious time of day, transitioning between night ending and the morning birth and the perfect moment for meditation. In these early morning hours, join with the monks at their monastery for prayers, followed by meditation
After meditiation, entering the stunning Angkor temple complex to practice yoga with a master at a sublime location.
Though a day exploring the temples can be exerting, for those looking for a glimpse of jungle, ruins and waterfalls, and history, there are hikes near the Angkor complex, but also verdant national parks. A favorite, near the temples, Kbal Spean, is a highlight which features carved stones along the hike, including submerged stones. Other hiking in the area includes Mount Kulen, where the Kulen Elephant Forest is also located.
Mount Kulen, is a sacred space for Cambodians, the birthplace of the magnificent Angkorian Empire and the holy rivers that fed its plains and encircled its most precious temples. Under a two-hour drive from Siem Reap, hiking is on a five-mile out-and-back trail through jungles and past waterfalls up the ‘Mountain of Lychees,’—this sacred mountain popular with Buddhists and Hindus on pilgrimage. At the summit are temple ruins from this great past.
Enjoy an authentic glimpse into local village life during a visit to a traditional silk farm, where fine silk products are made from harvesting silk worms to final loom work. Meet staff and learn about silk worms and the producing textiles, with an opportunity to try the looms hands-on. A delicious lunch will be served at the farm. The farm is an easy stop on the return from Banteay Srei or hiking on Kbal Spean. Silk production provides the primary for over a hundred residents at the village.
If you were hoping to enjoy elephants in an ethical and humane setting, there is now such as place close to Siem Reap. The Kulen Elephant Forest is a sanctuary for the gentle giants, all retired elephants from the tourist trade in Angkor, usually giving ride to tourists. The sanctuary not only provides care for the elephants, but teaches visitors about the conservation and threats to elephants in Cambodia.
The elephant sanctuary is one hour from Siem Reap, with visits usually lasting about a half day. Lunch will be served on site, and we may prepare a box lunch with other foods as well.