Cultural Encounters in Laos and Cambodia

Duration: 12 days

Highlights: LAOS & CAMBODIA
• Engage in spiritual traditions in Laos
• Experience arts, cuisine and Angkorian heritage
• Go off the grid in the Cambodian jungle

Description: Experience the best of Laos and Cambodia, connecting with cultural rituals and spiritual traditions in Laos before flying to Cambodia to explore ancient arts, archaeology and Angkorian treasures in Siem Reap. Then get in touch with your inner explorer with five nights of hiking, fishing and cultural immersions in the Cambodian jungle.

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This tour is a recommended sample itinerary that can be fully customized to your preferred dates, time frame, hotels and interests. Contact your preferred travel agent for more information.

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Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive in Luang Prabang

Arrive in the picturesque Luang Prabang. Surrounded by lush green mountains and meandering rivers, Luang Prabang offers an enchanting mix of traditional temples and French-Indochinese architecture. Experience a traditional baci ceremony, a welcoming ritual performed to bestow good luck and happiness during your travels. Then check in to your preferred hotel.

Overnight: Luang Prabang

Meal Plan: B

Day 2 - Luang Prabang

Immerse in the tranquility of Luang Prabang, rising before dawn to participate in tak bat, a silent ceremony offering food to local monks who walk in meditation with their alms bowls. Then visit a local market before returning to your hotel for breakfast. Later, explore the Royal Palace Museum and Wat Xieng Thong with its impressive Tree of Life mosaic and richly decorated wooden columns. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure. Then head out for an evening with locals, enjoying a game of pétanque (the French version of bocce) followed by a sin dad (Lao barbecue) dinner and drinks overlooking the Mekong.

Overnight: Luang Prabang

Meal Plan: B

Day 3 - Luang Prabang

Experience guided meditation at Kuang Si Waterfall, led by a resident lifestyle instructor and wellness coach. Enjoy a picnic breakfast beside the cascading waterfall. You may wish to cool off with a refreshing swim or wander the forest trails. Take a closer look at the lush rice fields that define the landscape of Laos and enjoy an enriching crop-to-bowl experience with a local farmer. Explore every stage of the rice harvest before tasting local snacks made from rice.

Overnight: Luang Prabang

Meal Plan: B

Day 4 - Luang Prabang to Siem Reap

Fly to Siem Reap and enjoy fast-track service through immigration. This evening, treat your taste buds to a Cambodian culinary adventure by private tuk tuk. Sample Khmer cuisine at some of the best eateries in town. Start with cocktails at a 1920’s style speakeasy and continue with appetizers at a traditional Khmer garden house followed by mains at an authentic home-style Cambodian restaurant. Complete your meal with a decadent dessert that adds a modern twist to Khmer culinary heritage.

Overnight: Siem Reap

Meal Plan: B

Day 5 - Siem Reap

Experience the magic of sunrise at Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Learn the stories behind this expansive monument and admire its intricate artwork. Next, explore Ta Prohm, an enchanting temple overgrown by fig trees. Witness the towers and bas-reliefs that reveal centuries of Khmer history.

In the afternoon, drive about 45 minutes north of town to visit Banteay Srei, or the "Citadel of Women". One of the best-preserved pre-Angkorian structures, this out-of-the-way temple is known for its pink sandstone façade and contains excellent examples of classical Khmer art.

Lunch and dinner today are on your own arrangement, however your private guide is always happy to help with recommendations or to arrange a reservation on your behalf.

Overnight: Siem Reap

Meal Plan: B

Day 6 - Siem Reap

Receive a personal and spiritual blessing from monks at a private almsgiving ceremony at a local pagoda. Then hop on a bike and enjoy a leisurely bike ride in the ancient walled city of Angkor Thom, the former capital of the great Khmer Empire. Start from the South Gate of the city which is guarded by statues of gods and demons. Admire the Bayon, a majestic structure with 37 stone faces, and explore the Baphuon, Phimeanakas Temple where kings once worshipped, the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King.

In the evening, enjoy a performance of theater, arts, dance and music at Phare, The Cambodian Circus, a social enterprise that provides training and opportunities to disadvantaged Cambodian youths.

Enhance Your Experience: Give Clean Water

Get involved with the Cambodia Clean Water Project, an AKP Philanthropy project that has been providing access to clean water to rural villagers in Siem Reap since 2008. Over 20,000 villagers now have access to a clean source of water thanks to this life-changing project. In a country where safe, clean, fresh water is a scarcity, one well goes a long way to improving the livelihood of people living in the poorest provincial areas and helps reduce exposure to diseases from contaminated water sources. Pre-purchase a well prior to your trip and help improve the living standards of a community. When you arrive in Siem Reap, you can visit the family and see how your clean water well has positively impacted their lives. Please note that pre-purchased wells must be requested at least four months prior to travel. 

Overnight: Siem Reap

Meal Plan: B

Day 7 - Siem Reap

Today you have the choice of two excursions to discover Siem Reap's local arts scene or the tranquility of Tonle Sap Lake.

Option 1: Ethical Artisans of Cambodia

Step into Siem Reap’s creative circle with a creative expert and art curator who has worked with the city’s leading gallery and boutique owners for over a decade. Discover the Khmer lacquerware studio that supplies the likes of Cartier, Hermes and Louis Vuitton, meet a couture Khmer fashion designer who crafts his own fabrics from natural fibers and visit a boutique selling a range of products hand-crafted by Cambodians.

Option 2: Life on Cambodia’s Great Lake

Venture out of town to discover a different way of life on Tonle Sap Lake - the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and a place of spectacular ecology and biodiversity. Take a boat to explore a nearby fishing village and marvel at their traditional fishing methods and laid-back lifestyle in a land that seems to have been forgotten in time.

Please note: The best time for this experience is in September and February, when the water level is high.

Overnight: Siem Reap

Meal Plan: B

Day 8 - Siem Reap – Phnom Penh – Koh Kong

Fly to Phnom Penh, a city alive with glistening temples, backstreet bars and an epic history. Transfer directly to your hotel in the Cambodian jungle, a four-and-a-half-hour drive. Begin your pioneering adventure in this remote wilderness region, exploring the untamed exotic nature.

Overnight: Koh Kong

Meal Plan: B

 

Day 9 - 12 - Koh Kong

Spend your days at leisure, enjoying the natural surroundings. Your options include visiting waterfalls, exploring a mangrove forest, meeting fishing families, trekking through the rainforest or hiking in the Cardamom mountains.

On Day 12, check out of your resort and begin the four-and-a-half hour journey back to Phnom Penh for your departure flight.

Overnight: Koh Kong

Meal Plan: B

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