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This exciting Highlights of Thailand and Cambodia Tour will allow you to experience the distinct and diverse cultures of Cambodia and Thailand on 15 days. Starting in the riverside capital of Phnom Penh, we travel to Siem Reap to discover the breathtaking Angkor Wat. In Thailand, explore its stunning beauty and charismatic culture are ever-present, and its iconic images – spicy delicacies, majestic elephants, golden Buddhas, colourful hilltribe villages, fantastic shopping and exotic hideaways. At the end of tour, spend 03 day excursion on beautiful beaches & islands in Phuket, the most popular destination in Thailand.
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DAY 01: PHNOM PENH ARRIVAL
Welcome to the vibrant bustling capital of PHNOM PENH. Upon arrival, you will be welcomed by our local AST guide and transferred to your hotel for check in and refreshment. Spend the rest of the day at leisure.
In the evening, you may want to have your first dinner in Cambodia at Romdeng Restaurant which is recommended on Tripadvisor and Lonely Planet as the top choice for Cambodian cuisine in Phnom Penh. The restaurant is located in a gorgeous colonial villa with a small pool with a beautiful garden.
Located at the junction of the mighty Mekong river and Tonlé Sap river, the capital of Phnom Penh was once considered as the “Gem” of Indochina with a nice riverside promenade and numerous beautiful Cambodian Buddhist wats, palaces and many colonial-era buildings where Asian and Western architectures meet in a fascinating way.
Start your full day sightseeing tour with a tuk tuk ride to the magnificent Royal Palace which is a popular tourist destination in Phnom Penh. It was built by King Norodom I (ruled 1860-1904) in 1886. Then move to Silver Pagoda (also known as Wat Preah Keo or Temple of the Emerald Buddha) which is located on the south side of the Royal Palace complex. Inside the pagoda, you can watch the collection of Buddhas in gold, silver, crystal, and bronze.
Afterwards, walk to the nearby National Museum which is the house of the world’s finest collection of Khmer sculpture. Here, you will have a glimpse into Cambodian history dating back from the 4th century to modern time. Lunch is suggested to have at Friends International Restaurant, an NGO training restaurant for marginalised youth in Phnom Penh.
In the afternoon, your guide will take you through the busy streets of Phnom Penh’s downtown on a walking tour. Start from the riverfront of mighty Mekong river, we walk to Cambodia Post Office, a nice French colonial style buildings. Then move to Wat Phnom (a Buddhist temple) which is near to the Post Office. According to legend, the first pagoda was built in 1373 to house four Buddha statues which are discovered by a wealthy widow called Penh, inside a large koki tree floating down on Mekong river. During our walking tour, there are chances to visit other colonial buildings including National Library and the magnificent Central Market (Phsar Thmei), a landmark building in Phnom Penh.
Late in the afternoon, take a sunset river cruise along the Mekong river, observe daily life of local, enjoy the sunset view on the river while tasting a delicious dinner. Then return to your hotel for relaxation.
Today, you will catch a domestic flight to SIEM REAP, gateway for the temples of Angkor. On arrival in Siem Reap Airport, you will be welcomed by your local travel guide and transferred to the hotel for check in.
Begin our sightseeing tour by visiting the Angkor National Museum for an introduction of Khmer civilization’s art and culture. This archaeological museum is housing unique collections which are mainly dated from Khmer Empire's Angkor period from the 9th - 14th centuries.
Next, visit the mother of all temples – iconic Angkor Wat which was built in the early 12th century by the Khmer King Suryavarman II and was originally constructed as a Hindu temple to dedicate to god Vishnu. It was constructed following the model of the temple mountain symbolizing the Mount Meru, home of the gods. At the end of the 12th century, it was transformed into a Buddhist temple. Inside the temple, you can see the walls covered with stone carvings and bas-reliefs depicting Hindu mythology, the wars Suryavarman II fought during his reign and more than 2000 images of Apsaras and Devatas decorating the temple.
In the late afternoon, pay a visit to Phnom Bakheng, a Hindu and Buddhist temple in the form of a temple mountain which is dedicated to Shiva. Phnom Bakheng is also well known as one of best place to watch sunset in Angkor Wat complex. Enjoy the panoramic view of surrounding countryside and the beautiful sunset over the forest.
Wake up early today to watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat Temples – one of the highlights of your Cambodia tour. Your guide and driver will take you to the best place to observe the sunrise. It is worthy to watch the first sunlight shines over the largest archaeological site in the world. Then have your breakfast at a local restaurant.
After breakfast, drive out to visit the beautiful Banteay SreiTemple which is 25 km north-east of the Angkor main group temples. Banteay Srei means “Citadel of the Women”, it is the finest examples of classical Khmer art with wonderfully well preserved wall carvings and towers which are decorated with male and female divinities and beautiful filigree relief work. Along the way, stop at an exotic butterfly sanctuary and Preak Dak Village to interact with the villagers and learn about their way of life. This village also famous for its handmade souvenirs which are made of bamboo and rattan.
Afterwards, return to the Angkor Complex to explore the ancient city of Angkor Thom, was the last capital and most enduring of the Great Khmer Empire under the reign of Jayavarman VII. From the South Gate, an impressive stone gate carved with elephants and four giant faces, head to the inspirational Bayon Temple which locates at the heart of Angkor Thom. This 12th century is well known for its impressive giant faces carvings and wonderful wall carvings telling the story of historical battles.
Take visit to the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King. It would be great experience to keep walking through the maze and observing their wonderful, fabulous, intricate sculptures. Then, continue on to the Ta Prohm Temple, built about late 12th century to early 13th century by the King Jayavarman VII. From here, head to the pyramidal Pre Rup Temple, enjoy the magnificent sunset view. Then we come back to the hotel for refreshment.
OPTIONAL: In the evening, you can enjoy the remarkable Phare, the Cambodian circus show. It is a NGO project which teaches disadvantaged children and teenagers living on the streets how to become circus artists. Enjoy music, acting, acrobatics and high-energy music in this show.
This morning, enjoy a 20-minute drive from Siem Reap to Tonle Sap Lake and embark on a two-hour boarding tour on the giant lake where you will have the opportunity to learn about local life. Visit the floating village of Kampong Phluk, where houses, police station, community centre, school are built on water. Enjoy peaceful atmosphere in this village. During your visit, your boat will take you through mangrove forests, a unique ecosystem that survives on flooded soil for months. Your guide is very pleased to answer any questions about flora and fauna and kind of birds in this forest.
After that, take an hour drive to small Chansar Village. Your first activity for the tour was experiencing a local ox cart ride through the fields and around village. Meet and greet with the locals, and to also get up close to their homes and their lifestyle. Visit a Khmer family who specializes in making brooms then learn how to make the products. You also could walk around the village where you have the opportunity to participate in fishing, farming or animal husbandry activities, depending on the time of year.
NOTE: By participating the village tour, half the funds from your tour go directly to a village enrichment fund to improve the lives of villagers.
Our last activity for the day was a stop at a local Buddhist temple where you will receive a blessing from the monk. In the late afternoon, you will be transferred back to your hotel for relaxation.
After breakfast, your guide will transfer you to the airport for your flight to BANGKOK. Upon arrival in Bangkok, the fabulous metropolis of Thailand that rushes past in vibrant colors and endless energy, you will be met at the airport by your Thailand travel guide then transported to your hotel for check in.
There is a vivacious mixture of past and present swimming around Bangkok’s streets, filled with sparkling temples and pagodas, equally as impressive as the rising skyscrapers. It is easy to get lost amongst the wonders, from the effervescent aroma of the food to the quiet charm of the Golden Mountain.
After a luscious breakfast of fresh juice, fruits, and so much more you will step out into the city to discover its stunning history set beside the riverbanks and beyond.
The Royal Grand Palace is the nation’s landmark and the most revered royal monument. Construction began under King Rama I and has since displayed such spectacular culture such as Wat Phra Kaew, housing the famous and mysterious Emerald Buddha, the symbol of Thailand. The palaces were used for different occasions – the Funeral Palace, the Reception Palace, the Throne Hall, the Coronation Hall, the Royal Guest House. Continue your visit to Wat Pho, the home of Thai massage and the Reclining Buddha.
NOTE: Appropriate dress is required (or can be rented on site).
After lunch, have some time to refresh then stroll through Chinatown where you visit interesting shops, tea shop, markets and temples to get a first-hand feel for old Bangkok. Next, pay a visit to The Bangkok Folk Museum, a seventy-year-old Thai house converted into a small but fascinating museum.
NOTE: Bangkok Folk Museum is closed on Mondays & Tuesdays.
Chao Phraya River is known as the “River of Kings,” and was once the most bustling highway in the city. Hop on a long tail boat for a ride along the bustling Chao Phraya River and the quiet klongs (canals) of Thonburi where you see how Thai people have lived next to the water for centuries. Now the water is calm and quiet as you come to the chedi of Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, where the spire gleams in the light and acts like a lighthouse against the backdrop of the city where the gentle trickle of the river runs through. The central spire ascends over 210 feet high, decorated with colored glass and porcelain to help catch the light at various angles. You can even climb the stairs to get an expansive view of the river and the surrounding cityscape.
Today, depart Bangkok to the country’s former capital of Ayutthaya overland. On this trip, you will escape the hustle and bustle of Bangkok and visit many old temples, ancient palaces and meditation centres used many years ago. Along the way, pay a visit to the famous Summer Palace (Bang Pa In), a gorgeous palace formerly frequented by King Rama IV during the steamy summer months. It was built in very different architectural styles, some in classical Thai, some Chinese and some European design.
Afterwards, arrive in AYUTTHAYA, former capital of the Kingdom of Siam, and a prosperous international trading port, from 1350 until razed by the Burmese in 1767. Upon arrival in Ayutthaya, take a leisurely stroll around this archaeological site to explore the crumbling pagodas and ancient temple ruins.
After the visit, embark on a cruise back to Bangkok. Have a delicious Thai lunch onboard. Along the way, there is a chance to enjoy the beautiful views of traditional Thai houses, emerald rice paddy fields on river’s banks. On arrival in Bangkok, your driver will be awaiting to transport you back to the hotel. The rest of day is free at leisure.
After breakfast, drive 100 km southwest of Bangkok to visit the Floating Market of Damnoen Saduak in the Ratchaburi Province. On arrival, walk around and check out the many stalls or take a boat tour to explore the area. There are boats serving as shops, selling food and drinks like noodles, beer, cold drinks, coconut water, corn etc...
Our next destination is Maeklong Railway Market, a most unusual market because a train passes through the market 8 times a day. You can find everything here from the traditional to modern, every kind of food, fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, meat, clothing, and much more. As soon as the siren signals the arrival of the train, everything stops. Shoppers take their goods inside and vendors pull back their umbrellas, open and close their stalls in a matter of seconds! Once the train is gone, all the goods go out again, the umbrellas unfold and the business here continues as usual as if nothing happened.
After your morning tour, you will be transferred back to the airport for your flight to CHIANG MAI. On arrival, you will be met by our local guide then transported to the hotel for check in and refreshment. Free at own leisure.
OPTIONAL: We recommend having a local dinner at a riverside restaurant, followed by a stroll at the night market for handicrafts or souvenir shopping.
Drive thirty minutes north of Chiang Mai city to a long-tail boat dock then embark on a long tail boat along the rural Mae Ping River and enjoy a 30-minute cruise. Along the river banks, you will be confronted by traditional wooden houses and modern residences. Reach a boat landing and walk for about 10 minutes to Warorot Fresh Food Market or Kad Luang in another name for a visit, experiencing the Northern Thai way of life. Take a trishaw ride along Tapae Road, passing City Walls and along Ratchadamnoen Road to Wat Phra Singh.
After lunch break, it is time to explore ancient Chiang Mai, including its old city walls, gates, moat and markets. Visit Wat Suan Dok, where the ashes of Chiang Mai’s royal family are interred, then continue to fabulous temple complex of Wat Phra That, located near the peak of Doi Suthep, and the most sacred in Northern Thailand. Originally a Buddhist monastery built in the late 14th century, the temple begins at the intricate and mythical Naga Serpent Staircase. Your experienced guide will explain the story of the temple, the white elephant and lead you around its impressive chedi and show its beautiful murals.
Stay until in the late afternoon, when the tourist masses have already left the temple grounds and dusk will give a very special atmosphere. After your private blessing ceremony, witness the magical evening chanting of the monks. Wrap up with the spectacularly romantic evening view over Chiang Mai City with its millions of glittering lights.
Today, head north to Chiang Dao, northern district of Chiang Mai and take a trek to village of Palong people, hill tribe people living in Shan State (Myanmar) and Chiang Mai (Thailand).
From hotel, drive towards the Karen village of Ban Palai, a picturesque village comprising traditional bamboo houses and rice paddies cut into the jungle. In Ban Palai, you will put on your backpack and set out a two hour hike to the ethinic village of Palong people, passing through breathtaking scenery of lush, tropical forest of Chiang Dao National Park. Along the way, your guide will explain about the herbs, medicine plants which we could meet in forest.
Reach the village at noon time, then have a traditional lunch prepared by villagers. After lunch, take a walk around the village. Your guide will explain about the village shrine and about the ‘huja rawl’, the ‘village heart’.
After that, head to the Mae Taman Elephant Camp and spend time to learn about this huge but lovely animal. Wrap up your adventure in northern Thailand with a bamboo rafting river journey downstream - an ideal way of seeing the jungle from a different angle.
Free at leisure until your driver provides you with a transfer (without guide) to Chiang Mai Airport for your domestic flight to PHUKET. On arrival, you will be welcomed by hotel’s staff then transferred to the hotel for check in. Spend the rest of the day at leisure.
Phuket is a well-established name in Thailand travel industry and is widely regarded as one of the top tourist destinations in Thailand. It is well known for its beautiful beaches, clear water, coral forests, pearl farm, limestone cliffs, caves, mangroves, fishing villages and national parks. Here, you will experience varied activities such as elephant encounters, white water rafting, rock climbing and plenty of water sports.