Phnom Kulen, Anlong Veng, Preah Vihear, Tbeng Meanchey, Koh Ker, Beng Melea, Kompong Kdei bridge
Day 1 – Siem Reap – Phnom Kulen – Anlong Veng (L)
We will take you at your hotel and drive 48 km northeast of Siem Reap to the beautifull ancient city Siem Reap, Phnom Kulen (Lychee Mountain), a sandstone plateau considered sacred by the Khmers. This place is widely regarded as the birth place of the ancient Khmer Empire. Our vehicle will bring us by a steep dirt road near the top of the mountain, on the way up you will be able to admire a dramatic scenery. There, you will see the ancient sculptures on the riverbed by crossing the bridge, then a stair will take you to a pagoda nestled between large rocks where you will see the biggest reclining Buddha of the country, carved in the rock. Enjoy the view of the countryside from there. The hike will continue towards the 30 meters high waterfalls where you will have a picnic lunch. This is a very popular place for Khmer people to come and enjoy their weekend with a picnic. More carvings stand in the riverbed above the waterfall. After a good and refreshing swim with the locals, (don’t forget your swimsuits), we will continue our drive to the north on a countryside road.
During the 4 hour trip through the jungle we will meet few signs of civilization until we will arrive at Anlong Veng, a small city close to the Dongrek mountain which summit offers a panoramic view over to Thailand. Anlong Veng is sadly famous for having been the last Khmer Rouge stronghold. Some remains testify to this recent past such as the Pol Pot’s residence and cremation site or the villa of Ta Mok, a right-hand man of Pol Pot otherwise known as the “Butcher”.
We will arrive in Anlong Veng in the late afternoon and check-in at our guesthouse before going to dinner.
Overnight in Anlong Veng. Accommodation at Moronom Villa or similar.
Day 2 – Anlong Veng – Preah Vihear (B / L)
After breakfast, we will have some time to explore Anlong Veng and its most popular destination, Oh Chit, an artificial lake initially built as a moat by Ta Mok for his house. A maniacal dam builder, Ta Mok flooded much of the area while trying to develop the lake, now a popular swimming spot for the children. At 10am, we will resume our journey and drive about 4 hours to Preah Vihear. The temple dominates the plain from its prominent position in the Dangrek Mountains, which straddle the Thai border, at an altitude of more than 700 m. The way to the top is very steep on the Cambodian side while it slopes gently towards Thailand. Be that as it may, the stunning view onto the surrounding which, on a clear day, reach all the way to Phnom Kulen to the west and the intersection of the Lao, Thai and Cambodian borders to the east, will reward us for our effort. Preah Vihear, dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, was first built in the late 9th century under the reign of Yasovarman I with significant additions by the following kings, especially Suryavarman II (1112-1152), the builder of Angkor Wat. The temple complex runs 800m along a north-south axis, and consists essentially of a causeway and steps rising up the hill towards the sanctuary, which sits on the clifftop at the southern end of the complex. The temple has four levels and four courtyards, and also five Gopuras, or entrance pavilions, sometimes surmounted by a tower. We will have plenty of time to visit the temple and the area and enjoy the beautiful sunset on the top of the hill before having dinner and spend the night in one of the guesthouses near the temple.
Overnight in Preah Vihear temple vicinity. Accommodation at Environment House or similar
Day 3 – Preah Vihear – Tbeng Meanchey (B / L)
If you wish you will be able to get up early in the hope to catch the sunrise from the top. We will have breakfast and spend some more time to visit the temple with the morning light before to leave this magical place. We will drive about 5 hours on a cart track through the deciduous dipterocarp forest and grassland mosaic of the Northern Plains of Cambodia, home of some of the rarest bird species of South-east Asia, such as some Ibis (like the Giant Ibis, the Cambodia’s national bird), Vultures and Ducks; most of them are endangered. We will arrive during the afternoon in the small provincial capital city of Tbeng Meancheay. We will have time to relax and visit the Joom Noon Silk Project and Wat Chey Preuk, few remaining structures of an ancient Pre-Angkorian temples, before having dinner. The Joom Noon Silk project is a local initiative to help rehabilitate people with disabilities and which produce some of the country’s finest silk.
Overnight in Tbeng Meanchey. Accommodation at Phrum Meas Guesthouse or similar
Day 4 – Tbeng Meanchey – Koh Ker – Beng Melea – Siem Reap (B / L)
After breakfast, we will leave Tbeng Meanchey at about 8 am and drive about two hours to reach Koh Ker. It was the capital city of the Khmer Empire during hardly two decades (928-944) during the reign of Jayavarman IV who is sometimes considered as an usurping because of the disruption in the royal succession at the time of its accession. Two kings reigned in Koh Ker; Jayavarman IV, who probably already lived there since 921, and his son Harshavarman II who stayed on the throne only 3 years, from 941 to 944. Rajandravarman II, Harshavarman’s II son, moved back the capital to Yashodharapura (Angkor) after his accession. The main ruins at Koh Ker consist of an impressive seven-storey sandstone pyramid (Prasat Thom). The second biggest structure of Koh Ker is Prasat Krahom (red temple) built with red bricks and lost in the jungle. The surrounding land was irrigated by the Rahal Baray, similar to, but smaller than, the ones at Angkor. It is believed that over 80 ruins lie in this area. A lot of the beautiful carvings created in Koh Ker are now kept in the National Museum in Phnom Penh. After a picnic lunch near the temples, we will resume our journey. A one-hour drive will take us to Beng Melea. Beng Melea was built during the 12th century during the reign of Suryavarman II, at about the same time as Angkor Wat of which its layout and style closely mirror. However, Beng Melea is completely ruined and largely overrun by vegetation and competes with Ta Prohm for the “lost in the jungle” ambience. It is a tangle of trees, lichen-covered stones, broken towers and galleries. Many impressive sculptures are hidden among the rubble and the vegetation. This temple is very lightly touristed and offers plenty picturesque pictures’ opportunities.After the visit, we will drive to the south and along the national road 6 to reach Kompong Kdei bridge. Phra Phutthos, better know as Kompong Kdei bridge because of its vicinity with the city of the same name, was constructed at the end of the 12th century during the reign of Jayavarman VII. This is an imposant stone structure with more than twenty narrow arches spanning 75 meters. Receiving few visitors, Phra Phutthos is notwithstanding the longest corbeled stone-arch bridge in the world and really worth the detour! After the visit, we will drive back to Siem Reap. End Day Tour in Siem Reap
Price of Tour Includes:
Entrance fees and sightseeing tours by 4WD cars or pick-up truck
An experienced English-speaking local guide
Accommodation on twin sharing basis (dormitory & basic G/H) and meals as stated in the itinerary
1 liter of drinking water per person per day
NOT Included in Tour Price:
Personal travel insurance (compulsory!)
Expenditure of a personal nature
Drinks & tips
Maximum of 8 people per tour