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Cambodia and Thailand Family tour

Combines Phnom Penh's vibrant street-life with the spectacular ruined cities of Angkor and unique Sangkar River boat journey before finishing with a stay on a tropical Thai island

Ruined Cities, Tropical Islands

Ruined Cities, Tropical Islands; a wonderful 2-week Cambodia and Thailand family tour. Exploring mysterious ruined cities enveloped by steamy jungle; travelling by wooden boat up a remote and picturesque river past unique floating villages; lazing on the beautiful, unspoilt beaches of a tropical island and snorkelling on vibrant coral reefs ought to keep the whole family amazed, certainly entertained and we reckon engrossed, during this tour of some of Southeast Asia’s famous and lesser-known destinations.

Beginning in the chaotic, fascinating and fun present-day Khmer capital of Phnom Penh we’ll discover local markets, historical sites and the vibrant street-life before travelling overland through Cambodia’s timeless landscapes to Siem Reap and the ancient cities of fabulous Angkor. A 3-day Angkor programme provides ample time to explore the exotic jungle-clad ruins at a leisurely pace, as well as opportunities to check-out markets and handicrafts and of course ‘R and R’ time by the pool or even a trip to visit Apopo’s famous mine-detecting, giant African rats?

From Angkor, we head by private boat up the spectacular Sangkar River past its unique floating villages and bustling river scenes to Battambang Town for a fascinating bicycle tour of the traditional livelihoods and cottage industries of surrounding villages. From here a short hop takes us to the Thai border and on to the unspoilt tropical island of Koh Mak. Exploring the island, boat trips to the neighbouring coral reefs and lazing on a beautiful unspoilt beach are some of the activities on offer.

Some amazing sights and exotic scenes – culture shock and great fun guaranteed –  with plenty of friendly locals and tasty food to get to know, (not forgetting the deep fried tarantulas of course), plus masses of culture, history and geography to inspire all members of the family.

Cambodia

Itinerary

Here's an idea of what you can expect to do and see day-to-day.

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Day 1 - Phnom Penh - arrival and an introductory walking tour

Arrival in Phnom Penh and check-in to a small, boutique-style downtown hotel. Time to relax before an introductory walking and tuk-tuk tour, taking in the historic French Quarter and the lively waterfront area as well as giving you a feel for the bustling street-life before perhaps sundowners at the famous Foreign Correspondents Club and a local-style welcome dinner.

Overnight: Phnom Penh Transport: Walk, Tuk Tuk,  Meals: D, 

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Day 2 - Phnom Penh - city tour

Comprehensive day tour of some of the sites of Cambodia’s fascinating capital city: the infamous Killing Fields site and highly moving Khmer Rouge Genocide Museum at Tuol Sleng help to explain the country’s recent tragic history, the picturesque Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda provide plenty of photo opp’s while the Russian Market offers some ‘retail therapy’.

Overnight: Phnom Penh Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, 

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Day 3 - Phnom Penh to Siem Reap - up country

Overland through Cambodia’s scenic countryside to the provincial town of Siem Reap – our base for the next few days’ exploration of the nearby Angkor Temples. Stops on the way at Skuon the famous ‘spider village’, (tasting not compulsory) a rarely visited 11th-century temple and lunch by a scenic lake. A dusk visit to the atmospheric ruins of  Banteay Kdei completes our day.

Overnight: Siem Reap Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, 

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Day 4 - Siem Reap - Angkor tour

Angkor – an unforgettable tour of this fabulous site with its vast jungle-clad temples and mysterious stone carvings. We’ll begin with dawn at Angkor Wat followed by a morning tour of the temple itself. A return to Siem Reap to escape the midday heat and lunch, siesta or relaxation time is followed by an afternoon walking tour of Angkor Tom: Leper King Terrace, Phimeanakas, Elephant Terrace, Baphuon and last but not least, (we’ll wait until the crowds have gone!), the dramatic Bayon Temple with its famous carved faces.

Overnight: Siem Reap Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, 

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Day 5 - Angkor - jungle temples

A forest hike up Bakheng Hill to visit the spectacular hilltop temple before moving on to the ruins of Preah Khan. Dense jungle, enormous roots and screeching parakeets make this atmospheric temple one of everyone’s favourites. After a break in Siem Reap Town, the afternoon continues with a short walk to Ta Keo via the remote and rarely visited Ta Nei Temple. A visit to famous Ta Prom – the famous ‘Tomb Raider’ temple – continues our jungle theme and concludes our day’s visit.

Overnight: Siem Reap Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, 

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Day 6 - Beng Melea - a remote, jungle-clad temple

Morning trip to one of the remoter temple sites, the truly spectacular Beng Melea. A huge, partially ruined temple complex, overgrown by jungle, lying to the west of Siem Reap this is one of the most impressive Angkor monuments. Return to Siem Reap with an afternoon at leisure to relax by the pool, visit the National Museum explore the markets or perhaps check out Apopo’s astonishing mine-detecting, giant African rats.

Overnight: Siem Reap Transport: Minibus, Walk,  Meals: B, 

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Day 7 - Siem Reap to Battambang - a spectacular river journey

Spectacular boat journey across the Tonle Sap Lake, past the ‘flooded forest’ and Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary and on up the Sangkar River with its floating and stilt-house fishing villages to the town of Battambang. Stop off on the way to visit the Prek Toal community water hyacinth weaving project and floating villages.

Overnight: Battambang Transport: Boat, Tuk Tuk,  Meals: B, 

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Day 8 - Battambang - cottage industries and village tour

Head out to the surrounding villages to check out the area’s traditional cottage industries and handicrafts either by bicycle or tuk-tuk for the less energetic. The afternoon is at leisure allows you to explore the friendly provincial town, just chill-out in one of the many coffee shops or perhaps check-out the famous ‘bamboo train’?

Overnight: Battambang Transport: Bike, Tuk Tuk,  Meals: B, D, 

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Day 9 - Battambang to Koh Mak - overland to Thailand

Continue through this little-visited region of Cambodia to the Thai border at Pailin – famed for its gemstones and as the Khmer Rouge’s last stronghold from where we’ll head south to the nearby Gulf of Thailand coast for a boat ride to the tropical island of Koh Mak and our accommodation in comfortable beach-side chalets.

Overnight: Koh Mak Transport: Minibus, Boat,  Meals: B, 

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Day 10 - Koh Mak - at leisure on the island

Day at leisure on the island; make the most of the turquoise waters and coconut-palm lined beaches, try out a beach massage, explore the island or try a boat tour through the surrounding archipelago of Koh Chang National Marine Park including swimming and snorkelling on some of the area’s vibrant coral reefs?

Overnight: Koh Mak Transport: Walk,  Meals: B, 

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Day 11 - Koh Mak - at leisure on the island

Day at leisure on the island.

Note that during the ‘low’ season May to Oct we move our island stay to the larger, neighbouring island of Koh Chang.

Overnight: Koh Mak Transport: Boat, Walk,  Meals: B, 

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Day 12 - Koh Mak - morning at leisure and return to Bangkok

Return drive to Bangkok, with a stop on the way to visit Chantaburi’s truly amazing ‘Buddha Park’! Our regular tour ends late afternoon although extra nights in Bangkok after your tour are available on request.

Airport transfers are included if you purchase the 'with flights' package. If you purchased your own flights, airport transfers can be arranged.

Extra accommodation prior to your tour in Phnom Penh or on Koh Mak/Koh Chang is available on request.

This tour is fully escorted except for the island stay on days 9 to 12

Overnight: Departure Transport: Minibus,  Meals: B, 

Print Itinerary

Details

The nitty-gritty, the things you need to know, the answers to your burning questions.

Thailand, Koh Chang, relaxing

Just a few of the many highlights

Bustling, hectic but great fun Phnom Penh; jungle-clad ruined cities and mysterious carved temples, remote floating villages on the Sangkar River and a stay on a stunning tropical island

  • High and low season itinerary versions to optimise weather conditions at any time of the year
  • Explore the jungle clad ruined cities of Angkor - certainly one of Asia's most evocative and exotic destinations
  • Overland through the scenic and timeless Cambodia countryside: ox carts, stilt villages, emerald paddy-fields and serene landscapes
  • Stay at a well-appointed beach-side resort on the unspoilt Thai tropical island of Koh Mak
  • Journey by boat up the Sangkar River - floating villages, bird-life, unique scenery; 'like being on a Nat Geo programme'!
  • Meet the exceptionally friendly and welcoming local people...and sample the sumptuous and varied local cuisine

Air Departures (UK)

Land Departures

Guaranteed Places Left Special Price Solo Traveller Closed

*Air departures are from the UK. Land departures start from Phnom Penh

*Land departure dates correspond to the FIRST day of the itinerary.

We choose our hotels based on a combination of location, comfort and convenience. Here is a *selection of the types of hotel/rooms you can expect to stay at on this tour...

The 252, Phnom Penh view

  • Small, boutique-style and low-key
  • Quiet but central location near cafes and restaurants
  • Garden setting with pool and cafe

City River Hotel, Siem Reap view

  • City River is out first choice in Cambodia's Siem Reap.
  • Rooftop pool; spa, riverside location, super friendly staff
  • Only a 5 minute walk from the bustling Old Market district

Delux Villa Battambang view

  • Small and friendly, low-key resort in Battambang
  • Swimming pool and lush, garden setting
  • Quiet but convenient central location

Koh Mak Resort, Trat view

  • The superb Koh Mak Resort situated right by the beach
  • Set on a quiet, unspoilt bay on picturesque Koh Mak Island
  • Pool, in-house restaurant and great beachside cocktail bar

KB Resort, Koh Chang view

  • Charming, low-key and beachside resort
  • Chalet style rooms set in a lush garden
  • Friendly staff and fabulous sunset terrace

*This list should be considered a guide only, hotels/rooms may change (without notice) depending on availability.

Visa Info & Notes

Visas – Cambodia: Citizens of Asean countries do not require visas while passport holders from certain African and Middle Eastern nations need to apply in advance. For the majority of nationalities though, a visa on arrival is issued at international airports and all land borders including arrival from Laos and the Mekong entry point from Vietnam.  Visa fees and conditions are subject to change but are usually $30 payable in cash in US dollars although certain land crossings may cost a few extra dollars in random ‘service fees’. A passport photo is required. Tourist visas are issued for 30 days from date of entry into Cambodia.

E-visas (thus cutting down on queuing time at the airport) are now available for many nationalities at this link and cost $36 with a stated processing time of 3 working days. These are accepted at international airports and certain land crossings only and do not include the Mekong crossings from Vietnam or Laos.

When entering Cambodia make sure you get an entry stamp in your passport and keep your departure card.

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Cambodia. You may be refused entry if your passport is damaged, in poor condition or does not have at least 2 blank pages remaining.

Thailand: While most nationalities receive an automatic 30-day stamp on arrival, so you can dispense with visa on arrivals, e-visas etc – in terms of the small print and variations to the rule Thailand has some complex regulations and there are still a few details to watch out for plus various bilateral arrangements between Thailand and other nations do throw up a lot of anomalies. Firstly, 6 months passport validity is required and while we can’t find any specifications regarding the number of blank pages, as usual in these parts, you’re better off with at least 2 available.

The following nationalities benefit from a visa waiver or exemption scheme and passport holders will automatically receive 30-day stamps on arrival at any Thai international airport: Australia, Canada, UK, US, certain EU countries plus citizens of other Asean member states. Generally, citizens of western and central European EU countries are included while those of some newer, particularly eastern EU nations aren’t. Conversely, several South American nationalities receive 90-day visas so do check in advance. A full visa exemption list can be found here.  Note this is a visa waiver and not a tourist visa.

If arriving by a land crossing then the situation gets more complicated and regulations do change frequently. Normally most above nationalities are also entitled to a 30-day visa exemption stamp while other passport holders will receive 15 days though the latter is again worth checking in advance. Commonly used land crossings for the purposes of our tours would be Tachileik/Mae Sai (from Myanmar), Poipet/Aranyaprathet and Prum/Ban Pakard (from Cambodia) and Vang Tao/Chong Mek for Ubon (from Laos). The nitty-gritty also varies from one land crossing to another  – some of which may be very little frequented by foreigners – so to be on the safe side have passport photos and photocopy of your main passport pages to hand.

Importantly, and this can, in theory, go for airports too, you may be asked for proof of onward travel and proof you have sufficient funds for your stay. We reckon these are more aimed at long-stay visitors and though we haven’t come across either rule being applied to casual tourists they are specified on the Thai immigration site and they do have these rules in their armoury.

If you’re not covered by any of the above or have any doubts or if you intend to stay more than 30 days then you will need to apply in advance for a Thai tourist visa. The validity of single entry tourist visas is generally 60 days but again can vary depending upon nationality and you need to make an application at your nearest Thai embassy. (Cost is approximately $30 or equivalent in local currency.) If you are planning on exiting and re-entering Thailand more than once then you can also apply for a multiple entry tourist visa costing approximately $150. (Precise costs and waiting time vary from one embassy to another.)

Furthermore, citizens of states not covered by the visa waiver system can also apply for a visa on arrival at an international airport. This is a 30-day one costing 2,000 baht payable in Thai currency only. Again you may be asked for proof of onward travel and funds.

The above can be construed as unnecessarily complicated and furthermore regulations do change on a regular basis so again, please check beforehand if you’re not a passport holder from one of the usual suspects Canada, France, Germany, UK, et al. We have in the past come across smaller Thai embassies providing inaccurate or out of date information and anecdotal travellers’ tales are – well anecdotal – so the official Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs site should, in theory, be your best source.

 

Meals: breakfasts are generally hotel buffets with lunch and dinners based on local food. Lunches on the road are typically simpler dishes such as variations on noodles or fried rice while your tour-leader will generally order more elaborate-style dinners consisting of a selection of local fare. Khmer cuisine shows both Thai and Vietnamese influences though with plenty of unique dishes too.

Dishes are only mildly spicy and both vegetarians and vegans are very easily catered for. For any other likes and dislikes please remind your tour-leader at the start of the tour.

Accommodation: all choices fall into the comfortable 3* range, with an emphasis where possible on the ‘boutique-style’, and are en-suite and air-conditioned with pools. We have posted a selection of sample accommodation on the lefthand hotel tab but please note that as we try and avoid the larger hotels, availability, in high season particularly, means we use several options in each destination.

Activities: note that no activities are compulsory and that any offered can be tailored for various fitness levels or alternatives suggested.

Further info: more details and photos of our ‘Ruined Cities and Tropical Islands’ tour here and suggested reading and viewing on Cambodia at this link

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