Phnom Penh / Battambang / Siem Reap
3 Days / 2 Nights
Phnom Penh to Battambang via Kompong Loung
We leave Phnom Penh and travel west towards Battambang province, the rice bowl of Cambodia. We leave the city on National Highway 5 and travel through the busy riverside town of Kompong Chhnang. There may also be the opportunity to visit a local pottery village, as Kompong Chhnang is famous for producing undecorated items for the Cambodian home. We come to the small town of Krakor and turn off the main road to visit the incredible floating town of Kompong Luong. The largest floating community on the Tonle Sap Lake, there are almost 10,000 inhabitants living here. Everything floats on water, including the schools, the clinic, the shops and the petrol station. We explore by boat and experience life in a real floating community untouched by
mass tourism. We head to the provincial capital of Pursat for lunch, a pleasant riverside town in central Cambodia. We continue northwest through Pursat province, passing through typical Cambodian landscapes of endless ricefields dotted with sugar palms. We arrive in Battambang late afternoon and check into our hotel. We leave the rest of the day free to soak up the charm of this historic riverside city.
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Temple and Lifestyle along Battambang
After breakfast, we travel to Wat Koh district to visit a local village and learn about rural life in Cambodia. We learn about the rice harvest, fruit farming and how the sugar palm is used. After our village visit, we board the bamboo train to travel back towards Battambang. These ‘local trains’ are bamboo platforms with wheels and they fly along the rail tracks offering great views of the surrounding countryside. After lunch in town, we travel to the hilltop temple of Wat Banan. The winding road follows the Sangker River and passes by many traditional wooden homes, offering an authentic glimpse of rural Cambodia. Arriving at the temple, we ascend to the summit and are rewarded with strikings of the surrounding plains. There are five towers here, leading some ambitious Battambang residents to claim it may have been the inspiration behind Angkor Wat. We continue to Phnom Sampeau, a sacred mountain dotted with interesting pagodas and stupas. There is also a moving
memorial to Khmer Rouge victims who were thrown into one of the many caves that pepper this holy mountain. We then return to Battambang town for the night.
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Option 1: Battambang to Siem Reap by shared boat (available only from August to February, it is depending on water level of the river).
We leave Battambang after breakfast and board a local fast boat for our journey to Siem Reap. It is a beautiful ride along the narrow Sangker River, offering some intimate glimpses of rural life in Battambang province. We travel through some incredible networks of bamboo fish traps and may have to slow down many times to avoid snagging lines. We also travel through some areas of water hyacinth where the boat must travel very slowly. We pass close by the Prek Toal Biosphere and may be lucky enough to see some rare large water birds. We eventually emerge on the Tonle Sap Lake, which feels like a vast inland sea. We travel to the floating village of Chong Kneas where we transfer to Siem Reap town.
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Option 2: Battambang to Siem Reap via Banteay Chhmar (1 day)
We leave Battambang after breakfast and travel north towards the trading town of Svay Sisophon. We then head
deeper into Banteay Meanchey province to the incredible jungle temple of Banteay Chhmar, famous for its signature faces of Jayavarman VII. After travelling through some beautiful stretches of Cambodian countryside, we arrive at the main temple of Banteay Chhmar for a thorough exploration. We see the magnificent carvings of Lokesvara with 32 arms, nicknamed lok sam-pee (Mr 32) by Khmers, as well as the beautiful Hall of Dancers, similar to the famous Preah Khan. After clambering about among this sleeping giant, we continue to explore the outer complex, including the outer gate of Ta Prohm, like a smaller cousin of the impressive Angkor Thom gates and protected by a moat, and the jungle-clad face-towers of Yeay Chy and Samnang Tasok. After a picnic lunch around Banteay Chhmar, we travel south through Sisophon once more before veering east to Siem Reap, the atmospheric gateway to the majestic temples of Angkor.
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