Premium Cambodia and Laos tour including Angkor Wat and Luang Prabang
Phnom Penh – Siem Reap/Angkor Wat – Luang Prabang – Bangkok
Join us on this inspiring small-group trip for a quick overview of the most important sites these countries have to offer. The itinerary takes in such splendid historic sites as the temple ruins at Angkor Wat and the Old Town of Luang Prabang. During the tour, participants will have lots of opportunities to interact with locals including farming families in quaint villages.
- Small group (20 max)
- Expert guides.
- Authentic local cuisine.
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers included.
- No forced shopping stops.
- Unlimited supply of bottled water.
- Free Wi-Fi in every hotel.
- Village visit in Siem Reap.
- Rice farm visit in Luang Prabang
Nights per location:
- Phnom Penh: 3
- Siem Reap: 3
- Luang Prabang: 3
- Bangkok: 2
Meal Code: B = breakfast / L = lunch / D = dinner
Day 1/Fri: Departing Home City
Your Cambodia and Laos tour begins with your transpacific flight departing from a city of your choice. You’ll lose a day upon crossing the International Date Line.
Day 2/Sat: Arrival in Phnom Penh
Welcome to Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia. Meet your guide on arrival and transfer to the hotel.
Day 3/Sun: Phnom Penh (B/L/D)
Located at the confluence of three rivers (Tonlé Sap, Mekong and Bassac), Phnom Penh is the wealthiest and most populous (1.6 million) city in Cambodia. The Phnom Penh metropolitan area is home to about 2.2 million of Cambodia’s entire population of 15.5 million.
Phnom Penh first became the capital of Cambodia after Ponhea Yat, king of the Khmer Empire, moved the capital from Angkor Thom after it was captured and destroyed by Siam (Thailand) a few years earlier. Phnom Penh remained the royal capital for 73 years—from 1432 to 1505 before it was abandoned for 360 years (1505 – 1865) by subsequent kings due to internal fighting between the royal pretenders. Later kings moved the capital several times and established their royal capitals at various locations in Tuol Basan (Srey Santhor), Pursat, Longvek, Lavear Em and Udong. It was not until 1866, under the reign of King Norodom I (1860–1904), the eldest son of King Ang Duong, who ruled on behalf of Siam, that Phnom Penh became the permanent seat of government and capital of Cambodia again.
Beginning in 1870, the French colonialists built this riverside village into a city with hotels, hospitals, schools, prisons, barracks, banks, public works offices, telegraph offices, law courts and so on. In 1872, the first glimpse of a modern city took shape when the colonial administration employed the services of a French contractor Le Faucheur to construct the first 300 concrete houses for sale and rental to the Chinese traders. By the 1920s, Phnom Penh was known as the Pearl of Asia, and over the next four decades the city continued to experience rapid growth with the building of railways to Sihanoukville and Pochentong International Airport (now Phnom Penh International Airport).
During the Vietnam War, Cambodia was used as a base by the Viet Cong’s North Vietnamese Army. Thousands of refugees from across the country flooded the capital to escape the fighting between the various factions, thus increasing the population of Phnom Penh to reportedly 3 million. The Khmer Rouge captured the city on April 17, 1975 and started to forcibly evacuate the entire city soon after. All of its residents, including the wealthy and educated, were forced into the countryside to do manual labour so that they could become “new people” according to the Khmer Rouge. Tuol Sleng High School was turned into a prison camp known as S-21, where people were detained and tortured. Pol Pot sought a return to an agrarian economy and therefore killed many people perceived as lazy or political enemies. The Khmer Rouge was driven out of Phnom Penh by the Vietnamese in 1979, and people began to return to the city. Vietnam is historically a state with which Cambodia has had many conflicts, therefore this liberation was and is viewed with mixed feelings by the Cambodians. A period of reconstruction began, spurred by the continuing stability of government, new foreign investment and international aid.
Our sightseeing today includes the Royal Palace Complex and the National Museum.
Day 4/Mon: Phnom Penh (B/L)
Today we visit Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and Choeung Ek Killing Fields.These sites may be too much for the visitor to stomach but they embody an important period in the country’s history no matter how repugnant that period is in our common memory.
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is on the same site of the high school turned prison known as S-21. Inside, Khmer Rouge’s torture devices and photos of their victims are on display. If you have read about Tuol Sleng and feel the gruesome scenes may be too disturbing, you may instead opt for a walk through the neighbourhood outside the former high school.
Choeung Ek (The Killing Fields) is 15 kilometers from the city centre. It was one of the mass grave sites of the victims of the Khmer Rouge regime.
Day 5/Tue: Phnom Penh – Siem Reap (B/L/D)
The morning flight to Siem Reap takes 40 minutes. After a light lunch, we visit the Angkor National Museum and Angkor Wat.
The archaeological museum is dedicated to the collection, preservation and presentation of Angkorian artifacts, also to provide information and education about art and culture of Khmer civilization, with collections mainly dated from Khmer Empire’s Angkor period circa 9th to 14th-century. Most of the artifacts are discovered in and around the Angkor archaeological sites nearby. Opened on November 12, 2007, the Angkor National Museum covers the golden era of the Khmer Empire in eight galleries. The museum visit at the beginning of the stay in Siem Reap is designed to better prepare tour participants for what to see next.
Angkor Wat, the modern name for the temple complex, means “Temple City” or “City of Temples” in Khmer. Angkor, meaning “city” or “capital city”, is a vernacular form of the word nokor, which comes from the Sanskrit word nagara. Wat is the Khmer word for “temple grounds”. Angkor Wat was a Hindu temple complex that was later used for Buddhism. It is the largest religious monument in the world. The temple was built by the Khmer King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century in Yaśodharapura (present-day Angkor), the capital of the Khmer Empire, as his state temple and eventual mausoleum. Breaking from the Shaiva tradition of previous kings, Angkor Wat was instead dedicated to Vishnu. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious center since its foundation. The temple is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture and has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag.
Angkor Wat combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture: the temple-mountain and the later galleried temple, based on early Dravidian architecture, with key features such as the Jagati. It is designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the devas in Hindu mythology: within a moat and an outer wall of 3.6 kilometres long are three rectangular galleries, each raised above the next. At the centre of the temple stands a quincunx of towers. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west; scholars are divided as to the significance of this. The temple is admired for the grandeur and harmony of the architecture, its extensive bas-reliefs, and for the numerous devatas adorning its walls.
Day 6/Wed: Siem Reap (B/L)
Visit Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm in the morning and have the afternoon at leisure after lunch.
Angkor Thom (literally: great city) was established in the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII as the capital of the Khmer Empire. It covers an area of 9km² and includes several monuments from earlier eras as well as those established by Jayavarman and his successors. One inscription found in the city refers to Jayavarman as the groom and the city as his bride. Angkor Thom was the last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer empire. At the centre of the city is Jayavarman’s state temple, the Bayon, with the other major sites clustered around the Victory Square immediately to the north.
Ta Prohm is the modern name of the temple built in the Bayon style largely in the late 12th and early 13th centuries and originally called Rajavihara. Located approximately one kilometre east of Angkor Thom and on the southern edge of the East Baray, it was founded by the Khmer King Jayavarman VII as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Ta Prohm has been left in much the same condition in which it was found: the photogenic and atmospheric combination of trees growing out of the ruins and the jungle surroundings has made it one of Angkor’s most popular temples with visitors.
Day 7/Thu: Siem Reap (B/L)
After breakfast, we drive 25km to Banteay Srei (Citadel of Women), a 10th-century temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. The buildings themselves are miniature in scale but the stone carvings are magnificent. On the way back to the hotel, we stop by a village and a school in it to gain a deeper insight into the local rural life.
Day 8/Fri: Siem Reap – Luang Prabang (B/D)
We plan to fly to Luang Prabang in the morning but due to limited flight availability we may have to wait till afternoon. It is also possible that our flight includes a brief layover in Pakse, which would stretch our travel time to 3 hours and 20 minutes. Additional activities may be arranged in Siem Reap or Luang Prabang depending on flight schedule.
Modern-day Laos has its roots in the ancient Lao kingdom of Lan Xang, established in the 14th century under King Fa Ngum. For 300 years Lan Xang had influence reaching into present-day Cambodia and Thailand, as well as over all of what is now Laos. After centuries of gradual decline, Laos came under the domination of Siam (Thailand) from the late 18th century until the late 19th century when it became part of French Indochina. The Franco-Siamese Treaty of 1907 defined the current Lao border with Thailand. In 1975, the communist Pathet Lao took control of the government, ending a six-century-old monarchy and instituting a strict socialist regime closely aligned to Vietnam. A gradual, limited return to private enterprise and the liberalization of foreign investment laws began in 1988. Laos became a member of ASEAN in 1997 and the WTO in 2013. The population of the country is estimated to be around 6.77 million.
Luang Prabang is the capital of Luang Prabang Province and the fourth largest city in Laos with a population of 50,000. Strategically located at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers, after the establishment of the French Protectorate in 1893, following a period of turmoil during which the country was divided into three independent kingdoms, Luang Prabang once again became the royal and religious capital during the reign of King Sisavang Vong. It played this role until Vientiane became the administrative capital in 1946. In 1995, the old town of Luang Prabang was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as “an outstanding example of the fusion of traditional architecture and Lao urban structures with those built by the European colonial authorities in the 19th and 20th centuries”. The unique, remarkably well-preserved townscape illustrates a key stage in the blending of these two distinct cultural traditions. Luang Prabang is known for both its historical sites and natural beauty.
We rise at dawn to go out and witness an extraordinary ritual – procession of monks emerging from temples to seek alms from local residents. This traditional food collection ceremony by monks early in the morning, known as tak bat among locals, has become a major attraction to tourists.
After breakfast, we set out for the National Museum, former royal residence built at the turn of the 20th century. We then visit the Wat Mai, the largest and most decorated Buddhist temple in Luang Prabang. A drive through the scenic countryside leads us to the Tad Kouang Si waterfalls, tumbling over limestone formations to create turquoise-colored pools; the natural footpaths here are perfect for hiking.
On the way back to Luang Prabang, we stop by at a Hmong village. The Hmong are an ethnic group from the mountainous regions of China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. During the first and second Indochina Wars, France and the United States governments recruited thousands of Hmong people in Laos to fight against invading military forces from North Vietnam and communist Pathet Lao insurgents.
Day 10/Sun: Luang Prabang (B/L)
We begin today with a visit to a morning market where locals go for their daily food supplies. The exotic spices and food will keep your eyes busy.
After breakfast we drive to a communal rice farm set in idyllic countryside for a better understanding of farming life in this landlocked country. You are invited to try your hand at various farm activities. There is also time to check out nearby workshops of bamboo weavers, blacksmiths and sugar cane processors. Return to the hotel in Luang Prabang and have the balance of the day at leisure.
Day 11/Mon: Luang Prabang – Bangkok (B)
Free morning to explore on your own. We board late afternoon flight for Bangkok. The flight time can be anywhere between 1 hour 20 minutes to 2 hours depending on aircraft in use.
Located in Chao Phraya River delta, Bangkok is the capital and the most populous city of Thailand, with a population of 8 million within the city proper or nearly 13% of the country’s total. The city is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon.
Bangkok traces its roots to a small trading post during the Ayutthaya Kingdom in the 15th century, which eventually grew in size and became the site of two capital cities: Thonburi in 1768 and Rattanakosin in 1782. Bangkok was at the heart of Siam’s (as Thailand used to be known) modernization during the later 19th century, as the country faced pressures from the West. The city was the centre stage of Thailand’s political struggles throughout the 20th century, as the country abolished absolute monarchy, adopted constitutional rule and underwent numerous coups and uprisings. The city grew rapidly during the 1960’s through the 1980’s.
Day 12/Tue: Bangkok (B/D)
We begin our sightseeing today at the royal Grand Palace. Established in 1782, the palace was dramatically expanded throughout successive reigns. The king and his royal government were based on the grounds of the palace until 1925. The present monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), resides at Chitralada Palace, but the Grand Palace is still used for official events.
We then proceed to the National Museum, which is the largest museum in Southeast Asia and features exhibits of Thai art and history.
Afternoon sightseeing takes in Wat Arun, a Buddist temple on the Chao Phraya River. The temple derives its name from the Hindu god Aruna, often personified as the radiations of the rising sun. Wat Arun is among the best known of Thailand’s landmarks.
Finally, we go on a long tail boat for an hour-long cruise on picturesque Chao Phraya River and the Klongs (canals) of Thonburi on the west side of the river. There will be chance to observe and photograph the serene family homes and temples along the waterways.
Day 13/Wed: Bangkok – Home City (B)
Your tour plus Bangkok ends this morning. Transfer to the airport by taxi (cab fare about $10) or by Airport Rail Link (10% of cab fare) to board return flight. Arrive home the same day.
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|Phnom Penh||3||La Rose Suites||luxury|
|Siem Reap||3||Victoria Angkor Resort||luxury|
|Luang Prabang||3||Sofitel Luang Prabang||luxury|
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See Terms & Conditions for more information.
A passport with at least two (2) blank visa pages and six (6) months validity at the end of the tour is required.
You’ll need one photo of passport type (2×2 inches) for this trip but please bring two (2), just in case.
Cambodia Tourist Visa on Arrival – US$35
No letter of invitation is needed. Just bring the cash and a photo of passport type.
Laos Tourist Visa on Arrival – $30 ~ $42 USD depending on nationality
No letter of invitation is needed. Just bring $30 to $42 USD plus a passport-type photo. Overtime charge of $1 may apply outside standard office hours, on weekends and statutory holidays.
Thailand Tourist Visa
Visa is not required of nationals from Canada, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and a host of other Western countries if the stay is within 30 days.
Health & Immunization
You are not required of any inoculation certificate to enter any of the above countries. However, we do suggest you visit your family physician or a travel medicine clinic to determine what precautions you should take. We recommend inoculation shots for hepatitis A and suggest that you check out advice provided by the US CDC and Health Canada.
Tap water is not safe to drink. Ask for bottled or boiled water when eating in restaurants. When buying bottled water from street vendors, especially at tourist sites, make sure the cap is properly sealed because some vendors may be selling tap water in recycled bottles.
Try to avoid uncooked food. Even the food you eat is clean, you may still experience stomach upsets or diarrhea due to ingredients your stomach is not used to.
Always carry a roll of toilet paper and a bottle of hand sanitizer containing more than 60% of alcohol, no matter where you go.
Cambodia: Cambodian Riel (KHR)
Laos: Laotian Kip (LAK)
Thailand: Thai Baht (THB)
Major credit cards are widely accepted throughout the above countries and can be used for major purchases. U.S. dollars are widely accepted in Cambodia and Laos. Merchants in Thailand generally decline any currency other than their own. The US dollar bills you bring in must be in near mint condition. Any stain or marking or missing corner would result in rejection by the local banks and currency dealers.
You do not need to get any local currency prior to arrival.