The mystical temples of Angkor rank among the world’s great sights, but there’s much more to Cambodia than just ancient history. Take the slow boat up the Mekong River to discover a country of charismatic cities, dazzling rice paddies and tranquil stilted villages. We’ll make sure you tick the jungle-clad temples of Angkor Wat off your bucket list, before enjoying some tropical island downtime.
The Mighty Mekong
Cruise along the Mekong River to enter Cambodia in style. You’ll fly first into Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, then board indulgent river cruiser Aqua Mekong for a leisurely four-night journey upstream. From floating villages to markets selling fish and fruits, the Mekong throbs from before sunrise to after dark. Catch snapshots of rural life from the deck, then journey across the border past colonial relics and gilded pagodas all the way to Phnom Penh.
Arrive back on dry land to explore the architectural landmarks of Cambodia’s capital city Phnom Penh during a two-night stay. Discover fine French colonial era buildings, charming shop-houses, secret Chinese temples, and striking modernist structures on a guided tour. Head to hilltop temple Wat Phnom, then zoom through the traffic by vespa to uncover some of the city’s secret spots. You’ll view undiscovered street art, taste traditional delicacies at local markets, then receive a Buddhist blessing at a small shrine.
Escape to the Jungle
From Phnom Penh, take a three-and-a-half-hour journey by road into the heart of the Cardamom National Park. Here you’ll experience an extraordinary project, the brainchild of hotel guru Bill Bensley. In order to protect the forest, Bensley decided to build a hotel which would help fund conservation efforts including anti-poaching. Shinta Mani Wild is unlike any other hotel – perfect for adventurous travellers, especially as you can choose to zipline through the canopy into reception! Shinta Mani is a tented camp, situated by the crashing river and each tent is as spacious as it is luxurious with large private riverside terraces replete with free standing tubs. Experience the best of this wilderness location with fishing, waterfall jumping or joining the anti-poaching brigade on their mission to encourage wildlife back into this special Cambodia forest.
Leave the depths of the Cambodian jungle to sample island life. Spend five nights tuning into the simple pleasures of Song Saa Island. Relax on the pristine sands, take off on a diving adventure, explore the area’s hidden coves and heavenly bays by kayak or cook up a storm with a lesson in Khmer cuisine. Alternatively, do nothing but chill-out in your villa and take in the shimmering sea views from your private plunge pool.
Fly north to Siem Reap, where the ancient Angkor temples await. Upon arrival, a vintage 1962 Mercedes, with white-uniformed driver and attendant in tow, will whisk you off to Amansara for a three-night stay. Rise early for a magical champagne sunrise over Angkor Wat, as the grand temple’s reflection glistens in the waters of the moat below. You’ll then explore the intricately-carved temples and shrines, travelling by custom-fitted tuk-tuk to avoid the crowds. Take a day trip to the floating villages of Tonle Sap Lake, cycle through rice fields dotted with sugar palms, or spend afternoons slumped poolside on one of the hotel’s enormous daybeds.