After breakfast, visit the ancient city of Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Great Khmer Empire under the reign of Jayavarman VII. This city is surrounded by an 8 m high wall drawing a perfect square. Enter the city through the ancient South Gate, an impressive stone gate carved with Elephants and four giant faces. On each side of the entrance path a row of 54 gods or demons is holding the sacred Naga snake.
From here, continue to Bayon Temple in the exact center of the city. This 12th century masterpiece is a study in grandeur and is well-known for its 54 towers with enigmatic faces representing the 54 provinces of the Great Khmer Empire. The Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King are also must-visits as they are both known for their intricate bas-reliefs.
In the afternoon travel to the “gem” of the Angkor area, the pretty temple of Banteay Srei, stopping off for lunch at the Bong Thom homestay en-route. The so-called “Citadel of the Women” remains the best preserved temple in Cambodia. It displays some of the finest examples of classical Khmer art as this small temple is noted for its truly remarkable fine bas-reliefs. Banteay Srei is unique in that it is constructed of pink sandstone, which is seen nowhere else in Angkor.
Stop for a visit to Banteay Srei Butterfly Centre (BBC), where it is possible to experience butterflies feeding and flying very close at hand and to witness the complete life cycle of many species. The exhibit consists of a netted tropical garden with thousands of free-flying butterflies, all of which are native species to Cambodia. Revenue generated by tourist admissions provides support for local poverty alleviation and conservation projects.
Later there is the possibility to stop at local communities along the way and your guide will help you to interact with the local community to learn about the way of life here. Seize the opportunity to taste Palm Wine and Palm Sugar (seasonal) and other popular local produce.
Visit the Landmine Museum which promotes mine awareness. Mr. Aki Ra, the museum founder, was trained as a child soldier during the Khmer Rouge regime and is working today as a de-miner. The museum serves also as a rescue center for a number of landmine amputee children that Aki Ra has brought off Phnom Penh’s streets or from impoverished rural communities.
This evening attend a performance of ‘Phare, the Cambodian Circus’. Starting at 8pm, professional artists of Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPS) will perform an inspiring show suitable for people of all ages. Set up in Battambang in 1994 by young returnee Cambodians from the refugee camps who learned about using art as a means of coping with trauma, PPS has played an influential role in promoting and developing Khmer culture over the years after the Khmer Rouge genocide. The hour long show mixes traditional and modern theater, music, dance, acrobatics, juggling and contortion performed in a story about Cambodian lives and society. Student performances can still be seen twice weekly in Battambang but now the circus has arrived in Siem Reap!
Overnight in Siem Reap
Meals: Breakfast / Lunch