Cambodia has a lasting effect on every person who visits. This tour is great for budget-conscious travellers who still want to see everything Cambodia has to offer, from Angkor's ancient temples to the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime. We travel to the paradise of Sihanoukville's beaches before making our way down the Mekong. This well-paced tour from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City makes you appreciate everything Cambodian but won't break the bank!
Day 1 - BangkokYour trip starts today with your arrival in Bangkok. No activities are planned until your evening group meeting, so you may arrive at any time. Please check the noticeboard in the hotel lobby, located on the ground floor, for a notice containing details of your tour. This will advise you of your tour guide’s name, telephone number and the time and location of your group meeting. Normally this meeting takes place around 6pm. Until your meeting we encourage you to get out and discover the delights that Bangkok has to offer, including Thailand’s famous cuisine. Make sure that you take a hotel business card so that you will be able to find your way back to the hotel.
Day 2-3 - Siem Reap - AngkorWe depart Bangkok and drive 4½ hours to the town of Aranya Prathet, before continuing to the Thai-Cambodian border town of Poipet. After crossing, we sling our packs (and ourselves) into local mini-vans for an adventurous and bumpy road journey to Siem Reap. The Angkor complex of temples is without doubt one of the most astounding archaeological sites in the world. Scattered over an area of 200 square kilometres, only Egypt’s Nile Valley can compare to this vast array of ancient monuments. The ancient city of Angkor served as the royal centre from which a dynasty of Khmer kings ruled one of the largest, most prosperous and sophisticated kingdoms in the history of South East Asia. With a history covering over 600 years from 802 to 1432, the kings of Angkor at the height of their power ruled over a territory that extended from the tip of the Indochina peninsula northward to Yunnan and from Vietnam westward to the Bay of Bengal. In your time here you can hire a local tour guide to take us on a day-long tour of Angkor, visiting the South Gate of Angkor Thom, Bayon, Elephant Terrace, Baphoun, the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, Terrace of the Leper King, Ta Prohm and of course the fabulous Angkor Wat. Alternatively you can just hire some local transport and wander through the ruins at leisure. You have the option of doing just the above highlights and returning to Siem Reap or extending your exploration and visiting the rose-coloured temple of Banteay Srei, located about 30 kilometres north of Siem Reap. Getting there means over a very rough and dusty road, but it’s all worthwhile as this is considered to be the best preserved of all of Cambodia’s temples. Another option is to hire a local site guide and travel out into the countryside to discover facets of rural life that have changed little since the kings of Angkor ruled over the land. Generally local site guides won’t cost you much and he or she will take you around the villages and explain local industries and the peoples’ way of life. Ask your tour guide to help to arrange any of the above optional tours. Siem Reap also has quite a bit to offer and an enjoyable afternoon can be spent wandering around town visiting its market, shops and restaurants. If the muscles are a little tight after all the exploring, you may like to have a soothing massage at the blind institute.
Day 4-5 - Phnom PenhWe leave Siem Reap by bus and make our way to Phnom Penh. En route, we stop at the town of Skuon, where the local inhabitants are noted for their love of eating spiders! Later, we follow the Tônlé Sap River, passing through fishing villages and travelling past farming communities. The source of the Tônlé Sap River is the shallow Tônlé Sap Lake, the largest of South East Asia’s lakes. Numerous streams feed it and it then drains into the Mekong River just south of Phnom Penh. During the wet monsoon season of June to November, the high waters of the Mekong River reverse the flow of the Tônlé Sap River and increase the size of the lake from about 2,600 to 10,400 square kilometres, as the river flows back into the lake. As it begins to recede again, the lake’s huge stocks of fish are easily trapped in nets and bamboo traps or simply caught in the branches of trees. In the 1950s and 1960s, Phnom Penh was one of the finest cities in South East Asia. Despite the wide-scale destruction that took place after the Khmer Rouge emptied the city in 1975, Phnom Penh still manages to exude some colonial charm from a bygone era. Particularly down on the palm-fringed riverfront where a number of French-era shops and villas still exist and the spires of the Royal Palace pierce the skyline. In Phnom Penh you can hire a cyclo for a sightseeing tour of Phnom Penh to include the Royal Palace and the infamous Tuol Sleng Prison. Also known as Security Prison 21 (S21), Tuol Sleng is a former high school that was transformed into a detention and interrogation centre. An estimated 14,000 to 20,000 Cambodians accused of being traitors were tortured to death or sent to their execution from here. You can then travel further afield and hire a taxi to take you out to visit another reminder of the Khmer Rouge atrocities. Just as horrifying, the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek are situated 15 kilometres southwest of Phnom Penh. An estimated 17,000 people met their death here at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. A stupa-like tower of skulls was erected here in 1988 as a reminder of the atrocities that took place. After these sobering experiences you could visit the Central Market. Located in an old French colonial building, it’s a good place to look for clothing or sarongs. The rest of the day is free to further explore Phnom Penh city by ourselves. There’s plenty to see including the Silver Pagoda, the temple of Wat Phnom, the National Museum and the French Quarter.
Day 6-7 - SihanoukvilleWe drive to the coast and arrive at Sihanoukville, a place that has been earmarked as Cambodia’s main beach resort development. It’s early days yet and we have the chance to get a feel for this quiet location by enjoying a relaxing afternoon on Occheuteal Beach or wandering across to nearby Otres Beach, Sokha Beach or Independence Beach. Further afield is Victory Beach - another beach popular with travellers. The more active can wander down and explore the town centre, but please be prepared for the fact that this town is very hilly and spreads over quite a large area. Sihanoukville was formerly known as Kompong Som before it was renamed in honour of the recent king.
Day 8 - Chau Doc - Mekong DeltaFrom Sihanoukville we travel by private van via Kep and on to Phnom and the Cambodian-Vietnamese border point at Trinh Bien. Please note that a Vietnamese visa must be obtained prior to joining this tour as it is impossible to obtain one at the border. At the border crossing, we say goodbye to our Cambodian tour guide and meet our Vietnamese tour guide. We then continue by road around the base of Sam Mountain and on to our final destination, Chau Doc - an active trading town due to its proximity with the border. The market area runs along the riverfront and sells black market goods smuggled in from Cambodia. Being on the water allows us to see the interesting lifestyle of many of the local people. Homes are built over metal netting and their inhabitants are kept busy producing enormous amounts of food to feed the thousands of fish being bred here. This afternoon you can arrange for an optional boat cruise on the Bassac River, a tributary of the Mekong, where you can visit a Cham village, a mosque and a floating fish farm, as well as witnessing a demonstration of the local handicraft of silk weaving.
Day 9 - Hon Chi Minh City (Saigon)We travel on to our final destination and Vietnam’s largest city, Ho Chi Minh City. Our journey by road will take between 6 to 7 hours and we should arrive in the mid to late afternoon. In order to explore Ho Chi Minh City you will need to stay an extra day or so after your tour ends. Your tour guide can advise you of things to see and do. One option is to take an excursion to the north of Ho Chi Minh City to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels. The city itself has many attractions including the Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum, Ben Thanh Market, Notre Dame Cathedral and the adjacent Gustav Eiffel-designed Central Post Office, which are all within walking distance of your hotel. However, to make the most of your time, you might like to consider hiring a ‘cyclo’ (bicycle rickshaw). The going rate is approximately 80,000 VND per hour, but make sure you negotiate a price before setting out. In the evening we have the chance to go out on a final night on the town and Ho Chi Minh City is the ideal place to do this, with many dining and nightlife options available.
Day 10 - Ho Chi Minh CityYour Gecko’s tour finishes this morning after breakfast. Additional accommodation is available upon request, if you wish to extend your stay on in Ho Chi Minh City.
What to Know
• Gecko’s expert English-speaking local tour leader throughout the tour, and local guides at some sites.
• Option of day tour of the Angkor complex including the South Gate of Angkor Thom, Bayon, Elephant Terrace, Baphoun, the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, Terrace of the Leper King, Ta Prohm and Angkor Wat.
• Mekong Delta
• Time on the beaches of Sihanoukville.
• Free time to explore Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
- International flights, arrival and departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, all other meals, all optional tours or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.
Trip Dates and Prices
Start Date – End Date Trip Status Price 24 May 2013 - 02 Jun 2013 3 Closed US $575 Closed
Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments
At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.
Kim - Australia, 20 Apr, 2012
I loved every minute of this adventure and would recommend it to anyone. Our guide was very knowledgeable, friendly, helpful and made me totally comfortable doing this trip.
Carolyn - Australia, 13 Apr, 2012
What to know
No entrance fees included.