Day 1 – Siem Reap – Beng Melea – Koh Ker – Tbeng Meanchey (L)
We will take you at your hotel and drive about 65 km north-east of Siem Reap to explore jungle tour Beng Melea. This temple was built during the 12th century during the reign of Suryavarman II, at about the same time as Angkor Wat of which its layout and style closely mirror. However, Beng Melea is completely ruined and largely overrun by vegetation and competes with Ta Prohm for the “lost in the jungle” ambience. It is a tangle of trees, lichen-covered stones, broken towers and galleries. Many impressive sculptures are hidden among the rubble and the vegetation. This temple is very lightly touristed and offers plenty picturesque pictures’ opportunities. After the visit, we will drive about 60 km to the north-east to reach the temple complex of Koh Ker where we will have lunch.
Koh Ker was the capital city of the Khmer Empire during hardly two decades (928-944) during the reign of Jayavarman IV who is sometimes considered as an usurping because of the disruption in the royal succession at the time of its accession. Two kings reigned in Koh Ker; Jayavarman IV, who probably already lived there since 921, and his son Harshavarman II who stayed on the throne only 3 years, from 941 to 944. Rajandravarman II, Harshavarman’s II son, moved back the capital to Yashodharapura (Angkor) after his accession. The main ruins at Koh Ker consist of an impressive seven-storey sandstone pyramid (Prasat Thom). The second biggest structure of Koh Ker is Prasat Krahom (red temple) built with red bricks and lost in the jungle. The surrounding land was irrigated by the Rahal Baray, similar to, but smaller than, the ones at Angkor. It is believed that over 80 ruins lie in this area. A lot of the beautiful carvings created in Koh Ker are now kept in the National Museum in Phnom Penh.
After the visit, a two hour drive will take us to the small provincial capital city of Tbeng Meanchey where we will have dinner.
Overnight at Tbeng Meanchey. Accommodation at Phrum Meas Guesthouse or similar.
Day 2 – Tbeng Meanchey – Preah Vihear (B / L)
In the morning, you will have time to visit the Joom Noon Silk project, a local initiative to help rehabilitate people with disabilities and which produce some of the country’s finest silk, before we leave the city at about 9am.
We will drive about 5 hours on a cart track through the deciduous dipterocarp forest and grassland mosaic of the Northern Plains of Cambodia, home of some of the rarest bird species of South-east Asia, such as some Ibis (like the Giant Ibis, the Cambodia’s national bird), Vultures and Ducks; most of them are endangered. We will arrive during the afternoon in fabulous temple of Preah Vihear
Preah Vihear, dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, was first built in the late 9th century under the reign of Yasovarman I with significant additions by the following kings, especially Suryavarman II (1112-1152), the builder of Angkor Wat. The temple complex runs 800m along a north-south axis, and consists essentially of a causeway and steps rising up the hill towards the sanctuary, which sits on the clifftop at the southern end of the complex. The temple has four levels and four courtyards, and also five Gopuras, or entrance pavilions, sometimes surmounted by a tower. We will have plenty of time to visit the temple and the area and enjoy the beautiful sunset on the top of the hill before having dinner and spend the night in one of the guesthouses near the temple.
Overnight in Preah Vihear temple vicinity. Accommodation at Environment House or similar..
The temple dominates the plain from its prominent position in the Dangrek Mountains, which straddle the Thai border, at an altitude of more than 700 m. The way to the top is very steep on the Cambodian side while it slopes gently towards Thailand. Be that as it may, the stunning view onto the surrounding which, on a clear day, reach all the way to Phnom Kulen to the west and the intersection of the Lao, Thai and Cambodian borders to the east, will reward us for our effort.
Day 3 – Preah Vihear – Anlong Veng – Siem Reap (B / L)
If you wish you will be able to get up early in the hope to catch the sunrise from the top. We will have breakfast and spend some more time to visit the temple with the morning light before to leave this magical place at about 8 am. We will drive about 4 hours before to stop for lunch in the city of Anlong Veng, a small city close to the Dongrek mountain which summit offers a panoramic view over to Thailand. Anlong Veng is sadly famous for having been the last Khmer Rouge stronghold. Some remains testify to this recent past such as the Pol Pot’s residence and cremation site or the villa of Ta Mok, a right-hand man of Pol Pot otherwise known as the “Butcher”.
After lunch, we will have some time to explore Anlong Veng and its most popular destination, Oh Chit, an artificial lake initially built as a moat by Ta Mok for his house. A maniacal dam builder, Ta Mok flooded much of the area while trying to develop the lake, now a popular swimming spot for the children.
Then, we will continue our journey. During the 4 hour trip through the jungle we will first meet few signs of civilization until we pass the Kulen mountain. Farther, we will cross many villages of farmers before arriving in Siem Reap in the evening.
Price of Tour Includes:
Entrance fees and sightseeing tours by 4WD cars or pick-up truck
An experienced English-speaking local guide
Accommodation on twin sharing basis (dormitory & basic G/H) and meals as stated in the itinerary
1 liter of drinking water per person per day
NOT Included in Tour Price:
Personal travel insurance (compulsory!)
Expenditure of a personal nature
Drinks & tips