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Rural Cambodia and the Gibbons of Virachey National Park

15 days from £4650 per person

Virachey National Park is one the most important nature reserves not just in Cambodia but also the wider region. This intrepid itinerary combines Virachey with Phnom Penh, Kratie and Siem Reap and also includes a unique three-day trek in and around little-visited Phnom Kulen. Commencing in the capital, visit the traditional silk workshops of Koh Dach and the Phnom Tamao Zoological Park and Wildlife Rescue Centre before the long drive to Ban Lung. This is where the real adventure begins. Trek Virachey National Park, camp overnight and track wild gibbon then drive south to Angkor Wat before ending the journey exploring Phnom Kulen and the ancient Khmer city of Mahendraparvata.

Route: Phnom Penh – Ban Lung – Virachey National Park – Ban Lung – Kratie – Siem Reap – Preah Kral – Ta Penh – Preah Angthom – Siem Reap

Itinerary Highlights

A small riverside town beside the winding Mekong River, Kratie is special for being one of the best places to see the rare Irrawaddy dolphin. It is also close to the ancient capital of Sambor.

Angkor Thom, set within the wider Angkor complex, is a vast site containing numerous temple ruins. The highly decorated Bayon, with its inscrutable face carvings, is particularly mysterious.

Virachey National Park is a pristine wilderness area bordering southern Laos. The reserve is home to numerous rare mammals including elephant, clouded leopard, tiger and gibbon.

Itinerary: Rural Cambodia and the Gibbons of Virachey National Park

Depart the UK on the non-stop Thai Airways flight to Bangkok. (N)
Arrive into Bangkok and connect onto the Thai Airways flight to Phnom Penh. On arrival you will be met and taken to your hotel for a three night stay. Capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh is a bustling riverside city located at the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers. Retaining much of its charm, Phnom Penh is a bustling city of wide tree-lined boulevards, fabulous shrines and charming colonial-era architecture. (N)
Accommodation in Phnom Penh: White Mansion Hotel (or similar)
Upgrade option: Raffles Hotel Le Royal
With your bike, this morning cross the Tonle Sap River and cycle past communities of the Cham minority group. Catch a local ferry to Koh Dach – also known as Silk Island – arriving at a typical Khmer village of wooden stilt homes and silk workshops. The families here have maintained their traditional hand-loom methods and there will be ample time to learn about the weaving process and meet the villagers. Following a picnic lunch, cycle back to Phnom Penh arriving later in the afternoon. (B/L)
Accommodation in Phnom Penh: White Mansion Hotel (or similar)
Upgrade option: Raffles Hotel Le Royal
At around 0700 hours leave Phnom Penh and drive south of the city to the excellent Phnom Tamao Zoological Park and Wildlife Rescue Centre. Here you will spend a memorable day behind the scenes to learn about the different animals, how they are cared for and also be able to assist with the running of the centre. Rescued from poachers and illegal traffickers, the sanctuary is home to sun bear, gibbon, elephant, tiger, deer and python. In the late afternoon return to Phnom Penh and your hotel. * Please note that the day at the day at Phnom Tamao Zoological Park and Wildlife Rescue Centre is on a ‘join in’ basis with other travellers. (B)
Accommodation in Phnom Penh: White Mansion Hotel (or similar)
Upgrade option: Raffles Hotel Le Royal
Early this morning leave Phnom Penh for the long eight hour drive north to Ban Lung where you will stay overnight. Capital of Rattanakiri province this outpost, located in Cambodia's far north-east, is rarely visited by foreign travellers and inhabits an area of unparalleled beauty. Focal point to the many local minority villages, this region is also rich in gems and the base for adventurous jungle expeditions into Virachey National Park. In the evening meet the other travellers who will be joining you on the two day trek in Virachey. (B/L)
Accommodation in Ban Lung: Terres Rouges Lodge
This morning leave the hotel and travel by 4X4 and local boat deep into the jungle, reaching the small town of Veun Sai in time for lunch. You are now in Virachey National Park but continue further to a small Laotian community then on for an hour trek to camp arriving mid-afternoon. At dusk take a guided nature walk in the zone surrounding the camp then return for dinner. Isolated and inaccessible, Virachey National Park is one of region’s last remaining wilderness areas and is home to numerous rare mammals and birds including tiger, clouded leopard, elephant, great hornbill and giant ibis. *Please note that all activities on Days 6 and 7 will be on a ‘join in’ basis with other travellers. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Virachey National Park: Tented accommodation
Today rise early in search of gibbon aiming to be ready to hear the calls as the sun rises. As the calls begin there is only a small window to locate them before they stop and hearing the gibbon song increase in volume as you approach is a thrilling experience. Watch and follow the gibbons for the next couple of hours, in some cases getting to within 15 metres of them, then return to camp for breakfast. Later retrace your steps to Veun Sai and the Sesan River arriving back in Ban Lung in the afternoon. (B/L)
Accommodation in Ban Lung: Terres Rouges Lodge 
Leaving Ban Lung, head south-west to Kratie where you will stay overnight. A Mekong port midway between Laos and Phnom Penh, Kratie is a pretty little town and a good spot to watch the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin which inhabit this part of the Mekong River. (B)
Accommodation in Kratie: Rajabori Villas Resort (or similar)
Today drive to Siem Reap where you will stay for two nights. Siem Reap is the gateway to the temples of Angkor – some of the most spectacular religious monuments ever built. Capital of the ancient Khmer Empire, Angkor was abandoned in 1431 and reclaimed by the thick Cambodian jungle only to be rediscovered 400 years later by French naturalist Henri Mouhot. (B)
Accommodation in Siem Reap: Sokkhak Boutique Resort (or similar)
Upgrade option: Belmond La Residence d’Angkor
Alternative upgrade option: Raffles Grand d’Angkor
This morning visit Angkor Thom, the spacious walled capital of Jayavarman where highlights include the temple ruins of Bayon, Baphoun and Phimeanakas, the Elephant Terrace and 12th century Terrace of the Leper King. From here continue to the atmospheric remains of Ta Prohm which remain enveloped by thick jungle undergrowth and creepers. Ta Prohm is one of the last remaining monuments not to have been cleared and provides one of the most enchanting experiences of Angkor. End the day at Angkor Wat, explore its extraordinary Khmer architecture and enjoy a spectacular sunset viewed from the mountain temple of Phnom Bakheng. (B)
Accommodation in Siem Reap: Sokkhak Boutique Resort (or similar)
Upgrade option: Belmond La Residence d’Angkor
Alternative upgrade option: Raffles Grand d’Angkor
Today leave Siem Reap and drive to Phnom Kulen – a holy mountain and site of the ancient Khmer city of Mahendraparvata. It is also the starting point of your three day trek. Leaving the car at the base the mountain hike uphill through dense forest reaching Preah Kral village for lunch then continue on stopping to explore caves and Sras Damrei – a high plateau. Stay overnight in a local monastery close to Preah Kral. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Preah Kral: Local monastery
After breakfast continue the trek, stopping to see temple complexes – currently thirty have been discovered – and other archaeological remains which it is believed formed part of one of South East Asia’s largest ancient cities. Tonight you will stay overnight with a local family in their simple homestay in the village of Ta Penh. Basic bathroom and toilet facilities are available and the village is home to around 200 families. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Ta Penh: Homestay accommodation 
Start the day walking through rice fields and forest to the mountaintop temple of Kra Hom. See the reclining Buddha statue then trek on to the Preah Angthom Waterfall in time for lunch. Tonight’s homestay is only a short walk away and the remainder of the day will be at leisure to relax and enjoy the surroundings. (B/L/D)
Accommodation in Preah Angthom: Homestay accommodation
This morning leave Preah Angthom and return by road to Siem Reap where you will stay overnight. The rest of the day will be at leisure. (B)
Accommodation in Siem Reap: Sokkhak Boutique Resort (or similar)
Upgrade option: Belmond La Residence d’Angkor
Alternative upgrade option: Raffles Grand d’Angkor
This morning transfer to Siem Reap Airport and fly to Bangkok. Here connect onto the Thai Airways flight non-stop to the UK. (B)
**KEY: N = No meals, B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner

What To Do Next?

We design unique, tailor-made holiday itineraries to suit you, by combining your ideas with our knowledge and experience. Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, or if you require some advice, please call us or complete the enquiry form online for a quotation.

What's included

  • International flights from the UK
  • Private car and driver
  • Sightseeing with local English speaking guides
  • Wildlife viewing with local naturalist
  • Hotel accommodation and taxes

What's not included

  • Cost of visas
  • Travel Insurance
  • Expenses of a personal nature

Guide to Price

The above price is based on two people travelling together and sharing accommodation in low season. The price is only a guide and can vary according to selected airlines, hotels and date of travel. If you wish to travel with your family, friends or on your own we will be very happy to assist you with your arrangements.

Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam Holiday Review

Just to let you know we are home from our gorgeous trip, and had the most wonderful time. Thank you so much. Overall, wonderful destination and brilliant choices.

OH - Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam - November 2015

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