This is a unique opportunity for young travellers to experience the highlights of Cambodia as well as to the assist important work of the Free the Bears Foundation. Your adventure begins in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, where you'll learn a bit about Cambodia’s recent dark history. You'll travel to the Phnom Tamao Zoological Gardens and Wildlife Rescue Centre, located just an hour's drive from Phnom Penh, to assist the Free the Bears team with some of their daily tasks over two days. You'll next travel by road to Siem Reap, the gateway to the temples of Angkor Wat, where you'll experience this extraordinary complex. We explore the world famous temples of Angkor, built when the Khmer civilisation was at its height a thousand years ago. We explore various temples including Angkor Wat, Ta Promh, Bayon and enjoying world famous sunsets over the temples as well as visiting the Tonle Sap floating villages to see a floating school, farms, houses and many more curiosities. Our adventure also includes a tuk tuk tour of Siem Reap, a Khmer Cooking class, plus more.
Depart Sydney on Singapore Airlines flight. Upon your arrival in Phnom Penh airport you will be welcomed by a World Youth Adventures representative holding a welcome sign in the arrivals hall, they will accompany you via a private coach transfer to the hotel for check in. There will be a trip briefing in the hotel foyer at a time indicated in your final documents.
Suas’dei, welcome to the Kingdom of Wonder! Tonight, you will have a welcome dinner at the Bopha Phnom Penh Restaurant, the kitchen serves tasty Khmer (and Western) cuisine on the terrace of a breezy terrace restaurant with sweeping river views. Apsara dancing is performed nightly between 7-9pm.
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
SQ 212 12APR SYDNEY/SINGAPORE 0755/1415
SQ5008 12APR SINGAPORE/PHNOM PENH 1635/1730
(flights subject to change)
The morning is set aside for learning a bit about Cambodia’s recent dark history with a visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. Housed in a former school taken over by the Khmer Rouge, S-21 (as it was called) was used as their main detention and torture center. After the visit, head to the equally as poignant Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. Visiting both sites provides guests with some excellent insight into the current state of Cambodia. After learning about the country’s tragic past, return to central Phnom Penh for lunch at Le Lotus Blanc, a training restaurant for the humanitarian organization Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (for the smile of a child). The restaurant provides education and job training to street children that once made a living scavenging the municipal dump. The visit helps support the training of these kids by being their guest. From here, travelling to the Khmer-style National Museum, housing the world's foremost collection (over 5,000 pieces) of ancient Khmer artistic, archaeological, and religious artifacts from the 4th to the 13th centuries. In addition, the roof space also houses a large bat colony! And then you will be greeted by a driver who will take you on a tour to the most remarkable sights of Phnom Penh in a Cyclo for 2 hours, an original Phnom Penh means of transportation and a fun way to explore this lively city. Head to Wat Phnom temple, the founding place of the city on a small hilltop. Then continue along the riverfront to the Royal Palace. This palace dates back to 1866 and houses the Silver Pagoda, named for the over 5000 heavy silver tiles that cover its floors. Its original name is Wat Prakeo, meaning Temple of the Emerald Buddha. In this temple you will view a collection of Buddhas in gold, silver, crystal, and bronze. (Note: To see the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh, visitors are required to wear appropriate clothes. Guests wearing short pans (above knee level) and sleeveless tops are not permitted). This incredible day comes to an end with a dinner at Romdeng. Run by former street youth in training, Romdeng is set in a beautiful colonial building, serving a delicious variety of regional cuisine.
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
After your breakfast, you will be transferred to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre to spend a day assisting the animal keepers at the Free The Bears sanctuary which is Cambodia’s premier zoological park and rehabilitation centre. Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre (PTWRC) is very large and houses many species of animals. Volunteers will be working with our groups of rescued Sun bears and Moon bears. The centre currently has over 120 bears in 24 large outdoor enclosures covering about 8 hectares. The enclosures are very natural and have large rocky outcrops, native fauna, climbing frames and platforms, pools and other enrichment’s. It is a safe and happy home to bears that have been rescued from a range of different situations, including poachers, the black market, the bile farm industry and businesses using them for entertainment, trades which often leave behind very young orphaned cubs. Lunch will be arranged at Phnom Tamao. In the late afternoon, we will return to the hotel for refreshment before dinner at local restaurant.
Overnight in Phnom Penh
Distance and journey time: Phnom Penh – Tamao Mountain: 36km – 1 hour
An early start today as we head out for a full day of 'Keeper for A Day Program' at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre. A delicious picnic lunch will be served in a bamboo hut at the centre. Later this afternoon, saying goodbye to the staff and animals, wrap up the Phnom Tamao tour and drive onwards to the city. After a short relaxing break, enjoy dinner at The Pizza Company.
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Distance and Journey time: Phnom Penh – Tamao Mountain: 36km – 1 hour
Today we travel to Siem Reap by private coach giving us opportunities to stop and walk around local villages. We may be lucky enough to witness the setting of cricket traps in the rice fields. This is a favourite way for locals catch crickets for food - another local culinary delicacy. On the way, stop in the town of Skuon to see their most famous specialty being sold: deep-fried tarantula! A favourite snack of many Cambodians, many buses and pick-ups stop at the market to buy a bag of the ch’ngain (tasty) eight- legged creatures. The spiders are caught in the soft ground of the surrounding countryside and dug out of their burrows.
Upon arrival into Siem Reap, the group checks into the hotel and has some time to rest and relax. Tonight, enjoy a scenic dinner at Marum Restaurant, offering not only great food, but also building a new life for the disadvantaged youth in training there.
Following dinner we enjoy an incredible 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.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Distance and Journey time: Phnom Penh – Siem Reap: 314km – 5-6 hours
Today is a special day as we make our way out to the magnificent temples of Angkor! We will rise early to witness Angkor Wat at sunrise before returning to the hotel for breakfast. Following breakfast, we return to visit Angkor Wat. Built during the reign of King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century, Angkor Wat is constructed following the model of the temple mountain symbolizing Mount Meru, the home of the gods. Inside the temple, the walls are covered with stone carvings and bas-reliefs depicting Hindu mythology and the wars Suryavarman II fought during his reign. Angkor Wat is well known for the more than 2,000 Apsara dancers decorating the temple. Construction is thought to have taken around thirty years of intensive labor. Today, Angkor Wat is figured on Cambodia's national flag as the temple symbolizes the soul of the Khmer people. We then visit a local pagoda within Angkor Wat and participate in a course on Buddhism to understand more about the life of Buddha, history of Buddhism and the different styles of Buddhism in Southeast Asia. From here, visit Ta Prohm Temple, unlike most other Angkor temples, has been left just it was when rediscovered: a photogenic and atmospheric maze of trees growing out of temple ruins amidst jungle surroundings, making it one of Angkor’s most popular temples with visitors. Lunch will be arranged at Khmer Wooden House. This afternoon, find your way through the forest towards 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. Take some time in the shade of a sugar palm tree as you take in the expanse of the moat of Angkor Thom before you 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. Continue to Bayon Temple through meandering sandy trails that lead you through the dense jungle canopy. 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.
Dinner is taken at The Blossom Café, a popular restaurant providing a wide range of familiar American dishes & cocktails in a modern space.
Overnight in Siem Reap
Following breakfast, you’ll have a chance to learn some of the secrets of Cambodian cuisine at Kompheim Village Cooking Class (private lesson). There will be a demonstration to introduce you to some local ingredients and techniques and you’ll also have the chance to prepare your own dishes. There’s plenty of incentive to pay attention - afterwards, you get to dine on the results. This afternoon, we do a Tuk Tuk (3 people per tuk tuk) transfer to orientation around Siem Reap. We continue to explore the rural charms of the Cambodian countryside. A rich tapestry woven with lush scenery, colorful, bustling villages, stilted houses, hidden temples and dusty back roads hedged with sugar palms await you. You will pass through the Village of Chreav on route to the Tonlé Sap Lake. Down meandering trails with flashes of effervescent green and rich red earth abound from the fields; the fragrant smell of lotus blossom from Buddhist shrines excites your senses. You will head out to Chong Kneas “floating village”. Take a boat and cruise through this floating settlement seeing a floating school, farms, houses and many more curiosities. Greeted by waves of the friendly locals, here you can glimpse Cambodia’s lakeside culture and traditional family lifestyle. Tonight, enjoy a special farewell dinner at Por Cuisine. It is one of Siem Reap’s top fine dining establishments serving a delicious array of dishes on a truly unique atmosphere. It stands apart from the rest with its daily traditional Apsara dance performances from 19:30-20:30. After dinner, those who are interested can enjoy some shopping at a night market where you could purchase some gifts or souvenirs.
Overnight in Siem Reap
The morning may be spent browsing the colourful markets of Siem Reap. Transfer to Siem Reap International Airport for departing flight.
SQ5025 19APR SIEM REAP/SINGAPORE 1610/1915
SQ 221 19APR SINGAPORE/SYDNEY 2020/0555 (20APR)
(flight subject to change)
Early morning arrival into Sydney, where trip concludes.
Per Person, Twin Share