The Meanders Of The Mekong

This journey follows life on the exotic Mekong River as it meanders its way through Cambodia, a true feast for the senses

This journey takes in Cambodia’s highlights whilst really getting off the beaten path to create an unforgettable adventure following in the footsteps of those late, great explorers who first visited the region and explored the Mekong River to its fullest. You will witness how the river ebbs and flows change as you trace its path down stream. Get under the skin of a part of Cambodia often overlooked on conventional trips. Finish your journey close to the Vietnamese border and discover Cambodia’s Gold, before taking in some fresh tropical sea air.

Irrawaddy mekong Dolphins swimming in the mekong river at Kampi in cambodia, you can see the arch of their backs. Photo by Matt Walker


Upon arrival at Siem Reap Airport you will be met by our representative at your arrival gate and whisked through customs. Your expert guide will be awaiting you outside, ready to take you on your adventure off the beaten path across Cambodia.


To take full advantage of the real Cambodian food scene in Siem Reap, a curious mind, the knowledge of a local (and an empty stomach!) are all key. Your expert Vespa driver will pick you up from your hotel and take you to your first stop for a welcome drink and snacks. From here you’ll journey away from the main tourist area to get a feel for the real Khmer night scene. Whether you are a meat eater or a vegetarian, you are wowed by how the abundant fresh spices and herbs light up the flavours of striking Cambodian dishes, as you make a variety of appetising stops around the town. 

Accommodation – FCC Angkor by Avani


This morning, depart early with your guide to the majestic west gate of Angkor Wat for sunrise. Angkor Wat (early 12th century) which is surrounded by a 190 metre wide moat 1.5 kilometres by 1.3 kilometres and is claimed to be the largest religious building in the world and is certainly one of the wonders of the ancient world. You will be amazed by the sheer size of the temple, which took 30 years to construct & used the labour of up to 300,000 workers. Angkor Wat was built as the earthly representation of the universe with its’ central tower symbolising Mt Meru which, Hindus believe, is at the centre of the Universe.

As crowds gather, your guide will lead you to the less visited temples of nearby Srah Srang and Ta Prohm. Ta Prohm is one of Angkor’s jewels and is overgrown with fig trees, giving a haunting yet exotic atmosphere. The magnificent roots of the trees have merged over the centuries with the temple’s huge stone blocks, emphasizing a ‘Tomb Raider’ feeling.

This Afternoon, head out by Tuk Tuk to visit the Royal city and former capital of the Khmer Empire; Angkor Thom which consists of several temples. Enter the city through the impressive South Gate and drive towards the Bayon temple. At first glance the temple may seem like a shapeless mass of stone, but further scrutiny reveals enigmatic faces looking into every direction. Continue your exploration with a visit to the Terrace of the Elephants, which served as a platform from where the King viewed the victorious return of his army.

After, visit the Terrace of the Leper King with detailed carvings winding along a narrow passageway that leads to the Baphuon. Slow down the pace mid afternoon and enter a cool Wat to receive a traditional Monk blessing. Later, visit the picturesque Preah Palilay and Pimeanakas.

End the day with an optional visit to see sunset at a special place suggested by your guide

Accommodation – FCC Angkor by Avani


We depart early this morning on our journey north to the Laos border. Along the way we will make a quick visit to the remote pyramid-like temple of Koh ker. Located 130 kilometres from Siem Reap, Koh Ker was built in the 10th century and functioned briefly as the Khmer Empire’s capital between 928 and 944 A.D. The style of the Koh Ker temple is different from any other temple in Cambodia and has more of a resemblance to the ancient pyramids of Egypt. Partially overgrown by the forest and inhabited only by birds, this temple and its surroundings are an exceptional experience.

Continue on to the magical Preah Vihear Temple,a world away from the crowded temples of Angkor but now within easy reach on good roads. Your drive will take you over the northern plains to a military base on the Thai / Cambodian border, made famous due to heavy fighting as recently as 2011. 

After arriving you will be driven by pick up along the steep and winding road to Preah Vihear Temple in the back of a pick up truck. The temple sits atop the Dangrek Mountains in a stunning location with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. Spend time exploring the temple with your guide and learn the fascinating details surrounding this ‘temple in the clouds’ before continuing to Sraáem Town and your accommodation for the night.

Accommodation – FCC Angkor by Avani


We continue our journey this morning along the remote border road passing rural towns and villages before arriving later in the morning at the remote border village of Preah Romkel, nestled on the banks of the Mekong River. The village is beginning to emerge as a hotbed of Ecotourism with a focus on the protection of the Irrawaddy Dolphin. This stunning location, right by the largest waterfalls on the lower Mekong River will be sure to leave a lasting impression. 

This afternoon you will board a local longtail boat that will take you out onto the river and through the rapids, riffles and swirling pools below the falls to spot the endangered Irrawaddy Dolphins, as they live and hunt in the numerous pools in this area. Take in the magical landscape of jutting rocks and sunken forests with tree roots seeming clinging onto nothing and bent over double due to the water flow in monsoon season. You will reach a viewpoint right on the border of Laos and perhaps your driver will even take you to a viewpoint on the famous 4000 island in Laos.

Later, return back down stream to your overnight camp on an uninhabited island in the middle of the Mekong River. Settle in for the evening in your basic tented accommodation while our team rustles up a delightful evening meal. Take a refreshing dip in the river or sit back with a cold one while the sun descends.

Accommodation – Tented camp on Koh Loan Island in Mekong River


After breakfast, hop on your longtail boat navigating around the scattered islands following the flow of the muddy waters bringing essential nutrients into the Cambodian floodplains. After a while we reach O’Svay Village, characterised by its rich biodiversity starting from mangrove forests, Mekong Islands and river beaches to a variety of different bird species such as the Black Cormorant. Much of this region is Ramsa protected due to its significance to birdlife and is therefore a bird lover’s paradise

This afternoon under the guidance of your local guide you will get to experience the serenity of Kayaking through sunken forests and mangroves spotting wildlife as you go. You may even get to spot some more dolphins. Later if time permits take a hike through the community forest and witness local life along the banks of the river

Later we will make the short journey to Steung Treng and to our stay on the banks of the Mekong River Tonight.

Accommodation – Steung Treng Resort


This morning depart Steung Treng after passing by Cambodia’s most famous singer, Sin Sisamouth’s, former Home and learn more about his life through your guide. Transfer to Kratie by tracing the banks of the mighty Mekong River passing tranquil villages and peaceful pagodas.  We will arrive at Kampi town in the mid morning where your guide will arrange a private boat, and you will make the short boat ride out to the vast waters where you can watch the Irrawaddy Dolphins play and jump. There are thought to be around 60 dolphins located in this area, and your guide will be sure to find you the best spot. A majestically quiet stretch of water, you may also glimpse rare birds and see the locals casting their fishing nets. You will see villagers playing on the local football pitch, or selling their wares at the conveniently located market. You will be able to make a stop to view the goods and your guide will assist in the negation of a souvenir purchase!

After disembarking, you will then journey around the small riverside town of Kratie, a former colonial town, established as a trading post of the French, however the town’s history is long and is thought to have been one of the most populated areas in pre-Angkorian Cambodia. Kratie has almost a seaside feel, with its long French style promenade and colonial buildings. You will walk through the local market and small bar/ pub street area having lunch at leisure.

Almost totally removed from time and modernity, Koh Trong Island is a haven of peace & times gone by. Without roads, cars or modern facilities the locals live a simple yet full life, within the of this island. Its long stretching waters, almost peninsula-like, sit between the Mekong and create a truly tranquil feeling. 

Boarding a Tuk Tuk, the only one of its kind, we will make the exciting journey to Rajabori Villas, a lodge hidden from view nestled into the countryside and created from historical Khmer houses.  Passing by locals, friendly and waving, we will see everyday life from the local shop in a wooden house, to the small school & village hall and past the many Pomelo trees which this island is famous for. 


Take a Horse and Cart or cycle ride around the Island from Rajabori Villas to visit the Pagoda and it’s interesting statues. See real local life and enjoy the dual aspect view of the Mekong.  This island is very easy and safe to navigate alone or with your guide/ horse and cart driver. Sample local snacks at leisure, in the little wooden house shops dotted along the paths.

Overnight on this beautiful tranquil Island and enjoy an early evening dip in the pool.

Accommodation – Rajaburi Villas


Continue on your journey along the Mekong this morning after taking a local boat back across the river to Kratie town. After a short distance we will come to Chhlong, a small market town on the banks of the Mekong River. The town was originally established as a trading post for boats and travellers journeying up the Mekong and into Laos. The town has a quaint tumbledown feel and we can spend a little time exploring the old market area and enjoy a cold coconut with a view. 

We continue southwards to the sizable market town of Kampong Cham, meaning ‘Port of the Chams’. Cham are an ethnic people who have historically inhabited the area for centuries and are largely muslim in their beliefs. We will arrive in time for lunch at a local restaurant in town. 

After lunch we will continue to the Island of Koh Pen which is accessed by the longest bamboo bridge in the world that is replaced annually when the Mekong is flushed by the Himalayan ice melts. We can spend some time looking around this pristine island and its pretty village, stopping for a refreshing snack along the way on the Islands beach. After the island we will make a brief visit to the French built watchtower and find out a little more about its history. Then we head out of town for a late afternoon visit to Wat Hanchey, a modern pagoda built on the site of an Angkorian temple.  We will then check in to our eco-friendly bamboo accommodation for the evening, affording fantastic views of the Mekong River as the sun descends.

Accommodation – Hanchey Bamboo Resort


As we leave Kampong Cham we will make a brief stop at Phnom Bros and Phnom Srei Pagodas to take in the views and be greeted by some mischievous monkeys. If time allows we will take a quick stop in Skun, if you are brave enough, to try their fabled fried spiders that hail from the town.

After your transfer this morning we stop to visit the rural silk island in the Mekong River a short distance from the chaos of the big city, enjoy a leisurely cycle around the island to visit some of its hidden spots. Learn the age old silk making process and visit a rural working pagoda and experience what life is like as a monk. Take part in a cooking class in a local home on the island.

Take a journey of discovery to Cambodia’s traditional silk weaving island in the middle of the Mekong River where the production of fine silks has been going on for generations. Here you will have the opportunity to learn all stages of the process and the chance to obtain some fine silk for yourself. 

We continue around the island on bicycles or a local tuk tuk. On the way visit a large working pagoda set within the grounds of the village school. Meet the local school children and we make a donation and through your local guide learn more about the day in the life of a monk.

After visiting a range of local discoveries arrive at a local home where you partake in a cooking school with the local homeowner before settling down to enjoy a feast. Finally take the local ferry back to the mainland and onward to your hotel in Cambodia’s bustling city of Phnom Penh. Once termed the ‘Pearl of Southeast Asia’, the city has been through a lot and is now emerging as a modern vibrant city, with plenty of eateries and great bars.


This evening, eat through the different eras of Cambodian cuisine and experience the culinary renaissance by tuk tuk. Understand how Khmer food is shaped by its history and learn about the people that make them. Lots of authentic dishes included and plenty of local beer too. A truly memorable way to spend an evening in Phnom Penh.

Accommodation – Palace Gate Hotel


Your full day tour today is designed to give you an insight into the horrors of Cambodia’s past, but also a sense of the optimism of its people. Starting early, you’ll begin with the emotive settings of the detention centre S21 at Tuol Sleng and the ‘Killing Field’ of Choeung Ek. Please be aware that the exhibits are, by their very nature, both graphic and disturbing, highlighting the atrocities committed against an entire population during one of the most terrifying periods in Cambodia’s history.

Heading back into the city, immerse yourself in the colour and chaos of the bustling Russian Market before a lunch of Khmer fusion tapas at an NGO-run restaurant and training school for street kids. After lunch, visit the art galleries along National Museum Road and take a short stroll to the Royal Palace (best visited in the afternoon when it is less busy and the light is better for photographs). Visit the iconic National Museum and be guided through its fascinating range of artifacts. 

Conclude with a cocktail or two at one of our favourite locations and reflect on the sights, sounds and historical insight of today’s tour, before returning to your hotel.

Accommodation – Palace Gate Hotel


Today we transfer from Cambodia’s capital of Phnom Penh and continue our journey south towards the coast. Along the way we will take the opportunity to visit some sights along the way. After a 1 hour drive, we reach Tonle Bati, a small lake popular on a weekend with locals enjoying a picnic. Tonle Bati is famous for its well preserved, 12th century Angkor era temple Ta Prohm, built by King Jayavarman VII. Visit the temple and walk through its chambers and walkways. Notice the flowers and small shrines around every corner. Take part in a blessing from a monk and make a small donation to light an incense stick. 

Continue for 20 minutes to Phnom Chisor. Climb the 461 steps to the top of the hill for beautiful panoramic views and explore the 11th century hilltop temple built of laterite blocks and bricks by King Suryavarman I. After the visit we return to the bottom of the mountain and enjoy a picnic before the final part of our journey to Kampot, Idyliccaly set alongside the Preaek Tuek Chhu River with the towering Bokor Mountain as its backdrop.

This evening your guide will pick you up and take you to board a beautiful sunset cruise down the Kampot River. Your boat will meander its way along the tranquil river taking you back to a time forgotten while you sip on a cold drink as the sun descends.

Accommodation – Rikitikitavi


Situated along the coast line between Sihanoukville and Kep, journey 50 km to the top of one of the highest mountains in Cambodia, Bokor. Meaning the “Back of the Ox,” this beautiful landscape is home to a former French colonial resort, where decadence prevailed in its heyday of the 1920s. Most famous for the now restored art deco casino at the top of the mountain, there is also a French colonial church, old buildings where the former king would spend his summers, and views of the magnificent coastlines and islands. There are stories of wild animals on the mountain, including lions, elephants, tigers, and bears, but if you actually see them, please let us know.

Your guide will take you on a short trek on the mountain to help you find these hard to reach buildings. Additionally, at the top is a grand hotel & casino that you can visit to try your luck at roulette, black jack, or the slot machines. Visit small waterfalls, see the French colonial style and enjoy the panoramic view from Bokor. Enjoy lunch within the hotel (your own account), or find local street vendors at the top of the mountain.

This afternoon embark on a tour of the local countryside and head out to Phnom Kampong Trach to take in the fantastic views and swim in the cool natural mountain pool before heading to your hotel in the seaside town of Kep to check in and relax.

Accommodation – Samanea Beach Resort


This experience will give you great insight into the production and harvesting of two of Cambodia’s greatest exports. Referred to locally as “Cambodian Gold”, Whether up in the lush green mountain ranges, or down at the ocean’s edge, these local delicacies have become world famous. Visiting the salt fields, you will take in the vastness of the marsh land, as it meets the sea where you will experience the life of a salt field worker as they comb the land to create the delicate crystals. An immersive rural and local experience, learn as the workers proudly show you their trade. As far as the eye can see, there are perfectly created mounds of fresh sea salt being gathered up and prepared for processing.

As you explore the land and the water of the salt fields, you will gain understanding about the work that goes into creating something we daily take for granted. Then, we have a change of scenery as we venture to the pepper plantations, set high up on the hillside with a beautiful view over the coastline. It is a world away from the salt plantation. Resembling wineries, fresh peppercorn is grown in rows, the distinct smell almost tingling your taste buds. Walk and talk with the local growers who will educate you on the cultivation and harvesting of this precious commodity, that is Cambodian Kampot Pepper. Learn about the historical evolution of the pepper industry, as you relax in the countryside and take in the magnificent views.

Accommodation – Samanea Beach Resort


Catch a glimpse of Kep’s former glory with its faded French villas and captivating coastline. In the company of a local guide, you’ll tour the streets by tuk tuk, visiting landmarks such as the ‘Siren of the Sea’ and the famous crab market. Stop for a snack and admire the beautiful sea views before taking in some of the characteristic features of this once booming resort town, a small fishing village and other hidden local points of interest.

Accommodation – Samanea Beach Resort


This morning we say goodbye to Kep and our Mekong exploration. You will be transported back to Phnom Penh for your onward flight or to your hotel.


14 days


Siem Reap

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Visit some of the hidden secrets of Phnom Penh
Trace the Mekong River through small rural villages
Stay on a deserted Island in the Mekong River
Witness some of Cambodia's famous 'Big 5'bird species
Explore the temples of Angkor

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