Exotic Voyages planned an eight day tour through Cambodia for us. We are an older couple with only one good knee and three good ankles between us, so backpacking and extensive hiking or climbing were out of the question. Mai Phuong found arrangements perfectly suited to us. Our itinerary included Phnom Penh, Battambang, and Siem Reap with travel by car and river boat with private guides and drivers.
We had a bad start out of JFK due to heavy fog out and limited radar due to damage by storm Sandy. This made us a half-day late getting into Phnom Penh, but our guide helped us to revise our itinerary to avoid spending time on changing departure reservations.
Highlights in Phnom Penh included Toul Sleng prison, the Silver Pagoda grounds, (the Royal Palace was closed due to an ASEAN meeting), the National Museum, and dinner with Apsara dancers. We rode to Battambang, stopping to see family silver smith and pottery businesses. We also toured a floating village at Kampong Luong in a small skiff boat. At Battambang, we climbed 360 steps to the Banon Temple, along with several others in and around Battambang.
We traveled from Battambang to Siem Reap via an eight hour trip down the Sangkae River and across the Tonle Sap Lake. This turned into a remarkable adventure on a 40 foot long river boat with just the two of us, our guide, and the two boat operators. The river provided magnificent views of birds, house boats, fishermen, broad marshes, boats with school children, and floating communities. Some of the river passages were so narrow that the tree branches whacked in through the open sides of the boat, but there was plenty of room for us to be safe toward the front of the boat.
In Siem Reap, we toured a foot market and attended cooking school. The temples were breathtaking: Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, and Angkor Wat.
The November weather was as expected, 85F and humid with brief rainfall each day. We had requested three-star hotels and restaurants serving Cambodian food. The Plantation Resort in Phnom Penh was intimate and lovely, especially the pool. The Battambang Resort had Danish modern rooms in two-unit cabins surrounding a tropical pond. In Siem Reap the hotel Prince d’Angkor is a lovely facility in the midst of the city. All three hotels were just the ticket for tired travelers. The restaurants were clean and the food excellent. There were beautiful Apsara dancers at two of the restaurants in Siem Reap.
Both guides had excellent command of English and were quite knowledgeable. They were very helpful at helping us maneuver over tricky footing and kept the pace at a level we could maintain.
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