Sabbatical & Experiential Travel to Cambodia
Holidays & Sabbaticals to Cambodia – In a Nutshell
Cambodia is a country full of optimism. Tourist numbers are growing but travel here is still a fascinating adventure. The incomparable Angkor Wat is the star attraction, a sprawling UNESCO site of 12th century temple complexes, which date back to the Khmer Empire. You’ll always remember sunrise (or sunset) here, and marvelling at Ta Prohm, engulfed by giant trees, as well as the sheer scale of the serene Bayon faces. But Cambodia is also becoming known for its idyllic – and often empty – beaches and the flooded forests and floating villages of Tonle Sap Lake. Phnom Penh is a huge draw too, with its Art-Deco market, glittering royal palace and excellent though harrowing Khmer Rouge museums. Authentic traditional life is all around, and 85% of the landscapes are rural – beautifully lush in the rainy season. This is a country for slow travel; the more you immerse yourself in the culture and beauty of this extraordinary place, the more rewarding your trip will be.
How to Get to Cambodia
You can travel overland from neighbouring countries Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
If you’re flying in, you’ll likely fly to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap or Sihanoukville. There are no direct flights from Europe or the US, so you’ll need to make at least one change. A typical total flight time from the UK is 13-15 hours.
Once here, you can hop around by plane, private transfers or take luxury coaches between the main tourist hubs.
Boats run between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, up and down the Mekong, and between Sihanoukville and Koh Rang.
When & Weather – Cambodia
Cambodia’s climate is tropical, hot all year round with 2 distinct seasons: dry (October to April) and wet (May to September). Tourist numbers peak in March and April, but Angkor Wat is spectacular in the rainy season, with its moats full of water and far fewer tourists. It’s also a perfect time to visit Tonle Sap Lake.
Temperatures range between 21°C (31°F) and 25°C (34°F).
Who will Cambodia Appeal To?
Culture lovers, who will be mesmerised by the grand Khmer Kingdom, Tonle Sap’s floating villages and the country’s tragic history. In particular, it’s suited to:
- Culture lovers
- Active travellers
- Keen photographers
- Solo travellers
- History buffs
We can arrange stays in 5-star luxury hotels, tranquil rural lodges, boutique guesthouses, independent beach retreats and friendly small family-owned properties.
Off The Beaten Path
- Enter Angkor Wat through the back gate and explore the lesser-visited temples. Or float above the complex on a hot-air balloon.Head to remote Koh Ker, 120km from Siem Reap, and visit Prasat Thom, an ancient royal temple with a remarkable pyramid structure
- Koh Dach is an island of traditional villages in the Mekong River. Hire a bike to weave along the rural tracks, past paddy fields, silk-weaving workshops and waving children
- Laze on white-sand beaches and snorkel over colourful coral reefs in the azure waters surrounding the Koh Rong archipelago
- Take a guided trek through tropical jungle in the Cardamom Mountains and sleep in hammocks
- Swim in the natural pools of Phnom Kulen National Park and visit its hidden ancient sites, which include a giant Buddha
- Ride the nori bamboo train through the rural landscapes around Battambang
- The Hindu temple of Preah Vihear stands on a 500m cliff in the Dângrêk Mountains of northern Cambodia. Known as the temple of conflict, it’s been bitterly fought over by Cambodia and Thailand, who’ve both claimed it’s part of their country
- Have a ‘seeing hands massage’ by a blind masseuse in Siem Reap
- See critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins near Kratie in the Laos border area. It is estimated there are only 75-85 of these remaining in the world
- Wild elephants can be seen in Mondulkiri, one of Southeast Asia’s last remaining elephant corridors. Silver langur monkeys and a small population of giant ibis live here too
- Koh Rong’s mangrove forests provide shelter for kingfishers and hornbills
- Clouded leopards and Indochinese tigers hide in the dry forests of the Eastern Plains Landscape in the Mondulkiri Province, a WWF protected area
- Sadly, there’s a big trade in illegal pet trade and hunting for use in traditional medicines; the Phnom Tamao Rescue Centre is a good place to safely see honey bears (sun bears), sunda pangolin and yellow-cheeked crested gibbons
- Spot pygmy slow loris in the treetops along the Mekong River
- The 6ft-long Cantor softshell turtle is endemic to Cambodia, found in the Mekong near Kratie
Cambodia Experiences you shouldn’t miss:
- Seeing the sunrise or sunset over the 12th Century temples of Angkor Wat
- Visiting the floating villages of Tonle Sap Lake
- Eating exotic street food – spiced frog or deep-fried tarantula, anyone?
- Shopping for traditional Khmer handicrafts at Siem Reap markets
- Watching a mass exodus of bats leave the Battambang caves at sunset
- Paying your respects at the Killing Fields and S-21 prison, harrowing but important reminders of the Khmer Rouge regime
- Watching an apsara performance – Cambodian classical ballet
- Relaxing on golden beaches around Kep and Kampot in the south of the country
- Learning to cook fish amok at a cookery class
- Picnicking on the lawns of the glittering Royal Palace
Cambodia remains one of the most heavily mined countries in the world following decade of brutal conflict. The Cambodia Landmine Museum and Relief Centre exist to educate people about the danger of landmines. There is still a lot of work to be done to clear the mines as well as to educate people about the ongoing dangers that exist and support those who have been injured. The Landmine Relief Fund exists to support all projects related to the clearance and education around landmines and donations can be made on the website.
The Phnom Tamao Rescue Centre is home to over 1,200 rescued animals in a 6,000 acre area of regenerating forest outside Phnom Penh. The organisation works in partnership with the Wildlife Alliance to care for endangered or vulnerable species. A ‘behind the scenes’ visit to the centre helps to contribute to the funding for the ongoing care of the animals.
Our experienced team will guide you through a number of ideas based on how you would like to experience Cambodia.
Consider visiting Cambodia in combination with neighbouring countries Thailand, Laos and Vietnam as part of a wider South-East Asian itinerary.
Browse our gallery for inspiration and read the sample itinerary below to whet your appetite. This one showcases adventure through Cambodia covering highlights and off-the-beaten-path regions.
No matter how long you wish to travel, we’ll guide you through the planning process to ensure a trip is carefully pieced together to suit your interests, pace of travel and budget.
Contact us to start planning a holiday or sabbatical to Cambodia.