Your trip begins today in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Arrive in Siem Reap and transfer to your hotel this morning. Siem Reap is the base for exploring the fabled temples of Angkor, the ancient capital of the powerful Khmer Empire. We’ll start our visit with the early-Angkor era temples of the Roluos Group, including Preah Ko (Sacred Ox), the completely restored Ba Kong and Lo Lei, all of which venerate the Hindu gods and date back to the 9th century. In the afternoon, we’ll tour the South Gate of Angkor Thom, as well as the enchanting and photogenic Bayon (1190) and the sculpted panel masterpieces of the Terrace of Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King. We return to our hotel after watching the sunset at Phnom Bakheng. Overnight in Siem Reap. All meals on your own today.
In the morning, we focus our attention on an extensive visit of the magnificent 12th-century Angkor Wat, which was built for King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century. The bas-relief temple symbolizes Mount Meru, considered the center of the universe and home of the Hindu gods. The best-preserved temple on this site, Angkor Wat is certain to take the breath away of even the most jaded traveler. In the afternoon, we continue our exploration with visits to Banteay Kdei, where Buddha images were recently found buried, the small twin temples of Chau Say Tevoda and Thommanon and the amazing Ta Prohm Temple or "old Brahma" temple that is squeezed by the roots of enormous trees and gigantic creepers. Overnight in Siem Reap. Breakfast included.
After breakfast, we visit the finely sculpted Banteay Srei, the “citadel of women”, built in 967 A.D. of red sandstone and referred to as the “jewel” of Khmer architecture. We’ll also see Banteay Samre, which is one of the most complete temples and has interior moats that are filled during the rainy season. After lunch, we’ll continue our tour of the “Big Circuit” temples, including Pre Rup, East Mebon, Preah Khan and Neak Pean, which has a shining pool and human and animal head water spouts. Overnight in Siem Reap. Breakfast included.
Depending on departure time, after breakfast we can return to the "Big Circuit" for additional exploration, visit the workshops of the Artisans d’Angkor to see wood and stone carving demonstrations and shop for souvenirs or take a boat trip on the Tonlé Sap lake (for those trips in July through February), the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and one of the world’s most productive inland fisheries, designated a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Later today, transfer back to the Siem Reap Airport for your flight home. Breakfast included.