B.C. Archaeology

Study Tours of the Ancient World

ANCIENT CAMBODIA:
LAND OF TEMPLES


Angkor at sunrise

'I made my way towards the old city where the Cambodian Kings once resided. I soon crossed the
ramparts which are still standing, and entered the enclosure through a fairly well-preserved
gateway. Approximately half a league from the outer wall I came across some vast ruins, which I
was told belonged to the royal palace ... Among the sculptures smothering the walls I saw elephants
fighting and men attacking one another with clubs and lances or drawing back their bows and
releasing three arrows at once. These were not the only ruins: there were ruins everywhere within
the old city. Everything I saw at Angkor proves to me unequivocally that Cambodia was once rich,
civilized and much more heavily populated than it now is; but all these riches have disappeared and
the civilization has died out. Within the walls of the old capital a dense forest now grows and giant
trees have taken root in the midst of ruined palaces. There are few things that can stir such
melancholy feelings as the sight of places that were once the scene of some glorious or pleasurable
event, but which are now deserted...'.

Charles-Emile Bouillevaux, Voyages dans l'Indo-Chine 1848-56, 1858

THE TOUR

This 3 week study tour explores the archaeology and history of Cambodia. We fly to Phnom Penh, where visit the National Museum. Constructed around a central courtyard, the museum contains a collection of Khmer art, notably sculpture from the Angkor period. We then visit the Psar Tuol Tom Pong, otherwise known as the Russian Market, the best place to buy artifacts and souvenirs. In the evening we take a sunset cruise on the Mekong.

The following day we visit the Royal Palace, the city's most impressive cultural site. We also see the Silver Pagoda, so named because of more than 5000 inlaid silver tiles used in its floor construction. We then browse through the Central Market. The remainder of the day is free time. It is possible to visit the nearby Wat Phnom, which has nice views down Phnom Penh's tree-lined avenues. In the morning our tour heads east to Kompong Cham, a peaceful provincial capital on the banks of the Mekong. We see Wat Nokor and proceed to Kompong Thom where we visit Santuk, a silk hand weaving enterprise.

Out tour then heads to Sambor Prei Kuk to see the most impressive Pre-Angkorean monuments in Cambodia. More than 100 small temples, some of the oldest structures in the country, are scattered through the forest. Sambor Prei Kuk was the capital of Chenla during the reign of the early 7th Century ruler King Isanavarman. We proceed to Siem Reap and check into our hotel.

The next few days are spent exploring the splendors of Angkor, one of the greatest sites in Southeast Asia. We begin at the fantastic South Gate of Angkor Thom and the Bayon Temple as well as the Terrace of Elephants and Terrace of the Leper King. The following day we make an extended visit to the magnificent 12th century Angkor Wat. Building around 1120 under King Suryavarman II, this awesome site is described as the world's largest temple. After lunch we see the massive Buddhist temple called Banteay Kdei and explore Ta Prohm Temple, which is still covered by the roots of enormous fig, kapok and banyan trees.

The following morning we travel by bus to the Dangrek Mountains on the Thai border to explore the breathtaking mountaintop temple called Preah Vihear. This temple has the most spectacular setting of all the temples built during the 600 year Khmer Empire. We stay overnight and then return to Siem Reap. En route we visit Banteay Srei, considered by many to be the architectural jewel of Angkor.

Our program then spends a day exploring the Roluos Group of temples, the earliest buildings at Angkor, before driving to Tonlé Sap for a lake cruise including a visit to the floating village at Kompong Pluk. The next morning is free to explore Siem Reap - options include galleries, museums and markets. After lunch, we drive to Battambang where we check into our hotel then visit some of the local sites including Wat Phiphetaram, the 1930s local market, French colonial shophouses, Wat Damrei Sar and examples of 1960s architecture.

The next day is spent around Battambang. We drive along the banks of the Sangkei River to Wat Ek Phnom, an 11th century temple. After lunch we visit Battambang Museum and explore some historic houses and wats. Our tour then departs Battambang and proceeds south to Kompong Chhnang, on the shores of Tonlé Sap. We explore the markets and docks, and see the old French quarter with pleasant parks and handsome buildings. After lunch we continue to Phnom Penh.

Leaving Phnom Penh we travel to the small town of Takeo. Here we board speedboats and travel along rice field canals to Phnom Da, a striking hill-top temple dating from the 8th Century. We return by speedboat to Takeo then drive on to Kampot, a charming riverside town on the banks of the Prek Thom River. Established by the French in the early 1900s, one side of the river contains tree-lined streets, French shopfronts and a sleepy atmosphere. We then proceed to Kep a colonial seaside retreat for the French with beautiful gardens and lush green landscape.

The following day we explore the caves and the limestone karst around Kampot and Kep. We stroll around Kampot taking in the riverside area, the former Governor's Residence, the French prison, local markets and attractive merchant houses. We then retrace our route back to Kep. The next day we drive back to Phnom Penh where there is some free time for last minute shopping. The following day we fly to Bangkok and then onward to Sydney.

The tour will be led by two experts in the history and archaeology of Cambodia. Daryl Collins MA has taught at the Department of Archaeology, Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh and has worked in the National Museum, Phnom Penh. Gill Green has been researching the Cambodian textile tradition for over fifteen years. Darryl and Gill are looking forward to sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm for the Khmer world.

Buddha statue at Angkor

ITINERARY*

Day 1: Fly to Phnom Penh
Our Thai Airways International flight departs Sydney mid-morning and arrives in Bangkok early in the afternoon. Here we board a Thai Airways International flight to Phnom Penh, which arrives in the mid-evening. We check into our hotel.

Day 2: Phnom Penh
In the morning we visit the National Museum which contains a wonderful collection of Khmer art, notably sculpture from the Angkor period. We then visit Psar Tuol Tom Pong, otherwise known as the Russian Market, probably the best market for artifacts and souvenirs. We conclude with a sunset cruise on the Mekong.

Day 3: Phnom Penh
Our day starts with a visit the Royal Palace, the city's most impressive cultural site. Built mainly by the French in 1866, it is a precinct of glittering spires, nagas, wats, and stupas. We explore the various components of this royal complex, and also the Silver Pagoda where magnificent and precious Buddha statues and artifacts abound. We then walk through the bustling Central Market. In the afternoon there is an optional visit to the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum or free time which could be used to explore Wat Phnom, the temple from which the city takes its name. Drinks this evening are at the riverfront Foreign Correspondents Club, located in a superb colonial building overlooking the Tonlé Sap.

Phnom Penh Royal Palace
Sambor Prei Kuk

Day 4: Phnom Penh - Kompong Cham - Kompong Thom
We head east by bus to Kompong Cham, a peaceful provincial capital on the banks of the Mekong. Beautiful buildings are a reminder of Kompong Cham's importance as a trading post during the French period. We visit Wat Nokor then proceed to Kompong Thom, roughly the halfway point between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Here we visit Santuk, a silk hand weaving enterprise.

Day 5: Kompong Thom - Siem Reap
In the morning we visit Sambor Prei Kuk which has the most impressive Pre-Angkorean monuments in Cambodia. More than 100 small temples, some of the oldest structures in the country, are scattered through the forest. Originally known as Isanapura, Sambor Prei Kuk was the capital of Chenla during the reign of the early 7th Century King Isanavarman and continued to be an important learning centre during the Angkorean era. We proceed to Siem Reap and check into our Hotel, which will be our base for three nights.

Day 6: Angkor - Angkor Thom - Bayon
We explore part of the complex of Angkor which covers a vast area near Siem Reap. This Cambodian Capital was at its height in the 12th Century and includes some of the most spectacular structure in SE Asia. We see the fantastic South Gate of Angkor Thom and the remarkable Bayon along with the Terrace of Elephants and Terrace of the Leper King.

Angkor Wat
Gate at Angkor

Day 7: Angkor Wat - Bateay Kdei - Ta Prohm
This morning we make an extended visit to the magnificent 12th Century ruins of Angkor Wat. Building began around 1120 under King Suryavarman II and was completed some 30 years later. Occupying an entire square km, Angkor Wat is the best preserved of all Angkorian temples. After lunch we explore the massive Buddhist temple called Banteay Kdei. We conclude our visit with the well-known Ta Prohm, left unrestored by French archaeologists and embraced by the roots of enormous fig, kapok and banyan trees and gigantic creepers.

Day 8: Siem Reap - Preah Vihear
We travel north to the Dangrek Mountains on the Thai border to visit the breathtaking mountaintop temple known as Preah Vihear. With stunning views, Prasat Preah Vihear has the most spectacular setting of all the temples built during the 600 year Khmer Empire. Previously remote and off-limits, new roads have now facilitated access to this important Khmer cultural icon.

Banteay Srei
Preah Vihear

Day 9: Preah Vihear - Banteay Srei - Sieam Reap
We return from Preah Vihear to Siem Reap. En route we visit Banteay Srei, considered by many to be the architectural jewel of Angkor with its intricate interior apsara carvings which are beautifully carved from pink sandstone.

Day 10: Siem Reap - Tonle Sap Lake
After breakfast we explore the Roluos Group of temples, the earliest complex at Angkor, and dating to the 9th Century. In the afternoon we drive to Tonlé Sap Lake. Here we take a cruise which includes a visit to the floating village at Kompong Pluk.

Day 11: Siem Reap - free time - Battambang
The morning is free time for independent exploration of Siem Reap. Options include galleries, museums and markets. After lunch, we drive to Battambang where we check into our hotel, our base for the next two nights. We explore this elegant riverside town, visiting the temple of Wat Phiphetaram, the 1930s local market, French colonial shophouses, and Wat Damrei Sar and see examples of 1960s architecture.

Angkor
Wat Ek Phnom

Day 12: Battambang - Wat Ek Phnom - Battambang Museum
Today we explore in and around Battambang. We take a drive along the banks of the Sangkei River to visit Wat Ek Phnom, Suryavarman's 11th Century temple situated north of Battambang. After lunch we visit Battambang Museum and explore some historic houses and wats.

Day 13: Battambang - Kompong Chhnang - Phnom Penh
In the morning we depart Battambang and proceed south to the sprawling town of Kompong Chhnang, on the shores of Tonlé Sap. Noted for its ceramics, the city has colonial charm which is apparent in the the waterfront with its market activity and bustling docks and the old French quarter with pleasant parks and handsome buildings.

Day 14: Phnom Penh - Takeo - Kampot - Kep
After breakfast we leave Phnom Penh and travel to the small town of Takeo. We board speedboats and travel along canals to the base of Phnom Da, a striking hill-top laterite temple dating from the 8th Century. We return by speedboat to Takeo then drive on to Kampot, a charming riverside town on the banks of the Prek Thom River. Established by the French in the early 1900s, one side of the river contains tree-lined streets, French shopfronts and a sleepy atmosphere. We proceed to Kep a colonial seaside retreat for the French.

Day 15: Kep
After breakfast we explore the caves and the limestone karst scenery around Kampot and Kep. We stroll around Kampot taking in the riverside area, the former Governor’s Residence, the French prison, local markets and attractive merchant houses. We then return to Kep.

Day 16: Kep - Phnom Penh - free time
After breakfast we drive back to Phnom Penh and check into our hotel. The remainder of day is free to explore the many sights of the capital and do last minute shopping.

Day 17: Depart Phnom Penh
We transfer to Phnom Penh airport for our Thai Airways morning flight to Bangkok. Our connecting flight to Sydney departs early evening.

Day 18: Arrive Sydney
We arrive in Sydney in the early afternoon.

* Please note that the Company reserves the right to make alterations to the itinerary in the period up to 60 days prior to a tour departure. The itinerary may also be subject to minor re-arrangement due to the scheduling of the operators and availability of access. If this occurs, the Company will endeavour to provide a comparable alternative.

FOR DATES AND PRICES OF THIS TOUR PLEASE CLICK HERE

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