The Best Luxury Tours of Cambodia 2021
Although present day Cambodians appear to live in a quiet agrarian society, their ancestors were some of the most powerful and advanced people of their time. This land was home to the prolific and highly influential Khmer civilization, and the archaeological treasures they left behind are vast.
Spread across the entire country is the well preserved infrastructure of these ancient builders; roads, temples, bridges, and dams are all clear evidence of a highly developed civilization.
The pinnacle of these achievements can be found in the vast ancient city of Angkor Thom near modern day Siem Reap. The most famous of these is the iconic temple complex of Angkor Wat. The scale of the temples and monuments is simply staggering, as in its day, Angkor Thom was twice the size of Manhattan. The ruins here, just like many of other ancient achievements found in Cambodia, are unrivalled in Southeast Asia.
The simple, warm and friendly people, and the incredibly lush and beautiful tropical landscape, both add to the allure of Cambodia. Guests selecting our Luxury Level of hotels can also ask a dedicated U.S. based Cambodia expert to design a tour to their preferences. + Read More
The passion and knowledge of our staff and the extreme attention to detail that we put into every aspect of your Cambodia tour is what separates us from the rest. We only offer mid-level to ultra-luxury travel, and so we never compromise on our level of service so as to compete with budget Cambodia travel agents that focus solely on price. Over a third of our guests are repeat customers and referrals because they recognize that we have the best values for the level of travel and service we provide.
Our interactive tour design tools allow you to quickly customize an itinerary for your dream vacation in Cambodia, or you can consult with one of our Cambodia Travel specialists, who can share their experiences and make travel recommendations for a customized itinerary. + Read More
Our Favorites in Cambodia
The namesake of the Angkor Archeological Park, Angkor Wat is often cited as the largest religious monument on the planet. Built in the 12th century, the sprawling complex was created as a reflection of Hindu cosmology. Intricate carvings from the Reamker - the Khmer interpretation of Hindu mythology - dance along the interior walls of the complex.
Unlike most of the Ankor Park, Ta Phrom has seen little excavation or restoration over the last century. Large trees have grown through the temple's galleries over the centuries giving the entire complex an otherworldly feel.
Phnom Bakheng overlooks Angkor Wat from a high hill. Predating the ruins of Angkor Wat by three centuries, Phnom Bakheng is considered to be a representation of Mount Meru, the abode of Hindu gods. The hilltop location makes it the most popular sunset location in the area, offering a view of the Tonle Sap Lake and a distant view of Angkor Wat in the Jungle.
Slow cruising along the Mekong River that bisects Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh, is a relaxing way to see the city. French-colonial built Phnom Penh was considered one of Southeast Asia's loveliest cities during the 19th century, and today its as charming as ever.
The year-round warm weather in Cambodia makes it an inviting destination regardless of the season. The season between November and May sees the least rainfall, and coincides with Cambodia's busiest tourist season. June through October the country sees more rainfall, but it is during this time of the year that Cambodia's jungles and forests are lush.
Best Things to See in Cambodia
A rich cultural destination full of the trappings of ancient civilizations, Cambodia is best known for its ancient Hindu-influenced temples and pristine natural environments. The following sights are a first-taste of this ancient civilization's mystique.
Covering more than 100-square-miles, the Angkor Archeological Park is one of best known UNESCO World Heritage sites in Southeast Asia. The center of the Khmer civilization for centuries, the massive temples and ruins of ancient cities found throughout the jungle near Siem Reap are the country's most visited attractions. Sights within the park include Angkor Wat, Angkor Tom, Ta Phrom and Phnom Bakheng.
One of the most important waterways in the country, Tonle Sap Lake features a number of traditional stilt-houses ringing the typically calm waters. Due to a geographical quark, the lake's flow changes direction twice a year with monsoon rains.
Siem Reap has a bevy of modern and traditional markets strewn throughout the city. Of the seemingly uncountable shopping destinations, the Old Market - a rambling collection of clothes, antiques, fresh fruits, local food stalls, and silks - is the most popular. The city's Night Market, one of the longest running in Cambodia, starts at 4 p.m. most days, and is perfect for bargain hunters looking to beat the higher daytime temperatures.
The last capital of the Khmer empire, Angkor Tom is one of the world's most impressive archeological discoveries. This sprawling city was the center of Khmer power until the 16th century. The faces that adorn the city's walls are of King Jayavarman VII, the Angkor Tom's founder.
Cambodia's Best Hotels
The bucolic lifestyle, remnants of ancient civilizations, verdant nature, diverse wildlife, and French-influenced cuisine found in Cambodia make it one of the most relaxing destinations in Southeast Asia. With a growing selection of luxury hotels and properties, Cambodia has become one of the top + Read More
Cambodia Travel Tips
Many of the ancient Buddhist traditions that have shaped Cambodian culture are still alive and well today. This short list of travel tips for traveling in Cambodia will help make your time in country that much more memorable.
1. Head and Feet: In many Buddhist traditions throughout Southeast Asia the head is seen as the highest and most sacred point of the body and soul, and the feet represent the lowest and least pure area. Though the exact customs vary between Southeast Asian destinations, its best to refrain from touching anyone or anything with your feet while traveling in the region. You should also refrain from touching the heads of people or statues of the Buddha.
2. Voice and Veneer: A resilient people known for putting their best foot forward at all times, the Khmer take great care to appear calm and collected whenever they are in public. Mimicking the calm demeanor of these friendly people will go a long way towards making your Cambodia experiences that much more memorable.
1. Buddha: Images of the Buddha are sacred in Cambodia. Travelers should not touch or climb any images of the Buddha while traveling in Cambodia.
2. Monks: The orange-clad Buddhist monks of Cambodia occupy a highly venerated position in society. Local customs dictate that these monks are given the utmost respect. Refrain from shaking hands with monks or attempting to give gifts directly to them.
1. Beachwear: Though less conservative than some neighboring countries, the culture of Cambodia is still very modest. It is common to see Cambodians swim in blue jeans and a t-shirt, forgoing typical western beachwear all together. While swimwear is fine at the pool or the beach, it's best to bring a set of modest clothes along to wear before and after swimming or sunbathing.
2. Temples: Though dress codes are rarely enforced at Buddhist temples in Cambodia, it's best to be over dressed than potentially offend the devout with inappropriate clothing.
3. Shoes: Please remove your shoes before entering homes, offices, or temples in Cambodia. Your guide will help you remember where you should and should not wear shoes.
1. The Riel is the official currency in Cambodia. Riel banknotes are available in denominations of 50, 100, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, and 100,000 notes.
2. U.S. Dollars are widely accepted, but we recommend only dealing in local currencies to ensure a better exchange rate. While many vendors will take U.S. dollars, your change will usually be in the local currency at a poor exchange rate.
3. Credit cards are accepted in some high-end establishments, particularly those that cater to travelers, but it is best to handle as many transactions in the local currency as possible.
4. ATMs can be found in the cities such as Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, but are less common outside these locations.
5. Though currency exchange rates fluctuate daily, you can typically assume 1 U.S. Dollar is equivalent to roughly 4,000 Cambodian Riel.
Transportation in Cambodia
Though it is undoubtedly possible to travel cheaply in Cambodia, the discerning guests that select us as their travel facilitator are more concerned with timely arrivals, departures, and hassle free transit and accommodations. Rather than find the find the cheapest solution to route you between destinations, we search for the most effective, time-efficient method of travel so you can spend your vacation enjoying yourself, not traveling between locations.
With an ever growing number of affordable and reliable air routes, traveling across Cambodia has become much easier in recent years. Whenever possible, we recommended booking a flight for any destination that would require more than four hours in a private vehicle.
Guests are transported in luxury vehicles for all airport transfers, sightseeing opportunities, and drives between destinations. Single travelers and couples are chauffeured in sedans, while large parties and families travel together in a luxury coach.
Cambodia Travel FAQ
We usually recommend our guests use air-travel for any destination that would take more than a few hours to reach overland. An ever growing number of reliable and safe international and regional flights mean we can route you throughout Southeast Asia in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
That being said, Cambodia's countryside is verdant tapestry of rice fields, rolling hills, and beautiful rivers. Given the time, and the right disposition, land travel is a wonderful way to see a side of the country that most travelers fly past.
Rules for baggage size and checking can and often do vary considerably between domestic and international airlines. Our travel specialists can help confirm baggage polices of varying airlines while your tour is being arranged.
We do not recommend that our guests eat street food in any country, but many of our guests choose to selectively indulge in the local street cuisine without any issues.
We recommend that our guests only drink bottled water while traveling in Cambodia.
Mobile phones and other handheld devices with SIM card slots can be activated on local networks by installing a SIM purchased from a local telecom carrier.
In cities like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, Wi-Fi is plentiful and readily available; however, more rural locations will have fewer available hotspots outside hotels.
Wall sockets in Cambodia come in A,C, or G plug types. Most U.S. and European electronics use an A plug type. A plug adapter kit will contain the necessary adaptors.
Yes. Modern facilities are standard throughout Cambodia.
Western goods of every kind can be found throughout the country.
Travel Insurance FAQ
We always recommend that our guests purchase travel insurance to cover their international flights and vacation packages.
The travel insurance premiums for your Cambodia tour are determined by the age of the travelers, and the total dollar amount for the chosen tour.
The window to purchase travel insurance lasts until the day before your departure for Cambodia; however, to cover pre-existing conditions travel insurance must be purchased within 14 days of paying the deposit on your tour.
No. The travel insurance quote you received includes all persons listed on the document.
International flights can be bundled into the travel insurance premium.
Allianz Global Assistance offers various levels of coverage for travelers, but travel insurance premiums cannot be customized.
No. Claims must be filed by the claimant.
Siem Reap Luxury Travel Information
Siem Reap’s downtown area has retained its French colonial charms, and host of trendy bars and excellent restaurants has sprung up in the French Quarter catering to the city’s international visitors. It’s a wonderful area to stroll through during the daytime, and the colonial market pavilion, jam packed mostly hand made goods and souvenirs, is worth a long look. As dusk settles over the city, the French Quarter’s charms truly begin to shine as tourists filter in looking for refreshments after a long day of exploring the Angkor Archeological Park’s seemingly endless supply of temples.
The amazing sights and experiences in the Siem Reap region include Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. While the temple ruins in the Angkor Archeological Park are the main sight in the area, Siem Reap has a number of excellent excursions all its own. The Angkor National Museum is one of Cambodia’s finest museums, and the modern building showcases the Khmer Empire’s rich civilization in impressive galleries. Wat Bo is one of the oldest temples outside of Angkor, and the well-preserved wall paintings in the interior depicting the Khmer Empire’s version of the Ramayana are worth studying.
Best Time to Visit Siem Reap: Siem Reap’s best weather lies between December and May during Cambodia’s dry season. Short bursts of powerful rain are common between June and November, but the extra precipitation during these months alleviates the high daytime temperatures that mark Cambodia’s monsoon season.
How to get to Siem Reap: Siem Reap is the capital of Cambodia’s northwestern Siem Reap Province. Travelers enjoying one of our luxury tours of Cambodia reach Siem Reap in a private vehicle leaving from Phnom Penh.
Siem Reap Highlights: Siem Reap’s charms are simply irresistible. The city is a vibrant mix of ancient traditions and modern amenities that can easily convince you stay much longer than you originally planned.
Phnom Penh Luxury Travel Information
Today, Phnom Penh is a buzzing metropolis where ancient Buddhist temples rest comfortably between palatial French Villas and modern hi-rise buildings. The city’s wide boulevards keep the seemingly endless parade of mopeds and tuk tuks on the move despite the ever increasing population, and though the city lacks a metro-rail system, it’s a very walkable destination with wide sidewalks boarding nearly every road.
There are more attractions, both ancient and modern, than can be easily explored while visiting this exciting capital. The city’s waterfront, almost always simply referred to as ‘Riverside,’ is the epicenter of Phnom Penh’s night life. A seemingly endless string of bars, restaurants, and clubs line the lane that runs parallel to the Tonle Sap River. The Foreign Correspondents’ Club is one of the few in the world open to non-journalists, and its tasteful interior of dark woods is one of the most relaxing places to have some of the city’s best cocktails day or night. The third floor of the FCC is open air, and has one of the best views of Sisowath Quay in the city. There are several docks along the street, and cruises along the Tonle Sap or Mekong Rivers can be easily arranged from here.
The amazing sights and experiences in the Phnom Penhregion include the Royal Palace, the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek and the National Museum of Cambodia. The Royal Palace has housed the Kings of Cambodia since the 1000s when Phnom Penh became the permanent capital of the country during French colonization. The compound is comprised of four main structures nestled in lush gardens. The Throne Hall is where the daily business of royal court was conducted. The ceiling for the interior above the dual thrones of the Cambodian Kings has a series of stunning frescoes representing the Reamker, a Khmer version of the Ramayana epic of the Hindu religion. The Khemarin Palace is separated from the rest of the compound by a low wall and still servers as the official residence of the King of Cambodia. The Moonlight Pavilion is an open air meeting hall where traditional Khmer performances are still held for the royal family, but the Silver Pagoda with its diamond encrusted Buddha statue is the main draw to the compound.
Best Time to Visit Phnom Penh: The ideal times to visit Cambodia fall between December and May when the temperatures and humidity are both relatively low. The rainy season rolls in with June bringing high temperatures to the country that last until November. The frequent rains usually fall in short bursts in the morning or early afternoon brining a welcome respite from the heat to Phnom Penh’s streets.
How to get to Phnom Penh: Phnom Penh is located at the convergence Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers in Cambodia. The nation’s capital is best reached by an international flight to Phnom Penh Airport.
Phnom Penh Highlights: Cambodia’s Capital is a thrilling city with some of the best cuisine, luxury accommodations, ancient monuments, and stunning architecture to found in Southeast Asia. No luxury tour of Cambodia would be complete without spending at least a few days exploring this bustling metropolis on the banks of the Mekong River.
The paramount monument found in the Angkor Archeological Park, Angkor Wat is one of the world’s largest, and most exquisitely built religious structures. Constructed over a 30 year period in the early 12th century, the ancient temple has become a national symbol of Cambodia, and appears on the country’s flag.
To reach the imposing structure, visitors walk across an ancient stone bridge that spans the wide moat that surrounds Angkor Wat. Khmer architects used moats and water tanks as both defense structures and reservoirs to catch rainwater for the city’s consumption and the irrigation of crops.
The structure was originally a Hindu temple dedicated to the deity Vishnu before the spread of Buddhism in the Khmer Empire in the late 13th century. The long gallery halls of the building are capped by three pyramid-like towers that represent Mount Meru, the abode of Hindu gods. The galleries, surprisingly cool throughout the day, are covered in incredibly detailed bas-relief carvings detailing the Reamker, the Khmer Empire’s version of the Ramayana Hindu epic. These ancient carvings seem to dance with a life of their own as you wander through the high-ceilinged corridors watching Hindu gods battle the forces of darkness for supremacy over creation.
At the center of the structure, visitors find an open air courtyard where the pyramid-like spires reach into the sky. A short, thrilling climb up the stair-like edifice deposits visitors into the sanctuaries of the spires. Shiva Lingam, stone idols representing the cosmic might of the Hindu deity Shiva, would have once been enshrined here, but the Khmer Empire’s conversion to Buddhism resulted in the removal of these idols. Today, you’re more likely than not to find a Buddhist monk wrapped in an orange rob lost in meditation and wreathed by the smoke of burning incense sticks inside the spire shrines.
Best Time to Visit Angkor Wat: The best weather to visit Angkor Wat is between the months of December and May when the atmosphere is dry and the temperature relatively low. Higher temperatures begin to blanket the land in June and continue through November. Short but powerful bursts of rain are common during this time of year, which help cool the atmosphere in the mornings and early afternoons. The extra precipitation fills the water tanks and moats around Angkor Wat, and the still waters that reflect the ancient temple makes the entire compound that much more stunning.
How to get to Angkor Wat: Angkor Wat is the pivotal monument in the Angkor Archeological Park. The park is a short drive from the town of Siem Reap in Cambodia’s northwestern region. Guests on our luxury tours of Cambodia reach the area in a private vehicle along with their English speaking tour guide.
Angkor Wat Highlights: Angkor Wat is Cambodia’s paramount attraction. It’s been one of the most talked about ancient structures in Asia since French colonials hacked through the jungle in the 1920s and began to excavate the Angkor Archeological Park. No trip to Cambodia would be complete without visiting this splendid temple.
Built by King Jayavarman VII of the Khmer Empire in the 12th century, Angkor Thom is a sprawling 4-square-mile city surrounded by a massive wall and broad moat. Wars with neighboring Kingdoms prompted Jayavarman VII to build Angkor Thom just a mile or so behind the previous capital of Angkor Wat to protect his kingdom from invasions. It would remain the capital until sometime in the 16th century when the entire area was abandoned for unclear reasons.
The city’s gates are frescoed with gigantic carvings depicting the Reamker, the Khmer Empire’s adaptation of the Hinu epic Ramayana. Bayon Temple is at the heart of the walled city, and all roads run directly towards the central structure. Bayon is the single Mahayana Buddhist shrine in the Angkor Archaeological Park.
Significantly larger than Angkor Wat, Bayon Temple is the Khmer Empire’s most massive representation of Mount Meru, where deities in the Hindu religion reside. It’s wide, blockish shape narrows towards the top giving it the profile of a pyramid. The galleries that ring the outside of the structure feature bas-relief carvings depicting historical events such as wars with neighboring kingdoms, daily life in the city, as well as temple ceremonies. The tower in the center of the compound once held the seated Buddha image that’s enshrined in a small pavilion at Angkor Wat.
Best Time to Visit Angkor Thom: The months between December and May have the best weather to explore the massive ruins of Angkor Thom. Temperatures begin to rise quickly in June, and continue to spike into November as the rainy season sweeps the land. While these months are hotter, the extra precipitation that comes with the heat fills the moats and water tanks in the Angkor Archeological Park, making the ruins particularly beautiful during this period.
How to get to Angkor Thom: Angkor Thom is about a mile from Angkor Wat in the Angkor Archaeological Park. Our guests typical reach the area in a private vehicle with their English speaking tour guide as part of their explorations of Cambodia.
Angkor Thom Highlights: Angkor Thom is the most monumental of the Khmer Empire’s sta
The Royal Palace was completed in 1866 after the capital of Cambodia was moved to Phnom Penh from the city of Oudong. King Norodom had been seeking protection from the rising power of the Kingdom of Siam (Thailand), and brokered a deal for Cambodia to become a protectorate and colony under French Indochina in 1863. After the agreement was reached, the capital of Cambodia was moved to Phnom Penh, and a French governor was installed.
The Royal Palace’s compound is divided into four main sections spread through a lush garden.
The Throne Hall is a single story structure with a triangular roof capped by three golden spires. It was here that the business of Cambodia’s court was conducted on a daily basis. There are three royal thrones on display inside the hall. The largest is a traditional Khmer throne with nine stone tiers ascending like a pyramid. The other two are modern, European style chairs that appear to be infinitely more comfortable. Above the royal seats, frescoes on the ceiling tell the story of the Reamker, a Khmer version of the Hindu epic Ramayana.
The Moonlight Pavilion is an audience hall used a stage for performances of classical Khmer dances and operas. The building is still used for royal receptions, performances, and the occasional speech delivered by King Norodom Sihamoni, whose coronation feast took place here in 2004.
The Silver Pagoda is the royal chapel and sanctuary. Often called Wat Preah Keo, it houses several of Cambodia’s most revered Buddhist icons. There are numerous Buddha statues wrought from precious metals including gold within the shrine, but the Silver Pagoda’s diamond studded Maitreya Buddha image steals the limelight with more than 9,000 precious gems covering its surface. In the late 20th century Cambodia’s penultimate king, Norodom Sihanouk, had thousands of silver tiles inlayed into the temple’s floors, and it has since been called the Silver Pagoda.
The Khemarin Palace is the official residence of the King of Cambodia, and is separated from the rest of the compound by a low wall. Decidedly modest compared to the other structures on the grounds, the Khemarin Palace is rarely open to the public, but visitors can stroll around the outside for a better look.
Best Time to Visit Royal Palace: The Royal Palace is best visited between December and May during Cambodia’s dry season. The heat and humidity begin to rise in June, and continue to do so as the rainy season progresses through November. Powerful but short rain showers often blow through Phnom Penh during this time of year, bringing a welcome respite from the high temperatures.
How to get to Royal Palace: The Royal Palace is located near Phnom Penh’s Riverside, close to the Foreign Correspondent’s Club. Our guests typically reach the area in a private vehicle while touring the city.
Royal Palace Highlights: The Royal Palace is one of Phnom Penh’s foremost attractions. Its lush gardens, beautiful architecture, and priceless relics are some of the most memorable sights for our guests enjoying Cambodia tours.
The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek
Those connected to the former French colonial rule in Cambodia where the first to be imprisoned at sites like S-21, now the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. As Pol Pot’s reign continued, the educated and skilled were targeted as part of the Khmer Rouge’s attempts to return Cambodia to a purely agrarian society. As the prisons swelled, the Khmer Rouge began transporting prisoners to sites across the country for mass executions. The extermination camp of Choeung Ek became known as the Killing Fields after Pol Pot’s fall from power, and is believed to be the largest concentration of mass graves from that bloody era.
Some 17,000 people, many of them women and children, were executed at the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek between 1975 and 1978. Most of them were beaten to death with blunt objects to conserve ammunition. In the 1980s, the remains of almost 9,000 people were exhumed, but slightly less than half of the 129 mass graves were left uncovered but intact. Visitors to this genocide memorial can stroll through the former orchard where the grounds are punctuated with shallow pits filled with bones while listening to audio recordings from the few survivors, and a handful of guards that managed to leave the execution camp alive.
A Buddhist shrine was erected at the center of the memorial in the late ‘80s. The skulls of 8,000 victims, arranged by relative age, are encased in glass panels as a reminder of Cambodia’s conflict ridden recent past.
Best Time to Visit The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek: Cambodia’s weather is the most temperate during the dry season that runs between December and May. The monsoon season begins in June, and is marked by high temperatures that permeate the country through November. Short bursts of powerful rains are common in the mornings and afternoon during this period, which provides cooling relief, and resuscitates the country’s plant life.
How to get to The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek: The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek is located just a few miles south of Phnom Penh. Guests on our luxury tours of Cambodia can reach the memorial grounds via our private vehicle services while staying in the city.
The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek Highlights: The Cambodian government encourages tourists to visit the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. It provides visitors with a necessary look into the recent history that has shaped Cambodia.
The National Museum of Cambodia
The museum is housed in an early 20th century colonial French interpretation of traditional Khmer architecture. George Groslier, the museum’s first curator, designed the building using Cambodian temples as a basis for his plans.
The National Museum of Cambodia is dived into four wings surrounding a lush central garden area. The galleries in each building are ordered chronologically with the leftmost pavilion’s displays showcasing sculptures from the era before the rise of Angkor Wat. Continuing clockwise around the compound, visitors can see the slow metamorphosis of Khmer art over the course of a millennium.
As one of the largest repositories of Buddhist and Hindu religious icons and artifacts in Cambodia, the National Museum has become an important center for Phnom Penh’s religious community. Orange robed Buddhist monks admiring the many ancient sculptures and offering prayers to Buddha statues are a common sight within the museum.