You’ll experience profound awe as you wander around the temples and citadels of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom; ancient citadels that still seem to be struggling to emerge from the grasping jungle. Then comes a different set of emotions as you stand in the notorious killing fields of Cambodia.
In Laos you’ll meet locals and glimpse their unchanged lifestyle before cruising along the mighty Mekong River. You’ll also tour the country’s one-time spiritual capital; Luang Prabang with its huge number of ancient temples and religious monuments.
London – Siem Reap
You fly out of the UK and journey on to Siem Reap, arriving at the gateway to world famous Angkor Wat the following day. You’ll be staying in a luxury hotel that puts you within easy reach of the fantastic citadel, the temples and palaces that comprise this ancient complex stretching over 10 sq km.
The 12th century Bayon Temple, the Baphou, the Elephant and Leper King Terraces, a causeway flanked by gods and devils and temples being devoured by the jungle – these are just some of the sights that will astound you at Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom.
Stay: Three nights at Victoria Angkor.
Now it’s time to experience a completely different set of sensations. You’ll fly from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh and find yourself enjoying a guided tour of this whirl of a city. Then comes the absorbing Tuol Sleng Museum, giving you a moving insight into the country’s turbulent history.
Even more emotional is your visit to the killing fields; a grim reminder of the cultural genocide perpetrated during the rule of the megalomaniac dictator Pol Pot. An estimated one and a half million people perished at the hands of the infamous Khmer Rouge communists – about a fifth of the population of Cambodia.
Stay: Two nights at the Amanjaya Hotel.
Kompong Cham – Kratie
A more cheery atmosphere awaits you at Kratie. You’ll drive there from Kompong Cham, through countryside that is sometimes dramatically beautiful and at other times so serene it seems as if the world has slowed to a gentle halt. You’ll be staying in a tranquil boutique hotel and will have the chance to see pods of rare freshwater dolphins.
Stay: One night at Sala Koh Trong.
Another drive through pretty countryside will keep your camera busy as you attempt to capture sweeping landscapes and scenes of rural life that could have come straight from the pages of a 19th century Eastern picture book.
You’ll stop off in charming villages to meet the local residents and gather an understanding of their way of life, buy the sort of souvenirs you’re unlikely to find in airport shops and experience the atmosphere of the country. More magnificent scenery awaits you when you arrive at Yeak Loam – a lake formed from a huge crater.
Stay: Two nights at Terres Rouges Lodge.
If your idea of perfect peace is a tiny island, welcome to Laos. As well as unchanged rural villages and waterfalls cascading over cliffs cloaked in dense jungle you’ll be presented with the famous 4000 Islands. You’ll also be invited to enjoy some supreme relaxation at a peaceful, exclusive hotel.
Stay: Two nights at Senesothxeune.
A quick flight lands you in historic Luang Prabang – once the religious capital of Laos and still the home of over 100 temples, monuments and shrines. This UNESCO World Heritage Site stands on the banks of the majestic Mekong and offers you jaw-dropping places like Vat Vishoun, Vat Phou and Vat Aham.
You’ll explore the city on a guided tour of some of its most impressive sights, before embarking on a cruise along the Mekong River, past villages standing on stilts at the water’s edge, traditional fishing vessels and trading junks.
Stay: Three nights at the 3 Nagas Hotel.
Luang Pragbang – London
Alas, your Cambodia to Laos adventure ends at Luang Prabang. From here you’ll fly homewards, arriving in the UK the following day.