A Spiritual Journey in Cambodia
- Outer Travels Inner Journeys
- Aug 14, 2017 - Aug 28, 2017 (15 days)
- $3,200.00 - Program Price
Exotic, enigmatic and distinctly ancient temples illustrate the powerful, wealthy and sophisticated culture of the Khmer Empire with Angkor Wat the sublime jewel in the crown with its almost unearthly construction. This incredible complex was the largest pre-industrial urban centre in the world at its peak between the 11th – 13th century. This is Cambodia, a multi-faceted country of extremes tucked between Thailand and Vietnam where many more temples are being discovered now through cutting edge airborne laser scanning technology revealing that Cambodia may soon rival Peru with its ancient strongholds and sacred sites. But it is extraordinary to realise that only thirty years ago Cambodia was a terrifying place under the atrocious rule of the Khmer Rouge who wiped out almost a quarter of its population during the Killing Fields era of 1975 – 1979. Most people you meet over that age will have been witness to the appalling crimes against humanity. And yet you will be welcomed to this extraordinarily stunning country by gentle, kind and smiling people for an experience you will never forget.
There is something about this Cambodia trip which almost puts it ‘beyond the bucket list’. Perhaps it’s the magic of Angkor Wat, or the explorations of lesser known temples and pagodas hidden deep in forests along with 1st century carved shivalingams, a16th century reclining Buddha as well as a collection of waterfalls to wash clean any hangover from our Western world. Perhaps it’s the special blessings you’ll receive on arrival or meeting the groups of inspirational monks who ordain trees among other deeds of environmental activism. It could be the experiences on top of holy hilltops and mountains, walking through the clouds, swimming among the spirits of a special lake or meeting a nature and community spirit with a local elder. Or maybe it’s recognising a whole new perspective on life from the many indigenous people’s you’ll meet and stay with along the way. Cambodia has been the home of heaven and the home of hell, but when you can see the shadow as well as the light transformation occurs… will this intoxicating tour be the home of your transformation?
DAY 1 – Arrive Siem Reap (D)
Welcome to Cambodia! Your guide will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your accommodation. Depending on your time of arrival, activities may vary. We’ll host a welcome dinner and give you an introduction to Cambodian culture.
DAY 2 – Introduction to Cambodia (B/L/D)
Today you’ll be introduced to all things Khmer. You’ll explore Siem Reap’s multi-cultural community, and begin to understand how Theravada Buddhism co-exists with a variety of faiths. You’ll visit a working pagoda, meet a monk, and participate in a welcome blessing to start your journey with good wishes! You’ll also discover hidden corners of this charming town, discover locals favourite places to wind down, and the hidden histories of Siem Reap.
DAY 3 – Temples of Angkor (B/L)
We’ll start the day early to catch sunrise at the mighty Angkor temples. We’ll spend the day exploring the Angkorian temples, including famous sites such as Ta Phrom, Bayon, and of course Angkor Wat, as well as lesser visited ruins and pagodas in the forest. This site was established as a Hindu place of worship, and today is Buddhist; follow Cambodia’s spiritual journey at this UNESCO site.
DAY 4 – Phnom Kulen (B/L)
This morning we will visit the holy site of Phnom Kulen, a spiritual mountain for Hindus and Buddhists. As we journey to the top of the mountain deep in the rich forest, we will explore a 16th century reclining Buddha, 1st century shivalingams carvings, Angkorian temple ruins, and a beautiful collection of waterfalls. It’s easy to lose yourself in this magical place and spend a whole day exploring. On our way back to Siem Reap, we’ll stop off at some of the outer-lying temples of the vast Angkor park.
DAY 5 – Environmental activist monks (B/L/D)
After breakfast, we’ll journey North to a forest location well and truly off the beaten path. Here, amongst the trees, we’ll meet a group of inspirational monks using Buddhism for social activism and development. Deforestation is one of the most pressing environmental challenges facing the country, but this group of Buddhist leaders are educating community members about the importance of conservation. We’ll spend a couple of hours in the company of UNDP environmental award winners for their pioneering campaign, and even ordain a tree in a spiritual blessing to protect it from being felled.
Following lunch, we’ll continue ahead to a delightful hotel to spend the late afternoon relaxing and dining.
DAY 6 – Preah Vihear & transfer to Ratanakiri (B/L/D)
This morning we’ll drive to the top of a 500m-cliff face in the picturesque Dangrek Mountains to the hilltop temple of Preah Vihear. If the weather is clear, expect never-ending views of surrounding countryside and into Thailand, and if not, bask in the cool temperatures as you explore hidden in the clouds. We’ll spend some time exploring this spectacular setting and excellent preserved Hindu temples, before returning to the bottom and transferring to Ratanakiri.
We’ll journey north-east to the wilds of Cambodia and home of the largest population of indigenous groups in the country. The landscape here is lush and green, with forested rolling hills. Upon arrival, we’ll relax after the journey to reach this wild place.
DAY 7 – Indigenous beliefs (B/L/D)
Today we’ll learn about this region’s several indigenous groups, be introduced to their beliefs, and gain some insight into their life and challenges in Cambodia today. We’ll visit a Bunong minority community and connect with Animist beliefs still followed by indigenous communities. We’ll also visit a stunning volcanic crater lake and swim in its clean waters, which are believed by local people to be home to many spirits. You can visit a community Spirit House in the forest and experience a traditional “Chol Neak Ta” ceremony, a possession of Neak Ta, a nature and community spirit, with a village elder.
DAY 8 – To the river! (B)
After breakfast, we’ll head south to the riverside town of Kratie. The afternoon will have plenty of free time to explore at your own leisure.
DAY 9 – Island homestay (B/L/D)
Early morning we’ll cross the mighty Mekong River to a rural island where we’ll stay in an authentic village home with a host family. Here, islanders still practice Animism. During our stay, you’ll learn about Animist beliefs and its interconnectivity with nature, as well as experiences daily life in a rural Khmer village.
DAY 10 – Island homestay (B/L/D)
You’ll continue exploring the beauty of island life through bike rides and other cultural activities available. You can also wander to the village’s oldest Buddhist temple, before concluding your day with a sunset boat cruise to see fresh water dolphins.
DAY 11 – Transfer to Kampong Cham (B)
Once back on the mainland, we’ll travel to the colonial town of Kampong Cham. Overlooked by many tourists, this town has streets lined with pretty old buildings, but fewer visitors than other heritage towns in Cambodia. You’ll have the rest of the day free to relax and explore sites such as Phnom Hanchey mountain and its hilltop Buddhist monastery, or the famous bamboo bridge to Koh Pen.ns.
DAY 12 – Exploring Cham culture & the holy mountain of Oudong (B/L/D)
Kampong Cham is well known for its Cham population, a Cambodian ethnic group whose history has molded their interesting religious practices. Most Chams practice Islam, but they have roots in Hinduism. This morning we’ll visit a local mosque and meet local Chams to learn about their spiritual heritage, modern practices, and experiences as a minority group in a fast changing country. After lunch, we’ll take a trip to the holy mountain of Oudong and meet a group of inspiring nuns who live on this beautiful hilltop pagoda and meditation centre, with a chance to participate in Vipassana meditation.
DAY 13 – Transfer to Phnom Penh (B/L/D)
After a peaceful night sleeping at the hilltop retreat, we’ll wake for an early morning walk and sunrise meditation at Oudong mountain. Following breakfast we’ll travel to the capital, Phnom Penh. Once dubbed the Paris of the East, Phnom Penh suffered greatly for many years through war, but now is well and truly making a come back. You’ll have the rest of the day to explore the city’s sites.
DAY 14 – Cultural activities (B/L/D)
Today you’ll be connected to some of the most significant Buddhist temples in the country and meet the monks who call these places home. We will also visit a Khmer Rouge memorial site and contemplate Cambodia’s tragic past, its bright future, and the role spirituality plays in that. For our final night in Cambodia, we’ll participate in a reflection meditation together and a farewell dinner.
DAY 15 – Tour concludes in Phnom Penh (B/L)
Depending on your departure time, activities on this day may vary. Airport transfer is included, and sadly your spiritual journey in Cambodia concludes.
Who Should Register?
This is a unique journey across Cambodia for people who are sincerely interested in exploring spirituality and personal growth with like-minded people. However, it is also not a journey that takes itself too seriously.
During the 15 days, we’ll all be spending a great deal of time together, so it’s important to maintain a certain amount of harmony within the group and attract the right people.
To date, all the people who have resonated and participated in tours organised by Outer Travels Inner Journeys have been truly amazing people and there has rarely been issues of disharmony in the group, and we hope for that to continue.
To ensure this remains a harmonious experience for everyone involved, please only consider this journey if:
- You are sincere and open-minded.
- You are seeking to deepen your spiritual understanding and expand your consciousness.
- You have a sense of humour and don’t take yourself far too seriously
- You are easy-going and easily get along with other people
- You still feel young at heart, no matter what your physical age may be
Included in the cost of this trip is:
- Experienced local guide, fluent in English, and ex-Buddhist monk
- All internal travel
- All accommodation – with a focus on properties with a sense of place
- All meals listed (see B/L/D)
- All activities listed and admittance tickets needed
- Ethical donations to organisations and sites (e.g. religious) we visit
- 24 hour in-country support
What’s not included:
- Travel to/from Cambodia
- Travel insurance – proof must be provided before arrival with emergency evacuation cover
- Visa – $30 on arrival
- Drinks other than water
- Accommodations if you wish to arrive earlier or stay later than the dates indicated.
- Any shopping or excursions outside the planned itinerary.