Images of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat often come to mind for many travelers who dream of a trip to Southeast Asia, but there’s more to Khmer culture than the world’s largest religious monument. Known for their insider-access adventures throughout Southeast Asia, Smiling Albino has handcrafted 8 new day trips from Siem Reap that go beyond the famous ruins just a stone’s throw away. Each bespoke experience is designed to immerse travelers in Cambodia’s traditional way of life, and features unique surprises like local meals in stilted homes, hilltop sunsets and bike paths that spill out to secret lakes.
1. Kayaking The Tonle Sap
Travelers hop into a kayak and explore Tonle Sap Lake, the largest body of freshwater in Southeast Asia. With the help of a local guide, they can paddle to floating homes rarely visited by Siem Reap day trippers. If arms get tired, a support boat, captained by Smiling Albino’s local friend Mr. Heang, won’t be too far behind. The day ends with a special dinner hosted on the veranda of one of the nearby stilted homes.
2. Prek Toal Kayaking Adventure
On this new day trip to Prek Toal bioreserve, curious travelers kayak the flooded flatlands and its myriad of waterways with no one else in sight but local fishermen. The enchanting and quiet channels lead to Saray Platform, where women wait to greet Smiling Albino’s guests and share how they transform the stems of the invasive water weeds into local handicrafts. Paddlers will enjoy a mouth-watering lunch before visiting a local family home.
3. Prek Toal and Core Bird Reserve
Birdwatchers can trade temples for rivers and explore the seasonally flooded forests of nearby Core Bird Reserve by kayak. After observing Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater bird colony, they’ll travel to the floating village of Prek Toal to enjoy lunch on The Saray Platform and shop for local handicrafts.
4. Paddy Field Biking and Hiking
Active travelers can discover rural Khmer life with a biking or hiking trip between paddy fields dotted with sugar palm trees and stilted villages surrounded by fruit trees. After exploring the lesser-known, but equally beautiful Roluos Temples, guests arrive at Angkorian Reservoir in time to watch the sun melt into the horizon before taking an oxcart ride back into town.
5. Khulen Mountain Trekking
Khulen is a magical and mysterious range of hills located on the fringe of Siem Reap. It’s also the birthplace of the Angkorian Empire where travelers discover ancient stone carvings and hidden shrines. Guests enjoy a picnic lunch along the river, reflect at Cambodia’s largest reclining Buddha statue and cool off in the Khulen waterfall pools. A visit to BanteaySrei Temple to catch the afternoon sun glowing on its pink sandstone wall is also included.
6. Khulen Mountain Biking
Outdoor lovers can escape the hustle and bustle of Siem Reap and find refuge in the forested national park of Phnom Khulen. Here, they will bike through lush dense jungle to life-size Hindu animal carvings from the 9th century. After a temple-side picnic lunch, it’s back on the bikes for a ride to nearby hilltop villages and a swim in the Khulen River.
7. Phnom Bot Cycle
Smiling Albino’s new bike route travels along the banks of the ancient East Baray, which was once a water source for the temples of Angkor and now alive with paddy fields and sugar palm trees. Highlights include cycling to Pradark Pagoda and past charming villages shaded by coconut palms and bamboo. In the afternoon, travellers walk along the lake’s edge to a hilltop temple where they watch the sunset over the Siem Reap plain with a local Angkor Beer in hand.
8. The Secret Lake
Travelers peddle around traditional wooden houses and under fragrant mango trees to the ancient lake of Boeung Ta Neue which boasts impressive views of nearby Angkor Wat. Kayaks wait at the lake’s edge for further exploration of the surrounding rivers. A picnic lunch is prepared under wild fruit trees near a small stone temple.
For more information about Smiling Albino, visit SmilingAlbino.com.
About Smiling Albino
Founded in 1999, Smiling Albino is a team of travel enthusiasts offering custom built experiences in Southeast Asia. Their adventures are the result of continuous travel, innovation and refinement in this specific region. Smiling Albino trips combine multiple activities, charming venues, the finest regional cuisine and passionate hosts. While travellers do hit all the highlights, the real magic is in the hidden corners, insider sights and unique local characters. The signature of Smiling Albino’s experiences relies on the intimate relationships they’ve built with a huge network of people throughout the region. They don’t just connect the dots, they create them and deliver unforgettable travel experiences while taking an active role sponsoring social projects in the communities they explore and befriend. For more information, visit smilingalbino.com and blog.smilingalbino.com for a glimpse of their adventures.