The Main Conference program aligns with all Australian and New Zealand School Holidays.
An ancient stone city thrust out of the jungle, bucolic fields ploughed by oxen, picture-postcard colonial buildings and bustling markets that set the senses on fire. Cambodia is a bewitching country worthy of your wanderlust. From our base in the city of Siem Reap, all roads lead to Angkor Wat – the largest religious monument on Earth. Explore the temples of Angkor at sunrise, visit stilt communities on South-East Asia’s largest lake, tour a village by ox-drawn cart and marvel ate the skills of Cambodia’s homegrown circus troupe.
Pre Conference Tour
Extend your experience before joining the main conference group - join the optional pre conference tour.
Arrive Siem Reap
Arrive in Siem Reap and transfer to Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa, a charming French colonial hotel in the heart of the city. Located opposite the Royal Gardens, the resort occupies a green oasis of its own, centred around an inviting pool.
Morning conference session
Now that the formal part of day is over, the afternoon is yours to explore Siem Reap at your leisure. Wander through the Old Market (Psah Chas) for an introduction to Cambodian cuisine and commerce that will enliven your senses.
Stroll through the shaded grounds of the Royal Gardens, where the king plotted to end French colonial rule, and recharge with a cold drink at aptly named Pub Street.
In the evening, re-join the group for a welcome party in the ambient grounds of the hotel – with a few surprises in store.
We hope you didn’t party too late because today we have a 5am start – but there are few greater incentives for rising early than glimpsing the temples of Angkor for the first time at sunrise.
We’ll arrive at the UNESCO World Heritage site to see the most iconic temple – Angkor Wat – in the serenity and splendour of first light. Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument on the planet, but it’s just one of a multitude of temples scattered throughout the Angkor Archaeological Park, which spans 400km square. This was once the centre of the Khmer Empire; a collection of mini cities built by kings in devotion to Hindu and Buddhist gods, dating all the way back to the ninth century.
Process the enormity of what you have just seen over breakfast at the Angkor Cafe before touring Ta Prohm. Dubbed the “Tomb Raider Temple”, thanks to the Angelina Jolie movie filmed here at the turn of the century, Ta Prohm is perhaps the most mesmerising of the Angkor temples. See crumbling stone edifices strangled by giant tree roots as the ruins slowly succumb to the encroaching jungle.
Afternoon conference session
Get set for a morning commute you won’t soon forget as we clomp through the village of Chreav on an ox-drawn cart. It sure beats the train – and the kids will love the journey, too.
At Wat Pre monastery we farewell our bovine ride for a very special blessing ceremony by Buddhist monks.
Afterwards, trade four-legs for pedal power on a cycling tour through the village to Psar Chreav market.
See where local villagers buy and sell their wares before enjoying an authentic khmer lunch at a village home.
In the afternoon, we visit Kampong Pluk, a fascinating stilted village set on the water of South-East Asia’s largest lake. Enjoy a boat ride on Tonle Sap Lake, see timber and bamboo houses built atop six-metre high stilts, and learn how local villagers live, eking a living off the lake and feeding their families with its bountiful produce.
Discover how the lake – home to 300 species of freshwater fish – more than triples in size during the wet season, and keep your eyes peeled for snakes, crocodiles, turtles, otters and waterbirds.
Morning conference session
This afternoon we visit Angkor Children’s Hospital to meet with our medical peers, share experiences and learn about inspiring programs to improve child health in Cambodia. Since its establishment 20 years ago, the hospital has educated about 1,500 Cambodian doctors, nurses and health workers in paediatrics, and treated about half a million children.
For an evening culinary adventure that will challenge your intestinal fortitude, grab a tuk tuk and hit Angkor Night Market. Pick up some handcrafted Khmer souvenirs, like silk paintings, shadow puppets and stone carvings, but don’t be distracted from the main event – food.
Forget chips, snags and pizza – here the offerings are a little more exotic. How about barbecued tarantula, deep fried scorpions and crickets, finished with a fried ice cream roll? Don’t worry, there are mainstream morsels too.
Morning conference session
Enjoy an afternoon of free time to soak up the delights of Cambodia at your own pace. Create your own Khmer souvenir at a ceramics workshop, go horseriding, thrill the kids on a ziplining adventure, or have a hit of golf at the 18-hole Angkor Golf Resort, designed by British golfing legend Sir Nick Faldo. If all that sounds too exhausting, why not lounge by the resort pool with the family or luxuriate in a rejuvenating massage at the day spa?
Re-join the group for our special farewell dinner at Cambo Beach Club, a Hawaii-meets-Cambodia urban retreat, complete with 30-metre pool, palm trees, tiki torches and cocktails.
Savour one last Siem Reap sunset with the sand between your toes before enjoying a performance by the Phare Circus. The circus is Cambodia’s answer to Cirque de Soleil, an artistic movement born after the Khmer Rouge era to inspire hope and healing. The all-ages performance is a thrilling curtain closer to our Cambodian adventure.
Check out of the hotel and transfer to the airport for the return flight to Australia.