Thailand & Cambodia: Up Close

Mostly Inclusive • 13 Days

This 13 day exploration into a majestic land of temples and smiles will change your perspective forever. Our privately guided tour gives you a true sampling of the many faces of this magical country, while offering a unique opportunity for you to connect with the people of this land through giving back, first hand.

Take Thailand Travel to the next level by joining a trip with Destination: Earth. Contact us to learn more about our eco-travel adventures.

February 1 - February 13, 2024

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per person based on double occupancy


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Activity Level: Medium  

Altruism Index: 4  

Service Level: Upgraded  

Group Size: Min 8 pax, Max 16 pax  

Travel Experience: Mixed Bag  

Trip Highlights:  

About the Guides

Jud Yaski is an adventure veteran with over 22 years of international travel, extreme sports, and corporate hospitality under his belt. Jud has traveled throughout South East Asia, Hawaii and South America for the last 20 years. His love for these countries and its peoples, along with inside knowledge through months of travel to each location are reflected in the extraordinary adventures he will be sharing with you.

Steve Juba has over 5 years of experience leading and escorting tours. Steve’s passion for travel, adventure, and his interest in the people he guides shines through on each journey. His attention to detail, kind demeanor, and ability to adapt to any situation make him an excellent travel planner and adventure leader.


Days 1-6: A Cambodian Quest Day by Day Itinerary

Prepare to explore the secrets Cambodia has hidden away while taking in the vast abundance of culture. You will try food you’ve never seen before, will climb around the remains of ancient temples, and will experience the joy of helping a community in need.

Day 1 Destination

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Welcome to Siem Reap!

Day 2 Destination

Angkor Wat, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia

After a healthy breakfast, we’re off to some of the most famous temples in the world.

Day 4 Destination

Koh Ker, Cambodia

Explore hidden temple ruins

Day 6 Destination

Tonlé Sap, Cambodia

We will explore the lake by boat and visit stilted floating villages including Kampong Khleang. 


Arrive in Siem Reap

Meals: Dinner

On arrival into the the great Kingdom of Cambodia (Siem Reap International, REP) we’ll be escorted to our charming boutique hotel in the center of town. The remainder of the day will be at leisure to rest up before the fun starts tomorrow. Dinner is on your own but feel free to join our tour leader at one of our favorites to eat as a group.

The afternoon is free to explore the city, shop, and rest up from the travel. Our private escort will be on hand to explore the city with the group. This is your day to catch up and rest, go shopping, and enjoy this spectacular city.

At our welcome dinner this evening you will meet fellow volunteers and we’ll go over our volunteer adventure.


A Day of Majestic Temples

Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

After a healthy breakfast, we’re off to some of the most famous temples in the world. Our guide will take us through 2,000 years of history, with commentary on past and present throughout the world renowned Angkor Wat Temple complex. We will see Ancient jungle temples and sacred statues of many giant Buddha faces. Lunch will be enjoyed local style, and then off to more ancient sites.

Angkor Wat, the main temple, was built in the early 12th century, but then disappeared in the jungle after the Khmer kingdom abandoned the temples 2 centuries later. The temples were rediscovered in 1861 and today are one of the greatest ancient cultural sites in the world.

After the temple tour, we will stop at a creative orphanage where they have managed to be self sufficient through selling the amazing art that the children create. Spend some time browsing their art, playing with the kids, and perhaps you will even come home with a very special art piece!

Next, we’ll witness sunset on the great temple complex from high above either in a very safe, but exhilarating tethered balloon ride, or for those who prefer – from the safety of solid temple bricks. Either way, in addition to great images, you will gain an immediate understanding of the lay of the land.

For those who want the ultimate experience you may take an optional 45 minute hot air balloon flight, gliding effortlessly above this majestic land as the sun slips below the temple peaks. (Price & more details TBA)

Tonight, we reconvene for a delicious welcome dinner at New Hope. This grass roots, rapidly growing Non-Government Organisation (NGO), focuses on ‘free education for all’ as the founder’s recognition of the vital role education plays in helping break the cycle of poverty. New Hope’s activities and programs address the daily issues facing families in crisis situations and, at the same time, find ways to work toward a better future. Aside from a school, health center, computer center, & music room, they have a fantastic restaurant that gets children off the street and teaches them the skills needed to be hired in the hospitality industry. The food is delicious! The night ends back at our quaint, boutique hotel, to be greeted by an in-room masseur to work out our travel weary muscles (included).


One with the People 

Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

Today is another extraordinary experience. We’ll explore an area in the remote Cambodian countryside seen by few travelers and experience a special day of interaction with local school children. On the way there, we will stop for road-side goodies. This is a great chance to have a truly local experience having some traditional coffee and desserts at a “locals only” roadside coffee shop. We will soon arrive at a small, very rustic school that is greatly in need of supplies.

The children of this school are eager to learn English and about the world outside Cambodia. After we donate to the school and take some group pictures with the kids, we will continue on to a village where we built a foot bridge in 2011, a new school kitchen in 2013, and a library in 2015. This year’s project is still in the works and we’ll announce the exciting details to all those signed up in the coming months. They welcome visitors with enthusiasm, since so few travelers make it out to their rural home. Enjoy lunch at our “tree house like home” before an afternoon filled with amazing photography opportunities and exploration with our guides! A visit to the school to say hello to the kids and see first hand the important projects we have helped build will follow. Another home cooked meal awaits for dinner before settling down under a blanket of bright stars with few lights to dull them away.

*For one night only we will be staying at an actual rural village in a unique open air house on stilts built just for us. This is not a hotel. There are two shared outhouses with toilets and a separate building to take bucket showers. The open air sleeping space is communal and all beds are queen size with mosquito nets. Double padded mattresses with mosquito nets will be set up for those who do not have a bed. Solar panels provide electricity for lights and a few communal plug outlets. While this portion is not luxury, it is why you have come across the planet: to live and breath life in a rural cambodian village.


The Unseen Temples

Meals: Breakfast/Lunch

Wake up to the sounds of the village, witnessing village life in a way you never could from the high-rise windows of an insulated hotel. You will witness life as it was, perhaps two thousand years ago. This is truly a dream come true for photographers, want to be anthropologists, and lovers of native cultures. This morning we will be working on a meaningful project that will impact the lives of these people for years to come. We work with Ponheary Ly Foundation to support their fantastic work.

After a hearty breakfast is served, explore Koh Ker a remote temple ruin right next to our village. These Temples are just as amazing as the Angkor ruins nd all to ourselves). In fact this is the first of the great temples before the capitol was moved to Siem Reap. The temple has been taken over by jungle vegetation and is quite exotic. After a great photography session among the ruins, bid farewell to our new friends at the village and make our way back to our charming hotel in Siem Reap. Tonight, grab a great dinner at a local restaurant with the group (optional) or explore the restaurants on your own.


Amazing Options & an Evening at the Circus?

Meals: Breakfast

Today we have options. For those that couldn’t get enough of the most amazing temples in the world, we’ll set up a transfer for you to head back to Angkor. Other options include a cooking class, shopping, volunteering at one of the local non profits we work with, exploring the markets, or just plain relaxing. There will also be a full day optional excursion to the largest waterfall with the largest Buddha statue in the region overlooking it (Optional activity prices & more details TBA)

This evening we’ll treat you to a unique and wonderful award winning circus composed of kids in need and trained in the circus arts. Each act shares a story meaningful to the struggles and history of these amazing people. The money goes to help the causes of Phare, the Social enterprise that runs it.


The Great Lake of Cambodia

Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

Tonle Sap is Cambodia’s great lake. Its size changes with the yearly rains from 1860 square miles to 4500 square miles! We will explore the lake by boat and visit stilted floating villages including Kampong Khleang. Observe the wonders of rural Khmer life where the locals live on the lake, literally. An ethereal canoe ride through a floating forest will show off this areas beauty. A tasty lunch will be served at a river restaurant on stilts!

This evening we’ll enjoy a fabulous dinner to celebrate the unforgettable adventure we’ve had in Cambodia, and wrap up the first part of our journey with another massage before bed! (included)

Day by Day Itinerary

Days 7-9: An Elephant Excursion Day by Day Itinerary

You might be surprised at how gentle the largest land mammal in the world can be. On this part of the journey we will get to meet a family of lovely elephants while experiencing one of the many bustling marketplaces Thailand has to offer.

Day 7 Destination

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Arrive in Thailand!

Day 9 Destination

Chiang Mai Temples, Nonghoi, Mueang, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Explore the Golden Triangle


Thailand: Kingdom of Wonders

Meals: Breakfast/Dinner

This morning we’ll bid farewell to the magical Kingdom of Cambodia and continue onto it’s arch rival and biggest ally at different times throughout history: The Kingdom of Thailand! We’ll hop on our flight (included) at the Siem Reap International airport to the cultural capital of northern Thailand, Chang Mai. After checking into our boutique hotel, the remainder of the day will be at leisure.

This evening we’ll reconvene for an awesome culinary adventure at the Mai Gate Food Market. Our favorite among all the markets, Mai Gate offers plenty of fantastic photo opportunities. Experience locals haggling, preparing delicious Thai dinners, and colorful monks collecting alms. We’ll get a unique glimpse of the typical Thai life along with indulging in their delicious food!

From the market is the nearby Night Bazaar. Photograph vendors selling clothes, souvenirs, fake Rolex watches, cheap DVDs, & every other knick knack you can think of! Cheap prices for cheap things is the name of the game here, but if you’re not into shopping, the experience and photo ops alone will be well worth the visit.  In addition, around the bazaar are restaurants with live music and traditional Thai dancers to add to the excitement! The remainder of the evening is at leisure before bed.


Wilderness Adventure & Elephant Encounter 

Meals: Breakfast

Today we have quite the adventure. We will start with a morning visit to hospital, donating supplies for the kids and a play structure as there is very little for these children to do in the hospital. After a heartwarming connection with those truly in need, we will Drive into the surrounding countryside, we’ll begin a jungle hike through the lush forests of Northern Thailand and get away from city into one of the countries most beautiful regions. Endless photographs to be taken here of the landscapes and wildlife, most notably an encounter with elephants at a well respected & responsible non-profit camp! We not only have the opportunity to interact with these gentle giants, but we get to wash them and feed them medicine balls.

Arrive back to our charming boutique hotel at the end of the day and grab a bite to eat on your own (or together with our tour leader).


Free Day w/ Awesome Options

Meals: Breakfast

Today will be open to enjoy Chang Mai on your own, relax by the pool or sign up for one of our awesome optional experience:

Cooking Experience at Organic Farm (Optional): Beginning at the morning market, we’ll be immersed in the way locals truly prepare and serve meals to their families every day. A gorgeous farm will be the location for the cooking class, a perfect setting for photos and enjoying our very own tasty creations! (Price and Sign Up Details TBD)

Day by Day Itinerary

Days 10-13: Paradise in Koh Lanta Day by Day Itinerary

We believe in saving the best for last; this tropical getaway will be one to remember, with boat rides, snorkeling, and relaxation being the primary items on our itinerary. Soak up the best Thailand has to offer as we approach the end of our journey.

Day 10 Destination

Koh Lanta, Krabi, Thailand

Some of the most incredible beaches in the world are here. Enjoy!

Day 12 Destination

Phi Phi Islands, Krabi, Thailand

Snorkeling and Sunbathing in paradise

DAY 10

Onto Island Paradise

Meals: Breakfast/Dinner

This morning we’ll say goodbye to the highlands of Northern Thailand and hop on a flight to the opposite side of the country where idyllic islands, white sand beaches, and stunning limestone monoliths await! (Domestic Flight Included)

On arrival into Krabi (“Gateway to the Islands”) we’ll transfer to a speedboat for the ride to Koh Lanta Island, our paradise home for the next few days. “Once the domain of backpackers and sea gypsies, Lanta has morphed from a luscious southern Thai backwater into a (paradise) getaway… Divine miles-long beaches unpolluted by jet skis (and) within eyeshot of Phi-Phi, charming Lanta remains far more calm, real and culturally rich, and effortlessly caters to all tastes and budgets.”  – Lonely Planet

Settle in and enjoy the beach or pool. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure before we get back together for a tasty southern Thai style dinner.

DAY 11

Snorkeling, Monkeys, Sea Gypsies, & Old Town!

Meals: Breakfast/Lunch

Today we’ll explore the incredible reefs surrounding Koh Lanta on a guided snorkeling adventure. This 1/2-day experience is full of colorful fish and reefs around the islands best spots! (Snorkel Gear Included!)

Upon returning to land we’ll have lunch and make a donation on behalf of our travel club (included) at the Lanta Animal Welfare Center. Proceeds go toward preserving & protecting the animals of the island. Get your cameras ready to photograph some adorable monkeys!

From here, we’ll take a privately guided tour of Old Town & the Sea Gypsies (Sea gypsies, known in Thai as Chao Leh, are thought to be the very first inhabitants of the Andaman coastal regions of Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia.) Experiencing their culture first hand will be quite the treat!

Dinner is on our own this evening but feel free to join our tour leader at one of our favorites to eat as a group.

DAY 12

Relax in Paradise OR Experience the Phi Phi’s

Meals: Breakfast/Dinner

Today will be at leisure to relax and take in the surrounding beauty before we head back to reality tomorrow. For those itching for one final iconic adventure join us on an exploration of the Phi Phi Islands:

Phi Phi Island Hopping Adventure (Optional): Visit 3-4 of the otherworldly Phi Phi Islands and immerse ourselves in paradise (eye candy for our photo lovers!) A tasty lunch, snorkeling, sunbathing, and photographing the landscapes & island monkeys are just some of the exciting highlights!

Tonight we’ll get together for our final night farewell dinner to celebrate this trip of a lifetime, with new travel buddies to experience the world with in years to come!

DAY 13

Farewell to the Kingdom

Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast this morning we’ll make our way back to the mainland for our flights home out of Krabi International Airport (KBV).

We won’t be surprised if this is just one of many more Southeast Asian Adventures in your future!

Day by Day Itinerary

What's Included

What's Not Included

  • International airfare: Fly into Siem Reap, Cambodia (REP) & Depart Krabi, Thailand (KBV)
  • Visas:

Thailand: No Visa Required

Cambodia: Obtained upon arrival*IF you choose to get on arrival please read here.

  • Tipping: At your discrtion for local guides, chauffer, tour guide, etc. (Recommended 5-10.00 USD pre day per person for our guide, 3-5 USD per person per day for our drivers, & 3-5 USD per person per day for hotel staff)
  • Additional donations (optional: School supplies, shoes, clothing, money) *See recommended list
  • All transfers and taxes included

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What Travelers Are Saying...
Seth M.

New Mexico, USA

“This was seriously the best group I’ve ever had the privilege of traveling with. I can’t say enough good things about D.E. Looking for the right company? You’ve found it!”

Kathy M.


"I had a great time this past week and want to thank you for all the work you and Jud and Joe did in planning the adventure. Your willingness to change plans and be so accommodating made the trip extra special for me. And of course, the humor. What can I say? I felt like we were all part of a close family. I have told several people about Destination Earth and hope they will contact you. Thanks again, Kathy"

Janet A.

California, US

"DO IT!!! Steve, Jud and Tom, our guides were the best hosts and had crazy knowledge about where the best places were. Spectacular and breath taking!"