In recent years, more tourists are opting for experiences and activities that practice “responsible tourism” – the management of tourism businesses that aims to maximise economic, social and environmental benefits while reducing the cost to the destination.
In Cambodia where over 40% of the population survives under USD$3.10 a day, and where educational opportunities are limited, this rise in responsible tourism can have huge economic and social benefits for Cambodia. There are various non-profit organisations and social enterprises that run activities and attractions for tourists in Cambodia. The contributions from their visits go to providing gainful employment, higher pay and better work conditions for the local community. Many of these organisations also provide free education and training for those with limited access to education and resources.
If you are looking to support the local communities on your visit, here are some interesting, yet meaningful ways you can spend your time in Siem Reap.
1. EXPERIENCE CAMBODIAN VILLAGE HOMESTAY IN CHANSOR VILLAGE
With the influx of tourists heading to Siem Reap to visit the majestic Angkor Wat, it is hard to get a taste of what rural Cambodia is like in the city. Thankfully, visitors can now experience a day in the life of a villager with an unforgettable Homestay at Chansor Village organised by Buffalo Tours.
Start your journey with a calming ride on ox-cart into the village where you can take part in a series of activities from farming, cooking and feeding livestock – all under the guidance and company of local villagers. End off the long day with a simple home-cooked meal with a local family.
The beauty of these tours lie in their belief of responsible tourism where they work closely with local communities to ensure that the culture and lifestyles of these villagers are preserved and respected. All tour guides are also locals who are extremely knowledgeable of the history and culture of Cambodia and who are always willing to answer any questions you have about Khmer culture. A home-stay at Chansor community will not only provide you with a once in a lifetime experience of living the simple life in a rural village, but your contributions will also go a long way in supporting the livelihoods of these villagers.
You can request a tour directly from their website. Alternatively you can arrange for a tour with Buffalo Tours through the reception at your Siem Reap Hotel.
2. WITNESS THE MAKING OF BEAUTIFUL KHMER ART AT ARTISAN D’ANGKOR
If you’re a fan of culture and art, you’ll definitely love a visit to the workshops of Artisans D’Angkor.
Apart from their dedicated to preserve the traditional Khmer skill of silk-making, painting, stone, and wood carving, Artisans D’Angkor aims to provide professional artisan training to individuals in rural Cambodia with limited access to education. Since its inception, Artisans Angkor has opened 42 workshops all over Siem Reap and provides employment to over 1300 people.
Below are two free guided tours where you can learn more about the inspiring mission of Artisans Angkor, appreciate the beauty of Khmer art, and support the local artisans all at the same time.
Free tour of Khmer handicraft workshops
Take a free tour of the main showroom and workshops located just a 2-min walk away from Old Market and Pub Street where you can witness the skilled artists at work as you walk through workshops of wood carving, silver plating and silk painting. The tour ends in the mains showroom where you can view and purchase beautiful art pieces hand-made by local artisans.
Angkor D’Angkor Siem Reap main showroom and workshops
When: Daily, 7.30am to 6.30pm
Where: Stung Thmey street, Siem Reap Downtown
Tel: +855 (0) 89 624 686 / (0) 63 963 330 ext. 210
Workshops available in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese or Khmer
Free tour of Angkor Silk Farms
Ever wondered how silk is made? Let the local guides of Angkor Silk Farm walk you through the intricate process of silk farming. From cultivating mulberry bushes to the preparation of silk threads and the production of silk fabric and accessories, you’ll definitely learn something new at the Angkor Silk Farm. There will also be a large showroom where you can admire and purchase silk products made by the artisans in these silk workshops.
D’Angkor main site (Stung Thmey street, Siem Reap Downtown) from 9.30am and 1.30am daily. If you’d like to head there on your own, you can arrange for a tuk-tuk/car to bring you from your Siem Reap Hotel to Angkor Silk Farm in Pouk district.
Angkor Silk Farm
When: Daily, 8.00am to 5.00pm – boutique closes at 5.30pm
Where: Pouk District (20 mins from Siem reap downtown)
Tel: +855 (0) 99 555 1093.
3. BE WOWED BY THE TALENT AT PHARE CIRCUS
A ‘must-see’ on the list of things to do in Siem Reap, this circus has been rated the top non-temple attraction you should visit, for good reason.A project by social enterprise Phare Ponleu Selpak Association (PPS) (http://pharecircus.org/about-us/our-social-mission/), the performances blend traditional circus acts like juggling and contortionism with modern dance forms and Khmer culture.These uniquely Cambodian performances are entirely performed and created by local artists with themes inspired by their personal experiences.
The parent organisation, PPS was formed 20 years ago by an Art teacher and his 8 students after the fall of the Khmer Rogue. Their goal was to provide healing and solace through the joy of art to the underprivileged children of Battambang. They currently run a public school attended by 1,200 daily as well as alternative schools such as the circus school where performers in the Phare circus were trained.
Spend an meaningful evening being entertained by these talented performers of the Phare Cambodian Circus, it’ll be a night you won’t forget.
Phare the Cambodian Circus
When: Daily, Performances start at 7:30pm and gates open at 7:00pm
Where:Comaille Road, behind Angkor National Museum
Preferred Reserved Seating (Section A) – Adult (age 12+) : US$35 / Children (age 5-11) : $18 (Reserved seating in the front three rows with complimentary water and gift from Phare Boutique
Preferred Open Seating (Section B) – Adult (age 12+) : US$25 / Children (age 5-11) : US$17 (Open seating in the rear three rows of the middle section)
General Open Seating (Section C) – Adult (age 12+) : US$18 / Children (age 5 – 11) : $US10 (Open seating in the two side sections. Some views are partially obstructed by support poles)
All contributions to the circus go to providing free education and gainful employment to these Cambodian artists.
Tel: +855 (0) 15 499 480 & +855 (0) 92 225 320
You may purchase your tickets online or at the performance venue from 8.00am to 8.30pm. You may also reserve a spot through your Siem Reap Hotel, tickets and travel agents.