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© 2019 Jennip98. 

This website is simply a brief glimpse of what to do and see from my perspective, not an exhaustive list. If I have visited a place and would recommend it, I have included that information in the relevant text. If I have visited a place that I would not recommend, I do not include it on this website. I am aware that there are many more locally owned businesses, social enterprises, and non-profit organisations in the destinations mentioned that I am not familiar with and have not included on this website. Unfortunately, I can not visit them all.

I do not receive or accept commissions, discounts or any other benefits from any of the organisations mentioned on this website.

Siem
Reap

I have been to Siem Reap twice and I am looking forward to going back again in February 2020. Although I have spent more than 6 weeks in Siem Reap (Volunteering at GFTV) there are still plenty of things I would like to see and do and many restaurants/cafe that I would like to visit. I have indicated below if I have stayed at, visited or eaten at an establishment and identified some that I would like to visit on my next trip in February with my sister-in-law, Linda.

Learn About Siem Reap

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"Nearly 90 percent of hotels and guesthouses in Siem Reap as well as most restaurants are locally owned or co-owned, and the vast majority of staff is local (by law). So basically every dollar you spend in Siem Reap supports locals" (Thomas Wanhoff,  6/1/2020). Thanks for sharing this information Thomas :)

A sample of the accommodation that I am familiar with that is Khmer owned or run by social enterprises or organisations that are eco-friendly and support the local community. I have either stayed at these properties or have a connection with them through my volunteering activities with GFTV.

Khmer owned & run

  • Carolina Angkor Hotel (from us$15, stayed 2018, 2019 & 2020). A small hotel owned by a Khmer family and located just behind the night markets. The rooms are basic, but very clean, bright and comfortable, and the pool is sparkling clean and refreshing. Silong and his daughter Chumneanh (Maria Carolina) both speak good English and the whole family is very warm and friendly. Chumneanh also speaks Spanish. I usually stay here when I am in Siem Reap and it is walking distance to GFTV.

  • eOcambo Hospitality (from us$40). Three properties in the city on the east side of the river. 100% Khmer owned. They actively raise funds for a range of social enterprises and help connect guest with local volunteering opportunities. I am looking forward to visiting these properties & the staff during my next visit.

  • The Unique Angkor Villa(from us$20, stayed 2018). A small hotel, owned by a Khmer family. Located within walking distance of the night markets & pub street, a quiet oasis in the hub of the city.  The new rooms, finished in 2019 are beautiful, clean, light & airy with balconies overlooking the gorgeous sparkling swimming pool. I stayed here on my first trip to Siem Reap. Lucky, the owner speaks excellent English and his family are very friendly. I would definitely recommend this hotel and it is only a short walk to GFTV and Artisans d'Angkor.

Eco-friendly and/or strong community support

  • Bloom Garden Guesthouse (from us$50). They donate 4% of the room price to a number of child safety organisations and work with other organisations to support disadvantaged people.

  • Treeline Urban Resort (from us$200).  Eco-friendly and supports their local staff and local communities.

  • White Rabbit Hostel (from us$4) Street 26, Wat Bo. Eco-friendly and work with local charities and social enterprises to help support local disadvantaged people.

 

Social enterprises

  • Sala Bai (NGO, Hotel & Restaurant Training School) - Wat Svay Village Tonle Sap Rd. 6 guest rooms.

Rural areas outside Siem Reap

 

Local street stalls, locally-owned and social enterprise restaurants and cafes that have a strong commitment to supporting local communities.

Restaurants/Cafes that I have eaten at and would recommend:

Restaurants/Cafes that I would like to visit:

  • Embassy Restaurant (Khmer Gastronomy) – Street 27 Kings Rd Village. Mon-Sun 6pm to11pm

  • Haven Restaurant (Training) - Chocolate Road. Mon-Sat 11.30am to 3pm and 5.30 tp10pm

  • Meng Cafe - Near Art Center Market. Daily, 8am to 11pm. Thanks Inga for the recommendation.

  • New Leaf (SE) - Street 9 (near the Old Market). Daily, 8am to 9.30pm

  • New Hope Cambodia Hospitality Training Restaurant

  • Marum (Friends - SE) - #8A, B Phum Slokram. Between Wat Polanka & Catholic Church. Daily 11am to11pm

  • Sala Bai (NGO, Hotel & Restaurant Training School) Wat Svay Village Tonle Sap Rd. Mon-Fri 7am to 5pm

Sustainable travel articles:

 

​There are many things to do and see in or near Siem Reap, too many to list them all. Below are some of the places I have visited or would like to visit on future trips. Note: Distances shown are (Klms) from Siem Reap City.

 

Beautiful photos taken in Siem Reap by photographer Bo Kornum

 

Cultural Shows

Museums

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Temples

To visit the temples you will need to buy a temple pass.

There are 3 different passes available:

  • 1-day us$37,

  • 3-day us$62 (valid for 1 week) or

  • 7-day us$72 (valid for 1 month) pass.

There are over 1,000 temples within the Angkor Archaeological Park and obviously I have not visited them all. The many significant archaeological sites are grouped into circuits. I have done the small circuit, the Roulos Group and Banteay Srey (links to photos below).


More info...Just Siem Reap Temple Guide

The Small Circuit  (north) is 17 klms long & includes the most well-known temples. 


More info...Angkor Wat Guide-Small Circuit tour (2019).

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The Grand Circuit (north) is 26 klms long and is usually done as an extension to the small circuit (3-day pass).

More info... Wanderingwheatleys: Angkor Wat: Guide to the Grand Circuit tour (2019).

 

Other Temple sites include:

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Tonle Sap Lake

The largest body of fresh water in Southeast Asia. The lake is part of the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve. 

 

The reserve encompasses 3 core biosphere areas:

  1. Prek Toal - Community-based Ecotourism Site (24klms) Located in Battambang Province. Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary & environmental research station with overnight accommodation.

  2. Moat Khla-Boeng Chhmar ( klms) - located in Peam Bang Commune in Kampong Thom Province.

  3. Stoeng Sen​ Wildlife Sanctuary - located in Kampong Thom Province, a 3 hour drive from Phnom Penh.

 

The reserve includes:

  • Tonle Sap Lake - floating & stilted villages

  • Flood lands & swamps surrounding the lake

    Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary 

  • Seasonally flooded rice fields & grasslands located near two national roads that define the reserve’s outer boundary More info...

Floating/Stilted villages

There are 4 main villages accessible from Siem Reap (Source: Siem Reap.net)

  • Chong Kneas (15klms) - privately owned & very"touristy", I would not recommend visiting the floating village here. It is the boat terminal to Battambang & Phnom Penh and where the boat tours depart from for Prek Toal.

  • Mey Chrey (25klms, south-west) - a new tour destination about half-way to Prek Toal, a grassroot real-life experience with beautiful scenery along the journey.

  • Kampong Phluk (30klms, south-east, visited 2018) - 3 villages with mainly stilted houses
    Siem Reap Shuttle (local operator)  - 1/2 day tours with hotel pickup & drop off.

  • Kompang Khleang (50klms) - the largest village on the lake and the one most often visited. 
    Community First recommended by Karen Millington, "I took a trip to the Tonle Sap river with Community First (a non-profit organisation), who support the local village, run a school and sewing enterprise - they were excellent."

 

Eco-tourism sites & tours

Tour Operators

Some locally owned and social enterprise tour operators in Siem Reap. I have not personally used any of them. They were either identified through my research or recommended by people living in Siem Reap. 

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Buy local & ethical products - Cambodia has a wide variety of talented artisans and ethical fair-trade organisations that support them.  SE = Social Enterprise

Markets: I don't have much interest in shopping so I haven't done any research on or visited many markets in Siem Reap, but there are plenty of them. If you are interested in visiting local markets then I suggest you read this article on Grantourismo.

Shops and workshops that I have visited:

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Shops and workshops I want to visit on my next trip:

 

Transportation options include: Tuk tuk (Remork moto), Cyclo, Bus, Taxi and Train (very limited).

 

For travel between Siem Reap and other provinces, the most economical mode of transport is by bus or mini-van. There are many bus companies, private taxis and mini-van operators in Cambodia. However, it is difficult to determine who owns the large bus companies, and how safe the locally owned transport operators are. Road safety is an issue in Cambodia so I looked at recommendations from other tourists and ex-pats to help me decide whom to use.  

 

If you are travelling with a small group of people, a private taxi may be a good option as you can share the cost.

If you want to book your transport in advance, the easiest way to do it is online:  

For airport-hotel transfers see Access and Parking on the Siem Reap Airport website. Also,  many hotels include free airport pickup/drop-off or you can pre-book it through them. 

For short journeys within the city, you can take a cyclo, tuk-tuk or air-conditioned taxi. There are lots of them and it is easy to find reviews about them.

 

Responsible and ethical volunteering opportunities in or near Siem Reap.

Organisations that I have volunteered with:

Organisations that I have connected with & will visit in 2020

 

Organisations that I would like to connect with & visit:

  • Heartprint House: Phum Thmey village, Sangkat Svaydongkum, on the outskirts of Siem Reap
     

Destinations

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Banteay Srei District

Only 20klms from Siem Reap city there is lots to do and see in the district (more info...)

  • Banteay Srey (visited 2018) - women's temple.

  • Butterfly Center (BBC) - near Banteay Srei temple

  • Cambodian Landmine Museum 

  • Mahendraparvata - (55kms, to-do 2020). An ancient city with 30 temples on the slopes of Phnom Kulen​. This temple complex is very different from Angkor Wat and definitely off the beaten track. There are no majestic temples and the vast archaeological sites on the mountain, aside from the splendid elephant statues, are buried beneath the jungle floor and the towers that can be seen are few and are in a ruinous state (Grantourismo).

  • Phnom Kulen National Park (48klms north, visited 2018) 
    A holy mountain of special religious significance to Hindus and Buddhists with 2 famous waterfalls and other historical sights of interest.

    • Preah Ang Thom, we visited the 16th-century Buddhist monastery and Naret & Visay had a blessing done by two Buddist monks. Naret & I climbed the stairs to see the giant 8m tall reclining Buddha & the view of the surrounding countryside was magnificent. Naret had another blessing done by one of the Monks.

    • Waterfall picnic area: We hired a picnic shelter and had lunch beside the river (yum). After lunch Naret & I had a swim in the pond below the waterfall. A set of steep steps lead down to the pond where you can view the falls from below and swim. Whilst resting on a big rock in the middle of the pond we also got a free fish foot massage, as little fish nibbled on our feet while we were sitting there. 

    • Kbal Spean archeological site (42klms) - Valley of the 1000 Lingas along the Kbal Spean River. An amazing site with ancient carvings in the rocks in the river bed and beautiful scenery.

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