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The Best of Community-Based Tourism in Cambodia

If you’re interested in community-based tourism in Cambodia, this quick round-up of the best performances, hotels, shops and more is an excellent place to start.

“Community-based tourism” is a hot topic in Cambodia, where many worthy projects compete with more conventional—and even downright crooked—enterprises in a rapidly growing economy. The below are guaranteed ways to put your money toward a good cause.

A Phare circus performer balances high on drums and boxes.
Phare: The Cambodian Circus performances take place in the specially constructed Big Top. Photo © U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh, licensed Creative Commons Attribution No-Derivatives.

Sights and Performances

  • The Cambodia Land Mine Museum, located near Banteay Srei, is managed by a Canadian NGO, with proceeds going to a home for impoverished children.
  • Phare: The Cambodian Circus is a rewarding attraction in Siem Reap that trains underprivileged students to become circus performers.
  • Bambu Stage in Siem Reap hosts shadow puppet theater shows performed by kids from the Krousar Thmey NGO.
  • Cambodian Living Arts is an NGO that stages excellent traditional dance performances in the garden of the National Museum in Phnom Penh.

Tours

  • Tonlé Sap Lake Tours are available through the Sam Veasna Center or Osmose, both of which support conservation efforts.
  • Khmer Architecture Tours in Phnom Penh are offered by the excellent KA Tours, an NGO that promotes and documents modern Khmer architecture.
The National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
The National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Photo © Phalinn Ooi, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Hotels and Homestays

  • Babel Siem Reap Guest House sponsors higher education for all its staff and some of its tuk-tuk drivers.
  • Paul Dubrule Hotel and Tourism School, near Siem Reap’s airport, provides training to young Cambodians, and visitors are welcome to stay or eat here.
  • Soria Moria, in Siem Reap, works closely with several social organizations to promote responsible tourism and hosts apsara dance performances organized by the NGO Sangkheum Center for Children.
  • Shinta Mani is an excellent hotel in Siem Reap that runs a foundation to support projects in education, business, and health care.
  • Banteay Chhmar homestay program provides income for local families and allows visitors a window into Khmer life.

Restaurants

  • Sala Bai, in Siem Reap, trains young Cambodians in the restaurant business.
  • The Haven is a Swiss-run restaurant in Siem Reap that employs disadvantaged young adults.
  • Common Grounds is an American-style coffeehouse in Siem Reap whose profits go to a number of NGOs in Cambodia.
  • Footprint Café, in Siem Reap, donates 100 percent of its net profits to the local community as grants for educational projects.
  • Kinyei Café is an NGO affiliate that trains local youth in Battambang.
  • Jai Baan Restaurant, in Battambang, is NGO-managed and offers gourmet dining.

Shops

  • Rajana, in Siem Reap, sells products made by underprivileged Cambodians.
  • Khmer Ceramics, in Siem Reap, produces great pottery and reinvests its profits into local job creation and cultural preservation.
  • Angkor Recycled trains and employs rural, in some cases disabled, tailors in its Siem Reap shop, which purchases and recycles waste from the community to make its products.
  • Cambodian Creations, in Phnom Penh, offers employment to vulnerable Cambodians, who produce jewelry and toys
  • Mekong Quilts, in Phnom Penh, support projects in the Cambodian and Vietnamese countryside

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