Cambodia vacations, including Angkor

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07 Nov 2019
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Vacation type

Small group vacation

This is a 'small group adventure' - you will be sharing your experiences with like minded people. Group sizes are limited to a maximum of 12 persons, a genuinely small group. Experience has taught us that smaller groups are less intrusive to local cultures and environments whilst allowing more interaction with local people. Furthermore it means greater flexibility on a day to day basis and on a social level it proves to be fun. Whether you are traveling alone or with friends/family its good value, and a great way to meet new people! The intention is to travel as a group of friends rather than a typical tour group, so don't expect stick-on name badges or any following the umbrella.

Responsible tourism

Cambodia vacations, including Angkor

Carbon reduction

Your vacation will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this vacation and how to reduce them.

Environment

Overall, the intention with this, as with all our tours, is to offer an ethical, responsible vacation which respects the places and people we visit. We combine the well-known tourist sites with off-the-beaten-track ones thus diverting tourist revenue and contact into areas not usually benefiting from this income, and at the same time, providing a more authentic view of the region visited.
On our Cambodia Overland tour this includes rarely visited destinations such as Prek Toal floating village, Pursat and Kompong Chhnang.

We deliberates limit groups to a maximum of 12 persons as we aim to reduce the impact on both local communities and the environment whilst allowing for greater genuine interaction with said communities. This also results in a higher guide/customer ratio thus offering a greater facility for individual attention and allows us to use smaller hotels and restaurants and employ the services of more genuinely ‘local’ operators on a personal and friendly basis rather than dealing with establishments primarily equipped for larger tourist groups. We prefer to eat, drink and shop where the locals do and to use local cafes plus street and market stalls.

Equally, Hotels chosen are small and independently owned with proven responsible travel credentials and all - fully-licensed - guides and drivers are locally employed.

Portions of entrance fees to the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, Tuol Sleng Museum, Prasart Kuhanokor, the Angkor Archeological Park, Prasart Ek Phnom (Battambang) and Beng Melea Temple are used for both restoration and conservation purposes as well as for salaries for the numerous local people employed at such sites. All sites are important sources of income and employment for the local communities.

We also hope that visits to ‘off the radar’, unregulated temple and historical sites will increase residents’ awareness and encourage conservation.

As a small company our support projects are localised and targeted and tend to react to local needs, currently our focused aid schemes projects in both northern Thailand and Myanmar’s Shan State.
On a micro-level we support and assist the the Saray Community Eco-tourism scheme in Prek Toal Village.

Community

It is important to us to ensure that we support local communities by giving back. All hotels and several of the restaurants used on this tour participate in educational and training projects for underprivileged youths.

Every group will visit the Saray Community Eco-tourism scheme in Prek Toal Village as well as participating in a tour with Butterfly Tours in Battambang. These handicraft and cottage industries tours are organized by local students who, as well as helping to finance their studies and practice their language skills, also provides training for underprivileged rural youths.

In addition, during free time, guests are encouraged to visit projects such as Artisans Angkor which is involved with the education and welfare of people from poor rural communities, and Phare Ponleu Selpak which supports children, young adults and their families with educational programs and social support.

We avoid any chain or international hotels and all accommodation used on this tour is independently owned by local residents with the exception of the 252 Hotel in Phnom Penh which is owned by long-term European residents of Cambodia. A portion of their profits goes towards funding educational projects for local children and orphanages, providing corresponding information for guests as well as suggesting appropriate donations. All staff members are local residents. Our Siem Reap Hotel has a policy of employing all of its staff members from underprivileged families. The aim is to educate, train and reintegrate young people and orphans from poor backgrounds whose opportunities are otherwise limited by a lack formal education.

Meals are provided in either locally-run restaurants or local-style cafes, market and street stalls. All products are locally sourced and all staff are local residents. The emphasis is also very much on traditional Khmer food which we hope increases an interest and pride in the region’s cuisine.

Additional food products - for takeaway lunches, picnics etc – is deliberately purchased from local bakeries and /or fresh produce markets rather than chain supermarkets.

All transport is locally owned – whether minibuses or boats and tuk-tuks for shorter journeys.

With regards souvenirs our clients are also encouraged to buy directly from fabricants’ houses in the case of our Battambang cottage industries tour and Saray community tourism project or either markets or outlets attached to aid and educational organizations such as Artisans Angkor for example rather than the large, purpose-built souvenir stores.

All guides and most leaders are local, while any foreign leaders employed have lived in the local communities for long periods and are experienced in customs, culture and as much as possible, language. Thus leaders and guides can provide suitable, relevant information for our customers; to help them to gain a wider understanding of our style of tourism that focuses on learning; genuine interaction with the local communities, reciprocity and cultural exchange processes. To be aware of the potential impact of tourism on the local society, culture and environment, and to behave and dress appropriately with a respect and appreciation for local customs, mores and traditions and a respect for the ecology of areas visited. Our guides and leaders thus facilitate communication of our values to both travelers and local communities, educating them in sustainable tourism practices

By explaining our methods and the reasons behind them local agents, guides and hotels are encouraged by us to adopt further responsible tourism practices themselves and guides and drivers are provided with additional training in this respect.

11 Reviews of Cambodia vacations, including Angkor

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 28 Oct 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


It would be difficult to identify a single point or aspect of my vacation as being the most memorable as the entire trip was unforgettable. The openness and
friendliness of the Cambodian people was heart warming and this was evident in every exchange, from buying stamps at the post office to waving at the
children on the Sankhang River, both on the floating villages and the riverbanks. They seemed to thoroughly enjoy our passage past their homes and I suspect we may have constituted their day's entertainment!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Be prepared to shower and change several times a day, particularly at the beginning/end of the rainy season as humidity is high. Remember that local wages are very low and that a thoughtful tip is most appreciated. Do respect local culture and customs and try to learn a few words of Khmer :)

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, not only were we supporting local businesses, including but not limited to hotels and restaurants, but the cost of our 3 day tickets to see Angkor Wat and
the other temples goes in part to the ongoing preservation and restoration of temple sites.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


I would rate the vacation as superb. The itinerary was extremely well planned, the administration and planning from hotel transfers to arrivals, stays and
departures at the three different hotels we stayed in was seamless. The tour leadership and tour guides made what was already a memorable vacation into an
unforgettable one.

Reviewed on 05 May 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The whole immersion in another culture was educational and we loved it all.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Probably not go near monsoon although there were less tourists then.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Absolutely, although not sure about the large outlet selling a variety of crafts. My friend spent quite a lot and the manager/owner asked why I did not purchase anything although we were told there was no obligation. Not sure if the craftsmen benefitted much.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


A thoroughly wonderful vacation though we were lucky to be the only three on the trip which gave us comfortable journeys

Read the operator's response here:

We're delighted that you and your friends had such a positive experience of Cambodia. It certainly is a fascinating country. A word about the craft center. We presume you are referring to Artisan's D'Angkor workshop and boutique. We have chosen to include this organisation as they train underprivileged children to make handicrafts, however we appreciate it can be seen as pricey for the region. As you say, there was no obligation, and we regret that you were made to feel under pressure. This should not have been the case.

Reviewed on 05 Jan 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The S-21 site in Phnomh Penh, all the temples at Siem Reap and the boat journey between Siem Reap and Battambang.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


While the physical demands are not great, considering the heat etc, there are some areas especially around the temples, where a certain amount of determination and robustness is required. This trip is not casual.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, the visit to the village industries around Battambang, the stops on the boat trip (for drinks and to see the hyacinth weaving) between Siem Reap and Battambang and the use of the local guides including the Butterfly company in Battambang.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent! We felt that the time in Battambang could have been better used as the (new) bamboo railway was rather more of a fairground ride than we anticipated, although it did seem to appeal very much to the Cambodians riding with us! It was a good 3 hours that may have been better used. Otherwise, the whole trip was well thought out and covered many aspects of Cambodian life. Our guide Nak was perfect! The hotel in Battambang was unfortunately a bit disappointing compared to those in Siem Reap and Phnomh Penh.

Reviewed on 08 Dec 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Because we were a small group, we were able to change the itinerary and instead of visiting one of the main temples, we went 'off the beaten track' and travelled to a temple way out of Siem Reap without any tourists there. It really felt like we made our own discovery! The journey down the river was also great and showed how some Cambodians still lived, which was quite an eyeopener

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Go with the flow, keep an open mind and drink lots of water...it's hot and humid in November

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I think it definitely benefited local people, we stayed in Cambodian owned hotels, ate at local restaurants and visited (and shopped!) at local villages. Not sure about the amount of water bottles though as that is not very sustainable but on the other hand difficult to avoid.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Had a great time and feel like I have a better understanding of both the country and its people.

Reviewed on 14 Mar 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Experiencing Cambodia moving on from the horrors of its recent history and meeting its charming people.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


A reasonable degree of fitness might aid enjoyment since there is some walking around the historic sights in hot weather.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Tourism is an important employer in Cambodia so our staying in small hotels and using local guides, river boats, the bamboo train etc were all supportive.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?



Reviewed on 26 Jan 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


So many things, it was crammed with experience, but probably the trip up river from Siem Reap to Battambong across ton le sap and past the front rooms of so many families scratching an existence from the river and surrounding landscape. Beautiful landscapes and such fundamental issues with sustainability. But Cambodian resilience seems to win out. A privilege to get so close to people's lives.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


We were not at all sure about doing a small group tour, but we had underestimated the impact of traveling with a guide with a plan.
We absolutely packed in the experience and really felt we had seen Cambodia in all its aspects by the time we left. IF you don't have as much time, this is a great way to learn lots.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


undoubtedly. whether it was small, local hotels or cycle tours to see rural businesses, this tour was mostly about local entrepreneurship and it was the better for it.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Fantastic window into cambodia. we needed a few days on a thai beach to assimilate it all.

Reviewed on 31 Aug 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


So many things were amazing. Seeing the sun rise at Angkor Wat, trekking in the Kulen mountains and camping overnight at the monastery at the top. My daughter would say it was riding on an elephant, something she has always wanted to do. Visiting the museum at Tuol Sleng and the Killing Field was incredibly moving. All the hotels we stayed at were better than we expected, all having air conditioning which was great. We wouldn't have got as much out of the trip if we hadn't had a brilliant guide called Fin. He went above and beyond the call of duty to make our experience what it was.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Talk to Lesley at the operator. Tell her your budget and what you want. We didn't think we could have the vacation we wanted for our budget but we got it! We were concerned that going in August would be a mistake as it is supposed to be the wettest month. Well it isn't any more! We got caught in one torrential downpour which was fun, it was still very warm, and then had showers on 3 other days. The rain didn't stop any of our activities.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


We stayed in hotels run by locals, not big international chains which hopefully means the money stays in Cambodia. We used local restaurants and transport and our guide told us that tourism is now the 3rd biggest industry in the country. One thing we felt Cambodia is going to have to deal with soon is the rubbish. Piles of plastic bottles are not attractive.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Better than we had imagined. Certainly an experience that my 16 and 15 year old won't forget. If you want a vacation with variety, from temples to history to beaches to bartering in the Russian market then this is for you.

Reviewed on 11 Apr 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Rather to my surprise, given that I went solely to see Angkor, the most memorable part was probably eating real food in local Cambodian eating places. I am not a foodie and my experience of 'Asian' food is limited to takeaways from the local 'Chinese' (in other words maximum ignorance!) so all I know is what a pleasure it was to eat zingy fresh food that Cambodians eat. This was supported by being a small group of 7/8 so we were kind of able to blend in as many of the local people were also in similar sized groups. If we had been even a group of 15-20 it could not have been such a genuinely anonymous and enjoyable experience.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Well - none really! Everything I needed to know was covered beforehand either on the website or in the trip notes I was sent. I felt as well informed as I needed to be for such a brief visit to an engagingly complex country.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, with a couple of 'Buts' we had local guides and drivers, and as enthused about above, we ate in Cambodian places. I am confident that we supported conservation, though this wasn't particularly mentioned. Our driver joined us on our Drinking Towers evening which was my first experience of a trip that assumed that level of equality - I really appreciated it.

I am much less confident about our environmental impact. There is a lot of plastic waste in Cambodia and we added to it big time! We used absolutely dozens and dozens of small bottles of water and there was no recycling of them. On a ten day visit to Namibia a few years ago, the guide had a large collapsible water container and we refilled our bottles from that. The two hotels we used also had only small bottles in rooms and mini bars. The operator could invite hotels to install water coolers/fountains like UK offices have from which clients would refill their small bottle/proper flask. Also on the day that we had a picnic, each baguette came in a very large (because the sandwiches were large) polystyrene box. Yikes! They should have been in paper or paper bags. The operator could ask the shop to use paper bags - it would be a small but significant step.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


I would rate is as well constructed and well led - and well enjoyed. What more could I have wanted? It was perfect.

Read the operator's response here:

We thank Christine for her kind comments and are so please she had such a positive experience of Cambodia.

We couldn't agree more in principal with the comments about plastic waste but we are largely constrained by common practice on the ground and what is safe and practical for our guests.

Remembering we are talking about a country just emerging from 30 years of civil war and the Khmer Rouge, where the average wage is less than $2 and many people still live hand to mouth, concepts such as littering, recycling and eco-tourism are totally alien to the majority of local people and firms. (Note though, having said that the majority of plastic bottles and cans are in fact collected by street kids etc for resale anyway.)

Where we can, we do use the large 20 litre bottles for example with larger groups or on longer trips - but often it is not practical.
a. We can't chill the large bottles and in climates such as Cambodia in April, customers usually want cold water.
b. With smaller groups there is too much wastage since water in such large bottles can only be kept a certain time before picking up an unpleasant taste,
c. Even in restaurants where large bottles are used people are often uncomfortable being offered water out of a bottle that is not sealed even if the guide assures them it's fine
d. We have to issue one or 2 small bottles of water per person when hiking or on the road where it would not be possible to refill from a larger bottle. (When we do overnight camping we do bring large bottles for refills.) We do endeavour to ensure that any small plastic water bottles we provide are disposed of in an appopriate manner.

Few hotels will refill personal water bottles, they do of course make money from selling bottled water.

We share Christine's concern about polystyrene containers but again at the moment that is what is almost universally used when we purchase packed lunches. There are currently few hygenic alternatives in Cambodia. Biodegradeable lunch boxes are available in Thailand but not to our knowledge in Cambodia. However, we will talk again to the restaurants concerned to see if they have any ideas.

Reviewed on 07 Mar 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Watching dawn break and the sun rise at Angkor Wat. Just magical.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Make sure you can cope with the heat. You need to be reasonably fit to walk around the temples in 34 degree heat. Take a torch for the power cuts.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


I think it did benefit local people by providing jobs for them in restaurants, bars, hotels etc. and as guides and providing food. I'm not sure we minimized our impact on the environment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Well paced, very interesting and you need a good guide and we had one. There was quite a lot of travel by minibus but that's to be expected if you are covering a lot of the country but be prepared. Enjoyed the small group and there was a good mix of outings and time to oneself.

Read the operator's response here:

Many thanks for your comments Caroline - we are particularly pleased that you appreciated the pace of the tour and the blend of time to yourself and activity - it isn't always easy to get this just right, but we do try our best. Being rushed from place to place without having time to sit and watch the world go by is not our way. Lesley.

Reviewed on 07 Apr 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The visit to the prison and the Killing Fields were very moving and thought provoking, not enjoyable but really helped me understand. The temples were amazing.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Take lots of memory cards for your camera as you will want to take loads of photos! Read up on the history before you go.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Visited small local restaurants and used local guides where possible.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


I had an amazing time - the guides were great, really looked after me. I loved every minute and wouldn't hesitate to recommend the operator.

Reviewed on 21 Sep 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Many aspects of the vacation were memorable. The painful recent history, the friendly locals, the scenic beauty, variety and the welcoming attitude to tourists today. For the children, possibly the elephant riding, kayaking and opportunities to see cultures rather different to theirs, as well as to taste deep fried tarantula and fish pedicures!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Read about the history as you go. Be adventurous in you itinerary and be prepared to change it if necessary due to weather!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Definitely benefited local people.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Our help with itinerary was excellent and it was tailored to our family of older teenagers and a 10 year old. A variety of history, culture and activity was just right and everyone had a fabulous time. It was excellent in all aspects.

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