Discover highlights a few tours that show the nation in a different light, giving you a peek at Cambodia’s cultural and natural wonders
Chi Phat Tours
Cambodia’s Wildlife Alliance Community-Based Ecotourism project brings visitors to the picturesque Cardamom Mountains. They can choose from multiple tour options, including bird-watching, joining a forest ranger patrol team in hunting for illegal loggers or visiting a bat cave with waterfalls. From chilling out to venturing into the wilderness, there’s something for everyone in Chi Phat.
Elephant Valley Project
This elephant retirement home allows tourists to get up close and personal with the majestic creatures. Elephant Valley Project rescues elephants and then rehabilitates them in their natural habitat. It offers half-day, full-day and multi-day visits. More-adventurous travellers can choose the five-day volunteer programme, which includes time with the elephants and local families and an education about the forest, community and conservation.
Siem Reap Art Tours
Guests of Siem Reap Art Tours tailor their own tour according to the kind of art they like. Host Robina Hanley, curator of the McDermott Gallery, asks tourists about their art interests – fashion, jewellery, photography – so she can design the tour just for them, with stops at well-known artist Theam’s house/workshop/museum, the design room of couture designer Eric Raisina and to the latest exhibition at One Eleven Gallery. The tours are small, with groups of two or three people. It’s a great start for any art fanatic visiting the Kingdom.
Four Religions of Phnom Penh
While Cambodia is an overwhelmingly Buddhist country, this tour – run by the knowledgeable folks at Khmer Architecture Tours – sheds light on the nation’s religious diversity. The tour visits four religious buildings erected around Phnom Penh after Cambodia’s independence from France in 1953. They include a Buddhist wat, a Chinese temple, a Cham Muslim mosque and a Carmelite chapel. Guides explain how the faiths arrived in Cambodia, and how they evolved and assimilated to the local culture.
Rats, Trash and Booze
Rats, Trash and Booze is a bicycle tour run by Grasshopper Adventures, which has shepherded tourists around Cambodia since 2004. Guests on the Siem Reap tour visit the country’s demining rats – which have been trained to sniff out deadly landmines – as well as a trash recycling initiative and sellers of infused rice wines. The tour is offered by special request only, but gives guests a peek beyond Siem Reap’s standard tourist draws, putting them in front of the town’s most exciting social enterprises.