Cambodia Culinary Tour, October 2016

Come and do some eating with us on a Cambodia Culinary Tour from 23-31 October 2016 in Siem Reap and Battambang — the ‘rice bowl’ of Cambodia. We’ll be exploring Cambodian cuisine and culture at a deeper level than ever before, and we’d really love you to join us.

Our Cambodia Culinary Tour will take a similar approach to our May 2016 retreat in that there’ll be immersive culinary and cultural experiences, and excursions to temples, villages and countryside, however, there won’t be any writing and photography workshops during the 9-day tour. The focus here is firmly on the food.

If you’re keen on the creative component, then our 1-10 October Cambodia Travel and Food Writing and Photography Retreat is best for you. If you cannot make those dates then we may offer additional days of workshops and consultations immediately before and after the Cambodia Culinary Tour. We would need a minimum of five people to run these. Let us know if these interest you when you enquire.

We are offering 4 early-bird discounts of 10% if you book and pay in full by 1 July 2016. This requires a deposit by 26 June 2016 for the first 5% and an additional 5% if you pay in full by 1 July 2016.

Want more of an idea as to what to expect? Click through to salivate over the tantalising images from our previous culinary travel writing and photography tours. Scroll down for testimonials. Also check out our Instagram feed.

Our Cambodia Culinary Tour

Our 9-day Cambodia Culinary Tour in October will begin in Siem Reap, launching pad for excursions to UNESCO World Heritage listed Angkor Wat and the Angkor Archaeological Park.

The Cambodia culinary tour will include meals at Cambodia’s best restaurants and authentic local eateries and food stalls, market walks, street food tours, two Cambodian cooking classes, a 3-day culinary adventure to the country’s ‘rice bowl’ of Battambang, and tuk tuk trundles into the bucolic countryside and villages surrounding both cities.

The focus will be on immersing you in this highly underrated cuisine while giving you an insight into the culture and everyday life of Cambodia. You’ll get to meet the locals who cook the food, sell it and make the ingredients that go into producing it. In the process, we’ll show you the Cambodia that we love.

Testimonials from our May 2015 Tour

“Thanks so much for a wonderful tour. This has been an extraordinary experience.” Gale, USA.

“I felt that the trip really let me experience a full spectrum of life in Cambodia… I think about our trip often. And in a very positive way. Today I stumbled upon a Thai festival which generated a lot of memories. Thanks to you and Terry for an incredible experience.” Kimberley, USA.

“We’ve finally had a chance to settle in and marinate over the ten days we spent with you both in Cambodia. I can’t believe how much we accomplished! You both were the reason we signed up for the experience, and we are so grateful that we did. There was many an occasion through our time together where mum, Farida and I realised that these were things that we simply could not have done on our own. I’m realising that my notes and photos are falling severely short of piecing together the extensive story you had woven for us in Cambodia, we did so much! From meeting chefs to getting special seats at the circus or getting a tour of the local market by Mr Kim Nou (my favourite!) or Mr O’s tour (also another favourite!), these were all possibly only because of the relationships you both have nurtured over time. Thank you for being so generous by sharing the people and knowledge that were critical for us to get a deeper understanding of the country. But most importantly, for being the most caring and concerned guides we’ve ever had! On behalf of Farida and mum, thank you for giving us such a memorable experience and for sharing all your insights. A big biryani thank you dinner awaits you at our table. Big hugs and many thank you’s for all the chneng! food experiences we had.” Arva and Farida (of Frying Pan Adventures), and Nafeesa, Dubai.

Cambodia Culinary Tour Highlights

  • a special private poolside soiree and welcome dinner on the first evening;
  • a one-hour Khmer language lesson on basic greetings and food-focused vocabulary;
  • excursions to the temples of Angkor Archaeological Park, including a moatside picnic and sunrise at majestic Angkor Wat; visits to Angkor Thom, including Bayon temple, where the walls provide an introduction to Cambodian cuisine in their scenes from everyday life; and trips to atmospheric, lesser visited temples, such as Beng Mealea, Banteay Srei, and Bakong;
  • private Cambodian cooking classes, including a market walk and leisurely lunch with one of Cambodia’s best chefs;
  • memorable meals at Cambodia’s finest restaurants, including Malis, Cuisine Wat Damnak, Sugar Palm, and Marum, and our favourite, local, family-owned eateries and food stalls;
  • street food tours in Siem Reap and Battambang led by a Cambodian cook and foodie, including a locals-only ‘eat street’ and Cambodian picnic-style dinner;
  • tuk tuk trundles into Siem Reap and Battambang’s serene countryside and villages to observe cottage industries where artisanal producer families harvest palm sugar and make rice paper, rice noodles, rice spirits, and prahok (fermented fish), as they’ve always done;
  • stops at farms, pagodas, temples, a Muslim fishing village, and a monument to those who lost their lives to the Khmer Rouge during the Pol Pot era, on our Battambang journeys;
  • the chance to sample countless local specialties, from Cambodia’s beloved breakfast soups to street food snacks, such as kralan (sticky rice, coconut and black bean barbecued in bamboo over a smoky fire) and son vac (fish paste grilled in banana leaves);
  • exclusive experience: time with the last traditional dessert-maker in a village once famous for producing this treat, observing her painstaking preparation of this delicate sweet that begins before dawn each day;
  • a morning market tour with a Cambodian foodie in Battambang, including tastings of tropical fruits, herbs, snacks and drinks, and a photography excursion to Siem Reap’s lively local market;
  • a meal at Battambang’s Jaan Bai, the social enterprise restaurant supported by Thai cuisine expert and one of Asia’s best chefs, David Thompson, and Australian restaurateur John Fink, owner of Quay restaurant among others;
  • time to amble delightful Battambang and its sleepy streets lined with colonial shophouses, art galleries, and a Chinese temple, including a coffee stop at award-winning Kinyei, a social enterprise cafe in Battambang;
  • an introduction to traditional Khmer desserts and tastings with a Cambodian chef and a fun Khmer cocktail making lesson in Siem Reap;
  • behind-the-scenes experiences, including a peek into the sleek kitchen of an NGO-ran training restaurant for disadvantaged young people, the chance to interview Cambodia’s best chefs, and a kitchen visit to an NGO-ran pastry school and cafe training young women for professional pastry kitchens;
  • an entertaining night at Siem Reap’s quirky Phare Cambodian Circus;
  • temple, village and countryside excursions with Siem Reap-based Beyond Unique Escapes, a responsible travel company that supports the NGO Husk, including an interactive village walk led by a guide from Husk, followed by sunset cocktails and canapés overlooking idyllic rice fields;
  • a much-deserved celebratory dinner at one of Siem Reap’s best Cambodian restaurants.

Optional activities

These are things can be arranged for you, at your own expense:

  • yoga, massages and spa treatments;
  • pre- or post-retreat ‘Made in Cambodia’ tours on offer, focused on artisanal crafts, art, fashion, and design; and
  • 10% off for pre- or post-retreat tours and excursions with our partner Beyond Unique Escapes.

Writing and Photography Workshops

Our Cambodia Culinary Tour does not include creative workshops. If you are interested in honing your writing and photography skills but cannot make it to the early October retreat, we are happy to offer one full day of punchy, bite-sized lessons and workshops on various aspects of writing and photography on 22 October and half a day of group workshop time and one private consultation per person on 1 June for an additional fee of US$145 per person. We will need a minimum of five people to run these. Please let us know if this interests you when you enquire.

Your Accommodation

Our Cambodia Culinary Tour participants will stay at two beautiful, intimate, boutique properties, set in tropical gardens with alluring swimming pools. Rooms are spacious and comfortable with en-suite bathrooms, air-conditioning, ceiling fans, mini-bars, tea and coffee making facilities, and free Wi-Fi. All rooms have a writing space inside and seating outside for quiet reflection. Delicious daily breakfasts are included.

Templation

In Siem Reap, your accommodation will be at the sleek new Templation, designed by Cambodia’s finest young architects. Set in sprawling gardens on the edge of town, on the way to the temples, the small property (there are just 33 rooms) has a sense of tranquility and quiet that’s perfect for a creative retreat. Making beautiful use of stone, the design tips a hat to Cambodia’s mid-20th century architecture, particularly the King’s former Siem Reap guesthouse, now an Aman hotel. Decorated with retro-style furniture, the breezy restaurant and lounge-bar overlooks Siem Reap’s largest swimming pool. There is a spa on site, as well as a gift shop. For more information, click through to the Templation website.

Maisons Wat Kor

In Battambang, we will all stay at lovely Maisons Wat Kor on a leafy lane in riverside Wat Kor village, a 2km tuk tuk ride from town. Set across two traditional style houses, Maisons Wat Kor has a saltwater swimming pool, sala and hammocks overlooking a small lake, fruit trees, and an organic herb and vegetable garden. There’s a small restaurant, La Terrasse de Lotus, where some of Battambang’s finest Khmer cuisine is served, cooked with produce from the hotel garden and local markets. Massages are available upon request in the sala overlooking the pond. (And don’t tell, but Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt spent Valentines Day here when they were in Battambang filming Jolie’s film First They Killed My Father.) Click through to read more about Maisons Wat Kor.

About Lara Dunston and Terence Carter

We are prolific Siem Reap-based food and travel writers and Terence is a photographer concentrating on people, places and plates. Our work has been published in Australian Gourmet Traveller, Delicious, Feast, National Geographic Traveller, Wanderlust, The Guardian, CNN, The Independent, and a long list of other publications. Read more about Lara and Terence here.

The Essential Details

Here’s what you need to know about our 9-day/night Cambodia Culinary Tour:

  • dates23-31 October 2016 for 9 days and nights.
  • group – this is a small group tour with a maximum of 14 people so it’s nice and intimate.
  • price – 9-day retreat package with inclusions is US$1,710 per person. We’re offering just 4 places for early-birds with a 10% discount, so you’ll pay US$1,540 if you book and pay by 1 July.
  • booking – a non-refundable deposit of US$500 is required to make a booking. Bookings close 1 September or when all places are filled.
  • inclusions – 9 nights accommodation, with daily breakfasts; 7 lunches, 9 dinners and lots of snacks; all tuition, writing and photography workshops, and one-on-one consultation time; all tours, excursions, activities, experiences, and classes; transport, guides, and some entry fees, as specified in the itinerary.
  • exclusions – the price does not include flights, visas, insurance, airport transfers (US$7 each way), Angkor Archaeological Park temple passes (US$40 for three days*), Beng Mealea temple pass (US$5); hotel incidentals such as laundry, mini-bar, calls, room service, etc; drinks and alcoholic drinks, except the welcome dinner. *If you’re arriving earlier or staying longer, you may wish to purchase a 7-day Angkor temple pass for US$60).
  • insurance – Insurance is compulsory and proof of purchase required one week before you travel. We recommend our insurance partner, World Nomads. Their online process is simple and we love their philanthropic activities, which support community projects around the globe. We earn a small commission from your booking, which supports this site.
  • flights/arrival/departure – we recommend you fly into Siem Reap. You can also travel overland to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh, Thailand or Laos. More here on how to get to Siem Reap. Email if you’d like assistance with planning a longer Cambodia/Asia trip.
  • visas – 30-day tourists visas are easily obtained at the airport. You’ll need US$30 in cash and two passport photos. Some Asian nationalities do not require visas, while most other nationalities can get visas upon arrival or in advance online. Online visas cost an additional US$7 for processing and take 3 business days. For online visas only use the Cambodian government e-visa website.
  • accommodation – you can read about beautiful Templation and Maisons Wat Kor, above. We’ve personally selected these properties because we’ve stayed in them and love them. We’re offering just one category of room and one per person price in October
  • food & drink – breakfast is included at all properties, along with 7 lunches and 9 dinners, and lots of snacks and tastings on excursions, market walks and street food tours. While we will endeavour to accommodate vegetarians, this will not always be possible. For example, most soup broths are made with a meat stock. Water will be provided in your room and on tours. Aside from the Welcome dinner, alcohol and other drinks are not included.
  • transport – tuk tuks for short distances, air-conditioned vehicles for long distances. Airport transfers (US$7 each way) are not included and are super-easy for you to organise at the airport.
  • guides & tours – as proponents of Responsible Travel, we only use Cambodian guides for all our temple, village and food tours. Some of these are ran with our Siem Reap-based travel partner, Beyond Unique Escapes. Full details in the itinerary.
  • For information on money matters, weather, a packing list, reading list, and more, see our Siem Reap and Angkor Wat FAQs post.

Making an enquiry or booking

To make a booking or learn more about our Cambodia Culinary Tour email us at info@grantourismotravels.com for a full itinerary, price list, and payment information. To book your place, a US$500 deposit is required.

Media and Bloggers

If you are a food/travel blogger and would like to be part of our affiliate programme or if you’d like to write about our Cambodia Culinary Tour and need a media release and hi-res images, please email us on the address above.

Sponsors and Candidates

We are offering one sponsored spot to a young Cambodian on each Cambodia culinary tour and travel and food writing and photography retreat. If you’d like to nominate a Cambodian candidate for our October retreat and tours, or you’re a business or individual who’d like to sponsor a place, please email us on the address above.

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