Whether it’s a whisper about a new restaurant or up-and-coming chef, a locals only street food stall or hard-to-find bar, nothing beats insider advice and local knowledge — particularly when it’s specialised. As travel and food writers living in Siem Reap, we are destination experts with our fingers on the pulse and our bespoke itineraries and handcrafted experiences reflect this.
Much of our time is dedicated to experiencing everything Cambodia has to offer and writing about it, from tours and temples to boutiques and bars. Whether it’s a just-opened hotel or a new travel company, we’ve probably tested it out. This means that you don’t have to waste time scrolling through pages on Trip Advisor or burying your head in a guidebook. You can simply focus on enjoying your time here. It also means you can be assured, whether we’re creating itineraries, tours or retreats, that they’re going to be memorable. They’ll be packed with insider experiences, local spots and outstanding options when it comes to things to see, do and learn, and places to eat, drink, and shop. They’re going to be Grantourismo in style, reflecting our passion for the slow, local and experiential.
Bespoke Itineraries & Experiences
We can create bespoke itineraries and experiences to match your interests, passions and preferences. Choose from the themed itineraries Lara offers or request something new. Each itinerary is completely different to the next, crafted according to your taste, style of travel, duration of your stay, and budget.
Inside Siem Reap
An introduction to the destination beyond the temples, the Inside Siem Reap itinerary can still include Angkor Wat and other must-see archaeological sites. However, it will also reveal the spots that Siem Reap insiders — locals and expats — know and love, taking you to lesser-visited ruins and off the beaten track sites. When you’re not scrambling temples, we can steer you to local markets, hidden restaurants, secret boutiques, offbeat art spaces, laneway cafés, backstreet bars, alternative tours, village strolls, and more.
Savour Siem Reap
A culinary focused experience of Temple Town, the Savour Siem Reap itineraries were first created for chefs and restaurateur friends visiting Cambodia. Aimed at food-lovers, they can take in aromatic local markets, an organic farmer’s market, delicious (and safe) street food spots, fine dining restaurants, rustic local eateries, the best food tours, cooking lessons, cocktail classes, and shops and stalls selling edible souvenirs and covetable items for the kitchen. Siem Reap may not be known as a gastronomic destination (yet!), but there’s plenty to sate foodies and we relish giving visitors a taste of the tantalising place beyond the temples.
Shop Siem Reap
The Shop Siem Reap itineraries will have you filling your bags with Cambodian crafts, hand-woven textiles, handmade jewellery, recycled accessories, couture fashion, vintage one-offs, and original art and design objects. You can visit artisans practicing traditional techniques handed down through generations, the workshops of skilled crafts-people, ateliers of European-trained fashion designers, the studios of creative cutting edge young artists, and galleries where you can meet the artist. Many of these beautiful things are produced at NGO-ran workshops by disadvantaged Cambodians, such as former street children, land-mine survivors, and people with disabilities who otherwise wouldn’t have skills or a job. By buying their products you’re helping create jobs and lift Cambodia out of poverty, while getting to take home meaningful gifts and mementoes.
Sip Siem Reap
This liquid-based experience was created in response to client demand, after a few too many one-hour chats about itineraries turned into hours-long bar hops, when clients asked to sample more locals watering holes. This is for people who want to venture to the drinking spots beyond Pub Street where expats and locals like to sip. We’re sub-titling it a ‘Cocktail (Bar) Crawl for Adults’ because it’s flexible, you’ll pay for your own drinks, and you can drink whatever you please. We’re not fans of the highly structured bar tours where you down pre-arranged drinks and there’s no time to linger at spots you might take a liking to. Instead, we’ll hop between specially selected places on the night that match your style and interests. We won’t follow a set itinerary and if a bar isn’t to your taste or it isn’t happening when we drop by we’ll simply move on.
Local Siem Reap
If there was one, this would be the definitive Grantourismo style itinerary, focusing only on the local spots that Cambodians and expats know and love. While crafted according to your interests, these itineraries really mix things up. You might find yourself in a neighbourhood that you’d never stumble upon as a tourist, experiencing something quintessentially local that you’d never envisage doing on holiday. You could end up eating at a street food stall or sipping something at a cafe or bar that only locals or expats frequent. This is an itinerary for the more intrepid, time-rich travellers, who are willing to take a risk; the kind of travellers for whom interacting with other people and getting an insight into their lives is more important than ticking off sights.
Slow Siem Reap
These laidback and low key itineraries are created with the slow traveller in mind. This is another itinerary that won’t suit time-poor tourists or people who want to see and do everything and tick off all the major sights. Once again, while crafted to match your interests, this itinerary also mixes things up. It’s best-suited for people whose idea of a holiday is to do very little at all but that doesn’t mean lying by the hotel swimming pool. Think more along the lines of an early morning breakfast at an empty archaeological ruin, a slow bike ride through sleepy villages, pastries and coffee at the organic farmer’s market, a leisurely amble along the riverside, a sunset picnic with the locals overlooking the moat of a certain stupendous temple.
What you are getting when you book
When you book a bespoke itinerary with us, you’re getting:
- a one-off handcrafted itinerary that has been curated especially for you, based on your particular interests. You can use this detailed trip planning document to book tours, activities, restaurants, and so on, or for an additional fee we can do this for you.
- trip planning advice and recommendations, and introductions if needed;
- an orientation by tuk tuk shortly after you arrive, including hotel pick-up and drop-off, a trundle to a lovely local part of Siem Reap that few tourists get to, and a casual meeting over drinks at our favourite café/bar to discuss your itinerary. There, you’ll get an introduction to Siem Reap and Cambodia, we’ll sort out any loose ends, and you get a chance to pick my brain. The idea is that you hit the ground running and not waste any time; and
- ongoing advice, support and assistance if needed.
Lara currently offers bespoke itineraries for Inside Siem Reap; Savour Siem Reap; Shop Siem Reap; Sip Siem Reap; Local Siem Reap; and Slow Siem Reap.
When you book a bespoke experience with us, you’re getting:
- a one-off handcrafted itinerary that has been curated especially for you, based on your particular interests, as described above;
- hotel pick-up and drop-off by tuk tuk; and
- a guided experience for part or all of your itinerary depending upon the duration. The guided part is the difference!
Lara currently offers bespoke experiences for Shop Siem Reap; Sip Siem Reap; and Local Siem Reap only.
A few things to note:
- No two itineraries or experiences are alike. What you are getting is a detail trip planning document that is very personal, that has been curated especially for you to match your travel style, interests, preferences, passions, and budget.
- You can follow the itinerary to the letter or you can pick and choose from the recommendations made. How much you actually end up doing is entirely up to you.
- Particular activities and attractions have been scheduled based on our insider knowledge and experience living here and take into consideration the best times of day to do things.
- You will have everything you need in the one document and when it hasn’t been provided there will be a link to click through to obtain those details.
Note: as advocates of responsible and sustainable travel, we recommend and use Cambodian guides and Cambodia based travel companies. This is because we don’t believe that foreigners should be taking guiding jobs away from locals in a country as impoverished as Cambodia. We only use foreign guides when there’s a need for specialised knowledge that, say, an archaeologist or historian researching a specific field could provide, and we cannot locate a Cambodian specialist in that field. We see ourselves as curators, planners and hosts, not guides.
How to Book
1. Email Lara directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to make enquiries and book itineraries and experiences.
2. Once you’re booked in, payment can be made via PayPal, Western Union or bank transfer. Lara will provide details upon request.
3. Once payment has been received, Lara will email you a list of questions to ascertain your travel style, taste, interests, preferences, budget, etc, and use this to create the first draft itinerary.
4. After you provide feedback, that information will be used to finalise the itinerary.
5. Once you receive the final detailed document with links and contact information, you can use that to make your bookings or undertake your own self-guided experiences. If you require Lara to make bookings and plan your entire trip, that will be at an additional cost.
This is an extension of the itinerary service described above. Instead of suggesting drivers and guides, recommending restaurants, and giving you options for tours that you can then organise yourself, we can book the driver and guide, reserve your restaurant tables, and make introductions to fast-track your trip planning. We will then stay in contact with you throughout your stay, touching base to make sure things are going well, and offering alternative options in case of bad weather or a change of plans. There is an additional fee for this service.
If you’re heading to Siem Reap, other places in Cambodia, or Southeast Asian destinations we have lived in, worked in and know intimately, such as Bangkok, Hanoi and Hoi An, and you need someone to make introductions and arrangements for your trip or project, Lara also works as a fixer from time to time. Her extensive experience as a filmmaker especially equips her for advising creative productions.