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. For a more in-depth exploration of why community-based tourism is important, check out Tom Vater’s personal experiences in Community-Based Tourism in Cambodia.

“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

  • Phare: The Cambodian Circus is the most rewarding (and quite new) attraction in Siem Reap that contributes to the community. Performances take place in the specially constructed Big Top and are well worth a visit, especially for families. While this phenomenal circus is actually a private enterprise, its students have gone through a rigorous NGO-based training program—a great marriage of development and business.
  • The Cambodia Land Mine Museum, located near Banteay Srei, is managed by a Canadian NGO and educates visitors about one of the terrible curses of the 20th century. The center’s proceeds go to a home for destitute children.
  • Shadow Puppet Theater shows are held weekly at the hotel La Noria in Siem Reap. These traditional shows are performed by kids from the Krousar Thmey NGO.
  • Apsara dance performances, organized by the NGO Sangkheum Center for Children, are held at the hotel Soria Moria in Siem Reap.

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

  • The Paul Dubrule Hotel and Tourism School, near Siem Reap’s airport, provides training in the restaurant and hotel business. Visitors are invited to stay or eat at the school.
  • Shinta Mani, in Siem Reap, is an excellent hotel that runs a foundation to support projects in education, small business start-ups, and health care.
  • The Banteay Chhmar homestay program provides income for local families while giving visitors a window into Khmer life.

Restaurants

  • Le Café, in Siem Reap, is associated with the Paul Dubrule Hotel and Tourism School.
  • Singing Tree Café, in Siem Reap, supports several worthy causes.
  • Blossom Café, in Siem Reap, is an NGO-training place that empowers Cambodian women.
  • Kinyei Café and Fresh Eats, in Battambang, are NGO-affiliates that train local youth.
  • Jai Baan Restaurant, in Battambang, aims for gourmet dining in an NGO setting.

Shops

  • Rajana, in Siem Reap, sells products made by underprivileged Cambodians.
  • Senteurs d’Angkor, in Siem Reap, is an outlet that works only with local people and uses only local products.
  • The Reyum Institute, in Phnom Penh, is a Cambodian NGO that runs a free arts school for Cambodian children. Check out their interesting gallery and shop on Street 178.

Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Angkor Wat.