KHMER CUISINE AND CRAFTS: CULTURAL CAMBODIA

Eat, discover, repeat. This Khmer culinary and cultural tour reveals the best Cambodian sites and tantalizes your taste buds

TOUR INTRODUCTION

9 Days, 8 Nights     FROM US$ 2862 PER PERSON

Discover the rich heritage of Khmer culture and cuisine on this tour. Walk with local experts and dine at authentic restaurants, discover the secrets of Cambodian cooking with a local cook, and learn about rural life as you journey into the beautiful Cambodian countryside, viewing Battambang and the riverine life along the Tonlé Sap Lake on the way.

Upon arrival in Phnom Penh, you’ll have the chance to take a fascinating walking and driving tour of the city with an expert in Khmer architecture. Afterward, unwind over a sumptuous welcome dinner at the delightful Malis Restaurant.

The secrets of Khmer cuisine will be revealed to you as you take a walking tour through local markets, learning about and sampling regional ingredients as you go. Lunch at a local restaurant will give you a taste of authentic Khmer cuisine. Then, you’ll be treated to a guided tour of Phnom Penh’s brightest gems, from the Royal Palace and the National Museum to Wat Prakeo. Dinner at the famed Foreign Correspondents’ Club will provide wondrous views over the Mekong and Tonlé Sap rivers.

Your Khmer cuisine and culture tour takes you into the idyllic countryside of Battambang, known as Cambodia’s rice bowl. You’ll learn about Battambang’s remarkably well-preserved architecture and mingle with local village artisans.

A stunning boat ride through the mighty Tonlé Sap brings you to Siem Reap, where in-depth explorations of Angkorian temples and traditional craft villages await. A hands-on cooking course at the home of a celebrated Cambodian chef will teach you how to create quintessential Khmer dishes. Before you leave, you’ll be treated to a sunset gondola ride along the moat of ancient Angkor Thom and a lavish farewell dinner at famed Cuisine Wat Damnak.

 

"If you love food, and culture, then this tour offers the best of Khmer culture and cuisine, with in-depth explorations of regional crafts, as well as a hands-on cooking course and some unforgettable meals at Cambodia’s most celebrated restaurants."

Panharoth Chhun, Backyard Travel Cambodia Specialist

THE BACKYARD TRAVEL DIFFERENCE

Learn how to make Khmer dishes in a hands-on cooking class with a top chef
Explore the majestic temples and sites of the Angkorian Small Circuit
Cruise along the mighty Tonlé Sap Lake from Battambang to Siem Reap
Enjoy a sunset gondola cruise with refreshments in the moat of ancient Angkor Thom



Daily Itinerary

Daily Itinerary

  • Start
  • Day 1: Phnom Penh

    To begin your Khmer cuisine tour, you’ll be met at Phnom Penh International Airport by your guide and transferred to your hotel in the heart of the city.

    After taking some time to freshen up, you’ll depart on a walking and driving tour of Phnom Penh architecture. Despite its turbulent recent history, Cambodia’s bustling capital retains its colonial-era charm with its wide, tree-lined boulevards and mixture of Eastern and Western architectural styles. On your tour, you’ll discover colonial façades and the buildings of the “New Khmer Architecture” movement built during the 1950s and 1960s. This movement gave extra care to melding international influences with local materials and traditions.

    In the evening, you’ll tuck in to a sumptuous welcome dinner of authentic Khmer cuisine at Malis Restaurant, one of Phnom Penh’s most celebrated restaurants.

    Overnight in Phnom Penh

    Meals included on this day: Dinner

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  • Day 2: Phnom Penh

    After breakfast, take a 2-hour guided walking tour of a local market and learn about Khmer cuisine. Although Cambodia’s cuisine may not enjoy the international fame of some of its neighboring countries, its national and region dishes offer insights to the country’s heritage. You’ll take a traditional cyclo to the market and wander through the aisles, tasting some local fruits along the way, with your guide explaining the different ingredients used in Khmer cuisine.

    Lunch at a local restaurant will follow, and you’ll see the ingredients you just learned about in many of the dishes served. Try a tasty num pung, or French baguette and a nom bahn chok, a quintessential Khmer dish of rice noodles, green fish curry and fresh veggies.

    You’ll continue your Khmer cuisine and culture tour with a guided exploration via cyclo of Phnom Penh’s highlights. To begin, you’ll head to the Royal Palace, which was built in 1866 and has been home to Cambodian monarchs ever since (with the exception of the reign of the Khmer Rouge).

    The palace complex also houses the “Silver Pagoda,” known to locals as Wat Prakeo. The Silver Pagoda is so named for the 5,000-plus silver tiles that line the temple’s floors. It also contains many Buddha icons made of gold, silver, bronze and crystal.

    Next you’ll head to the National Museum of Cambodia, built in the traditional Khmer style and containing the world’s largest collection of Khmer art (housing roughly 5,000 Khmer artifacts), most of which date back to the 4th to 13th centuries. The roof of the museum is also home to one of Cambodia’s largest bat colonies!

    After your tour, you’ll tuck into a sumptuous dinner at the famous Foreign Correspondents’ Club located along the riverside promenade. The colonial building is one of Phnom Penh’s architectural gems with great views over the river.

    Overnight in Phnom Penh

    Meals included on this day: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

    Garden-inside-National-Museum-Phnom-Penh-CambodiaFluttering-flags-Royal-Palace-Phnom-Penh-Cambodia1000x600Bike on a Porch
  • Day 3: Phnom Penh – Battambang

    Leave early today for a scenic 5-hour drive by private car to Battambang, taking rustic back roads and passing local villages and pagodas in a province famous for growing the best rice in Cambodia.

    You’ll stop at Oudong to visit a local family to learn about palm sugar production, and then you’ll climb Mount Oudong to enjoy spectacular views over the countryside. At the foot of the mountain, we’ll stop for a local picnic-style lunch in a rustic hut.

    Continue roughly 4-hours to Battambang, home to some of Cambodia’s best-preserved colonial architecture. Upon arrival at this laid-back river town, you’ll be transferred to your hotel for check-in.

    OPTIONAL ACTIVITY: PHARE PONLEU SELPAK
    The School of Music, Visual & Performing Arts—Phare Ponleu Selpak uses the arts as a platform to educate and empower underprivileged communities. Here, you’ll witness how one social enterprise can spur creativity and empowerment and create livelihoods in the arts. A night at the renowned Phare Circus will leave a lasting memory of acrobatic feats, theater and music unique to Cambodia. (Note: Circus performances run every Monday and Thursday. Private performances are available on other days for an additional fee).

    Overnight in Battambang

    Meals included on this day: Breakfast and lunch

    A village in a rural area of Cambodia near Battambangsmall-crabs-market-in-cambodia
  • Day 4: Battambang

    The countryside of Battambang is famed for its beauty, as well as the quality of rice the region produces. Although Battambang is Cambodia’s second-largest city, its laid-back vibe stems partly from its river culture. The Sangker River, a picturesque watercourse connecting the Cardamom Mountains to the mighty Tonlé Sap Lake, winds through this lush province and feeds the rice paddies.

    This morning, you’ll take a cultural tour of Battambang’s surrounding villages. Mingling with locals and artisans, you’ll learn how rice paper is produced, as well as grolan (sticky rice stuffed in bamboo) and prohac, (fish paste, a Cambodian staple). A visit to a handicraft center will show you weavers and textile artisans in action.

    Cap it all off with a ride on the famous Bamboo Train—one of the world’s most unique forms of rail travel! This local means of transport uses a small, mobile platform along the old train tracks to move people and goods from town to town. (Note: The rail system from Battambang to Phnom Penh is now being rebuilt, and the future of the Bamboo Train is uncertain. If the service stops, we’ll arrange an alternative activity).

    We’ll bring you back to your hotel for a quick rest and lunch (at own expense).

    In the afternoon, you’re in for another treat. You’ll hop in a cyclo and take a relaxing ride through town guided by an informative audio set. This 2.5-hour drive past colonial boulevards, local markets and beautiful temples will be accompanied by illuminating historical anecdotes and explanations about the significance of these sites. The audio is available in English and French. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride, or if something strikes your fancy, ask the driver to stop. (Please note: Each cyclo can carry one person only).

    For dinner, you’ll dine at Jaan Bai, which translates to “rice bowl” in Khmer. The Cambodian Children’s Trust runs this social enterprise restaurant to provide empowerment and hospitality training for underprivileged youth. Located in a French colonial building in the heart of Battambang, Jaan Bai serves organic and locally sourced fare.

    Overnight in Battambang

    Meals included on this day: Breakfast and dinner

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  • Day 5: Battambang – Siem Reap

    Today you’ll experience a highlight of your Khmer culture and cuisine tour: you’ll take a stunning boat trip from Battambang to Siem Reap with marvellous views of the Cambodian countryside. A packed lunch will be provided on board.

    En route, you’ll cruise down the Stung Sangker River to the Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary, one of the most critical breeding grounds for regional birds. You’ll continue along Tonlé Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. The lake is an important breeding ground for fish, providing more than half of the fish consumed in Cambodia and supporting a richly diverse ecosystem. You’ll pass floating villages and stilted houses, giving you a rare insight into life lived almost entirely on the water.

    After this scenic, relaxing 6-hour cruise, you’ll arrive in charming Siem Reap in the mid to late afternoon. (Please note: This boat trip is only possible during the rainy season from July to December, as water levels are too low during the dry season. Alternative transport by road will be provided from January to June.)

    You’ll have the rest of the afternoon to spend at your leisure before enjoying a Khmer-French fusion meal at Abacus Restaurant in a lovely garden setting.

    Overnight in Siem Reap

    Meals included on this day: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

    siemreap-ta-prohm-cambodia1000x600Angkor Thom, Cambodia – A traveler goes by a tuk-tuk, visiting the ancient city of Angkor ThomBas-Reliefs at the Outer Walls of The Bayon, Angkor Thom, Cambodia
  • Day 6: Siem Reap

    After breakfast, you’ll start the morning right with an exploration of the majestic temples and sites of the Small Circuit of Angkor Archaeological Park. You’ll head first to Ta Prohm, one of the Angkor complex’s most atmospheric temples. Built during the 12th and 13th centuries, Ta Prohm has been left largely as it was found. Overgrown by trees and vines, Ta Prohm is a moving sight as it crumbles gracefully back into the jungle that is reclaiming it.

    Next is the ancient city of Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Great Khmer Empire. The impressive entrance through the South Gate, carved with elephants and four giant faces, will no doubt leave an indelible impression. Stroll through this ancient city surrounded by 8-meter-high walls that create a perfect-square periphery.

    In the exact center of the city sits Bayon temple, a masterpiece of 12th century Khmer craftsmanship. Its 54 towers represent the 54 provinces of the Khmer empire, as well as magnificent bas-reliefs at the Terrace of the Leper King and the Terrace of the Elephants.

    You’ll have a chance to escape from the midday heat and relax at your hotel, perhaps taking a dip in the pool. The rest of the afternoon will be free to spend at your leisure.

    OPTIONAL ACTIVITY: ANGKOR NATIONAL MUSEUM
    This afternoon, you can opt to visit the Angkor National Museum. This unique, interactive museum displays artifacts from the Golden Era of the Khmer Empire, using multimedia technologies to recreate this fascinating historical period.

    In the evening, you’ll be treated to a highlight of your Khmer cuisine and crafts tour: dinner will be served at the famous Apsara Terrace of the Raffles Hotel. As you dine on delectable Asian barbecue, you’ll enjoy an Apsara show—a quintessential Cambodian performance featuring traditional Cambodian dance, martial arts and spectacular costumes. (Please note: This event is available every Monday, Wednesday and Friday throughout the year.)

    Overnight in Siem Reap

    Meals included on this day: Breakfast and dinner

    apsara-carvings-at-angkor-wat-wall-cambodiamonks-in-siem-reap-cambodia
  • Day 7: Siem Reap

    Today you’ll get a deep understanding of Khmer cuisine at an interactive cooking course at the beautiful home of Mrs. Kethana Dunnet, the founder and owner of the Sugar Palm restaurants in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. She has worked with many celebrity chefs, such as Gordon Ramsay and Luke Nguyen.

    You’ll travel to a village near the famous Banteay Srei temple and meet the chef at her home. Over the course of this half-day cooking class, you’ll learn the difference between Khmer and other regional cuisines, as well as how to create some of the dishes served at Sugar Palm. At the end of the course, you’ll get the chance to enjoy the fruits of your labor as you sit down to the lunch that you just cooked, which includes two appetizers and two main dishes.

    After lunch, you’ll visit the Golden Silk Pheach Farm, where ancient Khmer-style silk weaving is being revived as a viable local livelihood by a local NGO. You’ll tour the premises, which include mulberry farms, weaving rooms, dying facilities and a crafts shop.

    Next, you’ll pay a visit to the renowned “gem” of Angkor, Banteay Srei temple. Known as the “Citadel of Women,” this is the only Angkorian structure made of pink sandstone. It is also the most well-preserved temple in Cambodia and boasts excellent examples of classical Khmer art in its renowned bas-reliefs.

    Afterward, you’ll be transferred back to Siem Reap and have the evening free to spend at your leisure.

    Overnight in Siem Reap

    Meals included on this day: Breakfast and lunch

  • Day 8: Siem Reap

    This morning, you’ll travel by remork (a local open-air vehicle similar to a Thai tuk tuk) to the majestic Angkor Wat, a highlight of any Siem Reap tour. Built in the 12th century during the reign of King Suryavarman II, Angkor Wat was constructed to symbolize Mount Meru, a sacred mountain that was believed to be the center of all physical, metaphysical and spiritual universes. Within the temple, you’ll find its walls covered in stone carvings—the site boasts more than 2,000 Apsara dancers in stunning bas-relief. Angkor Wat is said to symbolize the soul of the Khmer people, and it is so revered by the nation that it is featured prominently on the Cambodian flag. It is the only flag in the world with a building on it.

    In the afternoon, we’ll transfer you back to your hotel for a break rest before another treat that awaits you at sunset.

    As the sun dips low in the sky, you’ll enjoy a gondola paddleboat cruise along the moat of ancient Angkor Thom. Sip a glass of champagne or a cocktail and nibble on a canapé as you watch the sunset over atmospheric Prasat Chroung temple.

    For your last night in Cambodia, you’ll enjoy an opulent farewell dinner at the celebrated Cuisine Wat Damnak. Considered one of the best restaurants in Asia, Cuisine Wat Damnak uses local, fresh, seasonal ingredients exclusively to create sublime Khmer dishes. Joannès Rivière, head chef and founder of the restaurant, has a reputation as one Cambodia’s top chefs and is the author of one of the first cookbooks on Khmer cuisine, Cambodian Cooking. (Please note: Cuisine Wat Damnak is closed every Sunday and Monday and from mid-August to mid-October. Only 5- to 6-course menus are served and are subject to change weekly according to available seasonal produce. Special dietary requests and reservations are required in advance.)

    Overnight in Siem Reap

    Meals included on this day: Breakfast and dinner

    Angkor Thom, Cambodia – A traveler goes by a tuk-tuk, visiting the ancient city of Angkor Thomaspara-dancers-at-angkor-wat-cambodia_12.jpg
  • Day 9: Siem Reap

    After breakfast, enjoy the day at your leisure until it is time for your transfer to Siem Reap International Airport for your departing flight or onward journey.

    Meals included on this day: Breakfast.

    Cambodian children enjoying their school day

All of our Tours can be Tailored, Just Ask!

Local vietnamese woman

Tour Details

All of our itineraries can be tailored to your requirements, allowing us to create the perfect holiday just for you. Contact us with your holiday ideas, no matter how big or small, and we’ll start planning your unique personalized trip!

Tour prices are a guideline only, and are based on two persons travelling together, sharing a double or twin room in luxury accommodation. Each tour price and can be adjusted depending on budget, activities included and standard of accommodation desired.

Tour and airfare prices include all applicable taxes and are subject to change without prior notice until services are booked.

You, your holiday and booking direct: Backyard Travel are on the ground year-round in Asia, which means you are booking direct with a local travel company, allowing you to save on the cost of your holiday. Our tailor-made tours are designed by local Travel Specialists who investigate every aspect of the trip themselves, giving you a unique view of each destination.

icon Included in this Backyard Travel tour:

Accommodation with daily breakfast at selected hotels
Private tours, transfers and all services as mentioned in the itinerary
Services of a private driver and air-conditioned vehicles
Service of English speaking guides in every location
Entrance fees for all mentioned sights visited
Meals as mentioned in the itinerary

icon Not included in this Backyard Travel tour:

Domestic and international flights
Departure taxes if applicable
Meals other than those mentioned in the itinerary
Early check-in and late check-out at hotels
Personal expenses (such as laundry, telephone, drinks, etc.)
Tips for guides and drivers
Personal travel insurance
Visa fees (contact us for further information)

Why Backyard Travel?


Our experienced travel specialists possess years of local insider knowledge, because they live here.

We have offices in all of our destinations in asia, fully staffed and open all year-round.

With backyard travel you are booking direct, allowing you to save and benefit local residents.

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Our local travel specialists are eager to discuss your tour ideas in their destinations. Just drop us a line.