Cambodia Culinary Tour with a Cambodia Based Travel and Food Writer
Come do a Cambodia Culinary Tour with professional travel and food writer Lara Dunston, who has been researching Cambodia’s culinary history and culture and writing a Cambodia cookbook for five years. You’ll be immersed in Cambodian cuisine and culture, meet artisanal producers and learn to cook Cambodian food in Siem Reap and Battambang.
**** NOTE: Click through to this post for 2018 and 2019 dates for our Cambodia Culinary Tours and our Travel and Food Writing and Photography Retreats. The tour below was held in 2016 ****
Our Cambodia Culinary Tour
Cambodia Culinary Retreat versus Retreat – Which is Best for You?
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 throughout the Cambodia Culinary Tour 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.
Want more of an idea as to what to expect? Click through to salivate over the these mouthwatering images from our previous culinary travel writing and photography tours. Scroll down for testimonials. Also check out our Instagram feed. We also have a dedicated Siem Reap Retreats and Tours website with more information.
Our Cambodia Culinary Tour – In An Essence
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 (read my post on 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 tour with a Cambodian chef;
- 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 Cambodians, including locals-only ‘eat streets’;
- market tours, including tastings of tropical fruits, herbs, snacks and drinks, and the opportunity to buy everything from kitchenware and ceramics to textiles and spices;
- 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, prahok (fermented fish), and local snacks, as they’ve always done;
- stops at 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;
- 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;
- behind-the-scenes experiences and presentations, including a peek into the sleek kitchen of an NGO-ran training restaurant for disadvantaged young people; a visit to an NGO-ran pastry school and cafe training young women for professional pastry kitchens; a presentation and meal at Battambang’s Jaan Bai, Cambodia Children’s Trust’s 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;
- temple, village and countryside excursions, including an interactive village stroll with Siem Reap-based Beyond Unique Escapes, a responsible travel company that supports the NGO Husk;
- an entertaining night at Siem Reap’s quirky Phare Cambodian Circus;
- a fun Khmer cocktail making lesson in Siem Reap;
- a much-deserved celebratory dinner at one of Siem Reap’s best Cambodian restaurants.
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.
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.
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 one of Siem Reap’s largest swimming pools. 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 and Terence
If you’re coming to Grantourismo for the first time, we’re 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.
We’ve written widely on Cambodia and Cambodian food and are currently working on a Khmer cookbook, which partly explains why Terence spends many an evening on the mortar and pestle pounding kroeungs. We are producing multimedia stories on Southeast Asian food, including long-form narratives, videos and photography for an Australian broadcaster. I also craft bespoke ‘Savour Siem Reap’ food focused itineraries and my clients have included some of the world’s best chefs and restaurateurs.
We began writing professionally back in 1987, and Terence, who studied photography at university and worked in book publishing for almost a decade, started shooting books soon after. I’ve written and assessed film scripts, had a teen fiction novel published by HarperCollins, and edited an Asian travel magazine. You can find out more on our bio page.
Cambodia Culinary Tour – The Essential Details
Here’s what you need to know about our 9-day/night Cambodia Culinary Tour:
- dates – 23-31 October 2016 for 9 days and nights.
- group – this is a small group tour with a minimum of 4 people and a maximum of 12 people so it’s nice and intimate.
- booking – a non-refundable deposit of US$500 is required to make a booking. Bookings close 30 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, commissions, weather, a packing list, reading list, and more, see our Siem Reap and Angkor Wat FAQs post. We also recommend you read our Responsible Travel Guide to Cambodia.
Writing and Photography Workshops
Our Cambodia Culinary Tour does not include creative workshops during the tour. However, if you are interested in honing your writing and photography skills but cannot make it to the 1-10 October Travel and Food Writing Retreat, we are happy to offer two days of workshops that will book-end the tour: 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, private guided time to write, shoot photos or edit, and one private consultation per person on 1 November 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.
Making an Enquiry or Booking
To make a booking or learn more about our Cambodia Culinary Tour email us at email@example.com for a full itinerary, price list, and payment information. To book your place, a US$500 deposit is required.
Media and Blogger Affiliate Programme
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.
Following requests from readers, we have locked in dates for retreats and tours in 2017. If these are of interest, please leave a comment below or email us.