Sala Lodges, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Eat Learn Love Cambodia Luxury Tour – For Travellers Who Want to Give Back

Our new Eat Learn Love Cambodia Luxury Tour is a special, escorted, all inclusive, small group trip that will completely spoil you while giving you the chance to do good and give something back to Cambodia to improve the lives of locals.

We’ve been planning and hosting deliciously enriching Cambodia trips for a while now – our Cambodia Culinary Tours, Travel and Food Writing and Photography Retreats, and new Cooking Holiday – as well as crafting bespoke travel itineraries.

While most participants leave our trips sated, one or two always say they wish they could have done more for Cambodia – one of Southeast Asia’s poorest countries yet one of its richest in so many ways – and the Cambodians they met during their holiday.

If you were one of those people or you’re the kind of person who wants to give back as much as you take away from the places you travel to, then this is the holiday for you. After months of work developing this trip, I’m so excited to announce the details… (drum roll)…

Our new Eat Learn Love Cambodia Luxury Tour is a very special, all-inclusive, small-group trip packed with meaningful encounters and exclusive experiences, as well as abundant opportunities to make a difference in the lives of Cambodians.

But you’ll have to book soon! There are only 9 spots (with just 3 discounted early-bird spots) on our June 2018 Eat Learn Love Cambodia Luxury Tour and bookings close at the end of 2017 so we can start to plan this very special trip – and concentrate on some culinary travel projects of our own, including our Cambodian cookbook. Do hurry and book your place, so you don’t miss out!

Eat Learn Love Cambodia Luxury Tour – For Travellers Who Want to Give Back As Much As They Take Away

Cambodia is our adopted home and we adore this gorgeous country with its lush-green rice fields, villages of traditional timber houses, its enchanting archaeological sites, and its incredibly warm and hospitable people. However, despite strong economic growth and making great strides in poverty reduction, Cambodia remains a very poor country. Some 4.5 million “near-poor” live on less than $2.30 per day and remain vulnerable to falling back into poverty. In 2014, a World Bank study claimed that the “loss of just 1,200 riel (about $0.30) per day in income would throw an estimated three million Cambodians back into poverty, doubling the poverty rate to 40%.”

It’s hard to live in such a special place with such special people, and not want to do something to help when confronted with similar stats: in 2015, gross national income per capita was $1,070 and 70% of the population (12.3mil) didn’t have access to piped water; in 2017, 14% of people still live below the poverty line and about 90% of the poor live in the countryside; for every 1,000 babies born 25 die before their first birthday; 32% (approx 1/2 million) children under five are stunted; and in 2013 (latest figures), lower secondary school completion rate was 43%. (Sources: World Bank and Asian Development Bank.)

So how would you like to have an incredible holiday knowing that a big chunk of your trip fee and that of your fellow travellers was going to pay for things like:

A new house and vegetable garden for a poor village family
10 water filters for 10 poor village families
500 nutritious school lunches for students for a year
370 toothbrushes and dental care education for 370 children
100 new books for a children’s library
40 scholarships for marginalised children to study English
10 sets of school uniforms and supplies for 10 students for a year
4 puppies to be trained as landmine detection dogs for a year
1 university education for one student

Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to do!

On our new June 2018 Eat Learn Love Cambodia Luxury Tour you’ll not only get a taste of Cambodia in style – staying in your own chic Cambodian house at luxurious Sala Lodges (above), dining on creative multi-course gourmet menus at Siem Reap’s finest restaurants, and indulging in daily massages and spa treatments – you’ll be doing it guilt-free as you’ll get to help improve the lives of disadvantaged Cambodians through US$9,000 worth of donations that will be made by your group.

US$1,000 of each participant’s tour fee will be donated to social, health, education, and arts projects ran by registered NGOs, non-profit organisations and social enterprises in Siem Reap and Battambang, with a track record in helping to break the poverty cycle in Cambodia. You’ll get to visit those organisations, meet their representatives to learn about their work, and in some* cases see how your money will be spent. (*As Responsible Travel practitioners we cannot take you to schools. Please see our Responsible Travel Guide.)

Eat Learn Love Cambodia Luxury Tour – New Exclusive, Private Experiences

Like all our carefully curated trips, our new Eat Learn Love Cambodia Luxury Tour is a fully escorted, small group tour packed with meaningful and memorable experiences in and around Siem Reap and Battambang – from engaging interactions with locals in villages to breezy tuk tuk excursions through lush rice fields to scramble breathtaking temples, including spectacular UNESCO listed Angkor Wat at Angkor Archaeological Park.

In collaboration with our local partners – chefs, cooking instructors, artisanal producers, foodies, guides, and drivers – we’ll continue to immerse you in Cambodia’s rich culture, everyday life and highly underrated cuisine (about which countless myths exist), peppering your foodie adventure with delectable experiences, from mouthwatering street food tours to visits to artisanal makers.

As with our Cambodia Culinary Tour, you’ll dine on 5- to 6-course gourmet tasting menus at the finest Cambodian restaurants helmed by young local talents, do Siem Reap’s best cooking classes with its top chefs, take strolls through lively local markets and sample local snacks, enjoy a 3-day culinary adventure to Cambodia’s ‘rice bowl’ of Battambang, and take relaxing tuk tuk trundles into the bucolic countryside and sleepy villages surrounding both cities.

However, we’re taking things up a notch with our Eat Learn Love Cambodia Luxury Tour. We’ve added exclusive and private experiences, a higher level of luxury, included creative cocktails, local beers, and matching wines with all meals, and I’ve created an indulgent Bodia spa and massage package to match the activities you’ll be doing each day.

On our Eat Learn Love Cambodia Luxury Tour you’ll stay in your own authentic (and very chic) traditional house at luxurious Sala Lodges, savour a sunset gondola ride with champagne and canapés on a temple moat, get the VIP experience at the Phare Cambodian Circus, enjoy a private performance by the Sacred Dancers of Angkor and exclusive dinner in the home of its patroness who’ll share stories of life in the Cambodian royal court before the Khmer Rouge – and there’s even more in store for you!

Did I mention the breathtaking helicopter flight over the Angkor temples or the sundowner cruise on a serene lotus lake on authentic fishing boats?

All of this will be punctuated with plenty of downtime for lazing by the hotel swimming pool, doing a spot of shopping with a personal shopper, or swinging in hammocks with a good book (library provided) – and you have the option of additional pampering with that special package of Bodia spa treatments and massages that I’ve designed just for you.

Eat Learn Love Cambodia Luxury Tour – The Essentials and Inclusions

9-Night Eat, Learn, Love Cambodia – All-Inclusive Luxury Tour

DATES: 16-24 June 2018 (check out 25 June)
PRICE:
Full price US$5,625 of which US$1,000 will be donated to social, education, health and arts projects ran by registered NGOs, non-profits and social enterprises
EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT: US$500 off 3 spots only, so you’ll pay US$5,125 if booked by 24 November 2017 and paid in full by 15 December 2017.
DEPOSIT:
US$500 required to make all bookings.

Inclusions
VIP airport meet & greet Immigration fast-track
Airport-hotel return transfers
9 nights accommodation at luxury Sala Lodges in Siem Reap, and boutique hotel Bambu in Battambang on a one person per double room basis (prices for twin/double sharing on request)
All daily breakfasts
All lunches and dinners, including gourmet 5- and 6-course dinners at Cambodia’s finest restaurants
Selected cocktails, local beers and wine included at every lunch and dinner
Snacks and tastings on market walks, street food tours and journeys
All tours, excursions and activities, including exclusive privates experiences as described in the itinerary
Angkor Archaeological Park temple pass (US$62 for three days)
All transport – in charming tuk tuks for short distances and luxury mini-buses for long distance
All guides and entry fees
Cold towels and water/drinks on all tours and excursions
VIP welcome kits packed with essentials: battery-operated hand fan, wet wipes, hand sanitiser, bug repellant, mini umbrella for sun/rain, local specialty snacks, 1 litre Bombay Sapphire etc.

Exclusions
Flights
Visa (US$30)
Travel insurance (compulsory)
Hotel incidentals such as laundry, mini-bar, calls, room service, etc
Additional drinks and alcoholic drinks outside those specified on the menus and itinerary
Personal expenses
Tips for guides and drivers

Eat Learn Love Cambodia Luxury Tour Highlights

These are some of the very special experiences we have planned for you:

  • excursions to enchanting temples of Angkor Archaeological Park, including sunrise at majestic Angkor Wat, Bayon temple with its smiling face towers, sprawling Preah Khan set in a forest, and pyramid-shaped Pre Rup; and trips to lesser visited temples, including Banteay Srei for exquisite carvings, tranquil Banteay Samre, atmospheric Beng Mealea, and serene Bakong, surrounded by a moat;
  • 8 lunches and 9 memorable dinners at Cambodia’s finest restaurants, including gourmet 5- and 6-course menus with cocktails and wine at Cuisine Wat Damnak, Malis, Sugar Palm, Mie Cafe, Embassy, and Spoons;
  • hands-on cooking classes with Siem Reap’s best chefs, including a morning market tour and cooking class at one of Siem Reap’s finest restaurants, Malis, and a cooking class on an organic farm, where you’ll pick your own ingredients before the lesson;
  • tuk tuk excursions through the bucolic countryside and lively villages around Siem Reap and Battambang to observe cottage industries where artisanal producer families make things as they have always done, such as fermented rice noodles, prahok (fermented fish), palm sugar, traditional desserts, and local specialties, such as mango and banana ‘parchment’ and kralan, a sticky rice and coconut snack barbecued in bamboo over a smoky fire. These journeys are punctuated by stops at pagodas, temples, farms, and a fishing village;
  • in-depth introductions to elements of Cambodian culinary history and cuisine from breakfast soups and fermented rice noodles to Cambodian street food and traditional desserts;
  • an exclusive performance by the Sacred Dancers of Angkor at founder Ravynn Karet-Coxen’s private home followed by an authentic Cambodian meal based on Ravynn’s grandmother’s recipes as she shares stories of Cambodia’s cultural heritage and Royal Court life before the Khmer Rouge era;
  • a private pre-show tour of the Phare Ponleu Selpak school of performing arts in Battambang with pre-show drinks and canapés;
  • a very memorable night’s entertainment in VIP seats at Siem Reap’s quirky Phare Cambodian Circus (no animals just immensely talented performers), with pre-show cocktails and canapés;
  • the finest table at Siem Reap’s best Apsara dinner show at Por Cuisine restaurant;
  • a private ‘Made in Cambodia’ shopping tour focused on artisanal crafts, art, silk/textiles, fashion, and design, including a behind-the-scenes peek at Siem Reap’s premiere couture house;
  • an architectural walking tour of charming Battambang to take in its Chinese shophouses, French colonial villas, Buddhist pagodas, and New Khmer Architecture’s examples of mid-century modernism, along with a Chinese temple, where you can have your fortune read;
  • a visit to Sombai infused rice spirit producers to see their infusion rooms and enjoy a rice wine tasting, followed by a Khmer cocktail making lesson in a delightful bar located in the last traditional wooden house in the old town of Siem Reap;
  • the chance to ‘give back’ and contribute to breaking the poverty cycle in Cambodia by direct donations to NGO-ran foundations, projects and initiatives, and dining at NGO-operated social enterprises that train disadvantaged young Cambodians for the restaurant and hospitality industry, such as Friends’ International’s Marum, EGBOK’s Spoons restaurant, Bayon Pastry School and Cafe, Bloom Cafe in Siem Reap, and in Battambang the Feel Good Coffee company’s award-winning Kinyei cafe and Cambodia Childrens Trust’s Jaan Bai, launched with the support of Thai cuisine expert and one of Asia’s best chefs, David Thompson, and Australian restaurateur John Fink, owner of Quay restaurant, among others.

Optional

Please let us know at the time of booking if any of these extras interest:

  • special package of heavenly massages and spa treatments at Bodia, Siem Reap’s finest spa, handpicked by Lara to complement our programme of activities (details on request);
  • a breathtaking helicopter flight over the Angkor temples on the final morning;
  • special rates through our hotel and travel partners for pre- and post-trip accommodation, temple tours, excursions, cooking classes, and activities for those who wish to arrive early and/or stay on later.

Where Your Donations Will Go

With all nine spots on our Eat Learn Love Cambodia Luxury Tour filled, we’ll have US$9,000 to donate to a small selection of registered, transparent and responsible NGOs, non-profits and social enterprises. These are organisations that we’re familiar with and have been supporting for years, taking our tour participants to learn about their work, see their shows, do their tours, buy from their shops, or dine in their restaurants.

Participants on our Eat Learn Love Cambodia Luxury Tour will continue to do that, too, so you can see where your money will go – or in some cases how it has been spent. Because in the case of some organisations, we plan to donate the money well before you arrive so that you can see where your funds went and the impact they had. For instance, we’d love to donate US$1,600 to HUSK (below) to provide a poor family with a new home, which includes a gift of some fruit trees and help creating a vegetable garden.

These are links to websites of the organisations we’ve selected so you can click through to learn more about their work:

HUSK Cambodia
Human and Hope Association
Cambodian Children’s Trust
Phare Ponleu Selpak Visual/Performing Arts School & Phare Cambodian Circus (human performers only, no animals!)
Nginn Karet Foundation for Cambodia and the Sacred Dancers of Angkor
Explosive Detection Dogs and Norwegian People’s Aid Cambodia

How to Enquire About or Book Our Eat Learn Love Cambodia Luxury Tour

Have some questions, need more information or ready to book? Email us on info@grantourismotravels.com and we’ll send you an itinerary and lots more details. Note that a US$500 non-refundable deposit is required. Bookings close end of December 2017.

For information on immunisations, visas, money matters, weather, what to wear, packing list, reading lists, and more, see our Siem Reap and Angkor Wat FAQs post. For travel insurance we recommend World Nomads. We earn a small commission from your purchase of insurance through our site but you won’t pay any more than you would if you purchased directly from their site.

Need More Inspiration?

Click through to read our participant testimonials, salivate over mouthwatering images from previous culinary travel writing and photography tours, see our our Instagram feed for images from the experiences, and visit our dedicated Siem Reap Retreats and Tours website.

About Us

If you’re new to Grantourismo, we’re prolific travel and food writers and guidebook authors and Terence is a photographer concentrating on ‘people, places and plates’. We’ve been writing professionally since the late ’80s and our work has been published in The Guardian, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Delicious, Feast, National Geographic Traveller/Traveler, Conde Nast Traveller China, Wanderlust, CNN Travel, The Telegraph, The Independent, Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia, DestinAsian, International Traveller, Get Lost, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, and a long list of over a hundred other publications, including in-flights and hotel magazines, from Hemispheres to Raffles.

We have had some 60-odd guidebook commissions for the likes of Lonely Planet, Dorling Kindersley, Footprint, Rough Guides, Fodors, and Thomas Cook, which has included authoring 25 first edition guidebooks, and updating and contributing chapters to others. Add to that hundreds of hotel reviews for the Lonely Planet site, i-escape and Mr & Mrs Smith among other hotel booking sites, and online destination guides and stories for everything from AFAR to the award winning Marriott Traveller site.

We’ve written widely on Cambodia and its cuisine and are currently writing a Cambodia cookbook, which partly explains why Terence can often be found in our Siem Reap kitchen pounding kroeung pastes in the mortar and pestle and my favourite place to be in the world is in a rustic Cambodian kitchen interviewing little old ladies, as such more their recipes as their life stories. I also craft bespoke ‘Savour Siem Reap’ and Cambodia food-focused itineraries and my clients have included some of the world’s best chefs and restaurateurs. Click through to read more about us, peruse some of our published work and view Terence’s photography portfolio and article clippings.

Sponsors and Candidates

We offer sponsored spots to young Cambodians on our Cambodia creative retreats and culinary tours. If you’d like to nominate a Cambodian candidate for these, or you’re a business or individual who’d like to sponsor a place, please email us.

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