Our Cambodia Travel and Food writing and Photography Retreat will take place in Cambodia from 1-10 October 2016 in Siem Reap and Battambang. We’ll be exploring Cambodian cuisine and culture and getting creative and we’d love you to join us.
Note: This travel and food writing and photography retreat was held in October 2016. Please see this post for dates for our 2017 Cambodia writing and photography retreats and culinary tours.
Our Cambodia Travel and Food writing and Photography Retreat in October will be similar to our May 2016 Retreat: immersive culinary and cultural experiences, temple scrambles, and excursions to the countryside and villages, punctuated by writing and photography workshops at two beautiful boutique hotels in Siem Reap and Battambang.
We have also just announced dates for a Cambodia Culinary Tour. Activities remain the same as our Cambodia Travel and Food Writing and Photography Retreat, but there are no writing and photography workshops. Click through to the link above for more details on the Tour.
Want more of an idea as to what to expect? Click through to drool over mouthwatering images from our previous culinary travel writing and photography tours. Scroll down for testimonials. Also check out our Instagram feed.
Cambodia Travel and Food Writing and Photography Retreat
Our 10-day Cambodia Travel and Food Writing and Photography Retreat in October will begin in Siem Reap, launching pad for excursions to UNESCO World Heritage listed Angkor Wat and the Angkor Archaeological Park.
Our Cambodia Travel and Food Writing and Photography Retreat will include meals at authentic local eateries and the best Cambodian restaurants, market walks, street food tours, an exclusive cooking class, a 3-day culinary adventure to the ‘rice bowl’ of Battambang, and tuk tuk trundles into the tranquil countryside and villages surrounding both towns.
The focus will be on honing your travel and/or food writing and photography skills as we immerse you in the culture and everyday life of Cambodia and give you a taste of the highly underrated Cambodian cuisine. We’ll introduce you to 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 have fallen in love with.
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 Travel and Food Writing and Photography Retreat 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 walk and leisurely lunch with one of Cambodia’s best chefs;
- 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 a Cambodian cook and foodie, including a locals-only ‘eat street’ and Cambodian-style picnic dinner;
- tuk tuk excursions into Siem Reap and Battambang’s bucolic countryside and villages to observe cottage industries where artisanal producer families harvest palm sugar and make rice paper, rice noodles, rice spirits, and prahok (fermented fish), as they’ve always done;
- stops at farms, 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;
- a morning market tour with a Cambodian foodie in Battambang, including tastings of tropical fruits, herbs, snacks and drinks, and a photography excursion to Siem Reap’s lively local market;
- a meal at Battambang’s Jaan Bai, the 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;
- 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;
- an introduction to traditional Khmer desserts and tastings with a Cambodian chef and a fun Khmer cocktail making lesson in Siem Reap;
- behind-the-scenes experiences, including a peek into the sleek kitchen of an NGO-ran training restaurant for disadvantaged young people, the chance to interview Cambodia’s best chefs, and a kitchen visit to an NGO-ran pastry school and cafe training young women for professional pastry kitchens;
- an entertaining night at Siem Reap’s quirky Phare Cambodian Circus;
- temple, village and countryside excursions with Siem Reap-based Beyond Unique Escapes, a responsible travel company that supports the NGO Husk, including an interactive village walk led by a guide from Husk, followed by sunset cocktails and canapés overlooking idyllic rice fields;
- a much-deserved celebratory dinner at one of Siem Reap’s best Cambodian restaurants.
These are things can be arranged for you during our Cambodia Travel and Food Writing and Photography Retreat, 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.
Writing and Photography Workshops
Creative workshops during our October Travel and Food Writing and Photography Retreat include:
- a full day of punchy, bite-sized lessons and workshops on various aspects of writing and photography so you’re equipped with the skills needed and have established goals for the retreat;
- writing workshops will cover idea and story development, interviewing skills, note taking, observational writing, research, narrative structure, editing, pitching publications, blogging, and more;
- photography workshops will tackle topics such as the use of natural light and depth of field, aperture and f-stops to lenses for food photography, planning the coverage necessary to tell stories, photographing people, editing photos in Lightroom, and editing for Instagram;
- practical, achievable, self-directed tasks around the things you’re seeing, places we’re going and activities you’re experiencing;
- if you complete all the workshops and tasks, you should leave the retreat with at least one strong story idea and images that you can pitch to editors, and enough material to craft into one or more engaging stories;
- on the final day, there’ll be time for private writing and/or photography, one-on-one consultations, and workshopping time with the group in a relaxed environment (with a glass of wine in hand);
- throughout the retreat you’ll also get a chance to pick our brains about life and work as a freelance writer and photographer team, getting published, the state of the industries (print and online), and the opportunities that many writers and bloggers are overlooking.
Who should attend our Travel and Food Writing and Photography Retreat
- Aspiring or working food/travel writers/bloggers who are keen to develop your writing and photography skills; looking for inspiration and guidance in a supportive and collaborative environment; are eager to spend time with people who share the same interests, challenges and passions; or who simply relish the chance to craft stories in a stimulating place such as Cambodia.
- Writers, photographers, creatives who might work in a different field but would like to try their hand at food/travel writing and/or photography. Perhaps you are a writer/blogger keen to work on your photography techniques or a photographer eager to develop writing skills.
Our Cambodia Travel and Food Writing and Photography Retreat 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 Siem Reap’s largest swimming pool. 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.
Terence has taught photography and I’ve taught writing and filmmaking at vocational, industry and university levels. Between us we have a handful of relevant qualifications, including three Masters degrees and an incomplete PhD (that will be me). As an academic, I wrote two Bachelor degrees, dozens of courses, supervised thousands of creative projects, and ran thousands of evaluations and assessments over almost eight years. What that means is that I know what it takes to inspire, teach, coach, nurture, and support writers through the creative process from concept to completion.
The Essential Details
Here’s what you need to know about our 10-day/night Cambodia travel and food writing and photography retreat:
- dates – 1-10 October 2016 for 10 days and nights.
- group – this is a small group tour with a maximum of 14 people so it’s intimate and everyone gets attention when it comes to one-on-one consultations and workshopping.
- price – 10-day retreat package with inclusions is US$1,955 per person. (Yes, this is higher than the May 2016 retreat due to a recent tax increase which has raised prices.) We’re offering discounts on last-minute bookings on the remaining spots. See the update above for prices.
- booking – a non-refundable deposit of US$500 is required to make a booking. Bookings close 1 September or when all places are filled.
- inclusions – 10 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 instance, 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, weather, a packing list, reading list, and more, see our Siem Reap and Angkor Wat FAQs post. We also encourage you to read our Our Guide to Responsible Travel in Cambodia.
Making an enquiry or booking
To make a booking or learn more about our Cambodia Travel and Food Writing and Photography Retreat please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you a full itinerary, price list, and payment information. To book your place, a US$500 deposit is required.
Media and Bloggers
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 Travel and Food Writing and Photography Retreat 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 young Cambodians on our Cambodia Travel and Food Writing and Photography Retreat and Cambodia Culinary Tour. If you’d like to nominate a Cambodian candidate for these or future retreats and tours, or you’re a business or individual who’d like to sponsor a place, please email us on the same address above.
Following requests from readers, we are also setting dates for another Cambodia Travel and Food Writing and Photography Retreat and Cambodia Culinary Tour in November 2016 and again in May 2017, as well as intensive 3-day monsoon writing and photography retreats in September. Dates coming soon!