While it’s always nice to have the liberty of a long, leisurely holiday, sometimes we have to make do with a shorter break. But it can be tough figuring out a good place to go.
Cambodia is the perfect destination for a short holiday. It has amazing food, friendly people, beautiful nature and plenty of cultural and historical sites to explore. While it’s difficult to really immerse yourself in a culture in just a week or two, there are certain ways you can get the most out of a place in a short time. Here are some of our favourites.
1. Eat a meal cooked by local students
In Cambodia there are many ways you can meet local people and support their developing communities, and one of these is by partaking in a meal at a training restaurant, such as Friends International. For many underprivileged young people, getting a place at a training restaurant – whether that be in the kitchen or front of house – provides them with a set of professional skills that will empower them to work in an industry that allows them to support their family. When you buy a meal costing about AUD15, that covers the cost of one student’s training for the day. Plus, it’s a great experience and the food is absolutely delicious!
READ MORE: 7 UNMISSABLE SPOTS IN CAMBODIA
2. Visit a rural farming community
Thanks to a non-government organisation called HUSK Cambodia, travellers can head into the Cambodian countryside and take a walk through a local farming community. As you wander through rice fields and meet the locals, you will see the traditional Cambodian stilt homes and learn about life in a typical farming village. HUSK work within these local communities to help provide them with access to safe water, health and education through a variety of programs, including running a community school and working to rebuild family homes that are no longer liveable.
READ MORE: TRAVELLER STORIES: WHAT IT’S LIKE TO EXPERIENCE CAMBODIA ON A SMALL GROUP TOUR
3. Make tote bags with the local women
One of the best ways to immerse yourself in a destination is to get to know the local people. Many locals in Cambodia struggle to earn an income, as they lack formal education and skills. If you get the opportunity, you should take part in a craft program with local women, who have been taught to sew items such as soft toys and tote bags. While away the time chatting with them about their lives and culture as they teach you make the bags, which you’ll then get to take home with you as a souvenir.
4. Explore Angkor Wat with a local guide
Okay, so hardly anyone who visits Cambodia leaves without a visit to Angkor Wat. But, there’s a huge difference between wandering around the enormous site by yourself and taking a tour guided by a local leader. When you explore the mass of temples under the guidance of a local leader, you can be sure you won’t leave without seeing the most fascinating and stunning places within the complex. You’ll hear detailed stories about the history you wouldn’t discover on your own – allowing you to really immerse yourself in the culture of this impressive royal city.
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5. Learn to cook Cambodian cuisine
There is hardly a more local experience than tasting traditional cuisine when you visit a foreign country – except if you learn to cook it yourself. A cooking class like the Cambodian Cook Out gives you the opportunity to learn about traditional ingredients and recipes from a Cambodian chef. But the best part? You’ll get to indulge in the gourmet three-course meal you’ve cooked with your fellow budding chefs at the end of the class. There’ll even be cocktails.
Hero image c/o San Khoo.