DIVE DEEP INTO CAMBODIA’S CULTURAL AND NATURAL WONDERS THROUGH THESE ALTERNATIVE TOURISM OPTIONS SHOWCASING A DIFFERENT SIDE TO THE KINGDOM
WORDS BY CRISTYN LLOYD
LAVENDER JEEP TOURS
It’s not hard to spot Lavender Jeep Tours. Decked out in bright purple, their vintage A2 military Jeeps are just the starting point for a one-of-a-kind experience of Siem Reap. They offer full-day tours of Angkor Wat, Banteay Srei and Kampong Phluk floating village, combining classic sightseeing with visits to rural markets and the workshops of local artisans for a more intimate insight into the Kingdom. Lavender Jeeps is run by female entrepreneurs and employs vulnerable women from the local community, and a chunk of the profits go to the Bridge of Life School, which funds education programmes for women and children in the countryside.
In the remote reaches of the Kingdom’s most sparsely populated province of Mondulkiri, there’s only one way to fully experience the majesty of Bousra Waterfall – by zipline. Fly through dense jungle as guides unravel the secrets of the flora and fauna that the indigenous Bunong communities have lived off for centuries. Lines slowly but surely grow more daunting, preparing visitors for the final thrill ride that will test even the bravest – at 100 metres off the ground and 300 metres to reach the safety of the other side, one of Cambodia’s highest and longest ziplines stretches across the roaring torrent of one of the country’s most dramatic waterfalls.
KEK SOON CUISINE AND CULTURE TOURS
Kek Soon started her tour company with two things in mind: sustainability and authenticity. Visitors will lift the curtain on the sleepy town of Kampot by partaking in a variety of immersive tours centred around the food and culture of the region: cooking classes, street food and seafood tours, as well as trips into the countryside. As an artist and former chef, Kek Soon says that both her love for food and her connections with the local people make cuisine and culture tours perfect for travellers looking for a more traditional experience. She also owns her own gallery at Kama, a not-for- profit community arts initiative also based in Kampot.
Adventure tours company Climbodia, based in Kampot, insists that its tours are made by and for anyone with a sense of adventure. The country’s first outdoor rock climbing outfit, Climbodia takes daring tourists on guided climbs that are suitable for the full range of skill levels. Sightseeing outings also combine cave-exploring with scaling the rocky cliff faces that overlook lush countryside and the pristine islands in the Gulf of Thailand. And there’s plenty for independent thrill-seekers: climbers with their own gear can pay just $10 for unlimited use of Climbodia’s bolted routes. Climbs are available year-round, come rain or shine.
KHMER ARCHITECTURE TOURS
Delve into the history of Phnom Penh’s post-independence golden days – Khmer Architecture Tours takes visitors through the capital by foot or bike to explore the monuments of the 50s and 60s. These were decades defined by a frenzy of creative activity, where fresh-faced and eager architects returning from their studies abroad were quick in adopting a style that blended the modern and the Khmer. Central to the tour are the masterpieces of the late Vann Molyvann – the figurehead of what became known as New Khmer Architecture – such as the iconic Olympic Stadium and the Institute of Foreign Languages.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2020-2021 Discover Magazine. It has been updated to reflect current listing.