We challenge you to enjoy a whole day of Siem Reap responsible travel! While you might be in Siem Reap for the Angkor temples, you’ll also be impressed by the incredible community of ethically driven businesses and social enterprises.
Siem Reap Responsible Travel – Make a difference with every dollar you spend
Written and designed for BE Happy by Mayssa Benchenaa.
24 Responsible Travel Hours in Siem Reap, Cambodia – We came to Siem Reap for the Angkor temples, but what kept us here is the incredible community of ethically driven businesses. We have created a 24 hour itinerary for you where every dollar you spend goes to a great cause, how cool is that! Get ready to be a responsible traveller, helping the community and making a difference all while having the ultimate Siem Reap experience beyond Angkor Wat.
What many people don’t know is that donating and volunteering are not the only ways you can make a positive impact. Choosing where you spend your money and the businesses you support when you visit Siem Reap can also have a huge impact. Why is it important to vote/support with your dollars? Because by choosing to support ethical businesses and responsible tourism initiatives when you travel, you directly provide people with sustainable employment in a number of fields including entertainment, travel, beauty, spa and hospitality industries. These are usually connected to excellent worthy initiatives to donate to if you are so inclined to as well, but we just want to provide an itinerary so you can see where your money is helping!
8:00 to 9:00am – Breakfast
Start off your day with breakfast at Bayon Pastry set in a beautiful outdoor garden with lots of delicious pastries and French boulangerie-style bites. They even have vegan options! Your breakfast will be prepared by trainees at Bayon. A free vocational pastry training for disadvantaged women.
9:00 to 12:00pm – Get Active
Join a Kun Khmer class at Kingdom Fight Gym. Kun Khmer is an ancient unarmed Cambodian martial art which is still extremely popular. It has been traced has far back as the 9th century in the Angkor kingdom, Most Cambodian boxers today come from a poor background and compete to earn money to feed their families and themselves. The average age ranges from 14 to 25. Top kickboxers can have as many as 300 fights in their careers. To develop the sport Kingdom Fight Gym uses money generated from class participants to support underprivileged Cambodian youth with free Kun Khmer and boxing training, education, meals and housing.
12:00 to 1:00pm – Haven
Treat yourself to some delicious food at at Haven, a restaurant and training program helping disadvantaged young adults. This loving social venture offers year-long hospitality training programs to vulnerable young people who then do their practical experience in cooking and service jobs at Haven. The food is absolutely delicious and the smiles of the excited young people and their beaming proud mentors are so worth it. With great vegan food options, we especially recommend trying their vegan amok.
1:00 to 3:00pm – Visit
Take part in a workshop along side the women who turn roadside rubbish into beautiful home items at social enterprise Rehash Trash! Create and buy ethically made souvenirs to bring home to your family and friends. At BE Happy we use their crafts as placemats and drink coasters so you can see their wares here too!
3:00 to 5:00pm – Coffee
Sit back and observe Siem Reap street life while you drink delicious coffee at Sister Srey. Not only are they a social enterprise who educate and empower their Cambodian staff, they support local communities and also donate a chunk of their profits to APOPO. APOPO use rats to detect and clear landmines, but they have a fantastic visitor centre that people interested in Siem Reap responsible travel ca learn from. Sister Srey wisely said “Let’s face it, coffee or lunch with friends is a much more appealing way to donate to charity than running a marathon.”
Buy a book at Tok Vanna’s stall outside Sister Srey!
During the Khmer Rouge, like thousands of other Cambodians, Tok Vanna was seriously injured by a landmine, which left him disabled with no more hands. After working at Rehab Craft Cambodia for several years, Tok Vanna decided to open his own business selling books from a stall to support his family.
5:00 to 7:00pm – Pampering
Sugar Spa provides meaningful employment to vulnerable women who are trained by an experienced team. Sugar prides itself on providing international-standard beauty services and products, with a special focus on using vegan, eco-friendly and sustainable beauty products (without compromising on quality) wherever possible. At Sugar Spa you can rest assured that you are Pampering With Purpose. Services include hair styling, eyelash extensions, manicures and pedicures, eyebrow shaping and skincare. For yoga check out their Yoga Space on site!
7:00 to 8:00pm – Dinner
Set in a gorgeous garden with lots of little funky touches and a gorgeous fair-trade gift shop, Marum is always at the top of our dinner list for their friendly team of trainees and the amazing food! Marum is part of the TREE Alliance of training restaurants. By eating at Marum you will be supporting their social and training programs, like Friends International and the ChildSafe Movement.
8:00 to 9:00pm – Enjoy
A popular nightly show, you will be amazed by the talented acrobats and team of artists at Phare Circus. Profits raised by the circus performances support Phares’ free educational, professional arts training and social support programs. We recommend getting there by 7.30pm to get your popcorn and watch the video about their story before the performance starts. Phare are by far the Siem Reap responsible travel leaders, paving the way for hundreds of young people to make a living through art.
9:00pm to Late! – Drinks
Set in a lush garden and voted best bar in town, WILD are an eco-friendly creative bar & eatery who actively donate to local charities. Their Instagram-worthy decor has seen them shoot to the top of the list of places to go and have your photo taken while enjoying one of their quirky spring roll dishes or one of their custom-designed tropical cocktails in their lush, cute converted Khmer wooden house and garden.
Use our tuk tuk drivers, when you travel with them you are directly supporting their families. Just a simple tuk tuk ride is all it takes. Our drivers support their families by taking people like you and me from A to B. Some of them are even supporting grandkids with the money they make doing daily trips to Angkor Wat, lotus farms, and well just around town. They are safe, friendly, professional, reliable and they really care about making sure you enjoy Siem Reap, so go on and feel warm and fuzzy about the positive impact you make by using their services. You can book through reception for day trips or for small trips simply hail one at the front of the guesthouse. If there isn’t anyone there let our friendly receptionists know and we will call one for you.
We offer free bicycles to our guests for up to 2 hours to get around Siem Reap.
But for bigger trips we recommend a quality Siem Reap responsible travel provider such as Grasshopper.
Think Green! Cycle around town on a Grasshopper bike. If you are looking for an active cycling tour look no further. Working with their local guides, Grasshopper design their tours with the goal of making a positive impact!
Where to stay?
A new happiness-focused guesthouse, BE Happy Guesthouse offers 12 rooms in an old converted colonial French guest house, with a beautiful external facade, surrounded by tropical plants, outdoor lounge seating, and gardens. BE Happy is off a quiet lane only about 10 minutes walk to town, you’ll enjoy the peaceful quiet while being close to everything. The hotel is situated just 7 kilometres from Angkor Wat, and 20 minutes from the airport.
At the core of the BE Happy Guesthouse mission is happiness, an invitation to our guests to slow down and enjoy the amazing array of options for holidays that Cambodia provides. We want you to feel happy while you travel. So we offer an organic spa, the upcoming on-site Born Free Juicery with a full vegan menu, a beautiful tropical garden, tours and transport services, 24-hour staff, and the gorgeous shared saltwater pool at neighbouring Baby Elephant Boutique Hotel.
Visit our website and book direct for the best deals. When you book direct, we don’t pay a commission and this helps us to invest even more into our team and also to expand our services and facilities. Check out our website for great discounts!