Wondering how to make your social, environmental and economic impact on Cambodia a positive one? Let us guide you to Siem Reap’s businesses that best support the local community by empowering local staff and management, and by conserving the environment. Our list of forward-thinking enterprises that encourage sustainable tourism offer experiences that will enhance your stay in Siem Reap while actively helping the people who need it most. Making an informed choice about where to stay, eat and shop can make a significant difference to employment opportunities for local families and ensures that Siem Reap remains an appealing and thriving place to visit for years to come.
Buying your ticket to this critically-acclaimed, revolutionary performance art circus show (with no animals) means that this social enterprise can continue to provide well-paying job opportunities to the gradates of the Phare Ponleu Selpak school. The school provides free artistic and academic education as well as social support to Cambodian youth in Battambang. Phare Ponleu Selpak, or ‘The Brightness of the Arts’ helps at-risk Cambodian youth transform their lives through art. Be exhilarated by the talented students’ high-energy acrobatics, dancing, music and spellbinding storytelling in each dynamic performance at their iconic Big Top venue and help PPSA to transform lives.
Satcha’s business model and products are unique. The center incubates craft people through a 3-year training program that leads them to become fully independent and manage their own company. During these 3 years, Satcha commits to buying products monthly from the craft people to guarantee enough revenue to sustain their living and their family. This approach ensures that the artisans can continue to create their products and preserve their traditional knowledge while also supporting their livelihoods and the local economy. Satcha’s commitment to sustainability is evident in its dedication to supporting the local community and preserving traditional knowledge and skills.
Fair Trade Village is Siem Reap’s only permanent market that exclusively sells genuine Cambodian-made handicraft products. The center works with rural artisans and social enterprises to offer the highest quality handmade crafts while promoting fair trade practices and sustainable livelihoods for thousands of local artisans. All products are certified by the Angkor Handicraft Association. Visitors can experience live arts and learn traditional Khmer handicraft techniques in artisan workshops. By visiting Fair Trade Village, you’ll support the local economy and help preserve ancient skills at the same time.
4Made in Cambodia Market
Siem Reap’s many markets offer tourists a dizzying array of imported souvenirs, yet there is an alternative. Made in Cambodia market, open daily from midday until 10pm at the Kings Road dining and retail complex, provides an outlet for local craftspeople and small businesses where they can sell direct to customers. This opportunity to interact directly with shoppers, in the relaxed market setting, gives handicraft producers and sellers direct income and an incentive to develop their skills and create jobs. Visitors to the market will find internationally recognized artisan products and brands, such as Rehash Trash’s rainbow-coloured hand-woven home decor, Sombai Liqueur, Friends International and Ammo, whose jewelry and accessories are fashioned from bullets.
Dining here supports a hospitality training facility for students from EGBOK (Everything’s Gonna Be OK), an organisation dedicated to changing the lives of young people through vocational training, job placements and a training and internship programme. Enjoy delicious Cambodian favourites from the menu, knowing that you have directly contributed to the personal and educational development of a young person, giving them an opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience as part of their life-changing training. Head to Spoons for their weekly specials and exciting cocktails, open for both lunch and dinner.
6Apopo Visitor Center
Apopo is a Belgian NGO that trains rats to become landmine detectors, and ultimately save lives. The visitor center opens its doors to visitors every day to share and raise awareness of the incredible work the organisation undertakes to train these light, intelligent and hardy animals, the HeroRATS, to clear large areas of land in a fraction of the time taken by traditional methods. Come and see the HeroRATS in action, meet the teams behind their training and learn more about how rats are so crucial to speeding up the urgent humanitarian demining process. Your visit costs $5 and, along with funds raised from merchandise or their popular rat adoption scheme support the care and training of the rats.
HUSK was established by the owners of Sojourn Boutique Villas and Beyond Unique Escapes, and is staffed entirely by volunteers, with the exception of paid Khmer staff. Both businesses support HUSK through direct donations of a percentage of their profits, and by providing free business support and facilitating customers’ donations. Beyond Unique Escapes has also created specific tours that provide ongoing income to villagers and their communities. Booking a unique ‘day in a life’ village tour enables village communities to benefit from tourism. Money raised goes to safe water projects, a library, a free HUSK community English school and school uniform funding to assist families in need.
8Jaya House Riverpark
This luxury hotel with 36 rooms, two pools and a spa is leading the way with a ‘refill not landfill’ reusable bottle campaign, with the aim of reducing single use plastic in Siem Reap. Along with tree planting initiative, ongoing support to several NGOs in the city and a commitment to providing training and equal opportunities to its local staff, this hotel prides itself on its strong community focus and responsibility to the environment. Guests can expect modern and stylish decor, and a peaceful riverside location when they book a stay here. Why not opt for the two-day Jaya Explorer experience, which includes temples, villages, Tonle Sap’s floating villages and a cookery class.
Haven restaurant is a social project that teaches all of its employees and offers amazing quality Asian and international food, a lot of it vegetarian or vegan. A strong emphasis is also put on sustainability: they use only biodegradable materials in all of their takeaway containers, and source most of their products locally. Haven is a training restaurant and social enterprise that creates new life prospects for disadvantaged young adults, teaching them valuable work & life skills, while treating you with delicious food and a warm atmosphere.
10Kulen Elephant Forest
Kulen Elephant Forest is a sanctuary where retired elephants can interact freely, and are treated with the greatest care and attention. The sanctuary is a large protected park, about 210 hectares, in the foothills of the Phnom Kulen National Park. The Kulen Elephant Forest is a sustainable tourism model by supporting the local community/economy and the local primary school. The sanctuary is a living testimony of a changing attitude towards elephants in Cambodia and the world.