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.

Photo by Régis Binard

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.

Address: Intersection with Sok San Road and Ring Road, Siem Reap
Opening hours: Daily performances at 8pm (additional 5pm performances from Nov 1- March 31 on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays)
Website: pharecircus.org

2Backstreet Academy

Booking a craft workshop or cultural activity through this social enterprise which links tourists with local craftspeople for an authentic and enriching experience. Backstreet Academy handles bookings and marketing, bridging the gap for skilled craftspeople in developing countries who may not have the language ability or technology to tap into the tourist market, increasing their income as a result. Choose from several workshops (duration 2-3 hours) in Siem Reap, starting at $22, including stone carving taught by a stone master, a Khmer cooking class, wood carving or copper bracelet making, among other creative classes.

Address: Inside Phare, the Cambodian Circus (Intersection with Sok San Road and Ring Road)
Opening hours: 9am – 8pm every day

Website: www.backstreetacademy.com

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 recognised artisan products and brands, such as Rehash Trash’s rainbow-coloured hand-woven home decor, Sombai Liqueur, Friends International and Ammo, whose jewellery and accessories are fashioned from bullets.

Address: Corner of Achar Svar Street & Street 27, King’s Road Angkor
Opening hours: 12pm – 10pm every day

Website: facebook.com/madeincambodiamarket

4New Cambodian Artists

Make time in your itinerary to catch the New Cambodian Artists, an all-female Contemporary Dance company – the first of its kind in Cambodia. The company is all about empowering women through expression. Their unique ‘apsara fusion’ style incorporates traditional dance elements with contemporary influences, and their performances – often featuring challenging material from the country’s past – enthral and entertain. Visitors can purchase tickets for their performances on the door, every Saturday at 6.30pm, at their studio on Men’s Road.

Address: Men’s Road, Siem Reap
Opening hours: Performances every Saturday at 6.30pm 

Website: newcambodianartistsorg.wordpress.com

5Spoons

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.

Address: Bamboo Street, Siem Reap
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday, 11.30am – 10pm

Website: www.spoonscambodia.org

6Rehash Trash

Employing 20 local women and recycling approximately 5000 discarded plastic bags a week, this social enterprise offers fun and creative workshops offering tourists a hands-on opportunity to make a unique keepsake. Visitors learn the crochet technique used to make these distinctive and colourful household items, while engaging with the ladies whose families have benefited from the employment, income and Khmer literacy classes that Rehash Trash has provided since its inception in 2015. The showroom, filled with their stunning baskets, bags, hampers and table settings, is open daily for workshops costing $8 (make a coaster, friendship band or keyring, allow 2 hours), or $12 (make a table mat or small basket, allow 4 hours).

Address: Sombai Road (next door to Sombai shop)
Opening hours: 9am – 5pm every day

Website: www.greengeckoproject.org

7Apopo 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.

Address: Trapeang Ses Village, Siem Reap
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday, 8.30am – 5.30pm

Website: www.apopo.org

8Café Collective

Café Collective is a group of cafés in Siem Reap that work together for a better environment. Aiming to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, the need for single use plastic takeaway cups and packaging, all the cafés in the collective have introduced a surcharge of 1000 Riel on takeaway coffee, to incentivise customers to bring their own reusable cup. In addition, a discount of 1000 Riel is offered to customers bringing their own container for food takeaways.

Participating cafés: The Little Red Fox Espresso, Sister Srey Cafe, Bang Bang Bakery, Brother Bong Cafe, Footprint Cafe, CRANE Siem Reap, The Missing Socks Laundry Cafe, Bayon Pastry School Coffee Shop, The Glasshouse Deli Patisserie, Kuriosity Kafé, Wine O’clock Deli & Café, New Leaf and ARTillery.

9HUSK Cambodia

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.

Address: Operating from Beyond Unique Escapes, near ANZ Royal Bank, Siem Reap
Website: www.huskcambodia.org

10Jaya 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.

Address: River Road, Siem Reap
Website: www.jayahouseriverparksiemreap.com