Cambodia is a vibrant country that has much to offer to tourists. From architectural marvels to delicious street food and many off-the-beaten-track travel adventures, Cambodia is an exceptional place to visit. However, it is also one of Southeast Asia’s most impoverished nations, struggling with poverty, the ramifications of a bloody history, and many other social hardships. If you choose to travel to Cambodia, you must work towards being a more responsible traveller who should try their best to give back to the community. Being an ethical, conscious traveller in Cambodia is a wonderful way to experience the country without harming the surrounding environment or exploiting local communities. We’ve found five ethical travel experiences in Cambodia for you to try. With these unique experiences, you can be an ethical, responsible traveller in Cambodia.

Also Read: 11 Of The Best Things To See In Cambodia

Here are 5 Ethical Travel Experiences In Cambodia

1. Elephant Trekking In Mondulkiri Province

Working with elephants, Ethical Travel Experiences In Cambodia
Asian Elephant

Cambodian elephants are subject to gruelling work on farms and are frequently used for tourist rides. This has led to many elephants developing severe health problems that shorten their life expectancy in the wild. If you’re looking to help rescue these elephants, you can support the Mondulkiri Project. This project offers overworked elephants a place to live out the rest of their days in peace. These elephants are allowed to roam freely through lush forests, swim in rivers and bathe under waterfalls in their natural habitat. As tourists, you have the chance to join these elephants for a day (for a fee) and learn things about them. It will also give you a chance to understand the lives of the Buong people who live in the region.

This project makes it a point to only employ local guides and is committed to helping the Buong community with only the money they raise. They also offer hiking tours and overnight camping trips in the jungle. 

2. Promote Ecotourism In The Cardamom Mountains

A view from atop a jungle mountain in remote region of southeast asia, ethical travel in Cambodia

To the west of Phnom Penh, you will find Chi Phat which is a community-based ecotourism initiative. Everyone who works here is from the local community and they are paid a fair  wage for their services. These services include being guides, cooks and homestay families. By visiting Chi Phat and taking part in local activities, you will be able to help this small community flourish. If you visit Chi Phat during New Year’s Eve, you will get a chance to see how a Cambodian village celebrates! 

At Chi Phat, you can go on an overnight guided trek, go biking, and even try jungle camping. Getting to Chi Phat is an exciting journey by itself. You have to first board a bus going towards Ko Kong and ask the driver to make a stop at Andoung Teuk. After this, a two-hour boat ride or 40-minute motorbike taxi will bring you to this isolated village in the cardamom mountains. You can stay at a locally owned guest house for or choose to stay in the home of a local family for an authentic experience. 

3. Help Employ Street Children In Phnom Penh

The streets of Phnom Pehn, Cambodia

A restaurant called ‘The Friends’ in Phnom Penh is staffed by at-risk young people. These ex-street kids are given an opportunity to turn their lives around through special vocational training programs. By choosing to dine at this restaurant you can contribute to reshaping the lives of these young children. The restaurant serves delicious European and international tapas-style cuisine and exquisite cocktails. It’s sister restaurant Romdeng specialises in local food, especially little known delicacies like crispy tarantulas with black pepper and lime. If you’re looking to try something new, you know where to go!

4. Help Rural Students By Teaching English In Takeo

Teaching children English is a way to travel ethically in Cambodia

Experience rural Cambodia while also assisting a village school with the help of New Futures Organisation. This project offers free education to students in rural communities who don’t have access to government schools. Working with NFO is free, all you have to do is pay for your travel and accommodation. Individuals are placed as teachers for a minimum of one week but staying longer is bound to enrich your experience.

As a volunteer, you’ll get a chance to cycle down dusty dirt roads to reach remote village schools. The project also employs local teachers along with services that support the local community. There’s a drop-in centre that provides meals and also supports at-risk children. Volunteers with specific skills are sometimes given long term placements, so it’s also a great way to develop your employability skills.

5. Spend Time At A Non-Profit Circus In Siem Reap

Cambodian circus, Ethical Travel Experiences In Cambodia

A unique way to spend an evening in Siem Reap is by visiting Phare the Cambodian Circus. You will witness world-renowned performances by those who began their careers at the Phare Ponleu Selpak, a non-profit in Battambang. There’s also a circus school that helps disadvantaged children and youth channel their energy into the performing arts by learning new circus skills and music. Even if you’re a circus skeptic, these energetic, vibrant performances are sure to enthral you. 

Ethical Travel In Cambodia Will Enrich Your Tourist Experience

By partaking in these ethical travel experiences in Cambodia you are bound to have a fulfilling vacation in this beautiful country that will leave lasting memories. Ethical travel allows you to truly get to know a destination while also offering something to all those in need. Instead of being a wasteful tourist who indulges in excesses, take the time to be a responsible, eco-conscious traveller who can actually bring about valuable change through their actions. 

Also read: 22 delicious Cambodian dishes you need to try

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