The spectacular ruins of Angkor Wat may be the main draw for visitors to Cambodia, but the historic temples, tropical beaches and colourful markets are all worth the visit too. And then there’s the food. Khmer cuisine is akin to Thai and Vietnamese, sharing the same flavour profile, but combined in different and surprising ways. To really get to know the soul of Cambodia, you need to sample its cuisine. The easiest way to go past the superficial sights and explore the depths of this country’s heart, soul and stomach is to embark on a food tour hosted by Cambodia-based travel and food writer and photographer couple, Lara Dunston and Terence Carter.
Siem Reap residents of three years, Lara and Terence have crafted an enriching food tour with itineraries boasting a delicious balance of culinary experiences, cultural excursions, countryside tuk tuk trundles, and, on their Food Writing and Photography Retreats, writing and photography workshops.
On their food tour, you will get to eat and cook local cuisine, explore temples and villages, visit artisanal producers, and for those on the Retreats, sharpen your writing and photography skills. The itineraries also include downtime for reflection, relaxation, pampering, and even shopping. Highlights include meals at Cambodia’s most authentic restaurants; behind-the-scenes kitchen tours and the chance to speak to local chefs; market tours, street food grazing and village walks; introductions and tastings of everything from Cambodian breakfast soups to traditional sweets; and rural excursions to visit cottage industries making everything from rice paper and rice noodles to palm sugar and prahok (fermented fish).
Exclusive experiences include a visit to an organic farm with a young Cambodian chef and time to observe the last maker of a beloved traditional dessert in a village once famous for producing the delicate, painstakingly prepared sweets. There’ll also be a private cooking class and leisurely lunch at the lovely country home overlooking the rice fields of Cambodian-New Zealand chef Kethana Dunnett of Sugar Palm restaurant. Chef Kethana is the go-to consultant for visiting chefs, having advised the likes of Gordon Ramsay and Luke Nguyen when they were in Cambodia working on television programmes and cookbooks.
“On both our Culinary Tour and Retreat, we’ll be introducing you to the people who cook the cuisine, sell it and produce the ingredients that go into making it, and giving you a taste of the rich culture and long history of Cambodia. Those on our Retreat will also spend time honing their writing and photography skills through bite-size creative workshops, practical achievable assignments and one-on-one consultation time,” Lara explained.
“Our focus will be on immersing you in Cambodian food, one of Asia’s most misunderstood and under-appreciated cuisines.”
The Retreat will also feature memorable experiences such as a monk’s blessing to wish participants luck; an introductory Khmer language lesson with foodie vocabulary; a night at the quirky Phare Cambodian circus (no animals involved); a chance to sample Cambodia’s best coffee; a visit to the country’s only winery; a Khmer cocktail-making lesson; and sundowners and canapés overlooking the rice fields.
Accommodation is in stylish, intimate boutique hotels, including sleek Templation in Siem Reap, by acclaimed local architects ASMA, which boasts the city’s biggest swimming pool, and charming Maisons Wat Kor in traditional-style houses in Battambang.
If you’re looking for a foodie and travel experience you won’t soon forget, arranged by people who love and understand the local cuisine and landscape, book with Lara and Terence and use the code CCTWPR-PT, which will entitle you to a choice of culinary gift packs loaded with delicious Cambodian-made goodies (valued at USD$40). All tours are small-group trips only. They also offer bespoke tours if you’re after a more personalised experience. Tours for 2017 are already filling up, so make sure you book soon!
Dates & Pricing
9-Night Cambodia Food Tour
26 May – 3 June 2017
US$2,210 per person
10-Night Cambodia Travel and Food Writing and Photography Retreat
13-22 April 2017
US$2,355 per person
9-18 June 2017
US$2,155 per person
10-Night Cambodia Travel and Food Blogging Retreat *
29 April-8 May 2017
US$2,255 per person
* More info on this trip soon; in the meantime, details available on request.
- All accommodation (9 nights on the Tour, 10 nights on the Retreat in your own double room; twin/double share on request, no single supplement)
- Daily breakfasts and almost all lunches and dinners, and plenty of snacks/tastings
- All tours, excursions, activities, experiences, and classes
- Local transport
- Guides, and some entry fees as specified in the itinerary;
- Tuition, writing/photography workshops and one-on-one consultation time (Retreats only)
The price does not include flights, visas, insurance, airport transfers, Angkor Park temple passes, and hotel incidentals. A non-refundable US$500 deposit is required to make a firm booking.