Photo credit: https://www.siemreapfoodtours.com/
Emerging trends in travel such as sustainable tourism, responsible travel and eco-friendly are creating a movement in the traveler’s mindset.
For our series, Responsible Travel, we will be sharing our stories on food tours, and tour companies we have personally experienced are on taking action to enhance and uplift their communities around the world.
Anyone who has gotten married, big white wedding style, knows how much planning goes into putting on said production. So a few months after our big day, I realized the high of event planning came with a low once it was all over. The cure: plan a holiday.
Things to do in Siem Reap for 2 days
We decided to travel to Cambodia, like many other travelers, for its temples. Having a World Heritage-listed site and being the backdrop to blockbuster movies was all I knew of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
We were staying in Siem Reap, in a central location a stone’s throw from Pub Street where there were lots of eateries. So, we ventured out to look for a place to eat that served Cambodian cuisine. I was surprised to see that many of the restaurants along Pub Street didn’t seem to have this sort of dining option. After wandering for 20 minutes, I was hungry, and without us knowing what we were looking for, we decided on a pizza joint and called it a night.
Food, to me, is the true expression of culture. I believe, in food, you find stories, traditions, politics, even religion. You can learn more about a place and its history through its food rather than its buildings. I feel Anthony Bourdain said it best,
“Food is everything we are. It’s an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It’s inseparable from those from the get-go.”
Siem Reap Food Guide
The next day, determined to experience authentic food during our stay, we decided to research food tours in Siem Reap. The first hit was Siem Reap Food Tours. That was easy, I thought. As we read through the website, we were charmed by the story of Steven and Lina, expats living in Cambodia who started these tours with Steven’s passion for food and Lina’s expertise in food and travel writing. Online they sounded like they really loved this country and genuinely wanted to show us a good time. We were sold and booked in for the next available Evening Tour which promised “night markets and bustling street-food stands.”
For nearly four hours we ate and ate and ate. We rode a tuk-tuk, while Steven hung on the back, or front, depending on where we were going. We went to places that did not look like places we would have chosen to go on our own. We tried a fermented sauce that was the most delicious thing I have ever eaten in Cambodia. Frog legs, duck soup, water beetles, crickets, tender and tasty grilled beef, a refreshing salad and, to top it off, durian for dessert. We learned that Cambodia, albeit unknown to the rest of the world, has a unique cuisine.
Photo Credit: https://www.siemreapfoodtours.com/
To say the tour “met expectations” is an understatement. Throughout our time together, we saw how this small operation was providing consistent income for the locals. Being a chef by trade, Steven not only knew what was “good food” but he also learned the language, built relationships with the vendors and the consistency of patrons had a positive impact on those families directly. This form of community-based tourism provided an economy in a way that could still be sustainable regardless of fluctuations in tourism.
To us, Siem Reap Food Tours deserve a spot on our list of responsible travel tours because of their commitment to their community and to sharing Cambodia and Khmer cuisine authentically.
Book Evening Tour, $75USD pp