Nature in Cambodia is fundamental: for its economy, its tradition, and the well-being of its people. Maintaining the landscape is extremely important. Taking an eco-tour is your chance to contribute to safeguarding the gorgeous Cambodian countryside, its forests and wetlands.
An eco-tour might bring you to the amazing national parks around the country, with their flora and fauna; or, perhaps, to the rice fields close to Battambang.
The floating villages close to Siem Reap are a popular destination: there you will catch a glimpse of a remote lifestyle, take amazing rustic pictures, and try fishing or working on a farm; amounting to a truly stunning cultural experience.
- Enjoy the best parts of the countryside while helping the country itself
- Observe wild birds in their natural habitat around the floating villages
- Put yourself in the place of Cambodian farmers near Battambang
- Discover the ruins hidden in the forests
Eco-Tours in Cambodia: what they are like
There are two main kinds of eco-tour in Cambodia:
Hiking in the National Parks
You can go either with a guide or by yourself. Visiting, for example, the Kikirom or the Kulen National Park, home to many different kinds of animal and plant, is a good way to sustain the parks and support the locals living there.
Booking with Asia Highlights will give you a chance to visit the parks with the invaluable help of a professional guide. The guide will show you the best routes and explain the stories behind the places you visit, while taking care of you while passing through the jungles.
or Experiencing the Cambodian rural lifestyle
Following a fixed schedule, the tour starts from the city and goes out into the countryside, to let you experience the lives of farmers or fishermen.
You can plant rice in a pond or net-fish in a river. The tour usually includes a cooking class and it ends with a typical homemade meal cooked with ingredients grown on the local farm.
Top eco-tours in Cambodia
Cambodia offers a lot of opportunities for eco-tours. Due to its historical heritage, its National Parks are home to hidden ruins and beautiful wildlife, making an eco-tour a mesmerizing experience.
Phnom Penh - Kirirom National Park
Kirirom, a protected pine forest with rich flora and fauna, is about 114 km from the city. It used to be the residence of King Sihanouk.
There are several footpaths running through the forest, with lakes and waterfalls every now and then (the so called waterfalls are rapids with elevated platforms for picnics). The park is a must for birdwatchers and animal lovers.
You can have a day trek or a two-day bike tour, or stay in the hotel run by a Khmer family (where no one speaks English). The trek is usually pretty long (around 17 km), and hiring a guide is essential.
It is recommended to dine in the Kirikom Restaurant on top of the hill, the perfect scenic spot.
The best time to go there is during or right after the rainy season.
Siem Reap - Kulen National Park
Located on the Phnom Kulen Mountain in Siem Reap province, the park is famous because here, back in Khmer times, Jayavarma II proclaimed himself king of kings (chakravartin): in this way, the Khmer Empire was founded.
Kulen is about 48 km from the city. It is a mixture of nature and ruins, with hermits and secret places everywhere:
- Chup Preah is in the mountain valley and has plenty of cool flowing water;
- Kbal Spean is an archaeological site, where you can admire numerous Yoni carved into the rocks. The best is revealed when the river dries up and you can see a figure carved in the riverbed;
- Preah Ang Thom, a huge Buddha statue carved into a sandstone boulder.
There are also two waterfalls: the taller is about 20 meters tall, though its size varies with the season.
We recommend you visit the park during the dry season (November to May).
Siem Reap - bird-watching tour
Boating through the floating villages on Tonle Sap Lake allows you to discover the hidden splendor of their traditional life style.
The tour starts with a boat ride to the nearby floating village of Kampong Phluk: from there, you will reach Prek Tual, a bird sanctuary which is home to an incredible variety of water birds and endangered species, such as storks, pelicans and ibises. We recommend visiting during the dry season.
A typical trip will start early in the morning, when the village is already full of with people fishing. Once you reach the village, you will be transferred to a smaller boat going to the bird sanctuary. There you will go around the forest for bird-watching. After a couple of hours you will head back to the village for a homemade lunch.
The boat will return at sunset, giving you an amazing view of the city.
If taking this tour, you can negotiate the price according to the size of your group. Usually, drinks, lunch and admission fees are included.
Battambang - rice cultivation
Rice is the staple food of Cambodia, and its cultivation is enormously important. Maybe you don't know how to grow rice step by step. In Battambang, you can learn how.
When you take an eco-tour in a rice cultivation area, you will be instructed about how rice is grown, and you will understand how hard the life of a farmer is.
You will reach your destination, a family home, by riding a bike through the countryside. You will dress up as a farmer (with boots, hat and gloves) and learn how to plow with a cow and transplant rice in a field. At the end of the tour, enjoy a homemade meal with your host family.
This is your chance to learn how the locals live and the harshness and importance of their work.
Eco-tours are a different way to travel, off the normal beaten track for tourists. Sometimes they can be difficult. Here are some useful suggestions for your trip:
- Time your trip wisely: we suggest outdoor eco-tours during the dry season and better go out and about in the morning, as it gets hot in the afternoon. Half-day eco-tours are more suitable, especially when you are traveling with young children. For full-day tours, such as trekking in national parks, stop frequently to rest, to avoid being worn out.
- Helping the locals with respect: just be one of them, they are not looking for your suggestions on how to make their lives better; being there is a great help in itself.
- Avoid tourist traps: examine reviews on TripAdvisor or other travel forums before you decide which tour to take; pay special attention to the negative reviews; choose a trustworthy travel agent or private tour guide
Take a boat tour with Asia Highlights
At Asia Highlights we offer tailor-made tours through Asia, where you can enjoy all highlights as well as amazing cultural experiences. To get started, send us an email.