Giving back in ... Siem Reap

***Update***

I first went to Siem Reap with my sister in 2014 and just had the chance to revisit with my fiance so I have updated this post to reflect some of the new social businesses I discovered. 

Don't have time to volunteer in Siem Reap? No worries, there are some great ways that you can get involved and give back to the local community without donating months of your time to volunteering. 

Walking around in Siem Reap you will surely be approached by a child asking for money or maybe for powdered milk, but please think before giving anything to them. The money does not often go to these children and most have a deal with the store to sell back the powdered milk and split the profits. These children should be in school not out late at night begging for money or selling trinkets, and if we continue to support them in this way they will continue to forego their education. If you want to read more about this issue check out the Child Safe International campaign here.

One of the ads from The ChildSafe Network 's THINK! campaign that you will see all over Cambodia encouraging travellers to Think before engaging in potentially harmful actions with vulnerable children.

One of the ads from The ChildSafe Network 's THINK! campaign that you will see all over Cambodia encouraging travellers to Think before engaging in potentially harmful actions with vulnerable children.

Instead, support any one of the numerous fair trade shops or socially responsible restaurants in Siem Reap where people from the poorest communities are trained to marketable skills, and all of the profits go back to these communities. 

Many of the shops and restaurants I am recommending can be found on or around Pub Street.

Many of the shops and restaurants I am recommending can be found on or around Pub Street.

  • Senteurs d’Angkor - sells amazing hand made products made by artisans from poor and rural communities around Siem Reap.
  • Peace Café - has a great vegetarian menu, a cute fair trade shop and a nice garden to relax in. 
  • Marum Restaurant - is part of the Tree Alliance and trains street kids to work in the hospitality industry and serves wonderful Cambodian food with a modern twist.
  • Friends n' Stuff Shop - sells locally made products and gives marginalized young people real business skills and is run by the same organization promoting the THINK! campaign.
  • Artisans Angkor - alleviates poverty in rural community by promoting traditional Khmer arts & crafts. They have a shop in downtown Siem Reap as well as a Silk Farm about 20  minutes outside of the city which I recommend visiting if you are curious to learn more about the methods behind their beautiful products.  
  • Tangram Graden Restaurant - is set in a beautiful garden and each table has its own gazebo. The restaurant serves traditional Cambodian food and promotes local arts and culture. The staff are also amazingly friendly and you will surely enjoy your time here!