Catch a glimpse of village life in this rural community.
The welcoming community of Khnar Po is Located amongst the rice paddies and green fields to the east of Siem Reap. Get an understanding of Cambodian rural life here, help with harvesting ingredients form the vegetable garden, and learn how to prepare traditional Khmer dishes. Take a trip and marvel at Banteay Ampil, these secluded Angkor period temples are perfect for sightseeing beyond the masses.
Khnar po is a collection of villages in Siem Reap province. There are 99 houses in the village, and it was established as a community based tourism site in 2013. By choosing to visit Khnar Po, you are directly supporting local people, and their community as a whole.
From Mae Mon, the community tourism leader ‘My name is Mae Mon, and I am the leader of the community tourism committee. I have lived in this village with my wife for 21 years, and all of my three children were born here. Our tourism site has meant that there are more jobs for people here, and not as many people need to go to Thailand to work on farms there. I would like to create more jobs through our tourism project, so we can make sure there is enough work for the people who live here. One of the best things about having tourists here is that it has meant that the community is much closer, and now everybody knows who everyone is – there is a greater sense of community.’
Khnar Po is a collection of three small villages. It is predominantly a farming community, but is only an hour and 15 minutes Krom Siem Reap, making this the perfect option for a short break from the city.
The community tourism committee oversees all aspects of guests visiting the project. After people have been paid for the services they have provided tourists, the profit left over is used for community projects. The community committee decide on how the profits from tourism are used. So far, the community have decided to use the profits generated by tourism to funded an English teacher for the young children, who do two extra hours of English lessons a day after their Khmer school finishes. They have also allocated funds to fix the main road, and also give a small donation to families when they have to cover the cost of a funeral.
The simple homestays are traditional Khmer stilted homes. Guests will sleep in the room upstairs, the family will sleep downstairs, so the accommodation shared with other travellers. A mattress, pillow, mosquito net are provided. There is a mix of Western and Khmer style toilets, depending on which homestay you are in. Showers are ‘bucket style’.
Food and drinks
Khmer-style dinner and breakfast are provided in the homestay, lunch is provided at the local community gathering place. Clean drinking water is available throughout your visit.
There is one English speaking tour guide at the project. He is knowledgeable about Banteay Ampil temples and can explain the farming practices to you. He can be booked when you book your stay.
Khnar po is not difficult to get to, however, you will need to arrange your own transport to leave the homestay. See the transportation section for more information.
Currently there are no bicycles available for rent. The best way to explore is via foot or via boat. Roads are unpaved.
There a few Khmer-style stores on the Koh Snaeng island that sell basic goods (cold drinks, snacks and basic household items). There are also Khmer style restaurants to buy homemade noodle soup (Ka Tiew) or rice soup (Bobor).
There are minimal fluent English speakers at Koh Han Island. Yet, community members have enough to help you arrange transport or if you have any concerns.
Ox cart rides
Take an ox cart ride through the beautiful farmland and paddy fields directly behind the village. Here, look around the vegetable gardens and villagers tending to rice being grown in the fields. Your English speaking guide will be able to explain about the farming processes used, and also help facilitate discussions
Explore the village
There are plenty of activities to see and take part in in the village itself. Learn how to weave mats and make brooms out of thatch, and explore the local homesteads. Learn about rice milling and get to know the locals and chat to them about their lives in rural Cambodia.
Cooking classes start by a trip to the vegetable garden to collect what you need to prepare your meal. After that, you will be taught how to make traditional, seasonal khmer dishes.
Ox Cart ride to Banteay Amptil
Ox Cart ride to Banteay Amptil temples is a fantastic experience. These remote temples are difficult to find, but it is worth making the effort because not only are they beautiful, it’s likely you will be the only people there. Your guide can explain the history of the site, which is from the Angkor period.
Khnar po is fairly straightforward to find. Busses to and from Siem Reap from the east side pass through the small town of Damdek. Ask your bus driver to let you off here. On the T junction (likely the location your driver will drop you at) is a small stand selling bus tickets. This is where Tuk Tuk drivers congregate so you can arrange a trip to Khnar Po. It is approximately a 45 minute journey, and should cost around $13. If you want to keep the driver for the return journey it will likely cost $25-$30. The road is in the process of getting resurfaced, so expect a dusty ride, but work is due to be completed by August 2019.
If you’re staying overnight, we recommend taking your driver’s phone number, so you can call in the morning and see if you can arrange to be collected the next morning.
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My experience of rural Cambodia at Khnar Po
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