Fresh air and gorgeous sunsets in authentic rural Cambodia
Tall palm trees, luscious grass and fresh air make the Tbeng Kulen Homestay something special. A 45-minute journey from Siem Reap, Tbeng Kulen Homestay offers a little pocket of calm and a chance to experience the best of rural Khmer life. The community welcomes guests in twelve homestays cosily nestled amongst rice fields, fruit trees and palms. Locals are truly charming and there’s plenty to explore nearby including a Kbal Tuek Community Forest. Whether you are looking to relax after Angkorian temple-hopping or an active immersion into rural life – look no further than the Tbeng Kulen Homestay.
The Tbeng Kulen Homestay began hosting guests from 2013. Not only homestays, but the village also provides catering services for guests which support many women from the village.
Sen Sophan, 39, originally from Siem Reap, has helped manage the project from the get-go. Sophan volunteers most of his time to a local English school run by an NGO and works in the evenings as village security. He lives together with his wife and three children in the village and plays a key role in the homestay project. “A little goes a long way here in our community. Recently, many people in have resorted to looking for work overseas, often illegally. Sometimes their families never hear from them again and we don’t know what happens to them. We don’t want this happening. By providing more opportunities to make a living, through tourism, we can prevent this from happening.
Since tourists began visiting the village I’ve seen more and more parents motivated to send their children to school to learn. Especially, to learn English. Families can see the direct benefits and this is a big motivator.
Also, some money from the homestays goes back to the community. People with less money can apply to use the money to help build homes. We’ve also spent money to support a local school with a library. We’re pretty proud of our village and hope that tourists can see how beautiful it is too.”
The Tbeng Kulen Homestay is a community run tourism initiative located in Tbeng Village just outside of Bantey Srei district, Siem Reap. The village is home to over 150 families and within the village, there are twelve homestays as part of the project.
There are many others from the community, especially women, who are supported through tourism also. A small kindergarten was set up as part of the initial project also. Moreover, community members are employed for cooking for larger groups and perform traditional Khmer music and dancing. Tourism here aims to generate alternative livelihoods for the community.
The community itself is large with over 150 families in one village. Many family members work as farmers in rice fields or cultivating corn or potato crops with land close by and further afield towards Kulen National Park.
Income from the project supports families directly but is also redirected back into the village. Here, it supports more vulnerable members of the community and ensures the long term sustainability of the project.
The Tbeng Kulen Homestay is made up of twelve houses amongst a rural Khmer village. The roads to the commune are a mixture of sealed/unsealed but are suitable for car, bus, tuk-tuk, and motorbike. Note if you are travelling East from Preah Dak, Road 67, along road 810, the route is a little dusty and bumpy.
The village itself is flat and sandy pathways through the village are best explored on foot. There are grassy patches to relax on under the shade of tall palm and mango trees too.
There are twelve houses that host guests for homestays. All are elevated on stilts and are accessible via stairs. All homestays provide a basic mattress, mosquito net and bedding in a shared space within the house. Electricity, drinking water and fans are provided too. Bathrooms are external to the house and are Khmer style with squat toilets and bucket showers.
Food is served by the homestay hosts or for larger groups at a communal eating area at the front of the village. Food is traditional Khmer style and drinks can be purchased extra also.
There are multiple road side stores in the village selling cold drinks and basic supplies.
There is a western style toilet located next to the communal eating area. Toilets at the homestays are Khmer style squat toilets.
Bicycles can be hired through the Tbeng Kulen Homestay and cost $2. Half of the profit goes to the community to support the homestay project.
The Tbeng Kulen Homestay leaders speak proficient English and are happy to help. Homestay hosts speak a little English too.
HOMESTAY (LINK TO PRODUCT)
Spend an overnight with a local family in a homestay. Take a moment to appreciate the pace of rural Cambodia with your homestay hosts.
Cycle or take a motodop (motor bike taxi) to nearby rice fields to watch the sunset and sunrise. Ask your homestay hosts or community staff to show you the best place for viewing. There is an excellent bamboo platform to sit and relax and watch the sunset over rice paddies as local farmers bring their ox home through the fields.
VISIT KBAL TEUK COMMUNITY FOREST
Located 3km’s from the Tbeng Kulen Homestay is Kbal Teuk Community Forest. The forest is a young and diverse lowland rainforest and was established in 2000. Tourism in the forest is still developing, however, a trip into the forest with a guide from the community can be arranged. A motodop tour takes 2-2.5 hours ($5 for motodop & guide, $2 for entry into the forest).
OX-CART RIDE/TONLE TONG RIDE
Fancy traditional rural transport? Sit atop an ox-cart (ox lead wooden cart ) or a Tonle Tong (modern tractor like machinery used for ploughing fields) for a tour. A 2-2.5 hour tour by Tonle tong ($20, fits up to 15 people) or ox-cart ($15, fits up to 4 people) takes you into the nearby community forest ($2 entry).
WATCH KHMER NOODLE MAKING
Early mornings the village of the Tbeng Kulen Homestay is active. Wander around the village and watch as local families make traditional Khmer noodles from scratch.
VISIT THE PAGODA
The commune has a large Buddhist pagoda worth a look. The pagoda is located approximately 1km from the Tbeng Kulen Homestay sign along the main road.
KULEN MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
If you have plenty of time a must visit is the beautiful Kulen Mountain National Park. The checkpoint to the park is approximately 30 minutes by tuk-tuk (faster by motorbike) from the Tbeng Kulen Homestay. From the checkpoint, the drive is approximately 1 hour up the unsealed road through lush forest. Spend the day touring the mountain and visiting waterfalls and ancient Angkorian relics. Ticket entry is $20 per person.
The Tbeng Kulen Homestay is located just out of Banteay Srei district, Siem Reap Province. The village is a 30km journey from Siem Reap town.
GETTING TO SIEM REAP
Siem Reap is can be accessed by air and hosts an international airport. From Phnom Penh, flights take just under one hour. If you are on a budget, there is a range of buses and VIP minivan companies connecting Siem Reap with Phnom Penh (5-6hours) or Battambang (3hours) or Thailand – Bangkok.
FROM SIEM REAP TO TBENG KULEN HOMESTAY
The Tbeng Kulen Homestay is located 30kms from the centre of Siem Reap. There is a range of options for you to choose from, based on your prefered form of transport, budget and overall time you plan to spend in the rural communities.
- Tuktuk – A Khmer style tuk tuk costs approximately $20-$25 for a day (including sight-seeing) and can be arranged through your accommodation or by speaking with one of the many tuk tuks in Siem Reap town. The cost is relatively high but sharing it between 2-4 people makes more accessible to most.
- Motorbike – This option is the cheapest way to reach the project, it also provides you with the most flexibility to visit other historic and natural sites in the area. However, due to relatively busy roads in this area, we would only recommend it to those who are used to driving motorbikes and have all appropriate insurances. Motorbikes can be hired through your guest house /hotel in Siem Reap town or through several motorbike hire shops in the based in the city centre of Siem Reap. To get to the homestay take National Road 6 out of town towards Phnom Penh before turning left onto Road 67. After 10kms you will reach Preah Dak. Take a right onto Road 810. Here there are signs for Tbeng Kulen Homestay (otherwise known as Tbeang Eco-Tourism Village). It’s a bit of a bumpy journey from here before you cross Road 66 and continue straight for another 15minutes. The road curves around to the left with a pagoda on your right-hand side. Five minutes from here the Tbeng Kulen Homestay centre is on your right-hand side and is well-signed.
- Private taxi– A private taxi or bus for larger groups can be arranged via your accommodation in Siem Reap also, prices vary.
TBENG KULEN HOMESTAY, SIEM REAP
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