GETTING TO KNOW
THE COUNTRY AND ITS PEOPLE
For visitors who would like to discover rural Cambodia independently, we offer various excursions directly from the Farmhouse Smiling Gecko. These mostly half-day tours will bring you closer to the culture and its charming people and give you a deeper insight into the everyday life of the rural community.
All tours are led by an English-speaking guide and last two to three hours, unless otherwise specified. Since the excursions are in the countryside and in nature, sneakers, long-sleeved shirt and long pants are highly recommended.
With the exception of the SMILING GECKO PROJECT TOUR, all other tours are chargeable and can optionally be booked at the Farmhouse Smiling Gecko. Cold drinks and typical Cambodian snacks are included in the tour price.
SMILING GECKO PROJECT
Smiling Gecko is breaking new ground in development aid and with its economically and ecologically sustainable cluster projects, pursues a holistic approach that leads to a significant improvement in the living conditions of the rural Cambodian society. Since 2014, the charity has developed into a social start-up company and already created hundreds of jobs and apprenticeships in the fields of agriculture, tourism and crafts. The heart of Smiling Gecko is the school where more than 300 children benefit from a good education in an innovative, child-friendly and effective learning environment.
On the Smiling Gecko Project Tour, you will receive detailed explanations of the history of Smiling Gecko and gain a deeper insight into the various Smiling Gecko projects. The tour includes a visit, among other things, to the agricultural farms and the carpentry workshop.
This tour is a free offer that is included in the price of your stay at the Farmhouse Smiling Gecko.
More than 90% of the Cambodian population are Buddhists and followers of Theravada Buddhism, which is a belief widespread in Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and Sri Lanka as well.
For the Temple Mount Tour, you will be picked up in a minibus and travel approximately 45 km through traditional rural Cambodia to a Temple Mount. At the end of the drive, you will visit an impressive 500 year-old Buddhist monastery. After visiting the monastery complex, you will have the opportunity to enjoy a breathtaking idyllic sunset from the top of the Temple Mount.
Rice is the main source of food in Cambodia and is mostly produced using traditional farming methods which include the ox, plow and harrow, especially during the rainy season.
The Rice Paddy Tour gives you an insight into the life of rice farmers and lets you participate in their daily work. You start the day with a 20-minute drive to the rice paddies near our farmhouse. You will get to know a farming family and experience how they grow their rice (in the rainy season from July to August) or harvest their crop (from December-January). If you wish, you are most welcome to help the rice farmers with their hard work.
The sugar palm (Borassus flabellifer) is one of the national symbols of Cambodia. It can be found all over the country and plays an important role not only as a source of income for many Khmer people, but also as building material for a wide variety of purposes. All parts of the tree can be used and each part often has several different uses too, e.g. the wood can be used building material for houses and boats, for cooking and as eating utensils while the leaves for roofs and walls, as well as the juice and the fruits as food.
The approximately 3-hour Palm Tree Tour takes you to a local family in the DOMNAK OMPEL VILLAGE, 20 minutes from the farmhouse, where they grow palm trees, produce palm sugar and sell the palm juice for a living. You will see where the palm trees grow and how the farmers harvest and process the palm sap. You will have the opportunity to taste the natural palm juice that has just been extracted, straight from the palm or as palm wine.
BAMBOO & CHARCOAL
80% of Cambodian households use charcoal for cooking. Whether a hot soup or the typical delicious Cambodian fish amok with rice - almost all dishes are cooked in small, coal-fired clay ovens. Since the wood reserves continue to decrease, the further development of bamboo cultivation is of great importance.
The Bamboo & Charcoal Tour starts with a visit to our Carpentry workshop, where you will see how things are made with bamboo. The tour then takes you to the KRAING SIEM VILLAGE, about 30 minutes from the farmhouse. There you will visit a family who makes a living from making charcoal out of bamboo and selling bamboo products. Experience the bamboo harvest and watch how the bamboo is processed into many useful, handcrafted products such as palm leaf mats, walls, roofs and fences. You can also follow the individual steps of the charcoal production in the huge self-made furnace made of stone and clay.
Fire ants are a Cambodian specialty and taste excellent with eg beef and spicy basil.
The Antnest Tour takes you to a local family in the TBONG KDEY VILLAGE, 20 minutes from the farmhouse. The family makes a living from collecting and selling ant nests and mushrooms. You will accompany the family to learn more about their daily routine. You will learn where the family find the ant nests and mushrooms and how they harvest them. Afterwards, you can enjoy the unique taste of the ants with a typical Khmer dish prepared according to their local recipe.
After that, you will visit another family in the neighborhood. This family produces Cambodia's traditional alcoholic drink “Srah Sohl”. You will learn how this rice schnapps is made and have the opportunity to taste the alcoholic drink.
Many Cambodians enjoy going on weekend excursions into the tranquility of nature and have a picnic in the midst of the wonderful view of the landscape.
Following this cultural tradition, our Picnic Tour takes you to CHUMREAL VILLAGE, 40 minutes from the farmhouse. This peaceful little place is the ideal location for an idyllic picnic. Our head chef Mariya & her team will prepare a traditional Khmer picnic for you with some delicious local dishes. You can enjoy the wonderful view from a climbing rock and have the opportunity to take a short nap in a charming little house made especially for this purpose.
At the end of the tour, you will visit a nearby Temple Mount and enjoy an unforgettable sunset before heading back to the farmhouse. This afternoon tour starts at 2:30 p.m. and ends around 7:00 p.m.
The textile industry is one of the most important branches in the industrial sector in Cambodia with more than 50% of its production made for the export market and thus, is the largest employer in the country. More than 800'000 people work in this branch but the poor working conditions are a cause for social tension and problems.
On the textile factory tour. you will witness how cheap labor from the countryside is brought from open trucks to the factories on the outskirts of Phnom Penh where workers work under the toughest conditions for very little money and can barely earn a living. This daily spectacle is a sad reminder of what the true price is behind the cheap products we buy from Asia.