At ‘See Cambodia Differently’ our sustainable tourism policy is a mixture of our green and environmental policies and the ethics of our company in relation to running Cambodian tour operations in a responsible and sustainable manor.
We strongly believe in doing the right thing and making good ethical company decisions wherever possible. We strive to employ the best people and educate our customers about Cambodia. We choose the correct suppliers and work towards improving the environment.
Customers: We aim to be the Cambodian leader in customer delivery, from the first point of contact, through building trust and crafting personal itineraries all the way through to looking after our clients on the ground. Upon arrival we sit down with our clients and discuss the details of their itinerary. We point out things of interest, recommend restaurants and activities and make final changes where necessary.
Employees: We aim to recruit people who are proud to work for our company and share the same core values. We strive to provide the best possible personable service. We provide a safe working environment, a very good salary in Cambodia as well as favourable working hours. For example the Cambodian working week is 6 days, which we reduced to 5 days for our staff. We provide internal training as well as sending our staff on external conferences and training programmes as we believe that if we look after our staff in turn it will increase productivity and create loyalty.
Suppliers: We encourage our suppliers to adopt sustainable practices and choose those suppliers that work as close to our own practices as possible. We select small characterful hotels rather than larger properties. This not only gives the client a better holiday experience as we feel that they are much better looked after, but also assists small independent establishments to flourish. This also works for the activity companies with which we work closely. We always choose those that have the best health and safety records and offer the best in terms of experience and client enjoyment.
Environment: This is a main priority for us and we want to do our bit for the environment and reduce our impact where ever possible. You can see in the ‘Going Green’ section further on in this policy that we have made the decision to run all of our tour vehicles on Bio-Diesel. We also keep our company waste to a minimum and recycle wherever possible.
Communities: We aim to support the local community wherever possible. We donate $10 from every booking to a NGO / charity of our choice. Our supported organizations can be seen in the ‘Responsible Tourism’ section further on in this policy. We are also able, due to the nature of our business, make visitors aware of various community projects, NGO’s and charities.
Going Green (Using Bio-Diesel in our tour vehicles)
We have made the positive step of running all our company tour vehicles on bio-diesel. Before each tour our drivers goes fill up with locally produced bio-diesel in Siem Reap. The cost of the fuel is actually slightly more expensive than commercially available diesel however we subsidise the cost and pay the difference to our tour drivers. We have a relationship, where all of our drivers go to the bio-fuel factory to learn about the benefits of using the fuel as well as giving them support. We believe by becoming Cambodia’s first company to do this that we will educate and persuade other companies to follow suit. The benefits far out strip the negative point of being slightly more expensive.
We are committed to responsible and sustainable tourism. All our trips are designed with the local people and the culture of the country in mind.
We try and help to make a difference where ever we can, by supporting various charitable organizations and making the conscious effort to be as green as we can. We run all of our vehicles on Bio Diesel supplied by ‘Naga Bio Diesel’.
There are so many wonderful charities and projects in Cambodia. We unfortunately can’t help them all, but we have chosen to support HUSK and ConCERT.
HUSK is a Cambodian NGO (Non Government Organization) that works towards improving the lives of families in Siem Reap creating opportunities for a brighter and healthier future. HUSK is initially working with the communities in Treak and Kompheim villages. There are a number of projects that HUSK are currently working on in these villages. These include: building water wells, providing communities with water filters, building schools and providing an English education for village children. ‘See Cambodia Differently’ is happy to work alongside HUSK in an attempt to help improve the quality of life in these areas. This will hopefully give the local people a chance to broaden their horizons.
‘ConCERT’ – “Connecting Communities, Environment & Responsible Tourism” – is a non profit organisation based in Siem Reap. Their aim is to reduce poverty. This is achieved by bringing people together who want to help, and finding local organisations that need support. ‘See Cambodia Differently’ is delighted with our association and should you like to volunteer in Cambodia, we always recommend visiting ConCERT first.
Hotel Health & Safety
All the hotels that we use have health and safety certificates from the Ministry of Tourism and the appropriate local government authorities before they are allowed to work with guests. We do not carry out our own health and safety checklist with the hotels we use as this is a Cambodian government requirement. However upon our own inspections if we are not comfortable with the amenities and hotel safety then we will advise the hotel of our concerns and then contact the Ministry of Tourism. If they then fail to act then we will no longer use that hotel or guesthouse.
We are extremely proud to have been the driving force behind this fabulous wildlife initiative, which not only helps conserve an amazing new species of endangered gibbon but to also help support the local communities by creating jobs and giving them an alternative source of income.
Dos and Don’ts:
- Be respectful when entering a temple as you would when entering any house of worship.
- Religious objects such as statues of Buddha, offerings, altars, may not be touched or moved.
- Shoes and hats must be removed before entering a temple, with the shoes being left outside
- Shirts must be worn inside temples, and ones shoulders should be covered.
- One should not sit in a temple with the feet pointed toward a Buddhist statue. It is customary to sit facing the statue with the legs folded under you.
- You should not touch monks or their robes.
- Please do not bother monks during times of prayer. Always be respectful when taking photos of monks, especially during the morning alms procession.
- If a monk agrees to pose for a picture with you, please pose respectfully
- When visiting Angkor Wat, please wear appropriate clothing as with other temples.
- Shoes are appropriate footwear, but flip-flops and slippers are not. Sturdy sandals and open-toed shoes with heel straps may be worn. This is not only out of respect, but also because a lot of walking and some climbing is involved in visiting many temple sites.
- Do not climb on, sit on, or lean against any Buddhist statue.
- The head is the highest part of the body, and one should avoid touching people on the head.
- The feet are the lowest part of the body, and you should not put your feet up on furniture or other objects. You should not gesture with the feet, or point at people with your feet.
- Local people, especially women, will often crouch slightly when passing in front of someone. It is polite to slightly crouch or give a slight head-bob when walking in front of a person who is sitting down.
- Do not step over someone who is sitting on the floor.
- Public displays of affection (kissing & hugging) are frowned upon.
- Confrontations in Asian cultures are to be avoided. Try to remain calm, and do not raise your voice. Losing one’s cool is to lose face.
- Polite greetings are usually accompanied by a Sampeah (palms together in front of one’s face with a slight bow). They may shake hands as well. However, hugging and kissing the air beside the face, common in western culture, is not done.
- In Asian culture it is not considered impolite to stare at someone, and it is not uncommon for local people to give non-Asians a long slack-jawed stare.
Dress for Success
- In Southeast Asia people dress rather conservatively. Men usually wear long pants and long sleeved shirts, and women do not usually wear low-cut or revealing clothing.
- Visitors are not necessarily expected to dress like local people, but common sense and a respect for local custom should guide you in how you dress.
- There are no nude beaches in Cambodia, please don’t go nude or topless in public.
- It is customary to remove ones shoes when going into someone’s house. Also some guesthouses require guests to leave their shoes at the entrance.
Responsible Shopping & Social Interaction
- It is recommended that you do not buy from children selling on the streets. The theory being that this encourages them to remain on the streets.
- It is strongly advised to not buy any artefacts. Many archaeological sites have been looted, thus robbing countries of their history and cultural heritage.
- It is recommended that you do buy new handicrafts produced by local organizations supporting local crafts people.
- It is also illegal to purchase any wildlife products from endangered species. After habitat destruction, the illegal trade in wildlife is the second largest threat to species extinction.
- When shopping in local markets and small shops, bargaining is the norm. However small shopkeepers make their living in these shops, so please bargain only if you really think the price is too high.
- We all want to have a clean environment. However, local people often seem oblivious to the pollution around them. But you can set an example by not throwing your trash around. It may not always be possible to find a trash can, so keep your trash with you until you can dispose of it properly.
- Plastic bags are a major cause of pollution. When shopping, put your purchases in your bag or backpack so you do not have to take plastic bags. If you do take plastic bags, try to reuse them.
To make your trip more enjoyable, as well as informative, you should try to know as much as you can about the countries you will visit. Knowing about local culture. Tradition and history, as well knowing about the places you will see, will make your trip that much more satisfying.