What's your favorite food in Cambodia

A vegan trip through Cambodia

Anyone traveling to Cambodia should know four things:

  1. The country is just wonderful.
  2. The country's past with the Khmer Rouge.
  3. The extreme courtesy of the population.
  4. There is only one real street.

Are you aware that you are traveling to a poor Asian country where there is not yet electricity everywhere (and certainly not 24 hours), which was transported back to the Middle Ages by the Khmer Rouge 20 years ago and which does not have a well-developed transport network you can fully enjoy your stay in this wonderful country.

Back to the origin

Life in Cambodia is much more pristine and natural than in many parts of Asia. People live mainly in wooden or bamboo huts. In the meantime there is often electricity on the islands, but only until midnight at the most and then again from 6 in the morning.

You shouldn't expect drinking water that comes from the tap here, but water can be bought everywhere and the many self-mixed smoothies with fresh fruit and ice cubes can be drunk everywhere without hesitation.

There are now some buses that connect the main centers, Siem Reap (with Angkor), Phnom Penh, Battambang, Kep / Kampot and Sihanoukville with the islands of Koh Rong etc. However, these operate on the only developed road in Cambodia. So if you want to go from Battambang to Sihanoukville, for example, you can't just drive straight from north to south, but have to follow the road to Phnom Penh to get from there to the south-west.

The courtesy of the Cambodians

The inhabitants of Cambodia are very polite and courteous, if you also meet them in this whiteness. It is not common to shake hands, but to fold your hands together with a small bow. Objects are also usually passed with two hands to show respect for the other person. Many Cambodians now speak English and are used to the (for them somewhat rude) customs of tourists and accept them. In order to still show his respect for this wonderful country and its inhabitants, women and men should not wear shorts and also T-shirts with short sleeves. Many tourists do not follow these rules. However, Cambodians are far too polite and reserved to point this out to them. Especially in temples, however, the clothing and behavior should be appropriate, because even here nobody would go to church in a bikini, which is equivalent to hot pants and a tank top in Cambodia :).

Food in Cambodia

The country lies between Thailand and Vietnam and the dishes that you will find in Cambodia are mixed from these two countries. In addition to fried noodles (always use the white noodles, the wheat noodles are often with eggs!) Or rice with vegetables, the country still has a lot to offer in terms of cuisine.
If you mainly want to eat at street stalls, it can be a bit difficult to find something purely vegan from time to time. The soups are usually made with a fish or meat broth and in noodles and rice, in addition to vegetables, there is also one or the other piece of meat. But if you ask nicely, something will be cooked for you without animal ingredients and the rice with vegetables is guaranteed to taste different everywhere here, but always delicious :).

Many restaurants now offer some vegetarian dishes, most of which are also vegan, as they generally cook without dairy products. You will always find the classic Amok as a vegetarian and therefore vegan variant. Amok is a coconut curry that is cooked in a banana leaf and then served on the plate with rice. Often there is also a selection of other curries that are always prepared differently. Here too, vegetarian usually means vegan. Another specialty is a salad made from the banana blossom, which is very reminiscent of the Thai papaya salad and a bit of raw white cabbage.

If you should not find anything vegan, you can bridge a few hours with fresh fruit from the market. In addition to bananas, mango, pineapple, papaya and fresh coconuts, you will also find rambutan, guava,….

Vegan Cambodian dishes

  • Vegetarian amok
  • Pad Thai (order expressly without shrimp and fish sauce)
  • Fried rice / noodles (rice noodles and not the yellow wheat noodles) with vegetables
  • Summer roles
  • Vegetarian curries
  • Morning Glory
  • Fried / grilled bananas
  • Sticky Rice with mango
  • Steamed rice with soybeans in a bamboo cane
  • Lots of fresh fruit

If you let yourself get involved in the slower, leisurely life in Cambodia and not be put off by the hectic, noisy Phnom Penh, there is so much to discover in Cambodia. If you want to see a little more of the country, you should visit other cities in addition to the capital and Siem Reap with Angkor.

Here are a few more location-specific tips:

Phnom Penh

  • To be honest, this city was just too loud for us. The fact that one was repeatedly warned about handpockets and that it is not advisable for women traveling alone to walk around alone all over the city made the stay even shorter.
  • Killing Fields / Museeum: You have to visit one of them and learn more about the past of Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge!
  • The Corn: Vegetarian / vegan restaurant with very good food and service. They even have vegan pancakes with ice cream for those who need a break from Asia.
  • The Vegetarian: Unfortunately, it was closed, but it should be delicious.

Siem Reap (with Angkor)

  • Sister Srey Cafe: lovely modern cafe overlooking the river. In addition to raw cake and delicious coffee, with which you support social projects, you can buy fashion from young Cambodians upstairs.
  • Chamkar: Delicious vegetarian / vegan food right in the center
  • Peace Cafe: Nice garden, yoga classes, cooking classes, social projects and of course super good food.
  • The bamboo sticks with rice cooked in coconut milk are a welcome refreshment in Angkor.
  • You can cycle comfortably through Angkor by bike.

Battambang

  • Veggie Home: Not easy to find, but it's worth the search. Here you can have an excellent vegan breakfast with seitan noodle soup, dumplings and fresh, homemade soy milk.
  • Kinyei Cafe: nice cafe where you get delicious coffee including soy milk. Many social projects are also supported here.
  • Jaan Bai: Vegan dishes are marked on the menu. All proceeds go to the Children's Trust and socially disadvantaged young people are trained.
  • Nary Kitchen: Many vegetarian dishes are also vegan.
  • Here Be Dragons: You can stay overnight in this hostel with different room types. Every now and then there are vegan cooking evenings and a bartender is also vegan and has a few tips for you.
  • The tuk tuk driver Nakim ([email protected]), who also works as a bartender at the Here Be Dragons, takes you on beautiful and reasonably priced tours and is extremely nice.
  • The daily aerobics program on the river (6 a.m. or around 6 p.m.) is an absolute must. Either just watch or join in!

Kep / Kampot

  • The Crap Market in Kep has little to offer vegans. You are more likely to find something here at the street stalls on the beach or in the city center.
  • In the vicinity of Kep you will find the organic pepper farm Sothy’s, which is definitely worth a visit.
  • You can stock up on all kinds of fruits at the markets.
  • Those who like it quiet and secluded should spend a night or two on Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island).

No matter where you go, you will meet friendly faces and laughing people everywhere. This country can show us how it is possible to be happy in spite of a terrible past and little luxury. If you are looking for a life back to the origins and in harmony with nature, Cambodia is the right place for you. If you really want to relax and learn something about the country, the people and yoga as well as meditation, you can also spend a week in the Hariharalaya Yoga Retreat. But no matter what you choose, everyone who travels nicely and openly through the country is guaranteed to find something wonderful here!

- JL

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