Nestled between Thailand and Vietnam, destinations world famous for their delightful cuisines, Cambodia seems to receive little attention in terms of gastronomy. Nevertheless, many seasoned travelers know that often in these ‘by the masses overlooked places’ real gems can be found. Despite often being neglected as a ‘foodie’ destination, food plays an absolutely prominent role in Cambodian culture. Visit the Kingdom of Wonder and be surprised by its mouthwatering traditional dishes as well as its more uncommon ones, which are all too often largely unsung!
After a long and painful past caused by many years of destructive civil war, Cambodia has been slowly but steadily rediscovering its rich and abundant culture. That’s why in current times, more and more Cambodians are attaching greater importance to their traditional gastronomy, which is definitely worth a try.
Nowadays, one might even argue that Khmer gastronomy is coming close to being as rich as its neighbors’. The daily life is organized around markets, streets nearby are crowded with food stalls and fill the area with appetizing fragrances. Indeed, Khmer people have three meals a day, but they also love nibbling all day long! Wandering in Phnom Penh, the bustling capital of the Kingdom, offers great experiences for a food lover, which can be had by strolling between the stalls, trying some delicious confectioneries such as Chek Chheung Skor (banana cooked with palm sugar and coconut milk) or the succulent Banh Chiao, the famous Cambodian crepe filled with minced meat.
South of Phnom Penh, the beautiful coastal provinces of Kep and Kampot host two local products known worldwide that will make any seafood enthusiast feel blissful. Undoubtedly, Kep’s crabs are the best you can find along the coast, fleshy as can be. Kep’s crab market is the best place to relish some of these delicious crustaceans, which are mouthwatering when cooked with the famous world renowned Kampot pepper. Farmed between Kampot and Kep, the fresh pepper has a unique taste that will lift any Cambodian dish and especially Kep’s crabs and squids.
As a result of the activities of the Khmer Rouge and the civil war, the Kingdom lost most of its Kampot pepper plantations. Nevertheless, since the beginning of the 21st century, some resolute farmers decided to set the plantations back to their rightful glory. Since then, it is possible to visit some Kampot pepper plantations and learn more about this unique and mouthwatering spice.
Talking about completely different products, during the same Khmer Rouge period, famine was rampant and people were forced to find other ways to feed themselves. This is when the Khmer people started to eat insects. Nowadays these protein rich insects can easily be found as snacks or even added to meals. Often considered unpalatable by visitors these flyers and crawlers are seen as delicious treats by the local population. Don’t forget to pass through the region of Skun, north of Phnom Penh, and try the famous grilled tarantulas with a delicious garlic dip.
After passing along the Tonle Sap Lake, the biggest source of fish in Cambodia, and visiting the charming lotus farms, arrive in Siem Reap, the land of ancient Angkor temples. Here, while visiting incredible places of worship, this pleasant town can also be a high point of travel for serious foodies. The old French quarter, with its small alleys and the old market offers a wide variety of local street dishes. Then, after having explored the best of Khmer cuisine for the entire trip throughout the land, it may be time to diversify the flavors. It's best to arrive hungry because Siem Reap will amaze even the most well traveled gourmets with its assortment of international restaurants, ranging from Iraqi and Japanese through to Mexican and Italian to Malaysian and even Nepalese.
Also, in the past few years, a new trend is emerging in Cambodia: eating healthy and local. Sustainable initiatives have cropped up all over the country, empowering local farmers and supporting them with sustainable ways to cultivate their products. In Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in particular, many of these initiative are now very well established. It can be a delightful experience for food lovers to roam through trendy farmers markets and satiate themselves in one of the cozy vegetarian restaurants.
Wishing to contribute to local development while traveling? Visit and enjoy an exquisite lunch or dinner in a training restaurant. Helping young disadvantaged students and seeing their smiles while eating a homemade fish Amok can be like the icing on your travel cake!
Cambodia well deserves to be visited, not only for its history and its cultural wealth, but also especially for its gastronomy. You will be delighted as you stroll the local markets, and discover some delectable dishes, as well as travel in the different provinces of the Kingdom and thus enjoy the amazing regional specialties that Cambodia offers.
Easia Travel Cambodia continuously sends its expert staff on the spot to design tours and discover the best experiences of the destinations. It offers tailor-made products for food lovers such as street food tours in Phnom Penh, meals in training restaurants, as well as great discovery tours on the coast of Cambodia to explore pepper plantations, lunch at the Crab market in one of the best restaurants and so much. To know more about what we can offer, please contact our team at email@example.com.