A Journey through Cambodia’s Culture

Here at Black Tomato, we believe that Cambodia is the hidden gem of South East Asia and has long been a place set apart from the traditional tourist trail, making it all the more alluring. The kingdom is filled with beauty- from its lush green forests, beautiful beaches and ancient temples. However, to really know Cambodia is to understand its culture and people through its dark and fascinating history.

Le Royal treatment

Staying at the iconic Raffles Hotel, ‘Le Royal,’ in Phnom Penh, you are ideally placed to explore the capital. As with all Raffles Hotels, Le Royal is imbued with the tradition and charm of the local culture, incorporating traditional antiques, hand-made silks and artwork into its décor to make your stay feel as authentic and connected to the local environment as possible.

Kick start your stay in Cambodia with an elegant evening cocktail at the hotel’s iconic Elephant Bar. This signature cocktail, aptly named the ‘Femme Fatale,’ is based on Champagne with Crème de Fraise and a dash of Cognac, and was created in honor of Jackie Kennedy who stayed at the hotel in 1967 after coming to Cambodia to fulfill her ‘lifelong dream’ of seeing  Angkor Wat.

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Understanding their History & Culture

After a good night’s rest you’ll be ready to delve into Cambodian culture.Your day starts with a visit to the National Museum which is essential to fully comprehend the Khmer culture. Next you’ll visit the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, a beautiful and startling work of architecture which is still home to the king of Cambodia to this day. The Silver Pagoda, whose floor is made up of 5329 silver tiles, is simply unmissable.

No trip to Cambodia would be complete without a sobering yet fascinating insight into the country’s troubled past. With a guide in tow who bore witness to the political atrocities, you’ll uncover the Tuol Sleng Museum, a monument dedicated to the victims of the Khmer Rouge revolution. From the Museum take a trip to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, an equally powerful and moving site that was brought to life through the award winning film ‘The Killing Fields’. Understanding the events that occurred merely 40 years ago is a disturbing yet important step in getting under the skin of this enthralling country and the resilient nature of its population.

Despite is dark past; Cambodia is also a land rich in dramatic arts just waiting to be celebrated. Shadow Theatre in Cambodia is one of the most traditional formats for storytelling, and the leather puppets are pieces of art in themselves, so a shadow puppet workstore is a perfect way to connect with the local traditions.

After a culture packed day, head back to your hotel and enjoy a personalized dinner served on your suite’s balcony prepared by Michelin star chef Steve Van Remoortel, with views overlooking the hotel’s charming gardens and poolside.

Your next three nights are spent at the Raffles ‘Grand Hotel d’Angkor’, located across from the Royal Palace and just ten minutes from the bustling market place.  This legendary hotel boasts a fantastic French Indochina décor, and the hotel pool, replicating ancient bathing pools of the Khmer Kings is the perfect place to unwind after a busy day.

Khmer cuisine is one of the world’s oldest living cuisines and its emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients has won it worldwide praise and recognition. This trip offers a great opportunity to join in a cookery lesson with a prominent chef, leaving you with the know-how to whip up a Cambodian feast once back on your home turf.

On the Silk Road

Cambodia is renowned for its exquisite silks, and so a trip to the Artisans d’Angkor’s Silk Farm is not to be missed. To understand every stage of the silk process from its cultivation to the production of silk fabrics, you’ll also visit the workstore to see the weaving and color dyeing in action.

Later you’ll be treated to an enchanting performance of traditional Khmer dancing and martial arts at the Raffles Hotel’s legendary Apsara Terrace, followed by a pan-Asian BBQ dinner.

During your stay, indulge in a traditional Khmer herbal body wrap which uses local natural ingredients such as tumeric, phlai, galangal and lemongrass and let the intoxicating scents envelop you as it works its magic and leaves you rested and relaxed.

Ancient Temples and Cities

Saving the best until last, you’ll take to the skies on a sunrise helicopter flight over Angkor Wat, one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the World’ and the largest religious monument in the world. This 12th century religious temple is built to a central structure made up of three rectangular galleries rising to a central tower, each level higher than the last. The helicopter flight gives you the added benefit of seeing these structures from a bird’s eye perspective, and the experience of seeing this mythical temple from the air, with the first rays of sunshine beaming from the horizon is truly breathtaking and magical.

Later, you’ll enjoy an afternoon exploration of the walled city of Angkor Thom, accompanied by an expert archaeologist. Angkor Thom was the last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer empire and having such an expert to guide you through the ruins is a great bonus to really getting the most out of this experience.

The Ultimate Souvenir

The most precious thing you’ll take back from this once in a lifetime trip, apart from the unforgettable memories, will be the photographs you take along the way. A professional photography workstore with a professional photographer guarantees that you’ll take frame-worthy vacation snaps you won’t wait to show off.


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