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Cambodia forum

Homestays in Cambodia

Posted by Tessa123 on 11/9/2011 at 15:55

I'm going to Cambodia in October this year and will be doing alot of Homestays and other cheap accomodation. Do I need a sleeping bag or will they provide such thing? Also would this offend them?

I'm 18 and travelling with my boyfriend of the same age, has anyone had many problems with accomodation in a similar situation due to different expectations of behaviour in non-marital relationships?

Is there any etiquette that i should be aware of with homestays and just generally travelling around Cambodia?

#1 Tessa123 has been a member since 11/9/2011. Posts: 4

Posted by cloud on 14/9/2011 at 08:39

Doing a lot of Homestays and other cheap accomodation? Your reason for the homestay is to have inexpensive lodging, I suggest you to reconsider it.

My understanding on homestay in Cambodia is that it is not cheap but rather expensive. The reason, I guess, is that there are inexpensive facilities called guesthouse. For example, the price in Siem Reap last year(Oct.,2010) was $5~6 for a room with a fan and private shower. In Phnom Phen, similar or slightly more expensive. The price for the homestay at Banteay Chhmar, which I have not used but just collected for my planned bicycle tour, is $7. They provide the basics such as a cover, pillow and mosquito net. Check their website http://www.visitbanteaychhmar.org/homestays/.

Also there is a web page of description on the lodging facilities in Cambodia in TavelFish, I recommend you to check that page, too.

Traveling of an un-married young couple? Staying at a homestay, maybe or may not be, I don't know. However, if you stay at a guesthouse, I guess there won't be a problem.

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Posted by eastwest on 14/9/2011 at 09:29

Completely agree with cloud.
And in more general terms I'd hope that the homestays will be more expensive. If people start using homestays just for the cheaper price the whole experience will quickly deteriorate for both locals and tourists.

Why would you fly all the way here and then take advantage of some poor locals just because it's cheaper? You can just stay in a cheap guesthouse and cycle around the countryside. You'll see plenty of the countryside and get a good glimpse of local life and possibly get invited for a drink or a meal.

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Posted by MADMAC on 14/9/2011 at 18:50

"Why would you fly all the way here and then take advantage of some poor locals just because it's cheaper?"

Eastwest, you lost me here buddy. The provider offers a service, someone else pays for it. Where is the exploitative element?

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Posted by eastwest on 14/9/2011 at 20:59

Maybe I didn't word it that well.
Let me try again:

I object to people doing homestays just because to save some money. With homestays you have a much bigger impact on local customs and behaviour and everything will be magnified because you're supposed to be a part of the community for a few days. It also shows that cultural sensitivity is not the top priority for the visitor and that could lead to a damaging experience.
I don't think it would be good for any village if, for instance, the Vang Vieng crowd would come down on a single village, just because rooms are cheap. Best to keep that crowd in certain areas. Most villagers would not realize what they get themselves into and might regret it when it's too late.

I hope that clarifies my point. I don't have anything against locals making a buck or cheap backpackers.

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Posted by MADMAC on 14/9/2011 at 23:29

You know, if you open the doors to make some money, you're going to get all types. I would hope that people who engage in homestays understand this. It's not as if you will only get the culturally sensitive. You will get some drunken sex tourists as well.

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Posted by eastwest on 15/9/2011 at 09:19

And that exactly supports my point. If the homestays are a little bit more expensive than guesthouses it will automatically weed a lot of the undesirables out.


I think that you will agree that a simple rural local family does not always have the education/experience to foresee the possible downsides. And if the local understands this and is willing to take in all sorts of people they should start a guesthouse rather than a home stay and name it as such.

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Posted by MADMAC on 15/9/2011 at 18:55

Well, unforuntately "Homestay" has become a cool advertising ploy targetting people who want to experience "authentic culture" - or at least think they do. So it is now used for gueshouses too. Even here in Muk, up by the bridge to Laos, there is a short time hotel that markets itself with the name "homestay" (I kid you not). God only knows how many backpackers crossing over to Laos have been suckered in with that one. So I don't think it's avoidable getting the "undersirables" once you open yourself to the market.

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Posted by Tessa123 on 16/9/2011 at 20:37

Posted from within Vietnam.

Just so you know I'm not so ignorant as to experience homestays just for the cheap prices.

It was definitely on my To Do List to fly all the way here just to exploit locals. I mean wanting to have an amazing experience and gain knowledge I would otherwise be unable to touch, while helping out a community and bringing funds into the poorer parts of the country through tourism, without having to destroy local values with drugs and rowdy backpackers, was just so naive of me....

#9 Tessa123 has been a member since 11/9/2011. Posts: 4

Posted by MADMAC on 17/9/2011 at 18:57

Tessa
I wouldn't take it personally. Eastwest is a good guy. He's just making a general observation that might well not apply to you.

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Posted by auntiekheang on 21/10/2011 at 08:20

Sorry to jump into this thread so late; I've just joined. In general genuine homestays tend to be expensive compared to local guest houses. There are many reasons for that not the least of which is a large number of hours of quality interpretation during tours and evening chats with our guests. Also, the quality of the food is extremely high. It is genuine Cambodian food, but it is not the everyday food rather it is festival food that is prepared only for special occasions. Also, some people tend to think that somehow a poor country is inflation proof. Or that the rural parts of a poor country are not susceptible to price increases.

"It's not as if you will only get the culturally sensitive. You will get some drunken sex tourists as well." I think eastwest got it right. There is no way we would tolerate either a drunk or a sex tourist or any combination thereof. Those who know Cambodian culture know that reputation is carefully guarded. Should we have such an incident it would reflect badly not only upon ourselves, but also upon relatives living in our village. The village police would be at our doorstep in a heartbeat. (By the way we aim our homestay more to the culturally inquisitive than to culturally sensitive). As for a general statement about pricing; it's really quite simple. We have determined what we think our labor and experiences are worth and refuse to sell them for anything less. If it doesn't fit your budget we understand. A new Lexus and a seaside villa also do not fit our budget. Fortunately, they also run counter to our tastes. we live here because we love it, problems and all; we hope you will too. For a list of homestays that our guests have recommended to us please see http://cambodianhomestays.webs.com/. It also includes homestays in Vienam. Anyone who has experienced a good time at another homestay not listed please feel free to contact me at sreysiam@gmail.com. But Please no travel agents or owners.

#11 auntiekheang has been a member since 19/10/2011. Posts: 2


Posted by Sarunn on 21/10/2011 at 11:18

tessa - sometimes i take my own blanket/ shawl to sleep, but every homestay i go to they always provide a blanket and mat to sleep on.
there is several homestays in northeast Cambodia (kratie & stung treng) and you can find out about them on the other forum link (Mekong Discovery Trail -- ) you should download the travel guide to see more: http://www.mekongdiscoverytrail.com/html/Kratie_Trails.html

you all speak about the negative aspects of tourism impact. this is true. but no mention of positive?? a man who stayed at the homestay with me stayed 3 months thinking he will stay for few days. from spain he was. he helped the community set up an english class and helped family laugh a lot.

i think one thing you must remember, for all countries incl. cambodia - if you are a traveller you are a GUEST in that country and to the people. if you remember this you should fair better. the communities the mekong discovery trail help all get warned about the type of tourist that might come and stay at their homes and how to solve problems (usually through the village/ commune chief). there is education to the community which is best. there should also be education to the tourists in their country before leaving.. haha

#12 Sarunn has been a member since 11/10/2011. Posts: 7

Posted by MADMAC on 21/10/2011 at 18:34

"There is no way we would tolerate either a drunk or a sex tourist or any combination thereof."

The problem is, you don't know you've got one, until you've got one. All businesses target a certain market, just as you are doing. But sometimes you get outliers. You can throw them out of course, but you can't wholly prevent them from showing up. On a larger scale, a country that opens its doors to tourism and actively encourages tourists will get all kinds. With millions of people crossing the borders, you are going to get all kinds.

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Posted by auntiekheang on 22/10/2011 at 07:29

Well, we've never had one and yes we would know and should it happen they would end up bag and baggage by the side of the road (best case scenario) or spend some time talking money with the police. NOTHING happens in a village our size without everyone knowing. As for any kind of unwelcome sex scene happening in this small village, it just isn't there. We do not allow racially mixed couples ( overseas foreigner and Cambodians) unless they BOTH are holders of foreign passports. Your scenario can and does take place in cities; you just don't understand the social dynamics of small Asian villages.

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Posted by MADMAC on 22/10/2011 at 11:57

Ahhh I have a house in a small asian village. Now, maybe I don't understand the dynamics of a small Cambodian village, but small Thai villages - I'm all over that one.
And I detect a hint of prejudice here: You do not allow racially mixed couples unless both are holders of foreign passports. So if a guy or girl shows up with their Cambodian girlfriend or boyfriend, they can hit the road, but if two unmarried foreigners show up that's OK? What's wrong with that picture?

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Posted by MADMAC on 22/10/2011 at 12:00

And yes, in small Thai villages you get drunk a-holes, more Thai than foreigner of course. Nobody much cares as long as they don't cause any real trouble. If they want some nookie, then they go pick up a working girl in a Karaoke bar and take her to a short time hotel. They are everywhere here, in every ampur in Issan. You just don't understand the social dynamics of small Thai villages.

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Posted by phuphum on 23/10/2011 at 13:58

Your observations and imagined scenarios have proven to be unknown in our business experience.The guests that visit us are not looking for a love hotel and the tours and speakers that talk with them could be of the least interest to Cambodians who already know about rural life or else aren't interested in it. As far as we are concerned there is nothing wrong with the picture. We do everything we can to protect the reputation of the village, the business and her family live in the village. If you wish to impose your Western values on Thai homestays that's your affair. As for the other "amenities" the karaoke parlors and working girls they do not exist in our village. The latter work in the big cities to safeguard their families reputation. My wife (auntiekheang) did her best to tell you about the realities that we experience, not the drama you envisage. You will of course want the last word, but ours is final.

#17 phuphum has been a member since 22/10/2011. Posts: 49

Posted by MADMAC on 23/10/2011 at 18:18

"Your observations and imagined scenarios have proven to be unknown in our business experience."

Hey, I'm glad you haven't had a problem to date. All I am saying is when you open your doors to the general public, you are not always going to get the types of people you would prefer. But if you're experience to date has been good, that's great.

"As far as we are concerned there is nothing wrong with the picture."

Discrimination is always wrong, even when the society that supports it thinks it's OK.

"We do everything we can to protect the reputation of the village, the business and her family live in the village."

Which is fine - so unmarried couples should not be allowed. As long as you are consistent it's fine. But to say if one of the persons is Cambodian then no dice is unfair. What's more important to you, being fair or protecting your reputation?

"If you wish to impose your Western values on Thai homestays that's your affair."

The homestay is actually my home! And I am not imposing western values - those are Thai values I am describing.

"My wife (auntiekheang) did her best to tell you about the realities that we experience, not the drama you envisage."

And that was fine, until she started to tell me I didn't understand the social dynamics of "small asian villages". Cambodian and Thailand apparently don't have the share the same values. That seems pretty obvious to me at this point. I don't want to be pedantic, but I'm pretty sure I've figured out the environment in which I live.

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Posted by phuphum on 26/10/2011 at 08:29

I've bit my lip, but the following still sticks in my craw. " Discrimination is always wrong, even when the society that supports it thinks it's OK." First of all, everyone discriminates, some men prefer blonds, some blonds prefer rich men, Some people like spicy food, others prefer bland, etc. etc. So, if I follow the democratic purity as suggested by mm I should allow let's say a sixty year old white man with an 18 year old Cambodian woman stay at our business, even though their primary interest is not exploring rural Cambodia and even though the village would shun my wife and her family and after a few more occasions the police would close us down. I said it before, the situation rarely exists because Cambodians either know about rural Cambodia or just aren't curious at all, so they don't come. Like it or not Cambodians don't expect foreigners to adhere to their codes of behavior even Cambodians from the diaspora. As for local Cambodian women villagers only see two kinds-the kind you marry and the other kind who are fair game for slander and ridicule. Is it fair? -no. But it''s not a home game and we play by their rules or else leave the playing field.

#19 phuphum has been a member since 22/10/2011. Posts: 49

Posted by MADMAC on 26/10/2011 at 12:13

I understand your dilema, so I would just say the best policy is to say no to unmarried couples co-habitating. What if it was a 30 year old white guy and his 25 year old Cambodian girlfriend? Or what if it was a 30 year old white woman and her 25 year old Cambodian boyfriend? In Tanzania to share a hotel room between a man and a woman who are unmarried in illegal. I could easily imagine a scenario where a young guy met a Cambodian woman on his travels, they started seeing each other, and he had planned to come to the homestay and now wants to bring his girlfriend along who just happens to be Cambodian. So given that that might cause you problems in the village, I would just say be consistent. They show up and you say "hit the road buddy, we don't like your kind here" is hardly fair when you've got an unmarried anglo couple staying.

And when I was referencing discrimination, obviously I was referencing discrimnation directed at people, not discriminating tastes concerning wine and so forth. Come on man.

The 60 year old classic sex tourist seems much more unlikely, though possible. Some sex tourists are sometimes also cultural tourists. But in general, that classic and obvious case would seem less likely.

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