Meet the Female Artists of Cambodia

In collaboration with International Artist Lauren Iida and her project  Open Studio Cambodia,  we are pleased to announce our first art tour in Cambodia.  Our focus is on the women of Cambodia: The female artists, creatives, music makers, and dreamers who are building a new vision for Cambodia.

This tour will give travelers an opportunity to encounter many Cambodian women from different creative and personal backgrounds. Over 9 days we will give travelers a comprehensive introduction to the creative arts of Cambodia, and Khmer womens’ roles in shaping their country, as well as giving you one amazing and smile-filled holiday!

For more information please see our podcast interviews with Lauren Iida 

and with Cambodian Artist Sophal Neak

Duration: 9 days 8 nights (with optional 4 day extension to Southern Cambodia)

Destinations: Phnom Penh , Siem Reap, Battambang (with optional extension to: Kep, Kampot and Rabbit Island)

For more information on the tour and the expert leading the tour,

please see our podcast with Lauren Iida 

Groups are led and managed by Lauren Iida, artist and founder of Open Studio Cambodia, originally from Seattle, USA. She draws on her passion for art, her love for Cambodia, and her deep connections with locals around the country. Iida speaks Khmer (local Cambodian language) and has been living in Cambodia for most of the last decade.

For our interview with Lauren please our podcast interview with her here:


A creative holiday meeting the female artists and creatives of Cambodia. With your very special guide, Seattle artist and Cambodian resident,  Lauren Iida

YOUR GUIDE: Lauren Iida was born in Seattle and holds a BFA from Cornish College of the Arts (2014). She shares her time between Seattle and Cambodia where she leads art tours, writes and illustrates bilingual books for children and works in her cut paper studio, the ‘mobile atelier.’ For her full biography please visit her website here:


Fly into Phnom Penh and fly out of Siem Reap Phnom Penh – Battambang – Siem Reap Angkor Wat Temples

Day 1 – Settling In

Arrival day in Phnom Penh. We will spend this day relaxing, talking about your interests and reviewing the program.  We’ll be happy to show you around to any locally interesting sites. I like to discover the city casually by tuk tuk stopping off at street art murals, my favorite artful shops, galleries, and take a cold drink at a favorite local spot. Lauren also enjoys taking guests to the National Museum and the Foreign Correspondent’s Club, housed in one of the oldest and best-preserved French colonial buildings for Happy Hour this day to unwind over great exhibitions, sweeping views of the confluence of the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers,  and amazing drinks.

Day 2 – Modern Art and Traditional Music

Today we’ll do a deep dive into some of the “high” and modern art, mixed with the traditional.  Our first chat will be with Neak Sophal, a photography and performance artist whose work explores cultural and gender identity, the role of women in Cambodia and the country’s changing social and economic landscapes.  Neak will dialogue with us on all these issues and present a slideshow of her work.

Afterward, we will head to Cambodia’s longest contemporary art venue:  Java Creative Cafe for a private tour. Over lunch, we will be discussing with the owner and curator Dana Langlois,  the history and mission of the gallery as well as the evolution of Cambodia’s contemporary arts.

Next, we’ll move from the eyes to the ears. We will speak with Ouch Savy or other traditional female musicians and get a chance to witness a private performance normally available to Cambodia’s elite. We will be able to journey with a musician to their home or studio and talk intimately about their craft. In Cambodia, women traditionally didn’t play many of the instruments that men played but were instead primarily expected to sing and dance. These female musicians are breaking the cultural norms of this form of art in the name of. Many of these instruments were almost completely lost during the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s and are depicted on the walls of the temples of Angkor Wat.

Day 3 – A Cambodian Master Painter,  LGBTQ and Empowerment

Today we’ll focus on how art and feminism intersect with social justice. We will meet with subjects and writers featured in the “Diving Deep, Going Far” compilation to talk about their life experiences and their interactions with art.  This book is the first of its kind, examining the personal stories of young women overcoming social stereotypes and societal oppression through real interviews. We will try to meet with one of the interviewees to get their take on the importance of this book and how they see their role as women in modern Cambodian society.

Lunch will be at Romdeng, a social enterprise restaurant with delicious local delicacies. Afterward, we will pay our respects to the fallen and visit Toul Sleng Genocide Museum.

In the early evening, we will visit the home studio of Chov Theanly, one of Cambodia’s most highly regarded figurative oil painters. His incredible story of perseverance in his pursuit of shedding the expectations of his family and his pursuits in self-education as well as his stunning paintings often reflecting the ironies of modern Cambodian society are as heart-wrenching as they are inspiring.

If we are in town on a Friday or Saturday, we can take in a show with the only LGBTQ dance troupe in Cambodia who are highly regarded both for their craft and their social message. A wonderful TED Talk focused on the group can be found here:

 After viewing the show we would have time to do a Q & A with the dancers.

(Please note, as their schedule changes, this would need to be confirmed and paid for locally due).

Day 4 – A Female Virtuoso Modern Artist and her Virtuoso Husband

In the morning we will fly to Siem Reap the home to Angkor Wat but also a burgeoning contemporary art scene.

After you check into your hotel we will visit the home studio of Yim Maline, top female contemporary artist residing in Cambodia. Her work in mixed media 2D and 3D form mimic elements of the natural world often combining soft, organic shapes with burned and carved textures. Her and her husband, Svay Sareth (also a very accomplished contemporary artist) will open a free school soon at their home. For interested guests they also offer a workshop that you may participate in.(Please note for joining the workshop an additional surcharge will apply)

In the evening we don’t have any plans. However, we will be happy to recommend to you some great local restaurants or help you explore the nightlife. Our favorite place for a drink is at Miss Wong’s – Lauren’s favorite local hangout for expats.

Optionally, we could see the dance performance put on by Cambodia Living Arts this evening at which features a troupe of female dancers and instrument players. Please confirm this with Lauren locally and then we can purchase discounted tickets if you are interested.

Day 5 – Battambang and the Circus

Today we will depart for Battambang (4 hours by van or car) Battambang is one of our favorite cities not just in Cambodia but all of South East Asia, When we arrive in Battambang and check into our hotel, in the afternoon we’ll play things by ear, as Battambang offers and a unique feeling of a slow-paced community that has yet to be discovered by mass tourism.  Enjoy rare pre-Khmer Rouge Buddhist temple paintings, French colonial architecture, a stroll on the river, foot massage, or dip in the pool. For the afternoon, we recommend a leisurely pace, eating lunch at Jaan Bai, this restaurant is part of David Thompson’s group (The chef behind Thailand’s first Michelin starred restaurant) but is focused on a social mission. The food is a fusion of traditional with modern, and offers some the best flavors in all of Cambodia!

Then in the evening, we will go to see the circus performance at Phare Ponleu Selpak art school. Phare is one of the original schools to provide art education in Cambodia and it has a long and rich history with many of the artists in the country. We hope also to speak with some of the teachers, especially female teachers about their passion for the arts. (Please note the Phare Circus in Battambang is not everyday, however Phare circus has a sister show in Siem Reap. Depending on your arrival time we may adjust our schedule and see the circus in Siem Reap rather than Battambang).

Day 6 – Franco-Khmer Collaboration, Ecology and Bats

We will spend the morning at Romcheik 5 Art Space, one of the most unique and powerful galleries in Cambodia where we will learn about the life and artwork of four amazing young painters and sculptors who express the hardships of child labor, poverty and drug addiction through their work. Romcheik 5 is also the home of Cambodia’s first contemporary art museum which houses beautiful works from Cambodia’s great contemporary artists.

After lunch, we will have a studio visit and artist talk with Khchao Srey Touch, a long established Khmer female artist specializing in highly detailed drawings and textured paintings meticulously done with unconventional materials. Her inspirations are a universal kindness for both humanity and nature, and her work often incorporates themes and aesthetics from both these perspectives.

In the evening will we take a short ride out to Phnom Sampov at sunset to watch millions of bats emerge from a cave in the cliff face. This is a popular and fun activity for tourists and locals alike. It is a rare natural occurrence that is much more awe-inspiring in real life than how it sounds on paper!

Day 7 – Returning to Siem Reap

We will return to Siem Reap, departing Battambang in the morning by van, car or bus. Upon arrival, we will visit some of the contemporary art galleries in the town, including the Treeline Hotel which showcases the work of the country’s top internationally recognized artists such as Pich Sopheap, have a relaxing dinner and explore the night markets.

Day 8 – Angkor Wat day!

A local expert guide will take guests to tour Angkor Wat starting from sunrise to beat the crowds, the heat, and get the most stunning photos. Your guide is an expert in Khmer ancient history and will be able to answer all of your questions about its architecture, religious aspects and cultural significance.

Relax by the pool in the afternoon and join us for a farewell dinner!

Day 9 – Departure Day

Guests will be taken to the airport according to their flights. Thanks for traveling with us!

(Optional Extension to Southern Cambodia is below. For guests who want this addition, we recommend changing the routing to : Phnom Penh – South Coast  (Kampot & Kep), Phnom Penh – Siem Reap – Battambang – Siem Reap (finish)

Day 10 – Lauren’s Adoptive Home, and Open Studio Cambodia

Today we will arrive in Kampot, Lauren’s adopted Cambodia home and the home-base of her project,  Open Studio Cambodia. Today will be spent getting to know the wonderful local people and artists Lauren has come to know over the years.  The artists of Open Studio Cambodia are wonderful individuals with incredible stories to tell and artwork to share. Most of Today will be spent getting to know them. Try your hand at making some art if you desire!

Day 11 – Fashion, Social Enterprises and Mountaintop Murals

Today we’ll focus on how art is helping the people of Kampot put food on the table. We will first visit Dorsu . Dorsu is a Cambodian female-led social enterprise that works in high-end sustainable fashion. Our time will be spent touring their workshop, meeting their staff and discussing sustainable development with their founders.

After lunch we will head to Bokor Mountain. Bokor Mountain offers great scenery but for art, it offers an opportunity to explore the murals and graffiti left by Cambodian and international artists inside the French colonial era buildings. A wonderful metaphor for Cambodia’s present and future taking over the narrative of the past.

Today we’ll also visit one of Lauren’s most unique local friends, –  Nicolas C Grey outsider comic artist and graphic novelist from the UK who has called Cambodia home for almost 2 decades. His home studio is full to the brim with antiques and oddities and his impressive ink drawings.

Day 12 – Eco-Feminism and Rabbit Island’s Beaches

Today we’ll be making the trip down to Kep (by car or van) to see environmental activism in action and to relax on the beach.

Our first stop will be a private tour of IWA Kep. This is a women-led social enterprise that contributes to sustainability by making crocheted items from recycled plastic bags and repurposed rice bags. We’ll tour the facility and chat with the staff and founder (Per their availability).

Then to conclude our time in the south we will head to Rabbit Island. This is a great place to experience Cambodian Beach Life. There are no rabbits here, it’s name comes from the shape of the island. What Rabbit Island does have is beaches, mangroves, fresh seafood and peace. We think it’s a perfect way to say goodbye to Cambodia’s idyllic south coast.

Day 13

After your time in Kampot, should you choose this optional extension, we’ll continue onto our next destination of Phnom Penh.  


Phnom Penh: The Patio Hotel
Battambang: Classy Hotel
Siem Reap: Aroma Angkor Boutique Hotel
Kampot (For optional extension): Hotel Old Cinema, a recently renovated art hotel housed in a 100-year-old French colonial cinema.


All breakfasts and lunches, safe drinking water, programming (except those marked “OPTIONAL”), transportation, domestic airfare (excluding excess baggage and oversize baggage charges) and hotel accommodation are included in the tour fee. PLEASE NOTE OPTIONAL EXTENSION


Tour fee excludes alcoholic beverages, all dinners, activities marked “OPTIONAL,” international airfare, and required health insurance policy with emergency evacuation coverage.



Price per guest depends on number of total guests. All guests must sign the liability waiver provided before arrival. Guests must purchase their own visas (can be done online in advance or upon arrival) and MUST HAVE 6 MONTHS more before expiry on their passports from their arrival date.

As with everything in Cambodia, itineraries can change at any time without warning. We will try to keep to the itinerary as much as possible but sometimes things change at the last minute so remaining flexible is essential!

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