Healthy and nutritious food plays a huge role in my life and this doesn’t change when I’m traveling! If I don’t have good food for a day or so, I can become quite moody and frustrated. Food to me is not only something to keep me alive, it’s a pleasure and daily celebration. You will barely find me doing or watching something while eating – I love fully focussing on all the flavours. As you can tell, food has a big influence on my well-being and energy.
What do I mean when I talk about good food? To me, it means that I need to eat the rainbow. The more colourful & fresh, the better. It should be nutritious, delicious and full of fresh vegetables. Furthermore it has to be without meat and any other animal products.
Ok so, this was an insight into what my personal requirements are when it comes to food. In general, finding the right food is super easy for me. But when travelling to a new country it can sometimes be quite challenging. In this blogpost I would therefore like to share what it was like being vegan in Cambodia.
Disclaimer: I’m using the word plant-based as a synonym to vegan in this blogpost, hence no animal products involved.
A little introduction into Cambodia’s cuisine
The Cambodian cuisine is famous for its fresh, flavourful and colourful dishes that are typically made with a combination of herbs, spices, meats and seafood. However, as more people adopt plant-based diets, finding vegan options in Cambodia has become easier. During my second visit to Cambodia in 2023 I noticed way more restaurants with vegan options compared to 2018.
Down below I added an interactive map with my favourite plant-based restaurants in different cities in Cambodia. Furthermore I can recommend looking at apps like HappyCow and abillionveg to find vegan restaurants in your location.
I found that the most famous plant-based adapted dish in Cambodia was the Amok, a mild curry served in a banana leaf boat. You can also get vegan morning glory (water spinach) and noodle soups. Other than that it wasn’t very easy to find typical Cambodian dishes. Have a look for a cooking class with plant-based options to get to know more about the local cuisine.
Recommendations for different cities
When I visited Cambodia in 2018 and 2023 (click here to check the route) I travelled through different cities and saved my favourite food spots in the map below. I’ll now share some insider information of my top vegan restaurants in cities like Siem Reap, Battambang, Phnom Penh, Kampot and on the tiny island Koh Rong Samloem.
Siem Reap is an amazing place when it comes to vegan food! In fact, it was the best place of all in Cambodia when it comes to food. I didn’t have enough time to explore all the places to be honest. Therefore I had to limit my reviews to only a few of many places.
Heybong Cafe is located in the heart of Siem Reap. It’s an open outdoor space restaurant with modern decor. The dishes are 100 % plant-based and the menu is just incredible. From breakfast dishes and smoothies to Western and Cambodian lunch dishes – there is a lot to choose from for everyone.
Brother Bong Café
Brother Bong Café is a small café, located around 15 minutes walking distance from the centre of Siem Reap. I recommend to visit Brother Bong for breakfast or brunch as the café serves light dishes, sandwiches and smoothie bowls.
Tevy’s Place is one of those restaurants where you can literally feel the friendly atmosphere when entering. The menu has a great variety of typical Cambodian as well as Western dishes served all day. It’s a great place to go for breakfast, lunch and dinner. On every table you can find a personal message from Tevy, who is the owner of the restaurant. I won’t spoil the story, but all I can say is that I admire what this woman went through and has created.
Banlle Vegetarian Restaurant is a very modern cafe which looks super fancy from the outside. You definitely won’t expect the comparatively low prices for the dishes. Even tough Banlle is located in the heart of Siem Reap, the location is beautiful. You sit next to a pond and the vegetable garden and can listen to the garden sounds while having the most delicious dinner.
Battambang is a bit more challenging when it comes to vegan food. There is one restaurant with some vegan dishes which is the Fring. It opened early 2023 and serves a few different savoury bowls during breakfast and lunch time as well as pita breads stuffed with healthy ingredients. With around $5-6 for comparatively small portions it’s quite expensive though.
Nary Kitchen is a typical Cambodian restaurant which can adapt the dishes to different dietary requests. But it’s even more fun joining their cooking class! The class only costs $12, which is way less than in Siem Reap or Kampot. The owner is very enthusiastic and you will for sure have a fun time! Not only will you cook four different dishes (vegan is possible) but also go shopping all ingredients at the local market before.
The capital of Cambodia also has a few nice restaurants which serve plant-based food. The dishes are less typical Cambodian but more from other parts of the world. It’s a nice change of cuisine during the trip though. Apart from the restaurants below I also added the Backyard café to the map as their menu looks really good. Due to my low budget I didn’t go there though, it’s a bit more expensive.
I frequently visited Planta for late breakfast. The prices are very fair. It’s located in a quite side street. Apart from the Backyard café it’s actually the only one with many wholesome plant-based Western breakfast dishes.
Masala Dosa Street Kitchen
Masala Dosa is a great place for dinner in Phnom Penh. The signature dish is Dosa and can be ordered with many different vegan fillings. It’s a nice change to the typical Cambodian rice dishes.
Addis Ethiopian Restaurant
Addis Ethiopian is a must! The food there incredibly delicious and filling. I highly recommend to get the vegan sharing platter which consists of a big injera (typical Ethiopian flatbread) and five different Ethiopian dishes. It’s a variety of spicy, non-spicy, vegetable and lentil dishes for only $6.
Koh Rong Samloem
Koh Rong Samloem is a little paradise island located in the South of Cambodia. There are a few different bays with guesthouses and hotels. The restaurants I added to the map are all located in M’Pai bay. Check out this blogpost to read more about the bay itself. The fact that there are many different restaurants to choose from is definitely a reason why I would recommend staying there. Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of the dishes as there is barely internet on the island so my phone stayed in the hostel.
Old Souls is right at the beach, so you can enjoy your breakfast or lunch while looking out into the ocean. They serve a few different wraps and I also loved the breakfast smoothie which consists of banana, oats and coconut milk. Please mind that opening hours can vary as the clocks tick differently on Koh Rong Samloem.
Seapony café was my favourite on the island! The menu has many different options and it’s really hard to choose what to eat and drink. Definitely try one of the home made bagels – they’re delicious. Seapony is a good place for breakfast and lunch as they close at 3pm.
The M’Paibei Restaurant is right next to the pier. When you are walking from the pier towards the village it’s at the corner on the right side. This restaurant serves a few vegan dinner dishes – from Wraps to typical Cambodian dishes. The amok and currys were my favourite.
Kampot is a lovely town with great vegan cafés. The reason why I only added two to the maps is that I wanted to try as many dishes from the mentioned restaurants as possible. If you know any more, please share it in the comments below and I can add them to the list as well! Kampot in general is definitely a good place for vegans.
Simple Things was my go to restaurant for breakfast and lunch. They are open until 10 pm though so even for dinner it’s a good spot. The menu is so wide and everything sounds just amazing. It’s a good mix of Western and Cambodian dishes. In whole Cambodia the value was the best at Simple Things! The portions were really big.
Epic Arts Café
Epic Arts not only serves great food but also brings people with and without disabilities together. They offer inclusive education programmes for Cambodians. As some of the staff have hearing and speaking disabilities you will get a paper with all the dishes and can then cross the one you would like to order. I love that there are no limits at Epic Arts. On top of that the restaurant serves a good mix of Western and Cambodian breakfast and lunch dishes. Furthermore there is a fridge with some nice sweet treats (not all vegan, but some).
General advice for your food search
Last but not least I’d like to give some advice for those who are looking to maintain a vegan lifestyle while in Cambodia. It’s very helpful to learn some basic Khmer phrases to communicate your dietary needs. Knowing phrases like “jay” (pure vegan food) or “tofu” (tawhou) can make a big difference when it comes to finding suitable meals.
Also do some research before ordering the dishes. Not all Cambodian sauces are vegan-friendly. A dish that is labelled as vegetarian / vegan can sometimes contain some fish and oyster sauce or be cooked in a pan that has touched meat. It’s important for you to define your own limits and how flexible you can be. For me personally, I always try to do my best while being respectful to locals and their traditions.
Summing up, being vegan in Cambodia is very doable, especially when staying in the touristic hotspots. The best places are definitely Siem Reap and Kampot. But even supermarkets like 7/11 have plant-based convenience dishes in case you really can’t find anything else. However, most restaurants have adapted their menus and will surely do so in the future.
Especially in rural areas it can sometimes be a challenging adventure to find vegan food, but with common sense & some basic language knowledge you will be able to find some great plant-based food! The conclusion: Being vegan in Cambodia is possible & your taste buds will have an amazing time.