The journey begins
7-Day Live-In Natural Building Workshops
Learn and make a difference.
Join Plan-T architect, Ambra Ruffini, in one of two natural building projects that will change the lives of our beneficiaries.
This hands-on learning opportunity is a great introduction to natural building.
Included in the price of this hosted learning experience is a USD $300 project contribution, so you will be making a difference.
Week One - PHKA Doung Handicraft Project
19th to 25th August 2019
When two inspiring woman come together, great things happen.
Ambra will be working at Di Vichra's PHKA Doung Handicraft Project on a beautiful new natural building that will be used to house their new production facility and adjoining shop.
Di is one of Cambodia's new emerging social entrepreneurs, and her coconut project located in the Kampong Chhnang province is changing lives. Starting with a beautiful coconut oil product, this project continues to grow and help local farmers achieve higher prices for their produce and generate local employment.
As part of our commitment to local sustainable tourism, we want to support and facilitate the construction of a natural building to house their production and a shop to showcase their and other local products. This new facility will allow PHKA Doung Handicraft to achieve the required standards to begin exporting. In addition the shop will allow the project to become one of the must visit places on the emerging tourist trail that is the grand circuit of the mighty Tonle Sap.
Join Ambra and learn a variety of natural building techniques in this hands-on experience. Your participation will help Vichra and her project accelerate the benefits to the local community.
The 7 days will be a mix of theory and practical, where you will very much get your hands dirty.
Accommodation is at the project.
Week Two - Koh Dach Training Centre
26th August to 1st September 2019
Ambra will head to the stunning Mekong River island of Koh Dach, where work continues in the training center. Working alongside Ambra, you will be completing the natural wall and floor finishes for the cafe.
This training centre will provide much-needed skills for the local population, and the cafe is a vital part of becoming self-sufficient. Again, it is a great mix of theory and hands-on learning as you work alongside your teacher.
You will be staying in the project's own homestay facility, and will enjoy the hospitality of the host family and feast on traditional Khmer food.
Is this package for me?
|Travel Style||Hands-on 7-Day live-in Natural Building Workshop is perfect for couples, friends or the solo adventurer|
|Service Level||Hosted by your teacher Ambra Ruffini, with a mix of theory and hands-on experience in Natural Building projects with Homestay accommodation in Kampong Chhnang province and Homestay accommodation at Koh Dach)|
|Physical Rating||Hands-on physical work that requires a reasonable level of fitness.|
|Trip Type||Small group learning (maximum 10 people)|
- Week one: 6 nights' accommodation in PHKA Doung homestay
- Week two: 6 nights at Koh Dach Training Centre homestay
- Expert Teacher
- All meals
- Coffee, tea, chilled water and snacks
- All transfers
- All government taxes excluding Visa
|Week One||$550||Includes $300 project contribution|
|Week Two||$490||Includes $300 project contribution|
|Both Weeks||$1020||Includes $600 project contribution|
Reserve your place in this Hosted Learning by paying a 20% deposit
Ambra studied Architecture at Università degli studi di Firenze. She did her Erasmus at Istanbul Teknik Universitesi, and her Masters degree in International Co-operation with Universidad Santo Tomas in Bucaramanga, Colombia.
Her studies focused on international co-operation in architecture and natural building, that lead her to a thesis on earth building restoration and participated requalification in Colombia.
Her first professional years were in Italy, and involved restoration of ancient built patrimony -- mostly in Tuscany and Rome. Later, she had the chance to work for a renowned architecture studio in Milan, dealing with projects worldwide.
This made her aware of how the major architecture and building industry was unsustainable for the environment. She started spending her free time with professionals from different fields, studying and participating in projects to enhance green urban renewal in various cities throughout Italy.
2016 saw a dramatic change in Ambra's career: Her parents, visiting Burma, met a Thai architect who specialized in bamboo building. The young professionals connected, sharing their passion for natural construction and she was offered the opportunity to learn this bamboo technique . Thinking this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, she left her job and moved to Asia.
Since then, she has been based in and worked in Thailand and Burma, volunteered on various social projects and continued to build her natural building knowledge. She has dealt with with different earth techniques in bamboo and recycled materials, trying to make the building industry, the first polluter in the world, a cleaner industry.
She has just designed and built a project in Chiang Mai in in collaboration with "The Little Urban Farm" and has formed a new collaborative partnership, "Plan-T Natural Building' for which which she has become the lead architect.
Ambra specialises in the design and construction of small-to-medium-scale buildings using natural and recycled materials. Dealing with professionals and volunteer workers through both her architecture work and workshops, her aim is to bring natural building knowledge to people, and in the future, bring more awareness on those techniques to western countries to spread the use of renewable resources in the construction industry.
PHKA Doung Handicrafts
PHKA DOUNG Handicrafts was established in April 2018 as a social business within the province of Kampong Chhnang. Its two primary purposes are to create employment for villagers by creating elderly-women weaving groups within the local communities that make beautiful packaging and other products from palm leaves. In addition, they support local farmers to earn a profit from their coconuts. Furthermore, they are passionate about supporting their communities by working with orphanages, rural primary students, and poor elderly people by donating study materials, products, and visiting them regularly through out the year.
A beautiful new natural building is being built, which will be the new production facility and adjoining shop. This facility will allow the project to meet the required standards to begin exporting to wholesale markets, greatly boosting the benefits of this project to the province of Kampong Chhnang.
The adjoining shop will allow guests to view the production processes, showcase both their and other local sustainable products, and offer food and drinks created from local produce,
To be built from bamboo frame, adobe brick and rendered sand bag wall construction, this beautiful natural building will make a great addition to this project.
Week 1: PHKA Doung Handicraft
Introduction to Natural Building > Footings > Bamboo frame > Adobe bricks making > Sand bag wall construction and rendering
Ambra and the group will work with local builders to prepare and build the footings, followed by the bamboo frame.
Then, we will move into adobe brick making and build a beautiful natural sand bag wall with a natural rendered finish.
Ambra will provide a mix of time spent in the theory of natural building and leading the build.
Koh Dach Training Centre
A new social enterprise that is rising up from what was the old Coconut School site, which sadly closed early this year.
When it is finished, it will provide training in:
- Sustainable Tourism and Hospitality
- Ethical business skills
- Natural Building
- Arts, Craft and Holistic Pathways
From supporting university students with supplementary classes to vocation training and incubation, this centre will provide a valuable resource to the community.
Koh Dach itself is a beautiful Mekong River island in literally the middle of Phnom Penh. It is very much a traditional farming island, and faces a number of economic challenges.
Week 2: Koh Dach
Training Cafe > Natural wall finishes > Natural floor finishes
We head to the beautiful Mekong Island of Koh Dach and the training centre at the former Coconut school site. Here, work will continue on the cafe and shop, with natural finishes being applied to the walls and a beautiful natural floor.
The first faculty of the centre is sustainable tourism and hospitality, which will open in October with our first intake of residential students. Your work in the cafe will make a huge difference to the center being ready.
A great week will be spent exploring this beautiful island, learning how you could build your own house, and helping to change lives.
- Visa fee
- Flights & airport taxes
- Tips and services not clearly mentioned
- Required travel insurance
- Other personal expenses
- Other activities
• Prices are nett per person in United States Dollars (USD), and are subject to change without prior notice
• Prices are based on shared basis
• No refund for any un-utilized packages
FIT (Individual) Travel Arrangement
• Period before arrival*Amount of cancellation of the holiday price
• More than 45 days before arrival – Free Of Charge (FOC)
• More than 21 days before arrival – 30%
• Less than 14 days before arrival – 50%
• Less than 7 days before arrival – 80%
• Failure on traveling date at point of arrival – 100%
GIT (Group – 7 guests or more) – Travel Arrangement
• Period before arrival*Amount of Cancellation of the holiday price
• More than 60 days before arrival – Free Of Charge (FOC)
• More than 45 days before arrival – 30%
• Less than 21 days before arrival – 50%
• Less than 14 days before arrival – 80%
• Failure on traveling date at point of arrival – 100%
The Cambodian people are very modest, so avoid wearing clothes that are too short or revealing in public, and in particular, at religious or culturally significant places.
Ask permission before taking someone’s photo.
Due to the nature of travel in Asia, a backpack is more suited to this trip than a suitcase.
In Cambodia, the dress standard is more conservative than it is back home. When packing, try to choose long, loose, lightweight, clothing that will keep you comfortable in the mostly hot and humid Asian climate.
There are no flights included on this package
We don’t expect any problems, and neither should you. However, if you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled for any reason, please contact us immediately. Please refer to our emergency contact details.
If you need to contact us in an emergency, it is best to call either the Green Cultural Travel Local Representative or our Green Cultural Travel Local Office first. If you don’t receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message with your contact information, so that we can return your call as soon as possible.
Emergency contact numbers
Green Cultural Travel Office Phnom Penh, Cambodia
During Office hours GMT +7 (Monday to Friday: 8:30am to 5.30pm, Saturday 8.30am to 12.30pm, Sunday 8:30am to 12:00pm)
From outside Cambodia: +855 12 536 791
From within Cambodia: 012 536 791
After hours emergency numbers
From outside Cambodia: +855 12 536 791
From within Cambodia: 012 536 791
What to Take
We suggest that you pack as lightly as possible.
Most travellers carry a small-to-medium sized backpack, or a rolling bag or suitcase.
You will also need a day pack or bag to carry water, cameras and other electronics like iPods and mobile phones.
Please note that visas for entry into Cambodia are the responsibility of each individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip will vary depending on where you are from, and where you are going. Rules do change. For the most up-to-date information, please check your government’s foreign ministry website, or you may contact your travel agent.
CAMBODIA – Visas can be obtained in advance from your local Cambodian Embassy or Consulate, OR on arrival for $30 USD. Please bring at least two passport photos.
You will require two clean pages (minimum) in your passport, and at least six months' validity.
Every traveller is different, and therefore, spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others, while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs. Consider your likely spending habits when budgeting for drinks, shopping and tipping.
We have provided some specific recommendations below to assist you to plan your budget and manage your money while on holiday.
During your holiday, you will use both the Cambodian Riel and US Dollar as local currencies. Because currency exchange rates in South East Asia do fluctuate quite frequently, we ask that you refer to the following website for the most up to date information on exchange rates: www.xe.com
The best way to access local currency in Cambodia is from an Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) with a debit card. ATMs are readily available throughout South East Asia, and will usually accept cards from both the Visa and MasterCard international networks. If possible, travel with both a Visa and a MasterCard to provide backup in case of loss or access problems with one card. Please note that your bank will usually charge a fee for overseas withdrawals.
USD cash is recommended for those occasions when ATMs are not accessible, such as a number of islands and remote provinces. You should bring some cash with you for emergency situations (please refer to our trip dossier) but not a substantial amount, as carrying only cash is high risk. The ideal mix is two or more ATM card/s with some cash as back-up.
If you are bringing US Dollars, please make sure that the notes are new and in good condition. Notes older than 2003, or with any tears or blemishes may not be accepted. Be fussy with your bank when buying cash!
Credit cards are accepted at some upmarket hotels and restaurants, and some larger stores if shopping for big items. They are of no use at smaller establishments.
Cash advances with your credit card are also possible at some banks. However, the process is time-consuming and tends to attract high fees.
Traveller’s cheques can be tricky, time-consuming and expensive to exchange. While we do not recommend that you bring them as your primary source of funds, you may choose to bring one or two cheques in case of emergency. Thomas Cook or American Express travellers’ cheques in US currency are the easiest to exchange.
Depending on the service, it is customary in Asia to tip service providers, such as waiters, approximately 10%. Though not compulsory, tipping is expected, and shows an expression of satisfaction with the people who have assisted you on your holiday. Although it may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels. There are several times during the trip where there is an opportunity to tip the local guides or drivers we use. Recommendations for tipping drivers and local guides range from $1.5-$3.5 USD per person per day, depending on the quality and length of the service. If unsure, ask your local Green Cultural Travel representative.
Please note that inoculations may be required for the country visited. It is your responsibility to consult with your travel doctor for up-to-date medical travel information well before departure.
We recommend that you carry a small First Aid kit, hand sanitizers or antibacterial wipes, and any personal medical supplies you might require.
For legal reasons, our Green Cultural Travel representatives are prohibited from administering any drug including headache tablets, antibiotics, etc. In Asia, pharmacies tend to stock the same Western drugs available in your home country, but they are usually locally produced, and may have different names. To ensure you can access to the right treatment, ask your doctor for the details of the active components and dosage instructions if you think you might need to purchase prescription medication while here.
When selecting your trip, please read the brochure and itinerary carefully to assess your ability to cope with our style of travel.
Safety and Security
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government’s advice for their latest travel information before departure.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt for keeping your passport, air tickets, travellers’ cheques, cash, and other valuable items safe. Leave your expensive jewellery at home. You won’t need it while travelling. Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables while on tour. We recommend a lock for securing your luggage.
During your journey, you will have some free time to pursue your own interests. You can relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your Green Cultural Travel representative can assist you with options available in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary. We, therefore, offer no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your personal judgment before selecting an activity in your free time.
Although the locations you will visit on your selected package are generally safe during the day, there can be risks to wandering about at night. We recommend our guests stay in small groups and take taxis for any night time excursions, including restaurant visits.
Protests and Demonstrations - Protests and demonstrations, even those that are well intended, have the potential to turn violent with no warning. Counter protests can also turn violent. Action by security forces to disperse demonstrators and protesters may occur at any time. If you are in an area where demonstrators or protesters are gathering, avoid the temptation of staying for a photo opportunity, and leave the area immediately.
As a minimum, an average level of fitness and mobility is required to undertake our easiest programs. Travellers must be able to walk without the aid of another person, climb 3-4 flights of stairs, step on and off small boats, and carry their personal luggage. Travellers with a pre-existing medical condition are required to complete a short medical questionnaire, which must be signed by their physician. These requirements ensure that travellers have the necessary fitness and mobility to complete their chosen trip comfortably. While our representatives work hard to ensure all our traveller’s needs are catered for, it is not their responsibility to help individuals who cannot complete the day’s activities unaided. Please refer to the physical ratings in this Trip Details document for more information.
A Word of Warning
When exploring on your own, carry only the necessary minimum with you, and use a well-hidden money belt for cash and credit cards. The majority of your valuables, including your passport, should be left in the hotel safe. You can organise use of the safe at the reception of your accommodation. There is no need to get paranoid, just be cautious.
Please do not buy gems in Cambodia, unless you know what you are doing. Even if they are genuine, you should not expect to be able to sell them at home. If you fall victim to a gem scam, we are unable to assist you.
Travel Insurance: Travel insurance is compulsory to participate in any of our packages. Your Green Cultural Travel representative will communicate with you prior to your departure to ensure you have insurance in place and we will take note of your insurance details. When selecting a travel insurance policy, please bear in mind that all clients must have medical coverage and that we require a minimum coverage of USD 200,000 for repatriation and emergency rescue. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. If you have credit card insurance, we require proof of purchase of the trip (a receipt of credit card statement) with a credit card in your name.
Contact your bank for details of their participating insurer, the level of coverage, and emergency contact telephone number.
Green Cultural Travel – Community Programs
Green Cultural Travel is owned by Green Cultural Travel Hub Limited, and through ongoing dividends, we are able to support community projects. If you book flights through our affiliated partner, we will ensure that the carbon footprint is offset through direct investment in the planting of trees.
Green Cultural Travel Hub
When you purchase a Green Cultural Travel package, you automatically become a member of the Green Cultural Travel Hub. This connects you to us and like-minded travellers. Our bi-monthly magazine is full of travel news, trip information, interesting stories, special offers and contests. We also include more information on how you can give back, and support, the people and places we love to visit through our local Community Programs.