Cambodia is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for at least two decades. I remember doing my French A’Level (many many moons ago) and learning about the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge. Of course that was pre-internet days and our school library had virtually nothing on Cambodia.
I managed to find a few books on SE Asian history (not specifically Cambodia) and what I saw was breath-taking. Of course the images were of Angkor Wat temples and a few photos of Cambodian food!
That was it. I was sold but back then (in the 90’s) travel was very expensive, travel agents held the monopoly on long haul flights and it was just a long distance dream that I soon put to the back of my mind!
After we left The Philippines, we lost Rich as he headed off to Taiwan for work! We were envious (as Taiwan is top of our list of islands to visit) so the kids and I (Emma) decided we’d have more of our own adventures and flew to Siem Reap in Cambodia. Siem Reap is the heart of Angkor Wat and Phare Cambodia Circus.
The story behind Phare
During the period of the Khmer Rouge art, music, theatre, education & sports, were banned in Cambodia. It is estimated that some three million people were killed during the four year reign and many artists were brutally tortured and murdered. Approximately two million people fled the country and took up temporary residence in refugee camps in neighbouring countries.
After the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1994, five Cambodian refugees found their way home to Battambang and created the Phare Ponleu Selpak Association which translates to “Brightness of the Arts”.
What does Phare do?
PPS is a non-profit, non-governmental association founded as a facility to help revive the Cambodian art scene, to make global art connections and to contribute to the artistic, educational and social programs of the PPS Association.
The PPS assists vulnerable children, young adults and their families, through education and employment as well as helping to build careers as Cambodian Artists. Roughly 1,500 people are assisted by PPS at anyone time.
Where is it?
Phare Circus has one base in Battambang and now also has a permanent home with a purpose built tent located on the outskirts of Siem Reap. As we had a super full itinerary in Battambang, we visited the one in Siem Reap.
Address: Phare Circus Ring Road, south of the intersection – Sok San Road, Siem Reap.
How to book tickets
There are a few ways you can book tickets and I suggest you book them as soon as you possibly can to avoid disappointment because they sell out quickly!
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call: +855 (0) 15 499 480 & +855 (0) 92 225 320
- Online: Buy Tickets Here
Preferred Reserved Seating (Section A)
- Adults (age 12+) : From $35
- Children (age 5-11) : $18
- Infants (age 4 and younger) no charge with no allocated seat
What a story!
It’s described as being the Cambodian equivalent of the world famous Cirque du Soleil and so that is what I went expecting. It’s so much more than that.
I wasn’t expecting to get that lump in my throat at all. It was very thought provoking and if there’s something I want my kids to understand, it’s how our world can be made better by understanding its history.
The kids were mesmerised, even if they didn’t understand the whole story they were enthralled for its entire duration.
The acrobatic artists take on various characters throughout the show to convey Cambodia’s history. They are phenomenally talented and flexible as they contort, balance and tumble their way through the show.
The story is harrowing and I was absolutely fine until the juggling and then that first little tear trickled slowly down my left cheek… If you go, you’ll know what I mean! I promise.
The music is live, performed by two talented musicians who play a wide array of instruments at the side of the stage. If you want to hear some of their music, keep reading until you reach the videos.
Just in case you can’t follow the story, the artist is there to help. Whilst painting he visually guides you through the scenes.
At the end of the performance you have the opportunity to purchase the art work for a very reasonable price. Sending art work back home is also quite easy and they do help with this. I wish we’d been able to buy some. Maybe next time 🙂
There are fire crackers
Just to let you know, there is a scene that depicts war where they use fire cracker to portray bombs dropping. It isn’t scary but it did make us jump. The stage is very dark and you can see the glow of fire crackers fizzing and banging.
They let me take photos
They let me take photos. They actually let me take photos. Anyone can! It’s amazing. I didn’t have to sneak my camera in or hide it under my jumper lol. I actually took proper legit photos. I am astounded and I really think it’s a testament to how wonderful Phare is. I think this is the FIRST time I’ve ever been allowed to take photos of a production.
All Phare ask is that you tag them in any photos you share:
I’d go back in a second!
Whilst I took the kids backpacking through Cambodia, we had to leave Rich behind working, so it was just me and the three kids. I would not hesitate to go back. Not only did we meet some incredibly generous and friendly people but we had a blast seeing the temples, riding the train in Battambang, seeing Tonlé Sap and of course Phare, the Cambodian Circus!
I have nothing but positive comments for Phare and I hope you can see that in this post? I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend you visit and we would certainly go back again.
Some video footage from the performance.
If you’re going to Cambodia, you must pin this so you can go!