“There are not many things to buy in Cambodia” – Many visitors said after traveling to Cambodia. Is it true?
Cambodia is not a big shopping address in the world, and of course not a shopping center in Southeast Asia in comparison with Singapore or Thailand. This country doesn’t have many of hustle and bustle shopping malls or skyscrapers but that doesn’t mean you are unable to buy anything in Cambodia. In opposite, Cambodia is a paradise of handmade products. Encouraged by the government and aid organizations, local people improve their natural talent as weavers and craftsmen. Many rehabilitation programs have sprung up since the 1980s in an effort to revive traditional Khmer crafts throughout the country. The result is, Cambodia now becomes a destination of a vast of attractive items out of silk and cotton fabrics, rattan, bamboo, wood, and clay which pleased even the fastidious customers. Once you spend your time shopping a selection of purses and handbags, clothing, furnishings, paintings and many other items, you will soon discover that there are a lot of things to buy in Cambodia and they are all inexpensive but worthwhile.
Weaving Silk in Cambodia is still handmade using traditional methods with the pattern dyed into the threads before the silk is woven. There are many products made of silk including scarf, cloth, dress, and purse, all are light and easy to pack into your suitcase.
Silk items are easy to find in market stalls but one thing to remember that, a $2 - 4US silk scarf is not silk. If you like the colour, pattern, and design, then buy it but don’t expect good quality. If you are looking for authentic silk made by the local, you will have to pay good money but it’s worth every penny.
Where to buy:
- Made in Cambodia Market, Achar Sva Street, Siem Reap: A little market in the ground of Shinta Mani resort. It opens from 4 pm - 9 pm, every Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday.
- Artisans d’Angkor is another address you should check out at Chantiers-Ecoles, Stung Thmey Street, Krong Siem Reap. This is a social business creating job opportunities for young people in rural areas, you will find here numerous handmade products with 100% nature fine silk.
In Cambodia, silver items have started to be widely used in religious etiquette since the 11th century. When travellers start flocking to this country, a great number of silver shops has increased in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, selling jewellery, carved decorative and practical items.
Cambodian silver jewellery doesn’t have high value as they are silver alloys with 70-80% silver but they are uniquely designed with beautiful Khmer patterns, therefore, if you want to bring home a Cambodia spirit, a silver product is a good choice.
Where to buy:
- Siem Reap night market
- Garden of Desire at The Passage Pub Street Alley, Krong Siem Reap: you can find a unique handcrafted silver jewellery that is an ideal gift for your loved ones.
Basketry items are not a new thing for visitors but this is a chance for you to buy them at a reasonable price, a lot cheaper than it is sold in other countries. The dexterity of the local people is perfectly reflected in exquisite products of all kinds, including baskets, bowls, plates, and many other useful items. Although more and more basketry is being replaced by plastic items in the everyday life of the Cambodian, you still find the best bamboo baskets are made near Kampot and small rattan baskets are made around Siem Reap.
Where to buy:
- Sirivan at Kandal Village
- Angkor Handicraft Association at Training Village, Solargram Quarter, Siem Reap: you can also learn some lessons about making simple basket weaving here.
This country is where you can buy perfect reproductions and copies of sculptured work at affordable prices. The naturally inherent skill of Cambodian craftsmen convey Khmer spirit into the artworks, make them so real that even some experts might be fooled if they just look.
It’s a great idea to buy stone, wood or bronze carvings of small statues, Buddha's heads, and Apsaras, bring home to decor the favourite corner in your house. They will remind you of the memorable hidden charm of Cambodia.
Where to buy:
- Artisans d’Angkor at Chantiers-Ecoles, Stung Thmey Street, Krong Siem Reap.
- Preah Netr Preah commune, on the road from Siem Reap to Banteay
A pinch of black pepper added to any recipe works more than just a flavour enhancer. Not only bring flavour to a dish, this king of spices is famous for a number of health benefits for digestion, weight loss, bioavailability, and metabolism. Therefore, it has no reason to buy some pepper when you are on the land that produces one of the best peppers in the world. Grew throughout Kampot province, Kampot pepper is strong, delicate and aromatic thanks to the cool climate and quartz-rich soil. This kind of gift from Cambodia will for sure keep your kitchen busy and happy.
Where to buy:
- The Kampot pepper shop at Old Market Street, Kampot: the shop owners has their own farm so you can buy real Kampot pepper here as well as learn a lot about it and taste every kind of Kampot peppers before making your mind.
Krama is the typical scarf of the Cambodian. You will spot it everywhere you go because of its multi-purpose and various colour. The local use it to keep warm for the throat, cover the face, carry a baby, as a hammock for youngsters, or wipe the sweat on a hot day. The traditional fabric comes in red and white but many colours have added to its design.
Where to buy:
These can be bought throughout Cambodia, in varying qualities and prices.
Few more tips:
- There is a simple method to test the genuine of the fabric: Ask the vendor if you may burn a couple of strands. Real silk burns to a soft powdery ash while anything from polyester will form a small hard ‘bead’.
- If something is incredibly cheap it cannot be Cambodian because locally made products are handmade so they cannot be cheap.
- The products will look different a bit, they can’t be all the same because they are handmade.
- The Cambodian only make cotton kramas, silk scarves, silk and cotton fabric, clothes and jewellery, natural coloured basketry, sugar palm products, and coconut shell products. Therefore, other products like horn or plastic products, varnished wooden products, lacquered panels, silk satin or viscose pyjamas, etc, are mostly imported from other countries. What would be the point of bringing back something from Cambodia that is made in China, Thailand, Vietnam or Burma?
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