The small village of Koh Chen lies on the Tonle River close to Oudong. The villagers specialize in silver and copper smithing and make ornamental items, including delicately engraved tropical fruits, used in traditional ceremonies at the pagoda or for marriages.
The first impression on the boat way to Koh Chen is a sitting Buddha statue near the river bank and a Khmer temple with the yellow tiles roof. All the scenic landscape, meticulous engravings and the verdant trees leave a deep impression on visitors.
Koh Chen village in flood
There is a small school near the temple, where you can capture some priceless moments of bright children’s smiles and their poor studying conditions.
A primary school at Koh Chen
The tradition of clay and silver craft used to be the soul of Koh Chen village before 1970s, when the intricate crafts were nearly lost under the rule of Khmer Rouge. Until now, the long-lasting culture is still passed from generation to generation thanks to the attempt of local artisans. The work is divided clearly between men and women. They believe that men are assigned to forge while women are responsible for engraving.
A woman is engraving at workshop
Visitors will have chances to explore the making process in some workshops of the village. A wide range of craft items include bowls, boxes, trays, engraved pictures of flowers, animals, symbolic Angkor sites and the demanded items for clients. The majestic artworks will stimulate you to bring home some of beautiful Cambodia souvenirs. More than 40 family-run shops offer various types of silver bowls, dishes, vases or unique silver boxes in shape of animals. Be careful with non-pure silver items because most of the pieces nowadays are covered with bronze or plated in silver.
Located 35km from the central of Phnom Penh, Koh Chen is easily reached by a one-hour drive by taxi, tuk tuk or motorbike. Another way is exploring Koh Chen by a Mekong cruise which makes a stopover in this restful island on the itinerary of Vietnam and Cambodia.