Top 6 Things To Buy In Cambodia
Cambodia isn’t well-known for hustle and bustle of shopping malls like nearby countries in Southeast Asia. Nevertheless, this country is a wonderland of handmade products thanks to the extraordinary workmanship of the locals. For those planning to head to Cambodia, our below top-listed recommendations will guide you to choose the most worthwhile things to buy in Cambodia among thousands of items.
1. Weaving silk
The Cambodians still uphold the deep-rooted tradition of silk weaving throughout the history centuries. The Cambodian weavers use traditional methods in which the silk thread patterns were dyed before being woven. Silk products featuring typical Cambodian fashion range from scarfs, clothes, dresses, and purses. This type of fabric is super silky, flimsy, and easy to pack into the suitcase.
If you are deliberating which sort of silk to select, have a look at Pidan silk, ordinary ikat silk used in Cambodian weddings, and Buddhist festivals. The only place selling Pidan silk with the traditional ikat method and natural dyes is Pidan Khmer, located in Khan Chamkarmon district, Phnom Penh. Pidan products are made by the locals under a social project working for the welfare of young vulnerable children and women.
A masterpiece of Pidan Silk for perfect souvenirs from Cambodia
Where to buy
- The Made in Cambodia Market, Achar Sva Street, Krong Siem Reap: A handicraft fair on the ground of beautiful Shinta Mani Resort, which only opens on Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
- Artisans D'angkor, Stung Thmey Street, Krong Siem Reap: A social enterprise that aims at reviving traditional Khmer craftsmanship and giving job opportunities to young people in rural areas.
- Koh Dach Island, Phnom Penh, Cambodia: A silk island sells and produces thousands of silk items, where visitors can witness the exquisite and meticulous weaving processes.
- Lotus Silk, Khann Daun Penh, Phnom Penh: A small boutique bursting with silk scarves, clothes, and accessories.
- Be wise at low-cost silk items because authentic silk is worth a much higher price. Unless you really like the color, pattern, and design, buy a $US 2 – 4 silk scarf without any expectation of high quality.
- Test the authenticity by asking the seller if you may burn a couple of strands. Real silk burns to soft powdery ash while anything from polyester will form a small hard bead.
- Be aware of the fakes imported from other countries. These replicas often masquerade as Cambodian silk of poor quality.
Widely used in religious etiquette since the 11th century, an increasingly great number of silver shops have increased in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap today. Despite the alloy of 70 – 80% pure silver, this product is still a good choice to bring home a Cambodian spirit.
Cambodian silver jewelry is extremely diverse and exquisitely handmade by skilled local artisans. Silverware is uniquely designed in Khmer patterns, a representative of the truly stunning Cambodian culture.
Varying from large plates, ornaments, and carved decorative statues, silver items are intricately designed in various shapes and sizes. Strikingly, tourists are mostly impressed by betel nut boxes, an eye-catching ornate decoration. Crafted into different animal shapes, the box is used as the storage for betel nuts, opium, balms, medicines, or small jewels.
Cambodia silver animals betel nut box
Where to buy
- Siem Reap Night Markets: Daily night markets are concentrated within the downtown area, which offers tons of affordable fair-trade handicrafts. Angkor Night Market, Old Market and Made in Cambodia Market are highly recommended to take a visit.
- Garden of Desire, the Passage Pub Street Alley, Krong Siem Reap: This store is a gallery of creative handcrafted silver jewelry designed in a contemporary style.
- Angkor bullet Jewellery, Khan Chbar Ampov, Phnom Penh: A museum created by a group of vulnerable Cambodians displays distinctively fashionable jewelry made from recycled bomb casings left over from the war.
- Don't burn your fingers on precious jewels unless you are an expert or have a trusted knowledgeable source on this subject.
- Ask the silver dealer to demonstrate the purity of silver on a Touchstone, called Thma Som Ret. This simple test will instantly show any base metal “impurities” used to make an alloy of silver.
You may also like: Top 10+ Best Things to Do in Cambodia 2022
3. Sculpture works
Cambodia is a paradise of splendid reproductions and duplicates of sculptured works at affordable prices. Thanks to the naturally inherent skills of craftsmen, reproductions bear a resemblance to the authentic ones that might fool some experts’ eyes. Conveying Khmer spirit into artworks and reminding us of the hidden charm of Cambodia, the mini versions imitate familiar Cambodian symbols like the glorious Angkor Wat, the pristine countryside, Buddha’s heads, and Apsaras.
Mini golden Cambodian brass statues
Where to buy
- Artisans Angkor at Chantiers-Ecoles, Stung Thmey Street, Krong Siem Reap: Plentiful stone, wood, and bronze carvings painting on statues and silk, and lacquering are waiting to decorate the favorite corner of your house.
- Preah Netr Preah commune, on the road from Siem, Reap to Banteay
- The stretch of Street 172 between Monivong Boulevard and Sothearos Boulevard in Phnom Penh
- Don’t accept the first price in local markets or stores. It’s better to negotiate to get a more worthwhile price.
- Do not bring any antiques out of Cambodia unless you can stand the harsh penalty.
4. Kampot Pepper
Once visit Cambodia, you can’t leave the land of giant pepper productions without a pinch of Kampot Pepper in your luggage. This is considered to be the world’s best pepper used by top chefs across the globe. Not only does Kampot Pepper enhance flavor but also improves health conditions of digestion, weight loss, bioavailability, and metabolism. This kind of pepper is organically grown in the harmonious climate and quartz-rich soil in Kampot Pepper Farm.
Cambodian Kampot Red Pepper
Where to buy
- Local markets and shopping centers
- The Kampot Pepper Shop, Old Market Street, Kampot: The shop owners have their own farm so don’t worry about the quality and the origin of pepper.
- Learn about diversified kinds of Kampot pepper and taste before deciding to purchase.
- Be alert to fake Kampot pepper. The best way is to go to the source and visit farms to buy fresh peppers and see how the Cambodian raise the best kind of pepper.
Krama, which means 'scarf' in the Khmer language, is the best memento imaging Cambodian traditions and customs. Krama is originally in red and white but today it is redesigned in various catchy colors and patterns. Krama, an amulet of fortune and peace to local residents, is highly popular among wanderers and adventurers. You can’t imagine the multipurpose scarves for wrapping head, waist, neck, belt; carrying baby, keeping warm for the throat; wiping sweat, and pretty much anything else.
Colorful traditional Cambodian Krama Scarf
Where to buy
Any markets and shops throughout Cambodia: Krama varies in quality and price with the cheapest at about $US 1 in the markets.
- Don’t expect anything incredibly cheap. Cambodian handmade is much more skillful and sophisticated and worth higher pay.
- Try this simple method to test the genuineness of fabric. Ask the vendors if you may burn a couple of strands. Real silk burns to soft powdery ash while anything from polyester will form a small hard “bead”.
6. Eco-friendly handmade products
Cambodia is an expert at producing homemade products such as organic soaps, bath salts, body creams, lip balms, massage oils, perfumes, candles, and incense. Instead of using chemical substances, they have mastered the art of cultivating local plants and minerals into green ingredients. Uniquely, green lifestyle people will addict to the gifts wrapped up in reusable fabric bags.
"Kru Khmer Botanical" Cambodia DIY natural hand cream
In comparison with other normal substitutes, these DIY natural items are uniquely attractive and affordable. Moreover, the scents of Angkor will give your beloved friends and relatives a little relaxation and indulgence in the air of Cambodia sense when they haven’t been there.
Where to buy
- Senteurs d’Angkhor, Airport Road, Siem Reap: A social and ecological business that specializes in organic products which are paraben-free, silicon-free, and sulfate-free.
- Kru Khmer Botanical, Old Market, Siem Reap: An organic shop & spa that uses natural Khmer herbs based on the traditional Cambodian medical approach.
- Learn about some eco-friendly ingredients that have been tested for safety. If a product contains the exceeding percent of prohibited substances, it must not be totally organic.
- Don’t buy anything smelling funny. The odd smells are often added by some fragrances that may cause reactions.
Here are several small tips and guidelines to equip for a wondrous trip. We hope that our recommendations will help you avoid undesirable scams and pick the most valuable products. Come and explore Cambodia holiday packages and bring home these adorable souvenirs!
You may also like: Cambodia's helpful tips and advice
(Images source: Internet)