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Top 6 Things To Buy In Cambodia

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Cambodia isn’t well-known for hustle and bustle shopping malls like nearby countries in Southeast Asia. Nevertheless, this country is a wonderland of handmade products thanks to the extraordinary workmanship of the local. For those planning to head Cambodia, our below top-listed recommendations will guide you to choose the most worthwhile things to buy among thousands of items.

1. Weaving silk

The Cambodian still upholds the deep-rooted tradition of silk weaving along the history of centuries. The Cambodian weavers use traditional methods in which the silk thread patterns were dyed before woven. Silk products featuring typical Cambodian fashion range from scarf, clothes, dress and purse. This type of fabric is super silky, flimsy and easy to pack into suitcase.

Pidan silk

If you are deliberating which sort of silk to select, have a look at Pidan silk, an ordinary ikat silk used in Cambodian weddings and Buddhist festivals. The only place selling Pidan silk with traditional ikat method and natural dyes is Pidan Khmer, located in Khan Chamkarmon district, Phnom Penh. Pidan products are made by the local under a social project working for the welfare of young vulnerable children and women.

A Master Piece Pidan Silk

A master piece of Pidan Silk 

Where to buy

  • The Made in Cambodia Market, Achar Sva Street, Krong Siem Reap: A handicraft fair in the ground of beautiful Shinta Mani Resort, which only opens on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 4pm to 9pm.
  • Artisans Angkor, Stung Thmey Street, Krong Siem Reap: A social enterprise 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 exquisite and meticulous weaving process.
  • Lotus Silk, Khann Daun Penh, Phnom Penh: A small boutique is bursting with silk scarves, clothes and accessories.

Tips

  • Be wise at low-cost silk items because authentic silk worth much higher price. Unless you really like the color, pattern and design, buy a $2 – 4US 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 a 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 in poor quality.

2. Silverware

Widely used in religious etiquette since 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.

Silver jewelry

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.

Silver decorations

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 of betel nuts, opium, balms, medicines or small jewels.

Cambodia Silver Deer Betel Nut Box

Cambodia silver animals betel nut box

Where to buy

  • Siem Reap Night Markets: Daily night markets are concentrated within downtown area, where 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 jewellery designed in contemporary style.
  • Angkor bullet Jewellery, Khan Chbar Ampov, Phnom Penh: A museum created by a group of vulnerable Cambodians displays distinctively fashionable jewellery made from recycled bomb casings left over from the war.

Tips

  • Don't burn your fingers on precious jewels unless you are an expert or have a trusted knowledgeable source of 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.

3. Sculpture works

Cambodia is a paradise of splendid reproductions and duplicates of sculptured works at affordable prices. Thanks to 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 of 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, lacquering are waiting to decorate 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

Tips

  • 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 antique 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 province.

Cambodia Kampot Red Pepper

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.

Tips

  • Learn about diversified kinds of Kampot pepper and taste before decide to purchase.
  • Be alert to fake Kampot pepper. The best way is going to the source and visit farms to buy fresh peppers and see how the Cambodian raise the best kind of pepper.

5. Krama

Krama, which means ‘scarf’ in 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 of wrapping head, waist, neck, belt; carrying baby, keeping warm for throat; wiping sweat and pretty much anything else.

Colorful traditional Cambodian Krama Scarf

Colorful traditional Cambodian Krama Scarf

Where to buy

Any markets and shops throughout Cambodia: Krama varies in qualities and prices with the cheapest about $1 US in the markets.

Tips

  • Don’t expect something incredibly cheap. Cambodian handmade is much more skillful sophisticated and worth higher pays.
  • Try this simple method to test the genuine of the fabric. Ask the vendors if you may burn a couple strands. Real silk burns to a soft powdery ash while anything from polyester will form a small hard “bead”.

6. Eco-friendly handmade products

Cambodia is expert at producing homemade products such as organic soaps, bath salts, body creams, lip balms, massage oils, perfumes, candles, incenses. Instead of using chemical substances, they have been 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.

Cambodia DIY natural hand cream "Kru Khmer Botanical"

"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 specializes in organic products which are paraben free, silicon free, sulfate free.
  • Kru Khmer Botanical, Old Market, Siem Reap: An organic shop & spa uses natural Khmer herbs based on traditional Cambodian medical approach.

Tips

  • Learn about some eco-friendly ingredients that have been tested for safety. If a product contains exceeding percent of prohibited substances, it mustn’t be totally organic.
  • Don’t buy something 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.

Hong Nhung

(Images source: Internet)

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