Watch artisans at work creating remarkable pieces according to ancient methods, and take home one-of-a-kind mementos to remember the Kingdom by.
Handicrafts are an illustrious aspect of Cambodian culture, from the silk production of the 13th century onwards to the millenia-old craft of stone carving which flourished under the Angkorians who were considered the finest workers of stone in the world. Today myriad artefacts live on to showcase the skill and prowess of these ancient virtuosos, with several organisations striving to preserve these essential crafts.
Authentic handicrafts and carved items can be purchased from the below organisations:
Angkor Handicraft Association (AHA)
(Road 60, 200m after the bridge)
The AHA Fair Trade village enroute to the Angkor Archaeological Park ticket office is a permanent open marketplace for the sale of handmade silk, cotton, silverware, bronze, wood and stone carved items, paintings, ceramics and much more made by local artisans and their rural communities in Siem Reap province. Souvenir items can be browsed and purchased here or at various outlets around town which bear the AHA Seal of Authenticity, including Artisans d’Angkor, Senteurs d’Angkor, and Phare Boutique.
(Chantiers-Ecoles, Stung Thmey Street; concept Store in Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra’s gallery)
Established in 1999, this organisation set out to train young Khmers in cherished traditional handicrafts which were in danger of disappearing. Take a complimentary tour of one of their 48 provincial workshops 5 minutes’ walk from the nightmarket area, to see handicrafts taking shape at the hands of local artisans, then peruse the adjoining shop to pick up a few things, knowing exactly where your money is going. The array is dizzying, including: silk fabrics and garments, stone and wood carving, lacquer ware, polychrome products, silver plating and silk painting. Tours of their silk farm are offered free of charge, departing the premises at 9:30am and 1:30pm.
Guide to visiting
80% of all souvenirs sold in Siem Reap are mass produced items from elsewhere in the region which threaten handicrafts and artisan livelihoods. To ensure their longevity, shop responsibly at reputable outlets which sell authentic items.
If you’re short of time in the gateway to Angkor, souvenirs can also be purchased at boutiques in the capital, as well as Siem Reap and Phnom Penh airport.