10 Unique Souvenirs & Gifts to Buy in Cambodia
Cambodia is really a souvenir shopping paradise with a variety of authentic products, from woven natural fabrics, sculpture reproductions, to special little jewelries, handmade natural organic products, and even edible items. Among a plethora of Cambodian souvenirs and products, tourists may have difficulties in deciding which one to bring home as the keepsakes of their Cambodia trip. Below are our suggestions for the best souvenirs to buy in Cambodia.
Whether you take a quick visit to Angkor Wat or plan more than a week holiday in this Kingdom of Wonder, you should not miss out on the opportunity to buy these special memoirs for your beloved ones and yourselves.
10 best things to buy in Cambodia
1. Cambodian Silk Products.
Cambodia has a long and rich history of silk weaving and silk products with eye-catching colors and designs so Cambodian silk products are always on the top list of souvenirs to buy in Cambodia. It is very interesting to know that silk in Cambodia is still made by hand-dyeing process and traditional weaving methods. It takes several weeks for the local artisans to dye and weave a single piece of silk. Among several silk types in Cambodia, golden silk is renowned all over the world for its incredibly high quality and super soft feel.
Tourists can take the visit to Artisans Angkor’s silk farm on the outskirts of Siem Reap or Santuk Silk Farm in Kampong Thom, where they can see the entire process of silk production, from the life cycle of the silkworm to a finished silk product. In Phnom Penh, Lotus Silk also offers a range of scarves, clothes and other accessories in golden silk.
2. Krama – Cambodian Traditional Scarf.
Krama is a traditional Cambodian garment worn by every Cambodian, from old to young persons, from men to women and children, from rural to urban areas. Farmers wrap karma around their head to protect themselves from the sunlight as well as absorb beads of sweat in hot and sunny working days. It’s also used as a hammock for infant, carry objects in, hang around the neck like a scarf. This multi-purpose fabric contains a gingham pattern of some sort, and traditionally comes in red and white.
Nowadays, modern kramas come in varying colors, patterns and qualities. They are available to buy in any of the markets in tourism towns and cities all over Cambodia, with the cheapest staring at around $1 – $2 per krama.
3. Sculpture Reproductions.
Cambodian craftsmen possess excellent carving skills and techniques. Their talents can be seen from intricate carvings and bas-reliefs into the walls of Angkor Wat and other ancient temples throughout the country. Nowadays, sculpture reproductions are created and sold as souvenirs at reasonable prices, from large statues to small ones. Artisans spend hours to meticulously sculpture pieces of wooden, stone or bronze on ornate designs. These artworks are miniature replicas of God Spirits, Buddha, Apsara women, and variations of animals.
In addition, forms of wall-art such as hand-carved wooden screens and carvings are also available. These incredible artworks can be purchased at night markets in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and other tourism hubs.
Lacquerware is another perfect piece of artworks to take back home when in Cambodia. This handicraft has strong roots in Cambodia with its peak during the 12th to 16th centuries. Khmer style designs or depictions of traditional Cambodian life are laid out on lacquer products. Nowadays, skillful artisans combine traditional techniques with modern designs to create decorative lacquer boxes, vases, bowls, ornaments and Buddha images.
In Siem Reap, tourists can pay a visit to Theam’s House to see the process of making lacquer products first-hand at the workshop, as well as experience a wide range of Khmer styles for sale.
5. Silverware & Silver Jewelry.
Khmer silversmithing is another traditional trade that flourished in Cambodia as early as the 11th century. During that period, Cambodian silversmiths produced for the royal palace and the rich upper class with various items, including weaponry, coins, ceremonial objects used in funerary and religious rituals, and betel boxes. With tourism industry expanding, Khmer silverware are known far beyond its national borders.
Cambodia now is a treasure trove of unique hand-craft silver products, ranging from large plates with intricate designs to collections of ornate boxes, ornaments and other trinkets. Local artisans even incorporate Cambodian silver and semi-precious stones in their designs to create more fashionable items. What could be better than these stunning artworks to bring home as a souvenir or gift for your beloved ones!
Places to check out for Cambodian silverware: Garden of Desire (Phnom Penh), Central Market (Phnom Penh – Map), Ammo Jewellery (Siem Reap), Artisans Angkor (Siem Reap).
6. Handmade Paintings.
Cambodian daily life, tradition and history are depicted lively under the brush-strokes of talented local artists. Paintings vary in materials but oil seems to be especially popular. Exceptional pieces of art capture local landscapes and traditional Khmer patterns with common themes from history and Buddhism.
If you focus on finding high quality paintings, Asasax Art Gallery in Phnom Penh is a must visited place. In case you want to buy reasonable painting artworks, just come to Old Market in Siem Reap or Central Market in Phnom Penh, where you can buy unique art at rock bottom prices, starting from as little as $10 up to $150 USD. These pieces of art will look great on your house’s wall or be a meaningful souvenir for your friends.
7. Recycled Bags.
Cambodia is a beautiful, but also very poor country. There are lots of people with immense creative flair and ingenious workmanship in this country. Luckily, there are many international NGOs and organizations with strong passionate of this country, help locals to improve their income by producing handbags from recycled materials. From the bags used daily by Khmer families, ingenious artisans produce beautiful, high-quality products with designs reflecting Khmer culture.
These unique products then are available at night markets in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, with various items, such as: purses, bags, wallets, passport holders and other accessories. They are convenient for everyday use that are resistant, with zippers and double layer, also waterproof and with beautiful graphics. Purchasing one of these lovely products, you partly help locals improve their lives, as well as contribute to protect the environment.
8. Handmade Organic Skincare Products.
If you have experienced the spa services in Cambodia, you surely fall in love with Cambodian scents that will leave you serene and relaxed feeling. Cambodians are masters in cultivating local minerals, herbs and plants into perfect natural organic products. These beauty items range from body butter and bath salts to foot scrubs and facials. Being wrapped in a lovely box or reusable fabric bag, they are unique gifts for your friends and family members at home.
Bodia Cambodia Apothecary or Senteurs d’Angkor are among many shops in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, where you can treat yourself and buy all manners of natural skincare products like balms, lotions, soaps, massage oils and more. These products are paraben free, silicon free, colour free, sulfate free.
9. Kampot Pepper.
Kampot pepper is well known as some of the best pepper in the world and it’s used by top chefs all over the world. It is said that the cooler climate and super fertile soil in Kampot are the perfect conditions for growing this premium pepper. Grown in droves throughout this province, Kampot pepper comes in black, green, red and white varieties, with sharp bite, intense and distinctive flavour. To take the original organic peppers, just paying the visit to its authentic home in Kampot. It’s will be a lovely gift for your friends who are culinary connoisseurs.
10. Palm Sugar.
Palm tree is so abundant in Cambodia that it’s considered as the country’s symbolic image. Locals creatively make use of every part of the trees for many purposes, from timber, branches, leaves, to fruit and palm juice. Palm juice are boiled to make palm sugar – a popular Cambodian gift to take back home.
Taste of palm sugar is a bit similar to brown sugarcane but not too sweet, with a heavenly caramel hint. They are formed into round and brown tablets and sold in every local markets. This type of sugar has many health benefits and it also works well in many cooking recipes. Khmer often adds palm sugar into food to give a sweet taste.
When finding souvenirs in Cambodia, tourists can easily find a wide range of traditional products with reasonable rates in local markets. Meanwhile, specialist shops, handicraft boutiques and art galleries offers more expensive options but higher quality and more authentic souvenirs.