Shopping in Cambodia


Everyone wants souvenirs of a memorable holiday. They have their memories and usually an album full of photographs yet on a Cambodia family tour there are many things worth buying, often specific to the country. Markets are a genuine experience anyway and buying local crafts helps the local economy. Why not spend to help a country that has offered so much during your Cambodia tour packages?

Local markets can be slightly confusing if you are not with someone speaking the language though you are likely to have a local guide on an organised tour so bargaining is not impossible unless you are shopping in your free time. Apart from the markets there are boutique shops as well as shopping centres, in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, but the real question is what you should look for?

The rise in tourist numbers has resultedin the revival for some local crafts because there is now more of a market for the goods. Local people have been encouraged by both government and aid organisations to display their talents of weaving and carving using raw materials such as wood, bamboo, rattan, cotton and silk.

Here are a few ideas for your shopping list on the Cambodia leg of Indochina tour packages:

shopping in cambodia

•    Basket weaving, plates and bowls are being made by women in villages who have probably grown their own raw materials.

•    Betel Nut Boxes come in many designs, some extremely ornate. The original boxes have a high content of silver but mass production, albeit still handmade, has slightly changed the stocks. The positive is that there are lightweight souvenirs that suit travellers.

•    Clothing ranges from T shirts to tailored clothing in Phnom Penh, all made to measure in no time at all.

•    Gold and precious stones are worth considering though you may need help in assessing the value. Sapphires, emeralds and rubies are mined locally though lacquer fakes are around as well. Your Cambodia travel agencyis able to advise you on where to buy. Certainly, if you are on Cambodia Vietnam tours buying in Cambodia certainly offers value

•    Silver has been used since the 11th Century in ceremony and religion. You can expect 70-80% silver in many of the items for sale both in towns, cities and local villages.

•    Temple rubbings on rice paper look great; frame them at home and mount them on your wall.

•    You cannot take antiques out of the country though sadly that has not stopped Cambodia losing many precious artefacts over the years. However, there are reproductions from local stone if you can carry the weight on your travels. Small bronze Buddhas are available although be careful if your next destination is Thailand because Thailand bans the export of Buddha images.

•    The Krama is the traditional scarf worn by many Cambodians. Its chequered design is pure Khmer, woven silk from dyed threads. There are places where you can watch weavers and buy at the time. The really prized silk products are the older ones, perhaps dating back several decades?

•    Wooden carvings also pose the question as to whether you have scope to carry the weight. It is possible, and secure, to buy and have heavy items shipped home for you. It does mean that if you like a piece of furniture and you buy from a reputable place then it can be in your home in the future. The cost of wooden items is very much dependent on the type of wood being used.

Shopping can be fun and certainly rewarding. Hopefully you don’t buy more than you can carry because it would be a shame to have to leave anything.