Shopping in Cambodia
Shopping in Cambodia is another best thing to do besides sightseeing. It have been always good bring souvenir, you would need to consider something native or perhaps something you may start a conversation over.
Cambodian textile materials and fine silk pieces are world renown. Moreover, Cambodia is a treasure store for carvings, sculptures, silverwork and paintings. There are just a lot of things to shop for here in Cambodia.
Hand-woven Cambodian silks, wood carvings, stone carvings, castings, statues, contemporary Cambodian art, Cambodian handicrafts, traditional musical instruments, silver betel containers, temple rubbings, colored gems and basketry are among the most popular souvenirs. The most useful and one of the cheapest souvenirs that you may buy is a traditional checkered Cambodian scarf (Krama). If you do not mind looking like a tourist, wear it around your neck like the locals to keep the intense tropical sun off the back of your neck.
What to buy
Cambodian Silk – Cambodian silks are prized and recognized by silk collectors worldwide. Most of the silk available in Cambodia is hand-loomed using the traditional method of dying the threads and looming in the patterns. Both raw and fine silks are available in the form of sarongs, bolts, clothing and other types of handicrafts. Cambodian silk is available at the Russian Market, silk shops and boutiques across town, many specializing in silk creations such as tailored Asian and Euro-Asian fashions, soft furnishings and fashion accessories.
Silverwork – Silver areca nut containers are well-known traditional souvenirs. These pounded silver containers are ordinarily shaped as animals, fruits and vegetables. It were and to some degree still are used in ceremonial and everyday life to hold dried areca nut. Areca nut, also known as ‘betel nut,’ is a gentle stimulant that is chewed as one chews tobacco. You may notice some older women and people in the countryside by their teeth as it stained black from years of chewing areca. In present day, the silver containers are made primarily for souvenirs but still hand crafted using traditional techniques and styles.
Statues and Carvings – Statues and carvings of traditional subjects are available in stone, wood and brass. It is often replicas of Angkorian-era works as well as Buddhas and various Hindu gods and personages. Statues make for relatively heavy and bulky souvenirs, yet are still very popular because of their beauty and artistic value. The statue of the bust of Jayavarman VII with its graceful lines and peaceful smile is truly captivating and maybe the most popular piece.
Art – Over the last few of years, Cambodia’s art scene has begun to boom as a new generation of Cambodian artists takes the front.
Gems – Western part of Cambodia, particularly in the area of Pailin, is a fertile source of gems, particularly sapphires and rubies. Gem dealers can be found at the Central Market and Russian Market. You should know something about gems and your jeweler before spending much money.
Shopping in Siem Reap
Siem Reap is a suitable place to buy Cambodian souvenirs, handicrafts, silks, textiles and contemporary art. Only Phnom Penh offers a comparable selection. Over the last few of years there has been an explosion of new shops, as well as to the tradition shopping venues, galleries and boutiques, offering a varied selection of quality handicrafts and silks in addition to original artistic creations in a variety of media.
Phsar Chas (Old Market) is one of Siem Reap’s largest traditional markets and offers the largest selection of souvenirs under one roof in the city. In fact, this market is really a ‘must visit’ in itself for the unique, colorful and local shopping experience. Of all the local markets, the Old Market offers the widest variety of souvenirs and the best selection of handicrafts and rare objects, including such items as traditional silverwork, baskets, silks, statuary, carvings and traditional musical instruments.
Angkor Night Market is new night market promises an interesting after hours shopping venue at night.
Other individual small boutiques, art and photo galleries around the city also tend to offer higher quality, more unique and sophisticated selections of items than the Old Market. Some focus on Cambodian silks and tailoring. Some focus on NGO-based crafts, high quality handicrafts, Asian-inspired photographic, artistic creations and specialty items such as local candles, teas and spices. A new generation of Cambodian artists is making its mark and contemporary Cambodian art is coming to the future after decades of silence.
Shopping in Phnom Penh
Central Market (Phsar Thmey) – The unique yellow domed Phsar Thmey, which is also known as the “Central Market”, is a must see, both as a historic and architecturally charming building and as a shopping destination. The Central Market is a good place to pick up books, souvenirs, gems and jewelry. Souvenir seller line the entrance walkway offering silverwork, statuary, silk, handicrafts, kramas, carvings, photocopy books, postcards and the largest selection of souvenir T-shirts and caps. The central dome of the main building accommodates an amazing display of jewelry and gems.
Russian Market (Phsar Toul Tom Poung) – Of all the traditional markets, the Russian Market offers the largest selection of curios, souvenirs and other items of attraction to the visitor. The south part is the place to begin your shopping campaign, lined inside and out with stalls selling handicrafts, carvings, silks, fabrics, curios, CDs and inexpensive electronic devices. This market provides the largest selection of bootlegged VCDs and DVDs in town and the vendors are located near the southeast entrance. There are also several fabric seller. It is also a good place to pick up fabric to take to the tailor. It was named as Russian Market because it became the foreigner’s market during the 1980’s while most of the foreigners were Russians.