Shopping in Siem Reap
Much of what is seen on sale in the markets of Siem Reap can also be purchased from children and vendors throughout the temple area. Some people get fed up with the end- less sales pitches as they navigate the ancient wonders, while others enjoy the banter and a chance to interact with Cambodian people.
Whatever your view, it may be an idea to buy at least some items out at the temples, as many of the families there are descendants of the original inhabitants of Angkor and arguably have more right than anyone to make a living from these spectacular monuments.
It’s often children out selling, and some visitors will argue that they should be at school instead. However, most do attend school at least half of the time, if their families can afford it.
Items touted at the temples include post-cards, T-shirts, temple bas-relief rubbings, curious musical instruments, ornamental knives and crossbows – the latter may raise a few eyebrows, with customs should you try to take one home! Bargain, but not too hard, and remember, you can’t bargain at the fixed price shops in town.
When it comes to shopping in town, the Psar Chaa market is well stocked with anything you may want to buy in Cambodia, and lots you don’t. Silver ware, silk, wood carvings, stone carvings, Buddhas, paintings, rubbings, notes and coins, T-shirts, table mats… the list goes on. There are bargains to be had if you haggle patiently and humorously. Do not buy old stone carvings that vendors claim are from Angkor. Whether or not they are real, buying these artifacts serves only to encourage their plunder and they will usually be confiscated by customs. Buy modern replicas and bury them in the garden for a few months – they will soon look the same.
Tel: 380354 – www.artisansdangkor.com
Sells high-quality souvenirs and its profits go to a cultural rehabilitation project.
Made in Cambodia
Add: opposite Psar Chaa
This is another shop with a higher purpose, specializing in quality silk products such as wallets, handbags, photo albums and the like. All profits are ploughed back into training and employment for members of Cambodia’s disabled community,
Tel: 760650 – Add: Ph Sivatha
Along similar lines to Made in Cambodia, with a beautiful range of silk scarves, cushion covers and throws to choose from. The proceeds go towards Tabitha projects like house building and well drilling.
Add: Bar St
Produces quirky wooden and metal ware objects, silver jewellery and. handmade cards, as well as selling local condiments such as lemongrass, pepper and coffee. The organization promotes fair trade and employment opportunities for Cambodians.
There are now lots of private handicraft, silk and souvenir shops in Siem Reap:
Opposite Psar Chaa; has an electric collection of silk, carvings, traditional beauty products and spices.
Tara & Kys Art Gallery
Add: near Psar Chaa
Has some interesting artwork, postcards and T-shirts featuring that icon of Angtor, Jayavarman VII.
Quality photos can be printed cheaply in Siem Reap, and digital shots downloaded onto CD. The best of the photographic shops is Siem Reap Thmei Photo (Ph Wat Bo), a large Fuji lab.