Siem Reap is a great place to buy Cambodia’s finest souvenirs and the town offers an array of different options. Whether you like to haggle on the market or prefer mooching around quirky boutiques, Siem Reap has it all. Make sure you look out for the NGO-based crafts available throughout the town, they make great gifts and a percentage of the profits go to worthwhile causes.
The ‘Angkor Night Market’ is by far the most exciting shopping experience in Siem Reap. With over 240 stalls selling traditional Cambodian handicrafts including silk, jewellery, clothing, photography, paintings & carvings, there is literally something for everyone. When the feet are tired and your spending spree is finished, tired shoppers can treat themselves to a relaxing massage or tickly fish foot spa in the grounds of the market. And if that’s not enough to entertain, the market also benefits from its very own food court offering an array of delicious cuisines and two stylish bars playing great tunes and serving ice cold beer and refreshing cocktails. For more information on the Angkor Night Market please check out the following website http://www.angkornightmarket.com/
If day time bargaining is what you’re after head to the ‘Old Market’ to secure yourself some great deals. Offering silverwork, traditional musical instruments, herbs, teas & spices this is by far the best place to get presents for your most culinary minded friends.
Senteurs d’Angkor located near Old Market sells a variety of products highlighting Cambodia’s aromatic fragrances. From lotus & orange handmade soap, jasmine body moisturiser to delicious lemongrass tea, Sentuers d’Angkor prides itself on producing 100% natural products that are all sourced and made locally. Employing over 100 women from rural areas, a visit to the Sentuers workshop is a great way to see how these products are made in such nice conditions.
If you’re looking to frame your memories of Cambodia head to the McDermott Gallery and marvel at the wonderful photography on offer. No other images quite capture the temples in the same way.
Other Great Activities
When you’re feeling ‘templed out’ and all the gift buying has been done why not check out some of Siem Reap’s other cool activities. There are plenty of great day time excursions you can go on, including an exciting visit to the nearby ‘floating villages’. Set on one of Asia’s biggest lakes and a prominent feature on the Cambodia map, the Tonle Sap is home for many Cambodian families. To get a real glimpse of river life, take a boat trip through Chong Khneas floating village and see how this amazing community lives. To get there, simply take a tuk-tuk to the Chong Khneas dock (11km) and a two-hour boat trip can be arranged for around $8.
The traditional silk farm located about 20 minutes from Siem Reap centre is an eye opening place to visit and offers guests the chance to experience a slice of the rural Cambodian silk industry. Set amongst fields of mulberry trees, this working factory farm produces some of the finest silk in the country. Entry is free of charge and the company offers free shuttle pickups and drop offs from their store in the town http://www.artisansdangkor.com/
If your schedule allows, set aside a day to get out of town and into the countryside where the vast majority of Cambodians live and work. Get a glimpse of the ‘real Cambodia’ – picturesque, bucolic scenery, rice paddies and water buffalos, countryside pagodas and little villages filled with traditional stilted houses. Either relax with the wind in your hair and let your tuk-tuk driver be the guide or do it the local way and take a bicycle.
No visit to Cambodia is complete without indulging in a traditional massage or pampering treatment. Siem Reap has an abundance of massage parlours catering for visitors but if you’re looking for something extra special head to Bodia Spa. Described as an oasis of tranquility, pampering and elegance, Bodia Spa truly is an experience you won’t quickly forget. The Silk & Cocoon package comes highly recommended.
If getting back in the saddle takes your fancy why not arrange a jungle bike adventure with Travel Loops to get the adrenaline pumping once more!
When the evening sets in its safe to say no visit to Cambodia is complete without attending at least one traditional Khmer dance performance. Often referred to as ‘Apsara Dance,’ Smile of Angkor is the number one dance performance in Southeast Asia. This spectacular show can be enjoyed every evening at 19:15pm – 20:25pm at the Smile of Angkor Grand Theatre.
Want to do something for a good cause? Then give blood at Javerman Children’s Hospital (Kantha Bopha), located just outside the town centre ($3 tuk-tuk ride). Its one of two free children’s hospital’s in Cambodia and is run by Dr. Beat Richner, who for the past 18 years has dedicated his time to children’s health in Cambodia. He also plays then cello and gives weekly one hour concerts and a lecture on the health issues in Cambodia (Friday & Saturday: 7.15pm). A vicinity in huge demand, the hospital is a busy place and desperately needs blood donations. They guarantee safe/sterile equipment and you get a free goody bag and t-shirt as a thank you! Open everyday, 9am-12am – 2pm-5pm. Please call for more information 063 963 409 or visit http://www.beat-richner.ch/
**Please do not visit an orphanage while in Cambodia. While some organizations may allow you to visit a vocational training site with young adults, any orphanage that allows outsiders to enter its grounds and interact with children for a short-time can actually be detrimental to the child’s psychosocial development.