There’s no better way to discover local food and products of any country than by visiting one of their markets! While browsing through the small alleys, you can be overwhelmed by a plethora of colors, strange odors, and bizarre sounds, but you’ll be absolutely amazed at the affordable prices and how friendly the Khmer people are. You can walk away with even more tastier samples and souvenirs if you remember to haggle! Bargaining is okay in Cambodia!
Every neighborhood in Siem Reap has at least one market. Most of these markets are only frequented by locals for their basic food supplies and household items. However, there are a few that have a broader range of variety of products that attracts locals and tourists alike. We stopped by two of these main local markets in the morning time: Phsar Leu and Phsar Chas (The ‘Old Market’).
Psa Leu has more of a non-touristic feel to it. As you roam the narrow lanes and crazy wooden planks, you come across stalls that sell an array of exotic edibles; waterfowl, snakes, dried bugs, etc. There are areas that sell clothing and household goods, but they’re the type of things for the everyday Cambodian life and families. Psa Leu is not the ideal place for souvenir hunting. The morning was bustling with people and very crowed but it was great to be engulfed in their ritual morning market runs!
Phsar Chas (The ‘Old Market’)
The Old Market is said to probably be the most popular one in town, visited by both tourists and Cambodians. You can really tell a difference between here and Psa Leu! We pretty much only saw locals in the produce/food section. Around every other corner we’d run into another tourist! We discovered that tourists usually stop by for souvenir shopping and to try their hand at bargaining, while locals come for its wide range of ingredients used in the traditional Cambodian cuisine.
Only a two minutes walk from the Old Market, you will find Artisans Angkor. Named one of the best workshops in town, Artisans Angkor has a fascinating story behind its origins and creation. The company has developed from the belief that it is possible to revive ancient Khmer arts and crafts while improving the lives of thousands of people living in rural areas. They are dedicated to the preservation of traditional Khmer skills in silk-making, stone and wood carving, and lacquering and painting. On top of that, the company is also committed to promoting the development of individuals and securing their future by means of education and welfare.
Since the 1990’s when Cambodia was faced with having to rebuild its economy, so many young rural people faced a lack of opportunities. These jobs provide young craftsmen with an employment opportunity, while at the same time giving a possibility for them to work close to their homes. “Artisans Angkor is supporting the economic integration of young people in rural areas, which is helping to slow down rural depopulation and strengthen familial bonds.” This educational program is tailored to the country’s culture and traditions, enabling these people to earn a living with dignity. In addition, out of the 1,300 employees, 5% have disabilities. We were able to meet some these hard-working, skilled, and loving people on our tour of the workshop.
(For more information on this workshop and others, check out their English website at: artisansdangkor.com).
Our roots will forever be from here, America, born and raised. Yet, life requires us to move more frequently than we care to count. Whether living stateside or abroad, you can always find us traveling somewhere. We scout out places that you only think you can dream of one day seeing and we seek out those that aren’t found in guidebooks. We then bring them to life here in our travel memos, so hopefully, one day you too can visit them or at least be able to live vicariously through us. This blog isn’t just about crossing off places from a bucket list. It’s about absorbing and learning how other cultures grow and fit into the same world that we do. Life is short and the world is big. Enjoy and get out there!