When travelling through South East Asia, it can always be difficult to know where the souvenirs you purchase are made, and by whom. There is more of a shift nowadays towards ethical and responsible purchases, where both the maker and the consumer benefit. If you are travelling to Siem Reap, we have a few suggestions on where you can shop ethically. An added bonus is that you can purchase our handicrafts made by the sewing graduates from Human and Hope Association at all these wonderful shops!
Phare, the Cambodian Circus – Phare is a social enterprise that puts on nightly performances with live music, circus and often painting. The energy of the performances is incredible, with the circus performers having studied at Phare Ponleu Selpak, a performing arts school in Battambang. Their boutique store has an incredible range of ethically made products, and feature art from the graduates of the Visual and Applied Arts School at Phare Ponleu Selpak, liquor from Sombai and wooden carvings from Artisans d’Angkor. You can also pick up some Phare branded t-shirts, water bottles and music after you see the awe-inspiring show.
Peace Café – This vegetarian restaurant along the peaceful river in Siem Reap has a dedicated fair trade shop. Here you can buy items such as books, cards, pottery, children’s paintings, scarfs, clothing, skin care products and foods from organisations. By purchasing from the organisations who make these products, you are providing an income to the makers and also supporting the organisations with the profits.
Soria Moria Boutique Hotel – Located on the popular Wat Bo Road, Soria Moria is unique in that the local employees have become majority owners of the business. They are a social driven organisation that apply market-based strategies to achieve a social purpose, where part of their surpluses is invested back into the local Siem Reap Community. You will find a large range of ethically made products from various organisations in the lobby at Soria Moria, so make sure you stop by there for sunset happy hour between 5 pm and 7 pm.
Very Berry – Located in a cute little alley in Siem Reap town, Very Berry sells a varied range of products from local organisations and also the owner. Here you can find bamboo baskets, jams, hand-woven scarfs, coconut-oil based skin products and knitted toys. Very Berry runs on the concept of ‘natural and ethical’, so you definitely won’t be disappointed when visiting!