From finely crafted knives to custom-made artwork to jewellery made out of unexploded bombs, here’s 30 great gift ideas to make your Cambodian present shopping a breeze
Paper Mache statues
For a twist on the usual Angkorian statuettes, IChing offers intricate paper mache sculptures produced by Takeo-based artists. Choices include Ganesha, Jayavarman VII, Suryavarman II and others from $20-$45.
IChing Decor, #85 Sothearos Boulevard. Tel: 023 220 873
From cutlery to ornate Japanese tantos, Citadel Knives has all things sharp made by Cambodian artisans from high-carbon steel. A steak knife with a bamboo handle costs $160, but expect to pay four figures for the samurai-style swords. Be mindful that some people, especially within the Asia-Pacific region, have superstitions about receiving knives as presents. This can be avoided by “selling” them the gift for 100 riel.
Citadel Knives and Swords, #10 Street 110. Tel: 012 802 676.
Among the finest items at boutique deli Khema is white truffle oil from France’s Château d’Estoublon ($46.90), which comes with extra virgin olive oil, and the Périgord black truffle paste for $72.20 per 45 gram jar.
Khema, 1st floor of Aeon Mall, Sothearos Boulevard. Tel: 089 233 888
For a steamy Turkish delight, take a loved one to the first and only Hamam in the country. After sweating in the sauna, hit the milder steam room where you will be scrubbed head to toe by a rough mitt and lathered in bubbly oil. Afterward, dip into the cold pool to complete the bath. Costs $25 for 60 minutes.
Best Western River Palace, National Road 5. Tel: 023 988 777.
Fine, authentic cuts of Cambodian gemstones from D Hindley can add a bit of bling to your holiday. Gems range from lemon quartz set in a silver ring ($60) to cut Pailin rubies ($1,200). The 18-karat gold and sterling silver is made on site.
D Hindley, #9 Street 184. Tel: 012 327 107.
Treat someone special with an $18 manicure and/or pedicure voucher. Cha Nails have a wide range of colours and designs, perfect for your New Year’s Eve party.
Cha Nails, #46 Street 352. Tel: 023 987 789.
Aero Cambodia offers ultralight flights around the Angkor Archaeological Park. Tours start at $75 for a 20-minute tour of the area, while $225 will get you an hour tour of the temples, Tonle Sap Lake, and surrounding countryside.
Aero Cambodia. Web: aerocambodia.com.
CameraHub has you covered for cameras, from cheap compacts to high-end pros. The trusty Canon IXUS 145 goes for $99, while the photojournalist favourite Canon D5 Mark III is $2,850 with a 24-105mm lenses.
#230-232 Monivong Boulevard. Tel: 023 992 888.
Smateria uses recycled fishing nets and old motorcycle seat covers to make their colourful and stylish bags. From large shoulder bags to coin purses, they come in all shapes, sizes and prices.
Smateria #8E0 Street 57 and #7 Street 178. Tel: 023 211701.
Garden of Desire isn’t the place to come for stocking fillers. But if you’re in the market to splash out on something special, Ly Pisith’s silver-heavy collection offers up a smorgasbord of gifts to treasure. Necklaces range from $80 to $680, rings from $68 to $165 and earrings $55 to $136.
Garden of Desire, #33 Street 178. Web: gardenofdesire-asia.com.
Samba has a wide range of cigars from Cuban Romeo y Julieta Churchills to Don Diego Robustas from the Dominican Republic. Prices start from $7.20
Samba, #64 Sihanouk Boulevard. Tel: 023 222 599.
Street art canvases
Phnom Penh street artists Peap Tarr and Lisa Mam are more than happy to trade alleyways for canvases. Prices for commissions start from $150.
Peap Tarr. Email: [email protected].
Soothing coconut oil
You can use it in your cooking, you can use it on your skin, Coco Khmer’s Virgin Coconut Oil ($12.50 for 500 ml) is a guaranteed hit. They also make coconut oil soaps, lip balm, tiger balm and scrubs or deodorants.
Green O Farm, #216CD, Street 63. Tel: 023 6522 999
Handcrafted Recycled Jewellery
Handcrafted from recycled bombs by underprivileged Cambodians, Rajana’s intricately designed pendants, bracelets, necklaces, earrings and rings come in a variety of designs, symbolising peace and love. Bracelets range from $28, necklaces $16.75, rings are $14.
Rajana, #170 Street 450. Tel: 023 993 642.
Nothing beats the satisfaction of bulk present purchasing. Custom make 10 shirts with your face, a cartoon, a personal joke, the options are endless. Logo embroidery offered. $5 for 10 shirts.
Angkor Wat Printing and Embroidery, #36Eo Norodom Boulevard. Tel: 017 499 900.
Trendy Western Fashions
Fashioner is the place for legit Western-brand clothes for both women and men; bikinis from Cotton On, shorts from Top Man, skirts from Top Shop, dresses from Mango and more.
Fashioner, #42E0 Street 432. Tel: 077 576 888.
Featuring insightful analysis and first-hand reporting, journalist Sebastian Strangio’s Hun Sen’s Cambodia is a perfect primer for those wanting to understand the ins and outs of the modern Cambodian political scene. It’s $27.50 at Monument Books.
Monument Books, #111 Norodom Boulevard, Phnom Penh. Tel: 023 217 617
Rev head accessories
Moto Cambodge started out fixing up motorbikes but have since opened up their own bar, Hangar 44 in Bassac Lane, and now do branded accessories. So far, they have slick men’s and women’s tees ($25) with a quintessentially Cambodian print, leather goods including card/money holders ($12), wristbands ($12) and key fobs ($12). Caps ($25) are soon to come.
Hangar 44, Bassac Lane. Tel: 085 232 137.
Phnom Boutique – which stocks locally designed and made vintage-style clothes and accessories – is having a 50 per cent off Christmas sale, with gorgeous delicate Mandarin Collar dresses, cute polka-dot dresses, unisex shorts and singlets, exotic sarong dresses and more.
Phnom Boutique, 240 ½ Alleyway (above Public House). Tel: 077 809 385.
Online retailer 1700° Fahrenheit’s range of unexploded ordnance upcycled into jewellery includes lotus seed-inspired necklaces ($60), Khmer script earrings ($45) and fisherman’s basket pendants ($70).
1700° Fahrenheit. Web: 1700f.com or facebook.com/1700f
Funky nick nacks
What Trunkh’s “cool Khmer eclectica” may lack in utility is more than made up for in novelty: catfish pillows ($25), tea towels printed with old Cambodian signage ($20), cotton party shirts ($40) and heaps more. Having moved to a new location, Trunkh will be open seven days a week until Christmas. There will also be a pop-up store sale on Saturday.
Trunkh, #180 Street 13. Tel: 012 812 476.
For the geek in your life, the best place for gifts in Phnom Penh is the Sweet Memory store, which stocks a range of Google and Kindle gadgets. New stock includes the latest Kindle Paperwhite ($179) and Kindle Touch ($109) and the Google Chromecast ($45), which lets you stream online content such as YouTube to your television.
Sweet Memory Store, #689 Eo, Monivong Boulevard. Web: sweetmemorystore.com.
Designer guys’ threads
Kool As U specialises in men’s fashion with all clothes designed and made on site by owner Ou Kosal and his team. The shop is the place to go for basic T-shirts in lightweight, comfortable fabrics ($14). He also does custom tailoring and will do minor modifications to purchases for free.
Kool As U, #141 Street 19. Tel: 012 735 991.
Limited edition Cambodian pop art prints
Sticky Fingers have a new home at Space Four Zero where they sell their much-loved limited edition Cambodian pop art prints ($50-$60), T-shirts, CDs and vinyl (all $10 and up). Pop in on Friday and Saturday afternoons until Christmas for their “art happy hour” sales with 20 per cent off everything accompanied by great music and free beer.
Space Four Zero, #40 Street 118. Tel: 069 571 100.
Friends ‘N’ Stuff’s bicycle bags ($8.50-$10) are a great gift for the cyclist in your life. Not only are they waterproof and thief-resistant, they also brighten up an old bike nicely. They come in a range of patterns and colours and the latest designs have sweet quotes such as “life is a beautiful ride”.
Friends ‘N’ Stuff, #215, Street 13.
Senteurs D’Angkor Fruitbox Candles
Scented candles – the old reliable last-minute fall-back. Senteurs d’Angkor has some of the best. The candles come in a variety of bright colours with scents including lemongrass, jasmine and green tea.
Senteurs d’Angkor, #33 Street 178. Silver fruitbox candles $13.
Massage at Spa Bliss
Treat someone in your life to a soothing massage at Bliss. Their 60-minute massages range from $22 for the Essence of Bliss, deep tissue to improve circulation and speedup detoxification, to $44 for the Four Hand massage, with two therapists working at once.
Spa Bliss, #29 Street 240.
An ideal gift for a cooking fanatic, La Table Khmere offers three-course cooking classes in a relaxed, friendly environment. Classes go for about three hours, include a trip to the market and cost $19-$20.
La Table Khmere, #11E Street 278. Bookings: 012 238 068.
Tour options include central Phnom Penh, new Khmer architecture of the 1960s, old houses, villas and apartments including the iconic White Building and more. All tours conducted in English and led by local architects and architecture students.
For bookings: [email protected]. Tours range from $8 to $15.
Know someone who needs a timeout? Get them a couple of nights at the Tama Hotel, which has everything from cute one-person, pod-like rooms with loft beds, to deluxe rooms with city views. Prices range from $39.25 to $117.80.
Tama Hotel, 22nd floor, Phnom Penh Tower, #455 Monivong Boulevard. Tel: 023 964 020.