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By The Native Team October 5, 2020 • 5 min read

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Tourists usually flock to Siem Reap to explore the ruins of Angkor, most notably the Angkor Wat. While that is well worth your time, the capital of Cambodia also has a bustling arts scene that you can discover during your trip there. We’ve narrowed down some places for you to get the most out of Cambodian arts and culture - from folk storytelling shows and dances to local art markets, we’ve got you covered for your next trip to Siem Reap! 

Garavek storytelling

Garavek storytelling performance
Garavek storytelling performance | © Traditional Storytelling Theatre Cambodia

Sit back, relax and enjoy as you learn more about the history of the ancient Khmer Empire and the Angkor Wat through the art of traditional Garavek storytelling! Immerse yourself in the myths and traditions of Cambodia, which the multi-talented performers will reenact with the help of the srlai, khloy and samphor, three traditional musical instruments. Get your cultural insights and joyful entertainment at these shows, which are held daily at 6.30pm in downtown Siem Reap! Each show lasts for about 45 minutes, and you can purchase your tickets in advance online.

Artisans Angkor – Les Chantiers Écoles

Wood carving at Artisans Angkor
Wood carving at Artisans Angkor | © Artisans Angkor

Another company with a social focus, Les Chantiers Écoles imparts wood- and stone-carving techniques, traditional silk painting, lacquerware, among other kinds of creative skills to disadvantaged youths in Cambodia. Artisans Angkor is the on-site shop that also aims to revive traditional Cambodian art after it was suppressed by Pol Pot during the Khmer Rouge. Guided tours around their workshop in downtown Siem Reap are free, and as this company also maintains the Angkor Silk Farm, you can easily travel to and fro by shuttle bus.

Artisans Angkor

Opens daily, 7.30am - 6.30pm

Chantiers-Ecoles Stung Thmey, Street, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Silk Farm

Artisans at works at the silk farm
Artisans at works at the silk farm | © The Textile Atlas

Just 20 minutes away from downtown Siem Reap lies Angkor Silk Farm, a delightful place that’s located amidst lush mulberry trees. There, you can embark on a free guided tour of the place, during which your guide will elaborate more on the process of making silks, which starts with the mulberry trees that surround you. You can also witness talented local artisans weaving silk before your eyes, working tirelessly to produce creations of the highest quality. If their work catches your fancy, get a small souvenir at the shop! 

Angkor Silk Farm

Opens daily 8am - 5pm

Airport Road Puok District, Siem Reap 17259 Cambodia

Cambolac, Art for the People

Crafts on display in the shop
Crafts on display in the shop | © Cambolac, Art for the People

Cambolac is a Cambodian social enterprise that focuses primarily on designing and manufacturing lacquer handicrafts. As a social organisation that aims to alleviate poverty, many Cambolac employees are workers who come from more vulnerable and low-income populations. Furthermore, the lacquerware sold are also made by hearing-impaired young adults, whom Cambolac also employ to bring visitors around their store. Who knows, you might be able to pick up some Khmer sign language while you’re there! 

Cambolac, Art for the People

Opens daily 7am - 5pm

No. 196, Slorkram Village, Slorkram Commune, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia

Theam’s House

Theam’s House
Theam’s House | © Siemreap.net

This young gallery opened its doors to the public in 2011, and is run by brother-sister duo Maddy and Lim Muy Theam. Theam is a visual artist, who had studied and lived in France as a refugee during the genocide. Upon returning to Cambodia, he had decided to learn more about Khmer art and culture to help rebuild his home country, and Theam House is the fruit of his labour. While the ground floor is home to the art workshop, the Theam and his family live on the upper floors in true Khmer tradition. Do look out for some of Theam’s large paintings and interesting historical objects from his travels! 

Theam’s House

Opens daily 8am - 6pm

Veal Village, Phum Kokchack district, 50m on the right of, Street 30, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia

The Divine Sala: Sacred Dancers of Angkor

Sacred Dancers of Angkor
Sacred Dancers of Angkor | © Sacred Dancers of Angkor : NKFC

The Divine Sala features the Apsara dance, a traditional dance of the Kingdom of Cambodia that is extremely enchanting. The Divine Sala is the original Apsara dance performance in Siem Reap, and is supported by UNESCO and Her Royah Highness Princess Buppha Devi. Here you’ll see these sacred dancers perform myths and legends of the Mahabarata and Ramayana. Most of these dancers are female, with male dancers playing the roles of the Warrior Monkey. Be entranced by these elegant dancers, who perform simply in classy silk costumes with elaborate crowns and flowers by their hands and feet. Be prepared for a mesmerising time.

The Divine Sala: Sacred Dancers of Angkor

Performances every Wednesday and Sunday, 7pm - 8pm

234 River Rd, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia

One Eleven Gallery

One Eleven Gallery
One Eleven Gallery | © One Eleven Gallery

Gallery lovers will love One Eleven Gallery, which prides itself on being the only gallery in Siem Reap to display art from all around the world. It is centrally located between Old Market and Wat Damnak Village, so it should be relatively easy to find. More importantly, a wide array of art is displayed here, and you’ll probably get to learn more about international artists you wouldn’t otherwise encounter. You can also get to meet plenty of like-minded travellers or expats who come here to appreciate art while sipping on the gallery’s signature cocktails.

One Eleven Gallery

Opens daily, 10am - 10pm

7 Makara St, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia

Pottery Class at Khmer Ceramics and Fine Arts Centre

Pottery class at Khmer Ceramics and Fine Arts Centre
Pottery class at Khmer Ceramics and Fine Arts Centre | © Khmer Ceramics

Itching for something more hands-on than just visiting galleries? Head on down to Khmer Ceramics and Fine Arts Centre, or Khmer Ceramics Centre for short, and enrol yourself in a pottery class! During your class, you’ll learn how to operate a pottery wheel and use Khmer carving tools to fashion your own bowl from local clay under the watchful eye of a local artist. It makes for a great souvenir that is unique and distinct from typical tourist keychains and shirts, and is something you can really call your own! It’s also great fun for the kids, who are always eager to play with something new. For couples, this is the perfect way to make artistic and meaningful gifts for each other all while having a blast.

Khmer Ceramics and Fine Arts Centre

Opens daily, 8am - 8pm

0207, River Road, Treang Village, Khum Slorkram, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia

Ammo Jewellery Workshop

Jewellery set from Ammo
Jewellery set from Ammo | © Ammo

Ammo is another social enterprise based in Siem Reap that aims to equip impoverished youth with useful skills. It offers something different from lacquerware and silks. Instead, it focuses on teaching youths how to create unique jewelry items made of silver and recycled brass bullet casings (hence its name!). You can attend one of their workshops and make some bullet jewelry yourself, learning more about Cambodia’s past in the process. Otherwise, you can always shop from their unique collection of handmade jewelry, which you surely can’t find elsewhere!

Ammo Jewellery Workshop

Open weekdays, 9am - 5pm (closed from 11am - 1pm for lunch)

CRAFT SIEM REAP, #120 Wat Bo Road, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Made in Cambodia Market

Stall owners at Made in Cambodia Market
Stall owners at Made in Cambodia Market | © Made in Cambodia Market

If you want to purchase more local craft, make your way down to Made in Cambodia Market at King’s Road Angkor to do some shopping. This market features rows of stalls selling local arts and crafts, with the ultimate aim to help Cambodians in need through job creation and handicraft sales. You can rest assured that the products sold here are all made locally and that you’re supporting local artisans with every purchase. The vendors are known to be friendly, and not too pushy, so you’ll also have a pleasant shopping experience! This is definitely a great place for you to get a unique handmade silk scarf or woven bag to bring back home.

Made in Cambodia Market

Opens daily, 12pm - 10pm

King’s Road Angkor, Street 27, Achar Sva St, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia

Embark on your discovery of Khmer arts and culture right here in Siem Reap! With this many forms of art for you to explore in Siem Reap, your inner art aficionado will always be engaged. If you’re still seeking new and refreshing experiences in Siem Reap, check out our guide to 10 unique activities to do when you’re in town!

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The Native Team


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