Look around and you’ll see cheap products everywhere in Cambodia: jewelry, silk scarves, bags, and oh so many Elephant pants. But most of those products aren’t made in Cambodia—or even unique to Cambodia—they come from sweat-shop factories in China and Vietnam and are shipped all over southeast Asia. As a visitor to the Kingdom of Wonder, your tourist dollars are a great way to support the local economy.
We get it, you’re on a budget, but that shouldn’t mean you can’t buy according to your values. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of some of the best fair trade shopping in Cambodia. These unique Cambodian brands are eco-friendly, ethically made, and support fair local employment. And all of them have great gifts for travelers on a budget.
Cambodia Knits Shop
For the young (or young at heart) on your gift list, this shop carries high-quality, locally handmade soft toys, including Apsara or Hanuman dolls, and Beebee+Bongo brand toys. Cambodia Knits is a provisional World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) member, meaning they follow the 10 principles of fair trade, treat their workers fairly and act with mother earth in mind.
Product: Elephant Key Chain $6.
Product: Beebee the Water Buffalo $15
Web: www.beebeeandbongo.com and www.cambodiaknits.com
Dai Khmer is a social business that supports women in Cambodia through producing handmade natural products that use local super fruits and herbs. It’s a great place for plastic-free options for soaps, shampoos, and other products. AND it’s the only spot in the country to find locally produced, zero-waste brand Tonlé (https://tonle.com/).
Product: Aloe vera night cream 3.95$
This beloved local brand has been making upcycled bags and accessories for over a decade. They have the perfect travel pouches to help you organize the odds and ends in your backpack. These use end of the roll mosquito netting, so your purchase is not only contributing to employment in Cambodia, but keeping waste out of the landfill too. Win-win-win.
Product: Travel pouch made with mosquito netting $6
Bumblebee makes luxury handmade natural soap and beauty products, as well as soaps designed for hygiene in the developing world. The soaps feature premium virgin coconut oil made in Cambodia by Coco Khmer, Italian olive oil and silky smooth Australian castor oil. Bumble Soaps enable Cambodians to develop their own futures through education and employment and 100% of product sales are reinvested in their social mission.
Product: Shampoo Bar $5.5
VillageWorks was the first local producer to be officially certified fair trade by the World Fair Trade Organization. They support Cambodians with disabilities to live with dignity and self-sufficiency. They invented the upcycled cement bag products which you can buy with funky images of a Camel or upcycled fish bags. Both products are long lasting, unique, and sewn with superior quality.
Product: Change purse: $3
Product: Cement Messenger Bag: $20
FAIR WEAVE is a local brand offering consciously-made handwoven textiles. All of their products are 100% natural, including their dyes which they make themselves. Most FAIRWEAVE products are higher-priced, so this may be the place to visit for the present for your mom, but they also have smaller pieces that will fit in your budget, like their cute silk scrunchies which are natural dyed and 100% silk.
Product: Silk Scrunchie $6
Visiting Domlei is worth it just for the venue alone. Located in a funky, traditional shophouse near the old market, it shares the space with other artists and brands. Domlei makes cool clothing and is beloved for their super fun handblock prints of durians, tuk tuks, and more. They work with Cambodian craftspeople to provide employment opportunities.
Products: Handblock printed pouches $4-$8
The best pair of Espadrilles you’re going to find in SEAsia. Unique and so well priced at $20-$25 a pair. These are locally and fairly made and pack up easy in a backpack.
You’ll find a treasure trove of items at Artisans and Designers on Street 240 from locally dyed, woven and sewn clothing, scarves and throws to unique jewelry and house accessories that make perfect gifts for family back home.
Product: Bangles $10