Artisans Angkor is a place I really didn’t have on my itinerary, but Tola, who works at the Moon Boutique Hotel advised me to go, i.e., he indicated it would be well worth my time. It was indeed!
Artisans Angkor is a Cambodian social business whose purpose is to create job opportunities for young people living in rural areas, while reviving at the same time traditional Khmer craftsmanship (stone and wood carving, painting on statues and on silk, lacquering, and silver plating). The organisation is located on Stung Thmey Street, 2 minutes walk from the Old Market in Siem Reap center, Cambodia. Two sites are open to the public in Siem Reap – one specializing in crafts located on Stung Thmey Street and the other specializing in silk at the Angkor Silk Farm (20mins drive from Siem Reap center, in Puok district). Seven shops selling handmade items made by Artisans Angkor can be found in Siem Reap center, at the Angkor Silk Farm, at the Angkor Café in front of Angkor Wat temple, in Phnom Penh city center and in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh International Airport as well.Artisans Angkor is a semi-public company whose story started in 1992 with an educational project called “Les Chantiers-Ecoles de Formation Professionnelle” (CEFP) implemented by the Cambodian Ministry of Education. This project aimed at rebuilding the country after the war period by training young people in the building sector, such as masonry, plumbing, tiling, painting, etc. Hence, “Les Chantiers-Ecoles de Formation Professionnelle” developed an educational methodology to provide those skills to underprivileged young Cambodians with little education.In the mid-1990s, this training was extended to traditional Khmer craftsmanship, as this essential part of the Khmer cultural heritage had almost disappeared. At the end of the training, there were many employment opportunities for the young people trained in the building sector but as the tourism was not yet well-developed in Cambodia at that time, it was more difficult to find a job in the field of handicrafts.
The entire self-guided tour takes about a 1-2 hours to complete, depending upon your interest in the various arts and crafts. At the end of the tour is a very nice gift shop (with air conditioning) and an outdoor cafe. I was impressed with how the place was laid out. All artisans and their art are easily observable/accessible, where you can ask questions if you feel like it.
The photos which follow are from my visit there. I’ve also included a few miscellaneous photos as well. So, this completes my posts for Angkor Wat and Siem Reap. Ironically, I have been in Phnom Penh for more then a week and I haven’t even begun any posts on this area. One last thing I want to mention. I visited an outstanding restaurant called Chamkar in Siem Reap which is vegan and vegetarian (are you listening Jerry?); and, the Moon Boutique Hotel. I usually don’t have links for other sites, but I am including the TripAdvisor links for both due to how much I enjoyed both. Yes, I did reviews for these outstanding businesses. 🙂