It can be difficult to find the right gifts to take home from a holiday, whether you’re buying for yourself or for friends, family, and loved ones. Striking the right balance between personal and practical, and original but not overly corny, can turn the whole gift- and souvenir-buying experience into a stressful chore.
But it needn’t be that way: Siem Reap is blessed with countless independent boutiques packed with original, thoughtful and ethically traded souvenirs that you’ll be desperate to find space for in your suitcase. These are the gifts we would take home (including plenty for ourselves!) if we were on a short trip to Siem Reap.
Custom-made silverware by In My Name
Right here at Baby Elephant, silversmith Claire McKenzie and her apprentice Srey Neap are our first artists in residence, working under the name (excuse the pun!) In My Name Silver to produce a beautiful range of lovingly handmade and custom-designed silver jewellery. A pendant, ring or other piece of silverware made to order featuring a memorable Khmer word makes the perfect souvenir to remind you of your time in Siem Reap, or to give someone back home a slice of your experiences in Cambodia. For something next-level, In My Name Silver also runs two-hour silver-making workshops that let you get to grips with the mastery yourself.
Eco-friendly bamboo straws at Baby Elephant
Among our favourite items to buy when visiting Cambodia are these ultra eco-friendly bamboo straws, to replace the waste-creating plastic you probably slurp your cocktails through at the moment. These elegant bamboo alternatives last a lifetime, only need a quick rinse or a more thorough wash with vinegar before you can use them again, and add a twist of intrigue to your drinks. That’s why we not only use them at the Baby Elephant bar but also have a huge stash of them at home – and we now even stock them at the Baby Elephant gift shop, too! If you book direct for your stay with us, you will also receive one per person as a free welcome gift from us.
Elephant statue by Theam’s House
We couldn’t very well call ourselves Baby Elephant Boutique Hotel if we didn’t recommend stopping by Theam’s House – local artist Lim Muy Theam’s own home and living gallery, well worth taking a look around in itself for his extensive collection of artwork – to pick up one of the beautiful lacquer elephant statues, crafted and painted by his team of artisans and available in a range of colours. Needless to say, we have one at the hotel, too!
Kampot pepper from Starling Farm
The pepper from Cambodia’s southern Kampot province is prizes by foodies the world over. If you’re not going to make it to Kampot during your trip to Cambodia, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out – even if you go no further than Siem Reap, make sure you end up with some Kampot pepper in your case on the way home. Here in Siem Reap, head to the Starling Farm shop on Street 7 for some of the best Kampot pepper you’ll find, right from their own pepper farm in Kampot.
Rice spirits by Sombai
The couple behind Sombai take Cambodia’s famously heady rice spirit and infuse it with locally sourced and inspired herbs and other flavours to produce 11 different flavours of uniquely Cambodian spirits that make the perfect gift or souvenir to take home at the end of your stay in Siem Reap – and which come with real herbs shoved inside the kitsch bottles for added flavour.. Pick from the likes of a concoction of Cambodian star anise and coffee beans from Ratanakiri province, or the sweet and spicy mango and green chilli. As part of a wider range, they now also produce the intriguing Abacaxi, a fruit-forward liqueur made with pineapple and famous red Kampot pepper.
Knick-knacks from Old Market
If you’re anything like us, you love loading up on the kind of irresistible knick-knacks, especially local kitchenware, that you come across at markets on your travels – and in the process end up sending the weight of your luggage soaring dangerously close to your allowance. If that’s the case, you’ll be in your element picking out the likes of lacquer bowls, gorgeous wooden salad spoons and forks, and chopsticks, and plenty more, at the myriad of Siem Reap markets waiting for you to discover. Head to favourites like Old Market or Psar Leu and shop your heart out.
Ethical mementos from the Baby Elephant gift shop
As part of a recent refresh of our interiors, we have now added a miniature gift shop to the Baby Elephant lobby – and we’ve loaded it with adorable, unmissable, ethically produced gifts that we want you to be able to discover. From brass earrings, mandala charms and sterling silver by In My Name Silver, to custom Baby Elephant cooking aprons with tropical print pockets made by NGO Friends International, plus zip wallets, bamboo drinking straws, handbags, and swimwear by Australian brand Bombshell Bay – we’ve got just about anything and everything you could want to take home from your Siem Reap adventure, all of it screaming ‘ethical, beautiful, and boutique’ from the rooftops.
Which gifts and souvenirs have you taken home after a trip to Siem Reap? Let us know in the comments!
Photos by Chris Wotton; Baby Elephant Boutique Hotel; In My Name Silver at Baby Elephant Boutique Hotel; Bill Rand; ePi.Longo; Baby Elephant Boutique Hotel