There’s no question that Angkor is one of the country’s most iconic brands, with advertisements adorning the outside of the wooden stilted homes that dot the country. That and the fact that most males can be seen clutching a can in their spare time. The brewery claims using pure spring water from the hills outside Sihanoukville is what makes it the country’s leading beer brand. As well as being well-stocked in all of Cambodia’s convenience stores and street-side sellers, it is readily available in bars and restaurants across the country.
Confirel is another homegrown brand whose reputation keeps on growing. With the ultimate aim of breathing new life into the sugar palm tree while generating more income for farmers, the company produces a range of palm sugar based products, including Thnot sugar and candies, and Jaya spirits, which makes a range of palm wines. Confirel also produces Kirum pepper and seasonings and KEM probiotics.
Injecting some serious style into drinking, Sombai produces cutely-bottled liqueur in Siem Reap – and it isn’t just any old liqueur. The collection of drinks takes in eight unique flavours, crafted from local ingredients. Think anise and coffee, coconut and pineapple, ginger and red chilli, and lemon and lemongrass, all served in hand-painted bottles wearing a miniature krama (Cambodian scarf) around the neck. The alcohol is given its flavour by infusing fruits and spices, following old Cambodian traditions. Visitors can take free tours of the workshop and indulge in free sampling sessions.
Sticking with the spirit theme, Samai is the country’s first and only rum distillery. The operation creates hand-crafted rum using locally-sourced ingredients. Options include the award-winning Kampot Pepper Rum, which scooped a top prize at the Madrid International Rum Conference 2017 and a bronze medal at the International Spirits Challenge 2017 in London. Bottles can be bought in various sizes and the drink is well-stocked in bars across the capital, with each giving it their own spin in a range of cocktails. Samai’s distillery also opens its doors to the public every Thursday evening, with DJs carrying on the party until about midnight.
Coco Khmer’s range of chemical-free, virgin coconut oil products make the perfect present to take home. Snapping up coconuts from rural communities and farmers, the business creates coconut oil made and packaged by hand. This can be eaten raw or cooked, or used on the skin and hair. It also produces a delightful range of coconut-based everyday products that includes body scrubs, lip balm and body balms.
Rice is a staple in the Cambodian diet come morning, noon and night, and Ibis Rice is making a name for itself, not just in Cambodia but across the globe. The not-for-profit conservation enterprise works with 1,000 local farming families to produce organic jasmine rice. It also works to conserve Cambodia’s national bird, the critically-endangered giant ibis as well as a range of other species in 500,000 hectares of forest and wetland it protects. The rice is certified as organic to European and US standards, and farmers are paid 50 percent more than the market rate.
Anyone who is someone in high Cambodian society has attended an event at least once in their lives wearing an outfit designed by Romyda Keth. As Phnom Penh’s leading haute couture boutique, the beautiful villa that houses her latest collections is colour-coded throughout. Romyda was born in Cambodia and grew up in Paris, and her designs span the spectrum, both in colour, materials and style.
Since 2006, Smateria has been creating a range of bags, all hand-crafted from upcycled and recycled materials, including plastic bags, recycled leather, fishing nets and upcycled fabrics from the country’s many garment factories. It also trains and employs disadvantaged women. They also sell a range of accessories.
Started in 2009 as a lone coffee shop on the capital’s Street 214 by five young Cambodian high school friends, Brown Coffee quickly captured the imagination of the country’s young population. Today it takes in 16 outlets, all packed round the clock with young Cambodians swigging on iced coffees or teas. This is Cambodia’s version of Starbucks, and it looks like the Brown journey has only just begun, with plenty of expansion plans in the pipeline.
Using locally-sourced products, Senteurs d’Angkor produces a range of hand-crafted products that will delight the senses. From coconut-based soaps made using traditional techniques and perfumed massage oils, body creams and scrubs, to flavoured tea and coffee from the northeastern province of Ratanakiri to rice alcohol made in Siem Reap, it’s little wonder this brand has become well-known throughout Cambodia. Visitors can take a free tour of its Siem Reap workshop.
This innovative local company creates jewellery made from recycled brass ammunition. The collections span delicate earrings, bold rings and chunky necklaces to striking pendants. While filming Angelina Jolie’s First They Killed My Father in the country, the film’s stunt crew commissioned Ammo to create 10 pendants, and as a way of thanking Jolie for shedding international light onto the conflict that crippled the country, Ammo gave her a brass hair pin. Visitors can take a free tour of the Siem Reap showroom and have a go at making bullet jewellery.