Templed-out? You won’t have been the first person to have been overwhelmed by the number of Angkorian ruins to take in. Angkor Silk Farm is just one of the antidotes available to help balance out the historical with the contemporary — it costs nothing at all to visit and we found it surprisingly fascinating.
Part of Artisans Angkor, a social business best known for its artisan workshop and high-end shop in central Siem Reap — worth a half hour of your time to visit in its own right — the silk farm shows you how the silk behind those beautiful silk wares is produced. You can take a free shuttle from Artisans Angkor departing at 09:30 or 13:30 or hop in a tuk tuk for the 20-minute ride out of town to the working silk farm near Puok district.
At the farm you’ll have your own local guide assigned to you to show you around. You can see the mulberry trees growing on site that sustain the diet of the silk worm, the raw cocoons that are harvested and boiled, and the intricate processes of unwinding fibres, dyeing threads, and spinning and weaving them. It makes you appreciate why silk is no cheap commodity. Perhaps the most interesting part is seeing the myriad women weaving designs on the many looms. The tour takes around an hour and is educational and informative — it’s really more interesting than you might expect.
The silk farm is a fun and relatively short diversion from Siem Reap’s absolute must-see sights, with the opportunity to pick up some quality — though not cheap — gifts and souvenirs. For those with a penchant for packing in the activities, you can make a half-day tour out of the Silk Farm and Mechrey village on the Tonle Sap, or the West Baray, which are located in the same direction.
If you’re interested in traditional Khmer crafts then Theam’s House is also worth a visit, an attractive showroom and workshop run by the former artistic director of Artisans D’Angkor. Travelling more of Asia? Ock Pop Tok in Luang Prabang similarly showcases traditional weaving processes in an attractive riverside setting.
By Caroline Major
Last updated on 17th February, 2016.