Siem Reap Tourism:
A Local Incense Factory

I don't think many people know of this Siem Reap tourism item. It is interesting nonetheless! With the majority of Cambodians being Buddhist, incense is probably as important as food. Probably.

Siem Reap Tourism - Bright purple incense colorEach family in Cambodia, if they're Buddhist, has at least one altar in their home. They pray every day and they burn incense each time they do.

On our way to the Beng Melea temple, we had an unusual opportunity to see how incense is made.

When I heard about the incense factory, I automatically thought about a big building with smoke coming from the chimneys and workers lining up near heavy machinery. What I encountered was nothing like that.

It turns out that the factory is a home based factory, so the scale was much smaller than I imagined. However, they seem to churn out a good amount of incense sticks.

How do you make incense sticks?

Did you know that incense sticks are made from bamboo? They take the inside part of a bamboo, cut and slice it into thin parts, soak it in water, and then start applying the fragrant powder and coloring.

We saw five people actively working, each of them doing a different task.

Below is the early stage of production. The woman is slicing bamboo into thin parts. Look at how many sticks she's finished (right side).

Siem Reap Tourism - Iincense bamboo strips
The worker expertly cuts bamboo into thin strips.

Then the workers soak the strips in blue plastic barrels and containers. They soak it so that the incense lasts longer when it is burned. Once that is done, the workers apply the fragrance powder and the coloring.

Siem Reap Tourism - Incense dyes
A vessel full of brightly colored dye.

The incense is dipped into the coloring several times in order to make it thicker. The sticks must be left to dry between each dipping. The incense pictured below is almost ready, having been colored and dried several times.

Siem Reap Tourism -  Incense sticks drying
Incense sticks drying under the hot Cambodian sun.

Once everything is done, the sticks are ready to be packaged. You can see that they have quite a good amount of incense that is ready to be sold.

Siem Reap Tourism - Incense packaging
The packaging looks very professional, as if it was made in a big factory.

So In Short...

Our guide informed us that there are not many 'factories' like this in Siem Reap, only about 5 -6 families. I thought this was rather weird. I assumed it would take more suppliers than that to satisfy the demand of all Siem Reap inhabitants. 

Siem Reap tourism - Factory house
A concrete house is a modern house, much more desirable than a bamboo house.

I thought this quick trip to the factory was very interesting. Certainly this is not a 'normal' Siem Reap tourist attraction, but it's highly enjoyable and educational. So if you ever find yourself going to Beng Mealea, don't forget to stop for half an hour to see this small operation!

Siem Reap tourism - incense sticks
Brightly colored incense sticks.

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Return from Incense Factory to Siem Reap Tourist Attractions
As the base town of Angkor Wat, Siem Reap enjoys a booming tourist industry. See for yourself the many activities you can do and the places you can see while staying in Siem Reap.

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