Siem Reap Tourism Industry's
Popular Attraction: The Silk Farm
This Siem Reap tourism industry's attraction is so popular amongst visitors. Even two National Geographic buses were at the farm during my visit. And no wonder! Artisans D'Angkor has done a great job in laying out the silk process for curious visitors.
The silk farm is located about 20 minutes from the center of Siem Reap. It is rather out of the way in the Puok district. No worries, though, because the company offers free shuttle pick ups and drop offs, from their store in Siem Reap. The, the actual tour is free as well.
This is the entrance to the silk farm, where soon after you'll be met with a personal guide who will walk you through the whole process.
Entrance to the silk farm.
I must say, the whole place looks really nice. It looks as if they built it solely to please Western visitors, which is probably true. Cambodia silk is big part of the Siem Reap tourism industry.
Silk farm factory tour
Our first stop was to look at the mulberry plants. They have a large field of it because the mulberry leaves will be used to feed the silk worms.
Mulberry plants lined up.
In the wild, I suppose it's the silk worm's job to find the mulberry leaves, but that's not so here at the farm. Here, the leaves come to them. All they need to do is eat and fattenthemselves up.
Silk worms feeding on mulberry leaves.
Once they eat enough, the worms start making their cocoons and then rest inside. The worms think they're going to have an undisturbed sleep and later metamorphize into beautiful butterflies.
Silk worm cocoons
Sadly for them, it is not meant to be. Once the cocoon is at the right age, they are 'harvested' and sent to the factory. There, the cocoons are boiled in order to make it easier to pull the silk threads. There are kinder ways of extracting silk threads without killing the worms, but they don't seem to be practiced here.
Silk cocoons boiled before the thread is taken.
Each silk cocoon can produce a rather lengthy thread. At this stage, the silk is still very rough and thick, unlike the ones we see at the market, but you can already see that shine that we all associate with silk materials.
Extracting silk threads from the cocoons.
Once the raw silk is gathered, the next stage is to dye them into many different colors. Here they use natural dyes from herbs and plants.
Natural dyes for the silk threads
The silk threads are then dyed individually, submerged in these hot vessels.
Silk dying process.
These colorful silk threads are the end result.
The many colors of silk after drying.
However, these threads are still raw silk. They will need to be thinned even more before they can be used. Technically, you can use rough silk, but you don't see many of those in the market. The girls below are preparing the silk threads for weaving, and they seem to have a good time doing it.
Preparing silk threads for weaving.
When it comes to weaving, the farm does it manually, and they make some gorgeous looking silk materials which will be sold later for top dollars.
Intricate pattern for clothing or scarves.
Play this quick video below to see how they weave the silk.
Silk farm exhibition hall
Traditional silk weaver
After you're finished seeing the silk making process, naturally you are led to the exhibition hall, and the gift shop area.
It looks like silk is very much used for traditional Cambodian dresses, silk scarves, and also bed spreads (that would be a costly one!).
Traditional Cambodian dresses.
Cambodian silk pillowcases are some of the prettiest I've ever seen.
You'll see some amazing silk items at the gift shop, everything from clothes, scarves, wallets, pillowcases, throws, and little trinkets. Prices are horrendous by Cambodian standards, with simple silk scarves starting at $30 and going up to $200 USD.
However, you will not likely find better craftsmanship anywhere else, nor prettier designs. So if you see something that you can't live without, just get it because you won't find it at other silk shops.
On the other hand, if you think these prices are prohibitive, you have choices! Since Cambodian silk is one of the top Siem Reap tourism industries, there are several silk shops in town. You can even find silk items at old and center markets.
So, although it'll be hard to find the exact same Artisans D'Angkor scarves in other places, you might find something else that is comparable and does not break the budget too much.
So In Short...
Next time you're in Cambodia, check out this Siem Reap tourism attraction. It's informative and so much fun. You can contact Artisans D'Angkor here to make a reservation for the shuttle bus and the tour.
The Silk farm's outer courtyard
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As the base town for Angkor Wat, Siem Reap tourism is growing rapidly. See for yourself the many activities and places you can see while staying in Siem Reap.
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Siem Reap. What is it like? It's a small and lovely tourist town. Shopping areas? Check. Dining areas? Check. Easy transportation? Check. Long list of attractions other than the temples? Check!
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