Angkor Wat
At Angkor Wat temple during Khmer New Year, when Cambodians ask for the Buddhist monks to bless them.
Gate at Angkor Wat
One of the gates in the huge Angkor Wat temple complex, which spans 400 sq km.
Cambodia 3
A strangler fig at the Ta Prohm temple (where Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was filmed!).
Gorgeous bags at Smateria
Gorgeous bags for sale at the Smateria shop in Alley West, Siem Reap.
Artisans d'Ankor
Stonework at the Artisans d’Angkor workshops, where locals learn traditional crafts.
La Residence d'Angkor
The entrance to La Residence d’Angkor hotel, part of the Orient-Express group.
La Residence d'Angkor bedroom
A bedroom at the La Residence, where Cambodian craftmanship meets modern luxury.
Ember restaurant
The hotel’s Ember restaurant serves poolside lunches, or you can relax with a cocktail in the upstairs bar.
Poolside luxury
La Residence’s pool is supremely inviting after a morning touring hot and crowded temples!

Trudi visits Siem Reap and Angkor Wat

A recent family visit to Cambodia was a fascinating insight into a country with a devastating history. For more than three years in the late 1970s, communist dictator Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge army implemented a brutal regime that resulted in the deaths of 1.7 million people. Despite this horrific recent past, Cambodians are warm and welcoming, and the economy is now relying heavily on tourism for its future. The ancient Angkor Wat temple complex near Siem Reap is a huge drawcard, attracting visitors from all over the globe; Angkor Wat means “city of temples” and is the largest religious monument in the world, and a UNESCO world heritage site.

Traditional Cambodian crafts are also increasingly in demand and two of hardtofind.’s sellers are based in Siem Reap: Smateria, which sells funky bags made from recycled fishing nets or leather motorbike seats, and Tendance Khmere, which specialises in gorgeous Cambodian silks.

Siem Reap is a lively town with good eating and drinking options including the buzzy Il Forno Italian restaurant, Miss Wong cocktail bar, and the Foreign Correspondents Club for a step back in time. We stayed at La Residence d’Angkor, a lovely hotel on the river that combines a low-rise traditional building with luxurious touches including a fab spa. Two of our favourite experiences on the trip were organised by La Residence: a meditation session with a local Buddhist monk, and a chance for our kids to meet children from the nearby orphanage, who come to the hotel twice a week for juice and fresh fruit and a chance to practise their English with tourists. Seeing them all together playing simple games that needed no translation (nor an iPod or headphones!) was a special moment that will stay with me for a long time.

Trudi signature

With thanks to Silk Air/Singapore Airlines and La Residence d’Angkor for assistance with this story.

Shop our Cambodian finds

Smateria satchels
Smateria’s durable bags are made using recycled mosquito nets. Pictured: large satchel, $59.95; small satchel, $49.95.
Smateria flower bags
Smateria flower bag in various colours, on sale for $67.97 (usually $99.95). Shop here.


Smateria funky briefcase, on sale for $49.98 (usually $99.95). Shop here.
Tendance Khmere Australia
Tendance Khmere’s range of Cambodian silk and cotton homewares are made by skilled local craftsmen. 1. Silk & cotton purple bed cover, $195; 2. plum/fuchsia/orange 60cm x 60cm silk cushion, $119; 3. orange/chocolate 45cm x 45cm silk cushion, $69; 4. silk & cotton white bed cover, $195; 5. darkwater/plum 60cm x 30cm silk cushion, $69; 6. silk & cotton ‘aubergine’ bed runner, $169; 7. darkwater/blue/plum 45cm x 45cm silk cushion, $69; 8. rush/orange 60cm x 30cm silk cushion, $69. Shop the collection here.





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