7 of the best souvenirs in Southeast Asia

Ock Pop Tock Living Crafts Centre 2 (1)
Ock Pop Tock Living Crafts Centre

We all love those reminders of our holiday-of-a-lifetime and treat our friends to gifts not found in our home countries, but how often are you actually going to wear that conical hat? And are your friends really going to put that Buddha statue on their mantelpiece?

Having spent so much time on the road, our team of travel experts have brought back all manner of memorabilia from Southeast Asia. Apparently, when it comes to the conical hats, you should put your pennies away… Instead, here’s their round-up of the most crowd-pleasing and useful souvenirs they’ve returned home with.

  1. Coffee
Reaching Out coffee shop, Hoi An

Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos all have their own coffee plantations and so giving your friends a locally grown caffeine kick is a great plan for the coffee drinkers in your life. In Vietnam, drinking coffee is a whole different experience to the West so we’ll leave it up to you if you’d like to go down the drip filter route, but you can’t go wrong with a bag of beans for true coffee connoisseurs.

To get a look at the coffee plantations yourself, head to Dalat in Vietnam, Bolaven Plateau in Laos or Mondulkiri in Cambodia.

Learn more: Coffee culture in Vietnam

2. Rice

Rice paddies in Sapa
Rice terraces in Sapa, Vietnam

Did you know that Cambodia has won the World’s Best Rice contest four times in the last seven years? Don’t turn down the chance to bring home globally acclaimed rice to bring that taste of Asia home.

InsideAsia’s Chris recommends looking out for Cambodian Red Jasmine rice, not found in the UK and downright delicious.

3. Coconut shell bowls

Easy to find and colourful to look at, coconut shell bowls bring a splash of colour to your home. in most cases they will have been made sustainably using local products too. Use as a key bowl not a soup bowl though…

4. Lanterns

Hoi An Lanterns
Hoi An Lanterns.

Colourful lanterns are one of the most iconic symbols of Vietnam, particularly synonymous with one of the country’s most popular towns: Hoi An.

Travel consultant Dylan says: “Take part in a workshop to make the perfect lampshade: they are usually collapsible so easy to transport home. If heading to Laos, the local paper lanterns follow the same collapsible structure and often have really colourful designs”.

5. Kampot pepper

Kampot Pepper Farm, Cambodia
La Plantation, Kampot Pepper Farm

Talking of world-renowned foods, Kampot pepper (as in peppercorns not capsicums) is globally recognised as some of the best in the world and been sought after in fancy restaurants the world over since the early 19th century.

Kampot is only a three-hour journey from the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, so it’s a perfect excuse to escape the hustle and bustle to explore La Plantation, a renowned pepper farm.

Learn more: Kampot Province: Slow Travel in Cambodia

6. Handmade Crafts

Ock Pop Tock Living Crafts Centre 2 (1)
Ock Pop Tock Living Crafts Centre

Handicraft markets are great for picking up local crafts, however with responsible travel at the heart of everything we do, InsideAsia Travel Consultant Charlotte has some great sustainable options: “In Cambodia, Artisans d’Angkor are a social enterprise that sell amazing work – look out for jewellery, scarves and cushion covers. In Laos, Ock Pop Tok is the perfect place to find a woven item, knowing that you are supporting the local community”.

7. Tailored Clothing

My Hoi An tailor
Hoi An tailor

One of the top things to do in Hoi An is visit a tailor, and for good reason; you can get pretty much anything made: suits, jackets, dresses, pyjamas… you name it, for a fraction of the price back home.

Tailors outnumber all other businesses two to one in Hoi An, and some places can produce quite sub-standard work so make sure you take your time to judge the competition and read our guide to ordering bespoke clothing in Hoi An.

Make the most of your trip to Southeast Asia with the help of our travel experts. After some inspiration? Check out our Vietnam & Cambodia Uncovered itinerary.

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