See & DoSightseeing

Traditional Markets

Phsar Toul Tompoung, Phnom Penh

In Cambodia it is the women who take charge of trade…
Market is held everyday from six o’clock…
they display their goods on matting spread upon the ground.
Each has an allotted place…
– excerpt from The Customs of Cambodia by Zhou Daguan circa 1300AD

‘Phsar means ‘market’ and a visit to at least one traditional phsar is a must. A typical traditional market is a sprawling ground level affair, open-air but covered, crowded with rows of booths and stalls. If you visit only one or two markets in Phnom Penh, begin with the Phsar Tuol Thom Poung (Russian Market) and Phsar Thmey (Central Market.) Both offer curios, souvenirs and a cultural shopping adventure. Other traditional markets such have fewer items for tourists but can still be culturally and photographically interesting. The markets open and close with the sun but are fairly sleepy between 11:30AM and 2:00PM.

Phsar Thom Thmey, Phnom Penh

Central Market (Phsar Thmei)

Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Admission: None

Location: Corner of Street 130 and Street 63

This distinctive building is a city landmark – a unique Art Deco interpretation of a traditional market. Four arms of the market converge in a soaring dome at the hub, perhaps reflecting the four arms of the chaktomuk (the convergence of the Mekong River.) Prior to 1935 the market area was a swampy lake known as Beng Decho that received the runoff during the rainy season. The lake was drained and the market constructed in 1935-37 during the French colonial period, and originally dubbed the ‘Grand Market.’

The central section of the market building displays an amazing collection of gems and jewelry. Souvenir vendors along the central entrance walk offer curios, statuary, handicrafts, silks, t-shirts, postcards, etc. (‘Phsar Thmey’ is properly translated ‘New Market’, but ‘Central Market’ has caught on in English.)

Phsar Toul Tompoung, Phnom Penh

Russian Market (Phsar Toul Tom Poung)

Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Admission: None

Location: Street 450, between Streets 155 and 163

This market became the foreigner’s market during the 1980’s when most of the foreigners in Cambodia were Russians, hence the name ‘Russian Market.’ It is of far less architectural interest than the Central Market but has a larger, more varied selection of souvenirs, curios and silks.

The Russian Market became the foreigner’s market during the 1980’s when most of the foreigners in Cambodia were Russians, hence the name ‘Russian Market.’ It is of far less architectural interest than the Central Market but has a larger, more varied selection of souvenirs, curios and silks. Also unlike the Central Market this is a classic traditional market – a sprawling, single level collection of stalls – and offers a larger, more varied selection of souvenirs, curios and silks. It is also one of the best markets in town for fabrics and has the largest selection of DVDs of all the traditional markets. Most of the DVD vendors are on the south side as are most of the visitor-oriented places, but the rest of the market is well worth exploring. There are some good local food and drink stands in the middle of the market.

Phsar Kandal, Phnom Penh

Phsar Kandal
Hours: Sunrise to sunset
Admission: None

Location: Street 450, between Streets 155 and 163

A typical, sprawling, low-slung local market similar to Phsar Chas. Meat, vegetables, fruits and tailors fill the north half while jewelers and electronics stalls are located in the building next door. It’s a very local scene but as the market is only a couple of blocks off the riverfront tourists occasionally find their way to the coffee stalls and noodle shops. There is a comparatively large Vietnamese population living in the area around Phsar Kandal, which and is reflected in the character of the market – the food, the dress and the language.

Old Market (Phsar Chas)
Phsar Chas not at all geared to tourists, carrying such items as fruits and vegetables, hardware, second hand clothes, motorcycle parts and religious items. The late afternoon shopping hour along Street 110 and Street 108 makes for a confusing, dirty, potentially photogenic scene. There has been a market on this site since at the earliest days of the French colonial period (and probably much longer) when it sat next to a now reclaimed river inlet.

Night Market (Phsar Reatrey)
Phnom Penh’s new Night Market on the riverfront is aimed squarely at visitors and tourists, offering a wide and varied selection of Cambodian handicrafts silks, art, curios and souvenirs. Currently the Night Market opens from Thursday to Sunday, starting up at about 5:00PM and runs until at least 10:00 or 11:00PM. Located in the park between Street 106 and 108 on the riverfront. Stop in as you stroll up the riverfront.

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Traditional Performances

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