Shopping Malls and Markets in Phnom Penh
Whilst your motivation for living in Phnom Penh may have more altruistic groundings, should you still harbour symptoms of the consumer culture acquired back in the West, there are endless opportunities to indulge in retail therapy while you’re here!
Designed by a French architect in the 1930s, the yellow art-deco style Central Market (Psar Thmay) is a famous city landmark offering a wide range of goods which include: fake designer clothing and watches, souvenirs, gold and silver jewellery, silks, electronic goods, stationery, bric-a-brac and a whole array of exotic food produce. The building has a central dome rotunda, claimed to be one of the largest in the world, and four wings which are packed with stalls, presenting great opportunities for interesting photos. Despite the absence of A/C, the numerous windows and high ceiling provide good ventilation in comparison to the other more claustrophobic markets in Phnom Penh.
Whilst, Central Market has a reputation with the locals for higher prices, there are still bountiful bargains to be had so long as you are prepared to do some serious bartering! As is the case for all the city’s markets, it’s a good idea to change your US dollars into Khmer riel. The market’s many moneychangers, found in the central rotunda, will offer a better exchange rate than the stall owners.
Location: South of Confederation de la Russie, in-between Monivong Boulevard and Norodom Boulevard.
Otherwise known as Toul Tom Pong Market, the Russian Market was the place where foreign envoys (mostly Russians) shopped in the communist era 1980s when aid was pouring into the country from the Soviets. Today the market is a big square lot of small shops and dimly lit corridors all crammed under one roof, making it rather claustrophobic. The Russian Market does, however, have a larger and more varied selection of wares than Central Market, including shoes, bags local crafts and endless pirate DVDs and CDs, many of which are of surprisingly good quality.
You will find lots of clothing here, some of which is apparently slipped out the back door of the factories where popular western brands are produced. The vast array of silks and other textiles on offer, also make this a good place to buy fabric for business and casual clothes to take to a tailor. Again, hard bartering is a must, to procure the best bargains.
Location: South of Mao Tse Toung Boulevard, East of Monivong Boulevard
Boeung Keng Kang Market
Boeung Keng Kang Market is smaller than the Central Market and Russian Market, but is arguably the most enchanting of the three, owing to its less established structure, more relaxed atmosphere and interesting food stalls at its centre. This market is frequented by far fewer tourists and as such it has a more authentic feel and prices there are often lower.
There’s a great balance of stalls at Boeung Keng Kang dedicated to selling; fruit & veg, meat, fish, belts, shoes, second-hand clothes, fakes, rugs, bedsheets, pillowcases, comforters and endless other house wares to make your home in Phnom Penh really your own. This market is an ideal place to stock up the fridge, pick up bits and bobs for the house/apartment, enjoy a bowl of noodles and iced coffee and even get your nails painted (ladies) without having to spend too much time or money!
Location: North of Mao Tse Toung Boulevard, off Street 63, in-between Monivong Boulevard and Norodom Boulevard
Taxi, tuk-tuk and moto drivers will all be familiar with the above markets, so getting there should be pain-free.
Sorya Shopping Centre
Sorya is currently Phnom Penh’s liveliest Western-style mall and although less colorful than the traditional markets, this clean multi story mall, facilitated with air-conditioning, lifts and escalators makes for a more comfortable shopping experience. With an area of 40,000 square metres, it has eight stories comprising of different shops and fast food outlets catering to the need of customers.
The centre includes a well stocked Lucky Supermarket, an extensive range of clothing, shoe, jewellery, beauty, household goods stationary and electronic stores and a Khmer food court complementing numerous western style fast food restaurants making sure shoppers don’t leave hungry. The top floor is dedicated to light relief for the young hearted, with rollerblading rink, virtual simulator and amusement arcade, providing parents with a welcome incentive to coax their kids into going shopping (again) with mum and dad!
See the website for further information: http://www.shoppingcentersorya.com
Location: North of Sihanouk Boulevard, in-between Monivong Boulevard and Norodom Boulevard
Sovanna Shopping Centre stands five floors and spans about 50,000 sq meters and despite being a more recent addition to Phnom Penh’s malls, it has so far proven to be less successful than Sorya. Sovanna currently struggles to pull in customers and still has numerous vacant shop lots, making for a slightly deflated atmosphere.
The mall does feature a bevy of beauty, clothing, electronics and toy shops, cafes, fast-food restaurants, an arcade centre and another Lucky Supermarket. However, Sovanna is probably again inferior to Sorya, in terms of the product quality on offer and how it’s displayed to customers. It’s still a far way off western expectations of a ‘new shopping mall’ and only time will tell if it can bridge that gap, but worth a look if you’ll be in Phnom Penh for a while.
Location: South of Mao Tse Toung Boulevard and Monireth Boulevard crossroad, off Phoum Boulevard.
City Mall was opened in September 2009, making it the newest and biggest western-style mall in Phnom Penh. The mall contains a large branch of the ubiquitous Lucky Supermarket, as well as many fast-food outlets and modern shops, mainly catering to Phnom Penh’s growing middle-class population.
Location: On Monireth Boulevard, North of Sihanouk Boulevard, near to Olympic Stadium
As for the traditional markets, taxi, tuk-tuk and moto drivers should all know where the above shopping malls are located.