There’s lots to do in Cambodia – from experimenting with the local food to exploring the French cuisine that is a hold over from the days of French occupation. Then of course there are the historical sites that should not be missed from the darker days of Cambodia’s history, like the Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng Genocide prison. With all there is to see and do, it might come as a surprise that shopping ranks up on the list of “must do” experiences in Phnom Penh.
There’s a growing culture of design, fashion and craft that is well represented in Cambodia’s largest city. A destination street in particular is right in the center of town – 240 Street is host to a great many specialty boutiques. And then there is the renowned Russian Market. In such a small city, it can be surprising how many things you there are to buy here.. there is a spirit of boutique and fashion entrepreneurship that is different than other SE Asian cities where the high street and luxury brands seem to dominate.
With that in mind, here’s Accidental Epicurean’s guide to the best places to shop while in Phnom Penh.
This is most likely the best known venue in Phnom Penh for shopping – here you can find everything from plumbing parts and durian to brand name clothing and gemstone jewelry. You can buy things for yourself or trinkets to take home as gifts or souvenirs. Full of local characters and color, it is a must see in Cambodia…if not just for shopping, for the way it captures the spirit of Phnom Penh in one sprawling setting.
Directions: From Independence Monument, head south on Norodom Boulevard. Turn right at the first set of lights (Moa Tse Tung Boulevard). Go straight east – away from the river – and go past Monivong Boulevard, then turn left at the next set of traffic lights (about 1km down). Then go straight for 300m and you will see the market on the left.
This store employs local women to make quirky, cool retro fashion. While there is an ethical mission at hand – sustainability, local employment – it is the actually quality and style of the products that will keep you coming back. Also, any items can be custom made if you have a few days and a good idea of what you want.
21 Street 240
Monday to Saturday 10 am-7 pm, Sunday 12-5 pm
Elsewhere presents colourful resort such as lime green cotton dresses, sea blue shirts, loose fitting trousers, tropics-inspired bikinis, and other matching accessories like bags, hats and slippers for a day by the beach or at the pool.
52 Street 240
Casual, cotton clothing is the main offering at Bliss. The styles are inspired by the place and climate of Phnom Penh- think floaty kaftans, breezy tops and light cotton sundresses in colorful fabrics with unique patterns and designs. The same eclectic fabrics are applied to pillowcases, quilts and fabric bags. Also, upstairs is one of the city’s best spas…but be sure to book in advance as Bliss Spa is often quite full.
29 Street 240
Monday to Sunday 9am-9pm
Jasmine is all about elegant, hand-woven Cambodian silk creations in stunning jewel-tone colours. For Camdodia it is expensive, starting at +$100USD, but for the quality it is actually pretty good value. Check out the long heavy silk skirts in vibrant colors which can be dressed up with a formal top or dressed down with a simple t-shirt.
73 Street 240
Telephone: +855.23.22. 103
At Water Lily, Christine Gauthier creates hand-made, one-of-a-kind jewelry and accessories. The materials used in her creations are generally up-cycled from and given second lives as jewelry and range from the conventional to the unconventional – from wooden thread spools and old spoons to shells to odd beads from various world markets.
37 Street 240
Designers Romyda Keth (Cambodian) and Thomas Jaffre (French) have created 1940’s-style, red-carpet-inspired dresses and gowns for store Ambre. The dresses, with complementary accessories and shoes, are artfully displayed in this glamorous two-story emporium at the end of Street 240.
Directions: end of Street 240, across Norodom Boulevard
Happy shopping in Phnom Phen