If you’re traveling to Cambodia, it’s a must that you score a few local handicrafts while you’re there. Cambodia has some of the most beautiful handicrafts in Southeast Asia; especially sought-after are Khmer silks, carvings, and jewelry. Where can you find a good deal for these treasures? Here are some of the best places to go shopping in Cambodia.
Psar Toul Tom Poung (Russian Market), Phnom Penh
According to myth, the Russian Market got its name because you can easily get Kalashnikov rifles and other Russian weaponry here. The truth is it’s so named because of its early popularity among Russian tourists and expats to Cambodia. You won’t find any weapons, Russian or otherwise, at Psar Toul Tom Poung, but you can find just about anything else – from clothes and silk fabrics, to paintings and faux antiques, to motorcycle parts.
Street 240, Phnom Penh
Street 240 is an avenue lined with French colonial houses that now serve as homes to numerous boutiques, cafes, and souvenir shops. A lot of these stores are owned by charities and NGOs advocating fair trade. The atmosphere here is a lot more relaxed, and you can browse leisurely for handicrafts, clothes, accessories, and secondhand books.
Angkor Night Market, Siem Reap
The Angkor Night Market is one of the few Cambodian markets where the offerings are not just limited to mass produced souvenirs and handicrafts. Many of the stalls here sell original, one-of-a-kind items, such as silk paintings, intricate brass statuettes, and other handicrafts. Of course there’s also the usual market fare, like clothes and accessories, including China-made stuff. Adding to the excitement of shopping at Angkor Night Market are regular live music performances. You can listen to the music while haggling, or you can stop for a while and partake of the street food.
Psar Chas (Old Market), Siem Reap
The oldest market in Siem Reap has everything – local produce, meats and fish, household items, as well as clothes, shoes, jewelry, antiques, Khmer silks, and other souvenir items tourists may want. Souvenirs are inexpensive, but they’re still significantly marked up for tourists. So if you’re shopping here, don’t hesitate to haggle. Psar Chas is also a great place to eat cheap and authentic Cambodian food. (Tip: Avoid buying old stones, that are claimed to be from Angkor, because usually those stones will be held by customs at the airport.)
Battambang doesn’t boast of a destination market or shopping mall in Cambodia, but if you’re looking for Cambodian sculptures in marble, intricate wood carvings, and other curios and oddities, this is the place you should head to. It’s also where you should go if you’re looking for rubies, sapphires and other gemstones you can buy more cheaply. Gem processing and trading are among the major industries of Battambang. Just be wary of gem scams and do your homework before fishing out your wallet.
Itching to lay your hands on unique and authentic Khmer handicrafts? Here are plenty other activities to do in Cambodia which we’ve listed!