It may not be a shopper's paradise, but Phnom Penh has a couple of lively marketplaces that are worth visiting for the culture and people-watching, if not for the chance to pick up a few souvenirs.
Shoes and textiles are made in Cambodia, and there are countless deals for bargain hunters who don't mind factory outlet style products. Of course, this being Southeast Asia, visitors will have more than a few opportunities to pick up knockoffs and pirated DVDs along the way. Just know your country's stance on bringing these items home with you.
In recent years the Western shopping front has entered the early stages of a golden age. Cambodia has more expatriates and middle-class citizens than ever before, and this is turning into burgeoning profits for developers who can get their mega-centers up fast enough.
At the geographic town center, this dome-shaped marketplace was built in the late 1930s. This is the place for souvenirs to the tune of jewelry, T-shirts and handicrafts. It also has the usual pirated goods including movies, music and photocopied books. Bargainers and people-watchers alike will enjoy the scene.
The name persists despite the fact that this market hasn't been a hotbed of imported Russian merchandise since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Today it's Phnom Penh's second busiest market, and something like a factory outlet with (mostly) genuine name brands that were made in Cambodia but not sold due to minor defects.
Centrally located just south of Central Market, this Westernized shopping mall is losing its claim to ‘largest shopping complex' in Phnom Penh as new projects continue to spring up. It's still one of the best places to find international brands.
When it opened in September 2009, this shopping mall became Phnom Penh's biggest. In many ways it's a tribute to the rising middle class, offering the newly affluent a cornucopia of spending options. Food courts and a large supermarket are inside.
A stronghold of Western supplies, Lucky Market is a favorite among expatriates, who come here for imported cheeses, wines and produce. This large-scale supermarket is the biggest retailer in the country, and it's also behind the popular Lucky Burger franchise.
Transactions are made in a trio of currencies (US dollars, Thai baht and Cambodian riel), so it's a good idea to carry small denominations of all three when shopping in the major markets. Don't be afraid to bargain over the price in touristy markets, but be sure to shop around first so you'll have an idea of what to expect.
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