The practical stuff
So many tourist markets, boutiques, jewellers and craft shops in Siem Reap can make shopping here a real pleasure. On the other hand, if you have a case of the midnight munchies, or just need batteries, its charms can seem a little over-worked. The practical things in life can rarely be found in the bottom of a recycled, eco-friendly, socially conscious, vegetarian handbag.
There are plenty of supermarkets in town though, and you’ll be stunned at what you can buy in them. Cambodia may be classified as a Least Developed Country (LDC) , but it’s an LDC that signed up the World Trade Organisation when it really had no business doing so. Good for you if you want to buy Marmite, Budweiser or Tim-Tams. Terrible for Cambodia’s balance of trade and virtually non-existent local industry.
But that’s a separate issue — back to the batteries. The main supermarkets are the two big ones quite near each other on the northern end of Sivatha Boulevard, Lucky Market in the Lucky Mall and Angkor Market. Then there is the smaller 24 Hour Market also on Sivatha, at the very end of Pub Street, and the Apsara Market on Wat Bo Road. The Angkor Trade Centre on the riverfront near Old Market also has a small supermarket inside. There are a couple of other, smaller, ones, but these five should serve most people’s purposes.
On Sivatha Boulevard, Angkor Market is definitely the best, despite being only half as big as Lucky. The only problem is that dog food is more expensive here, though something tells me that might not be a problem for the average reader of this post. Angkor Market is locally owned, and the staff on the till are super-friendly and helpful if you’re stuck for anything. The staff on the shop floor tend not to speak English so go straight to the till if you have any questions. Of greatest concern to expatriates, who are quite civilised despite appearances, Angkor Market has the largest wine selection. But, whether you’re looking for batteries, food, drinks, magazines and newspapers, stationery, toiletries and cosmetics, or even more practical stuff like, for example Tupperware, it’s all here too. As for all supermarkets, you can’t get minor pharmaceuticals, like pain-killers or bandages, which are only in pharmacies. There is an ANZ ATM outside.
The Lucky supermarket in Lucky Mall is much bigger than Angkor though doesn’t really seem to have that much more. It’s kind of like a reverse tardis. On the other hand, the supermarket shares space in the mall with other shops that may make going here a good idea. On the ground floor is a uCare pharmacy, a couple of mobile phone network operators, numerous ATMs, Bambou Indochine clothing shop, and a very pretty souvenir shop called Iris. Upstairs there is a department store, and you can buy all sorts of electronics on the top floor.
Going back into town, you’ll find the 24 hour supermarket at the very end of Pub Street. This is a definite stop off for the midnight munchies, and we can recommend the Walkers Shortbiscuits thoroughly. They mostly sell drinks and snacks, with assorted toiletries, batteries, some patés and pickles and rather random things like tahini. Condoms are available here too.
On Wat Bo Road, near the European Guesthouse, is the New Apsara Market, which has more dry or tinned consumables like pasta and sauces, snacks, drinks and stationery. They also have a small range of books and guidebooks. Neither Apsara nor the 24 hour market sell fresh fruit or vegetables. A note to the wise: if you do buy fresh fruit or veg at the markets, clean them thoroughly, then clean them again. Aside from the frightening chemicals the farmers use, the market sellers spend all day coating them with fly spray.
The Angkor Trade Centre has a supermarket inside, as well as a pizza restaurant and ice-cream parlour. The supermarket is small to mid-sized but the stock is poorly selected, and always manages to not have exactly the very thing you’re looking for. It’s freaky. Better hop on a tuk tuk and go to Angkor Market.
T: (063) 76 77 99
24 Hour Market
New Apsara Market
Wat Bo Road, near the European Guesthouse
T: (012) 941 474
Angkor Trade Centre
T: (063) 766 766
Nicky Sullivan is an Irish freelance writer (and aspiring photographer). She has lived in England, Ireland, France, Spain and India, but decided that her tribe and heart are in Cambodia, where she has lived since 2007 despite repeated attempts to leave. She dreams of being as tough as Dervla Murphy, but fears there may be a long way to go. She can’t stand whisky for starters. She was a researcher, writer and coordinator for The Angkor Guidebook: Your Essential Companion to the Temples, now one of the best-selling guidebooks to the temples.
Our top 10 places to eat and drink around Siem Reap