Photo: Wat Lanka, Phnom Penh.

Phsar Kandal

Our rating:

A great little local market, Phnom Penh’s Phsar Kandal is centrally located off Street 154. One block back from the riverfront, it’s only a five-minute walk from Street 172 and opposite the north side of Wat Ounalom, so chances are if you’re wandering around the city centre you’ll pass by, or pretty close to it. If you do, it’s well worth a visit.

Typical bustle at the market entrance

Typical bustle at the market entrance

Indeed the name translates as central market, though the iconic art deco Phsar Thmei – which actually means New Market — is often mistakenly translated into English as central market. It’s confusing certainly but just ask for Phsar Kandal — it’s one of the best known markets in town.

Despite its location close to many of the city’s hotels and guesthouses, this market still very much caters to Phnom Penh residents — the Russian Market this is not. If you wish to buy pirated DVDs, Buddha images or souvenir scarves then head to Phsar Tuol Tom Pong by all means, but if you wish to visit a typical local market, then try this one.

Goes without saying there’s plenty of great nibbles on offer

Plenty of great nibbles on offer.

Like the more tourist-orientated market across town, Phsar Kandal is square in form and compact, taking up just one city block, though it does overflow somewhat into surrounding streets: Fifth Street, on the east side, is an outdoor fruit and vegetable area while Street 154 concentrates on pavement barbers and motorcycle repair shops. Street 13, which borders it to the west, has cafes and currency exchange shops. The covered central area is then household goods and clothes along with an inordinate number of hairdressers and gold stalls.

Taking the family to market

Taking the family to market.

We’d be hard-pushed to name a country with more hairdressing salons per square kilometre than Cambodia, and for proof that a Khmer passion for hair-styling goes way back you’ve only got to look at the spectacular apsaras at Angkor Wat. The proliferation of gold shops is due to a Khmer reluctance, even today, to use banks, so when you have money you buy jewellery and when you run short you take a bangle or necklace back to Phsar Kandal, and get your money back minus a small commission.

While you might not pick up any souvenirs here, it’s worth a wander for a look at how ordinary Cambodians live and shop in the capital.

By .

Phsar Kandal
Street 154, Phnom Penh
Admission: Free

Location map for Phsar Kandal

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