Photo: Hilltop pagoda views outside Battambang.


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Battambang doesn’t really lend itself easily, or much at all, to identification as a shopping mecca, or even the kind of place you might go slightly out of your way for to satisfy your material desires, unless you dream of tractors. But there are still interesting things to be found in among the phone shops and hair salons.

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Where would we be without Chanel bags for $25? Totes original, obvs.

Where would we be without $25 Chanel bags? Totes original, obvs. At BTB Mall.

For most practical matters — shoes, toiletries, clothes, cork scews — you could head to Psas Nath in the very centre of town. This striking art deco structure was built by the French in 1936 and is designed along similar lines to the central markets in Phnom Penh and Saigon. The one thing you won’t get here though is the time, notwithstanding the elegant clock tower.

If you’re one of those shoppers that requires air-con, walls and peculiar things like that, you could make your way down to the BTB Mall toward the south end of Street 3. It’s just a fancifed street market, with all the usual guff, at twice the price. Apparently a stunning colonial villa was flattened to make way for this ungodly piece of architectural drear. There’s also a small night market on the riverside in front of Psas Nath, which is quite sweet albeit more for the people watching than purchasing opportunities.

Utterly pukka, for sure.

Utterly pukka, for sure.

Just to the south of here, you’ll find perhaps the most unanticipated shop in Battambang, Bric-a-Brac. Created by two roving Australians, one a cookbook author, the other a textile expert and tassel-maker — and no, it had never crossed our minds that someone had to design and make those either — Bric-a-Brac is a little treasure trove of taste. It’s hard to make a definitive list of what you’ll find in here, but it could be anything from antique china tea sets, artful notebooks, stamp makers, cookbooks, and, of course, tassels and other related things. We know people who could lose themselves in here for hours, and if you happen to be stuck with someone like that, you needn’t fear boredom. The owners are usually about, and hugely entertaining company.

A hint of the magic inside Bric-a-Brca.

A hint of the magic inside Bric-a-Brac.

Around the corner from there, you’ll find the Jewel In The Lotus, an extraordinary pirate’s chest of stunning comics, jewellery, clothing, posters and postcards and Lord knows what else, all with a distinctly alternative edge to it. The shop is owned and run by Kchao Touch and her husband. Touch is one of Cambodia’s foremost artists, and her lovely, feminine, dreamy work can also be found in the Lotus Bar & Gallery on the other side of the road.

If it's weird, outlandish, whacky and wild, chances are good you'll find it in the Jewel In The Lotus.

If it’s weird, outlandish, whacky or wild, chances are good you’ll find it in the Jewel In The Lotus.

For something totally special, you can’t beat an original work of art from one of Battambang’s students or graduates of the art school at Phare Ponleu Selpak. You can visit the school itself during the day, including their dedicated gallery inside a traditional Khmer wooden villa. You can watch the students at work, and pick your way through a portfolio of their creations, all of which is for sale. Who knows, you may be picking up a piece by a future star of Asia. Drop in on weekdays between 08:00 and 12:00 and 14:00 and 16:00.

Bookworms have not been abandoned in Battambang and there is a small but popular second-hand store on Street 3, just where it joins with Preah Vihear Street. There are several hundred titles in here — mostly the kind of stuff you find in airport bookshops, as well as books on Cambodian history — but there are titles in French and German as well as English.

Psas Nath: St 113, Battambang.
BTB Mall: St 3, Battambang.
Bric-a-Brac: #112 Street 2, Battambang; T: (0)77 531 562.
Jewel In The Lotus: #67 Street 2.5, Battambang; T: (092) 260 158.
Phare Ponleu Selpak: Anh Chanh village, Ochar commune, Battambang: T: (077) 554 413.
Smiling Sky Bookshop: Street 3, Battambang; T: (012) 29 80 05.


What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Battambang.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Battambang.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Battambang.
 Read up on how to get to Battambang, or book your transport online with Camboticket.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Battambang? Please read this.
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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Battambang? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Cambodia.

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