Cambodia is a paradise for shopping due to the diversity of products, as well as the reasonable prices. Shoppers can strike some great bargains at markets where prices are flexible. The atmospheric markets and street stalls offer a wide variety of silk scarves, paintings, statuary, carvings and ceramics, while upscale boutiques offer designer garments and stylish clothes.
● The best places to shop and experience Cambodian life are its local markets. Many travellers find that interacting with local tradespeople, as they create or sell their wares, can be a great way to build connections. Shopping is mainly focused in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
Much modern Cambodian art reflects the style of the carvings and bas-reliefs on the temple walls, from mythological and historical themes to everyday occurrences. Surrealist swirling patterns, both concrete and abstract, are common, from the Khmer period right through to the present day.
● Phnom Penh’s Street 178 and the nearby Sisowath Quay, have a rich selection of boutiques, art galleries and shops. The bustling bazaars of the Russian Market and Central Market, packed with all kinds of goods and snacks, are popular stops for shoppers. Expect crowds and bartering.
● Quality boutiques can also be found in the old French Quarter of Siem Reap, offering a wide range of tailors, artisans, galleries and shops that specialize in one type of good.
● The Old Market of Psar Chas, next to the old French Quarter, is widely used by locals, so you will see more groceries and houseware there. The Angkor Night Market is replete with jewellery stalls, handicrafts, hand-made souvenirs and food vendors, a good place to try out Khmer food.
● Opening Hours and Payment: In the cities, most shops open from 7:30 am to 8 pm, while some shops may close for a couple of hours for lunch around 12 mid-day. Day markets usually open around 8 am and close around 6 pm, while night markets start around 6 p.m. and close around 10 p.m.
How to Pay: Cash is the most readily accepted means of payment in shopping streets and local markets. Most upscale stores and malls accept credit cards. The US dollar is widely accepted in the cities and many premium shops often quote prices in dollars. We suggest you prepare some riel for daily purchases; more if you plan to barter.
Bargaining and Refunds: Bargaining is part of Khmer culture and happens almost everywhere. If shopping on the streets or in the markets, you are recommended to offer at least 50% of what the vendor is asking. But in modern malls, bargaining is unlikely to be the norm. Once sold, goods are not taken back. If you are buying an expensive item like gold, silver or jewellery, be careful with counterfeit goods. For example, if a silver product does not weigh much, it is likely to have a low silver content and should not be too expensive. Using a credit card may be a good way of recording the history of the transaction.