Central Market Phnom Penh is one of the important landmarks within city limits for its architectural intrigue and unique cultural offerings. Traditional Southeast Asian markets dot the region, many the most distinct and interesting attractions in local areas. But Central Market in Phnom Penh has another one-of-a-kind facet; the historic building was built in the French Colonial period occupying Cambodia in the 1930s. Named Phsar Thmei Market, the market land, once no more than a swampy bog drained of rainy season runoff, was prepped for construction in 1935.
The building is in complete art deco, neo-classical style architecture, with a central area in shape of a large six-tiered dome attached to four “arms” jutting out equidistant on four sides. On the north side there are two major banks, the railway station to the northwest and Wat Phnom to the northeast. Another of the major nearby city attractions is Independence Monument, situated on the southeast market side.
One of five markets in the city, Central Market Phnom Penh is one of the most attractive to foreign tourists because of the wide variety of stalls offering myriad goods. Markets like Phsar Chas (Old Market) and Phsar Kandal offer more goods geared to locals such as fresh meats, motorcycle parts, and used hand clothing.
The wide, main road gives way to the market’s hundreds of arteries; smaller alleyways off the main area housing hundreds more stalls. The secret to enjoying the market is to explore all the nooks and crannies, key to the best and most interesting market finds. Upon entering, take a look at the main wall to find a huge assortment of souvenirs; handicrafts, postcards, curios and more. A stunning collection of jewels and gems are found within the middle section. Maps and books are offered via vendors off the main entryway.