Forgo the tourist experience and shop for fresh produce, fish and meats alongside local residents at Phnom Penh’s famous riverside market.
For an authentic Cambodian shopping experience, visit Kandal Market. This sprawling bazaar is called Psah Kandal in Khmer, which means “market in the middle.” The translation is very accurate; it is centrally located near the riverside and the iconic Wat Ounalom.
Kandal Market stretches for two blocks. A narrow alley divides it into an indoor and an outdoor area. Across the two sections, look for just about anything that would be on a Cambodian household’s grocery list.
Don’t expect to find kitschy souvenirs at Kandal Market. Instead, shop as a local would shop. Come in the early morning and mingle among Cambodians purchasing their fresh daily groceries.
Begin at the perimeter of the market, where vendors sell freshly picked fruits and vegetables. Purchase some lychees or persimmons ripe from the tree. Wooden tables toward the center of the market display a wide variety of meat and fish. Most of the seafood is sold alive, so that customers have the freshest food available.
If you don’t want to prepare your own food, go to the very center of the market. For the same price you would pay for coffee in many countries, you can purchase a delicious rice or noodle meal. Be forewarned that the market is very much a working area, so if you want a cleaner and more serene place to enjoy your meal, go to one of the riverside restaurants.
Although foods are the main products sold at Kandal Market, look for other miscellaneous items you may want or need, ranging from clothing to electronics.
Visit the market any day of the week. It is best to arrive in the morning, when you can see the vendors setting up their stalls. Buy fresh produce and avoid the mid-afternoon heat.
Kandal Market vendors are very welcoming to tourists and are generally happy to answer questions. Spend some time walking through the stalls, sampling their wares and immersing yourself in the sights and smells of this authentic Cambodian experience.