The 5 reasons we love the Phnom Penh Central Market:
During my first official visit to Phnom Penh's Central Market, I found myself wondering what had taken me so long to make the trek north of Sihanouk Boulevard to what can essentially be considered an open-air department store. I had just moved into a new apartment and was in desperate need of kitchen, bedding, and bath supplies, not to mention food to fill the fridge. Markets ubiquitously devour the streets and alleys of Phnom Penh, but when you need to find everything under one roof and don't have time to scurry about town, Central Market is your one-stop shop, and here are the reasons why:
1. A LESSON IN PATIENCE.
Besides your wallet, the most important thing to bring with you to Central Market is patience. The aisles are designed for browsing, sifting, ambling, and—of course—taking time to find and haggle for the best deal.
2. THE SUPERMARKET WITHIN THE SUPER MARKET.
I did one lap around the entire market to get my bearings and establish a plan of attack. As soon as I exited the jewelry-filled central dome from the west side, I was met with the aroma of roasting meats, the sounds of chickens clucking in their cages, and the sight of baskets upon baskets full of colorful fruit and fresh vegetables.
3. ITEMS YOU MAY FORGET YOU NEED.
A quick stroll through the northeastern arm compelled me to make a mental note to return the next time I was in need of a new piece of luggage, a pair of running shoes, fabric to make clothing, or conventional Cambodian souvenirs.
4. FILL YOU KITCHEN WITH MORE THAN FOOD.
Directly across in the southeastern arm, I was met with virtually any kitchen or household item I could imagine. Pots hung from stall ceilings, fine dishes and flatware were laid out as dining sets, and boxes of unopened blenders and slow cookers lined the stall walls. One vendor saw me eyeing a nonstick skillet and wasted no time in scooting her footstool toward the pan so she could bring it down for me to see up close. We agreed on an acceptable price of $5.50, down from the original $6.50.
5. BEAUTY DEMAND AND SUPPLY.
I spent some time inside the southern quadrant of the dome that was akin to an elaborate beauty supply store. Hairdryers, straighteners, and a myriad of beauty products were being ogled by young women who were eager to fill their bedrooms with new moisturizers and mousse.
Central Market can feel overwhelming for the novice bargainer, and the cramped corridors have the ability to make any claustrophile feel confined. However, arm yourself with adequate time and even the slightest desire to give bartering a shot and you'll find Central Market to be an exhilarating place to purchase everything your home needs.