Central Market (Phsar Thmei) – A Unique Art Deco Building In Phnom Penh, Offering Everything From Souvenirs To Electronics

Central Market (Phsar Thmei) - Cambodia tours

During your Cambodia vacations, be sure to visit Central Market (Phsar Thmei) in Phnom Penh. This unique Art Deco building is a bustling hub where you can find everything from souvenirs to electronics. Its iconic architecture and diverse offerings make it a must-see destination for any traveler exploring the capital city.

An overview of Central Market

The location of Central Market

Nestled in the heart of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s bustling capital city, Central Market, locally known as Phsar Thmei, occupies a prominent position within the urban landscape. Situated at the intersection of bustling streets and surrounded by vibrant neighborhoods, the market serves as a focal point for both locals and tourists alike. Its central location makes it easily accessible from various parts of the city, drawing visitors from far and wide to explore its bustling halls and vibrant atmosphere.

The origin of Central Market

Central Market traces its origins back to the early 20th century, during the French colonial period in Cambodia. Constructed in 1937, the market was designed by French architect Louis Chauchon in the iconic art deco style, characterized by its distinctive dome-shaped structure and elaborate wrought ironwork. Originally intended to serve as a hub for trading in local produce and goods, the market quickly evolved into a bustling marketplace where vendors from across the country converged to sell their wares. Over the years, Central Market has remained a beloved landmark of Phnom Penh, reflecting the city’s rich cultural heritage and vibrant marketplace traditions.

The origin of Central Market (Phsar Thmei) - Cambodia tours

The architectural significance of the Central Market

Central Market’s architectural significance lies in its distinctive art deco design, which stands as a testament to Phnom Penh’s rich cultural heritage and architectural legacy. The market’s iconic domed structure and intricate wrought ironwork are defining features of the art deco style, reflecting the aesthetic sensibilities of the early 20th century.

Constructed in the 1930s during Cambodia’s colonial period under French rule, Central Market was designed by French architect Louis Chauchon. The market’s construction marked a significant departure from traditional Khmer architectural styles, incorporating modernist elements that were fashionable at the time.

The market’s domed central hall, adorned with elaborate arches and decorative motifs, serves as the focal point of the architectural ensemble. Its soaring dome and expansive interior space create a sense of grandeur and elegance, inviting visitors to explore its bustling corridors and vibrant stalls.

The architectural significance of the Central Market (Phsar Thmei) - Cambodia trip

The intricate wrought ironwork that adorns the market’s façade and interior spaces is another hallmark of its architectural significance. Delicate filigree patterns and ornate flourishes evoke a sense of craftsmanship and attention to detail, adding to the market’s charm and allure.

Over the years, Central Market has evolved into more than just a marketplace; it has become a symbol of Phnom Penh’s cultural heritage and architectural identity. Despite undergoing renovations and modernizations, the market has retained its unique architectural character, serving as a cherished landmark and a point of pride for the city’s residents.

Shopping Paradise at The Central Market

Step into a shopper’s paradise at The Central Market, where a vibrant tapestry of goods awaits at every turn. From traditional Cambodian handicrafts to modern electronics, this bustling marketplace offers something for every shopper’s taste and preference.

Wander through the market’s bustling aisles and vibrant stalls, where vendors display their wares with colorful flair. Admire the intricate craftsmanship of traditional Cambodian handicrafts, including handwoven textiles, intricately carved woodwork, and delicate silverware. Each item tells a story of Cambodia’s rich cultural heritage, making it a perfect souvenir or gift for loved ones back home.

Shopping Paradise at The Central Market (Phsar Thmei) - Cambodia vacation

For those with an eye for fashion, The Central Market boasts an impressive selection of clothing and accessories. Browse through racks of stylish apparel, from traditional Cambodian garments to modern Western fashion. Discover unique jewelry pieces crafted from locally sourced materials, each one a testament to the skill and creativity of Cambodian artisans.

But the shopping experience doesn’t end there. The Central Market also caters to tech-savvy shoppers with its array of modern electronics and gadgets. From the latest smartphones and laptops to cutting-edge audiovisual equipment, tech enthusiasts will find everything they need to stay connected and entertained.

Practical tips for visitors planning to explore the Central Market

Opening hour of The Central Market

The Central Market in Phnom Penh typically operates from early morning until late afternoon, with specific opening hours ranging from approximately 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM. However, it’s always a good idea to double-check the opening hours before planning your visit, as they may vary slightly depending on the day of the week or special circumstances.

Central Market (Phsar Thmei) - Cambodia tour package

Transportations to The Central Market

Getting to The Central Market is convenient and accessible, as it is located in the heart of Phnom Penh. Visitors can easily reach the market by various modes of transportation, including tuk-tuks, taxis, and motorbike taxis (known as “motodops”). Many hotels and guesthouses also offer shuttle services or can arrange transportation for guests upon request

Other advice for visiting The Central Market

  • Bring cash: While some vendors may accept credit cards, it’s always a good idea to carry cash for transactions at The Central Market.
  • Bargain wisely: Bargaining is common at The Central Market, so don’t hesitate to negotiate prices with vendors. However, remember to be respectful and polite during the bargaining process.
  • Dress comfortably: The Central Market can get crowded and warm, especially during peak hours, so dress comfortably and wear appropriate footwear for walking.
  • Explore nearby streets: Don’t limit your visit to just The Central Market; take some time to explore the surrounding streets and neighborhoods, where you’ll find even more shops, restaurants, and hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

Central Market (Phsar Thmei) - Cambodia trips

Attractions near Central Market for Tourists to visit 

Wat Phnom

Location: Approximately 1.5 kilometers north of Central Market.

Wat Phnom is a historical temple built in 1373, and it is the tallest religious structure in the city. The temple is set on a hill and offers a serene environment for visitors to explore, with its beautiful gardens and ancient statues.

National Museum of Cambodia

Location: About 1.2 kilometers southwest of Central Market.

This museum houses the world’s finest collection of Khmer sculpture and artifacts, dating from prehistory to post-Angkorian periods. It provides valuable insights into Cambodia’s rich cultural heritage and history.

Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda

Location: Approximately 1.5 kilometers south of Central Market.

The Royal Palace is a stunning complex of buildings that serves as the royal residence of the King of Cambodia. The Silver Pagoda, located within the palace grounds, is famous for its floor made of silver tiles and its beautiful Emerald Buddha.

Independence Monument

Location: About 2 kilometers south of Central Market.

The Independence Monument was built in 1958 to commemorate Cambodia’s independence from France. It stands as an iconic symbol in Phnom Penh and is beautifully illuminated at night.

Riverside (Sisowath Quay)

Location: Approximately 1.5 kilometers southeast of Central Market.

Sisowath Quay is a lively promenade along the Tonle Sap River, offering a range of restaurants, cafes, and shops. It’s a great place to relax, enjoy a meal, and watch the sunset over the river.