Central Market, Phnom Penh

Central Market is a large multi-purpose market located within a historical building in Phnom Penh city centre in Cambodia.

Phnom Penh Central Market

Phnom Penh Central Market

Phnom Penh Central Market is popular with both locals and tourists who visit to see the building and the variety of things on sale more than to actually buy anything. The market is open every day from 07:00 to 18:00, although the first two hours of the day tend to be the busiest with stock arriving and wholesale purchasers doing business first thing in the morning.


About Central Market


Central Market opened in 1937. The market was built during the period when Cambodia was a French colony and the construction was undertaken by the French Public Works Department. The architect on the project was French national Jean Desbois.

Front entrance to Phnom Penh Central Market

Front entrance to Phnom Penh Central Market

The market building is constructed out of reinforced concrete and has a distinctive art-deco design. Central Market has a central domed area with four arms, which have tiered roofs. The design of the market was cleverly thought out with high ceilings and large entrance ways, and lot of small openings rather than windows, to create a cool and airy retail space which functions well in the hot and humid climate of South East Asia. Unlike other markets in Phnom Penh, such as Orussey Market, Central Market never feels oppressively hot or stuffy even in the heat of the midday sun.

Dome in Phnom Penh Central Market

The interior of the market is even more impressive than the exterior and this is part of the genius of the design. The supports to the dome and the tiered roofs on the arms are impressive decorative features viewed from the inside of the building. The use of horizontal openings to light the building and provide ventilation creates a visually stunning effect throughout the market.

The roof in Central Market is supported by curved beams

The roof in Central Market is supported by curved beams

The market is split into sections by the type of product on sale. The central part of the market is occupied by stalls selling jewellery. The jewellery is displayed in glass covered counter with back lighting which makes the items on sale appear to glow. A clever sales trick, but if you are going to purchase something at one of these stalls remember that not everything which glistens is gold.

Clothes on sale in Central Market

Clothes on sale in Central Market

A large part of the market is occupied by stalls selling clothes. A lot of what is on sale here is fake designer goods in sizes more likely to fit Western body types than what is sale in the markets where local people tend to go clothes shopping, such as Orussey Market.

Chances are you will find a hat that fits

Chances are you will find a hat that fits

Because Phnom Penh Central Market is so busy it can support single product product shops so specialised that they would fail in a less busy retail spaces. For shoppers this means that Central Market provides a vast range of choice; it is somewhere you can find unusual items.

Watches on sale in Central Market

Watches on sale in Central Market

The number of stalls in Central Market creates a fiercely competitive business environment and some stall holders make extraordinary effort to make their stall stand out to customers both in appearance and originality in product lines. Its tough to stand out in this market and the ingenuous attempts of the motivated sellers to do so create many picture worthy displays of things to buy.

Vegetable seller in Central Market

Vegetable seller in Central Market

The action in Central Market extend to the outside areas around the market. These cheaper plots are occupied by stall holders with lower value items such as vegetables and other foodstuffs.

Flower stalls around the outside of Central Market

Flower stalls around the outside of Central Market

At the outer edges of the market are flower stalls. You will find a wide range of domestic and imported flowers here which local people buy for important religious and family occasions. 

Phnom Penh Central Market has its own shrine

Phnom Penh Central Market has its own shrine

Central Market also has its own shrine. The two figures in the shrine appear to Hindu deities. Many Cambodian Buddhists retain Hindu beliefs dating back to the era of the Khmer Kingdom whose ruler were for the greater part Hindus.


Location Central Market


Central Market is located 650 metres walking distance from Phnom Penh Railway Station.

Next read about Train travel from Bangkok to Phnom Penh