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Travel Guide > Asia > Cambodia > Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh Money & Shopping

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For the shopper, it is best to enter Cambodia with the phrase 'caveat emptor' ('let the buyer beware') ringing in one's ears.

Most manufactured goods you buy in Cambodia will be of dubious quality: this especially applies to electronic goods of any kind. At least a third of anything electronic will cease to work within days, if it ever does. Handmade goods (shoes and silks for example) are generally of good quality.


As elsewhere in Cambodia, transactions are made in US dollars and in Cambodian riel, and only upmarket places will accept plastic (normally with a 3 % surcharge). Take lots of low denomination US notes - notes above US$20 can be difficult to change. In place of coins you will get back riel, at a set exchange rate of 4,000 to the dollar. There are a number of international ATM machines dispensing US currency around the city, including the Sisowath Quay tourist strip and in Sorya Market.

They also work with international maestro cards. You can change $US notes into smaller denominations at the currency booths along the footpath on Sisowath. The cheapest ATM is inside the Mekong Bank at 220 Sisowath Quay, they have no charge for international cards but are only open during business hours. They will also change larger notes to smaller ones here if the ATM gives you US$100 or US$50 notes. ANZ Royal bank charges US$4 per transaction! The Canadia bank ATM's are also fee free.

Note that cashing traveller's cheques can be a big problem, and even major banks may refuse to exchange traveller's cheques of value above US$100.

Things to buy

Popular tourist buys include Cambodian silk, local silverware, traditional handicrafts and curios (including Buddha figures), and made-to-order clothes (these are often of good quality, unlike electronic goods). If you want to support businesses that are noted for supporting Cambodia's culture and heritage, look for the Heritage Friendly Business Logo from Heritage Watch, an organization that is promoting the preservation of Cambodia's cultural legacy.

Beware that DVDs and CDs you buy in Phnom Penh have around a 10-20% failure rate; with sunglasses bought from roaming street vendors you will probably find that 100% don't give full UV/polarized protection. Most watches are also 'fake' copies or cheaply manufactured, including those bought in the Central Market.

Antiques and home decor

The Cambodia Antiquities Law (1996) bans the sale, purchase and export of Cambodian antiques, and since 1999 the United States has banned their import into that country. Consequently, most of the "antiques" sold in Cambodia are reproductions.


Pirated books are widely available from street sellers, but spend a minute or so leafing through the book before buying: sometimes they lack contents pages, or pages are in the wrong order or missing, or the book inside the cover is not the book described on the cover.

Clothes and accessories

Handicrafts and souvenirs

Street 178, just north of the National Museum, is known as Artist Street and has many interesting boutiques.

Russian Market - Jewelry

There are many booths that sell fake jewelry and syntactic gemstones in the Russian Market. Don't buy from a booth which cannot issue a certificate of warranty. Make sure you are entitled to a full refund if the item is different from what you were told. Don’t buy a 5-carat, 'flawless' chicken-blood ruby for US$500 and think that you have hit the jackpot. If your instinct tells you that the price is too cheap, remember the saying, “If it’s too good to be true then it probably is”. Buy jewelry and gemstones from a reputable shop established for many years, with a reputation to protect.

Shops & Stores in Phnom Penh

Market Central Market
(in Cambodian called Psar Thmei - "New Market") is a 1930s Art Deco covered market near the Riverfront (Sisowath Quay) district. The market is well set out, and sells everything from flowers to video games. As of August 2009, two arms of the building ... more
in Phnom Penh
Shopping Mall Sorya
Mall, currently Phnom Penh's main Western-style mall, is nearby - less colorful than the traditional markets, but it is air-conditioned and contains a range of cheap fast-food outlets as well as a well-stocked supermarket named Lucky Supermarket. If looking ... more
in Phnom Penh
Shopping Mall City Mall
was opened in September 2009, making it the newest and biggest western-style mall in Phnom Penh. It can be found on Monireth Boulevard near the Olympic Stadium. The mall contains a large branch of Lucky Supermarket, as well as many fast-food outlets and modern s... more
in Phnom Penh
Market Russian Market
(Cambodian "Psar Toul Tom Poung" - it gained the "Russian Market" moniker following the Vietnamese occupation of the city in the 1980s, but many motodops are not familiar with the name) offers the opportunity to buy real designer clothes at a... more
in Phnom Penh
Art/Crafts/Antiques Store Hidden Treasures
9 Street 148, has antiques, art and curios from Cambodia's past and nearby South-East Asian cultures.
in Phnom Penh
Bookstore Monument Books
Has the most extensive collection of new books in Phnom Penh, including fiction and non-fiction, children's books, non-English-language works (in French and Khmer, for instance), magazines and newspapers. There is a particularly good collection of books from... more
in Phnom Penh
Bookstore Bohr's Books
A small store offering a large, diverse collection of books - perhaps Phnom Penh's best. A second store now operates in Street 172, 400m from Wat Unalom
in Phnom Penh
Bookstore Boston Book Company
A secondhand bookstore that, as of October 2009, had just opened. Has a good collection of fiction and non-fiction works, including texts for teachers and students. Situated in an attractive building, it will eventually have a cafe.Directionsjust around the corn... more
in Phnom Penh
Bookstore D's Books
A cheerful chain of secondhand bookstores dealing mainly in mass market paperbacks.
in Phnom Penh
Bookstore International Book Center
A large bookshop concentrating mainly on textbooks and other educational works. Has a small classic literature collection. Also sells stationery, electronic devices, sporting goods and souvenirs.
in Phnom Penh
These are just 10 of 16 Shops & Stores in Phnom Penh. Show more.

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