Exploring Phnom Penh, Cambodia's Local Markets

Looking to explore Phnom Penh, Cambodia like a local? I've put together a small post to show you the real side of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia is a photographer's goldmine. My favorite part of visiting a new city in Asia is to visit the local markets. Phenom Penh has nothing short of some incredible local markets to explore. Be warned: If you have a sensitive gag reflex, these local markets will definitely set it off.

Tourist Markets

I don't like these markets due to the fact all the tourist visit them. Also, as a photographer I don't get the shots I want from these areas. I like a more raw feeling to my photos. However, you may like to visit the larger and more tourist friendly markets. Below is a list of them.

The above markets are all located in Phnom Penh and are easy to get to. Most Tuk Tuk drivers will have a sign with all of them listed. If you are wanting to pick up nik-naks and maybe a new t-shirt, the above markets will suit your needs. 

Local Markets

If you are an adventurer and don't mind getting into some odd situations, you can find plenty of local markets in Phnom Penh. At these markets you are guaranteed to be the only tourist. You will for sure get looks from vendors like "WTF?? Why is he/she here??).

Most of the markets that are geared towards locals will not be listed on the internet. When I asked my hostel about them, they kept telling me "Why do you want to go?" "You mean the Russian Market right?". 

In order to get to these markets I advise to talk with your hostel/hotel or a Tuk Tuk driver. You want to tell them that you want to go to a local market..no white people..no tourists. You will find out when you get dropped off if it's the real deal or not. 

What to expect from local markets in Phnom Penh.

These places are dirty. When I say dirty, I mean..DIRTY. Here is a list of tips and what to expect.

  • Do not wear sandals or flip-flops. There is trash covering the ground, mud everywhere, and god knows what else is in the slime.
  • Be prepared for HORRIBLE smells. If the smell of raw meat baking in the hot sunlight will make you sick, this may not be the place for you. People are chopping animals up, guts are everywhere, things are crawling around, and did I mention it smells horrible? I like to think I have a high tolerance to these smells but there were places I had to hold my breath and quickly walk through.
  • People will give you odd looks. Even though people give you odd looks, it's mostly out of curiosity. I never felt endangered. However, keep in mind if you have expensive camera equipment not to flash it about. That's just common sense.
  • Don't pick up the $100 bills on the ground. People in Cambodia use fake money for their religious rituals. This means you will find plenty of legit looking $100 USD bills either laying around or in people's hands. It's best not to pick them up. No need to get caught at customs with counterfeit money.

Check out below for some of my photos during my stay in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.