Where to Shop and What to Buy

Sorya Mall Phnom PenhSo, how do you find orginal branded clothes in Phnom Penh? My advice here is to dig-dig-dig. My mom being a QA for one of the garment factories in Cambodia taught me how to spot the original. For shirts, make sure that the stitches inside are thick and clean.

I was fortunate enough to be with my mom on my visit to Phnom Penh last February. She lived there for almost a year, so she’s very familiar with the place, street names, places to go and shop. On our 3 days there, we practically divided our time visiting spots and shopping.

However, shopping was quite limited then, because it was the Vietnamese/Cambodian New Year, so most of the establishments are closed. We just got lucky and arrive on the day before everything closed down, malls, markets etc. Good thing though that most attractions are open.

Clothes, branded clothes.

There are a lot of clothing stores in Phnom Penh, lots of knock-offs too. But why buy knock-offs when there’s a lot of garment factories in Cambodia. Russian Market or Tuol Tum Pong (pronounced Too Tumpong) Market is a haven for local goods in Phnom Penh including real designer clothes or stocklot of garment factories that has been marked unfit for export because of teeny tiny faults. The best shop to visit here is W Exports located just outside the actual market. It’s an airconditioned building right across the actual market. It’s easy to spot with all the Lexus cars parked right in front. (Click to view location in Google Map)

My advice here is to dig-dig-dig. My mom being a QA for one of the garment factories in Cambodia tought me how to spot the original. For shirts, make sure that the stitches inside are thick and clean. The ones being sold at Surplus Stores in SM have thin stitches and messy so even though you think you are getting a bargain from buying there, you’re really not, because they are not branded at all. If you take it as it is though, a surplus, then you won’t have a problem. The feel of original branded items are also different because they are lux and soft to the touch. Believe me, you will know when you touched them. For branded jeans, the ones being sold at W Exports are a mix of original and not-so-original but still nice. Dig through the jeans on hangers to find some rare original Levi’s and other brands. How to tell they’re original? Look at the zipper. When it says Levi’s on the zipper, you’re in luck! If it says YKK, not so. But if it looks good on you, who cares, right? You’ll probably see some other items there like linen pants that are so nice and office pants with the YKK zipper on, but if you like it, then don’t hesitate just because it isn’t branded.

They also have a variety of toddler shirts and pants. I bought a cute Benetton top for my goddaughter there and I wanted to horde it because it was just TOO ADORABLE. We also bought a couple of linen cropped pants. Downstairs where the men’s clothes are, we found cheap, original Levi’s shirts.

So yeah, I think I’ve written enough for one store alone. Let’s go to the next one.

Psah Thmei in Phnom Penh
Psah Thmei means literally ‘New Market’, but it’s often referred to as ‘Central Market’.

Silver jewelries.

I heard from my mom and her friends there that silver jewelries are a must buy in Cambodia. My mom even has 2 or 3 silver items she bought there and they were pretty.

You can also find silver jewelry stores at Toul Tum Pong but we were about to go back there the next day, the shops are already closed for the New Year. Good thing Tita Cecille, my mom’s friend who works in Cambodia accompanied one of her bosses to buy some jewelries before their flight, so she took them to a store near the Wat Ounalom Monastery named Angkor Treasure, so we went there as well. It’s located at Sothearos St. (Click to view location in Google Map), but if you are to ride a tuktuk, just tell the driver to take you near the National Museum or Wat Ounalum. There’s supposed to be a fork after the monastery so you take the smaller street and on your right you will see the shop. The uncle manning the store is very nice and he speaks English.

Mini bronze statuettes and other local knick knacks.

We were unfortunate enough not to be able to visit the Central Market (Click for Google Map location) in it’s full glory. It was closed, both times we were there and there’s only a limited number of sellers outside because the actual market is locked up. Aside from the very interesting architecture (you wouldn’t imagine it’s a market at all), it was also huge, probably one of the biggest markets I’ve seen. From the looks of it, everything is being sold there, including wet and dry goods, plants and flowers and even live goose.

It was walking distance from where we stayed which is a very very nice location by the way (but that’s for another post) and the sorrounding area is also quite interesting. We were able to buy a few giveaways here including cute mini bronze statuettes which I love. Got them for 3 for 2-3USD if I remember correctly (more or less). We also bought keychains and pouches for the ladies. They also sell all kinds of locally made bags. One tip here like in any market is to haggle. Always, always haggle.

Pots and pans at Zebra.

Pots and pans at Zebra Shop in Sorya Mall, Phnom Penh.

This one is a little weird purchase, but still… read what it’s all about.

My mom sent over a few pots and pans through a balikbayan box before she left for Phnom Penh and she bought these pots and pans from Zebra. Zebra is a Thai-brand manufacturer of stainless pots and other cooking materials. If you’re the type who likes looking into the kitchen section of a department store, you would notice that they are selling them here in Manila too. So why buy all the way back there? For an obvious reason, it’s way cheaper.

Although it might also balance out the price if you are buying a LOT of these pans for over-baggage, the shop is still worth a visit. For comparison, the ones being sold in SM is approximately marked up 20% higher than the one being sold in Phnom Penh. This is R’s pasalubong because he wants a saucepan really bad.

Zebra is located at Sorya Shopping Center. To get there, just tell the tuktuk driver to take you to Sorya. It’s near the Central Market. (Location)

Postcards

To be honest, I rarely buy postcards in any of the trips I had. I shoud have, but I’m more of a fridge-magnet kind of person. Surprisingly, I find myself buying these postcards at the exit of Royal Palace.

We visited The Royal Palace (Location) in the middle of the day where the sun is too hot and didn’t get to see it at night. So we just bought postcards to see how it looks at night. It was a nice remembrance and I think I will now buy more postcards when I visit a place.

We bought them for 5 USD for 10 pcs.

There you have it! These are just the few items I got to buy in Phnom Penh and I hope was able to help you in my own little way.