Phsar Nath (literally meaning: Meeting Market, but often in English referred to as Central Market) was built in 1936-1937 by Jean Desbois and Louis Chauchon, the two architects also responsible for Cambodia’s most famous market – Phsar Thmei in Phnom Penh. Their Battambang creation is a well-designed Art Déco structure on the location of an open-air market at the riverfront, and is now considered a significant land mark for Battambang.
The market was built in two halves, with the larger western half containing most of the stalls and the smaller eastern half containing enclosed shop space at the end, adorned by an art deco clocktower with at the foot a small shrine awaiting vendors’ prayers.
The smaller building lies on the Sangker River and contains the main entrance, marked by a clock tower. In practice, however, the entrance that is most commonly used lies at the rear of the market. It is the most active area of the market as it is where the fresh produce is sold; from baskets, buckets, pieces of cloth, banana leaves, and so forth. Pieces of cloth and umbrellas provide some shade. At a set of fixed benches – finished with what used to be white tiles – fresh produce is sold for a slightly higher price.
Inside the market only non-perishable articles are sold: tinned food, staple food, toiletries, clothing, stationary, shoes, jewellery. There are even hair and nail salons, equipped with Hollywood-style spotlights to provide for both light and some glamour.
In the street that separates the two buildings restaurants, which are not much more than a wok burner and some plastic furniture, make food to order. It’s one of the best places in town to sit, eat some authentic Khmer cuisine, and watch people go about their business.
One of the best things about eating at markets in Cambodia is that you can order from any stall in the area and it will be delivered to where you are sitting. Just make sure – of course – to order something from the stall that you are sitting in.
Phsar Nath opens daily from 6am to 6pm, but – as with almost any market in Cambodia – the best time to visit is in early morning when the fresh produce has just arrived and you’ll experience the market at its busiest.
360° aerial tour
Street 113 runs along both sides (one-way),