If you’re taking a visit or landing down for some expat life, I can only assume you’ve done your online search for places to shop. If not, don’t expect h&m, Sephora, and Saks. Instead, be greeted with numerous markets full of character, unfamiliar smells, and cramped spaces and the most oddly laid out malls you’ve ever seen along with a few awesome boutiques.
The largest collection of genuine, higher end brands in the city with French designers like Sophia Roos, Little Paris, and Caroll along with popular local brand JaVos Jeans and high end men’s oriented custom line, colorblind. A white, clean and sprawling floor plan packed with top quality and up-to-date pieces from lines like Artisans d’Angkor, Linda Mai Phung, Fan Fan, and Mitsou. The children’s selection is the chicest you’ll find for the under twelve crowd and there are plenty of accessories for a small splurge.
Tucked away on Street 240 1/2, Paperdolls has everything you need to stand out (plus a few kittens at the moment f) from gigantic statement making necklaces of gleaming metal plates and jaw-dropping jewels to vintage dresses that would make any factory girl drool. Paperdolls offers a slew of accessories in a price range that leaves enough for martinis later on in a whimsical shop that is anything but boring.
New Collection may seem daunting at first, a gleaming three story department store boasting names like Louis Vuitton and Chanel. At first glance, you’d be sure you’ve walked onto sacred grounds and quickly turn on your heel to run out clutching your wallet. At closer look, you’ll realize that the majority of the name brands are knock offs (well replicated ones at that) and for a fraction of the price, you can pretend to join the elite host of Birkin owners. Along with the big “name brands” are full on glamour party frocks and silk rompers, ideal for the inner diva.
Angkor Independent Tailor
With countless tailors rimming the streets, it’s difficult to know which one can offer quality work in a timely manner. While I’m sure there are many, I’ve only had positive experiences at Angkor Independent. Using quality fabrics and working quickly to deliver exactly what you ask for a fair price, Angkor is the place is recommend to anyone looking for something custom.
I’ve broken three pairs of shoes in the past month; that’s what I get from buying footwear at small Khmer boutiques and the market. When you’re looking for something of more quality, Pedro has to be Cambodia’s leading footwear brand. Although costing a bit more than $5 at the shopping center, $40 is still a deal for the playful styles for women Pedro offers and the surprising abundance of men’s shoes that actually cater to a a GQ sense of style.
A small boutique on Street 91 for men with a wider ranger of sizes than most Khmer shops (XS and S). A great place to stop when looking for oversized boyfriend tees/tanks for a super cheap price or picking up a punchy graphic tee for the boy.
Both of these shops are usually ones you know you can walk out with something with ESQ being the male counterpart to Esquisse. With items sourced from Bangkok that generally stay on more of the “cuter” side than I personally like, ESQ does have nice basic men’s tees and shorts and once in a while I will find a good women’s piece, whether a bandeau or oversized white tee. It’s kind of like a small Urban Outffiters, for those who like a lot of deer and anchors and bunnies and 90s inspired floral skating dresses. Be warned: the quality is not high (you get what you’re paying for) so check the buttons and clasps and for holes before buying: they have a strict no return policy (after 2 days, I believe).
I had been looking for jojoba face oil for months since I moved to Cambodia and finally found it at Yves Rocher. A pleasantly accessible spa and beauty store, Yves Rocher offers a large line of skincare products that mirror those that you could find at home. It’s not all whitening, lightening, and brightening as most Asian beauty brands boast. I’d prefer to keep my skin more of a caramel color than grey, thanks.
Pencil Super Center
I can only spend about thirty minutes in Pencil at a time, but if you’ve got something in mind that has feathers, jewels, cutouts, fur, or sequins on it you’re likely to find it at Pencil. Super gaudy with tons of techno, lots of incense and perfume, with cramped aisles it may sound like the third circle of hell. Although you do tend to leave with a headache, you also usually find some quirky piece very inexpensively to add to your ever growing clothes collection. The mall seems to be getting more put together in the past few months and the prices have risen with it, but still a great place to find maribou flip flops, a Furby tank top, and lime green patent creepers. When the whirlwind is over, you can snag a Snow Yogurt for the tuk tuk ride back home.
IBC: International Book Center
I love office supplies. Notebooks, thick tipped high gloss pens, organizing accordion folders, double sided tape, the office works. IBC offers it all along with those strange teachers posters you always see listing different foods or cats or farm animals along with every kind of pen imaginable and a host of thermoses. They’ve got Mont Blanc office accessories for the high class office dweller and every kind of notebook or journal made. One down side: no planners with pre-filled dates seem to be available…anywhere! Boo.
Sorya Shopping Center
Sorya is most likely the cleanest place you’ll find whatever you’re looking for. A mass of stalls inside a five story mall (Platinum Cineplex on the top floor if you’re itching for a movie theater experience), it’s tacky, loud and gives some of the best deals on knockoff goods, little trinkets, and toys while housing a Revlon stall and Lucky Supermarket.
Owned by Princess Ermine Norodom, Le Marais offers the perfect blend of Khmer elegance and Paris chic. A small boutique hotel of six rooms with an adjoining clothing shop, you’ll find racks of delicious modern silk pieces, sexy shifts and luxuriously loose pants and bold accessories unavailable at any market.
Finding quality furniture and household decor that doesn’t scream tourist can be difficult in Phnom Penh. There are interior design and decor shops opening left and right, but I’m biased towards .BEYOND for their ability to create custom and personal furniture items from scratch along with the best set of sheets I’ve owned in Cambodia.
This boutique offers fair trade, vibrant and fun clothing crafted by empowered women infected with HIV. The designs are unique and lend an exciting twist on fair trade clothing options.
My day to day uniform is a pair of joggies (silk, cotton, rayon, nylon, printed, solid, you name it) and a basic tank top. It’s difficult to find many my staple anywhere here but Mango, This high street brand offers classic basics to a market needing a bit of international style.
The only sportswear brand in Phnom Penh to offer quality and authentic goods from their own shopfront, Adidas delivers us with updated sportswear and accessories.