Purchase the dream

Shopping isn’t the first thing that springs to mind in connection with Cambodia’s capital, but Phnom Penh is fast becoming a retail hub with ultra modern malls, design emporiums and artisan boutiques!

Taking their lead from nature’s gifts since 2008, Bambou Indochine (St. 178/St. 240) products are made from, yep, you guessed it, bamboo! The boutique specialises in natural fibres, including 100% cotton and silk – a much welcome break from sweat-inducing synthetics – so pick your favourites and breath easy! The international-standard quality and head-turning designs will keep those souvenir togs and resort-wear distinctly chic beyond Cambodia. Psst, they do international delivery!

For a glimpse of Cambodia’s lost heritage, save the trip to the Museum for another day, and instead raid the treasure trove of lacquer, wood and stone carvings, ceramics, silk works and garments, not to mention quality Cambodian silverwork, at Artisans Angkor (St. 13). You’ll also be shopping in the name of a good cause: improving livelihoods by providing training and work for around 1,100 Cambodian men and women who are employed by the social enterprise.

3Strands (St. 144) also grants you the chance for some benevolence with your customance. This international organisation is driven by the fight against human trafficking, with victims helped to reintegrate back in the community through gainful employment: making and selling men’s and women’s clothing and accessories.

Feeling the heat? Treat yourself to a takeaway pampering at Bodia Nature (St. 178 / St. 278), with its all-natural range of products, including balms to soothe and invigorate heat parched and insect ravaged skins. Wash away the fatigue (or is that dust?) with rice scrubs good enough to eat, then discover the magic in traditional herbal compresses and lush massage oils. Unwind in the comfort of your home away from home or head to Bodia Spa (Sothearos Blvd), a cocoon of calm in the city. Don’t forget to grab some natural mosquito repellent on your way out!

Hummingbird, on St. 19 just off the bustling backpacker area of St.172, has a beautiful selection of quality boutique fashions including their own ‘Originals’ range. Showcased in a laid back urban boutique setting, you’ll find dresses for all occasions, casual daywear perfect for tourists and travellers, and a beautiful range of jewellery and accessories.

Want your goods to do good again? Distribute your dollar to craftswomen from disadvantaged backgrounds by buying some eco-friendly cottons, children’s toys and more at NGO Daughters of Cambodia along Sisowath Quay.

Phnom Penh may not be the best place to sniff around, but wandering down St. 178 may have your nose drawn in to Senteurs d’Angkor. Their handmade soaps and scents are an affordable luxury – especially if the sun and soap at your hotel are making your skin see red! Let the senteur (that’s scent to non-Francophones) from their spice and aromatic section set you adrift in fields of fragrant jasmine, orchids or earthy bowers of cinnamon. Did we mention the tantalising local honey, coffee and rice brandy in their delicatessen?

If taking your chances to cross the road in Phnom Penh isn’t enough of a thrill, visit Citadel (St.110) for all your daredevil needs! Hand-forging blades sharper and more elegant than an Armani suit since 1999. With no two items alike, there’s no better place to get those samurai swords your wall has been waiting for!

For those that need extra pep in their step, family-owned Starling Farm (St. 172) are some of the top producers of the famous Kampot pepper, and carry other GI-protected products to tingle the taste buds back home.

For discounted branded products manufactured in Cambodia, cruise to Sihnouk Blvd. Spanish fashion favourite Mango has prices at their Phnom Penh outlet that are a real treat.

Once you’ve got your wardrobe together, why not hop over the road to add some finishing touches at Singaporean Pedro. Smart timeless shoes, belts, handbags, wallets and ties are their speciality.

If new-to-you is plenty new enough, check out Lost’n’Found Vintage Store on St. 63. Carrying a hand-picked selection of threads and accessories fresh from Italy, France and Hong Kong, with new items arriving quicker than bags on the priority baggage carousel and at a snip of what you’d pay back home, why not unearth some buried treasure today?

Tinzzi (St. 13) boasts a stunning selection of home decorations and accessories. From candles to cushions, buddha statues to embroidered artwork, you’ll find something special here to brighten up your abode. Fancy giving the kiss of life to once loved materials? Hit up Smateria. Get all the elegance of Italian design, with the added durability and cool of Khmer craftsmanship reviving local fabrics, all without the hefty footprint.

Collect kudos at Tabitha on the corner of St.51 and St.360 for tracking down genuine Cambodian silk (precious little of all silk on sale is gathered and produced in the Kingdom). From bedding to tablecloths, bags to shawls, if its gorgeous silk you want, they’ve got it. Double kudos for contributing to Tabitha’s programme teaching artisans the fast disappearing craft of silkwork and other skills.

On St. 63, Sorya Mall’s five floors are as jammed with genuine electronics, branded sportswear and entertainment outlets as they are with overzealous Khmer youths. Enough said.

Still haven’t found what you’re looking for? Find Couleurs d’Asie, a hidden gem of a design emporium on St.240 and you’ve won half the battle. Once inside, marvel at the astounding range of custom-made home textiles in silk, organza and cotton, not to mention its suite of wellness products, jewellery, prêt-à-porter, bags… If you can’t find that perfect pressie here, give up and buy some rice brandy.

Many stores wont allow you to bring in your pets, so if you’re aiming for a serious stint of retail therapy and feel you may be neglecting your furry companions, why not drop them off for the day at Family Pet Friend (St. 428).

Getting your shopping fix in Phnom Penh is not always a walk in the park (bonus points if you buy anything at a park, by the way!). Sky high temperatures can take their toll – have a good city map and refreshments handy and, unlike the traffic, take it slow and steady!