The allure of travelling across Asia is not only due to the natural beauty found in its waterfalls and rainforests; it is also because of its people. Asia is a continent that has been the cradle of human civilization for more than two millennia; this is evidenced in the fact that some of the world’s most advanced ancient civilizations originated here, such as the Indus Valley Civilization and the numerous dynasties in China. South East Asia was also home to several notable civilizations such as the Khmer and Siam Empires based in Cambodia and Thailand respectively.
Cambodia and in particular the city of Phnom Penh has been the home of civilizations for many centuries and the Central Market of Phnom Penh or Psar Thom Thmei, has not changed much over the years. Though the architecture has changed and the old system of bartering for goods is different, the core activities have remained the same. Since historic times markets have been the focal points of the city as it facilitated the commerce and industry of the region while also being a meeting place for people.
The Central Market in Phnom Penh is important to the people of this Cambodian city in all the above aspects. Furthermore it carries more interest because it is a reminder of the legacy of the colonial French. This market was erected in 1937 with architecture borrowed from the French city markets; it featured a central dome from which four halls branched out for the vendors to ply their trade. At the time of its construction it was the largest market in Asia.
Today it may not be the largest on the continent, but it is still a must see attraction for tourists. The market function from 7.00 AM to 5.00 PM daily and has everything from antiques to electronics. The highlight of the market still remains the unique French inspired Art Deco building which recently underwent renovation funded by the French government.
For tourists staying at a Phnom Penh hotel this historic colonial relic is easily accessible. A hotel Phnom Penhsuch as Raffles Hotel Le Royal is an excellent accommodation option for travellers to start their journey in Cambodia, as the city is linked to the rest of the country via road and rail.