Time was, when you wanted to equip your expat apartment in Phnom Penh without household essentials, your choices were severely limited. Local markets are still the obvious go-to for everyday Cambodian homewares. If it’s cheap and cheerful bowls and glasses, basic pots and pans, serviceable small electrical goods like rice cookers and blenders, and a veritable rainbow of towels, mats, and Khmer-style bedding you’re after, browse BKK1 market or O’Russey’s ground floor, be prepared to barter and still pay a little more than the locals and you’re sorted. But where to head if you’re after something other than typical market fare?
As an ardent shopper, just about the only household essentials that have so far eluded me here in Phnom Penh are proper eggcups for my morning soft-boiled poung moan. This state of sufficiency is largely thanks to the number of homewares shops that have sprung up in Phnom Penh in recent years.
We can thank Japan for introducing a raft of new retail experiences to the Kingdom, so let’s start at Aeon Mall on Sothearos Boulevard, Japanese-owned and the nearest we have to an air-conditioned one-stop shopping option (Aeon 2 opened last year at Sen Sok City with a similar retailer profile). Aeon’s own department store has an array of Asian and western-style cookware and tableware in its ground floor supermarket and also on the second floor, where you’ll find towels, bed linens, lighting, home decor, small furniture items and electrical goods too. Aeon is not high-end but it’s it’s not particularly cheap either — even when discounted — but at least you can pretty much find what you need. And there lies the rub; decent quality imported goods inevitably arrive in the Kingdom with top end price tags attached.
For more up-market kitchenware and bedding head to Lock and Lock and Akemiuchi respectively on the first floor, and keep an eye on their special deals. Neighboring Nojima has an impressive range of mostly name-brand electrics. If budgetary constraints apply, look in on Lucky Supermarkets, which often have more affordable offers on kettles, pan sets etc. The best choice of well-priced fans, meanwhile, lies in a row of local shops on Monivong, near O’Russey.
Japanese ‘Yen stores’ are a cornucopia of small things you need (and others you didn’t previously know you needed), from storage boxes to (Japanese) tableware; toilet brushes and kitchen plastics to clothes hooks and even little socks for your furniture legs — and every item $2! Aeon has branches of Daiso and MI-A — there’s another MI-A branch slightly further north on Sothearos — where you’ll also find $2 cosmetics, craft materials, and stationery.
If you’ve time to sift through the overladen shelves of Japanese ‘recycle’ stores, Sakura (try Street 488 branch) and Toto (north of Wat Phnom), there are some gems to be found — homewares and otherwise — and not all the stock is second hand. The panoply of bowls, sake jugs, glasses and condiment dishes (priced less than $1) is pretty awesome and you never know quite what else you’ll unearth.
Less cheap but well-stocked with practical kitchenalia and excellent storage solutions is Japan Home Store; there are four branches in Phnom Penh including at Toul Tum Pong and Toul Kork.
Readers will most likely already be familiar with the larger expat supermarkets. Thai Huot in particular has whole aisles of glass and tableware. Lucky’s range is smaller but still decent. The expansive Home Top Market on Mao Tse Tung Boulevard stocks a wide range of household and DIY goods.
Decent quality western-style bed linens, particularly flat sheets (who wants to sleep under a duvet in the heat?), were something of a holy grail in the Kingdom before Home and Hotel Supply opened its showroom on Street 63 just south of Thai Huot. Its range of plain-coloured bedding, western dinner service pieces, decorative tableware, bathroom fittings and more are well-priced and refreshingly minimal. Grab some bedding or go full-on hotel-chic.
I’ve focused on practical housewares, but when it comes to decorative bits and pieces or even furniture (starting point for the latter being the strip of rattan and wooden furniture manufacturers along Sothearos Boulevard between Aeon and Mao Tse Tung), two retailers towards the opposite ends of the price spectrum are my favourites, for browsing as well as buying. I Ching on Sothearos is a well established, high end interior design, furniture and home decor store that merges Cambodian and European styling. You could easily and affordably fit out your whole apartment from Display on Street 63, a cool mix of contemporary home accessories and coordinated furniture.
That should cover the essentials and some home-from-home conveniences too. Happy homeware shopping — and let me know if you find any eggcups!
Open daily, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m
132 Samdach Sothearos Blvd, Phnom Penh
Tel: +855 (0)23 901 091
Japan Home Centres
Open daily 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
48A Street 294, Phnom Penh
Tel: +855 (0)89 266 851
Open daily 9 a.m. to 10p p.m.
Aeon Mall, Sothearos Blvd, Phnom Penh (other branches around town)
T: +855 (0)96 280 4864
Sakura Recycle Shop
Open daily 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
7 Street 488, Sangkat Phsar DemThkov, Phnom Penh
T: +855 (0)23 6313 103
Toto Recycle Shop
Street 47,north of Wat Phnom, Phnom Penh
Open daily 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sihanouk Blvd, BKK1, Phnom Penh (other branches around city)
Tel +855 (0)81 222 028
Open daily 7.30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
214 Street 63 (corner 352), BKK1, Phnom Penh
Tel: +855 (0)23 726 604
Home Top Market
Opens daily 7.30 a.m. to 9.30 p.m.
147 Mao Tse Toung Boulevard (St 245), Phnom Penh
Tel: +855 (0)23 999 808
Home and Hotel Supply
Open Monday to Saturday 8 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.
234 Street 63, BKK1, Phnom Penh
Tel +855 (0)12 662 787
Open Monday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
31 Mao Tse Tung Boulevard, Phnom Penh
Tel: +855 (0)23 220 873
Open daily 7.30 a.m. to 9.30 p.m.
178ab Street 63, Phnom Penh
Tel: +855 (0)95 810 250