This is also known as the Russian Market, because all its goods used to come from Russia, one of the few countries to provide aid to Cambodia during the Vietnam occupation. The collapse of the USSR put paid to cheap imports, but ramshackle, stuffy and tremendous, this market retains its reputation as the place to buy textiles, antiques and silver – not to mention motorbike parts. It is a haven bursting with stalls selling bootleg DVDs, fake designer bags, silver jewellery, Chinese-style furniture, photocopied books, handicrafts and piles of multicoloured silks that can be bought for a few dollars and taken to a tailor to be transformed into dresses and jackets. You’ll find these stalls at the south end of the market; book sellers along the west, while the north is taken over with hardware stalls, a small food quarter and mechanics workshops, where men fix up motorbikes in tiny cubicles, revving the engines and filling the stalls around them with smoke.
The market is old and crumbling, but a government plan to rebuild it has been shelved for the time being. It is charming in its dilapidation, though a very unsafe place to work with a high fire risk and narrow exit routes.