Travel | Psar Leu | The “New” Market in Siem Reap | Cambodia

Siem Reap

Cambodia. Still recovering from decades of turbulence and land mines.

I was in Siem Reap for over a week (in 2008). It sure is an amazing place. Very cheap. Full of tourists, but not annoyingly so. Hundreds of kilometres of Hindu and Buddhist temples that are thousands of years old.  People generally have heard of Ankor Wat, but there are so so many more…

I had some very special experiences there.

Siem Reap

Siem Reap, like a lot of SE Asia, is full of extraordinary contrasts.

Cambodia is Buddhist, and in the evening you can catch many monks moving from wherever they spent the day back to their temple abodes. It is a wonderful sight, the orange of the robes against the grey concrete of streets and buildings.


Motor bikes are everywhere, but any traditional methods of carrying goods still exist. Note the cigarette! This girl did not mind me photographing her, but when my friend tried to shoot, she hid behind a tree!

Carrying Pots

Unfortunately, the food is quite heavily meat and fish based. Also, it is harder to find true Cambodian food. I am sure it exists – but I was looking in all the wrong places.

When I did find some, it was wonderfully fresh and spicy.

Cambodian Food

On a Sunday, I headed out to Siem Reap’s New Market.

New Market you say?

Wouldn’t it be better to head out to the Old Market?

The Old Market is in the middle of town, and originally was the Food Market for local people. But as the tourism industry increased (25% of all people in Cambodia last year were tourists), the Old Market changed to suit the tastes of these people with money to spend. It became less and less about food and more and more about artefacts, sun hats, cafes and restaurants, tshirts, old opium pots and other souvenirs of choice for the tourists from all over the globe.

So the local people started the New Market. Further out of town in a less salubrious area. No Western people. Even the tuck tuck drivers are reluctant to take us there.

We did find a great tuck tuck driver who we promptly hired for the day. And so we spent the morning at the New Market, ate lunch at the Old Market and then visited an Orphanage for a confronting afternoon with the children and staff.

The market is amazing. Every inch of space is used for vegetables, flowers, fruit, herbs, spices, fish, meat, breads (wonderful French breads left over from the time of the French occupation), drinks, anything you could want.

New Market

The paths are so narrow, and full of people shopping on motor bikes, not even bothering to leave the bike as they negotiate purchases with the stall holder.

Bikes at New Market

Yet amongst this, pedestrians negotiate small spaces to find the best, the freshest, the highest quality food.

Buying at New Market

The French have left behind a few noticeable legacies. For example, the police station is still called the Gendarmarie. As I mentioned, breads and pastries are quite French. And then there are snails.


Take my word for it. There are acres of snails at that market. Oh, and did I mention …..


grasshoppers? …..

Locusts 2

So many of those small creatures. But lots of other foods too, hot, cold, to go, eat in, whatever.

Eat in?

The food is really interesting – and the people are beautiful.


The boys

This lady was so pleased to be photographed, and so proud of her baby.

So Proud

I found this baby asleep in a cradle made from a large piece of cloth strung between two poles in between two stalls.


This lovely lady was selling flattened rice – poha! She was showing me you could even eat it without further cooking.

Woman with flat rice

Woman with Flat Rice






Author: Ganga108

Heat in the Kitchen, Cooking with Spirit. Temple junkie, temple builder, temple cleaner. Lover of life, people, cultures, travel. Champion of growth, change and awareness. Taker of photos. Passionate about family. Happy.

13 thoughts on “Travel | Psar Leu | The “New” Market in Siem Reap | Cambodia”

  1. Your pictures tell their own stories. I love markets like these (we have plenty of them here) where there’s so much going on.
    If you can see beyond the set prejudices (I’m afraid many people see only this) one will find very friendly and open people wholeheartedly living life in spite of their difficulties.

    Hi Aparna. I visited an Indian market in Trivandram just recently. I will do a post eventually on that too. I just love markets – I must confess that I am not much of a traditional tourist. I like to get to know the people – what they do and how they do it – so generally visit markets, temples and traditional music events. Maybe after that I might do the tourist sights.

    Glad that you liked my post.


  2. Siem Reap is a lovely town. Sadly we did not get to see the New Market. I was there a couple of years ago and then again again last year. Things have improved considerably in the town and it was wonderful to return in the afternoon after a day of temple-complex viewing to some hip and pretty coffee shops. Did you try the amok while there? I don’t know if they make vegetarian versions. I’m looking forward to your next entry!

    Hi B. Oh what a pity that you did not visit the New Market – maybe next time. Yes there is some great food places around, esp around the Old Market. I so loved it and felt that I had only just begun get below the surface (which is dominated by the tourism industry) to get to local culture. Must go back.


  3. Aaawwwwhh… what a trip!!! What lovely pictures, beautiful, colorful!
    Snails are ok for me, but grasshoppers… I don’t know about them!

    Do you know that a Scientist in the Kitchen is having an Event on Markets?
    Just in case you want to participate

    Hi Nuria, It was amazing to see what the people of Siem Reap eat. Thanks for the headsup on the Market event. I would love to participate.


  4. One man’s delicacy is bizzare to others. To see a country’s true beauty, one has to look past its poverty and quirkiness. You have done just that, like any true traveler would do. I love your travelogues, VY. But sadly, I see that many westerners are prejudiced when they visit eastern countries.

    I don’t often talk about my views on poverty, as they are rarely understood. When I travel, I am the one that feels impoverished. I see richness everywhere. Rich cultures. Rich in mind, in philosophy. Rich in experience, in understanding, in tolerance. Rich in cuisine. Rich in arts. Rich in their sciences. Understandings of worlds that we can only imagine. Poverty is not anthing to do with material possessions or lives that do not mirror the western ideal of how it should be. The richest people I have met have lived on the streets. I envy them. One of the wisest people that I have met could neither read nor write, yet spoke 5 or 6 languages. Who are we to be judgemental about the lives of others? If I can gain one more insight into the life of another every time I travel, it is the best outcome I could hope for.

    One of the most moving experiences in my recent travels was when a woman came up and sat with me on a bus in Kovalam. She did not speak any English (and I speak no Malayalam). She was very tiny, I am very tall. She was dark haired, I am blonde. She looked at my new Indian clothes, and then at her overworn sari. She put her hand against mine and it was half the size of mine. Hers was very dark, mine was very pale. She turned her hand over and it was henna’d. I turned mine over and it was freckled. She was pointing out the differences between us. Then she held my hand, and we were both the same. No difference.

    I have never seen poverty in any of my travels. I hope this comes across in my photos.


  5. Great post and fabulous photos!

    I have been lucky enough to spend time in Cambodia and am always amazed by the sights, sounds and of course some of the food!

    Just north of Phmon Penh is the Spider Village, but don’t worry, you can get a bag of grasshoppers if spiders aren’t your thing!

    Oh, uh, um, well – I am so glad that I am vegetarian!


  6. Love this post! I was in Cambodia (including Siem Reap) 2 summers ago and it was such a transforming experience! I had a separate blog ( for it at that time! Beautiful images, they bring back memories! Kampotian pepper was one of my favorite additions to the food – so strong!


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