Street 240 is a gift for Christmas shoppers! Christmas is coming, you can’t rely on Santa to do all the work, and time is running out. Forget the lookalike malls, there’s a pleasant, leafy avenue in Phnom Penh near the Royal Palace, where you can meet almost all your seasonal shopping requirements and then be spoiled for your choice of a lunch venue.
On Street 240, off Norodom Boulevard and close to the royal palace, lies a 200-meter-or-so stretch of retail joy. A hub for independent stores, many of which are social businesses with sustainable credentials so you can put something back into the community as you spend. Crammed into characterful colonial shop houses you’ll find everything from cute toys, stylish, individual clothing, and striking jewelry collections, to up-market interiors, hand-made homewares, and natural health and beauty products. Some brands you may know from other Phnom Penh locations, many you won’t.
Tip: You might want to place your Christmas wine order en route, as Street 240 has not one but two quality wine merchants, Red Apron and The Wine Warehouse.
A.N.D is one of Street 240’s longest-standing residents and a perennial favorite for women’s clothing in assorted, striking fabric designs. It also specializes in desirable ikat throws, scarves and other items, created in collaboration with local, traditional weavers. Equally well-established is Elsewhere, good for minimal, well-cut clothing and a side selection of jewelry, bags and other accessories plus some home textiles in the back room.
When it comes to home décor, Street 240 boasts three very different stores that cater specifically for stylish interiors. Sayon Silkworks is a colorful cornucopia of cushions, throws, and other soft furnishings, many in traditional fabrics. The shop will hand make to order and offers a professional interior design service.
The collection at Paradise is sourced internationally and is rather more opulent in style: grand mirrors, statement decorative pieces, and luxurious soft furnishings, well-chosen for the Western-meets-Khmer home. Le Lezard Bleu is another Street 240 stalwart, a purveyor of elegant, good quality ornamental items that celebrate Cambodian culture, making it an ideal go-to for gifts for the folks back home.
At the other end of the tourist-oriented spectrum is Phnom Penh Souvenir Shop where you’ll find a convenient selection of the kind of cheap, locally made items you might buy at Russian Market for not dissimilar prices and without the heat or need to barter.
The Green Store brings together a highly browseable trove of — as its name suggests — eco-conscious goods from socially-aware local manufacturers, from clothing to craft spirits, including the kind of stocking fillers you can feel good about buying. Relative newcomer The Weaver’s Tale stocks all things woven and other items that make great gifts.
Next, climb the easily-overlooked narrow stairs next door to the cafe named The Shop to discover the airy, first floor artisan space that is Shade 240. There you’ll find jewelry from Le Serey, funky clothing from Drew Taylor Designs, organic skincare from Broadhead Botanicals, and more.
You’ll be needing lunch at this point so cross the road to cool, comfy Enso Cafe, a good choice for the determined Christmas shopper as it also presents an opportunity to browse the small but perfectly-sourced selection of gift items there, currently including some cute rag dolls and quirky monk-adorned coffee mugs.
You can snap up fun, affordable fashion jewelry in many of the stores, but for timeless, quality designer pieces, Garden of Desire lives up to its name with its collection of exquisite handmade earrings, bracelets and necklaces — special gifts indeed (subtle hint in case my husband is reading this!)
Not strictly on Street 240 but very near, by the intersection with Norodom Boulevard, is Monument Books and Toys, which sells pretty much what it says, and a fine selection too, including English-language fiction and non-fiction, and the best range of books on Cambodian history and culture in the capital.
What to buy the music-lover in your life? Just beyond the main entrance to Penh House hotel east of Street 19 you’ll find Palace Lane, an unprepossessing alleyway from the Street 240 approach (it runs right through to Street 244) but well worth venturing down to find Space Four Zero, Phnom Penh’s only vinyl record store that also stocks original artworks, music posters and other collectibles sourced from Cambodia, the US and elsewhere. Another arty emporium, The Gallerist, is an upscale gallery on the corner with Street 19, dealing in original contemporary pieces by both Cambodian and foreign artists.
The various businesses on Street 240 (and this list is just a taster, apologies to the stores I’ve not mentioned) and neighboring Street 244, which is home to some great small bars and restaurants, are planning a Christmas Bash on Saturday 2 December. It promises ‘festive holiday food, goodies, drinks, shopping, sales, music, fun, and more’ — sounds like a good date to schedule that shopping trip and kick-start the Christmas spirit.