It’s Saturday night and the sun is going down. After navigating my way through the traffic heading towards Aeon Mall, I see Jet’s Container Night Market light up the otherwise dim and quiet neighborhood. Already I can feel a buzz in the air, as wafts of mouthwatering aromas drift across the evening air and the sound of bands warming up reaches my ears.
Jet’s Container Night Market opened early in 2017 and its immediate popularity meant that within a few months it had to expand. With its breezy outdoor feel fused with a fashionable, modern atmosphere, the market is packed out every weekend with locals and foreigners of all ages. As the night goes on and the brightly colored fish bowl cocktails come out, the atmosphere approaches that of an open-air night club.
Arm in arm with a friend, I stepped into the fray to find what we had been waiting for: the famous, fruity, gummy bear-packed, alcohol-soaked giant fishbowls. My friend, Srey Mech, noticed a promotion for them on a Facebook page and was looking forward to an opportunity to check them out for herself. But our quest was put on the back burner as we entered the market and got distracted by the many restaurants nestled in their respective shipping containers. We decided to settle in for a meal.
From the extensive range of food on offer we decided on local Khmer favorites, including Beef Lok Lak ($3.50) from a market stall with a winning view of the live music stage. Relaxing and chatting while we enjoyed the meal, we reflected in how much creativity had gone into each container stall.
Jet’s is not the only container market in Cambodia’s capital. On the newly developing former-Lakeside district of Boeung Kak, Art’s Container Market combines performing artists, bars, and restaurants with the artistic flair of its own containers. In line with the nascent legacy of Jet’s, the newer market offers chilled outdoor vibes merged with the energizing atmosphere of bright lights and live music.
In addition to these new nightspots is the latest container market venture, the trendy 2040 located just a short stroll from Aeon Mall on Samdech Sothearos Boulevard, near the towering Rose Garden Condominiums. Still partly under construction, this funky outdoor hangout has turned on the lights and is already welcoming customers.
I met Thida, who was enjoying a chilled beer and fresh crab with her friends at Vote Bar in 2040 Container Market. Sitting beneath the dazzling lights set up for Christmas and New Year, Thida told me that she had traveled to Bangkok in the past and feels that 2040 offers a similar atmosphere. As for her friends, they prefer the outdoor breeze to being inside clubs, and like that they can enjoy some shopping at the nearby mall before coming out for dinner. Thida noted that in the early evening the market is the perfect place to take her younger niece, who is still too young to go to nightclubs.
Like the other container markets, a major draw of 2040 is the live entertainment, along with a series of promotions and competitions that add to the buzzing atmosphere. It seems there is always something going on.
All of Phnom Penh’s container markets have the option of ground level or raised seating. Whether you’re hanging out with friends or watching the world go by, breezy balconies offer stunning views over the market and nearby city lights.
Jet’s Container Night Market can be found at #122, National Assembly Street, Phnom Penh and opens 4pm-2am Mon-Sun. Art’s Container Night Market is located on St. R1, Boeung Kok, Phnom Penh and opens 6pm-3am Mon-Sun. The new 2040 Container Market is at Ex-T85, Street Samdech Sothearos, Tonle Bassac, Phnom Penh, and is open 24 hours a day every day of the week.