Cambodia Nightlife - Phnom Penh
Early - Mid - Late - Sex in the City
Recommended Phnom Penh Bars and Restaurants (Non-Hostess).
Live music venues in Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh's Gay Bar
Phnom Penh's Nightlife is spread across the city, there are many small hole in the wall bars and a few bigger bars. The nightlife is split into Asian and Western bars and dance clubs. The western bars and clubs fit into the middle of the market. Some of the bigger Asian bars and clubs are 4 to 5 times bigger than the biggest Western bars and clubs.
There are many small bars aimed at the western market (over 100 at this time and more opening everyday), many people come to Phnom Penh and buy bars, unfortunately most do little with them. They are usually devoid of customers most of the time but with rents being so cheap it's not much more expensive than having an apartment here.
If you are looking for the nightlife in Phnom Penh you can pickup a copy of the Pocket Guide or the Bayon Pearnik. Alternatively you can just go to the bars I do. Firstly Phnom Penh's nightlife doesn't really start until about 10:30 pm. Prior to that it's just drinking in some of the smaller bars.
So here's my guide to the nightlife in Phnom Penh, now I should mention I like looking at beautiful women so I tend to visit that style of bar. Click here to jump to the Phnom Penh Nightlife area.
Recommended Non-Hostess Bars and Restaurants to visit
The restaurants in Phnom Penh are as varied as they are in any
city in the world. So there is a venue for most budgets and an excellent selection of food available.
Typically western food in Phnom Penh is slightly more expensive than neighbouring Thailand or Vietnam, the reason being that most things western are imported into Cambodia. The one notable exception to this is Steves Steak House which grows it's own beef in Cambodia.
There are several places I recommend to eat, in no particular order these restaurants are well known and frequented by expats.
The Rising Sun - #20 Street 178 - Excellent value English style pub. The breakfast is consistantly one of the best in town and is a good standard to compare other breakfats by. Personally I have the 1/2 English breakfast with a pot of tea, at $3.75.
The Frog and Parrot - #273 Sisowath Quay - The original owner of this
bar liked The Rising Sun so much he copied the bar (and the menu) but failed to make it the success the Rising Sun is. Since Steve bought the bar it has improved substantially and is now a popular haunt for many expats and tourists. The fish and chips and recommended.
The Jungle Bar - #273 Sisowath Quay - Well it's next door to the Frog and Parrott so it's not really important what the number is. Jeff serves an excellent range of food in the $3-$5 range. My favourite here is the Mom's Spaghetti with extra noodles, I think the price is $3.50 add 50 cents if you want some meat in it. Lots of great food.
The Riverside Bistro - #276 Sisowath Quay - Next door to the Jungle bar the Riverside Bistro is a local institution. One of the biggest and longest running restaurants the menu is extensive. My personal favourites here are the Smoked Salmon Salad, The Vietnamese beef Stew, The Amok and some Swedish dish involving a creamy sauce, pork strips and a swiss potatoe cake. A little bit more expensive than the other restaurants/bars so far mentioned but a popular place. Andy spends a great deal of time with the decor of this bar and it's well worth a visit just that reason.
Kandal House - #239B Sisowath Quay - Great selection of home made pastas and pizzas. Very popular with the locals and toursists. Friendly and enjoyable atmosphere. Good selection of both Asian and Western food. They do take away and home delivery.
The Cantina - #347 Sisowath Quay - Located amongst about 1/2 dozen other budget tourist orientated restaurants the The Cantina offers excellent Mexican style food. The owner, a long time resident and photographer has a great display of photos from around Cambodia. I have yet to eat there but everyone I have talked to recommends it for mexcian food. If you have a slightly smaller budget then the Tex Mex (#115 Norodom just south of the Independance monument) offers some cheap eats.
Rendez-Vous - #127 Sisowath Quay - Comes highly recommended by several of my friends.
Punjab Surya - #16 St130 - Ok the name isn't quite right but it's close enough, next door to the Lemongrass restaurant. Probably the best value Indian restaurant in town. With complementary snacks and desert coupled with great Indian food this is a great place to eat if you like Indian food. The meals are in the $5-$10 range but are very large and could feed two people with normal appetites. For real cheap Indian food ($2 for the lot) go to Chi Cha Guesthouse at #27 Street 110. They offer 100% Halal food and have a cheap guesthouse as well.
Alley Cat Cafe - Not the easiest place to find as it's down a small alley it's opposite the entrance to the Art school on St19. Dallas cooks up some great American/Mexican style food. I've eaten there a few times and it's great value. Great specials on Sunday.
Heres a quick list of the other places I have eaten in and recommend: Sunway Hotel (Great Buffet),
The Pickled Parrot (favourite dish #31 Chicken Penne Pasta with a Creamy sauce$4.50, burgers are good)
Martinis, good food and has never made me sick.
I have a Phnom Penh restaurant and bar guide forum for people to write/read about places to eat/drink and if you are interested it's here.
Phnom Penh Live Music Venues
If you are looking for live music in Phnom Penh then the Memphis Pub located on street 118 near Sisiwath Quay provides an airconditioned venue playing rock music. For Jazz the newly opened Miles Jazz bar is a great place to relax, the venue is located at N° 17C Street 370 and the bar is located on the roof of the building providing a nice open airy feel. The owner is also an artist and so the bar is decorated with much of his artwork.
Other bars host the occasional visiting bands but as they are irregular you will need to check the current Phnom Penh Gig Guide information.
If your budget stretches to the larger hotels then the Lobby
Lounge & Bar in the 5-star InterContinental Phnom Penh Hotel.
Bar, tables and cozy couches and arm chairs. Draft beer, wines,
cocktails and a sophisticated selection of spirits. Cuban cigars. Live
music starting 8:30PM everyday except Sunday. Currently featuring a
Filipino band playing popular music.
Early evening 6pm to 9pm visit DV8, OneZeroFour, Green Vespa or Shanghai. Now some of you might ask why I don't go to Sharkies, basically it's a money thing and I'm too lazy to walk up the stairs, all the bars I go to early in the evening have $1 beers. The late night bars like Martinis and Heart of Darkness have $1.50 beers. However Sharkies does have a lot of freelance girls in the bar and has very good food and they do have drink specials on different days and the owners/managers are great guys.
DV8 is usually busy from 8pm though to 2am but if you are looking for more bars to visit you can try my favourites. Around 10:30pm, if I'm not ensconced in Shanghai then it's off to Martini, Martinis has a dance floor with seating around the dance floor. The dance floor is also air conditioned which makes it quiet pleasant. The dance floor in this, the third, incarnation is about half the size of the first Martini dance floor. Outside it has a raised section with two pool tables and a bar. There is also a food area that has cheap and edible food. It hasn't made me sick yet so I do recommend it if you're hungry. The girls at Martinis leave at about 1:30 pm. The bar stays open to 3 am. With the girls thinning out I leave at about 1:30 pm and head off to Georges, which is where the girls are heading - that or the Walkabout. After that it's usually a trip to the Walkabout Hotel, a 24 hr bar/hotel with cheap drinks. The Chilli and Rice or Mash is good to eat but the burgers are not something I eat anymore. Since the fatal shooting at the Heart of Darkness, the Butterfly Bar has been really busy and has taken on the same western DJ's.
There are a number of smaller bars I visit and are worth mentioning. Rubies Wine Bar is a nice bar with good atmosphere, Australian owned and run. The Phonm Penh Peace Pub (formerly the Peace Cafe), run by Dave, makes a change. He show's some art house films and some main stream films of a big screen.
Other bars worth mentioning are the Riverhouse Lounge, Georges and L' Asiate (good if you speak french). These bars have a great ambiance and well worht the visit.
Well anyway if you do visit any of these bars and talk to the manager or owner please mention that you read about them on my website. Thanks - Barry.
PS DV8 opens at noon and has beers from 75 cents until 7pm. Drop by, choose a few tunes (helps if you know how to use Winamp) and relax. The bar isn't air-conditioned during the day but it's cool enough inside.
Sex in the City
You got down here quick enough. With all the publicity about sexual exploitation in Cambodia you could imagine it's full of prostitutes running around the streets half naked and to listen to some of the sexpats that were here more than 5 years ago that may have been true. Things have changed though and although still present it is very low keyed. There are some good articles on Khmer440 about the different levels and attitudes towards prostitution in Cambodia.
Phnom Penh has a small sex industry that caters towards Westerners and a much larger one that caters to Asians. The most well known sex bars in Phnom Penh are Sophies (a blow job bar - STD's are transferred in a blow job) and Cyrcee club. In other countries these would mascerade as massage palours.
Most other bars have waitresses, hostesses and free lance girls wirking in them. Some of these girls may entertain you outside of working hours but it's not like buying a beer and just because you have the cash doesn't mean you're going to get the....
Phnom Penh's Gay Bar
There have been a few gay bars started in Phnom Penh over the last four years but few have lasted long. The notable exception to this is the Salt Lounge, which I located on
Street 136, 20 metres from Sisowath Quay. One of the more stylish bars in Phnom Penh, it is straight freindly.
Phnom Penh's nightlife may be small but it is fun.