Although visitors to Cambodia tend to overlook Phnom Penh for this country’s off-the-coast resorts and Angkor Wat’s ancient temples, Phnom Penh offers a lot more when it comes to after-hours entertainment, and yes, it’s safe as long as you keep your wits and stay mindful. Getting to Phnom Penh from Siem Reap and other regions of the country is also really easy – you can easily hitch a ride on a bus that is very comfortable. You can also make your way from other countries including Bangkok, Thailand and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
In Phnom Penh, evening venues range from fancy restaurants and hip bars to bustling night markets and local breweries. Read on to discover all you need to know about Phnom Penh’s nightlife scene and check these five activities off your to-do list!
Cruise through the waterways of Phnom Penh
A sunset cruise is a great opportunity for you to explore the waterways that surround Phnom Penh. Drifting through the rivers, you will see the city at its best as the sun drifts under the riverbanks and the city’s skyline gradually fades. Aside from sightseeing, you can enjoy a BBQ party, which is prepared on the boat with locally-sourced organic ingredients. Beer and champagne are also included in the ticket, so drink up!
Take in the colors, smells and sounds at a night market
Markets form a crucial part of the lives of Cambodians. It comes as no surprise to see Phnom Penh so densely dotted with markets of various sizes and purposes. Among those, the Phsar Reatrey open-air night market is the most popular among the young Khmer crowd. It overlooks the riverside and boasts a vast collection of fashion and food, as well as a central stage that showcases weekly live performances.
The market is open all week from 5:00 AM – 11:00 PM, and during weekends, both locals and foreigners flock to this market for an evening of fun. Laying picnic mats on the ground, people come together in Phsar Reatrey to enjoy the delicious Cambodian street food, converse in laughter, and immerse themselves in the place’s festive atmosphere.
Drink (responsibly) during happy hours
From 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM every day, the majority of bars and pubs around Phnom Penh drop their prices. Among the cool deals that you can get during such hours, the longest and most popular Happy Hour is at Raffles Le Royal Hotel, which runs from 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM every day. You will have great cocktails mixed by talented bartenders, starting only from USD $12.00.
Another great Happy Hour deal takes place at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) between 5:00 PM and 7:00 PM daily. Bassac Lane, a quaint alley located off Phnom Penh’s Street 305, also boasts a lovely collection of boutique bars and diners.
The nearby stretch of Street 51 is no less exciting, hosting a swathe of dive bars that open until early mornings, such as the iconic Heart of Darkness (open daily, 9:00 PM till late) and the widely recognized Pontoon Pulse (open daily 10:00 PM – 5:00 AM).
Street 279, which is situated near the city’s Wat Langka Temple, will also impress with Top Banana, a rooftop bar open daily from 7:00 AM – 1:00 AM every day. You’ll kill time with impressive live music and great DJs to which crowds swarm during weekends. Street 172 is another backpacker haunt, where cheap bars, guesthouses, and local restaurants all compete for the travelers’ attention.
Sip local craft beer
Cambodians love their beer. In recent years, a microbrewery movement has been sweeping across the country as Phnom Penh taps into the global trend. The city has now developed a taste for craft ales. In the urban hubs of the city, tropical gardens and hipster hideaways mask a world of brewed beers, porters, amber ales and honey pales.
Cerevisia Craft Beer is one of the best places in town to grab a pint, with over 15 on-tap brews ready to be served. This brewery’s lush courtyard forms an outdoor oasis that takes the patrons out of their busy life and into the beer world. It is located by the riverside on Street 144, and is open from 4:00 PM to 11:00 PM daily.
Hops Brewery (11:00 AM – 1:00 AM, daily), by far the most popular spots to grab a German-inspired beer in Phnom Penh, is not to be missed. Following the principle of simplicity, the brewery uses only water, barley, hop, and yeast to create their products. Come here, drink, and top it all off with a German sausage – what’s a better way to enjoy life?
Have a late-night snack
Around the food carts and trucks of Phnom Penh, there is always a long line full of hungry people queuing for their orders. After dancing the night away, nothing is better than grabbing some munchies to soak up the booze. You can go for pork and rice, a popular dish across Cambodia, at the corner of Street 19.
The most popular stand in this area is run by a man known as the Pork and Rice Man who sets up stall around 5:30 PM. His marinated pork is always the star of every dish. These specialty meals start only from USD $1.00, so make use of the cheap price after spending your cash on booze.
Want some pizzas made in the back of the traditional tuk-tuk? Katy Peri’s is your answer! As one of Phnom Penh’s most beloved late-night eats that runs from 8:30 PM to 5:00 AM every day, this mobile Katy Peri pizza and chicken cart always welcome orders after midnight.
In this bustling hive of Phnom Penh, there is something for everyone when the sun goes down. Leave those flip flops at home, put on a fancy outfit and hit the streets. Hope you have a great time!