If you’re spending a night or two (or more) in Phnom Penh, you’re probably wondering what the nightlife is like. While it’s not known as “the city that never sleeps”, Phnom Penh has tons of fun things to keep night owls entertained. So, to help you get started, here are some of the best ways to enjoy the Phnom Penh nightlife:
1. Dine out at the best local restaurants
View this post on Instagram
Food is certainly the first thing on many minds when dusk turns to dark. If you’re hungry to taste authentic Cambodian food, some local favorites to check out are Romdeng (រំដេង), Meatophum (មាតុភូមិ) and Mok Mony Restaurant. You can also eat delicious local food and make an impact at Friends the Restaurant, where profits go to support the education of children in need. For high-end options, Malis and One More Restaurant are popular.
2. Enjoy the street food
If snacking on tasty street food sounds more up your alley, then Phnom Penh also won’t disappoint. You can find food carts around the parks near Independence Monument, along the riverside (Sisowath Quay) and at local wet markets, such as Phsar Kandal and Russian Market (Toul Tom Poung). Food hygiene can be a problem though, so always order something straight out of the pot or pan to be safe.
3. Relax at the Night Market
View this post on Instagram
At the riverside also sits Phnom Penh’s only night market. While small, it makes for a pleasant stroll through. You’ll find vendors selling a variety of products and goods, which you can bargain for. There are also street food stalls, plus a spacious place to sit and eat. Sometimes, you may catch concerts or local performances too. It’s a nice chilled place to just soak in the local atmosphere.
4. Cruise on the Tonle Sap
Across the night market and right next to Titanic Restaurant, there is a parking space leading to a small port. After passing through the gate, follow the metal ramp down to where the boats are docked. On the right, you’ll find boats that take you on a 40-minute cruise to the other side of the river bank and back. Whether you’re gazing at the sunset or twinkling city lights, it’s a lovely way to wind down and reflect on your day.
The service starts at around 5 PM, and the last boat leaves at 8 PM. The price for foreigners is 5$.
5. Be captivated by Cambodian traditional dance
Every night from 7 to 8 PM at the National Museum, you can catch the sublime performance of Cambodian classical and folk dances. Drawing inspiration from literature, nature and local life, the dances are a fantastic glimpse into Cambodian culture. The show is hosted by non-profit Cambodian Living Arts, aiming to support local artists keeping the traditional dance alive. You can book the tickets here.
6. Help preserve Cambodia’s UNESCO Cultural Heritage
View this post on Instagram
At Sovannaphum Art Association, artists are keeping two iconic Cambodian art forms alive. One is Sbek Thom, a unique form of puppetry dating back since before the Angkorian period. Another is Lakhon Khol, a masked dance and lively drama adaptation of the Cambodian epic Ream Ker. Performances take place every Friday and Saturday from 7 to 8 PM at Sovannaphum Theatre.
7. Witness the dance troupe breaking grounds in Cambodia
Classical and contemporary meet in the dances of Prumsodun Ok & NATYARASA. The first all-gay dance company in Cambodia, it’s led by Prumsodun Ok whose vision is to revive and reimagine Cambodian classical dance for modern times. What’s more, the troupe is rapidly making waves in Asia and Europe. They perform every weekend at Counterspace Theatre (Java Creative Café Toul Tom Pong). If you want to see them in action, make sure to book your tickets beforehand.
8. Hit Street 308 and Bassac Lane
Easily the hippest streets of the city, Street 308 and its small alley Bassac Lane are the hubs of cool bars and restaurants. An enduring favorite is Piccola Italia Da Luigi, serving some of the best pizza in town. Nearby are popular bars Elbow Room and Red Bar. On Bassac Lane, a central courtyard is surrounded by other trendy pubs and interesting shops. Unlike Pub Street in Siem Reap, the streets are more chill than rowdy. The best way to experience the vibe is simply to stroll around and see what clicks with you!
9. Chill at (rooftop) bars
If you love rooftop bars, Phnom Penh also has some great options for you. To enjoy the view of the riverside, hotspots for locals include Rivercrown and Panorama Mekong. The rooftop bar at Aquarius Hotel & Urban Result, complete with a pool, is also lovely for a panoramic view of Phnom Penh’s cityscape. If you prefer being down on Earth, then check out Japanese restaurant and bar, Little Lounge, a lovely hidden gem. For delicious fresh beer, Hops Craft Beer Garden brews their own German-style, and we’d say it’s worth the premium price.
10. Party the night away
Party animals, come out. Phnom Penh’s hottest night clubs have their doors open for you. Go-to spots for locals include SOUND CLUB, Epic Club and Club Love. Newer to the scene is DOS Phnom Penh, but it’s already booming in popularity. You’ll find both local and international DJs at the clubs, with the latest trending tracks, so get ready to dance the night away!
How to keep safe at night in Phnom Penh?
It’s a good idea to take some precautions to ensure your safety. Phnom Penh is no stranger to bag and jewelry snatching, so it’s best to dress modestly and carry little, especially anything flashy. If you plan to stay out really late, then it’s much more secure to go out in a group.
Also, avoid walking on quiet dark side streets as much as you can. Meanwhile, for rides, download Grab or Passapp in your mobile. It’s a lot more convenient and prices are set, so you don’t have to worry about being ripped-off.
All in all, like in many places, being careful and aware of your surroundings are the best defenses to keep you safe!