Phnom Penh’s after hours scene is growing fast. But with all the choices, where to go first? Poppy McPherson, Rosa Ellen and Chhim Sreyreang asked stars of the entertainment, catering and party planning businesses how they spend an evening.
MARCUS MUCOUS, DJ and events organiser
Ideal evening? I do this quite often and it hasn’t gone stale yet. On a week day after work I like to grab a group of mates together, along with the Missus and catch the Late Night Owl at Legend Cinema ($2 for 2D and $3 for 3D after 9pm.)We usually smuggle in a ‘Scouse handbag’ (a concealed bottle of Vodka & a few mixers) which enhances the whole experience tremendously. After that we’re all generally starving, excitable and talkative and Sam Doo Chinese Restaurant is open until late so we’ll go there.
Best kept secret? Currently it is most certainly Criminal Records: a New Wave, Indie, Alt Rock and Punk night at La Croisette every Friday night with DJs Nancy Germany and The Readers Wives. Come along and you can get a resisting arrest mug-shot “make over” & polaroid taken of you in detention. Complete with black eye and split lip.
Cheap eats? I’ve a few regulars....I love Thai and Indian food so St 278 is well placed. La Dolce Vita and The Blue Dolphin on St 172 along with The Lazy Gekko on St 258 I am forever loyal to, as they fed me and supported me whenever I was skint, and couldn’t afford me dinner. Bless ‘ em.
DJ MYWIFE DJ for NRG Radio
Ideal evening? I spend my evenings after work riding motorbikes and going to Koh Pich (Diamond Island) or Riverside. Those places chill me out, and make me feel fresh again.
Where to eat and drink? I like to go to eat street food near Sisowath High School, Heng Heng BBQ, Master Suki Soup. I like to drink at Nova club, or Honey club during happy hour. All with my close friends and beloved one.
JETZ FERNANDEZ Production-coordinator at Edge Management
Ideal night? I go drinking to get drunk, enjoy life and spend quality time with those people who appreciate me the most.
Where to eat and drink? As a practical party-goer, I always spend my night in Sports Bar, just beside Pontoon, with a bunch of friends, colleagues and sometimes with family. After drinking three to five towers of beer, next stop is Heart of Darkness, where you can dance til you drop. Most of my best night of my life happen here: from my sexiest experiences to my craziest dance steps.
What aspects could be improved? I am satisfied with the night life Phnom Penh can offer me. But street parties like they have in the Philippines, where they close roads and put tables around and set up stereos and amplifiers would make the place more interesting.
CHEA SOVANRITH Freshie boy competition winner and MC
Ideal evening? The past few weeks I’ve been getting ready for my wedding, so haven’t been going out a lot but for an ideal night I would start off at Langeach Sros (Fresh Evening), a restaurant near Sisowath High School, with friends. I like to go there because the owner is fun and always comes over to say hello. I order the sizzling Goh Dak (beef hotplate).
After dinner, we’d go to a club and then KTV for karaoke. My favourite club always changes - sometimes we’ll go to Sky or San Tropez. We go where the music is interesting. I like a kind of R’n’B and rock - I was an MC at Spark, before it closed.
Phnom Penh’s Best kept secret? I haven’t been there but there’s a small bar called Apros, near Toul Tom Poung that a friend goes to.
FON SUPANNAKUL Director, hungrygowhere.com
Ideal evening? Spent with few friends and my husband going for few drinks and then a nice dinner (good food, wine, nice relaxing ambience), followed by a nightcap (I’m not too difficult to please.)
Where to eat and drink? I like to eat at Chinese House, the Lost Room, Beirut and the Exchange with a few friends and my husband (just my preference so that we can actually have conversations and get to know people better.)
Phnom Penh secret? I love going to the cigar shop at Himawari - us choosing a cigar for the night, a drink (preferably whisky for me) and just sitting there enjoying the peaceful ambience.
LAURA KIDDLE from Universal Talent Asia
Ideal evening? It revolves around my dog, dance and friends, so somewhere pet friendly where I can take my dog. The Nerd nights at Gasolina or Score are always fun: there’s always something new and informative on at Meta House. If I’m training my dance troupe for a show these evenings are by far my favorite, locked in the dance studio! We will usually practice up until 9 or 10pm a week before a performance. For dinner I love Japanese food, and Happa has to be a fave, as is Yumi.
Where to eat and drink? An interesting drinking spot is Dodo Rhum House: it’s amazing how many different flavours of rum can be infused with. I’ve been to vodka infused bars but never rum infused bars until I moved to Cambodia. The drinks aren’t overbearing or too large. Absinthe bar is fun too. Though I’ve never seen the green fairy. I would probably want to go for dinner and a show with my boyfriend, but unfortunately that doesn’t really exist yet, though the wheels are now in motion after the 6 hour buffet dinner and cabaret show extravaganza recently put on at Elyxir.
Secret spot? Well if I tell it wouldn’t be a secret! I don’t think it’s possible to have nightlife secrets: new and old bars over promoting themselves every few hours to the point that going there actually seems unappealing. My secret I guess would be to just stay home and watch a movie - and Brown cafe is open until late for chai tea lattes.
SOPHEA ROUS Actor, singer and dancer
How would you spend your ideal evening in Phnom Penh? I love my work. Performing live either singing or dancing is when I am most happiest. Afterwards I would enjoy a few drinks, somewhere along the river, I like the intimacy of the rooftop bar with the swimming pool for cocktails...... The Empire has a cinema upstairs. The Show Box #11, street 330, is an unusual new place I’ve just discovered, very friendly and arty. Very different to anywhere else, with live performance art.
After a few drinks with my friends I love to go dancing. After Pontoon, there is a new after hours bar with a proper dancefloor called G Bar. It has no walls, directly behind Pontoon. They treat me well, I never pay, as I keep everyone dancing all night.
Where to eat and drink? I try everything: Indian, Italian, Mexican, English but I love what I grew up eating and that’s Khmer food. The Boathouse is good with a group but mostly I’m happy to keep it simple like mee char or Spicy chicken char k’dou with lots of Chilli. I enjoy a drink with friends at The Local 2 or The Empire when I have the occasional day off.
PP’s best-kept night life secret? The Classic Nightclub is a Khmer nightclub that has two comedy shows on every night at 10pm and midnight. They have a large cast of dancers and amazing costumes.
What is the most fun dance floor or club (ever or from a particularly memorable night)
I enjoyed the Deconstruction party at La Croisette where we were all given a hammer and smashed the place up to loud rock music. That was memorable and shocked me. I like the parties at the railway station and the embassies. Halloween with my foreigner friends is always unusual and big fun. Sharkey’s live bands, I learn and observe what foreigners are like at a concert! Pontoon is where I get my education of what an international club is like and Shameless! on Thursdays is still my favourite night.
What’s your favourite night-time view or scene in PP? I like the rooftop view from Chow’s where you can see the Mekong and Tonle Sap converge. Their happy hour is magical, when the sky turns blood orange. If you fancy a swim in their pool the staff have plenty of towels.
JEAN-BENOIT Fashion designer at First Floor
Ideal evening? With no plans, meeting and talking to random people in a new place every hour.
Where to eat and drink? Sovanna for dinner, bar.sito for a drink with people not wearing flip flops.
PP’s best-kept night life secret? I’m not allowed to say.
What aspects of nightlife elsewhere would you like to see in PP? Many people will ask for more DJs with more new music, or more concerts ... On my side, I would have a very simple resquest, please, dress up when you go out in PP. It will take five minutes and you will look good all night. It’s not because it’s 30 degrees that you should give up.
ERIC RAISINA Fashion designer
Ideal evening? Great massage at O Spa, divine cocktail at Elephant Bar at Le Royal, surprising dinner at Chinese House, amazing night at La Maison d’Ambre.
Where to eat and drink? Anywhere with a roof top Riverside view…Relaxing with a glass of wine and great friends.
Otherwise glass of wine at Blue Chilli, especially show days Friday or Saturday. Or dancing at Heart of Darkness.
Best kept secret? My bed at the hotel.
SOPHEAP PICH Artist
Ideal night? Sonoma Oyster Bar for dinner. Usually you have to reserve it - there’s something nice about that. It’s not too crowded, just a few tables and a bar. I go there for the oysters and the t-bone steak. Good stuff. I also like Sovanna restaurant.
I’d go to Metro for drinks after dinner and I like Memphis for live rockn’roll. Equinox is another - they also have bands but we go there to shoot pool and enjoy the atmosphere.
What aspect could be improved? A real bar with real beer. When you drink (Cambodian draft) all the time, you wish the bar scene would step up and have some quality beer. Equinox has a Belgian beer called Leffe, which is imported. But we don’r have good beer in this town!
Best kept secret? Le Moon rooftop bar is always rather quiet and the view is wonderful. Also Quay rooftop bar, a good place if you have a few people and you just want to be alone. It’s a bit highbrow you always have Equinox to fall back on if it doesn’t work out.
OLIVIER GILLES Manager at The Warehouse
Ideal evening? Bar, restaurant, lounge, swimming pool with friends.
Where to eat and drink? Aqua restaurant, good food, having some quality time with my mates.
Best-kept night life secret? bar.sito.
What aspects of nightlife elsewhere in the world would you like to see in PP? More nice cozy places, bar/lounge/pool.