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Our 2018 guide to spending Khmer New Year in Phnom Penh

The interior of FCC Riverside, which will remain open over Khmer New Year and host a performance by singer Miss Sarawan on Friday.
The interior of FCC in Phnom Penh, which will remain open over Khmer New Year and host a performance by singer Miss Sarawan on Friday night. Charlotte Pert

Our 2018 guide to spending Khmer New Year in Phnom Penh

Khmer New Year festivities are upon us. For the next few days, travellers will be making their way to their home provinces to eat, celebrate, play traditional games and visit a pagoda with offerings.

If you will be staying put in Phnom Penh for the holiday, which officially runs from Saturday to Monday, you may awaken this weekend to eerily quiet streets and shuttered shops. To some used to the city’s normally frenetic hustle and bustle, this might sound like a welcome respite. But, for those worried about boredom, don’t fear. There will still be plenty to do around town to ring in the new year a bit closer to home.

The city’s main educational tourism sites – Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, the Royal Palace, the Killing Fields and the National Museum – will remain open over the holiday.

Many of riverside’s bars, restaurants and clubs will remain open over the weekend, including Oscar’s on the Corner (Streets 13 & 104) which will observe its normal hours over the holiday with live rock’n’roll every night. At FCC Riverside (#313 Sisowath Quay), which will also keep its doors open, visitors will be treated Friday night to the first performance from Lay “Miss Sarawan” Mealea since she gave birth to her first child.

For other drinks options, these bars around town will have you covered. The Rush Pub (Street 282) will be open for business as usual, Zeppelin Cafe (Street 278) will be open every day except for Sunday, while The Wall will continue to cater for revellers into the early hours. Blue Chilli (St 178) will be open on Saturday only, sadly with no drag show on offer, and will be closed for the rest of the weekend. If sports is what you're craving, Score Bar Phnom Penh (Street 282) will be open every day from 8am to 2am.

For activities out of the house during daylight hours, there are still a few options. BluO Rhythm and Bowl in Aeon Mall will be open every day as will workshop The Art Bar (Streets 68 & 45) if you're looking to get creative. And, if sitting in a dark air-conditioned room is more your speed, then head over to The Flicks (Street 95). Among other movies, you can catch Guillermo del Toro's award-winning The Shape of Water on Saturday at 8pm.

For food, Brooklyn Pizza (St 123) will be open every day with normal hours and a full menu. Tasca Do Antonio (Street 51) will be open for the holiday with a special menu that includes lamb filet stew, BBQ chorizo and Portuguese sponge cake for dessert. Alamo Cafe (#66 St. 113) will be open for the normal hours for those craving Tex-Mex. Box Office (#76, Street 24) will be open throughout the weekend and will be serving their Sunday roast from 1pm onward. If Japanese BBQ is what you're craving, you can hit up Yakiniku Garden Shiki (St 63) for lunch and dinner every day over the holiday. La Marmite (Street 108), a French bistro, will be open every day for lunch and dinner as well.

If you're looking to stock up on vegetables to cook at home, then Natural Garden-Cambodia is where you should head. Their main store on Street 63 will be open over the weekend. And, Super Duper (Sothearos Boulevard & Sihanouk Boulevard) will be open 24/7 as usual for all your other miscellaneous grocery needs.

Got another tip for travellers and Phnom Penh staycationers over the New Year? Share it here.

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