Phnom Penh Nightlife

Backpackers heading into the Phnom Penh nightlife in Cambodia

The backpacker’s guide to the best bars, nightclubs and evening antics that you should be cramming into your Phnom Penh itinerary.

The Phnom Penh nightlife scene is so broad reaching that it’s oh so easy to miss out on some of the best parties, bars, watering holes, night clubs and piss ups the city has to offer.

Looking back on my first visit to Phnom Penh back in 2013, I realize how much of a restricted nightlife experience I had.

And I don’t use the word restrictive in a bad way.

Let me explain…

The Phnom Penh nightlife experience for most backpackers can be stereotypical. We all had a whale of a time knocking back the pre-drinks at the awesome Mad Monkey Hostel.

Then after the hostel bar shuts its doors for the night, 99% of backpackers then headed out to the Club Love and the immediate area around Street 278.

I lived this ‘groundhog day’ for 5 evenings in a row during my first visit.

There’s no denying it…

I loved every second of every night. I had the pleasure of swapping stories, laughter and juices with some lovely backpackers from all over the world.

But there was still one key ingredient missing…

Randomness.

My first Phnom Penh nights were always so predictable!

I recently returned to Phnom Penh and promised myself that no one night would be the same. I assembled a team of 3 other thirsty backpackers I met at the legendary Mad Monkey Hostel, the A-Team (or Alcoholic Team as we would later be known), and we bar crawled the hell out of Phnom Penh.

North. South. East. West.

Messy doesn’t even start to describe the scenes…

The glorious produce of this week long party, was not only lifelong friendship and a liver of steel, but the real inside scoop on the best off the beaten track nightlife action Phnom Penh has to offer.

In this piece I am going to booze cruise through all the best bars, clubs and nightlife antics in Phnom Penh for all you independent travellers and backpackers out there.

Pack your dancing socks, it’s about to pop off.

 

Phnom Penh Nightlife’s Best Hostel Bars

Mad Monkey Hostel – The Old Faithful

Mad Monkey Hostel held my hand through my first eye opening experience in Cambodia, especially in Phnom Penh.

The majority of backpackers staying at the hostel tend to saunter upstairs to the rooftop bar after dinner. This bar come drinking stadium is always popping. There are always drinking games flowing and every night is a different theme:

MondayKeg Party. Free keg of beer provided for the first backpackers through the door at 7pm.

TuesdayRooftop BBQ. $6 for an all you can eat BBQ (we talking ribs, chicken, hotdogs, coleslaw, salads… Yes sir.) and you get a free shot.

WednesdayCocktail Tea Party. Calling all you mad hatter backpackers, Mad Monkey gives away 2 for 1 on killer cocktails served up in dainty lil teapots (6pm-8pm)

ThursdayCrawl for School. For $5, you will get a wristband that will give you entry and a free shot a number of local bars. Culminating in Club Love of course. Kick off at 8pm.

FridayRooftop BBQ. Wedneday’s antics all over again! Cheffing up a storm at the Mad Monkey.

SaturdayWe Love Music. The Mad Monkey DJ spins some serious beats.

SundaySunday Sessions. The day of rest. Leave it out. Chilled music mixed with drink specials on draught beer, long island iced teas and bloody marys all day long!

There’s always a buzz around the Mad Monkey rooftop bar. Whether you want to play some beer pong, ring of fire or foosball, they’ll sort you out.

The latest hostel daytime drinking evolution…

Mad Monkey has recently installed a swimming pool bar downstairs. It’s a great place to kick back and catch some rays. Plenty of beanbags to go around and a floating beer pong table to sink a few balls into.

The rooftop bar closes at 11pm to allow the lazy ones to sleep, but the staff will booze cruise you down to Club Love after.

Located just around the corner is the one and only…

TOP BANANA HOSTEL – Barrel of Laughs

Backpackers parting on the rooftop bar of Top Banana Hostel in Phnom Penh

The Top Banana bar is also on the rooftop, probably boasting some better views of that sunset than Mad Monkey and the vibes to match. The atmosphere is always buzzing here in the early evenings.

Following in the footsteps of Mad Monkey, Top Banana also has themed backpacker events every night. No rest for the wicked:

MondayBanana Beer Pong. Old school beer pong tournament kicking off every Monday at 7pm. Be crowned the Top Beer Pong Banana and win yourself some free drinks.

TuesdayComedy Open Mic. You’ll hear some knee-slapper jokes and a few that draw in the silence and tumbleweeds. Either way, it makes for a good laugh.

WednesdayLive Brass Band. Trumpets, saxophones and trombones. Not something you’ll hear often in Cambodia, roll up roll up.

ThursdayLive Music Open Mic. Back yourself as the next Jimmy Hendrix? Get up on that stage an sing your heart out. Some really cool local and backpacker artists.

FridayDJ Kaztet D. Blazing up the atmosphere with some heavy reggae riddims with free shots every hour as the sun goes down. Jah man.

SaturdayDJ Moudy. Moudy throws down some tingling electronic beats into the Phnom Penh weekend equation.

SundayKeg Party. The kind folk of Top Banana rooftop bar provides a free keg of beer for backpackers at 7pm. Get up those stairs.

If you’re looking to make the night a bit more gaseous, there are usually some canisters and the barrel of laughs stored behind the bar.

Abra Kadabra…

Keep an eye out for their barman and certified magician, Ramet, who will blow your mind and tantalise your liver.

The bar basically stays open until the last backpacker is standing. See you at sunrise.

LAZY GECKOComing Up

 

 

Backpackers partying at the Lazy Gecko Hostel Bar in Phnom Penh

As I mentioned in my ‘Where to stay in Phnom Penh’, this little hostel is a new player on the Phnom Penh nightlife scene as has got some big plans and dreams in the pipeline.

The bar itself is a work of art. It looks like it has been pieced together by a lumberjack on acid, planks of wood that are beautifully interlinking with trippy glowing lights in between.

The coolest feature of this Phnom Penh nightlife spot…

The hostel owners have built in a half court basketball hoop into the bar, so you can be slotting your 3 pointers while sipping on a cocktail. Kobe eat your heart out.

Happy Hour runs from 4pm to 8pm, during which beers are only 75c and you get 50c off all cocktails.

What wonders does the future hold for the Lazy Gecko…

They are now building an in-house microbrewery that will undoubtedly whip up the freshest craft brews in Phnom Penh, and if the creative juices keep flowing, there’s even talk of them building a half pipe in the hostel.

Definitely stop by to check up on the masterpiece’s progress.

Phnom Penh Nightlife’s Chilled Bars & Drinking Spots

These drinking revelations were all places I came across on my latest trip to Phnom Penh. If you’re feeling like a sophisticated evening tipple and some underground cool vibes, definitely swing by these bars for a drink.

BAR SITO – Hidden Glow

Bar Sito in Phnom Penh

Come and ‘Sito’ your ass right down here…

If you’re looking for an extravagant yet affordable cocktail heaven, then go out in search of Bar Sito. This underground cocktail layer is a recent addition to the Phnom Penh nightlife scene but is well worth stumbling into.

James Bond would lap this up if he was penned in Phnom Penh and looking for a secret watering hole to take down his martini (shaken not stirred) and chillax with a suave cigar.

Cocktails are around $5, but are a dose of liquid gold. Be sure to try the Cucumber Cooler.

Bar Sito has speakeasy vibes written all over it and is nestled down a dark and mysterious alley. The wicker lamps hanging over the bar provide an ambient glow that welcomes in all backpackers.

This place doesn’t tend to get busy till about 10:30pm.

Take a deep breath…

This cavernous watering hole is smoker friendly but barely has any ventilation, so can turn into a hazy fog of alcoholic blissfulness.

HANGAR 44 – Let’s Ride

Motorbike hangs from ceiling of Hangar 44 Bar in Phnom Penh

Hangar 44 is located in the heart of Phnom Penh’s vibrant Bassac Lane. This steely drinking spot is half bar, half motorbike showroom.

The bar’s owner, Patrick, also owns a local motorcycle business and made the genius decision to bring both these parties together.

Hangar 44 has a personality like no bar I have visited before…

The atmosphere is darkly chic with lots of steel, concrete and corrugated iron sheets covering the walls.

Unless someone has bagged in on this beauty yet…

There is a very naughty looking motorcycle hanging from the roof that is up for sale. A couple too many cocktails and you could be spontaneously riding this motorised baby like batman into the night.

Hangar 44 regularly hosts sundowner sessions with acoustic music and is a great place to have a couple of after dinner drinks.

The best bit…

As and when you decide to roll on out of this joint, you are slap bang in the middle of Bassac Lane, one of the hippest drinking spots in the Phnom Penh nightlife scene.

ZEPELLIN CAFE – Rock City Bitch

Owner of Zepellin Cafe poses in front of his guitars in Phnom Penh

This bar is a rock institution in Phnom Penh. I had the pleasure of visiting the original Zepellin Café on Street 51 during my second trip to Phnom Penh in 2014.

This bar was simple yet dressed head to toe in old school character. The Taiwanese owner, Jun, is a lover of the classics and stayed loyal to playing all his rocks beats on vinyls and turntables.

A wall of vinyl records awaiting to be spun by Jun from his iconic and dingy DJ booth…

As the name may suggest (and for all you rockaholics out there), Zepellin Café’s soundtrack tends to be heavily biased towards the best rock anthems of the 70s and 80s. Love it.

The owner’s love for rock extends into his family, having named his 3 children after 3 of his favourite musicians – Jonny Winter, Jimmy Page and Lemmy (Motorhead).

In 2016, this legendary bar picked up it’s drumsticks and rocked on over to a new location…

Zepellin Café 2.0, welcome to Street 278. Right in the heart of the backpacker hostel action.

The fresh bar opened its doors in February and I was lucky enough to go meet with Jun once again for a face melting session.

The old cavernous bar has been transformed into a new rock arena with high ceilings, bamboo lining the walls and very cool lamps covered in vines that hang from the ceiling.

But, of course, some of the old Zepellin Café still remains…

Most of the furniture has been transported from Street 51 and Jun has cleared some space to stage his old iconic DJ both, with a huge stack of vinyls sitting behind him.

Be sure to drop in for one of their acoustic sessions on Sundays from 7pm to 10pm.

Rock on.

LONG AFTER DARK – Whiskey Wizards

Bar staff reach for the whiskey at Long After Dark in Phnom Penh

Another fresher on the Phnom Penh nightlife scene I had the fortune of coming across was the Long After Dark bar. It only opened its doors for the first time in April and is set to make backpacker waves across the city.

Smartly, the owners have chosen to locate it alongside the Russian Market (which I give a shout out to in my ‘Things to do in Phnom Penh’). Beforehand there was no top quality late night bars in this vibrant area.

The bar has a very south-western speakeasy vibe about it, set inside a very cool two-story wooden Khmer house that overlooks the market.

They are all about sustainability…

All the wood used in the venue, including the furniture, has been reclaimed from old Phnom Penh boats and houses.

On tap…

They’ve got pilsner, chocolate lager, strawberry cider and apple cider.

The headline alcohol act…

Over 55 single malt and bourbon whiskeys that will warmly tantalise your tastebuds.

A real cosy drinking experience till well and truly after dark.

FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS CLUB – Riverside Chillers

Foreign Correspondents Club bar stools overlooking the river in Phnom Penh

We all have those days when the partying has taken its toll and you just want to have a nice chilled drink in the evening, no strings attached.

Alas…

This is the ultimate Phnom Penh nightlife spot for all you backpackers searching for a relaxed sundowner drinking session. The bar rose to fame as the place all foreign journalists used to meet back in 1980s.

Now, more that 24 years later, it has evolved into a backpacker hotpsot and iconic Phnom Penh landmark. The building itself is a beautiful French Colonial Style more-than-mansion that sits right next to the Mekong River.

So when is the all important Happy Hour…

It’s buy-one-get-one-free on all drinks for all backpackers between 5pm and 7pm. Grab yourself a vats worth of passion fruit mojitos (damn good) and claim your spot on the rooftop to watch the sun seamlessly fade away beyond the horizon.

Beautiful. Join the backpacker club.They are all about sustainability…

All the wood used in the venue, including the furniture, has been reclaimed from old Phnom Penh boats and houses.

On tap…

They’ve got pilsner, chocolate lager, strawberry cider and apple cider.

The headline alcohol act…

Over 55 single malt and bourbon whiskeys that will warmly tantalise your tastebuds.

A real cosy drinking experience till well and truly after dark.

ANGEL SKY BAR – Head in the Clouds

Two cocktails sitting on the table at Angel Sky Bar in Phnom Penh

I’m sure this will be slightly too extravagant for those of you backpacking on a tight budget, but this is one hell of a drinking experience nonetheless.

And there’s one day a week, where the budget might just be able to stretch for some drinks in the sky…

Saturday sessions!

On Saturdays, the Angel Sky Bar puts on one hell of a party from 4:30pm to 8:30pm. $22 will get you unlimited draught beer, wine and whiskey (for 4 hours!). This is a fancy and reasonably civilized place, until we roll up!

Lo and behold…

The views from the rooftop are the best you will see during your nightlife experiences in Phnom Penh. Crème de la crème.

An ideal way of scooping up some backpacker brownie points with those special people.

Right, given that sport doesn’t sleep…

Phnom Penh Nightlife’s Best Sports Bar

When on the road, we all keep representing. Be it a country, club or even just a player that have a place in our hearts.

It can be difficult to find a good spot, or even a spot at all, to catch the game.

In Phnom Penh, there’s no such problem…

SCORE! SPORTS BAR & GRILL – Sporting Heaven

Backpackers watching football on the big screen at Score! bar in Phnom Penh

Welcome to the alcohol sporting stadium that is Score! Sports Bar & Grill. This bar was spawned with one nightlife purpose, and one purpose only…

To satisfy sports fans. Whether it’s football, rugby, basketball, boxing, UFC, baseball, hockey, tennis, formula 1 and all other elements of the sporting ether; Score! has got you covered!

This massive bar is kitted out with 3 bars, 4 top of the range pool tables, an outdoor terrace and their self proclaimed – biggest screen in Cambodia (it may well be to be honest). It’s bloody massive.

Happy Hour is 5pm to 7pm, when you’ll be getting some cracking deals on the local and fresh Angkor Beer.

They also have a very naughty British style roast lunch up for grabs on Sunday for $10.

If you’re team is calling your name, Score! is the place to come!

Now you’re nice juiced, t’s about time I hooked you up with those late late night hotspots. Pull up those dancing socks backpackers…

Phnom Penh Nightlife’s Best All-Night Spots & Nightclubs

CLUB LOVE – Late Night Lovers

We’re loving it, loving it, loving it. We’re loving it like this.

Club Love is the go to nightclub for most backpackers passing through Phnom Penh. It’s perfectly located just around the corner from both Mad Monkey and Top Banana hostels (unveil their magic in my ‘Where to stay in Phnom Penh’).

The atmosphere is lively and the clientele are very relaxed. At $1.50 for a draught beer and $3 for a cocktail, you know that these backpackers are going to be getting down and dirty tonight!

The staff are all absolute legends and the DJ is more than happy to unleash one of your song requests onto the dance floor.

Hostel bars close at 11pm, so most backpackers will start shimmying through the doors from 11:30pm onwards. The nightclub tends to shut up shop at about 5am,.

Be sure to come and join the Love Fest.

And guess what…

Entry to this dance orgie is absolutely free!

PONTOON – Pandora’s Box

Backpackers preparing to take their syringe shots at Temple Bar in Siem Reap

Pontoon is a late night box of tricks for all you backpacker party animals. It’s much bigger than Club Love, with 3 rooms that each have their own personality and vibe.

This is also one of the most popular nightclubs in Phnom Penh, and is at the heart of Street 51.

The club is centred around a huge island bar with booths and a couple of huge dancefloors surrounding it. The club even occasionally attracts some international DJs to spin their beats (very rare occasion but keep your ears to the ground).

Thursdays is Ladies Night. Oh yes it’s ladies’ night, oh what a night. That means 50% of all draught beer, cocktails and vodka mixers!

Beware, there certainly are some ladies of the night here as well…

You may be ‘innocently’ chatting to a female, and then she slaps a $50 an hour price tag on her ass. There can be quite a few prostitutes working the room.

If that’s what floats your pontoon, then fair enough. Otherwise, be mindful.

Entry fee to Pontoon tends to be around $6 and the party keeps on going all the way through till 5am.

The Morning After…

I will be returning to Cambodia very soon, so will keep my eyes peeled for any cool new pop-ups and watering holes for all you lovely backpackers in Phnom Penh.

Hopefully this tantalizing hit-list of nightlife spots in Phnom Penh is enough to guide towards having some of the best nights of your lives. Look out for one another and be sure to throw some utterly outrageous shapes around on the dance floor.

If you’re not feeling like death the morning after, seize the day by touring through my ‘Things to do in Phnom Penh’.

Have a good night and share the love. I know you will.

 

Other articles that’ll more than tickle your fancy…

Things To Do In Phnom Penh

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