Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia and becoming a booming sex-tourism destination thanks to a huge improvement in the city infrastructure, new businesses and bars opening and significantly more tourists entering the 3 main Cambodian International Airports. Whilst Phnom Penh will not match the extreme partying scene across the border in Thailand it is gaining a reputation for some fantastic nights of partying, drinking, meeting very attractive girls and a good selection of entertainment venues to visit while staying in Phnom Penh.
Flying to Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh International Airport is served by a wide range of international airlines, such as Thai, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia, JAL and Korean plus a large number of Chinese Carriers. Most flights will likely involve a change or connection if flying from Europe or North America. Phnom Penh Airport has been modernised over the years and now provides a much better level of comfort than previously. The distance from the arrival gate to passport control for Visa-on-Arrival (needed by almost all nationalities apart from ASEAN) costs $30 USD and is processed quickly. If you are getting off a large flight (ie from Dubai) then be prepared to wait 20 minutes for processing due to the sheer volume of travellers. From landing to arrivals area should take no longer than 45 minutes for most travellers.
There are a number of overland bus services offered from Thailand and Vietnam, the cost of the bus tickets will not include the visa fee which is $35 USD at land-border crossings.
Best Hotels in Phnom Penh (Luxury)
Whilst there are a few hotels which claim luxury there is less available then those you would commonly find in Bangkok, Manila or Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) for budgets randing between $50-$100 per night. Rates in these rooms vary throughout the week with prices increasing at the weekends due to the increased number of tourists coming for short weekend visits. NagaWorld is usually the place to stay with good selection of Casino, Nightclub and 10 minutes from the Hostess Bars in Street 136 and surrounding areas. NagaWorld is also frequented by a number of freelancers which make it a very easy place to pick up a date for the night if you are not wishing to travel to far.
Best Hotels in Phnom Penh on a budget
Phnom Penh has a great selection of hotels for the budget conscious traveller where a very good and clean guest friendly hotel can be found for those with a budget between $20-$50 dollars per night. Remember location is key in Phnom Penh and those wishing to be within walking distance of the hostess bars in Street 136 should aim to stay within a 5-10 minute walk of this location. So see where the hotels are located around this area please see below.
Getting from the Airport to your Hotel in Phnom Penh
As with most airports there is usually a wide number of taxi booking facilities in the arrivals area (outside) and Phnom Penh Airport is no different. Whilst the prices are usually much the same as pre-booking some of the vehicles look like they have seen better days and one common additional charge is the exit fee which the driver will commonly ask passengers to pay to leave the car-park. Be careful, usually it is advisable to pre-book your airport transfers for you single and return journeys, arriving in style from the Airport to your hotel downtown costs approximately $20 dollars and will take approximately 30 minutes to travel to most parts of the city from the airport.
Money in Cambodia
Cambodian Riels and US Dollars are used interchangeably in Cambodia however at a 4000 Riels to $1 US Dollar the local currency is almost solely used for small purchases or for returning change when breaking US Dollar bills. Cambodia looks closely at each US Dollar bill when in a bar or nightclub as the slightest imperfection will lead to it being rejected. As a general rule I would suggest ensuring the each note is perfect, creases, scores, missing ends or written scribbles will mean you will be returning home with a lot of unusable (at least in Cambodia) a pocket full of dollar bills. When at the exchange also ask for a lot of small dollar bills, $1 $5 $10 are the order of the day and will save you a lot of time and hassle in the bars and clubs around Phnom Penh.
Phone calls, texts and Internet data
For just $5 you can get a local phone number and internet access from your mobile. Don’t spare this expense. You need internet for so many things including to help you get around. Recommended providers are Cellcard and Smart. Both have special 30-day tourist packages. You will need a lot of data whilst in Cambodia, your dates for the evening will usually use Line, WhatsApp, Viber of Messenger due to the convenience and relatively cheapness of data compared to calls or texts. You can take your existing Sim from your home country however you will likely be charged significantly higher and a daily roaming charge by most providers.
Places to stay in Phnom Penh
If you want to be walking distance from the main bars/clubs AND close to some of the main tourist attractions (riverside, Royal Palace), I recommend you to stay near Street 136 or Street 130. You can also stay in Street 51 to be closer from Pontoon (the major nightclub in Phnom Penh).
Another area you might consider is Boeung Keng Kang 1 (BKK1) which is south of Sihanouk Boulevard. This is where most expats live and it is more clean and less dodgy. Most “normal” bars are there, particularly in Street 278.
Street 130/136 is home to some of the best Hostess Bars in Phnom Penh and is also a great place to stay due to the abundance of good restaurants, massage, sauna and daytime drinking venues. Riverside is a popular area amongst tourists and a great point to start your exploration of the city.
Street 51 & Royal Palace Area
Another great area in Phnom Penh for nightlife as you can walk to several bars, clubs and restaurants that stay open late (Street 51) The area is not the most pretty though and you will be about 500-1000m from the Royal Palace, the riverside and the Gogo Bars streets (136 and 104).
Types of Nightlife
Owing to the Cambodian culture there is a very large number of options for nightlife in Phnom Penh which make this a perfect destination for those looking to party. Cute Cambodian girls are in abundance all over the city and whilst some are shy they are almost always sweet and very customer orientated. Rooftop Bars, Nightclubs, KTV’s, Sports Bars, Cocktail Lounges and Hostess Bars are located all over the city and provide a great atmosphere and all at a cheap rate. $50 dollars a night is more than ample for your drinking needs in most cases and this makes it rank amongst the most ‘bang for your buck’ destination in Asia. So lets take a look at the most popular venues to meet Khmer girls-
Phnom Penh has a number of good rooftop drinking venues located throughout the city. Whilst not a numerous as Bangkok the ones in Phnom Penh all have a laid back vibe with matches the city and can be a great place to meet other tourists and expats especially on a Friday or Saturday evening. Eclipse Highest rooftop bar in Phnom Penh with 360° view (only 23rd floor though). Modern, classy, always busy for sunset. $6 for a cocktail makes for a great initial drinking spot before the party truly begins.. Le Moon Bar On top of Amanjaya hotel is a good place if you are looking for a nice view of the riverside, this is where you’ll get the best one. Cocktails start at $4. Dusk Till Dawn Rooftop Reggae Bar doesn’t play that much or any reggae -In spite of their name, the upstairs terrace has DJs playing electronic music. Monthly underground nights. Dusk till dawn is also the place to meet a number of very attractive local girls who are just out for a good time. There is no freelancers and the locals often come in small groups of 3-4 people so easy to approach and strike up a conversation.
There are a number of Western style nightclubs in Phnom Penh, most are really fun and they are open (and busy) almost every night. Each of them caters to a different type of clientele. Read carefully the description of each to make sure you’re not in the wrong place.
Pontoon consists of 3 separate areas: Pontoon Club, Pontoon Pulse and the new Pontoon Vibe. Pontoon Club is the main room and where most people go to. It is a large square with a bar in the middle and a decent dancefloor. Music is commercial, including R&B, House, EDM, Top 40. The crowd is really mixed, mostly freelance prostitutes and tons of random western guys aged between 20 and 60. Closes at 4am (5am on weekends).
Pontoon Pulse has a smaller room with non-commercial music and attracts a more grown-ups crowd and a large number of expats. Pontoon Vibe is an after-hour club closing at 7am every night. Overall, a really fun place to go, especially if it is your first time in Phnom Penh. It is easy to find, Western-friendly and rather cheap drinks with no specific dress code.
Heart Of Darkness (HOD) The second most famous nightclub in Phnom Penh among tourists after Pontoon (which is across the street), it is also mostly crowded with freelance prostitutes, gays and ladyboys. Open every day until 5am.
Epic is the main disco for rich Cambodians and younger expats trying to hook-up with upper-class girls. Sleek design, luxury feel, attentive service. The music is good though mostly commercial. You’ll enjoy it if you don’t mind partying with spoilt teenagers. Most busy on weekends. Open every day from 9pm to 5am. 50% discount for girls on their lady’s night on Thursday. Dress code is enforced: Wear shoes, pants and at least a polo.
Nova used to be the most popular nightclub for rich Cambodians before Epic opened. You still have beautiful people inside though, including some expats. The are usually many normal (but stunning) Khmer girls on a weekend looking to party with most very easy to talk to and even hook up with. In general, the crowd is older than the one in Epic. Hip-Hop and R&B music. Modern design, lighting and sound system. Don’t wear shorts and sandals. Ladies night on Wednesday (1 free cocktail). Open every day from 9pm to 4am.
Duplex and Club Love are two venues are in the same building in the expat area of BKK1. Duplex is a live music bar and vegetarian restaurant. Kind of hippy crowd who likes to discover new cultures, read books and listen to alternative music. Large choice of Belgian beers available. Salsa. Open every day until 2am. Upstairs Club Love has a DJ which plays not-too-commercial music. The crowd is very Western (Backpackers, volunteers, NGOs), including girls. Ladies night on Wednesday (1 free shot when you arrive + buy 2 get 1 free). Open every day from 11pm to 4am.
Darlin’ Darlin‘ is your typical luxury hotel prostitute bar. It is located within Naga World Hotel and Casino and features live Top 40 music and DJ every night. Usually crowded with mostly Asians, including Japanese, Koreans, Singaporeans and some rich Cambodians as well. Avoid flip-flops and shorts. $6 for a beer which is expensive compared to many of the other venues in the area. However they have pretty and well-groomed Vietnamese, Cambodian and PRC freelance prostitutes who ask 100$ for a short time and 200$ for a long time. No lady’s drink, direct to business.
Beer Bars & Sports Bars
There are a number of very good beer bars and sports bars dotted throughout the city which provide a good setting for daytime drinking and weekend relaxation. Cadillac Bar is a great choice if you are looking for a sports bar/restaurant by the riverfront. They serve excellent American and Western food for a reasonable price. Garage Bar Self-proclaimed “Rock’n’Roll Dive Bar”. Small, near the riverside, with a regular crowd of expats over 40. Very good western food and burger menu makes this a favourite with the daytime crowd. Lone Star is very popular with American expats. Far West/saloon theme with a good selection of Tex-Mex food and burgers. Shanghai Tamed hostess bar on Street 51 (near Pontoon). Pretty, numerous girls but many being a cock-tease as there is a no-barfine rule. Live music. Family friendly on Sundays for their Roast dinners. Larry’s 110 Street Bar and Grill A bit more upmarket compared to other expat bars. American-owned, famous for its pizzas. Pool tables. Hot waitresses will play against you to try to get a ladies’ drink
There are at least 50 hostess bars in Phnom Penh, with most located on Street 136, 104, 51 and 130 (starting from the best). There are isolated ones too in Street 102, 108, 110, 118, 172. There is not set or specific area’s like Thailand therefore are you travel around the city you will often see a bar which looks very much like a hostess bar, and this usually means it is.
The upside with Cambodian girls is they are usually very sweet, and really give the full girlfriend experience. Simple things like a nice meal or a little shopping often is a great way to warm them up, often coming from poorer families in Cambodia means they will often be shy in a fancy restaurant but will love the experience and show you just how much when you return to the hotel.
The prices in all Western-oriented hostess bars in Phnom Penh are similar from one place to another. Beer: $2-$3. Spirits: $3-$5. Expect to pay between $20 and $30 for short time and $50 for long time. Some places are more expensive however compared to other destinations in the region Cambodia ranks as a cheap night. There is also a $10-$15 bar fine in most bars. Many girls are only interested in ladies drinks and making commission. Not all the girls in the bar are interested in short or long time bar-fines so if this is what your looking for then its best to discuss this early on in the night to avoid disappointment.
Most bars have games (Connect Four, cards), if not a pool table. So even if the girls don’t speak English well, you have something to do with them. The music is often from a YouTube playlist and you can make requests as you wish as long as it’s commercial and upbeat. On TV screens you’ll have either sports or music video clips.
The bars are not that busy during the weekdays, those around the Riverside area of town and close to Street 130 and 136 will usually be a little busier due to their close proximity to many of the western orientated hotels in the area. Often however during the week you can get a good set of girls, with the bar less busy they are usually happier to barfine and enjoy a night or two in the hotel.
Whilst KTV’s are rarely frequented by none-Asian tourists these are a great place to meet some of the cutest and fairest skinned woman from all over Cambodia. Most of the KTV’s are inspired by a Chinese influence and most open in the afternoon. Usually you will enter and meet a few girls, select the ones you most like and then retire to a room to sing song and indulge in whatever entertainment you like. Often bottle service is the order of the day and the girls are more than happy to return to your hotel after the KTV party finishes. Whilst this is not your cheapest form of nightlife in Phnom Penh it often ranks as some of the best. The KTV’s are dotted throughout the city and usually more located on the outskirts of town so travel to/from these locations is usually a must. Bottle service usually starts at $50 upwards- depending on the KTV venue you may pay a set fee for the time of the girl entertaining you or just pay for lady drinks which they usually drink within 5-10 minutes of it being placed on the table.
Phnom Penh has an increasing number of massage parlours available for those who wish to partake. Its on a smaller scale than Thailand however is increasing thanks to the increasing numbers of Korean, Japanese and Chinese visitors to the city.
One of the most famous venues is Soul Golden City, near the Sofitel Phnom Penh, which features a fish tank on the 5th floor (for newcomers: it’s an area where girls are standing behind a glass). You can take a Khmer or Vietnamese girl to the karaoke or to a room for 10$/20$. This is just for a regular massage. Full service is available if you tip the therapist directly. Prices range from 50$ to 150$.
A very similar place is Massa on Street 252. Fish tank with around 25 sexy Viet and Khmer girls. Room is 10$ with shower and AC. After negotiating, you should pay a tip between 25$ and 50$ for full service. If you only want a handjob, you can get it for 10$.
You can also go to the spa in Hotel Luxury World (Street 200) which is affordable (same as Massa) and has decent facilities. A cheaper one is on the second floor of the Mean Haur Hotel.