A City of Extremes: Entertainment in Phnom Penh

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The impact between local Cambodian lifestyle (influenced to a certain degree by the French) and contemporary globalization has turned in the past twenty years Phnom Penh in one of the most important places you should visit if you’re looking for entertainment in Asia. From pools in the backyard, where you can swim during the evening, to colorful bars, to private clubs, and incredibly sophisticated cafés, Phnom Penh has gotten them all. And it’s not just the illusion any large capital gives you. It’s the actual fact.

A second aspect which makes Phnom special in this context is that the city hasn’t grown as an effect of the increasing demand coming from tourists all over the world (the case of Siem Reap). It rather experienced a natural growth; but it’s big enough to accommodate just about any taste and to change itself over night, featuring new attractions, places, and colors.

The Light of Asia

And, indeed, after the nightfall it’s all about color: dozens of bars and cabarets waiting for your arrival. Here are a few examples:

  • Cadillac Bar and Grill – You can eat something and still enjoy the atmosphere of this special bar.
  • River Street Balcony Bar – With its superb view over the Mekong.
  • DV8 – For lonely men with a special taste for good music.
  • GooChi – Play foosball in this three-story high bar and restaurant.

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The Exotic Sound of a Distant City

More and more discos open in Phnom Penh every year. Some are themed, following the western fashion; others are simply a great place to hang around a couple of nights during your stay in the city. We picked the best 5:

  • The Club @ The Place – A new disco for the young and restless.
  • Shanghi Bar – Great music and very gracious personnel.
  • Elephant Bar – There are always joyful people hanging around this bar, be it season or not.
  • Gasolina – Learn and enjoy salsa in this South American bar. Lessons included.
  • Blue Chilli – A bar without prejudices, open for everyone. It features a few private booths.

…and the True Spirit of Cambodia

You can attend various festivals in Phnom Penh, dedicated or related to the traditional life in the country. Irrespective of the time of the year when you land here, you can find something special to sooth your soul for a couple of hours or more. The colors are fabulous, the music like nothing you’ve heard before, and some of the shows could easily get a representation on any important theatre in the world (if you want to make an idea about the complexity and elegance of these representations).

  • May – Bonn Chroat Preah Nongkoal – This is a festival full of agrarian symbols, which gathers many people, of all ages.
  • November – Water Festival – It can be very fun to attend this festival on the Mekong embankment. If you’re not accustomed to local traditions, you’ll be completely amazed with the simple, yet sophisticated way in which these people celebrate their closest element – the water.
  • November – The International Music Festival in Phnom Penh – An extensive selection of classical music pieces from all over the world.

Bon Om Tuk the boats