Phnom Penh movie theaters

Phnom Penh’s changing faster than I can keep up, so I’ve given this post a well-deserved update. Remembering a time when Phnom Penh didn’t have a “proper” movie theater makes me sound like an old-fogey, reminiscing about the days gone by when locals would watch movies in small shops with a dozen chairs and usually two or three screens loudly blaring different films at the same time. These days, there are a half-dozen places in town to see English-language movies in Phnom Penh, from giant theaters showing Hollywood blockbusters to smaller theaters that screen documentaries, independent and foreign films.

Major Cineplex Aeon Mall Phnom Penh

The Major Cineplex at Aeon Mall is a serious, big budget movie theater showing films in 4-D. Yes, 4-D.

Major Cineplex at Aeon Mall

Major Cineplex is the latest movie theater to hit Phnom Penh, and it’s a doozy. Located in the new Aeon Mall, it offers features not seen before in Cambodia. They have 3-D and 4-D theaters (think moving chairs and smoky air) as well as a VIP cinema, with first-class style leather seats. They show mainly English-language action blockbusters, with the occasionally Chinese action film and Khmer romance. Ticket prices range from $3 to $15 depending on the day of the week and the type of seat you opt for. Seniors, kids, and students can get tickets for $2.

Major Cineplex
Aeon Mall, 2nd Floor
#132 Sothearos Blvd, Sangkat Tonle Bassac, Phnom Penh
T: 023 901 111
majorcineplex.com.kh

The interior of Legend Cinema in Phnom Penh.

Phnom Penh’s movie theater’s take security seriously. Talking during movies, less so.

Legend Cinema

Legend Cinema was the first movie theater in town to show licensed Hollywood films and offers a true movie theater experience in their three air-conditioned theaters. Legend screens Hollywood blockbusters, action, horror and kid’s films.

You’re not going to find any dramas or chick flicks here, but they do show 3-D films regularly. Ticket prices range from $3 to $18, the more expensive ones are for family seating that seats four people. Most films are in English with Khmer subtitles, although they do show the occasional Khmer-language film.

Legend Cinema
City Mall, top floor
Monireth Blvd, Phnom Penh
T: 088 954 9857
legend.com.kh

Major Cineplex at Sorya Mall

At the top of Sorya Mall, is Major Cineplex, formerly Platinum Cineplex, formerly Sabay Cineplex, and the second big theater in town. Major has two regular screens and one 3-D screen. They screen Hollywood blockbusters, action films and a few local and Asian flicks.

They also have couple’s seats if you’re down to cuddle. Ticket prices start at $3 up to $15 for ‘4DX’ and VIPshowings. Check their site for current promotions.

Major Cineplex
Sorya Shopping Center, 5th Floor
St 63 at St 142, Phnom Penh
majorcineplex.com.kh

Outside of The Flicks 2

Get your movie on in Phnom Penh.

The Flicks Community Movie House

The Flicks has two locations in Phnom Penh, one in BKK3 (Flicks 1) and one near the Riverside (Flicks 2), all offering the latest releases, film festival winners, foreign films, documentaries, and kids films on their big screens. Their movie rooms are air-conditioned with sofas and futons (and reclining seats at Flicks 1) to relax on, and they serve food and drinks — including wine and beer — that you can enjoy during the movie.

The Flicks screens two to six movies every day, with the Big Flicks 1 offering screenings from the early afternoon. Tickets cost $3.50 for adults and $2.50 for children, and the ticket is good for the entire day. Check out their current movie schedule for each location on the website.

Big Flicks 1
Open from 12 p.m.
#39B Street 95, BKK3, Phnom Penh

11 Happy’s Flicks 2
Open from 4:30 p.m.
#90 Street 136 (inside the 11 Happy Backpacker Hotel), Daun Penh, Phnom Penh

Tarantino Movie House

Formerly the Flicks 3, Tarantino Movie House are now an independent, air-conditioned operation. Tickets cost $3.50 for an entire day, but they also have set prices for dinner plus movie and popcorn. True to their name, they show film classics from the 80s and 90s (and please, let’s not quibble about whether or not a movie from 1989 can be considered a classic. It can). In fact, they promise to never show movies from after 1999. It’s like Forever 21, but for movies. Or something.

Tarantino Movie House
Open from 6:30 p.m
8 Street 258, Daun Penh, Phnom Penh
T: 012 345 6789
facebook.com/tarantinomovietheater

Meta House

Meta House at the German Cambodian Cultural Centre shows independent films and English-language documentaries at 7pm every night of the week except Monday.

They have a full bar and restaurant and often following screenings with talks and sometimes the night ends with a DJ playing some tunes. Many of their films are about Cambodia or the region. Screening is on the building’s rooftop so don’t forget to load up on some mosquito repellent. Tickets cost $2 for foreigners, Khmer students aren’t required to pay.

Meta House
#37 Sothearos Blvd, Phnom Penh
T: 010 312 333
meta-house.com

Asian Street Food Smarts

By Robyn Eckhardt

Smoky chicken sate plucked from a grill and dipped in sweet-spicy peanut sauce in a Jakarta alley. Steamed ground rice and jaggery cakes eaten from a banana leaf on a street corner in Penang. A mound of sticky rice drizzled with coconut cream and topped with juicy mango slices spooned up at a stall in a Chiang Mai market. For the Asia-bound traveler keen to know the region’s diverse culinary cultures, these are essential experiences.

Siem Reap street food

Num krok, made from rice flour, coconut milk, and spring onions, being sold on the streets of Siem Reap.

In this part of the world the term “street food” (or “hawker food,” as it’s referred to in Malaysia and Singapore) denotes not just a cheap and quick way to fill one’s belly. It also describes a repertoire of dishes prepared by experienced specialists, dishes rarely duplicated successfully in restaurant kitchens. Eating on the Asian street offers the opportunity to observe cooking techniques up close and to engage with strangers over a meal in a way that would be difficult in a proper brick and mortar eatery. Continue reading

Cambodia Gay Pride 2018

This month the 2018 Cambodia Gay Pride week is set to be better than ever, with a weekend packed with events in Siem Reap leading into a week of celebrations in Phnom Penh.

The 2018 10-day event will celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, increase local acceptance, and raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues in Cambodia.

Gay pride Siem Reap

2018 Cambodia pride comes to Temple Town for 2018!

Friday, May 11th – Siem Reap

7 p.m.
To kick off Cambodia Pride 2018 The Hangout is hosting ‘Absolutely Dragulous’ a drag competition that promises a good time for all. All profits go to local NGO A Place To Be Yourself (APTBY) For more details, see the Facebook event page.

Saturday, May 12th – Siem Reap

11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
On Saturday morning head to Golden Gecko Villa for the ‘Hot Buns Sausage Sizzle.’ Entry costs $5 and includes lunch and a swim. Come and decorate your tuk tuk for the Gay-Mazing Tuk Tuk Race. More info on their Facebook event page.

2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Join the ‘Gay-mazing Tuk Tuk Race,’ a 2.5 hour scavenger hunt around Siem Reap. The cost is $15 per team. Register in advance online.

5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
If the Gay-mazing Race has gotten you all hot and bothered, head to the Lub D pool party for a cool down. Check the Facebook event for more info.

9:30 p.m. until late
Head straight to Barcode for the evening’s entertainment at the 1st Pink Party. Get the event info on Facebook.

Sunday, May 13th – Siem Reap

9 a.m. to noon; 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
On Sunday drop by A Place To Be Yourself (APTBY) for their open house and find out how they are helping to support Siem Reap’s LBGTQ+ community.  Find out more.

1 p.m.
Head to Rambutan Resort for a lunch-time BBQ. Tickets cost $18 for all-you-can-eat poolside barbecue, and all proceeds go to APTBY. Details on their event page.

9 p.m.
To wrap up the weekend Barcode is hosting a Candyland party, where they suggest patrons will be able to ‘taste the Siem Reap rainbow.’

To find out more about the Siem Reap pride events, subscribe to the ‘I Am What I Am – Siem Reap page on Facebook.

cambodia gay pride

Blue Chilli cabaret show. The Cambodia LGBT community goes all out for pride week+ in Phnom Penh.

Wednesday, May 16th – Phnom Penh

10 p.m.
Street Party. PoC, (formerly PoPP) are known for their great parties. They’ve added an extra bar and are spilling out into the street with their yearly Cambodia pride party. Free food, lots of enthusiasm, and a diverse crowd make this an excellent way to start Phnom Penh’s pride week.

Thursday, May 17th – Phnom Penh

6:30 p.m.
Pride Popcorn Time aka Movie Night. Major Cineplex Soriya will be screening Love, Simon, a sweet, teenage gay coming of age story. $3 entry.

9 p.m.
Jungle Party at Space Hair Salon and Bar.  The undeniably handsome staff of the Space Hair Salon will be dressed like wild animals for the jungle party, and so should you! Head to Space for their yearly pride party that never fails to impress.

Friday, May 18th – Phnom Penh

7 p.m.
Heaven Party. Cambodia’s only lesbian bar invites the entire LGBTQ+ for the ‘heaven party.’ Unicorn Bar Cambodia have not released any information on what that entails, so go be surprised!

9 p.m. until late
Pride It Out Party at Blue Chilli. Head over to Blue Chilli where they’ll be having a “sexy muscle boy show” as well as a Cambodian drag, diva, and dancers performance, plus free condoms and HIV testing. This event is consistently excellent, taking over Street 178 in front of Blue Chilli and this year is sure to be just as good.

Saturday, May 19th – Phnom Penh

11:30 a.m.
Pride Brunch at Feel Good II Cafe & Coffee Roasters. Feel Good 2 is doing a special gay pride brunch with a gorgeous set menu for only $15. Bloody marys and mimosas will also be on offer and $1 from each drink sale will be donated to CCT for HIV outreach in Battambang. You must make a reservation in advance, as seating is limited. Call 078 866 651.

2 p.m.
The Amazingly Fabulous Race. Join this tuk tuk race around Phnom Penh which will be visiting various LGBT venues and organizations. This year promises to be bigger, better, and more fabulous than last year! Check the Facebook page for more details and to sign up for a team.

2 p.m.
Pool Party at Vehaa វេហា. Billing itself as “Phnom Penh’s most extravagant pool party,” Vehaa Sky Bar invites all comers to put on their hottest swimwear and go for a dip.

9 p.m.
It’s Raining Men! Party at Toolbox Bar. Featuring the best all-male dance show in Cambodia (or so they say, you be the judge!), Toolbox is having an ‘It’s Raining Men’-themed party, which means if you show up wet from the pool party, you’ll fit right in.

11:30 p.m. until late
Late Night Party at Heart of Darkness. Heart of Darkness, Phnom Penh’s preeminent gay club, hosts a pride night bash. Last year they featured a “bare-chested beauties” show, drag acts from Blue Chilli. $5 cover charge includes one free drink.

Sunday, May 20th – Phnom Penh

3 p.m.
Cooldown Pool PartyRambutan Resort and Arthur&Paul join forces again to host a pride closing party that will feature drinking, swimming, and sauna.

Monday, May 21st – Phnom Penh

7:50 p.m.
Nerd Night LGBT Special. The Factory Phnom Penh is hosting a special Nerd Night (for those who have never been, they are passionate presentations of 20 slides, 20 seconds each in the Pecha Kucha style) that is LGBTQ+ themed.

 If you know of additional events that should be listed here, please contact us.

Siem Reap’s LGBTQ+ Pride Weekend 2018

For the first year ever, Siem Reap will be hosting its own sensational pride line-up of events and festivities, kicking off the 10-day Cambodia Gay Pride 2018. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to visit Siem Reap, this is it.

Gay pride Siem Reap

Cambodia pride comes to Temple Town for 2018!

Friday, May 11th – Siem Reap

7 p.m.

To kick off Cambodia Pride 2018 The Hangout is hosting ‘Absolutely Dragulous’ which they bill as “Siem Reap’s first and only drag competition for the ‘common folk.’” They have a packed schedule that will culminate in six fearless drag queens and six fearless drag kings competing for the title of Siem Reap’s Next Drag Superstar.

There will also be mini audience competitions, a silent raffle, music, and lots of lip-syncing. Even if you aren’t the performance type, there’s a special prize for best-dressed guest, so be sure to get dolled up. All profits go to local NGO A Place To Be Yourself (APTBY) For more details, see the The Hangout’s Facebook event page.

Saturday, May 12th – Siem Reap

11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

On Saturday morning head to Golden Gecko Villa for the ‘Hot Buns Sausage Sizzle’ which we assume is the fabulous version of a barbecue. Entry costs $5 and includes a sausage and salad lunch, and, if you’d like, a swim. Vegetarian options available *if* you contact Golden Gecko Villa in advance.

The Hot Buns Sausage Sizzle is also acting as a Gay-Mazing Tuk Tuk Race pre-game event, so feel free to come and decorate your tuk tuk for the race at the Golden Gecko. There’s more information on their Facebook event page.

2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Sick of the yearly commute to Phnom Penh for the big gay tuk tuk race, Siem Reapers took it upon themselves to set one up in temple town, and it promises to be a hoot. Teams of 1 to 4 people will compete in a 2.5 hour scavenger hunt around Siem Reap, and unsurprisingly, looks are just as important as skill, so be sure to decorate your tuk tuk! The cost the enter the ‘Gay-mazing Tuk Tuk Race’ is $15 per team. You can reserve a tuk tuk for an additional $15, or bring your own. Register in advance online.

5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

If the Gay-mazing Race has gotten you all hot and bothered, head to the Lub D pool party for a cool down. Cocktails will be 50% off, there’s a street food-style buffet, games, prizes, and of course, swimming. Check the Facebook event for more info.

Barcode gay bar Siem Reap

The cabaret show at Barcode is one of Cambodia’s best.

9:30 p.m. until late

Towel off and head straight to Barcode for the evening’s entertainment at the 1st Pink Party. Don pink duds and you might win a prize! Details are still thin on this one, but if it’s anything like most nights at Barcode, there will be a fabulous drag performance, excellent cocktails, and lots of fun. Get the event info on Facebook.

Sunday, May 13th – Siem Reap

9 a.m. to noon; 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

On Sunday drop by A Place To Be Yourself (APTBY) for their open house and find out how they are helping to support Siem Reap’s LBGTQ+ community. Check their event listing because they have things going on all day long, including live music, speakers, free and confidential rapid HIV testing, nibbles, games, and a “dress the gender-queer mannequin competition.” Find out more.

1 p.m.

Head to Rambutan Resort for a lunch-time BBQ in support of A Place To Be Yourself. Tickets cost $18 for all-you-can-eat poolside barbecue, and all proceeds go to APTBY. Tickets include a glass of wine or beer and discounted tickets are available for Cambodians for $10. Details on their event page.

9 p.m.

To wrap up the weekend Barcode is hosting a Candyland party, where they suggest patrons will be able to ‘taste the Siem Reap rainbow.’ We’re hopeful that means exactly what it sounds like, but if not, there will probably be a drag show and lots of interesting people.

Siem Reap promises to put on a fantastic pride weekend, so we’d encourage you to grab a bus ticket and head to Temple Town. If you’re coming from out of town for the festivities, Lub D Hostel is offering special rates for pride-goers.

To find out more and stay up to date with what’s happening, subscribe to the ‘I Am What I Am – Siem Reap page on Facebook which is being regularly updated with new and and increasingly exciting information.

Happy Khmer New Year!

Look around and you’ll see Cambodian New Year, Bon Chol Chhnam Thmei, being celebrated around the country. The holiday, also called Khmer New Year, is Cambodia’s most important, bringing the country to a near standstill as city residents head home to the provinces to spend time with their families, have parties and visit their local pagoda.

Khmer New Year decorations in Cambodia

At last! The time has come to bust out the Khmer New Year decorations!

The holiday celebrates the end of the harvest season and marks the start of a new year (and also the start of the truly hot hot season). Although the holiday is officially only three or four days long—this year it’s April 14, 15, 16—it can extend onto one or both adjoining weekends, and often even a few days before that. In the days leading up to Khmer New Year, prices, especially for transportation, can go much higher than usual. Continue reading

Review: Giant Ibis night bus, Phnom Penh-Siem Reap

Giant Ibis night bus at a glance…

Over the years, I’ve taken more Giant Ibis night bus journeys than I care to admit. When I first moved to Cambodia, I vowed I would never take a night bus in Cambodia.  Since then, I’ve made an exception for Giant Ibis because of their safety record and precautions. I’m now a regular on the Giant Ibis night bus from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. In this post, I’ll share some details about the company and the trip from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap (and vice-versa).

Giant Ibis night bus Cambodia

The Giant Ibis night bus looks great in the morning, too.

Night buses in Cambodia are notoriously unsafe. Giant Ibis, on the other hand, makes safety a priority. Their  buses go slowly, with a maximum speed of 60km (37 miles) per hour. They enforce this by transmitting the speed via GPS to the Giant Ibis office so that management knows if a driver breaks the rules and go faster. Going slowly is not only safer, but allows for a better night’s sleep, because even at at these speeds the bus usually arrives in six or seven hours. Another safety precaution Giant Ibis takes is to always have two drivers on each bus, and they switch half-way through the journey. If one driver feels fatigued he can switch out and take a nap. Continue reading