You and the night and the music: Dancing in Kampot

Kampot’s nightlife differs from the other major Cambodian cities due to its smaller size and the laid-back nature of the town. Visitors generally care more about chilling out along the riverside or chatting with people in the numerous bars, rather than getting their party on. Those looking for drug-fueled jungle parties should head to Sihanoukville or one of the islands. But don’t worry, Kampot has its own style of dance party.

Kampot at night

When night falls on Kampot it’s time to put on your dancing shoes!

The expats here are known as Kampotheads for good reason, and the ever-growing number of watering holes should indicate exactly the kind of trouble you can find in this mellow city. The town grows more lively on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights with weekly parties to satisfy everyone’s urge to shimmy. Although you may find yourself in the middle of an impromptu dance party almost anywhere in town, if you want a guaranteed evening of shaking your booty, be sure to head to one of the places listed below for one of Kampot’s weekly dance parties!

DISCLAIMER: DO NOT WALK OR BICYCLE TO ANY OF THESE VENUES ALONE AFTER DARK.

Kampot is a relatively safe town, but thieves (“ja-ow” in Khmer) know that “barang” (foreigners) frequent these establishments on weekends. Thieves ordinarily target females traveling by foot or on bicycle—even in groups of two— with loosely hanging shoulder bags. Renting a motorbike if you’re not planning to drink too much, or taking a tuk-tuk, are much safer options and cost a lot less than replacing stolen valuables.

Dragon Club Kampot

Start the weekend off right with dancing at Dragon Club.

Thursday night – Dragon Club

Visiting Cambodia without experiencing at least one KTV should be criminal. No, I’m not talking about one of those “girlie bars” bathed in red light and filled with the saddest sort of traveler. I mean a real KTV: a dance club, a discotheque, a gathering of youths fueled by alcohol and an insistent, electronic beat. Dun, dun, dun, dun dun, dun, dun, dun, dun dun… Kampot has several KTVs, but the one you cannot miss is Dragon Club.

The best time to go is Thursday night when local Khmers pack the club and add to the already insane atmosphere. Booming house-style, electronic music blends popular Western and Khmer artists for a heart-pumping, booty-shaking beat with enough energy to keep you dancing till it closes at 2 a.m. Technicolor lights and lasers flashing to the dun, dun, dun tempt epileptic fits even without any chemical enhancements. I recommend drinking a fair bit before you go, since a draft beer costs $2.50 while cocktails are a standard $3, and not arriving until after 11 p.m. or midnight when it starts to get busy.

Friday night – Banyan Tree

The Friday night party happens every week at the Khmer-owned Banyan Tree Guesthouse and Bar. The semi-open air venue right on the Teuk Chhou River features live music acts from 9 p.m. until midnight when a guest DJ takes over. Banyan Tree’s in-house band, The Kampot Playboys, play several times a month. They put on a great Khmer rock show using Western and Khmer instruments with lots of fun songs to keep you going until the DJ starts.

Relax in one of the chill-out zones, play some pool, or challenge new friends to a beer pong tournament when you get tired of moving your body. The happy hour from 5 to 8 p.m. will get you nice and lubricated before everyone else shows up, usually around 10 p.m or even later. Banyan often has guest DJs play and the music changes weekly and can range from standard electronic to 90s hip hop to pop hits from the 2000s to Latin dance tunes. Once you work up an appetite from all that dancing, stroll over to the pop-up sushi or Indian food trucks that now frequent the Friday night party.

Naga House parties Kampot

Experience ‘Nagabass’ at Kampot’s original party place, Naga House.

Saturday night – Naga House

The last party of the Kampot week happens at Naga House, another guesthouse and bar along the river. Naga House is the original weekend party place and slightly more open-air than the nearby Banyan Tree with lots of seating by the riverside, including the Naga House boat. The venue concentrates more on the DJ and manages to secure party-makers from all over the world.

Naga House refers to their general music selection as ‘Nagabass’ and usually sticks to the genres of dancehall, jungle, dubstep, hip hop and sometimes reggae. They have a legitimate set-up for DJs to play and plenty of room for you to get down to their sick beats. I prefer to arrive closer to 11 p.m. or midnight, once the party really starts to get going. If you show up early, they have an awesome happy hour from 4 til 7 p.m and an ample food menu to prepare you for the evening’s shenanigans.

Dragon Club
Open Thursday to Saturday, 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Dragon Street, Near Old Bridge, Kampot
facebook.com/Dragon-Club

Banyan Tree
Dancing on Fridays, 9 p.m.until late
Teuk Chhou Road, Kampot
T: 078 665 094
banyantreekampot.com

Naga House
Dancing on Saturdays, 9 p.m.until late
Teuk Chhou Road, Kampot
T: 012 289 916
facebook.com/nagahousekampot

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