Phnom Penh has more than its fair share of bars and clubs. Way more than its fair share. You won’t be able to walk out the door without running into a watering hole or three, but here are some of our favorites.
Known for cheap drink, great tunes, and late nights, Zeppelin is a Phnom Penh institution, run by a grumpy Taiwanese man who boasts a formidable scowl andalle a large collection of classic rock records. They’ve moved locations and the owner, Jun, isn’t always behind the decks, as he was in days of yore, but the place hasn’t lost its dive-bar ambience.
If you want to get within spitting distance of the trendy bars of Tonle Bassac without the commensurate prices, head to Red Bar on Street 308. This upmarket dive bar often has live music and sells $1 beers and $10 jugs of frozen margaritas, making it a good choice for a cheap drink. And if you can’t get a table at the always-packed Piccolo Pizzeria next door, Red Bar will allow you to bring your pizza in there as well as sell you some cold beers to wash it down with.
Although Garage Bar is now owned by a Brit, it remains an American-style spot known for its excellent sous vide burgers and its great soundtrack — and willingness to let patrons make requests and even DJ. Just off the Riverside promenade, Garage Bar offers a welcome respite from the neighboring girly bars. It’s a great place to meet other expats and the occasional tourist who wanders in.
Opened in 2019 by an American and a Finn, Embargo is Phnom Penh’s pre-eminent craft beer bar. Located in a trendy back alley behind Wat Langka, Embargo serves eight types of locally produced craft beers, covering a range of ales, stouts, wheat beers, and lagers, from breweries such as Riel Brewing and Cerevisia Craft Brewery. Embargo is also the only place serving Himawari Microbrewery’s beer off-site. If you are having a hard time deciding, they’re happy to give recommendations or serve up a flight of four beers for $6.
For more on where to drink craft beer in Phnom Penh and beyond, see Craft Beer in Cambodia.
Wine and cocktail bars
French-owned wine and and cocktail bar Bouchon is an old favorite with Phnom Penh expats, who head there for after-work drinks. They’ve got a new location on Street 174, and it’s even nicer than the last one, with exposed brick and checked tile floors, and they’ve even brought the gorgeous wooden bar from the last place. Bouchon has an extensive array of French wines (check the list of Bordeauxs) available by the bottle or glass. The menu features a selection of light nibbles, including charcuterie, foie gras, and an excellent cheese plate, as well as heartier French fare. The martinis are the standout, though, with flavors ranging from cucumber to coffee.
Metro Hassakan is a chi-chi Riverside restaurant that serves Asian fusion tapas-style dishes and at night morphs into a trendy cocktail bar. Popular with fashionable locals and well-heeled foreigners, Metro is known for its cocktails, including an excellent lychee martini, but it also has a nice selection of wines by the bottle or glass and generous pours. There’s also a second location on Street 214 that serves the menu from the former Rahu.
Bassac Lane is a collection of tiny, trendy bars owned by two brothers who’ve created their very own Pub Street. (They’re the same guys behind Bar Sito). The bars are popular although they can feel out of place in Phnom Penh and completely contrived. One gets the sense that they had a list of hipster-bar features and constructed the “vision” for each of their establishments by picking a few at random out of a hat. “Okay, this one is going to look like a library and serve daiquiris!” (The Library). “This one is going to have an insect theme and serve herb-infused gin!” (Cicada) “This one will be biker-themed and serve burgers!” (Hangar 44). What’s fun about the bars of Bassac Lane is that they are each so minuscule that if you go with a group you can take over the whole place.
Whiskey lovers should head to Long After Dark where their collection of more than 50 whiskeys lends to the hipster-yet-serious-drinker vibe. Located in the Russian Market area of Phnom Penh, this cozy bar also serves a range of uniquely crafted cocktails, wines, and beer and cider on tap, plus a small but tasty menu of high-end pub fare. If you’re looking for an excuse to imbibe, every week a different “whiskey of the week” is featured on special.
Le Boutier is probably Phnom Penh’s first true hipster bar, with craft cocktails themed around Cambodia’s ‘Golden Age’ served up by the tattooed American owner. The retro-styled bar mingles Cambodian influence and ingredients with American brashness and craft cocktail culture, and the result are punchily named drinks including ‘Sinn Sisamouth in the Second City’ and ‘Once Bitten Twice Chhay’ (the latter named after the bar’s Cambodian partner). While it’s true these are some of the more expensive cocktails in town, it’s the perfect place to see and be seen, if that’s your thing.
Sundowners and afternoon sessions
Gin lovers should head to Juniper Gin Bar, a rooftop bar that offers up the perfect locale to enjoy a gin-based cocktail while soaking up the Phnom Penh sunset. Juniper Gin Bar has more than 20 types of specialty gins from around the world, as well as some less expensive old favorites. In addition to the classic gin and tonic, they’ve got an array of both traditional and creative cocktails on the menu, as well as wine and draft beer. Head there for sunset when they have $3 cocktails from 5 to 7 p.m. and when their rooftop view is best appreciated.
Seekers Spirits is not a bar, it’s Phnom Penh’s first artisan distillery, making premium gin distilled with local botanicals. Their tasting room is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and visitors are welcome to come in and try the spirits at no charge, and bottles are available for purchase. On the first Friday of the month they have a craft cocktail night from 5 til 11 p.m., and on Saturdays they offer distillery tours at 4 and 5:30 p.m. More about Seekers and Phnom Penh’s gin scene.
If you’ve got friends in from out of town, or you’re from out of town yourself, it’s almost obligatory to head up to Le Moon Bar on top of the Amanjaya Hotel. The views are some of the most stunning in town, taking in the Royal Palace, the Buddhist temple Wat Ounalom, and the famous Tonle Sap river. There’s probably no better place in town to enjoy the stunning Phnom Penh sunset as it turns the skies over the river pink and purple.
Located just across the street from FCC, Touk offers the same excellent river views, but with drinks that are significantly less expensive. From 4:30 until 7:30 p.m. cocktails and draft beers are half off. The place is quite large, making it good for groups, and is perfectly situated for visitors to enjoy a glass of sangria while watching the riverside sunset.
Penthouse on the corner of Street 278 and 51 offers breezy rooftop views over Wat Lanka and some of the cheapest happy hour drinks in BKK1, with $2 cocktails and $0.50 beers from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. Popular with backpackers, expats, and locals, the bar also serves a selection of frozen drinks and Cambodian food.
Nestled on a quiet part of Street 21 near the Lost Room, 21 Bar is the perfect spot for an afternoon boozer. Set in the shaded garden of a Tonle Bassac villa, Bar 21 has inexpensive beers, an interesting cocktail list, and an eclectic mix of furniture. And if you’re a dog-lover, even better. They’re pet friendly and happy to let dogs wander around the garden.
If you’re looking for seediness, nightclubs, or both, look no further than Street 51. The two most popular clubs in town are there, Pontoon and Heart of Darkness.
In addition to having possibly the best name for a club ever, Heart of Darkness has been pumping out the tunes since 1993. It’s been completely revamped since the old days and isn’t quite as seedy as it once was, but is still a fun night out. Heart of Darkness is more Khmer-oriented than Pontoon and also has a happening gay scene, but the club attracts and is open to all types. Music is loud Top 40 dance, but there are also places to sit down and enjoy a drink.
Pontoon attracts a mixed crowd of backpackers and sex workers and is a great night out if you want to go dancing. Music slides from Top 40 to EDM to electro house and finally down to dance remixes of terrible songs. Wednesday is “ladies night” with a slightly (only slightly) more hip-hop-oriented soundtrack, while Thursday is a gay-themed night called Shameless, including a cabaret show.
Over on Street 278 in BKK1, Duplex and Club Love provides a one-stop shop for a night out. Duplex, the bar and restaurant outside offers the chance to get a base coat — try the beetroot risotto — before the club upstairs at 11 p.m. Club Love has taken Pontoon’s former spot as Phnom Penh’s favorite club for expats and backpackers to party until the wee hours. They have different themed nights with music that ranges from dance and electronica to house and hip hop, but the overarching theme is to get down and have a good time.
Doors, possibly a cocktail bar, teeters on the brink of being a club. The chic space is covered in graffiti-inspired murals and has a modern, industrial look that’s meant to appeal to Phnom Penh’s hipsters. The strategy seems to be working, and despite their initial reluctance to travel to the Wat Phnom location (it’s really not that far away), expats now flock to the place for the events held there on a near-daily basis, including live music, DJs, all-you-can-eat tapas, salsa, jazz nights, and more. In addition to a Spanish executive chef — the restaurant serves a dandy plate of tapas — they’ve also got a mixologist on staff serving up delicious, if expensive, cocktails.
Meta House at the German-Cambodian Cultural Center is not quite a club, but it does put on some of the more interesting music nights in town. Every evening they screen a documentary and often have talks, but on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday there’s “Meta House After Dark” with themes ranging from German techno DJs to modern Thai and Lao music to industrial/experimental/noise/electronica and neo-disco nights. These events are truly eclectic and draw a mostly expat crowd. There’s a full bar inside and outdoor seating as well, plus a restaurant serving German-style pizzas.
Nova is where the 20-something children of the Khmer upper crust go to get away from the hoi polloi. (So if you decide to go, be aware of the no flip-flop, no tank top, no shorts dress code). The crowd is made up of Cambodian socialites, actresses, and models, plus one or two middle-aged Westerners trying to creep on the aforementioned lovelies, and there’s always a couple of lost-looking backpackers who intended to go to Pontoon. The menu has 50 types of cocktails and there’s a special VIP table for bottle service. Thursdays are ladies night, when drinks for women are half off and groups of four or more women get a free bottle of vodka or whiskey.
Queer and gay bars
Space Hair Salon and Bar is more than just the sum of its parts, it’s a unique combination of cool Cambodian hair salon and gay bar that attracts a mixed crowd of gays, straights, women, and adorable dogs (seriously). Owned by a Spanish-Cambodian couple, Space Bar is known for their relaxed vibe, handsome waiters, themed parties, and strict policy of no money-boys. You can also get your hair done while enjoying a drink and the tunes, which are a mix of fun dance tunes, Cambodian pop, and gay standards.
Blue Chilli is practically a Phnom Penh institution at this point, having opened in 2006, which is an eternity in Cambodia years. Popular with foreign expats, tourists and local talent, Blue Chili is a popular spot for the gay crowd to meet new friends and make merry. It’s also popular with the local money-boys who come from far and wide to hang out here. Blue Chilli is open every night of the week, but they’re best known for their excellent and outlandish weekend drag shows. Not to be missed, the shows are at 11 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Get there early for the best views.
The Pride of Phnom Penh, or POPP, is a cozy gay bar in the Riverside neighborhood with an almost entirely Cambodian clientele. They have drag shows three times a week, on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays from 10 p.m. until midnight (sometimes later) that are adorably unpolished, featuring a large cast of enthusiastic performers lip-synching Western pop songs and even a few traditional Cambodian tunes, which garner rave reviews from the Khmer crowd.
Owned by the same people behind the now-closed Valentino’s club, Generations offers a more intimate experience. Although it’s relatively small, the place has been decked out with lights, a sound system, and a glowing bar, from which one can order a range of cocktails, wines, or beer. Happy hour from 5 until 9 p.m. and drag shows Thursday through Saturday at 9 p.m.
Toolbox, a stylish new gay bar owned by the same people behind the former Rainbow Bar, has a few things that set it apart. First, they have a pool table (and the staff are happy to play if you don’t have a partner). Second, when we visited, the crowd wasn’t just men and had queer folks of all stripes. Tuesdays through Saturday they have an all-male dance show at 10 p.m., and every day there’s a two-for-one cocktail hour from 6 to 9 p.m. The cocktails are a bit strange, but good value. If you’re looking to bar hop, Toolbox is next to Valentino’s and across the street from Generations.
Open daily, 2 p.m. til late
13 Street 278, BKK1, Phnom Penh
T: +855 (0)12 881 181
Open daily, 5 p.m. to midnight
30 Street 308, Tonle Bassac, Phnom Penh
T: +855 (0)10 729 655
Open daily, 7 a.m. to 1 a.m.
9 Street 110, Daun Penh, Phnom Penh
T: +855 (0)92 271 349
Embargo Craft Beer Bar
Open 5 p.m. to midnight, Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Mondays.
36 Street 51(behind Patio Hotel), Phnom Penh
T: +855 (0)92 378 463
Open daily, 4 p.m. to 12 a.m.
82 Street 174, near 63, Phnom Penh
T: +855 (0)77 881 103
Open daily, 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.
241 Street 148 on the riverside,Daun Penh, Phnom Penh
T: +855 (0)23 222 275
Open Tuesday through Sunday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Off Street 308, BKK1, Phnom Penh
T: +855 (0)77 960 413
The Library, facebook.com/TheLibraryDaiquiriBar
Hangar 44, facebook.com/pages/Hangar-44
Long After Dark
Open Tuesday to Sunday, 12 p.m. to midnight
86 Street 450, Toul Tom Pong, Phnom Penh
Open Monday through Saturday, 6 p.m. to 12 a.m.
32 Street 308, Tonle Bassac, Phnom Penh
T: +855 (0)97 675 3004
Juniper Gin Bar
Open daily, 4 to 11 p.m. (and often later on weekends)
The Point Hotel, 12th Floor
10 Street 130, Daun Penh, Phnom Penh
+855 (0)86 445 901
Seekers Independent Spirits
Open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
80 Street 454, Toul Tom Poug, Phnom Penh
T: +855 (0)93 998 850
Le Moon Terrace Bar
Open daily, 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Amanjaya Pancam Hotel
1 Street 154 and Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh
T: +855 (0)23 214 747
Open daily, 11 a.m. until midnight
Riverside at Street 178, Daun Penh, Phnom Penh
T: +855 (0)12 248 694
Open daily, 3 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. (sometimes later)
Corner of Street 278 and 51 (entrance on 278), BKK1, Phnom Penh
T: +855 (0)11 422 767; +855 (0)23 726 500
Street 21, Tonle Bassac, Phnom Penh
Open daily, 4 p.m. to 4 a.m.
T: +855 (0)98 341 991
Heart of Darkness
Open daily, 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
38 Street 51, Daun Penh, Phnom Penh
T: +855 (0)77 304 077; +855 (0)77 837 777
Open daily, 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.
80 Street 172 (at Street 51), Daun Penh, Phnom Penh
T: +855 (0)16 779 966; +855 (0)10 300 400
Open daily, 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.
3 Street 278, Wat Langka, BKK1, Phnom Penh
T: +855 (0)10 268 278
Open daily, 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.
18 Street 84 (at Street 47), Wat Phnom, Daun Penh, Phnom Penh
T: +855 (0)23 986 114
Open daily, hours vary by event. Meta House After Dark, Thursday through Saturday, 9 p.m. till late
#37 Sothearos Blvd, Phnom Penh
T: +855 (0)10 312 333
Open daily, 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.
19 Street 214, Daun Penh, Phnom Penh
T: +855 (0)97 716 5000
Space Hair Salon and Bar
Open daily, 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.
66 Street 136, Daun Penh, Riverside
T: +855 (0)89 963 066
Open daily from 7 p.m. until late (1 to 3 a.m. usually)
26Eo Street 178, Phnom Penh
T: +855 (0)12 566 353
60 Street 15, near 144, Daun Penh, Phnom Penh
T: +855 (0)10 535 745
Open daily, 5 p.m. until 2 .a.m.
24m Street 174 (between 51 and Norodom), Daun Penh, Phnom Penh
T: +855 (0)90 303 336; +855 (0)76 888 6 69
Open 6 p.m. until 2 a.m.
46E Street 174 (between 51 and Norodom), Daun Penh, Phnom Penh
T: +855 (0)77 211 537
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