Phnom Penh is a city on the rise, and so its nightlife. Lina Goldberg tells you where to party in the Kingdom of Wonder’s Capital.
Zino Wine Bar
12 Street 294, Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh’s growing number of oenophiles are flocking to Zino, which offers 24 different wines by the glass and more than 100 by the bottle. The Australian owner takes wine tasting seriously: the bottles are kept in an air-conditioned wine storage room and temperature-controlled coolers to ensure that the vino isn’t affected by Cambodia’s tropical heat, and each varietal is served at the optimum temperature. The menu offers a variety of Mediterranean tapas and meals from grilled octopus to duck cassoulet, as well as a handy guide to which wines best complement each dish.
The 240 ½ Alleyway
Venture off of Street 240 into the tiny alley that has quickly become the city’s trendiest laneway. There, behind a heavy wooden door with a tiny, nondescript sign, is a small, smoke-filled, but artfully designed space that’s the closest thing to a hipster bar Phnom Penh has to offer. It may not be easy to find, but Bar Sito features some of Phnom Penh’s best (and most expensive) craft cocktails, including delicious classics that you won’t find anywhere else in town, such as a perfect negroni and a sweet, strong mint julep.
19 Street 214
With a dress code that bans flip-flops, tank tops and shorts and a special VIP area reserved for bottle service only, Nova caters to Phnom Penh’s chicest party-goers. The club serves 50 types of cocktails and boasts that its regulars include actresses, models, and other beautiful people. It also attracts Cambodians, expats and tourists hoping to meet these fabled beauties. Nova features local DJs and international talent from across Asia spinning popular dance music until the wee hours seven days a week. Thursday is Ladies’ Night, with 50% off all cocktails for women guests; groups of four or more women receive a free bottle of vodka or whiskey.
271 Sisowath Quay
By day this combination restaurant and bar serves some of the most consistently delicious meals on Phnom Penh’s busy riverside, with a menu that features stylish Asian fusion small plates. By night Metro Hassakan turns into the riverside’s swankiest cocktail bar, popular with a unique mix of local high-rollers and foreigners. The floor-to-ceiling glass windows make it a great place to see and be seen while sipping on a variety of classic martinis and tropical creations, including their lychee martini, passion fruit mai tai and mango sling. Their signature cocktail, the espresso martini, will keep you buzzing all night long.
18 Street 84, Phnom Penh
Combination bar, high-end restaurant and music venue, Doors is an ambitious attempt to meet Phnom Penh partygoers’ every entertainment need. The spacious industrial-chic interior features street-inspired murals by French rapper and artist Sheryo, while the wall behind the DJ booth is festooned in a colorful collection of vintage doors and window shutters. The restaurant’s menu, designed by former “Best Young Chef in Spain” winner Aitor Olabegoya, features a tasty selection of Spanish tapas. With a Singaporean mixologist on staff, the Doors bar features a wide array of cocktails to enjoy while listening to the live music and DJs who play nearly every night of the week.
377 Sisowath Quay
One of Phnom Penh’s hippest new bars, Backstage offers a wide range of music that you won’t hear anywhere else in town. Each day of the week has a different atmosphere. Wednesday is artsy wine-and-cheese night, Thursday is queer night and Friday and Saturday—when the bar stays open until 3 a.m.—feature the city’s best DJ talent spinning nu disco, indie electro, drum and bass and deep house. No matter what day it is, the modern concrete interior, low lighting and inexpensive cocktail specials attract a lively crowd of young expats, locals and tourists.
Bouchon Wine Bar
3 Street 294
This French-owned wine bar is sophisticated but not pretentious, with an interior that features exposed brick and soft lighting. The perfect spot for after-work drinks, Bouchon offers a fantastic array of French wines and a menu of small bites, including one of Phnom Penh’s best cheese plates, as well as tartines, foie gras, charcuterie. The menu also includes a few select full meals inspired by French home cooking and some excellent desserts. And while they’re best known for their selection of Bordeaux wines, it’s the martini menu that has the city’s expat population singing Bouchon’s praises. Alongside the classic recipe, they offer many choices for more adventurous carousers, including martinis flavored with cucumber, Earl Grey tea, or bleu cheese.
Le Moon Terrace Bar
1 Street 154 and Sisowath Quay
The rooftop bar and lounge atop the Amanjaya Pancam Hotel is an oasis above the busy city, overlooking the riverside and offering some of the most stunning views of Phnom Penh, including the nearby Buddhist temple Wat Ounalom. With its cozy seating and relaxed couches, Le Moon is the perfect spot for either group get-togethers or a romantic date. Come early for the gorgeous pink and purple sunset over the Tonle Sap–sunset starts around 5:45 p.m.–but be prepared to stay late. Popular with tourists and expats alike, this open-air lounge stays open until 1 a.m., serving up a wide array of refreshing tropical drinks, cocktails and finger foods.