Phnom Penh is home to an abundance of bars, ranging from the cheap and cheerful to the chic and boutique, and everything in between. Stick with us, and we’ll show you the best options around.
Wherever you drink, the country’s favourite beer, Angkor, will be on offer. Brewed with the soft spring water from the hills of Sihanoukville coupled with the finest ingredients sourced from around the world, this quality lager has earned the brand numerous Gold Awards from Monde Selection, an international quality institute, making it a rich source of national pride. The same company also produces global cola brand Pepsi and local drinking water brand Angkor Puro, vital in combating the effects of those scorching hot days in tropical Cambodia.
Another highly popular Khmer brew is Cambodia Beer, made in a state-of-the-art facility on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Cambodia is a refreshing and easy to drink lager with a rich, fruity head giving way to a full-bodied and creamy flavour.
If you want to swig a few cold ones while saving a couple of bucks then join the locals at one of the many beer gardens that litter the capital. Be warned, Cambodians love to embark on a lively round of ‘chul mouys’ (that’s ‘cheers’ to you and me) before every single sip, which can make drinking a fun but lengthy (and rowdy) affair.
The Riverside area (Sisowath Quay and the adjoining streets) boasts many upmarket establishments, although several cut-price places can still be found amongst them. The Rising Sun is a popular choice along St. 178: a British pub with cheap drinks and serving great food also.
Over on St. 174 is The Wall, a new bar from legendary Phnom Penh proprietor Howie Taing. Party to classic rock and 80’s tunes while you guzzle down nicely affordable drinks and play bar games and pool.
A ride south across will find you at the up-and-coming neighbourhood surrounding the Russian Market, known locally as Toul Tom Poung. Here, try Seabird’s Place (St. 410), run by one of the founders of local craft beer label Riel Brewery, serving beers, cocktails, wine, spirits, smoothies and milkshakes. The popular IPA and Coconut Brown Ale from Riel are on tap, as well a rotating seasonal brew.
Do you dream of sipping cocktails in the sumptuous surroundings but don’t have the wallet to match? Don’t worry! The renowned happy hour at the exclusive Elephant Bar of the upscale Raffles Hotel Le Royal places it on the affordable list, with special deals between 4pm and 9pm daily.
The sundown tradition is popular across the capital, with many other venues boasting discounts on cocktails and beers. Look out for the happy hour symbol in our directory listings.
French-run Dodo Rhum House (St. 130) is a fairly priced option, serving a selection of flavoured rums, such as passion fruit, chocolate and prune, and its signature Ti punch.
Over on St. 174 is Valentino’s, which is half garden terrace bistro and half nightclub, and aimed at becoming one of the top spots in the region for the LGBT community. Load up on well priced beverages outside before heading into the club for some late night revelry, including a gay revue show at the stroke of midnight.
Duplex Belgian Tavern, on St. 278, is the ideal place to hang out, nurse a beverage or two, and enjoy the atmospheric bustle of this charming city. Prices are reasonable and the selection of Belgian beers – 30 different brands in total – is impressive.
If German beer is your thing, then head to Hops Brewery & Craft Beer Garden (St. 228), a stylish microbrewery with a beer garden & grill, a restaurant, an art lounge and a sports bar with high-end billiard tables and electronic darts. The brewing ingredients are 100% natural, imported from Germany, and their beer is produced following the highest German brewing standards.
Lovers of craft beer should also seek out The Box Office, behind the royal palace on St. 244, which offers no less than six locally-made brews. There’s a popular quiz night every Wednesday as well as occasional comedy nights.
KWest (Sisowath Quay) boasts a lively bar scene during the evenings with its ideal Riverside location adding to its popularity. The expert bar team is renowned for mixing delicious cocktails and there’s a varied selection of wines.
To experience the higher end of ale drinking, the state-of-the-art Himawari Microbrewery (Sisowath Quay) is the first and only microbrewery launched inside a hotel in Cambodia. The beers start at $7 for a pint, with master brewer Neo Say Wee ensuring his four different labels will quench the thirst of every customer.
For another sublime beer experience, Kingdom Breweries (National Road 5) has a $8 tour of their brewery, ending at the Taproom, where you’ll be treated to unlimited samples of their range of beers, all the while enjoying a pleasant river view. Make sure to taste their new Indochine White and Indochine IPA.
The last stop in our circuit of midrange options brings us back to the Toul Tom Poung area for a glass of ice-cold craft beer at Alchemy GastroPub (St. 123). This stylish but chilled out venue offers dozens of excellent local and regional craft beer labels, best savoured together with their delicious fusion tapas and other dishes.
Phnom Penh now has a steadily growing number of venues catering for the more discerning drinker. Well-established wine bars have been joined by a crowd of new operators all clamouring to cater for lovers of the vine, with glasses starting at around $3.50 and going up to and above $20.
Crush Wine Bar, a new arrival on St. 294, has wine-themed décor including wine bottle lighting and walls comprised of wine crates or full up with wine corks. Dozens of premium wines are available by the bottle, with at least 10 by the glass, and there are also handcrafted specialty cocktails, red and white sangria, beer, fresh mocktails, and other non-alcoholic beverages.
Bouchon on St. 174, set in a century-old house, boasts a healthy selection of French wines, mostly from Bordeaux, to accompany a menu with a flair for French cuisine.
Il Forno (St. 302) is now in the capital after amassing great success in Siem Reap. This upscale Italian restaurant is stirring things up in the city’s culinary scene with amazing wood-fired pizzas and a chic wine lounge upstairs.
Phnom Penh has finally got its own Hard Rock Cafe (at Exchange Square on St. 106). Make the most of the buy one, get one free Happy Hour deal on their cocktails including mojito, Long island ice tea, classic margarita, Electric blues & Fruitapalooza, as well as draft beer, house wine and spirits from 4-7pm daily, before the live bands kicks in and you tuck into some authentic American fare.
Elevate your drinking experience by getting up above it all. DEVA on the 9th floor of the iOne Building on Mao Tse Toung Blvd offers a mesmerizing cityscape vista in accompaniment to the finest wines, whiskys and signature cocktails, including the DEVA Rose and DEVA Melange plus some old favourites with a contemporary twist.
Eclipse Sky Bar (Monivong Blvd.) also offers an incredible vantage point from one of the city’s tallest buildings. This comes at a price, of course, but watching the sun set can be worth it.
Other prominent places to enjoy a cocktail include Le Moon on the rooftop of the Amanjaya Pancam Hotel (Sisowath Quay at St. 154), which was the first open terrace facing life on Phnom Penh’s Riverside.
The Riverside is also home to several refined drinking spots, including the stylish Café Metro, famed for its espresso martinis and chic ambience. A few blocks north, you’ll find the Riverhouse, a longstanding fixture offering an elegant setting in which to enjoy a cold beer, glass of wine, or a cocktail while watching the world go by.
Further up the riverside is a majestic colonial building with strong elements of Chinese design. The exquisite and fascinating domicile is the setting for Chinese House, a restaurant & bar that offers a refined ambiance with classy cocktails such as the China White, the Red Sun, and the Apple Crumble. Daily wine cellar tours are organised, as well as regular beer tastings. Choose where to embibe your beverage from the al fresco garden, cocktail lounge, or the more formal seating upstairs.
At Muse Café & Lounge (St. 178), you’ll enjoy yet more delicious cocktails, some made with fresh fruit, while taking in a fine street view across to the National Museum.
For more information on these and many more bars, go to www.pocketguide.asia.