Phnom Penh has some great bars and clubs, so it’s definitely worth one big night out here. There are lots of late-night spots clustered around the intersection of Sts 51 and 172, appropriately nicknamed 'Area 51'. ‘Golden St’ (St 278) is also popular, and the riverfront has its share of bars as well. St 308 and Bassac Lane have emerged as the hipster area of town.
Happy hours are a big thing in Phnom Penh, so it pays to get started early, when even such storied watering holes as the Foreign Correspondents’ Club and the Raffles offer two-for-one specials. Wednesday is 'Ladies' Night' at some of the smarter bars around town, with two-for-one deals all night or even free drinks.
Most bars are open until at least midnight, which is about the time that Phnom Penh's clubs swing into action.
There are now some good microbreweries around town turning out homegrown craft beer and these are well worth seeking out.
Feature: Bassac Lane Bars
Bassac Lane is the moniker given to an alley that leads south off St 308. The brainchild of Kiwi brothers the Norbert-Munns, who have a flair for drinks and design, there are half a dozen or more hole-in-the-wall boozers in this eclectic spot. Choose from fusion wraps and burgers at the original Meat & Drink, tiny and intimate Seibur, the refined Library, newcomer Harry's Bar or custom-bike tribute bar, Hangar 44. There's even a gin palace, the tiny Cicada Bar. From out of nowhere, Bassac Lane has become the new Bohemian district of Phnom Penh and is well worth a visit.
Feature: Hostel Bars
There are some great hostel bars in Phnom Penh, so keep these in mind if you want to meet other travellers on a big night out. Top Banana is one of the liveliest rooftop bars. Check out Blue Dog's streetside bar or the rooftop bar at Mad Monkey, in the same part of town. Eighty8 Backpackers has a 'first Friday of the month' party that sees the expat and backpacker worlds collide. Sundance Inn has two lively bars at its two locations on St 172 and the riverside (79 Sisowath Quay).
Phnom Penh boasts a surprisingly active music scene, with several talented expat and mixed Khmer-expat bands. Check out Leng Pleng (www.lengpleng.com) for weekly live-music listings in Phnom Penh.
For the low-down on club nights, check out Phnom Penh Underground (www.phnom-penh-underground.com), an online guide to the club scene in Cambodia's capital.