Nightlife in Phnom Penh: Diverse and Exciting

Nightlife in Phnom Penh: Diverse and Exciting

By Wendy Updated Aug. 12, 2021

Just because the sun has set does not need to mean that your adventures in Phnom Penh need to stop. The city's nightlife has expanded rapidly in recent years and the evenings are being enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. The city is hot almost the whole year round, which means that evenings and nights are often the most pleasant times to be outdoors.

You can unwind and relax by exploring a night market and picking out some fresh fruit for the next morning. Perhaps you need a pick-me-up before then at one of the city's many esteemed cafes. Or if you need something more stimulating, how about an art show or a trip to the theatre?

Highlights

  • Explore a bustling night market near the water
  • Fill your stomach with diverse and flavorful street food
  • Absorb the culture at an Art Show
  • Energize and reflect at a cozy cafe

What to Do at night in Phnom Penh

Having an early night after a day exploring Phnom Penh is fine. But here are some highlights for those wondering what the nights in Phnom Penh have to offer.

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Visit a night market

Perhaps the heading should say visit THE night market as, in Phnom Penh, one market stands head and shoulders above the rest. The Night Market is located right along the river, making it an extra special place for an evening walk.

Inside the market you will find a number of vendors selling souvenirs, t-shirts, and low-cost crafts, in case you feel like shopping. The highlight of the market, however, is the food area where vendors have laid out bamboo mats for sitting down, and there are many snack possibilities, ranging from fried insects to fried noodles.

On Friday and Saturday nights the market's stage presents performances featuring local musicians, traditional Khmer music, and the occasional play. There is so much going on in addition to shopping that this market feels almost like a carnival, and is usually a hit with younger travelers.

The night market is well lit and safe but the crowds can get hectic and tuk-tuks and cyclos rule the sidewalks, so make sure to keep an eye on your belongings and toes.

Located at: Sisowath Quay, Street 5, Phnom Penh

Take a street food tour

One of the most frustrating feelings is when you are completely surrounded by delicious-looking food but you are unsure what to order or how to go about doing it. Prevent this tragedy by taking part in a street food tour.

On a tour you can expect a knowledgeable (English-speaking) guide to take you from vendor to vendor, stall to stall, showing you culinary highlights along the way.

Street food tours are a safe and comfortable way to learn about and sample the local culture. While these tours focus on filling your stomach, the local guides are also eager to fill your ears with stories about their culture and way of life.

Many street food tours occur inside markets, but they are so much fun that they deserve a section of their own. If you travel with Asia Highlights our trip leaders can easily organize a street food tour for you.

Located at: the Night Market, the Central Market, and the Russian Market, as well as downtown, or cuisine-tours such as Khmer-style food anywhere

To join one of these tours you can join an Asia Highlights trip, buy a ticket at a local travel agency in Phnom Penh, or show up at a market and hope to find one (the first option is recommended).

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Savor an Apsara show

Phnom Penh's performing arts scene is growing as rapidly as a traveler's appetite on a food tour. Khmer style performances of shadow puppetry, dance, theatre, and music are becoming more and more popular around the city. There are two main venues for these performances.

Sovanna Phum Art Association

The Sovanna Phum Art Association opened in 1994 and has been offering staged performances every Friday and Saturday night ever since. The shows begin at 19:30, but if you want a good seat be sure to get there early.

All performances by the Sovana Phum Art Association are culturally inspiring pieces featuring traditional costumes, dancing styles, and instruments. The shadow puppet show is especially entertaining and a highlight amongst children.

If you love the show so much that you want to take a piece home, the association hosts a gallery of theatrical art such as masks and musical instruments, and you even have an opportunity to buy some of the items from the performance you just watched.

Located at: 111 Street 360, Phnom Penh. Shows are performed at Chatomk Theatre on Sisowath Quay. Tickets (when needed) can be purchased at either location.

Apsara Arts Association

A newer arrival in the performing-arts scene is Apsara Arts Association (AAA). Like Sovanna Phum, this NGO focuses on protecting and promoting Cambodian performing arts. AAA also focuses on educating homeless and orphaned children, using art-education to prevent poverty.

The AAA opens all of its rehearsals to the public, so you are welcome to watch the children learning their new skills at almost any time. Private performances can also be arranged for companies or larger groups. All of these public performances are free, so make sure to consider a donation.

Located at: #71, Street 598, Sangkat Phnom Penh Thmey, Khan Russey Keo, Phnom Penh

Cozy cafes (and a Few Exciting Ones)

Phnom Penh has a lively coffee culture, a legacy of the country's time as a French colony. If you need a cup to keep you going, then make sure to check out one of these top locations.

Phnom Penh Foreign Correspondents Club

The Foreign Correspondents Club is an association with good connections with foreign correspondents. Such clubs are often private facilities, but the Phnom Penh club is open to the public and boasts one of the city's finest cafes.

It has a prime location on the third floor of a magnificent building next to the river. Furthermore, its selection of coffee is wide and diverse, featuring international brands as well as local flavors.

The desert menu is as magnificent as the building, and during happy hour you can get some great deals on sweets and cocktails.

More than just a fun place to relax, the FCC-Phnom Penh represents the people who have, and continue to record and write about, everything Cambodia. As such, it has become one of the most popular places for tourists, locals, and writers to stop by for a cup of coffee.

Members of any other FCC receive discounts on their orders.

Located at: 363 Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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Daughters of Cambodia Visitor Center

The Daughters of Cambodia is an organization that helps young women and children in Cambodia who have suffered from various deprivations. The program works to educate, train, and employ these women to help them have successful and meaningful lives.

If this sounds good then you can show your support by enjoying your evening beverage at the DoC Visitor Center cafe. The product supports a good cause and the coffee menu is satisfyingly diverse.

Likewise, the cafe's menu of British/Cambodian snacks and light meals is affordable and delicious. The gnocchi is a particular hit with local customers.

Located at: 321 Sisowath Quay, The Riverside, Phnom Penh

ARTillery

Need something more upbeat and modern to excite your night? Then ARTillery may be the right choice for you. ARTillery is nestled in a quiet alleyway and has its own bar and art gallery, which make it a versatile stop for any group of travelers.

The food can only be called trendy, as it's a fusion of English, Mediterranean, Cambodian, and Asian. The cold pressed juices and vegan options further distinguish ARTillery as a unique watering hole.

Helpful staff and an interesting interior complete the experience. Recommended for lunch, dinner, or an after-dinner hang out.

Located at: Street 240 1/2, Phnom Penh

Tour with Asia Highlights

Our knowledgeable staff can help make your journey easy from the moment you step off the plane. If you are interested in experiencing Cambodia, then look at what Asia Highlights has to offer below:

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