Off to Phnom Penh!

Folks. Heading to PNH for a few days. Booked what looked like cheap cheap flights via Air Asia but don’t forget the fuel surcharges, the Farang tax, the whatisthenameofthatairport tax and throw in a few baht for the finish the City Terminal tax and suddenly it does not look as cheap as a I thought. However. I have a few days free and wanted to get out of dodge. Given the power of the community I thought I would check in with people before I go and see if I can get any pointers and tidbits.

Of course I have been re-reading On Nutter’s PNH piece and I will also include in this post some notes from another regular visitor to PNH. To be clear I am not just looking for parties and girls. Looking for hotel suggestions, good places to ea, any notable bars, clubs and so on. I will do my best to write it all up as well when I get back.

Here are some fresh notes from a buddy of ours – anyone care to add to this?

3 basic bar scenes:Freelance bars (think beergarden and Thermae), hostess bars (similar to Thai beer bars), and knocking shops.

4 primary freelance bars are Sharkeys (, Martinis, Heart of Darkness, and Walkabout.

  • Sharkys has good food, convenient location, 4 large pool tables, a balcony overlooking the street, and a fun atmosphere to interact with the local talent. Good action from 8 to 11 pm, when many of the ladies go to later spots. Easy to hook up with some fellow mongers here for a bar tour and advice.
  • Martinis is about a 20 minute moto ride away from the riverfront, and is a pleasant outdoor garden area with decent food, one shitty pool table, and a small, scary disco (but it’s cool to drop in there and watch the girls watching themselves dance). Be wary of going there late at night alone as it is down a very dark dirt road. OK if you go with someone familiar with the town.
  • Heart of Darkness is a late disco (open til 4 or 5) about 1 block from the Flamingo Hotel. Crowded dance floor with lots of freelancers, many younger tourists, and some local khmer guys. Has a reputation for violence in the past, but some rugged security guards seem to keep things under control currently.
  • Walkabout is also near the Flamingo Hotel, open 24 hours with a busy pool table, and good, cheap food. Usually some hard looking girls here, but occasionally a cutie drops in.

Hostess bars are in several convenient and safe locations. Barfines $5-10 USD and $15-20 ST and $25-30 LT. Make sure the lady agrees on activities as some are only looking LT relationships, and only want to be taken out for food and dancing. Better looking girls in hostess bars than freelance spots.

  • 2 primary locales are the Street 104, and Street 51 bars, both safe and close locales.Many others along the waterfront are comfortable places to drink and eat, some girls available, some not.
  • Street 104 bars consist of about 10 bars just off the riverfront.
  • Street 51 has around 5 bars, within 2 blocks of the Flamingo.
  • The Shanghai bar (, just across from the Flamingo, has some stunning girls, but many are selective about who they bump with. Young and hip guys do better than older guys. Sometimes you’ll see local guys come and collect girls for older Chinese / Japanese businessmen, who don’t want to come to the bar.Customer drinks generally $1 USD, LDs are $2 USD (ladies keep 50% as commission).

3 primary knocking shops are Sophies, Mikado, and Le Cyrcee.

5 thoughts on “Off to Phnom Penh!

  1. A little background – check the comments:

    I stayed on Street 148, right by the riverside.

    Loads of great French food round there. Try La Croisette for lunch, and Rendezvous Cafe for dinner.

    There was a $25 departure tax last time I flew out of Phnom Penh (just over a year ago), so watch out for that.

    I think you’ll have a fantastic time. Don’t forget to open the Phnom Penh branch of the Big Mango while you’re there.

  2. PNH has changed significantly in recent years, more so than Bangkok. The biggest FDI country in Cambodia now is China. Chinese punters are sought after by Vietnamese and Khmer working girls alike, who seem to be trending towards more affluence, bitchier attitudes, and demanding higher prices. And there are also more farangs: both the backpacker-type (who congregate by the riverside) and the monger-tourist. The days of the $5 short-time are over–the bars mentioned above are where you find your talent.

    My feeling is that Martini has declined–it’s moved twice since its original locale, and while it’s fine if you go with some people to hang out and survey the scene, its overall darkness and the quality of talent can make finding short-time companionship problematic. mah-tee-NEE (put emphasis on last syllable for moto-drivers) gets going late, which some people like. But the drunken idiocy I see so often in Bangkok isn’t just obnoxious in PNH: it’s dangerous. While it’s not the norm, armed robberies and attacks can and do occur at places like m-t-N and Heart of Darkness. You need to be a bit more careful. You’ll notice that the VN gals do not carry purses–they are tolerated, but not necessarily liked, by the indigenous population.

    If you strike up conversations with people at Sharky or Martini you’ll find much discussion of the relative merits of the VC versus the KR, and yes, it may be best to use euphemisms and nicknames in conversations. You’ll also learn the latest prices, so given the smaller nature of the scene, you might want to head down to Sharky around 7 or 8, see if you can find someone who wants to give you the lowdown. Sharky gets going earlier, but as always, when approached by someone who wants to glom onto you (which happens fast), just say you’re “waiting for your friend.” If nothing catches your fancy at Sharky you can always go to Martini later.

    The traffic in PNH takes a little getting used to. I tend to walk but moto-drivers will appear every 20 seconds or so. Get riel for the motos, most rides around town are 1000-1500 riel. Any moto-ride from Sharky will cost a dollar per bike–absurdly high but there’s a sort of informal enforcement.

    I like PNH but I’m careful where I eat, who I associate with and I don’t stay out late at night. Vietnamese is my preferred route. And there are some good Viet eateries in town as well. 😉


  3. 1. Stay at Flamingo on Street 51.

    2. Have a meal (or meals) at “On the Corner” at 136th (I think) and Sisaquay (the lake). Particularly recommended is the chicken breast in mushroom cream sauce. Ask for a baguette with butter on the side.

    3. The fast food is good at the place next to the Lucky Market at Soriya (the only mall in town, walking distance from Flamingo).

    (BTW, they sell Fritos at that Lucky, something they DON’T sell here).

    (BTW II, Lucky has a GOOD bakery).

    4. I’m a Martini man. But it’s like every other place. Half the time I’d score and half the time I wouldn’t. Around 10 is a good time to arrive as the good ones, if there are any, get grabbed early.

    Have a good, safe trip.

  4. Pingback: Back from PP! at The FARANG Speaks 2 Much

  5. Thank you very much for posting all this helpful information (and to the gentlemen who have added additional info in their responses). I am planning a trip to Cambodia in November, and feel MUCH better prepared.

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