The 440 Guide to Phnom Penh (Khmer) NightclubsMarch 27, 2007
If anyone else has any more places, write them here so people can see!
Golden Boss – Near Wat Phnom. Mostly VIP Karaoke rooms, nicely done up with average service. The karaoke selection has all the Khmer classics, old and new, but only a very poor selection of western songs. Lots of overpriced company if you forget your girlfriend, but they aren”t used to foreigners, so be nice.
Casa – Wat Phnom. The main entrance to your left as you go in takes you into the main club. Things get going around 11pm, and fade out around 2 or 3 (though I don”t think it actually closes till about 5). Cheesy Chinese techno most nights. It’s a popular hang out for Chinese people, and is owned by the famous Victor Chow. Despite its reputation, I’ve always felt safe there, and generally had a good time despite the appalling music. If you take the entrance into the hotel on the right, and go up 2 floors, you”ll find some luxury VIP karaoke rooms with private bars and what not. Complete collection of Khmer and Chinese songs, but the only English ones they have are “Bridge over Troubled Water” and “Let It Be,” (they do have others, but they are even worse).
Manhattan – Holiday Inn near Wat Phnom. Owned by the same guy as Casa, Manhattan is a similar deal to Casa, except with an absolutely huge disco ball. I mean huge. Its a little more “hardcore” than Casa, so be careful how you look at the dodgy looking Chinese guys in the corner. Gets busy around 1am-2am and goes strong till 6am.
X.O – Toul Tom Pong I used to live a few doors away from this place, so it was a kind of semi-regular hang out at one point. Big main area with food and main stage with singers (customers are also allowed to sing, but they will tell you if you suck). It also has VIP rooms, which are a bit cheaper than the other venues I’ve mentioned, and the same song collections. (There is also an X.O II which I haven’t been to, though I’d imagine it’s much the same).
U2 – Near the Olympic Stadium This was where I got my first tastes of teenage Khmer pop culture as a 17 year old. I’ve had some great times at U2, and still go there from time to time. It’s one for the beginning of the night, and the optimal time to be there is a short window, which requires planning. It starts getting busy around 10pm when the U2 singers come out and do their thing. From then on it’s the traditional mix of a few pop songs followed by 15 mins of DJ’s and dancing, which gets repeated until the singers stop at around 12pm-1am. In my opinion they have some of the best singers, and they perform every night. It’s mostly aimed at Khmers in their late teens/ early 20’s, but you’ll see foreigners in there occasionally. The only thing I don’t like there are the Karaoke rooms upstairs. The equipment isn’t good, the walls are very thin so you can still hear everything from the main stage as if you were next to it, and they smell funny.
Spark – Between Olympic stadium and Parkway This is probably the most famous of the lot, and ironically the one I’m least qualified to talk about. I went there a few times, a very long time ago. It’s a similar deal to U2, but more expensive and on a bigger scale. Rich kids will usually go to either U2 or Spark, not both. So if you have a problem with someone at one place, just go to the other.
The Rock – Near the end of Monivong Blvd (the Kien Svay end) Like Spark, but better and safer. The karaoke rooms are a class above the rest, private bars, good staff, 24hrs (busy about 10hrs), good food, good disco, good singers, and good security (it’s the only one of the places I’ve mentioned which checks everybody with no exceptions, using airport security type scanners). My only complaint is that service there seems to depend a lot on who you go with and how much you’re spending. It’s an expensive place, so maybe best saved for special occasions.
The VIP Club – Hong Kong Center by Hun Sen Park I’m not sure what the official deal is here with entry. I’m not a member, nor do i know what the requirments/costs are to become one. It would seem if you go in with a member or Bong Thom then it’s fine. They have an increadible pool table that’s both good in a practicle sense, and also looks like a piece of modern art. It just has a small bar, and a few very nice karaoke rooms. Never picked up the bill there, but it feels expensive.
Prices: All these places charge similar prices. The Rock and Spark are about equal in being the most expensive, followed by Casa and Manhattan, followed by XO, U2, and Golden Boss (like I said, I would guess the VIP club is about the same price as the Rock). They all have hostesses, who don’t know how to speak English, or play connect four.