Jun 15 2011
“The Phnom Penh gay scene is just coming into bloom,” Marcus Mucous, the organiser of Cambodia Pride and mastermind behind the gay night at Pontoon, told me. “This time two years ago it was in its infancy. Now it’s starting to pick up momentum and there are more people who are going out, including Khmers.”
Here are a few bars and clubs in Phnom Penh that are either gay-owned or gay-friendly:
Owned by an Englishman and his Khmer partner, The Empire is a chilled-out bar near the riverside that has an excellent wine and cocktail selection as well as delicious Western-friendly Khmer dishes (read: no prahok). Try the signature Empire Cocktail made from fresh sugarcane juice, vodka, Bacardi, Triple Sec, lime and a sugarcane stirrer.
#34 St 130, Phnom Penh
T: (089) 383 817
The Local 2
Not a gay bar per se, the Local 2 is a local-style pub run by an Australian lesbian. This gay-friendly expat bar features pub quizzes on Thursday, musical instruments for customers to use and two pool tables.
#8 St 144, Phnom Penh
T (068) 891 677
Filled with Khmers and expats alike, this gay-owned pub and busy pick-up joint is a good place for a pre-clubbing drink. They also have drag shows on Friday and Saturday at 11:00, performed by Oak, the Thai owner, who dances on the bar. The place is known for its gay freelancers who are reputed to have sticky fingers, so hold onto your valuables.
# 36 St 178, Phnom Penh
T: (012) 566 353
Hoochie Mamma’s at Pontoon
Marcus Mucous has made Thursday night the new Friday with his night at Pontoon, Hoochie Mamma’s. Although it’s meant to be gay night, it draws a mixed crowd of Westerners and Khmers, both gay and otherwise, with its bangin’ electro house and $2 mixed drinks. At around 1:00 a drag and muscle boy show stars the Phnom Penh Pussycat Dolls — it’s worth sticking around for.
#80 St 172 near Rue Pasteur (St 51), Phnom Penh
T: (010) 030 0400; (016) 779 966.
This small gay-owned bar is perfect for a friendly, relaxed drink. The bar features shows on Friday and Saturday nights that are a bit different from the rest, in addition to drag performances they also re-enact scenes from Khmer soap operas and do other Khmer-oriented acts. They also have karaoke nights and are known for their Khmer-friendly atmosphere.
#73 St 172, Phnom Penh
T: (097) 741 4187
Heart of Darkness
Where everyone ends up after all the bars close, the legendary club Heart of Darkness is a mixed club that is also the gay bar of choice every night of the week except Thursdays (when everyone is at Hoochie Mamma’s at Pontoon). The gay “spot” is behind the staircase and on the dance floor, of course.
#28 St 51, Phnom Penh
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