May 18 2012
Occupying a corner plot, the white four-storey Happy 11 Backpacker guesthouse does a good job of living up to its name. Formerly a lakeside institution, the owners and staff have been helping travellers to Phnom Penh relax for many years. The new location in a mainly residential area is a five-minute walk to the river and a short moto ride to attractions such as the Royal Palace and Wat Phnom.
Happy 11 offers single and twin rooms, all with private bathrooms and the option of fan cooling or air-con with hot water ($8-15). The tiled rooms are spacious enough to swing more than one cat, and the bathrooms are reasonably, if not spotlessly, clean. Most rooms look out onto the street, so you can watch the daily activities of the Khmer neighbourhood. Free WiFi is available in the downstairs lobby bar and on the rooftop and the friendly staff can arrange tickets, tours and visas.
Prices are comparable with similar backpacker joints, but if you are looking for cheaper fan rooms without the communal buzz, try Diamond Guesthouse a couple of blocks closer to the river on Street 13. If it’s full and you want a similar vibe, jump on a moto to Top Banana on the corner of St 278 and 51, but be warned it’s known for its parties, not its tranquility.
What really sets Happy 11 apart is its breezy green rooftop restaurant, bar and chill out lounge, although be prepared for Jack Johnson on a near constant loop. Perfect for whiling away a lazy day in a hammock, there’s a pool table, a selection of DVDs and plenty of backpackers with tall tales to hook up with. Things liven up later in the day, when the cheap cocktails and draft beer being to flow.
Consistently popular with a young crowd, you might want to call ahead in high season to make sure you get a room. While a member of staff will happily carry your pack for you, the flights of stairs mean this isn’t the best choice for the unfit. Despite the number of rooms the place isn’t noisy, although the neighbourhood cockerel and inconsiderate guests might disturb light sleepers. Choose a room on the lower floors to avoid the bar’s music if you want to get an early night.
Happy 11 Backpackers
87-89 Street 136, Phnom Penh
T: (012) 999 921 / (088) 777 7421
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