Dec 27 2012
Although the official Khmer new year doesn’t start in Cambodia until April, Cambodians and expats love a party and there’s plenty of celebrations planned for Western New Year. From gala dinners to largin’ it DJs with a few fireworks thrown in, you won’t forget your New Year’s Eve to welcome in 2013 in Phnom Penh.
Raffles Hotel Le Royal is bringing out the elegance on New Year’s Eve, with a Kingdom of Wonder Gala Dinner in the poolside garden featuring performances from the Royal Ballet and Le Royal Band ($170++, 18:30-23:45) followed by a champagne new year countdown in the conservatory. The celebrations will continue in the Elephant Bar until the wee hours. Foodies might prefer the chef’s special in Restaurant Le Royal, a six-course set menu with Champagne pairing ($195++).
There’s a colour theme for the Pink Panther Pool Party at Sofitel Phnom Penh Sopheektra. Expect everything from the cocktails to the pool itself to turn pink from 23:00. $25++ gets you canapes, live band entertainment, lucky draw entry and a glass of sparkly stuff at midnight. There’s a buffet dinner beforehand at La Coupole or a six-course Italian set menu at Do Forni Restaurant (both $120++ including pool party entry).
Hotel Cambodiana‘s celebrations include an international buffet, Cambodian comedians, fire-breathing, kids’ entertainment and a fireworks display over the river. Tickets are $95 for adults and should be bought in advance from the hotel. Next door, Himawari Hotel Apartments have secured the services of Cambodia’s hottest band The Cambodian Space Project, who’ve been touring the world and elsewhere this year. There’s an international buffet, freeflow beer and softies and a prize draw also included for $55++. Nagaworld has a choice of buffet dinner or set menu at The Pangea and Le Gourmet restaurants before you hit the slot machines or the roulette tables and pretend you’re James Bond for the last time in 2o12.
Pontoon Nightclub‘s New Year’s Eve party features three DJs and a free shot for a $6 entrance fee, plus a special buy one, get one free promotion on bottles of Stolichnaya vodka. The FCC on riverside also have a DJ and dancing; the fun starts at 20:30 and competition for the balcony seats is usually fierce as the midnight fireworks approaches.
No end of the year celebration is complete without fireworks — it may not be Sydney but Phnom Penh does its best. Hotel Cambodiana at the southern end of Sisowath Quay can be relied upon to provide enough firework bangs to make you go ‘oooh’. Head to the riverside or Hun Sen Park in the middle of Sihanouk Boulevard and bring your own refreshments. The slightly less crowded Wat Botom Park is also a friendly place for seeing in the new international year. If you’re in town a few days before, why not get a group together and organise a boat trip to watch the fireworks from the water? Boats can be negotiated for about $20 an hour from their moorings at the northern end of riverside past Titanic Restaurant, plus $1 per person ‘pier fee’.
If you just don’t want the party to end, head to Street 51 for some late night fun in Howies or the Drunken Sponge. Recently opened Bar Sito in tucked away Street 240 1/2 already has a reputation as a good place to lose some hours. Paddy Rice on the riverside is open 24 hours, and serves breakfast from 06:00. Cuddling one last cocktail while watching the sunrise over the Tonle Sap river and marvelling at the early morning exercisers is the stuff of a classic Phnom Penh night out.
When you finally surface on New Year’s Day, we recommend a Bloody Mary at the Green Vespa on Sisowath Quay or Freebird on Street 240, which is a no-smoking venue if you have a resolution to stick to. If you need grease, get yourself on the outside of a classic breakfast at the Blue Dolphin, Laughing Fatman or Chat ‘n’ Chew on Street 172 — although the sensible Girl Guide in us feels obliged to point out that a coconut or a couple of Royal Ds are likely to rehydrate you more than vodka or sausages. In fact, the best hangover cure we know is throwing yourself in a swimming pool and being grateful for tropical climes.
46 Street 51 (rue Pasteur), Phnom Penh
363 Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh
Freebird Bar and Grill
69 Street 240, Phnom Penh
95 Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh
T: (012) 887 228
32 Street 51 (rue Pasteur), Phnom Penh
313 Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh
T: (023) 426 288
Nagaworld Hotel & Entertainment Complex
Samdech Techno Hun Sen Park, Phnom Penh
T: (023) 228 822
214 Sisowath Quay, Phnom Penh
Raffles Hotel Le Royal
92 Rukhak Vithea Daun Penh, Sangkat Wat Phnom, Phnom Penh
T: (023) 981888
Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra
26 Old August Site, Sothearos Blvd, Sangkat Tonle Bassac, Phnom Penh
T: (023) 999 200
Travelfish.org always pays its way. No exceptions.