Jan 19 2013
With the demise of Boeung Kak lakeside area, backpackers in Phnom Penh have been searching for a new place to call their own. Many have ended up at the Mad Monkey, a funky hostel with $7 dorm beds, delicious food and a fun rooftop bar.
The Mad Monkey boasts they have “the best dorm beds in Phnom Penh” and they deliver with super-single mattresses, clean linens, huge lockers and both air-conditioning and fans to keep the rooms cool and breezy. Best yet, each dorm room has its own attached toilet and hot shower so you don’t have to walk the halls in your PJs if nature calls in the middle of the night. The three dorm rooms are all mixed gender and the price is $7 whether you’re in a six-bed or eight-bed room.
The private rooms – priced from $14-20 per night depending on whether you want an en suite bathroom – are less impressive. Though the rooms pass in terms of cleanliness and spaciousness, overall they’re nothing special with minimal furniture and no TV. The colour scheme reminds us of a hospital, which is especially disappointing considering the hallways are painted with psychedelic murals. Light sleepers should avoid rooms 1 and 2 which have a “window” overlooking the ground floor restaurant and are noisy until the bar closes at 23:00 and again starting at 07:30 when the breakfast orders start coming in.
In spite of the resulting noise, the Mad Monkey’s restaurant is one of the highlights of staying here and everything we tried from Khmer noodle soup ($3.50) to beef burritos with salad ($6.50) was absolutely delicious. Unfortunately breakfast is not included and you will end up spending more on a meal than on a dorm bed, but your tummy will thank you for it. The rooftop bar starts to fill up around 15:00 when happy hour begins and is the perfect setting for swapping travel tales over $4 jugs of draft beer. There’s also an impressive selection of wine, cider and more than 40 different cocktails.
Mad Monkey is a hostel with a conscience and all of its Cambodian staff are paid 150% of a typical salary and receive free health care. It’s clear that the staff are happy to work here as the service is phenomenal and always comes with a genuine smile. If you need anything – a tuk tuk, a visa, a bus ticket – just ask and they’ll take care of it.
In terms of location, the Mad Monkey is away from the main tourist drag while still being central. The neighbourhood is known as BKK1 and considered the safest neighbourhood in Phnom Penh. This means you can feel secure walking home at night from nearby bars like Heart of Darkness, but that you’ll need a tuk tuk (from $2) to get to the central market or riverfront.
Travelfish.org always pays its way. No exceptions.