One of Golden Street's favourite spots

What we say: 3.5 stars

Close to Independence Monument, Equinox is slap bang in the middle of the evening entertainment strip on Street 278, usually known as Golden Street. Away from the tour groups on riverside or the appealing mother-wouldn’t-approve sleaziness of Street 51, the more refined Golden Street is home to several bars, and the multi-level Equinox is one of the favourites.

By night: a rollicking good gig venue

By night: a rollicking good gig venue.

It’s fair to say that this place’s popularity is not due to the decor — although the regularly rotating art on display provides visual interest, the rest is standard and couldn’t be accused of trying too hard. The layout is a little sprawling: the ground floor has tables and a bar, which open onto the street, with a pool table and babyfoot (foosball) behind. Go upstairs to find the air-con, two more bars and a stage, then climb the metal staircase for more seats on a rooftop that could be prettier than it is.

The scientifically minded will be pleased to learn that Equinox really is a venue of two equal and different halves. During the day, this is a relaxed cafe offering salads, pizzas and freshly made sandwiches that won’t break the bank. The drinks menu of draft beer, plenty of cocktails, coffee and fresh juices is also reasonably priced. It’s in the evening that Equinox really livens up, and you’ll wonder why you weren’t issued with a babelfish as you wade through European expats to reach the bar. If you do have the gift of languages, some of the conversations can be real eye-openers — this is a favourite hangout for journalists, artists, musos and dressed-down desk jockeys.

By day: a calm cafe

By day: a calm cafe.

Equinox’s raison d’etre (the owner is French, so it’s not pretentious) is live music and lots of it. Featuring the best of the local music scene, there’s space for a boogie stageside upstairs. Continuing improvements to the air-con and sound systems have turned this from a booming sweatbox to a pleasant gig venue, although on a heaving Saturday night after strutting your funky stuff, you’ll definitely know you’re in the tropics.

If you need to rest your weary feet and there’s too much competition for seating, head two doors down to the surprisingly concrete Liquid Bar and its comfy sofas. Directly opposite, Elsewhere‘s poolside bar and mojitos also exert a strong attraction for worn-out dancers.

Contact details
3a Street 278, Phnom Penh
T: (085) 023 6767593 / (085) 092 821700
About the author
Abigail has been stoned by villagers in India, become an honorary Kenyan tribeswoman, sweet talked border guards and had close encounters with black mambas. Her motto is: “Live to tell the tale.”
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