Things to do at night in Phnom Penh (with little alcohol)

What we say: 3.5 stars

Phnom Penh has a bit of a reputation as a good drinking destination. If you do your research thoroughly, it’s possible to combine happy hours into a very happy day at various establishments — although there’s no guarantee you’ll remember it afterwards. But sometimes, we want something to do other than collecting amusingly named cocktails in bars named with bad puns (C’est Wat being just the latest offender on a long list).

Comedy Club isn't the only thing requiring a highly developed sense of humour in Phnom Penh

Comedy Club isn't the only thing requiring a highly developed sense of humour in Phnom Penh.

If your brain is crying out for stimulation and your liver is begging for mercy, try one of these:

Comedy Club
Pontoon is better known for sweaty dance moves and banging beats, but the Comedy Club Cambodia brings international acts and guaranteed laughs to liven up a Monday night every month. With a mix of Aussie, Brit, American, Canadian and Asian comics, the line-up is usually as diverse as the audience. Some acts have come a cropper sharing their first impressions of Cambodia with a loyal crowd, but the results are always entertaining.

Get trivial at one of Phnom Penh’s quiz nights. Yes, they tend to take place in bars, but you can always order a Coke and look smug when you can still remember the answers later in the evening. Every week, there’s The Cutting Edge of Ignorance at Local 2 and Trivia in the Garden at The Willow, while Equinox hosts a monthly music quiz. If you’re on your own, there’s usually a team happy for you to join them and share your knowledge of synchronised swimming world champions.

Nerd Night
The best thing about the twice-monthly Nerd Night is learning stuff you didn’t know you didn’t know. With six or seven speakers at each event, there’s bound to be a topic that grabs your attention. Each presentation, on a subject the speaker is passionate about, consists of 20 slides for 20 seconds each — so if you don’t like this one, another will be along in just over 6 minutes. The Nerds rotate around several Phnom Penh venues, so check in to see where they are descending next.

Revenge of the Nerds, Phnom Penh-style

Revenge of the Nerds, Phnom Penh-style.

Drink and Draw
So it doesn’t quite avoid the drinking, but if alcohol stops your more creative juices from flowing, sip on a coffee instead. The concept is so popular there are now two places to sketch and sup in Phnom Penh. Drink and Draw Cambodia is a monthly gathering of expats and passers-through with live models in the organiser’s home. ARTillery Cafe also runs weekly sessions every Wednesday from 19:00-21:00 at their tucked-away cafe. Just bring along your favourite paints, pens or pastels and get artistic.

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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