Cambodia

My Favorite Places In Phnom Penh

May 15, 2017
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There’s no point in sugar coating it: I had a tough time in Cambodia. The city pushed and challenged me in ways I didn’t expect or understand, and I had a really hard time adjusting to life there. My apartment was a nightmare (there was a restaurant nearby that killed animals in the middle of the night, which I could hear through my window) and being outside was so hot it was unbearable, so it became really important for me to seek out places that I loved within the city that could make it feel like home.

Having lived in Phnom Penh for a month, I am hardly a local (and to be honest, I think any Remote Year blogs who offer advice on how to “live like a local” are kind of BS…) but I do have a few spots in particular that I know I’m going to miss. If you ever find yourself looking for a not touirst-y (and, OK — kind of Western) spot in Phnom Penh, this list has you covered.

Also, special shoutout to the gas station a block from my office who sold me Red Bull 24 hours a day to keep me alive during my overnight shifts. Of all these places, it’s the one that holds the most special space in my heart.

 

Mere Café

What It’s Good For: Working

It’s a huge space and has lots of tables for two, so you won’t feel like a complete ass hole taking up an entire four-top for yourself. The gray interior is sleek and cozy, and the menu is written out on chalkboard paint (which I personally am a real sucker for). There’s a solid selection of breakfast, lunch and snack options, and a variety of juices, smoothies, teas and artisanal sodas.

 

ARTillery

What It’s Good For: Eating, Working

If you’re looking for a restaurant where you can justify ordering three menu items for brunch (it’s cheap, healthy and SO GOOD), Artillery’s your spot. The menu is super healthy, and has everything from vegan breakfast burritos to zucchini noodle Pad Thai. I used to go for brunch and order a rice bowl, a coffee smoothie and a banana split parfait because I couldn’t decide on just one, and the whole bill ran me around $10 (And earned me 5-ish pounds, but whatver). It’s hidden in an adorable back alley and surrounded by cute little vintage shops, but doesn’t have air-conditioning which can get pretty brutal on crazy-hot days.

 

Enso Cafe

The eye is bigger than the stomach😳😋

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What It’s Good For: Eating, Working

Enso is the kind of place where maximum work productivity happens because everything about it is so good you don’t want to leave. The menu has a huge range of Western and Cambodian options for breakfast and lunch, and it’s all delicious. It’s light, open and clean feeling, and never gets so crowded that you have to share your space. Their WiFi password is “NEWVEGANMENU,” which also totally cracks me up.

 

Backyard Cafe

Start the week as you mean to go on! Bowls of goodness for everyone 🎉🍅✨

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What It’s Good For: Eating, Working

My friends and I joke that the chocolate protein balls at backyard cafe are so good, they make up for all of the other difficult parts of living in Cambodia. The menu here is primarily vegan, with delicious bowls and salads, but there are a few meat and cheese dishes available too. The Abundance bowl is $6.50, and is legit the only thing you need to eat

 

Farm To Table

A peaceful space for lunch, here at the Farm. Lovely photo by @my_phnompenh_diary

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What It’s Good For: Eating, Drinking, Working, Hanging Out With Live Pigs.

Rocky and Charlotte, otherwise known as “The Compost Team,” are a brother/sister pair of potbellied pigs who casually wander around the restaurant’s outdoor space… Literally bringing the farm to your table (there are chickens, too). The menu is all super fresh and organic (though yes, sadly, they do serve pork), and my personal favorite dishes were the Jackfruit Tacos and the Asian Greens Bowl. Farm to Table also sometimes has live music in the evenings, and it’s great to sit out and drink a beer and just hang.

 

Cool Lounge

What It’s Good For: Casual Drinks 

Looking for an easy spot to grab a $1 beer and some (really good) Pad Thai? Hit up Cool Lounge. The space is covered in Cambodian-designed street art, and 90’s rap music videos play on a small TV screen in the corner. Upstairs, there’s a pool table that overlooks the rest of the bar. And the best part? Proceeds from drink sales go to benefit “Tiny Toones,” a youth center and after school program for Cambodian children.

 

Aquarius Pool

What It’s Good For: Eating, Drinking, Working, Getting Tan

If you plan to Instagram one photo the entire time you’re in Phnom Penh, let it be from Aquarius. The hotel’s rooftop infinty pool offers $12 daily packages that allow you to hang out for as long as you want. It’s a small price to pay for the chance to eat, drink, tan and be merry at one of the most beautiful destinations in the city.

 

Pontoon Nightclub

What It’s Good For: Getting Drunk.

I realistically have no idea what the nightlife scene is like in Cambodia (I was kind of a shut in all month between work and side trips) but I do know that this club was a LOT of fun. I went on a Saturday night when my friend DJ Tina T (yes, a real person who I actually know) happened to be DJing, and it was one of my favorite nights out in Asia. The music was a mix of hiphop and techno remixes, and the vibes in the club were on point from 10am until we left at 5am. Plus, there are a dozen-ish 24/hour food vendors outside ready and willing to feed your drunk munchies.

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