From soulful jazz evenings to gritty rock nights and the freshest hip-hop events, Phnom Penh’s music scene is eclectic and vibrant. In the absence of a major concert hall or stadium, the Cambodian capital’s bars often open their doors to a variety of bands and solo artists, who take to the stage to give a live music performance. Here’s a look at five of the best places to catch some live tunes.
A stalwart when it comes to Phnom Penh’s live music scene, Sharky describes itself as the longest-running rock ‘n’ roll bar in Indochina, dating back to the mid-90s. Live music is served up every weekend and regularly throughout the week, taking in punk, rock, metal and much more. It boasts spacious surroundings shot through with a grungy dive-bar feel, as well as a handful of pool tables and a food menu.
No 126, Street 130. T: +855 (0)122 228 045. Open daily, from 5pm to 2am.
Aiming to provide an unpretentious platform for the capital’s growing army of innovative artists to showcase their talents, Show Box does exactly that. Offering a chilled-out and ambient hang-out, the bar hosts a weekly open-mic night, as well as regular live acts, comedy events, poetry slams, art exhibitions and DJs. It’s also popular because of its cheap deals, which include free – yes, free – draft beer daily from 6.30pm to 7pm.
No 11, Street 330. T: +855 (0)17 275 824. Open daily, from 11am to midnight.
One of the newest kids on the block, the impressive Alchemy GastroPub wouldn’t look out of place on the pavements of London or New York – but it’s not. Instead, it’s near Russian Market, or Phsar Toul Tom Poung, in an increasingly popular area of Phnom Penh. Doubling up as a restaurant serving generous-sized meals, Alchemy GastroPub boasts a lengthy list of cocktails, alongside ample space to host hip-hop nights and other live music events, which are gathering momentum at weekends.
No 36, Street 123. T: +855 (0)77 749 686. Open daily, from 5pm to 1.30am.
Jazz Club Phnom Penh
If you want to get your groove on to the sizzling sounds of jazz, then the recently opened Jazz Club Phnom Penh is the place to be. The clue is in the title, with the emphasis on reintroducing this soulful genre to the Cambodian capital. Opened in mid-2016, the 1920s-Parisian-style club features dedicated Jazz Jam nights on Tuesdays and Khmer music on Wednesdays, as well as a range of jazz artists taking to the stage of the intimate venue throughout the week.
1C, Samdach Louis Em Street (282). T: +855 (0)97 209 4176. Open daily, from 8pm to 1am.
As well as serving up yummy tapas – the Sunday brunch is a must – Doors also specialises in live music, boasting lots of space and a large dance floor to bust some moves on. From salsa and jazz to funk and punk, the bar-restaurant’s bill is as diverse as its Mediterranean-inspired menu. With funky street art adorning the walls, a menu of carefully crafted cocktails and a pumping sound system, Doors is well worth the tuk-tuk ride outside of town.
No 18, Street 47. T: +855 (0)23 986 214. Open daily, from 5.30am to midnight.