Phnom  Penh has more than its fair share of bars to accommodate every preference. There is also tremendous movement and transformation of the bar culture, at the forefront of which, bars like Bar.Sito and Meat and Drink are paving the way forward to add an exciting and refreshing take on watering holes in the capital. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite timeless institutions and its newer counterparts in this list of the best bars in Phnom Penh.

Bar Sito

Bar Sito, at the hip end of Phnom Penh’s hangout venues, is easily a favorite place to get a cocktail among the city’s expat community. It’s dark, wooden retro themed decor is certainly an inviting venue in a city pocketed with bars serving 50 cents beer. There’s not much in the way of food, but the patrons come here for their much talked about cocktails, and indeed, they are good, in fact arguably the best the city has to offer. Opened by two New Zealanders, they certainly know what they’re doing. With a few establishments already under their brand, the Kiwis are drawing a loyal following, but more importantly, adding a new take on the bar culture that is both refreshing and necessary. Try their Khmer spice infused cocktails to keep things a little interesting. If you find yourself enjoying the mix of spices in your cocktails, you can checkout this Khmer Spice Cocktail in Siem Reap.

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The Heritage Bar at the Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC)

The Foreign Correspondent’s Club, perched high atop a magnificent colonial-era building has stood the test of time and still stands as one of the favorite watering holes among expats, tourist and locals alike. It wasn’t always so. Once a focal point for journalist to convene during the pol pot era, the FCC still holds a palpable history and  a sense of time travel as one steps into the bar. Visiting The Heritage Bar is a quintessential Phnom Penh experience – the bar beautifully melds together the old and new and might possibly be the best place to sit with a cold brew and watch the day turn into night in its airy open bar. The bar offers a variety of cocktails and the kitchen serves up Asian and Western favorites.

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Meat and Drink

Opened by the owners of Bar.Sito, Meat and Drink is another addition to a movement sweeping Phnom Penh. A movement particularly around stylish boozing and gourmet dining. This micro bar features a compact yet snug space but leaves a huge impression. To take queue from the name, you really go here for the meat and drinks and boy they’re good. The menu is short and features wraps, salads and burgers – all thoughtfully created and delicious. We would recommend trying the Aussie burger. You can accompany that with one of their signature cocktails or just a chilled Angkor Beer.

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The Mansion Heritage Bar

The Mansion Heritage Bar, housed in a spectacular colonial-era building with none of the restoration one would expect has a beautiful, agreeable charm to it. Exposed brick walls, fading paint and delicate wooden frames give this place a striking charisma for which you probably wouldn’t mind paying a dollar extra for a beer. You can of course catch their happy hours once evening sets in. The mansion is said to have been built by a rich Cambodian Trader at the turn of the century, which has been used since as a Municipal Police Office and also an accommodation for the Vietnamese army during 1975. This incredibly atmospheric place has seating areas out in the courtyard and also inside where leather seats dot the high ceiling rooms and hallways with bullet holes. Cocktails are said to be good here but don’t expect too much. Go for the unique atmosphere this mansion has to offer.

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Raffles Le Royal Hotel’s Elephant Bar

The best time to visit this elegant establishment is during their happy hour between 5 pm – 9 pm where select drinks are on offer at 50% off, which might also be the only time drinks at this fine establishment are affordable. This upscale bar, offered by the Raffles Le Royal Hotel is type of place you spend $5 on a bottle of beer. However, the price is hardly the point here, you should visit the place for its historical ambiance. The hotel has been patronized by the likes of Jacquline Kennedy, for whom btw, a cocktail was especially created during her visit – which is still served in the bar today.

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 Equinox

Equinox is that place where the young expat crowd goes to while away the night. The place features a bar and restaurant on the first floor, while the second floor plays hosts to music and dancing. It open until late and is the go-to place among expats for a boozy night out. The bar also features amazing live music sets that are worth visiting for.

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Riverhouse

The Riverhouse located right by the river is a popular bar + club among locals and tourists. It is one of the longest running bars in Phnom Penh featuring a comfortable seating area on the first floor with a bar and restaurant, while the top floor one can choose between the semi circular balcony that surrounds the building facade or The Lounge, a nightclub that features djs every night of the week.

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Anil likes devouring copious amounts of Pho Cuon in Hanoi, Momos in Kathmandu and Kachoris in Udaipur. When not eating, you will find him bungy jumping off bridges or listening to talks by Neil deGrasse Tyson and Alan Watts.