Phnom Penh TRAVEL GUIDE 2019

Cambodia attracts 6.2 million tourists a year and it’s capital city Phnom Penh has an interesting and quite unique gay scene. If you are looking for great value and a different experience in Asia, a trip here is certainly worth considering.

The city of Phnom Penh is built on the banks of the Tonlé Sap, Mekong, and Bassac rivers with most of the tourist hotspots located on or near the riverfront locations. Living costs are very low here with alcohol and western food being great value. You can party and eat like a king here without spending much money at all.  

The gay light life in Phnom Penh is spread out across the city, although most places can be reached on foot within a 10-minute walk. There is no dedicated gay street. The gay scene here is still developing as tourism increases. One thing to keep in mind is that gay locals tend not to frequent gay venues because of cultural difficulties. 

Our information-packed guide to Gay Phnom penh

Phnom Pehn is a fantastic place to visit but do not expect the same level of progress you would see in Thailand or Vietnam. It can be a dirty place with trash on the streets. It can be difficult to navigate with crazy traffic and motorbikes and little regard for crosswalks or traffic lights. But don’t let that put you off visiting this amazing city. There is a small but really great gay scene here.

Eating and drinking in Phnom Penh are very cheap. Beers for under $1. Delicious western restaurant meals from $5 and for the penny pinchers cheap street food from $1. Hotels and accommodation is also great value. You can find 4-star hotels for $30 a night.

There are a handful of gay bars, mostly in the district of Daun Penh all a short walk from each other. There is a gay disco, Heart Of Darkness and a number of gay-friendly guest houses and accommodation options in the same area. You can also find a number of male massage shops around here, fantastic eating options and many of the main tourist attractions like the Royal Palace.

Getting around the city can be fun and cheap. Barter with TukTuk drivers on most corners for fairs of $2. Grab Taxi is excellent and PassApp rickshaws are fun and cheap. Keep reading for more information.

When To Visit

Cambodia’s High Season is November to February. The weather is usually cooler at this time of year. Expect more expensive hotels and crowds. April is also a busy time in Phnom Penh due to Khmer New Year celebrations. May to September is a very hot and wet time of year. While prices may be lower, visitors should expect very wet weather and sticky high humidity.

From The Airport

The majority of visitors arriving in Phnom Penh arrive by plane, landing at Phnom Penh International Airport. The airport is located only 10 km from the city centre. One thing to keep in mind is peak hour traffic can be extremely bad here. It can take over an hour to get into the city at the wrong time of day.

A TukTuk outside the airport is an option, but be aware these are overpriced. Expect to pay $10 USD. Grab Taxi is very good in Phnom Penh, and this is our advised option for getting into the city. Depending on the time of day this will usually set you back around $6-$7 USD.

For previous visitors, PassApp – Cambodia’s taxi app is a great value option. These rickshaws will get you into the city for around $4.

The budget option is the airport bus which can be caught outside arrivals into the city. It drops off at a few locations and costs $1.

For Grab or PassApp, you will need a Sim Card. When you come out of arrivals and you are outside, there are 3 shops to the right where you can purchase a Sim Card. Purchase one with a local number, not just a data plan.

Getting around the city of Phnom Penh

TukTuk

You will find Cambodian men sitting in their TukTuks on many street corners. While some may try to scam you, you can barter good deals with them to get across the city. Fares are usually a couple of dollars. Agree the price & destination before getting into the TukTuk.

Motorbike Taxi

There are guys everywhere trying to offer you rides on their motorbikes. They are not licenced and this can be a dangerous way to travel with no helmets offered. We would advise against using these, however, they can be very cheap if you can barter well with them. If you want a bike, use GrabBike.

PassApp

Cambodia has it’s very own taxi booking app, PassApp. Instead of cars, you get these yellow rickshaws. They are a great cheap way to get around. You can pay cash to the driver. You will need a sim card with a local telephone number to download and signup for this app. Download it free on the app store.

Grab Taxi

Grab Taxi is really great in here. You never wait more than a few minutes for one of arrive and the prices are very low. If you want to be safe in an airconditioned car, this is the best option. Download the GrabTaxi app from your phones app store.

Phnom penh’s Best Areas to explore

Pattaya is famous for it’s night life. Day times can be quiet and relaxing as in most beach resorts. Here are the things you don’t want to miss.

Jomtien complex – gay area

The newest of the gay areas in Pattaya, Jomtien Complex has grown significantly in the last 6 years. There is now over 20 gay bar on one street buzzing with activity every night of the week. Each establishment has it’s own selling point, attracting crowds of expats and tourists alike. If you like Cabaret shows there are 2 bars for that, The Venue and M2M Bar & Cabaret. If you want to sit in the company of dozens of handsome bar boys and enjoy a drink, you are spoiled for choice. The best places for that would be @Home Bar, Sun Bar or Lucky Boys Bar. Want a game of pool? @Home Bar, Cocka2 Bar or L&N Bar will be for you. If you are a looking for gay only accommodation there are 2 options located right inside the complex. You can look at The Venue Residence or Poseidon Boutique Hotel. For a more in-depth look at Jomtien Complex, check out our full destination guide for Jomtien Complex here.

Boyz Town – gay area

Many would say Boyz Town is the ancestral home to gay Pattaya. It has however changed a lot over the last couple of years and a shadow of what it used to be. Having said that, it’s certainly still worth a visit to see what’s happening. You can stay in the heart of Boyz Town at the Ambiance Hotel. There is a nightly Cabaret show at Castro Show Bar. You can sit outside and watch the action up and down at the street at either Panomama Pub or Serene Bar. There is the famous male GoGo Bar Boyz Boyz Boyz, along with 2 other gogo bars, the best being Toy Boy. In 2019 the new live music venue Boyz Music opened in the old Cafe Royal location. It’s worth noting that drink prices in Boyz Town and significantly higher than other locations in Pattaya. For a more in-depth look a Boyz Town, check out our full destination guide for Boyz Town here.

sunee plaza – gay area

It was only 10 years ago that Sunee Plaza hosted over 50 gay bars and venues. Times have changed, and now there are only 10. While smaller than before, there is a lot of fun to be had in Sunee Plaza, or as the locals often call it, Soi Sunee. Sunee Plaza offers a very different atmosphere than other areas of Pattaya and is known for being a little “naughty”. The GoGo bars here are far more fun than other places in Thailand. Grabbing a beer at the famous Double Shot Bar is a great start to an evening here. As for GoGo Bars we recommend a stop at Winner Boy and also the raunchy bar Nice Boys. For a more in-depth look at Sunee Plaza, check out our full destination guide for Sunee Plaza here.

jomtien beach – dongtan gay beach

For almost 30 years, Jomtien; located 3km south of Pattaya city has had it’s very own gay beach. Visitors and expats alike spend there afternoons here enjoying the sea breeze, cheap food and beers and most importantly for some, the passing eye candy. We made a blog post about Dongtan gay beach a while back with directions and other useful information. You can read it here.

It may be useful to note if you are a beach person visiting Pattaya you may wish to find accommodation in Jomtien Complex as it’s located very close to the gay beach. We made a blog post about the best places to stay in Jomtien and you can read it by clicking here.

walking street

Loved by many, but hated by others, Walking Street is a crazy place indeed. Hundreds of bars and nightclubs and crowds of people to fill them. While nothing down here is designated as a gay venue, don’t think that local and visiting gays don’t spend time here. The nightclub Marine is often very busy with local gay boys. Walking street has a mix of bars and nightclubs. Happy hours can be cheap in the bars. Nightclubs are renowned for being very expensive with drinks costing more than in many western cities. 

Many of the bars on Walking Street and the surrounding sois are girl bars and girl gogo bars. Even a few ladyboy bars if that’s your thing.

The Best Of Phnom Penh’s Gay Scene

If your time is limited in Phnom Penh, these are the places we believe should not be missed.

Recommended Gay Bar

Toolbox Bar

One of the best gay bars in Asia. Cheap drinks, nightly male erotic dance shows from 10pm, and nightly happy hours 7 to 9 pm offering 2 for 1 drinks. Try a mudslide cocktail!

Recommended Gay Club

Heart Of Darkness

Small gay club centrally located. Gets busy on weekends with locals and tourists. Reasonable drink prices and a fun atmosphere, especially on the themed party nights.

Recommended Gay Sauna

Arthur & Paul

Up market gay sauna and spa in the heart of Phnom Penh. Part of Athur & Paul hotel. Pool, restaurant, massage services and more.

Recommended Gay Massage

Hatha Khmer Massage

The most popular gay massage shop in Phnom Penh. Many guys with Sundays being the best day to visit. Clean facilities and extras on request.

Recommended Restaurant

Teddy Bear Restaurant

Gay owner, operated and popular with the local gay crowd, this bar and restaurant is amazing value with food quality good and cheap drinks. Not to be missed.

Recommended Hotel

Arthur & Paul Hotel

With ajoining gay sauna and spa, expect one of the finest gay hotels in South East Asia. Pool, Restaurant and more. Guests must be 18 years or over.

Where To Stay In Phnom Penh

There are some great value hotels and even an number of gay only accomodation options in Phnom Penh

Gay Hotels

The Venue Residence

Small hotel above gay cabaret bar

The Venue Residence is located in the heart of the gay bars in Jomtien Complex. Rooms are above the Cabaret show bar in this gay area of Pattaya. Great modern rooms, a pool and discounts in the bar for guests.

Gay Friendly Hotels

The Agate Pattaya Boutique Resort

Gay-friendly luxury hotel with 2 swimming pools

The Agate is located in Jomtien Complex, a stone’s throw away from all the gay bars. Get a room with a balcony overlooking one of the two swimming pools here. One of the more luxury and relaxing hotel options in Jomtien.  

Luxury Hotels

Ambiance Pattaya Hotel

In the center of the gay bars of Boyz Town

This used to be a gay-only hotel, but now opens it’s doors to other clientele. It’s still a great option for gay travellers as it is located literally in the centre of all the bars in Boyz Town. On site restaurant is good and the terrace is right on the gay street. 

9 activities in Pattaya to fill your days

Want to do more than sit on a beach? Here are 9 of the best ways to keep your days fun filled in Pattaya.

Nong Nooch Botanical Garden

A beautiful destination full of wonder, animals and one of the best botanical gardens in Asia. A short drive from Pattaya but a fantastic day out.

Wat Phra Khao Yai

Also known as Big Buddha Hill, take a walk up the hill to this amazing temple, with it’s huge stairway flanked by dragons.

Khao Chi Chan

Known in English as Buddha Mountain, Khao Chi Chan is the biggest engraving of Buddha in the world. Engraved in 1996 to celebrate His Majesty the King’s 50th year on the throne.

Pattaya Floating Market

To best experience, one of many floating markets in Thailand be sure to hire a small boat to take a look around and buy some souvenirs.

Koh Larn

This popular island is located only 7 km from Pattaya. Boats leave several times a day. The far side of Koh Larn has some fantastic beaches if you fancy an adventure getting there.

Pattaya Elephant Sanctuary

You won’t be riding elephants here. An ethical sanctuary where you can interact with these beautiful animals. Please do not ride elephant’s in Thailand.

Sanctuary Of Truth

One of the most breathtaking temples in Thailand. It’s still under construction and it’s said it will never be finished, so be ready to wear a hard hat!

Pattaya Shooting Park

Tick one off your bucket list and go shooting at Pattaya’s world-class outdoor shooting range.

EasyKart Pattaya

Feeling competitive? Go racing at EasyKart. With 2 tracks and more than 50 go-karts there is lots of fun to be had here. Centrally located towards the end of walking street.

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