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Gay Phnom Penh Travel Guide

Stefan Arestis
Gay Phnom Penh Travel Guide

We've put together our gay guide to Phnom Penh including the best places to sleep, eat, drink, party, and more.

When people would tell us about their trip to Phnom Penh, they would use words like glitteringly bright, abundantly happy, and a bit rough around the edges. Well, if that doesn’t perfectly describe us, we don’t know what would…

Walking around the city’s busiest streets is an overwhelming experience. There’s loud traffic, a concoction of smells emitting from the food stalls, and yelling from street vendors battling for people’s attention. It’s a wonder anyone makes it anywhere on time in this place – there’s just too much to look at.

Most visitors come to the Cambodian capital to gain a better understanding of the country’s tragic past, so it can be hard to believe how easily one can forget all about it once they arrive. But it happens. The people are so smiley, upbeat, and cheerful, it’s hard to believe their home turf was once a place of Waɾ and turmoil.

Whilst you will undoubtedly devote part of your time in Phnom Penh acknowledging the dreadful events that occurred there, you’ll find many parts where you can simply let go and enjoy what Cambodian culture is today. It’s vibrant and loud. It’s rich and artistic. It’s magical and magnificent, with opulent temples, golden Buddha statues, and artisanal shops to nab some niche artworks or decor. On that note make sure you also check in with our awesome gay guide to Siem Reap.

And as for the gay stuff? Honey, have we got great news for you! There are bars, saunas, an exclusive-gay hotel, and a club that will give you all the homo-thrills you’re seeking… Read on for our full gay guide to Phnom Penh!

Gay tour of Cambodia and Laos

Every November, our friends at Out Adventures organise a fabulous gay tour through Laos and Cambodia. Channel your inner Lara Croft as you sashay your way through the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, explore the vibrant nightlife of Phnom Penh with a group of fabulous like-minded men, immerse yourself in the serenity of Luang Prabang and try a few exotic culinary discoveries…barbecued spider anyone?

Find out more

Is Phnom Penh safe for gay travelers?

Cambodia is super gay friendly, so much so that we rate it as one of the most gay-friendly places in Asia. In its entire history there has never been a record of anti-gay laws. Yup, hard to believe right? The government introduced civil partnerships in 2018 for LGBTQ relationships, paving the way for gay marriage equality in the not-so-distant future.

Also, Cambodian culture, like in Thailand, recognizes a third gender known as “kteuy”. This can be used to describe someone who presents as one gender, whilst possessing characteristics of another.

All that in mind, some queer Cambodians still face a degree of intolerance from their families and peers. There aren’t any concrete anti-discrimination laws, which leaves the local LGBTQ community vulnerable and exposed to oppression. Fortunately, things are evolving all the time. Representation in the media is helping to change local attitudes – especially with the super successful 2009 movie, “Who Am I?”, which featured a lesbian romance. In addition, in 2018, the Ministry of Education set down plans to teach inclusive education in schools, meaning kids will learn about all types of orientations and gender identities.

Gay tourists in Phnom Penh are welcomed with open arms, just like any foreign traveler. Cambodians are known for their polite, hospitable nature and love seeing visitors exploring their city. To be honest, they are more likely to stare at you for being a Westerner than they are for being in a gay relationship. For more info, be sure to check out our interview with local boy Aaron from Phnom Penh about what gay life is like in Cambodia.

The gay area of Phnom Penh

Whilst there isn’t a real gay ‘area' in Phnom Penh, the city does have a thriving gay scene. It reminded us of a smaller, less hectic version of the gay scene of Bangkok, with several gay bars and clubs spread out across the city like Blue Chilli, POC, and Toolbox. Plus, we were surprised to find not one, BUT TWO, gay saunas to relax and meet other guys.

In terms of Pride parades, Phnom Penh has hosted one every year since 2003, drawing hundreds of LGBTQ Cambodians and their allies. It’s a massive deal as it washes the city with vibrant colors and music, sending a message to queer youth across the country that it’s OK to be gay!

Heading to Phnom Penh soon?

Phnom Penh International Airport is located at least an hour out of the city, with travel times taking longer depending on traffic. Let's just say getting to your hotel can be a mission! We like to pre-book a private transfer so that we don't have to deal with the stress of finding transport, haggling over prices and the like.

There's no real gay neighborhood in Phnom Penh but still plenty of gay hangouts throughout the city
Even the guards are chill in Phnom Penh!

Gay hotels in Phnom Penh

As far as exclusively gay hotels go, Phnom Penh isn’t as lacking as you may think. We found gay hotels like Arthur & Paul, as well as others that just ooze gay friendliness! And even when a place didn’t specify their attitudes towards LGBTQ couples, we never ran into any problems when checking in and asking for a double bed. Here are the best gay hotels in Phnom Penh to check out:

01

Arthur & Paul (men only hotel)

Arthur and Paul is a gorgeous hotel in Phnom Penh that's only for men!

In a nutshell


  • Gorgeous male-only gay hotel
  • So fabulous, each room is named after a famous gay couple
  • Hot male staff ready to pamper and massage you
  • Scrumptious French cuisine in the restaurant 

You know we’re a sucker for an all-male gay hotel – there’s always bound to be some shenanigans going about…

On their website, they describe a stay at Arthur & Paul as a “gay adventure”… and boy, does that hit the nail on the head! Half-nude guys frolicking around the poolside. Hot male staff eager to pamper their guests. The bar blasting classic gay anthems.

They even named each of their bedrooms after beloved gay couples, like Elton and David, Jules and Jim, and of course, Stef and Seb! …. we’re joking about that last one, but could you imagine?

The rooms are stylish and cosy, with Italian showers, a minibar, and a queen-sized bed. Who knew elegance could be so simple? The 52ft (16m) saltwater pool is where all the action happens, and most guys hang out by during the day. 

Now, most guys in Phnom Penh know Arthur & Paul for one thing and one thing only, and that’s their sauna. There you can get a professional rubdown from a trained masseur, and if you’re lucky, a *not so professional* rubdown from a handsome stranger you may meet… more on this below.

Prices at Arthur & Paul start from $187 per night:


STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL

Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, voiding any nasty surprises when you check-in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off our first booking.

02

The Birdcage Boutique

The Birdcage Boutique is a lovely gay owned budget choice of accommodation in Phnom Penh

In a nutshell


  • Gay-owned and very gay friendly
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Lovely freshwater swimming pool
  • Excellent on site restaurant and bar

Having booked our spot at the Birdcage Boutique under the guise that it was “just a budget hotel”, we were shook by how fabulous this place was. Within seconds we spotted a large outdoor swimming pool where everyone was playing water games together, and having an amazing time.

Not only is the Birdcage Boutique gay owned and therefore super gay friendly, but they also take steps to be as environmentally friendly as possible. They don't use plastic bottles or straws and use the minimum of paper as possible. The swimming pool is also freshwater, so no chlorine smell or stinging eyes here. We love to see it!

There are only 12 rooms available, making it a very intimate stay, without any crowds. But if you want the deluxe private room with balcony, you better act fast. All the rooms are private and comfortable though, with max two guests per room. The Birdcage restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, with yummy specials that you can enjoy beside the pool.

We especially loved the Birdcage Bar, where they make delicious cocktails from midday, plus happy ‘hour' between 4pm and 7pm offers plenty of discounts. The pool table is another highlight, you can have some games and meet other travelers along the way.

Prices at The Birdcage Boutique start from $15 per night:


03

Rambutan Resort

The Rambutan Resort is a luxurious and gay friendly place to stay in Phnom Penh

In a nutshell


  • Gay friendly 4 stars hotel
  • Lavish spa
  • World class in-house restaurant 
  • Saltwater pool

You can’t go wrong with Rambutan. It’s the epitome of class, style, and excellence. 

Rooms are modern, with an Asian twist; decorated with Cambodian silks, fascinating artworks, locally sourced furniture, and alfresco stone bathtubs. Even the most standard of rooms feel uber-luxurious, with a queen-sized bed, rain shower, a fully stocked mini-fridge, and flat-screen TV. 

Wandering around the gay friendly hotel, we found a lush garden, full of tropical plants and flowers, that we couldn’t snap enough pictures of! Their saltwater pool had our skin glowing and created a refreshingly, deep-sea scent across the grounds.

We headed to the top floor for a *cough* well-deserved spa day (what? We think we earned it. It’s tough being this fabulous all the time). They offer a wide array of services, from aromatic oil massages, Japanese shiatsu massage, or a traditional Khmer massage. We went for the latter, and felt totally revitalized afterwards. 

Their in-house restaurant was one of the highlights of our trip. The kitchen is run by Khmer chefs who were trained by the iconic Mengly Mork (a highly respected chef in Cambodia), and they do him proud. The food is scrumptious and utterly filling. More please!

Prices at Rambutan Resort start from $57 per night:


04

White Mansion Phnom Penh

The beautiful swimming pool at White Mansion Boutique Hotel in Phnom Penh

In a nutshell


  • Order a massage in your lavish bedroom
  • Sip on the hotel’s signature cocktails 
  • Lovely saltwater swimming pool
  • Spa services available

It would be extremely hard to miss the White Mansion. Perched on Street 240 – Phnom Penh’s equivalent to Fifth Avenue or Oxford Street – it’s a blindingly white (duh!), colonial-style building that screams luxury.

“This must be here for when the Queen visits”, Seby remarked.
“We’re already here, darling”… I couldn’t help quipping back.

Each of the gay friendly hotel’s rooms and suites feature fine furniture, high ceilings, and unbeatable views of the city. On one day, we decided to spoil ourselves by ordering in-room massage treatments – and they were indeed a treat! 

Downstairs, in Le Café, we found a little bit of everything on the menu. It was like every cuisine on the planet was pining to have their palate featured. From French breads to Italian coffee, along with a whole lot of Asian specialties, especially Khmer cuisine. The café hosts a cocktail hour between 5-7pm every evening, with its own signature drinks. You didn’t have to ask us twice to be there!

Outside, guests can hang around the 66 ft (20m) swimming pool filled with refreshing saltwater – come through environmentalism! The grounds are filled with tropical plants, making the whole place feel like an idyllic jungle resort, but really you're in the middle of Phnom Penh, close enough to walk to many of the attractions and restaurants.

Prices at White Mansion start from $87 per night:


05

The Artist Residence

Budget travelers will love the quirky and colorful rooms at The Artist Residence in Phnom Penh

In a nutshell


  • Great budget and gay friendly option
  • Unbeatable central location
  • A backpacker’s dream
  • Artist café for divine inspiration

If you’re up for keeping things as simple as possible, the Artist Residence is your best gay friendly option. After all, why spend all your time in your hotel/hostel room when you have the whole city of Phnom Penh to play with? 

In fact, most people stay here for the location alone. It’s right by the National Museum, as well as the thriving Pub Street, and a five-minute walk from the Royal Palace.

Other than that, the Artist Residence is fairly simple, especially in the budget-friendly rooms. We stayed in the standard double room which was quite spacious, had a modern, colorful design, and basic amenities. However, you could opt for a more deluxe option, which would get you a TV and impressive city views as well.

Our highlight was the Artist café, which is a bright and wonderful space to grab some lunch or coffee. As the name suggests, we could totally imagine some upcoming writer using this space to type up their magnum opus, as the café has fantastic city views to draw inspiration from.

Prices at The Artist Residence start from $43 per night:


Gay bars in Phnom Penh

Our first day in the city had us bowled over by how polite and cordial all of the locals were. We very much expected that same energy to crossover into the gay nightlife. Cut to a drag performer shaking their money-makers in our faces, and we knew off the bat that Cambodia’s nightlife would be anything but mannerly! Yep, Phnom Penh’s gay bars are raucously loud, blindingly colorful, and wonderfully diverse. These were our favorites:

Blue Chilli

Blue Chilli is the main gay bar in Phnom Penh, with fabulous drag shows and delicious drinks

That drag act who shook their booty in our faces? That happened in Blue Chilli -Cambodia’s oldest and most-loved gay bar. It’s the center of Phnom Penh’s gay universe, and for good reason. It’s probably the most diverse spot in the whole country, with people of all sizes, genders, races, and orientations coming together for a night of drinking, music, and merriment. There is a happy ‘hour' every day from 5pm to 8pm, where we treated ourselves to some delightful fruity cocktails.

Open: Blue Chilli is open daily from 5pm until 2am

Location: You can find it at #36Eo, Street 178


Toolbox Bar

Toolbox is a fun gay bar in Phnom Penh where the staff wear these cheeky but clever shirts!

Once upon a time, there was a gay guy named Doug who dreamed of a fabulous spot where queer people could unwind. And from that dream sprang the Toolbox Bar. Upstairs, we came across couples facing off over an intense game of pool, whilst groups of friends gorged on delicious sausages they were selling at the bar (that sounded way less dirty in our heads…). As the night goes on, you’ll watch it go from a fairly laidback gay spot to a spectacular performance space with drag artists wearing dazzling outfits and doing precise lip-syncing.

Open: Toolbox Bar is open every day except Monday from 6pm until 2am

Location: You can find Toolbox Bar at #46E on Street 174


Pride of Cambodia (POC)

Pride of Cambodia (also called POC) is a gay bar and club in Phnom Penh that you have to visit during your trip

Phnom Penh’s gay scene has a little bit of everything… and POC is their highbrow, stylish bar. Think premium cocktails served by handsome bar staff. And yet that boujie façade peels away as the night goes on. That’s when the near-nude exotic dancers emerge and the electro-pop beats come on. Things typically heat up after 10pm, especially on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. 

Open: Pride of Cambodia is open daily from 4pm until 2am

Location: It's located at Street 15, #60 Psar Kandal Market, Daun Penh


Space Hair Salon and Bar

For drinks and a new hairdo, head to Space Hair Salon and Bar in Phnom Penh

Have you ever been slurping a tasty drink in a gay bar and thought to yourself “You know what would make this night even better? …Puppies!” Well, Space Hair Salon has now filled in that market gap. Not only is it home to a couple of adorable resident canines, but it’s also a hair salon by day (yup, the name isn’t tongue-in-cheek). You can pop in that day to get your roots topped up, then stay put for a fabulous drink and boogie in the evening. The age of convenience has well and truly arrived ya’ll!

Open: Space Hair Salon and Bar is open daily from midday until 2am

Location: It can be found at #66 on Street 136


Sora Skybar

The Sora Skybar is an incredible spot for sunset cocktails in Phnom Penh

Ok, ok, so it’s not a gay bar per se. But we love a rooftop bar. With specialty cocktails and a dazzling city backdrop, there’s no better way to live up our rich woman fantasy. With everyone dressed up in their finest, the surrounding high-rise buildings, elegant bar staff, and soft piano music, we kept boasting to each other how sophisticated we were. Sure, it was before we headed off to a club and started grinding to some Beyoncé bops, but that’s beside the point…

Open: Sora Skybar is open every day from 5pm until 10pm

Location: You can find the Sora Skybar at the top of Rosewood Hotel on 66 Monivong Boulevard


Gay clubs in Phnom Penh

There aren’t that many gay clubs in Phnom Penh. In fact, the only major one used to be Valentino's. Other than that, we found the city to cater more to a mixed crowd when it came to clubbing. Luckily most spots were gay-friendly, especially Heart of Darkness. Here are the best gay clubs in Phnom Penh to check out: 

POC Club

POC is a fun gay club as well as a gay bar so you can dance late into the night in Phnom Penh

We touched on it earlier in the gay bar section, but we feel Pride of Cambodia could count as a club as well. Neon lights, loud music, hot locals, there’s so much to marvel at in POC Club. The transformation from laidback bar to the hotbox nightclub is like night and day. They even have themed events like Singles Night, which is great for a country like Cambodia where it can be hard for gay people to meet others. 

Open: POC is open daily from 2pm until 4am

Location: It's located at Street 15, #60 Psar Kandal Market, Daun Penh


Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness is a fun and gay friendly nightclub in Phnom Penh

With a name like Heart of Darkness, you’d be forgiven for thinking some devilish stuff goes on in there. “What if it’s a Satanic cult?” Seby pined before we went in…“Like we’re getting into Heaven anyway”, I laugh. What we found was actually quite chill. The drinks were cheap, we didn’t need to pay an entrance fee. The music is a mix of house and electropop. There was a disco ball, which made the place feel very 1970s New York. Everyone we got talking to was super friendly. 

Open: Heart of Darkness is open daily from 4pm until 3am

Location: You can find it at 38 Rue Pasteur No. 51


Valentino's (permanently closed – updated October 2021)

Valentino's was the foremost gay club in Phnom Penh for a long time

After years of Cambodia only having small-ish bars for the queer community to go to, the opening of Valentino's signified a shift in the country’s gay culture. It’s Phnom Penh’s finest gay club and it sure don’t hold back no punches! Throughout the day, Valentino’s is a bistro where you can tuck into some delicious lunch or dinner. Then at night, it becomes a sweaty, pulsating club where you’ll enjoy affordable drinks, fabulous cabaret shows, loud house music, and world-class DJ sets.


Gay saunas in Phnom Penh

Saunas in Phnom Penh tend to be their busiest after working hours. And funnily enough, things quieten down a tad after 9pm. Seby and I would wonder if this was because the clientele who had wives and families at home would scurry off after their meetings here… On the weekends though, things can get wild toward midnight, when local gay guys from all the surrounding districts come out to play. 

Arthur & Paul

Have a massage or more at the Arthur & Paul gay spa in Phnom Penh

We touched on these guys earlier, but we had to give a special mention to the spa/sauna facility. After all, lots of its visitors aren’t hotel guests. So we think it counts as a gay sauna all by itself. Saunter through a labyrinth of steam rooms, sauna, lounges, and showers, where you’re sure to run into some cute guys. Stop for a chat, or who knows… people here like to get very very friendly with one another – if you catch our drift!

Open: Arthur & Paul is open daily from 7am, until midnight Monday to Wednesday, and until 4am Thursday to Sunday

Location: You can find it at #27, Street 71 BKK1


Adam Men Spa

Adam Men Spa in Phnom Penh is an opulent and fun gay hangout which even has karaoke!

You know when homophobes like to use the “it was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” jibe? Well, this place is all of those bigots’ nightmares come to life! It’s nothing but a bunch of gay guys gathering in a tropical garden-inspired sauna. If Eden looked anything like this, we could definitely see what all the fuss was about. There are steam rooms, saunas, a bar, a relaxation lounge… and best of all, karaoke. This spa takes the term gay paradise to a whole new meaning!

Open: Adam Men Spa is open daily from 1pm, until 10pm on weekdays and midnight on weekends

Location: You can find it at #40 Street 199


Where to eat in Phnom Penh

We make no secret of how much we love our food. Which is why we get so excited about visiting a new city. There's a whole new array of dishes to try! And Phnom Penh didn’t disappoint. With every corner we turned, we were met with a new aroma for us to get excited by. Torn by how little time we had, we tried as many places as we could. Here were our favorites:

Teddy Bear Restaurant

Teddy Bear Restaurant is a quirky gay owned restaurant and bar in Phnom Penh that we love

This gorgeous gay owned restaurant/bar is a great spot for both fussy and adventurous eaters. It serves local Khmer cuisine, Asian delicacies, and lots of Western favorites (including one very famous British dish)…“I guess you’ll have the fish-n-chips?” our waiter giggled when he heard my British accent…“As if!” I jabbed back. If we’re going to fly all the way over to Cambodia, we want the quintessential experience. Instead of living up to the stereotype, we enjoyed a spicy Thai curry that left our eyes streaming!


Friends The Restaurant

The staff at Friends Restaurant in Phnom Penh will definitely feel like real friends as soon as you visit

It’s been around since 2001, and it ain’t going anywhere any time soon. Plucking inspiration from dishes around the world, Friends finds a way to give a nod to tons of cuisine, whilst keeping their own identity intact. Their name is very on the nose too – as all of their serving staff treat their guests like, well you guessed it, friends! We recommend going for the tapas – they’re one of the most famous items on the menu due to their sweet taste and delicious crunch.


Chez Gaston

Chez Gaston is a fabulous French restaurant in Phnom Penh

Seby was in his element in this place. French name. French cuisine. French music. It was like a homecoming for him! He even took advantage of my lack of language skills and conned me into eating snails. Though to be fair, they were quite tasty. Prices are very reasonable – plus, if you arrive before 8pm and agree to sit at the bar, you’ll get a 3-course meal with a glass of wine for as little as $10.


Daughters of Cambodia

Daughters of Cambodia is an excellent company for Cambodian survivors of human trafficking, with a great cafe

One of the top choices for veggies in the city, Daughters of Cambodia may seem small from the outside, but its menu is packed full of incredible dishes. The staff had a super positive attitude and were happy to answer any questions we had about the food. They even recommended to us the bruschetta and chicken Caesar salad wraps, which were as big as our heads. Prices were low and our stomachs were full… we consider that quite a success!


What to do in Phnom Penh

Just like Auschwitz in Poland, or the Anne Frank House in the Netherlands, a visitor should take the time to visit a nation’s most harrowing landmarks. Which is why we spent a large portion of our time in Phnom Penh exploring the Kιlling Fields – a part of Cambodia’s tragic history. Yet, we still made sure we took time to check out the city’s lighter activities too. If you've got limited time, use our two-day detailed itinerary to make sure you hit all the highlights!

These are our top picks of things to do in Phnom Penh for gay travelers:

Phnom Penh Kιlling Fields (Choeung Ek Genocidal Center)

The Ki1ling Tree at the Kil1ing Fields

It’s a sobering experience, but an important one nonetheless. The Kιlling Fields consist of several sites where an estimated 1.7 million people were eliminated and buried under the Communist Party’s regime. Choeung Ek is arguably the most well-known site, where almost 9,000 people are believed to be buried. Whilst here, you will see a commemorative Buddhist stupa, that is filled with 5,000 human skulls. It’s not for the faint of heart, but we recommend joining a guided tour to pay your respects to all those who lost their lives under the inhumane atrocities that took place. 


The Tuol Sleng (S21) Torture Prison

Translated sign of rules at the S21 prison

To get an even greater sense of Cambodia’s tragic past, Tuol Sleng’s museum is an imperative place to see. A schoolhouse turned prison, it is believed over 20,000 people were imprisoned by the Khmer Rouge (Communist Party), and only 12 people who went in are confirmed to have survived! Visitors to the museum will discover the brutal conditions inmates had to endure, as well as testimonies from the few people who were liberated. If you have time you can join a tour that visits both S21 and the Kιlling Fields with a guide to help you better understand all the terrible things that happened.


The Royal Palace

The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh is where the King lives and a site you can visit

Home to the Cambodian royal family, the Palace is a must-see for anyone interested in royalty, and a refreshing break after learning about Cambodia's dark past. We wandered around the stunning gardens, listening to the sounds of the wind through the trees and the birds singing their songs. Total serenity! The royal family actually live here, so we were hoping for a glimpse of the king, but unfortunately were disappointed. There is, however, a building where you can see a replica of the outfit King Norodom Sihamoni wore during his coronation. Wonder if they’d let us borrow it for our next Pride outfit


The National Museum of Cambodia

The National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh is a gorgeous building surrounded by lovely gardens with lots of interesting art and history inside

The National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh is a great place to start when you arrive to get a sense of the country’s history and culture. It’s a beautiful terracotta-colored building surrounded by a lovely courtyard, filled with gurgling fountains and flourishing trees. Inside, you’ll find the world’s biggest collection of Khmer artwork and sculptures. Items on display date as far back as prehistoric times and all the way up to the aftermath of the Khmer Empire. For more about the country's history, join this tour that visits the museum, Royal Palace and Wat Phnom.


Wat Phnom Buddhist Temple

Climb a small hill in Phnom Penh to visit the city's most important temple: Wat Phnom
Photogoddle, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Standing 150ft (46m) high, Wat Phnom is possibly the most well-known structure in Phnom Penh. The story of its origin is as marvelous as the building itself. It’s believed an old lady, named Doun Penh, came upon a Koki tree in the river that contained four Buddha statues, plus one of Vishnu. She insisted the village build a temple to put them in, which became Wat Phnom. It’s a beautiful architectural achievement that has come to stand as a symbol of good fortune.


The Silver Pagoda

The Silver Pagoda is one of the most beautiful sites in Phnom Penh

If you’re popping in to visit the Royal Palace, make sure you swing by the Silver Pagoda. One word kept springing to mind as we gawked at the stunning temple: opulence! The steps to the entrance are made from fine Italian marble. Once inside, you can sneak a glance at some of the 5,000 silver tiles that cover the ground floor. And the Baccarat-crystal Buddhist sculpture sitting upon a golden stand is just an example of the lavishness you can expect to find within. 


The Russian Market

The Russian Market in Phnom Penh is loud, crazy and a great spot for souvenirs or gifts

We realize that some of the activities we’ve suggested have been on the dark and gritty side of things. And when we feel a bit overwhelmed by heavy-duty stuff, we like to cure it with some retail therapy. The Russian Market is a spot in Phnom Penh that is exploding with colors, scents, sounds, and visual delights. Stalls are packed with sweets, art, clothes, candles, and more, making it the ideal spot to pick up some gifts or souvenirs. Join a tour that visits the Russian Market, National Museum and Wat Phnom in one day if you're short on time.


Planning your trip to Phnom Penh

We've put together some handy hints and tips to help you plan your own trip to Phnom Penh. Read on to find out everything the gay traveler should know before they go.

How to get there: Flights to Phnom Penh International Airport depart from Bangkok, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore and Yangon. If you're heading there from further away (like Europe or North America) then you'll most likely need to transit at one of those destinations. Once you arrive in Phnom Penh, you can get from the airport to the city center via shuttle bus, public bus, train, taxi or tuk-tuk. However, it can take over an hour, depending on traffic, so we usually pre-book a private transfer.


Visa requirements: Visitors from many countries are able to visit Cambodia visa-free for up to 90 days, so long as you have at least six month's validity remaining on your passport. Travelers from some other countries can get an e-visa online or a visa on arrival, while others will need to get a visa from an embassy before travel. Make sure you check your personal visa requirements well ahead of time so you can organize what you need.


Getting around: Phnom Penh is a sprawling city, often very hot and chaotic. The easiest (and most fun!) way to get around is by tuk-tuk, although you can also hail a taxi, moto-taxi or get a bus. We personally think the tuk-tuks are the best option and definitely safer than the moto-taxis.


Power Plugs: The main power plug used in Cambodia is the same as the ones used in the USA. If you're traveling to Phnom Penh from somewhere else then we recommend bringing a universal power adapter with you if you want to be able to charge your electronic devices.


Travel insurance: Cambodia in general (and Phnom Penh in particular) is very safe, but unfortunately things can go awry on your travels that will completely ruin your trip – from lost luggage to illness or injury. We never travel without ensuring we have travel insurance and urge you to do the same. We've been using World Nomads Travel Insurance for years and always had great interactions with them. Their cover is affordable and comprehensive, plus it's been very simple to make a claim online when something has gone wrong.


Vaccinations: All travelers to Cambodia should be up to date with routine vaccinations like measles, mumps and chickenpox, as well as Covid-19. Most travelers should also be vaccinated for hepatitis A and typhoid. Some travelers may also need vaccinations for hepatitis B, cholera, Japanese encephalitis, malaria, yellow fever and rabies, depending on what you'll be doing. Check the CDC website for the most up to date info and also consult your doctor or travel nurse before heading to Phnom Penh.


Currency: The currency used in Cambodia is called the Cambodian riel, or just riel, and uses the currency code KHR. In terms of conversions: $1 is worth around 4,000 riel, £1 is around 5,100 riel and €1 is around 4,600 riel.


Tipping culture: Cambodia doesn't have a strong tipping culture, so you will never be expected to tip. A service charge is often included on restaurant bills and locals will sometimes round up the bill and leave the change. You can tip if you really feel like it, it certainly won't be refused. We recommend using 10% as a good ballpark figure to calculate a generous tip if you feel like you received excellent service.


Internet access: There are quite a few free WiFi access spots across Phnom Penh. Most hotels, restaurants and cafes will also provide free WiFi. We also recommend getting a SIM card at the airport when you arrive. They are cheap, easy to set up and will ensure you always have Internet access wherever you are in the country.


Accommodation: We always choose our accommodation in Phnom Penh by using Booking.com because they have the best selection at the lowest prices. Many listings also offer free cancellation, which is perfect if you like to be spontaneous (as we do!) and change your plans to stay somewhere you love longer. Booking.com have excellent online customer support available to help you 24/7 if needed.


Sightseeing and adventure: For more tours and fun activities in Phnom Penh, we love seeing what's available on GetYourGuide. They always have plenty of options for all sorts of different travel styles and interests plus it's really easy to book online. They also have excellent customer support that's available 24/7.


When to visit: The best period to visit Phnom Penh is between November – January, when the weather is the driest, least humid and coolest. However, this is also the peak tourist season, with the most crowds and highest prices. March to May are the hottest months when it can get stiflingly hot and humid. If this is an issue for you, avoid these months. The rest of the year is wet season, which can be very unpredictable and bring monsoons, so it's not great for traveling.


Gay map of Phnom Penh

We've put all the places from our gay travel guide onto a map for you, so you can plan your own fabulous trip to Phnom Penh. We hope it's helpful!

Here's our gay map of Phnom Penh with all the best spots to visit marked on it

For more inspiration:

Read our gay travel guide to Phnom Penh to plan a fabulous trip to this interesting city!
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Stefan Arestis

Stefan is the co-founder, editor, and author of the gay travel blog nomadicboys.com. As a travel nerd, he has explored more than 80 countries across 5 continents. What he loves the most about traveling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends, and learning new cultures. His advice about LGBTQ travel has been featured in Gaycation Magazine, Gaycities, Gay Times, Pink News, and Attitude Magazine. He has also written about gay travel for other non-gay-specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post. Stefan is also a qualified lawyer, having practiced as a commercial property litigator in London for over 10 years. He left his lawyer days behind to work full time on Nomadic Boys with his husband Sebastien. Find out more about Nomadic Boys.

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