Our neigh­bour­hood guide to Phnom Penh’s trendi­est dis­trict, of­ten known as the Rus­sian Mar­ket ar­eas

Southeast Asia Globe - - Contents -

Get­ting lost in the twists and turns of Phnom Penh’s trendy Toul Tom Puong dis­trict


A vi­brant Mi­ami-in­spired wa­ter­ing hole over­look­ing the mot­ley tin roofs of Rus­sian Mar­ket, Sun­down So­cial Club pro­vides the per­fect set­ting to, well, watch the sun go down. With an in­ge­nious fu­sion menu blend­ing the best parts of Mekong and Mex­i­can cui­sine and plen­ti­ful pitch­ers of in­spired cock­tail con­coc­tions, Sun­down So­cial Club is an ideal wa­ter­ing hole for weary trav­ellers who want to watch the chaos of the fresh fruit and meat mar­ket be­low from the com­fort of a wicker chair, or lo­cals ready to un­wind af­ter a hard day's work.


Painted in the rich red, white and green of the Mex­i­can flag, Agave Cocina de­lights din­ers with its con­vinc­ing south o' the bor­der dé­cor and dishes that feel ev­ery bit as au­then­tic. Look for the mini Mex­i­can hat marker dot­ting the menu amidst flau­tas, na­chos, bur­ri­tos and fa­ji­tas to find out not just what the chef rec­om­mends, but what he eats. Pages upon pages of te­quila and mez­cal – po­tent spir­its de­rived from the blue suc­cu­lent from which the restau­rant takes its name – and al­most a dozen dif­fer­ent twists on the clas­sic mar­garita en­sure that con­nois­seurs of Mex­i­can cui­sine don't leave dis­ap­pointed.


One of two Frangipani Ho­tels flour­ish­ing in Phnom Penh, this grace­ful build­ing of­fers a sense of seren­ity that can be hard to come by in Cam­bo­dia's cap­i­tal. From the rooftop bar, guests can cast their eyes over a cityscape that re­mains bliss­fully free from the high-rises that clut­ter sky­lines across South­east Asia. Just ten min­utes' walk from the best bars and res­tau­rants sur­round­ing Rus­sian Mar­ket, Frangipani pro­vides visi­tors a chance to see a more res­i­den­tial side of Phnom Penh not swamped by tourists and lo­cals buzzing around on mo­tor­bikes and tuk tuks.


A sprawl­ing labyrinth of clut­tered stalls and shops sell­ing ev­ery­thing from tra­di­tional Cam­bo­dian cloths and craft­work to Cold War mem­o­ra­bilia, Rus­sian Mar­ket – or Psar Tuol Tom Puong in Kh­mer – earned its moniker from the Soviet ex­pats who churned be­low its cor­ru­gated tin roofs in the 1980s. To­day, its ven­dors flog their wares to for­eign­ers from across the globe, with the mar­ket hav­ing ce­mented its place as a must-see sight for visi­tors to Phnom Penh years ago. Buyer be­ware: de­spite its colour­ful ca­coph­ony of cu­riosi­ties, the art of sep­a­rat­ing knick-knack from knock-off may take a few trips to master. And never set­tle on the ini­tial price.


When they re­move your blind­fold, you are star­ing through the steel bars of a con­crete cell. On the screen in front of you, a masked fig­ure runs a leather-bound fin­ger across his throat: you are go­ing to die here. You have one hour to find your way out. Escape60 brings the world­wide craze of the es­cape room to Cam­bo­dia, pit­ting you and your friends against fiendish rid­dles in a fran­tic race against the clock. Escape60's two themed es­cape rooms – Night City Prison and the Shel­ter – cater to vary­ing lev­els of in­ge­nu­ity, but both are crafted with a com­pul­sive at­ten­tion to de­tail.

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