When it comes to drinking, foreign visitors and expats in Phnom Penh have three types of option: the seedy, smoky girlie bars that proliferate off Sisowath Quay and along Street 51; sophisticated, trendy cocktail bars, either with a river view or in a prime location along trendy Street 240 and BKK; and lower-key hangouts, often with live music, that may double up as pick-up joints but have an easygoing attitude. Most bars and restaurants promote daily happy hours from late afternoon to well after sunset (although many start much earlier) when you can sink 50c glasses of draft beer, $1.50 G&Ts or $2 cocktails. Otherwise, Phnom Penh’s nightlife is geared to Khmer men and revolves around girlie bars, karaoke, dance halls and local discos. Under the strobe lights, you’ll hear a deafening mix of Thai, Filipino and Western pop as well as traditional Khmer music and songs. Ask locals for the most popular spots of the moment; nightclubs usually don’t get going until 10pm and beer girls are usually on hand to pour the drinks. Keep your wits about you and don’t get too drunk or obnoxious; there is sometimes a thuggish element in places frequented by the rich, bored sons of the Cambodian nouveau riche. Step on their feet while dancing or stare at their female companions and you may have a real incident on your hands. Phnom Penh has an emerging gay scene, with a few great venues and more popping up every year.

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