Sisowath Quay – The boiling street for foreigners in Phnom Penh

Foreigner Street, Sisowath Quay in Phnom Penh capital is quite similar to Foreigner Street in Saigon. Its activities also occur at night, electric lights and signboards are very bright and alcohol is consumed very much. Foreigner Street in Phnom Penh at night is full of fashionable and young people flocking together and other lives living at night. Going to Phnom Penh many times but this is the first time I…

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Sisowath Quay - the famous street for foreigners along Tonle Sap Lake.Sisowath Quay - the famous street for foreigners along Tonle Sap Lake.
Foreigner Street, Sisowath Quay in Phnom Penh capital is quite similar to Foreigner Street in Saigon. Its activities also occur at night, electric lights and signboards are very bright and alcohol is consumed very much. Foreigner Street in Phnom Penh at night is full of fashionable and young people flocking together and other lives living at night.

Going to Phnom Penh many times but this is the first time I have stayed in Foreigner Street of Temple country. Urussey, where many Vietnamese and foreign tourists gather, “dusty” according to literal sense because the price of rooms for rent is very cheap, the lowest one is just 4 USD / day for 2 people.
A quiet corner of Sisowath Quay street in daytime.
A quiet corner of Foreigner Street in the daytime.

In spite of tiny room, less than 8m², only enough for a double bed, using fan and toilet is shared, but backpackers love this kind of room very much because of being super saved. For me, I select Urussey for each visit in Phnom Penh for many reasons. This place is crowded with a lot of restaurants following Vietnamese-Chinese-Khmer style, reasonable prices. But the most interesting thing is that you can get opportunity to learn about the wonderful herbs of local people sold at Urussey market.

How do original Khmer people and Chinese Cambodian, Vietnamese Cambodian in Phnom Penh capita use herbs? Do they like us to be crazy about that herb and consider them as “specific to cure cancer”? Now, what I care is spending all night in Foreigner Street along the mighty Mekong River, near the square surrounded by river, where Thanh Vua is located, the famous black statue of Buddha in Cambodia with legend of protecting a group of Khmer people from genocide of Pol Pot over 30 years ago.

Bold makeup girls often appear in this street at night.
It is noisy at night with many bold makeup girls.
Who suggested me to stay overnight at Phnom Penh Foreigner Street is owner of inn and grilled fish restaurant at Urussey market’s front. Having lived in Cambodia for 10 years, so she is very familiar with everywhere in the kingdom of pagoda. Every time when I go to Cambodia, I also go to that inn first and eat foods as supporting her business, then asking some stories about lives of Vietnamese people, we have been gradually to be friend after asking many times.

From Urussey markets, I cost 2 USD to go to Foreigner Street by tuk-tuk for the distance of 2 km. Going to West Street in Phnom Penh to “enjoy” the nightlife, the driver said that Phnom Penh has two regions concentrated international visitors namely Boeng Kak Lake and Sisowath Quay: “Boeng Kak Lake is old West Street and Sisowath Quay is new one. Last time, the price of rooms in the old street is very high, but since the new street Sisowath Quay has been opened, Boeng Kak Lake is no longer glorious as before, the price for rent is much cheaper, it can rent a room equipped air-conditioner replacing a room equipped with fan in the new street only with 8 USD” said by Mr Hai.

The children work at night in Foreigner Street – Phnom Penh.
The children work at night in Foreigner Street – Phnom Penh.

Sisowath Quay street is situated along Tonle Sap Lake, a tributary of majestic Mekong River, also known as the Riverside area.

At here, after making reservation for a room on 4th floor without elevator at Golden River Palace hotel on the road No. 13, with $ 14 / day, I put my bulky luggage down and walk comfortably on the road next to the Tonle Sap Lake to wait for night. The sidewalks along river are similar to Saigon River. While sidewalks in Saigon are covered by restaurants grew and encroached roadway for business, the sidewalks here are empty and large, laid with marble so that residents and visitors can stroll freely, do exercise.

Nearly 5.00 pm, from motels, hotels located on the small road, tourists started going out to the river to take air and walk around. Among many tourists I met, there are western couples or couples of western men and Asian women, it turns out that women walking close at the blue-eye guys’ side are local people from Saigon West Street, also Cambodians of Vietnamese descent living in slums in outskirts of the magnificent capital of Phnom Penh.

When the street begins turning on the lights for night life.
When the street begins turning on the lights for night life.

At 6.00 pm, the street lights are turned on, Sisowath Quay Street becomes extraordinarily lively with plentiful of posters, signboards of thousands of motels, hotels, restaurants, bars, discotheques, massage centers, complex amusements… are very bright, sparkle by colored lights as annoying someone. Now, I was sitting at sidewalk of Best136 bar to drink Ang-co beer at $ 1.4, I saw the Ba-sac deserted while Foreigner Street was bustling for minute by minute, restaurants were always crowed with western couples and the couples of western boys and Asian girls to come to eat and dance.

Going around Foreigner Street several times, it looks like Saigon Foreigner Street, in front of bars and massage store, there are a lot of beautiful girls showing a lot of cleavage, standing or sitting sexy, offering tourists to come in to eat, dance, to be fun with noisy music.

Sisowath Quay - the foreigner street along Tonle Sap Lake.
Sisowath Quay – the foreigner street along Tonle Sap Lake.

At night, the life at old Phnom Penh Foreigner Street is more and more bustling. Contrary to the image of many rich tourists spending money like water by crazy about indulging the dissipation, there are many tuk tuk drivers looking forward to passengers, the peddling children order visitors to buy candy, cigarettes; the noodle sellers at night has tired eyes, the homeless warder or huddle up in the dark corners to beg small change of who grieving.

One night at Foreigner Street in Phnom Penh is not enough to draw a picture of whole nightlife in this world. But at least I know that behind the flashy lights and noisy music turned on overnight, the pink dresses wallowed in sensual pleasure is the lives of women, fate of scrubbers with full of sadness and guilty.

Read to know 10 things to do in Cambodia in your trip.

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