Your grumpy boss somehow lets you off early – felt you deserved it after putting in blood, sweat and tears into the latest project. You have a few hours for yourself before retreating home for quality family time, a good night’s sleep or in a worst case scenario, housework. Unfortunately, you may not know what to do and probably fritter away your rare free time. We cannot let that happen! Although living in a crowded and busy city like Phnom Penh could be a pain in the neck – metaphorically and literally – due to pollution and severe traffic congestion, there are a few places that can help you recharge your batteries while the sun is still high up in the sky. Taing Rinith brings you to those places.
Read and sip at Java Creative Café Library (Future Factory)
There are numerous cafés in Phnom Penh which boast of a library, but ‘Java Creative Café Library’ located at the Future Factory is unique in its own way. The simple, minimalist interior design in the small coffee shop offers an atmosphere filled with serenity and tranquillity, with comfortable furniture. It is usually very quiet, or except for slow jazz played on the café’s speaker. As the name implies, it takes a literary slant, presenting a simple shelf with English and Khmer books of different genre. Food and drinks are fairly good, especially the “home-made” and energy-giving Vitamin C Boost.
Have a toast on East Side of Koh Pich
On the east side of Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich lies a road in line with the long river bank. This area presents many roadside footstalls serving a variety of dishes, from meatballs and dried squids to spicy stir-fried chicken meat and roasted beefsteak. At night, it acquires a lively pub-street-like atmosphere with colourful lights. But the area could also be a daytime haven for those who are not night owls, since most stalls are open from around 2 pm. In a quiet and peaceful atmosphere, you can enjoy your food over a few beers or a glass of Bloody Mary or Mojito while admiring the scenic river. This place is also a great fishing spot for anglers in Phnom Penh.
Play board games at Happy Domrei
Located at #1 Street 174 and open every day from 7:30am-11pm, Happy Domrei was Phnom Penh’s first board game café when it was opened as ‘Puzzle Chamber’ in 2017. Here, you can choose from at least 200 types of board games, including ‘Jenga’, ‘Panic Tower’ and ‘Settlers of Catan’. You and your pals can also engage in a ferocious battle of UNO games, in which friendship is at risk due to ‘Wild Draw 4’. The café features friendly staff and fine drinks.
Go bowling at Rhythm ‘n’ Bowl
Who doesn’t like a gung-ho game of bowling? More importantly, the excitement from hitting a strike or the happiness when your rival’s ball ditches and misses all the pins? ‘BluO Rhythm and Bowl’, located in Aeon Mall Phnom Penh and Aeon Mall Sen Sok City, both on the 2nd floor, allows you to bowl in a cosmic-themed venue. The place also serve varieties of Khmer, Thai and western dishwa. Cost per game is $5 for one player, which does not include shoe rental. For this season’s greetings, BluO offers an hourly promotion: 15$ per hour and you can top up 1 more hour for only 9$.
Trip to Arey Ksat
Despite your backbreaking work, you still want to spend spare time outdoors, somewhere that can give you the chill-out you deserve. I recommend Arey Ksat, a small fishing and agrarian commune which can be reached by boarding one of the three double-end open ferries from Koh Pich. On the water, sparrows and cranes flutter near the ferry while fishing boats break the glassy surface of the river to create a classic artistic human-landscape interaction. There are countless outdoor activities you can engage in Arey Ksat, which still contains green areas such as forest, plantation and lakes despite its proximity to the city and the presence of development projects. A bike trip on the riverbank, where you can ride through corn and sugarcane fields, is a good option while fishing is another fine activity in Arey Ksat. If you need to have a meal or stock up on food before your trip, the OTOP (One Village One Product) Market, which is just a minute away from the dock, is the place to go. For just 3,000 riels, you can eat a plate of ‘banh chev’, a savoury fried pancake made of rice flour and filled with meat and vegetables, or a bowl of chicken congee.