Cambodia e-Visa Blog

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Entertainment

There is a large choice of entertainment venues around Phnom Penh from lively nightclubs to quieter social venues to karaoke bars and fully licensed casinos. For those interested in cultural offerings, there is traditional Cambodian music and dance, especially the graceful and popular Apsara dancing which dates back to the Angkorian period, the Russian trained royal ballet, performances of classical Western music and the French Cultural Center offers something different every night from dance to theatre to cinema and music. Bars and night clubs are widely available especially overlooking the river. One such place is the Foreign Correspondents’ club, an interesting meeting spot for expatriate residents and foreign visitors. In addition, many international hotels provide live entertainment for their guests such as jazz pianists and vocalists singing contemporary ballads. Cambodia’s guests are never short of anything interesting to do regardless of taste and personal preferences.

Cinemas
Since the encouragement from the Ministry of Fine Arts and Culture and the Cambodian people strongly support to the Khmer films, most abandoned cinemas have been re-open. Recently, the Khmer films is very popular for Cambodian people not only in city but also provinces. The Khmer movies can be seen around the city at the main street – such as Kirirom Cinema – Sihanouk blvd., Luxe Cinema – Norodom blvd., Vimean Tip – Monivong blvd…

Movie House
English language movies shown in private viewing rooms at Movie Street Video Center, #116, Sihanouk blvd., The French Cultural Center (Street 184) hosts French films at 6:30PM every few days. The Russian Market (Toul Tom Pong) carries the most recent movies CDs.

Nightlife
The major hotels offer entertainment, and weekly Apsara dance performances are often held from November to March in some hotel gardens. The Holiday International Hotel is a popular nightclub which also offers a karaoke bar and casino.

Night view

Night Club
Phnom Penh is the place for disco nightlife. There are several clubs that see a good mix of locals and foreigners, like Rock, Spark, U2… Nightlife in Phnom Penh tends to begin fairly late – an 9 pm start is usual, after a leisurely meal and some drinks at a bar. Drink prices can be steep, but you can always pop outside and get a swift half from a street seller. Outside Phnom Penh, nightlife is dominated by Khmer nightclubs. These are basically ‘hostess clubs’ aimed at men, but it is no problem for foreign women to enter. They have a live band and are a good place to learn a bit about Khmer dancing.

Pubs & Bars
Phnom Penh and Siem Reap is best place for pubs and bars. Elsewhere around Cambodia, drinking takes places at street stalls, in restaurants and in nightclubs.

Traditional Dance
Public performances of Khmer traditional dance are few and far between. The places to find are at few hotel in Phnom Penh and most local restaurants in Siem Reap. Check the local English-language newspapers for news of upcoming events.

Shopping
Antiques, woodcarvings, papier mâché masks, brass figurines, kramas (checked scarves), material for sarongs and hols , and items and jewellery made of gold, silver and precious stones are Cambodia’s best buys. Visitors are advised that there are strict controls on the export of antiques – and stone carvings in particular. The Central Market, Tuol Tom Pong Market and the Old Market are among the best places for buying jewellery and the Fine Arts School sells many of the above goods in its shop. Clothing and materials are available at the Central Market.

Cultural
Cambodian culture and artistic expression were overshadowed by the greatness of the past. Although the Khmer empire owed much to Indian influence, its achievements represented original contributions to Asian civilization. The magnificent architecture and sculpture of the Angkor period (802?432), as seen in the temple complexes at Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom (see photograph), marked the apex of Khmer creativity. Following the capture of Angkor by the Thai (15th century) and the crumbling of the empire, the region underwent four centuries of foreign invasions, civil war, and widespread depopulation. It was not until the establishment of the French protectorate in 1863 that internal security was restored, the country’s borders were stabilized, and efforts were undertaken to revive traditional Khmer art forms.

At varying times, Cambodian culture also absorbed Javanese, Chinese, and Thai influences. Between the 9th and 15th centuries, a prosperous and powerful empire flourished in northwestern Cambodia. The Khmer kingdom of Angkor, named for its capital city, dominated much of what is now Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand. The kingdom drew its religious and political inspiration from India. The literary language of the court was Sanskrit; the spoken language was Khmer. Massive temples from this period, including Angkor Wat and the Bayon at Angkor Thum, testify to the power of Angkor and the grandeur of its architecture and decorative art. The unparalleled achievements in art, architecture, music, and dance during this period served as models for later cultural development in Cambodia. Music occupied a dominant place in traditional Cambodian culture.

It was sung and played everywhere—by children at play, by adults at work, by young men and women while courting—and invariably was part of the many celebrations and festivals that took place throughout the year at Buddhist temples in the rural countryside. Instruments used in full orchestras included xylophones with wooden or metal bars, one- and two-stringed violins, wooden flutes, oboes, and drums of different sizes. The players followed the lead of one instrument, usually the xylophone, and improvised as they wished.