Backpackers Guide to Cambodia: Lakeside, Phnom Penh

Cambodia: Trippy Times in Phnom Penh’s Lakeside

Country Guide | Temples of Angkor Wat | Cambodian Genocide | Phnom Penh’s Lakeside

Introducing the Craziest Place in the World?

lakeside in phnom penh

NOTE – This article is over 5 years old & the info may no longer be reliable.

The lakeside (Boeung Kak) in Phnom Penh is an area a fair walk or short tuk-tuk ride from the centre and is one of the craziest place that you will ever visit. This bizarre wasteland is home to all sorts of freaks from all over the world. The Stone Roses and Bob Marley blare out from the bars and guesthouses 24 hours a day as 80’s Madchester meets Jamaica in a psychedelic heaven even if it looks more like hell.

It’s called the Lakeside because you guessed it there is a lake and a favourite backpacker pass-time in these parts is watching the sunset from the outrageously comfy chairs in one of the guesthouses while drinking cool Angkor beer and smoking high quality marijuana. In the middle of all this sweet local kids as young as 4 or 5 wander the main street and head into the bars trying to sell knock-off books and playing games on the phones of foreigners. In short this place is weird yet strangely charming and one way or another alot of fun. It’s a great place to stay when visiting Phnom Penh although it is constantly rumoured to be getting demolished so go there while you still can.


Whatever your opinion on the subject, drugs are a major reason why many backpackers come to Cambodia. In Phnom Penh’s Lakeside district all the guesthouses sell marijuana and it is generally fine to smoke anywhere in them, check with the reception although they will probably try to sell you a huge amount when you check in.

The bars and guesthouses in the lakeside pay a small monthly bribe to the police every month so they don’t get any hassle. $10 gets an enormous amount of weed in Cambodia, so much so that you might never want to leave. The bars all sell spliffs and at closing time things can get a little bit crazy if somebody appears with mushrooms or cocaine.

The street is full of Cambodians and Africans selling every drug you care to think of. This can be intimidating at first but these people are friendly enough but desperate for money and often meth addicts, so it is obviously riskier buying from them and occasionally the police will come in and bust one of them. Head into any of the bars or guesthouses and you will see people smoking joints.

People who spend too long in Cambodia often go a little bit bonkers so if you are someone who enjoys taking drugs, some serious self-discipline is needed to prevent this from happening. If you are that way inclined then arriving in Cambodia and the lakeside especially you may feel as though all your birthdays and Christmas’s have come at once.

Eating, Sleeping & Drinking

Happy Pizza MarijuanaA lot of the guesthouses on the banks of the lake (on the right side of the main street when coming in) double up as 24 hour bars and restaurants so you could happily spend all day on the comfy seats looking over the lake with cheap and tasty food and drink brought to you. Most of the guesthouses are pretty much the same with rooms as cheap as $2 a night, so wander into a few, they will happily show you the rooms and pick one you fancy. The Number 9 Guesthouse is highly recommended!

There’s several curry places which are great if you’ve got the munchies doing 3 dish specials for $2 or thereabouts. There’s a few cool bars with pool tables and live sports and a few ‘happy’ pizza joints (non happy pizza’s are available but when in Rome….).


Country Guide|Temples of Angkor Wat|Cambodian Genocide|Phnom Penh’s Lakeside

This article was published in November 2011.

Word has it that the Lakeside area has since been demolished. Please comment below if you have more up-to-date info.

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