Whirling Through Phnom Penh’s Nightlife by Vespa

If there’s one thing you’ll see everywhere you go in Southeast Asia, it’s motorbikes. Playing Frogger in Saigon, hopping on UberMOTOs to navigate Bangkok, weaving through the Burmese countryside on a bike… As of a few years ago, Cambodia had nearly two million motorcycles for a population of just fifteen million. This transportation is a way of life in that part of the world, so how fitting is it to explore the region on a stylish Vespa? I had the chance to do just that on a Phnom Penh nightlife tour.

Phnom Penh Vespa Adventures

Phnom Penh by Vespa (photo courtesy of Vespa Adventures)

Prior to setting off on my big trip, my dad gave me one warning: avoid motorcycles. This was wise advice, so, before I continue, to anyone with similar fears hesitant about doing a Vespa tour, a few notes: rather than driving the Vespas yourself (I’d be a mess attempting this!), each person rides with an experienced driver who knows the city like the back of their hand. Scooters have also been found to be much safer than motorcycles or mopeds, and Phnom Penh is a relatively quiet, traffic-free city compared to other Southeast Asian capitals. And, don’t worry, we’re just posing in the above photo — we had helmets on the whole time!

My trusty Vespa Adventures driver picked me up from my hostel to begin the night by bringing me to our first stop, a rooftop cocktail bar where I met the rest of the tour group while indulging in a delicious mojito and watching the sunset. Our guides explained to us that, though we were starting at a westernized bar to kick off the evening with some classy cocktails, we would soon be diving straight into the heart of Cambodian culinary culture.

Phnom Penh Vespa Adventures

What a sunset! (photo courtesy of Vespa Adventures)

Next stop: a sidewalk restaurant specializing in seafood. Unfortunately for me, I’m no fan of seafood, so I had to miss out on the restaurant’s trademark dishes, but we also ordered a few vegetable plates that were delicious and gave me the chance to experience an authentic Cambodian dining spot while also sipping on ice cold Angkor beer and getting to know my tour group. From here, we brought our beers to go and took in the city’s sights while heading to to stop #3.

Phnom Penh nightlife tour, Vespa Adventures

Eating like locals (photo courtesy of Vespa Adventures)

Our third stop was a lively restaurant filled with locals and featuring live music. We were served a tasty corn dish followed by what looked like some scrumptious beef — that is until I asked what it was. The dark flecks coating the beef I took for spices? Ants!!! No thank you! While I do wish I were a less picky eater, I don’t regret skipping that one. Not one bit. But braver members of my group did sing its praises!

Phnom Penh Vespa Nightlife Adventure

Ants!

From there, our guides swung by Phnom Penh’s Independence Monument, commemorating Cambodia’s 1953 separation from France. After some photos and discussion of the country’s current politics, we were guided down hidden alleyways until we found ourselves at an adorable little bar lined with bookshelves. There, I enjoyed one of the best drinks I’ve tried in my life, a frozen mango cocktail, and engaged in jovial conversation with the guides and fellow tour members. But, at last, the night came to an end. I exchanged contact details with my new Cambodian friends, got dropped off at my hostel, and headed to bed giddy after such a fantastic night out.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia Vespa Adventure

Stopping by the Independence Monument

Seeing the true side of any foreign city is a challenge without local connections. As a solo traveler who knew no one in Phnom Penh, I still longed for a chance to see the city through the eyes of a local, and Vespa Adventures gave me just that. Free flowing drinks and all-you-can eat food meant I could sample the best of Cambodian cuisine, fantastic guides and group members made for a night of learning and laughing, and seeing the city by Vespa was the cherry on top that gave the night an extra thrill. What a way to see Phnom Penh!

Disclaimer: I was a guest of Vespa Adventures, but all opinions are entirely my own, as always.

9 Responses

  1. Rebecca says:

    What a great way to explore a country and culture! I admit I would pass on the ants as well. 🙂

  2. Looks like SUCH a fun way to see the city!!

  3. Lara Dunning says:

    What a great way to explore the city, meet other travelers and eat local food! I’d love to do this!
    Lara Dunning recently posted 5 Yakima Valley Wineries You Must VisitMy Profile

  4. Vicki Louise says:

    What a great experience! I was always a bit scared of the motorbikes in Asia, but I think I would have had a go on a Vespa – under supervision!

  5. Elena Nemets says:

    When I saw the headline, I thought you were crazy enough to ride a bike in Cambodia capital by yourselves!!!

  6. What a great way to see a new city! I loved the photo with the sunset in the background, looks beautiful. I am not a fan of seafood either and I always feel left out when there is so much great seafood to eat in a city! But I think I would’ve tried the ant dish… just to say I did!

  7. Tom says:

    This looks like great fun, and the food doesn’t look too bad either!
    Tom recently posted 11 unusual places to visit in New ZealandMy Profile

  8. I have always wanted to Vespa my way through a city. I always imagined an Italian city, like a real Rom-Com movie buff/ tourist but this looks just as much fun.

  9. Teodora says:

    I love Vespas! Especially the pastel blue ones:) And I also strongly support your decision of passing on the ants, just seems wrong.

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