Splash is a rather unique bar in Phnom Penh. While there are many businesses of the kind in the area, Splash is the only one with a movie theater inside. That’s because it took http://query.nytimes.com/search/sitesearch/?action=click&contentCollection®ion=TopBar&WT.nav=searchWidget&module=SearchSubmit&pgtype=Homepage#/free chat over the spot from a former backpacker hang out called Flicks where various films were played on a regular basis.
Street 130 has grown into a sort of extension of Street 136 over the last few years. As recently as 2012 there were only a small number of bars on the street. That included the misnamed “136 Bar” and a couple more. Now there are many bars on Street 130, including several owned by the team behind the previously reviewed Angry Birds.
There is a difference in atmosphere and feeling between the bars on the two streets. Those on 136 seem to have more of a local vibe. They also have a reputation for being a big more raunchy and in your face. Part of that comes from some of the bars that now feature things like table dancing. Yet some of these same bars have also been accused of things like bill padding. Over on 130 it’s a big more laid back.
Splash Bar is located on the south side of Street 130 a few doors down from a popular noodle restaurant. The bar itself doesn’t seem to be nearly as popular. At most there may be a handful of guys inside at any given time.
girls pole dancing in Phnom Penhgirls pole dancing in Phnom Penh
I have never seen more than a few women working at Splash Bar. But that is not to say there are never more than a few women there. These things change all the time. In one memorable episode a few years ago, the entire staff of one particular bar walked off the job in unison. It was a literal case of “here today, gone tomorrow.”
The Empire Phnom PenhThe Empire Phnom Penh
As with any Phnom Penh hostess bar, there is a mix of women. At Splash they tend more toward the lower end of their twenties. And most are quite attractive. Some will barfine in the right conditions. Others will not. It’s up to them. When they do the standard ten dollar fee is in place. And the women themselves expect an extra forty dollars or more for their time.
The Empire upstairs
Neither the women or the pricing scheme make Splash stand out from the pack. But the cinema located upstairs does. The most peculiar aspect of the place is that it still seems to be used by the general tourist crowd. Western women in vacation wear can be seem going up or down the stairs at times. And the hostesses in the bar below don’t bat an eye.
More to the point, the women in the bar also go up the stairs by request. They can join customers in watching a movie or television show there. And they seem quite happy to do so. Other than the moving images on screen, it is much like a hostess bar in the small theater. And it is not out of the ordinary for that to come complete with couple-like cuddling and more. Like I said, the place is unique.
The modern market in Phnom Penh apparently does not have room for two movie rooms. At least not as stand alone businesses. Yet just as one such place was closing another from the booming bar industry stepped in to pick up the slack. And that combination led to the creation of Splash. If it wasn’t for the theater the bar would be just another place. As it stands, it is definitely one of the more interesting bars in the city. Some bars sell coffee during the day. Others sell food. But Splash is the only place in town where you can watch Game of Thrones with your arm around a gal on staff. Three stars.