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The town of Siem Reap, in northern Cambodia, is the primary access point for the Angkor Archaeological Park.
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Points of Interest in Siem Reap
Most people come to visit Angkor Archaeological Park, which is thoroughly covered in its own article. The town itself has some worthwhile attractions and a number of beautiful modern Buddhist temples.
- Angkor National Museum, 968 Charles de Gaulle Blvd, ☎ +855 63 966 601, e-mail: email@example.com. Daily, 08:30-18:00. Exhibits covering the history of the Angkor complex as well as Khmer culture and clothing using high tech displays and video screens. Some say the 1,000 Buddhas room is as impressive as it sounds. USD12.
- Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre, Sanday Village (3 km before the Landmine Museum on the road to Banteay Srey temple), ☎ +855 97 852 7852. 09:00-1700. Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre is a community development project and tourist destination just down the road from the Landmine Museum and Banteay Srey temple. Revenue from admissions is used to pay families in remote villages who are farming butterflies for the exhibit. The project makes a real difference to the farmers' livelihoods and provides a wonderful experience for visitors as they can see spectacular local butterfly species flying close at hand in a beautiful tropical garden. USD4 adults, USD2 children under 12.
- Kampong Phluk Floating Village (off the Highway to Phnom Penh). This mangrove forest offers a much more authentic floating village experience than the one close to the Tonlé Sap ferry harbour. This fascinating village on stilts can be reached by tuk-tuk from Siem Reap. It takes about 1 hour to reach the village, depending on the road conditions and water level. Depending on where you buy your tour, your haggling techniques and your initiative to book a tuk-tuk and boat ride yourself the price varies between USD7-60 per person for a round trip. Beware of scams. When you reach the school in the village, your tour guide will give you pack of exercise books and pencils as "a payment to village for visiting them". The queue of pupils will be longer than number of books you have. Immediately you receive next pack but then you will need to pay USD9 for the second pack.
- Landmine Museum (6 km south of Banteay Srey Temple, 31 km from Siem Reap). This tiny museum was set up by local deminer Aki Ra to educate locals and tourists about the dangers of land mines. Piles of defused mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) lie around the site and the guides are mostly teenagers who were orphaned or injured by mines, many of whom live on-site. This is a very worthwhile attraction that brings home the scale of the problem and shows you a slice of real Cambodia. USD3.
- Phnom Bok. The highest hill in the area. Temple ruins - similar to those found atop of Phnom Krom and Phnom Bakong - can also be found on top of Phnom Bok. It lies 20 km to the north east of Siem Reap. Expect a tiring hike up the stairs. A guard may be able to show you around. Don't forget to check out the old howitzers from the civil war. Admission is free, no pass is needed for the Angkorian ruins.
- Phnom Krom. The hill which dominates the view, as you approach the floating village of Chong Kneas from Siem Reap. At the top, temple ruins similar to the other two hills can be found. This particular hill is popular for sunsets, as it can be viewed over the flooded plains during the wet season, and over incredibly vibrant rice fields in the dry season.
- Wat Bo, Samdech Tep Vong St and St 22 (east side of the river. Follow the road that continues from over Wat Bo Bridge). As one of the oldest temples it makes a nice contrast between the oldest and the glittering new ones, though the rough artwork wouldn't match the craftsmen of Angkor. The architecture of the ramshackle open air hall next to the main building blends French-style arches and balustrades with Thai-influenced Buddhist details. A forest of chedi surround the main hall, in between frangipani trees and some fine topiary.
- Wat Preah Prom Rath, Pokambor Ave. The glittering modern temple grounds give few hints as to its 500 year history. Though the lotus-themed architecture seems to emulate temples from over the border, the front gate integrates Bayon-style heads and a scene in relief of the Buddha seated under a tree, while armies fire arrows on one side and others are eaten by crocodiles on the other side, that looks like it could have been taken directly from Angkorian mural. Legend is that the site was established around 1500 when a famous monk landed ashore on a piece of his sinking boat. The boat wood was carved into the oddly foreshortened reclining Buddha installed in a swimming pool-like pit behind the imposing, yet despondent looking, seated Buddha in the main hall. Perhaps mimicking the construction materials origins, the reclining Buddha has taken on a sunken slant at the feet end. A pair of small weather worn cannons on either side of the hall are of unknown origin but their style, an embossed crown-like seal and mysterious numbers suggest a European origin.
- Wat Thmei Temple & Stupa Memorial to the Killing Fields. A large Buddhist temple. In the grounds is a stupa with glass sides contains bones and skulls of victims of Pol Pot's army. Be wary of people purporting to be guides or asking for donations. Also, several of the photographs on the display boards are actually of the holocaust in Nazi Germany. Take this attraction with a pinch of salt. Free, donations welcome.
About Siem Reap
The name Siem Reap literally means "Siam Defeated". These days, however, the only rampaging hordes are the tourists heading to the Angkor Archaeological Park. This once quaint village has become the largest boom town and construction site in Cambodia. It is quite laid-back and a pleasant place to stay while touring the temples. It is a nice compromise between observing Cambodian life and enjoying the amenities of modern services and entertainment, thanks to a large expatriate community. Since Siem Reap is a major tourist destination, prices in some instances are higher than elsewhere in Cambodia. Expect to receive almost constant offers for motodop and tuk-tuk rides, along with everything else which drivers may be able to offer to you.
Be sure to pick up your free Siem Reap Angkor Visitors Guide and the equally free and useful Siem Reap Pocket Guide from your hotel/guesthouse. It contains lots of info on Siem Reap and the Angkor Archaeological Park, including hotel/bar/restaurant/shop info, travel info, and maps. For the eco-sensitive tourist, check out Stay Another Day: Cambodia, a detailed guide with local spots that support the environment and community. Another address is the ConCERT tourist office, a local NGO committed to raising the standards of responsible tourism and eco-tourism activities and providing information on the causes and effects of poverty in Cambodia, volunteering opportunities and eco-tours.
- KKO Off Track Mountain Bike Tours, St 20, Wat Bo Rd (Close to the New Apsara Supermarket on Wat Bo Rd), ☎ +855 93 903 024, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. KKO is a local charitable non-profit NGO. They offer unique Angkor park and countryside off-track tours. Profits generated from the bike tours flows back to the local KKO School. Booking is required. USD25-40 for a full-day tour.
- Sabai Jeep Adventures. Explore the Cambodian countryside in a vintage military Jeep. Ride in this iconic and historical vehicle. On tour your jeep driver will take you off the beaten path to discover the authentic, rugged, and fascinating Cambodia. Sabai Jeep Adventures tours start from Siem Reap.
- Shooting Range (Along Rd 67 to Banteay Srey, 3 km north of the road to Phmon Bok, turn right down the large dirt road when you see a blue and red sign like their flag with "4th Troops Training Centre", past the school and take the left (1 km), look for the sign "Shooting Range" at the 2nd base entrance on the right (720 m)). Armament and explosives availability apparently is only limited by how much you are willing to spend. Listening to the soldiers-turned-used car salesmen put the hard sell on a new machine gun is almost worth the trip. This is a true game of Russian roulette. Fancy pulling the pin of a 30+ year old grenade and possibly getting the faulty one? Make sure that whoever is supervising you is also willing to stand next to you. It can be a little bit difficult to find, and a tuk-tuk driver may know where it is. USD50 per AK-47 or M-16 clip, M-60 belt (50 rounds) USD80 (Nov 2011). Grenade throwing: USD30.
- Beyond Unique Cooking Class (Sivutha Blvd and Alley West), ☎ +855 77 562 565. Cambodian cooking classes in a village 10 min from town. Classes include a visit to a local family and information on Cambodian cooking customs and beliefs. Hands on classes for a maximum of six people unless you book a private group. USD22.
- Apsara Theatre (Wat Bo Rd), ☎ +855 63 963 561. 20:00-21:30. A flashy performance of traditional, popular and classical dances.
- Cambodian Cultural Village, Airport Road # 6, Khum Svay Dang Kum, Krus Village (between the airport and city centre, along national road number 6, 3 km from Siem Reap Airport), ☎ +855 63 963098. Daily, 10:00-18:30. Cambodian culture in a nutshell, miniature of Cambodian landmarks, Cambodian traditional house replicas, and cultural performances. USD25.
- Smile of Angkor, Smile of Angkor Grand Theatre (Angkor COEX) (northeast outskirts of Siem Reap, direction Angkor. Turn right on Apsara Rd), ☎ +855 63 6550168. Nightly, 19:15-20:30. A lavish production of Cambodian traditional dances equipped with a large screen featuring Angkor civilization. “Smile of Angkor” is the grand epic show that revives the Angkor dynasty in all aspects; from foundation to prosperity, tale of folk customs, past to present. The performance expresses traditional Cambodian culture with the latest technology. USD38-48.
- We Are The Champions Performances by the Local Disabled Community, Night Market (Back of Night Market adjacent to Island Bar), ☎ +855 12 676826. 20:30-21:15, every night except Sunday. A two act play written and performed by participants who share with great feeling what it is like to be disabled in Cambodia and the challenges of their lives. As many of the performers are in pursuit of education to better their lives they appreciate donations of school materials such pens and writing books. Free, donations encouraged.
- Angkor Photography Festival: Photography for Change. Annual festival that showcases outdoor projections and various exhibitions around Siem Reap of regional and international photographers. The festival is held during the last week of November every year, consisting of 7 evenings of outdoor projections and more than 10 gallery exhibitions across various venues in the city. The festival is the first of its kind in Southeast Asia and is also the biggest. It aims to highlight the work of Asian photographers and provides free workshops for 30 young photographers from the region every year, led by world renowned professionals, which are showcased during the event. There is a full time office/gallery for the festival located on the East river road near the Bopha Angkor Hotel. As well as the festival, the organisers support a local NGO working with street children, that promotes the arts and runs a photography course with students. Photography from these students is also showcased as part of the festival programme.
- The Annual Street Puppet Festival. An exciting pageantry with the concept of sticks and stilts manipulated puppets much like those which debuted in the opening parade of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and also quite similar to the Trinidad & Tobago Carnival.
- The Water Festival. This vast festival is probably the most extravagant festival in the calendar. Over three days starting with the last full moon day in October or the beginning of November up to a million people from all walks of life from all over the country flock to the banks of Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers in Phnom Penh to watch hundreds of brightly coloured boats with over 50 paddlers battle it out. The boat racing dates back to ancient times marking the strengths of the powerful Khmer marine forces during the Khmer empire. In the evening brightly decorated floats cruise along the river prior to and complimenting the fireworks displays. there is often a parallel festival at Angkor Wat and although it is smaller in scale it is just as impressive due to the backdrop of Angkor Wat. The festival marks the changing of the flow of the Tonle Sap and is also seen as thanksgiving to the Mekong River for providing the country with fertile land and abundant fish. It is at this time when the river flow reverts to its normal down stream direction. The remarkable phenomenon that is the Tonle Sap sees the river flowing upstream during the rainy season and then change direction as the rains cease and the swollen Tonle Sap Lake empties back into the Mekong River leaving behind vast quantities of fish.
The Khmer believe that Thai massage is derived from Khmer massage and that it is more relaxing as it requires less twisting and turning. The numerous Khmer-style massage shops mostly offer genuine massage and are not a front for sexual services. If you feel unsure what type they will give you, a safe bet is to opt for one of the blind massage services. The trained masseurs are the real deal. Some are inside the night market. Contrary to common belief, blind massage services DO OFFER special massages too.
- Fish Massage (around the Pub St area). This Thai fad has crossed the border. Dip your feet in a tank of fish and wince as they eat the dead skin off your toes. Trying a tank with feet already inside it will tell you if the fish are hungry. Some claim to have no piranhas while others offer a free beer to subdue any doubts. USD1-2 for 15 min.
- Frangipani Spa, 615/617 Hup Guan St (At the ANZ Royal Bank on the corner go a few metres south to the next (small) street and turn right on Hup Guan St. The spa is near the end of the street.), ☎ +855 63 964391, e-mail: email@example.com. Wonderful spa with a nice atmosphere, peaceful rooms, and experienced staff. The massages actually feel like trained people are giving them. No special services or hidden fees. It is a nice place to go as a couple or alone. They have massage tables and air conditioning. Tasteful exterior surrounded by frangipani plants (partly obscuring their tasteful green sign saying "frangipani"). USD25-50.
- Lemongrass Garden, 7 Sivatha Blvd, ☎ +855 12 387 385, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Lovely little spa with a relaxing atmosphere and experienced staff. 60 minute Khmer massages are USD10, while 90 minute Khmer massages are USD15. They also offer oil massages, "spiritual massages," and manicures/pedicures. Treatment rooms have air conditioning, and they provide a cool drink before treatment and warm tea afterwards. They also claim to pay higher wages than most places in Siem Reap, as well as provide other benefits to their workers. USD10-30.
Some travellers feel visiting an orphanage is a good way to make a positive contribution to Cambodia, while others feel that orphanage tours do more harm than good. The largest child protection group in the country has asked that tourists not visit orphanages--the great majority of Cambodian children in orphanages have living parents, but the tourist demand for orphans results in these children being separated from their parents. Whichever view you hold, orphanages and the aid organisations that support them are a significant feature of the Siem Reap economy. Many are scams, so it's worth doing a bit of research on them beforehand.
Some long running orphanages that have a good reputation are:
- Cambodian Children's House of Peace (Santepheap Orphanage), No.004 Phum Mondul 3, Sangkat Slorkram (Turn right off of Charle De Gaulle Blvd, just after the SOS School), ☎ +855 92 407077. Sundays, 19:00. The Cambodian Children's House of Peace (aka Santepheap, which means Peace in English) is an orphanage in Siem Reap responsible for over 30 children. The children of the orphanage put on a traditional Khmer Dance show every Sunday night from 19:00-20:15 to highlight traditional Cambodian culture as well as draw attention to the orphanage in general. Free.
- The Sangkheum Centre for Children (Chey Village, a few km past airport on Hwy 6), ☎ +855 12 675637. Children's centre for orphaned, abused or neglected children aged 2-18 receive basic care and additional enrichment classes to supplement their public schooling.
Eating options span the full spectrum of tastes and budgets from the rudimentary Asian staples and pizza to authentic Khmer and sophisticated fine-dining featuring exotic local ingredients. The highest assortment of restaurants are in few blocks north of the old market, but there are appetizing alternatives along Wat Bo Rd and hidden in the surrounding neighbourhoods.
Old Market area
Though Pub St is better known for its bars, a handful of places serve great food, many with seating upstairs so you can escape the partying milieu on the street below. Crammed along The Alley is a wider selection of restaurants that offer a generally quieter and more intimate experience. The local restaurants lining Phsar Chas have extensive, yet near identical, menus of cheap fried rice and Westernised approximations of Khmer dishes. At dusk the Kindergarten on the corner of Street 8 and 11 becomes a jumble of small BBQ stalls, replete with billowing smoke, noise, and the persistently entreating peddlers. The phnom pleurng here is the cheapest you will find.
- Chusska, Street 7, ☎ +855 12 212 138. The only pure Indian vegetarian restaurant in Siem Reap.
- Common Grounds Restaurant (American Coffee Shop & Cafe), #719, St. 14 / Mundol 1, Khum Svay Dangkum (Behind Central Market, across street from U-Dara Guesthouse), ☎ +855 63 965687. M-Sa, 07:00-20:00. Serving Western dishes; chicken tenders, grilled cheese, crispy chicken apple salad, german chocolate cake, seasonal muffins, cinnamon rolls and some Asian dishes. All profit goes to fund local humanitarian projects through NGO People for Care & Learning. Air-con & high speed Internet. USD3-7.
- Curry Walla, Two locations Sivatha Blvd & Night Market Rd, ☎ +855 63 965 451. Authentic vegetarian & non-veg Indian food.
- Ecstatic Pizza, #072 2 Thnou St (across from the Provincial Hospital), ☎ +855 12 436 869. 07:00-24:00. Italian and Khmer food. Has been operating since 1994. Many kinds of pizza and pasta dishes. You can request your own pizza with either thin or thick crust. Western & English-style breakfasts any time. Fruit shakes, soft drinks, draught beer, wine. Free delivery available. USD3-7.
- Fresh at Chilli Si Dang (Fresh), East River Rd (next to City River Hotel), ☎ +855 17 875 129. 07:00-14:00. Beautiful riverside garden out of the hustle and bustle. Local and Western food, play pool, relax on the balcony and use the free Wi-Fi with sunset views. Friday quiz, Saturday BBQ, Sunday roasts, specials everyday. USD3.
- Happy Herb Pizza, #069 Mondul 1 Khum Svay Dangkum. 07:00-24:00. One of many nearly identical "happy" pizza shops in a row in Siem Reap. Menu of Khmer, Italian food and reasonably priced pizza. But of course the draw is to ask for your pizza to be "happy" for the special ingredient, though unfortunately since the amount used is minimal, a happy pizza is more a novelty item than a party. If you are looking for the special ingredient instead of a meal, you may order pre-made or in a bag for take away. USD3-7.
- McBuddha Restaurant (Off Sivatha Blvd, on the road that goes to Artisans d'Angkor), ☎ +855 97 967 7223, e-mail: email@example.com. Open seating, and the restaurant is run by a local Khmer family who serve everything with a warm smile. The owner used to be a tuk-tuk driver, he speaks English and can give you tips on places to see. The menu is extensive with Khmer and Western offerings, all cooked to order. USD2-7.
- Maharajah Restaurant (Royal Indian Cuisine Halal), Sivatha Rd (Old Market Area , Front Of Terrasse Des Elephants,), ☎ +855 92 506 622. 11:00-22:00. Fresh, hygienic and authentic preparation. They use real Indian spices and most of the food is Halal. Takeaway or home delivery is available. USD2-7.
- Mother Earth Restaurant (Fresh, organic middle eastern Cuisine), a07 Sivatha Rd (near Angkor market l), ☎ +855 63 966-236. 10:00-22:00. Fresh, organic, homemade and healthy. All ingredient for the kitchen are claimed to be from organic farming, they serve great salads, hummus, falafel, shakshuka, and kebab, all home made, fresh and healthy. Kidush every Friday at sunset. USD2-5.
- New Delhi Indian Restaurant, #070 Mondol 1, Svaydangkum Commune (opposite the provincial hospital north of Pub St), ☎ +855 16 840 326, +855 92 510 779. Indian dishes on the menu with many Indian specialties. All their dishes are authentic and prepared to order. From USD4.
- The Purple Elephant, Soksan Rd (Head straight up Soksan Road, over the cross road and continue about 200 m, on the left), ☎ +855 978402873, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 11:00-late. Thai restaurant and bar. It's a little out from the centre, but worth the walk. USD1-5.
- Taj Mahal, Street 11 (near Pub St). Classic Indian dishes. All the food is halal.
- Tuchner's Eatery, #075 Mondol 4, Svaydangkum Commune (beside the provincial hospital), ☎ +855 19 886 329. Savoury dishes on the menu including rice boxes, paninis, salad bar and fresh cut fries. From USD8.
- Father's Restaurant, Central Market, ☎ +855 92 963 242, e-mail: email@example.com. 08:00-22:00. The menu diverges from the usual with fairly authentic Khmer and Chinese foods. The Western menu is not nearly as intriguing. Free Wi-Fi. Fried noodles: USD2; pure fruit shakes: USD1.
- Singing Tree Cafe, Entrance of Alley West. An unusual place combining home-style cooking with environmental displays. Large mostly vegetarian menu comprised of both authentic Khmer food and grilled sandwiches and fresh salads, juices, and shakes. USD2-5.
- Sunflower Restaurant, 2 Thnou St (north of Street 7), ☎ +855 92 245 915. The restaurant looks simple but the Hong Kong dim sum, Vietnamese pho and Chinese wonton soup provide a welcome variation from what you find elsewhere. USD2-7.
- Viva (Corner of 2 Thnou St & Street 9), ☎ +855 17 838 854. A bright orange Mexican restaurant. Burritos, enchiladas, and quesadillas are reasonably authentic considering the location. They have some Khmer dishes if you want to eat more local food while enjoying the view over the balcony. USD2-6.
- La Volpaia Pizzeria Restaurant, #20-22, St 13, ☎ +855 63 764 184. M-F, 11:30-14:30, 17:30-22:00; Sa-Su, 11:30-22:00. Italian-style cuisine specialising in pizzas, pastas and grilled steaks. Air-con dining room, VIP rooms, outdoor and garden seating. USD5-17.
- Aha, The Alley. Lunch, 11:30-14:30, Dinner, 18:00-22:00. The stylish interior with Khmer and international dishes. Some say the taste doesn't quite meet those standards, but where else can you eat dried snake in such surroundings? USD7-18.
- L'Angelo, Le Meridien. Probably Siem Reap's most daring restaurant, serving fusionesque Italian cuisine like foie gras on a bed of white asparagus and balsamic vinegar ice cream in a setting so achingly modern that the only decoration is a cloud of black dots on the white wall. A full meal with a glass or two of wine on the side costs around USD100 for two.
- Le Malraux, Sivatha St. French cuisine and Khmer specialties, all made with local and fresh products. Central city location that opens early in the morning for breakfast.
- Meric at Hotel de la Paix, Sivutha Blvd. Acclaimed by some as the best Khmer restaurant in all Cambodia, it is set in a chic hotel with a minimalist modern feel. The chefs source the freshest and strangest) ingredients to build their multi-course seasonal menu (USD31+ optional wine pairing USD16+). A typical set will include dried snake salad and grilled frog. Arrive before 21:15 for the 4 course fixed price Khmer meal with wine selection. Sit in air conditioned comfort, or outside tables and lounge furniture. The hotel also has a modern bar with local art displayed.
- The Red Piano, Pub St. 2 floors. Serves a variety of Italian and other European food with Britney Spears music videos in the background.
Wat Bo Rd and environs
Outside of the main part of town in the sometimes dusty neighbourhood streets and area along Wat Bo Rd are some trendy restaurants and small local places serving the most authentic Khmer food.
- Green Star, Wat Bo Rd (at the south end of Wat Bo Rd, on the terminating street), ☎ +855 9 225 5241. Some say it's not the most authentic Khmer or Asian food, though still tasty and well prepared. That it supports the Green Gecko Project might be enough to convince your tastebuds to compromise just this once. USD2-6.
- Madam Beergarden Under Construction (Under Construction is part of the name), Wat Bo Rd (across from Soria Moria Hotel), ☎ +855 89 479 593. 11:00-14:00, 17:00-24:00. Thai and Khmer food in a nice atmosphere. Enjoy the garden or sit inside in funky environment. Cocktail, draft beer and soft drinks are served with lunch and dinner. USD1.50-5.
- Silk Lounge, Taphul Rd (south end, opposite The Villa Siem Reap). 07:00-22:00. The menu might be short but the flavour and presentation of their Cambodian and pan-Asian dishes won't leave you feel like you're missing out on anything. The Cambodian curry, Singapore chicken rice, and beef soup stand out. The daybed style lounge seating is OK if you are limber but they have some regular tables if you prefer to eat sitting upright. USD2-4.
- Selantra Restaurant, #0729, Wat Bo Rd (opposite the French Cultural Centre), ☎ +655 12 569975. 10:00-22:00. A limited menu of well-presented Khmer dishes and food from elsewhere. Stylish setting. USD3-18.
- Viroth's Restaurant, #246 Wat Bo Rd, ☎ +855 12 826 346. Stylish Khmer restaurant that is often so full you will have to wait for a table. The extensive menu is a mix of Khmer and Asian-esque dishes and with some vegetarian options. Some say the food is not spicy enough but the outdoor setting is nice if it is not raining. USD5-8.
- Alliance Art Cafe, Wat Damnak Rd. In a French colonial building built in 1953, on the former grounds of the French Cultural Centre. The cafe offers both French and Cambodian dishes within an art exhibition space. The food is good and it has a very stylish ambience. A good choice for a romantic meal or a business dinner. USD15-25.
- Cuisine Wat Damnak, Wat Damnak Market St (behind Wat Damnak Pagoda, between Psa Dey Hoy Market and Angkor High School), ☎ +855 (0)77 347 762, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Su, 18:30-21:30, closed M. French food with Cambodian influence. Only has two tasting menus, no à la carte dishes. Indoor and outdoor seating. $19-$26.
The distinction between eating and drinking establishments is fairly blurry as even the most humble of restaurants can have an extensive cocktail list on their menu. Nonetheless, a vibrant drinking scene concentrated along Street 8, aptly dubbed Pub St, is where serious drinkers head for cheap beer, loud music and the sweaty backpacking hubbub scene akin to Bangkok's Khao San Road. The biggest and most well-known Pub St bars, Angkor What?, The Red Piano, Temple Club and Le Tigre du Papier, are easy to find.
Travelers looking for more subdued place to appreciate a quiet drink can seek out some of the smaller places along The Alley, The Lane and the adjoining streets. A few drinking holes offer a bit more than cheap drunkenness.
Most places have draft Angkor beer for USD0.50 and cans of other brews for USD1-2. Cocktails and spirits go for as little as USD2. Imported red and white wine, generally from the less prestigious wine producing countries, is widely available and cheaper than you would expect. Better quality Australian and French wines are available in more upmarket establishments at a correspondingly premium price.
- Linga Bar, The Alley. A sophisticated gay bar that welcomes all patrons. A good list of classy cocktails and decent wine to enjoy on the big lounges.
- Sports Bar, The Alley (Western end). More than just a sports bar, with free pool table and 3 large HD TVs. Great place to watch rugby and football. Expensive drinks.
Pub St features two main late night bars, Angkor What? and Temple Club which are directly across from each other. Commonly late night bar-goers will also congregate and drink in the street between the two bars and consume their own alcohol there, which is readily bought at stalls or stores in the immediate area.
- Angkor What?, Pub St. sundown until late. The most famous backpacker bar in Siem Reap, located directly across from competing late night spot Temple Club. USD1 draft beers, USD2 mixers, USD6-8 buckets. Large Western crowd. Offers inside and outside drinking. Open until late.
- Banana Leaf Cafe, Pub St. Small contemporary street side café, with weekend live music. Efficient and professional staff will entertain the crowd until late. Great cocktails.
- Soup Dragon, Pub St. A restaurant/bar on one of the corners of the "bar" street in the old part of town. Great sunset vista from their rooftop with the added bonus being it is the same time as happy hour: two for one cocktails. Drinks range from USD2-4..
- X Bar, Pub St. 15:00-sunrise. Legendary open air rooftop bar featuring a 2 m skateboard halfpipe, jam sessions every Wednesday evening, live DJs and bands every week and a resident tattoo shop with a French artist. Probably the best city views in town, and unusual sunset over the halfpipe. At the end of Pub Street, look up for the X.
- Asana Old Wooden House, The Lane, behind Pub St, ☎ +855 92 9987801, e-mail: email@example.com. Food & cocktail bar. Restored in 2012, Asana is the last wooden house in the city-old market area.
- Little Pari, The Lane, behind Pub St. A delightful corner bar spinning some jazz tunes and dispensing cocktail infusions to a friendly expat crowd.
- Miss Wong Cocktail Bar, The Lane, behind Pub St. Tucked away from the rowdy chaos of Pub St, this sophisticated bar serves up delightful refreshing cocktails in a sultry red lounge plucked straight from 1930s Shanghai.
- Nomad Shisha Bar, The Lane, behind Pub St (beside Cambodia Soup Restaurant), ☎ +855 97 2518826, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Other than the attractive woodland creature-like French Canadian man who owns this dollhouse small bar in the heart of Siem Reap, other reasons for visiting would be the seductively Arabic style decor: all gauzy drapes, velvet covered floor mattress seating and the first shisha menu in Siem Reap.
- Empire Shisha Bar Lounge, Artisan Angkor Street (opposite Golden Temple Villa Guest House), ☎ 069 511 668, e-mail: email@example.com. 17:00 till late. Authentic shisha experience, Persian-style lounge bar, the owner speaks English and Swedish. USD5.00 shisha pipe.
- FCC Angkor, Pokambor Ave (north of the post office). A branch of the legendary Phnom Penh Foreign Correspondents' Club, the FCC is the hippest place for a drink. A blend of modern style and colonial architecture with fairly steeply priced drinks, at least by Cambodian standards.
- Top Banana Bar (at the Mad Monkey Hostel), Sivantha Rd and Street 5 (at the top of the Mad Monkey Hostel). Rooftop beach sand bar on the top level of the Mad Monkey Hostel. Located 5 minutes from Pub St. Frequented by hostel guests and other backpackers in Siem Reap before going out to Pub St late night. Among the most popular bars not on Pub St. USD1 beers, USD2 mixers, and food available until 22:00. Closes at 24:00 when the crowd goes to Pub St.
- The Warehouse, corner Street 9 and 2 Thnou St (opposite the Old Market). 10:30-03:00. Three floors of different styles. The ground floor tends towards raucous times while the 1st floor offers free pool, Nintendo Wii, a large flat screen TV for sporting events and a foosball table. The rooftop has a chic lounge atmosphere. Free draft beer offered at various times on Friday (with an Angkor Wat ticket), though courtesy dictates you have a drink or two before or afterwards or dine from the food menu.
As elsewhere in Cambodia, US dollars, and to a lesser extent, Thai baht are preferred over Cambodian riel except for the very smallest purchase. Using riel for small purchases can be better than using dollars as retailers tend to round up USD prices.
The Heritage Watch non-profit organisation supports business that promote Cambodia's arts, culture, heritage and development. Certified businesses display either a gold or silver Heritage Friendly logo.
International ATMs in Siem Reap are plentiful and most banks will do cash advances from credit cards.
Arts and crafts
- Artisans d'Angkor, Stung Thmey St, ☎ +855 63 963 330. 07:30-17:30. A workshop in the city centre. Showcases traditional Cambodian handicrafts such as wood and stone carving, lacquering, gilding and silk painting. Visitors are conducted on a free guided tour where they can see the craftsmen in action. The boutiques display the many items produced. Tours available in Khmer, English, French, German, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese.
- Bloom Bags (Corner of St 7 & Hospital St). Sturdily made totes, messenger and and laptop bags made from recycled fish feed sacks. Though you can buy cheaper knock-offs from the market, these are genuine and you can be assured that your money is going to the women who made your bag.
- Khmer Ceramics & Fine Arts Centre, Vithey Charles De Gaulle, Khum Slorkram (On the road to the temples; 30 m after the traffic light when coming from Siem Reap), ☎ +855 1784 3014. 08:00-19:30. Glazed stoneware bowls, plates, teapots and decorative objects made with traditional Khmer ceramic techniques.
- McDermott Gallery, FCC Building, Pokambor Ave, ☎ +855 12 274 274. Daily, 10:00-22:00. Elegant, friendly gallery with photographs of Angkor by John McDermott, called "the Ansel Adams of Angkor" by the New York Times. Also McDermott Gallery 2, on the passage between Pub St and the Old Market with world class photography of Asia by several different artists. Art buffs will want to pick up a copy of ArtVenues, a free guide to the galleries of Siem Reap.
- Samatoa, 98 Pithnu St (in front of the provincial hospital-Old Market area / Lucky Mall Siem Reap), ☎ +855 63 965 310, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 08:00-22:00. Specializes in Cambodian natural silk products. Samatoa encourages fair-trade. From USD50.
- Theam's House Gallery, Veal Village, Khum Kokchak, ☎ +855 78 20 81 61. Daily, 08:00-19:00. Exhibits paintings and art created by the artist-designer Theam Lim, who has studied at Ecole Boulle and Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. Theam's House Gallery and atelier are located in the house of the artist, built by himself, inspired by Khmer rural architecture, surrounded by a luxurious and tropical garden.
- Sombai, e-mail: email@example.com. The only local drink produced in Siem Reap, Sombai is made from rice wine infused with local fruits and spices. It comes in 8 different flavours: ginger-red chilli, mango-green chilli, pineapple-lime, anise-coffee, lemon-lemongrass, green tea-orange, galanga-tamarin, banana-cinnamon. Sombai bottles are beautifully painted and hand-decorated by local artists, reproducing the views of temples, the Cambodian countryside, Tonle Sap Lake and its floating villages as well as Khmer statues. It is available in 70 cl and 35 cl.
- Angkor Trade Centre (St 9 and Pokambor Ave). The mall, Cambodian-style. A reasonably extensive selection of packaged food, drinks whitening deodorant, imported alcohol and the familiar feeling of shopping in air conditioned comfort.
- Central Market (Sivutha Blvd and Achamean St). Eclectic collection of clothes and trinkets. Bargain. Most stalls carry the same selection so you can shop around and find the cheapest price.
- Psar Chas (Old Market) (St 9 and Hospital Rd). A range of knick-knacks and tourist junk. Some items purport to be antique, but they probably aren't. If so, most likely it has been stolen.
- D's Books, 82 Hospital St (A few doors north of Street 7). An extensive selection of poorly organised novels to exchange for the one you just finished reading. Generally the books here are in better condition than other places in town, though many new books are simply pirated photocopies that they sell for USD6. A few shelves of books in languages other than English can be found. Most novels USD7.
- iOne (Apple Authorized Reseller), 1776 Silvatha Blvd (Near KFC), ☎ +855 63 761019. 09:00-19:00. Cambodia is possibly the cheapest place to buy a Macbook or iPod. Prices are in US dollars at same prices as in other countries, but there is no added tax.
- Lex Roulor Tattoo Shop, In the X Bar, at the end of Pub St, ☎ +855 97 3042827. 10:00-18:30. Lex Roulor's Tattoo Shop Siem Reap features a French artist with a personal and professional approach to each project. European hygiene standards. Interesting combination of Western old school style and traditional Khmer designs.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Siem Reap on Wikivoyage.