Siem Reap is the beating touristic heart of Cambodia, where almost all visitors come to marvel at the world famous Angkor Wat temples.
The best time of year to visit is in mid April during the Buddhist new year. That's when everyone is out in the streets partying, throwing water and talcum powder on each other and generally having an awesome time.
Whilst we were left spellbound by these impressive UNESCO monuments, after the 3rd day we were templed out and just wanted to chill out and party a bit. That's where the aptly named Pub Street steps in!
Siem Reap gay area
Pub Street is a series of small pedestrianised streets in downtown Siem Reap, which is alive with people throughout the day. Most of the city's best restaurants, bars, cocktail lounges, clubs and hotels are based around. This is the beating touristic heart of the city, and the place where you'll also find the gay scene of Phnom Penh.
Gay Hotels in Siem Reap
There are a variety of really affordable gay hotels in Siem Reap, some are exclusively men only, others are gay owned and welcoming to LGBT travellers. We found you get extremely good value for money in Siem Reap for accommodation, with a variety of options to suit all budgets.
STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL
Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, avoiding any nasty surprises when you check in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off your first booking.
The privilege Floor in Lotus Blanc is a boutique luxury gay friendly hotel in Siem Reap, located minutes walking distance to the gay bars. Rooms are sophisticated and elegant, influenced by French art and stylised décor. There is a large outdoor garden with beautiful swimming pool.
Prices start from $75/£60 / night.
This is a men only hotel, quiet and discreet, located a few minutes tuk tuk ride from Pub street. It has its own gym, spa, sauna, steam room and swimming pool.
Prices start from $45/£35 a night.
3 Monkeys is also men only, a luxurious guesthouse with a French touch. It's located a little bit further out from the centre, around 25 minutes walk to the gay bars of Siem Reap or 10 minutes tuk tuk ride. It has a salt water pool, sun loungers and it's quite exclusive with only 6 rooms, each with its own patio or terrace.
Prices start from $45/£35 a night.
This gay friendly oasis prides themselves on welcoming everyone regardless of their sexual preference or orientation. It is located walking distance to the gay bars of Siem Reap and they have a salt water pool with a bar serving awesome cocktails.
Gay bars in Siem Reap
The gay scene of Siem Reap is small, but there are a handful of gay bars. All of them are open everyday till late and most eventually transform into a dancing venue:
- Miss Wong Cocktail Bar: gay owned bar and one of the most famous in Siem Reap. We struggled to find it a bit because it's located down a small lane in Pub Street, but that's part of its charm. It's a very classy, refined, chic bar with an intimate atmosphere. And those cocktails…try a Lemongrass Collins or an Apricot and Kaffir Lime Martini. It's a bit pricey compared to other bars, but definitely worth visiting. Miss Wong is located at The Lane – check their website for better directions.
- Barcode: proudly advertising itself as a vintage French Louis XV style gay bar in Siem Reap with drag shows starting at 9:30pm every evening. Late into the evenings, it becomes a nightclub, especially on Saturdays when they host live DJs. They have a men's spa in case you ODed on the Margaritas. Barcode is located in the Pub Street maze of streets, so check their website which has a map.
- Heaven & DeamBoys Siem Reap: fun gay lounge which also becomes a dancing venue with some really sexy dancers. It's a super fun place to hang out. They have great shows which start at 9:45pm every evening. Also, check out their daily Happy Hour offers between 8-9pm. Heaven is located at the Salakamureuk Commune, 117 Salakamreuk Road and is open every day until midnight.
Gay friendly restaurants in Siem Reap
Try BUGS for dinner
- Head to the BUGS Café for dinner and for a taster of something different!
- Cambodians make the most of everything when it comes to food and insects are easy to rear, high in protein and make a hearty meal.
- At the BUGS Café try the ‘taster platter' consisting of fried tarantula, scorpion and water bug, a stir fry of silk worms and crickets, and a chopped ants samosa.
- Go on we dare you! (Note, they do offer foods without insects too).
Go for a late dinner in Pub Street
- Head to Le Tigre de Papier in the heart of the central Pub Street area for dinner.
- Le Tigre de Papier menu is reasonable and offers a variety of Western food and Cambodian foods like fish Amok, beef Lok Lak.
Top things to do in Siem Reap
The distances between the temples are large, so we definitely recommend arranging a tuk tuk ‘tour’ or renting a motorbike.
Visit Angkor Wat
You can arrange a tuk tuk to take up to 4 people around the temples for $10-20 split between you. The tuk tuk driver will stop and wait for you at each temple. We recommend you start the day early to watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat from 6am at the main (West) gate.
Most of the package tour crowds will then enter Angkor Wat itself, so we recommend leaving this for tomorrow. Instead, stay a step ahead of the crowds and visit the walled city (“Angkor Thom”) and Ta Prohm next before they do, and avoid this happening:
See the walled city
- The next stop takes you inside the former walled city called Angkor Thom.
- Look out for the distinctive Bayon temple with faces carved into the stone walls.
The ‘tomb raider’ temple
- The final temple for today is Ta Prohm where the Angelina Jolie ‘Tomb Raider' film was located.
- Ta Prohm is also famous and unique for the ancient trees literally growing out of the ruins.
See Ta Som temple
- Head to the small Ta Som temple after Angkor Wat, located on the Northeast side of the Angkor Thom walled city.
- Ta Som is famous for its Eastern gate with a beautiful ancient tree growing out of it.
- Ta Som is a smaller and less frequented temple, so there will be far fewer people there than the headliner temples.
Preah Khan temple
- The final temple for today is the large Preah Khan temple located further East from Ta Som.
- Preah Khan is similar to the ‘tomb raider’ Ta Prohm with beautiful ancient trees growing out of it.
- Depending on your belly and time, this will also make a good stop for your packed lunch.
Watch Phare Circus
The Phare Circus was one of our highlights in Siem Reap. It is a charity to help street kids and orphans develop skills to express themselves through art.
We watched a show about a girl called Sokha who lived through the terrible Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s and is haunted by it afterwards. Sokha used music, dance and drawing to over come her nightmares and inspired others struggling to do so as well.
- There are subtitles on large screens to explain things but the show was well produced, which made it easy to follow.
- Tickets were $18 for unreserved seats and $45 for reserved seats.
- We got the unreserved seats and arrived at 7pm to queue and got good central seats in the middle.
Watch the Sunset at Pre Rup Temple
Most people will head to the Phnom Bakheng hill for sunset. We do not recommend coming here because it gets too busy and as Angkor Wat is located East from Phnom Bakheng hill, you will not see the sun setting anywhere near it there.
We instead recommend heading to the less frequented Pre Rup temple, for a more peaceful experience. There are far fewer people then at Phnom Bakheng but with the same view.
Entrance fees for Angkor Wat
Visitors can purchase 3 types of day passes and as of April 2015, the fees were:
- 1 day for $20
- 3 days for $40
- 7 days for $60
Happy travels are safe travels
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For more travel advice:
- use our 2 days itinerary for Angkor Wat to plan your visit
- heading to the big capital city? Check out our guide: how to get from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh
- check out our interview with local boy Aaron from Phnom Penh about what it's like growing up gay in Cambodia
- watch our Cambodia travel video.