Serving you Nomadic Boys Lara Croft realness…tight tank-top, cargo shorts, combat boots, black fingerless gloves, teeny backpack…(basically just another one of our Pride outfits)…
Angkor Wat is the reason why most people visit Siem Reap. This ancient UNESCO listed religious complex dates back to the 1100s and is regarded as one of the seven wonders of the world. It's a massive circuit of really impressive temples in the middle of a jungle where nature has taken over. The Ta Prohm Temple is the most recognisable thanks to Angelina Jolie sashaying her way through it as that famous video game movie character back in 2001, earning it the nickname the “Tomb Raider Temple”.
Siem Reap is the base for visiting Angkor Wat. We stayed here for 1 week to allow us ample time to explore the magnificent temples as well as spend some time discovering the city and the gay hangouts. It's super touristic, international with plenty of restaurants, hotels and even a small and fun gay scene based around the aptly named Pub Street.
In our gay travel guide to Siem Reap, we set out practical tips for LGBTQ travellers based on our experience, including the most gay friendly hotels to stay, bar/clubs to check out, inspiration for things to do including Angkor Wat, and more.
Landing in Siem Reap soon?
We recommend booking your airport transfer online before arriving. It's inexpensive and easy to do. Having an English-speaking driver waiting for you at the Arrivals Hall to take you directly to your hotel is the best way to start your trip stress-free. It also allows you to skip the taxi and tuk-tuk queues so you get to your hotel quickly with minimum fuss!
Siem Reap gay area
Siem Reap doesn't have a defined gay neighborhood. Instead, the main gay hangouts and hotels are spaced out in and around the city centre.
We always started our evening in the touristic area called “Pub Street” because this is where the best restaurants can be found (as well as all the souvenir shops and markets for us to top up our Lara Croft inspired outfits)…
In terms of gay bars/clubs in Siem Reap, there are 3 to check out. The most central are Barcode and the Miss Wong Cocktail Bar both located in and around the Pub Street area. Further afield, around 15 minutes walk southeast from Pub Street is DreamBoys.
The main “gay sauna” of Siem Reap is provided courtesy of the Men's Resort located around 5-10 minutes' tuk-tuk ride north from Pub Street (or a 25-minute walk). See below for more detailed information about each of these places.
See the Sunrise and sunset on Angkor Wat
We did a 2-day private tour of Angkor Wat which included our Bucket-List item of seeing the renowned site during sunrise and sunset. Every blog entry and Instagram photo that inspired our visit alluded to that iconic shot of the main temple reflected in a pool of water with the backdrop of the sunrise. It's truly spectacular to behold and doing it with a private guide ensures you arrive at the optimal time and stand at the ideal place for it.
Gay Hotels in Siem Reap
When it comes to welcoming LGBTQ travellers, you're sorted in Siem Reap. Not only it is a super touristic, tolerant and international city but the country as a whole is one of the most gay friendly countries in Asia. Plenty of LGBTQ travellers visit hotels in Siem Reap on a daily basis without any issues.
We felt welcomed as a gay couple in the hotels we tried during our visit in Siem Reap. No awkwardness from anyone. Booking a double bed certainly didn't raise any eyebrows. In fact, Siem Reap has become so gay that a handful of hotels catering solely to LGBTQ travellers have recently opened. We've set out some of the best ones right here:
The Privilege Floor by Lotus Blanc
Why we love it
- Luxurious boutique hotel in Siem Reap
- Stay in one of 23 immaculate and spacious rooms
- Butler and chauffeur service available
- Large 25-metre pool surrounded by coconut trees
We both agreed that if Lara Croft got hitched, this is where she'd stay with her beau to celebrate. She's a classy girl after all, as well as a smart one… This is one pretty impressive splurge for a romantic getaway.
The Privilege Floor in Lotus Blanc is our top pick for gay couples looking for somewhere special to stay in Siem Reap. It is set on the first floor of the super-posh Lotus Blanc Resort made up of only 23 rooms and a classy restaurant: the Damnak Lounge.
The decor is inspired by turn of the century colonial French Architecture with minimalist design and partly wood-panelled corridors.
You can book one of their rooms, but we recommend trying out their comprehensive holiday packages. For example, the Privilege Landmark Package includes a round-trip airport transfer, 24-hour check-in and all-day breakfast. More extravagant is the Suite Package which also comes with a private 24-hour chauffeur, tour guide, two hours of unlimited cocktails, a complimentary minibar and free laundry – a blessing as it's hot and humid here and, believe me, you will be changing outfits frequently!
The 25-metre pool is the perfect spot to lounge in when you're templed-out. Temple fatigue here is a thing – usually caused by waking up at the crack of dawn two days straight trying to get your perfect sunrise shot… The pool is surrounded by coconut trees with hammocks strung up in between them. It's lush! They also have a gym, spa and an excellent inhouse restaurant, the Damnak Lounge serving delicious fusion Khmer food.
MEN's Resort & Spa
Why we love it
- A gay man's paradise in Siem Reap: hotel exclusively for gay men only
- Popular gay sauna frequently by local guys as well as guests
- Impressive fitness centre and pool area
- Stay in one of the 15 stylish and spacious rooms
Men's is literally a hotel made for (gay) men by (gay) men! It was also one of the best gay hotels we tried during our Asia trip. It's a chilled, fun space, popular with both guests and locals, which makes it unique.
We particularly recommend Men's for solo gay travellers who want to make new friends or if you're a group of (male!) friends travelling.
The hotel has just 15 rooms, which makes it very personable. It felt more like we were staying with friends and family than in a hotel.
The social action happens in and around the pool area – an 18-metre body of salt water (yes salt water!) with a mini waterfall to add to the tropical jungle feel of Siem Reap. There's also a gym to top up one's pecs and plenty of free weights to pop out those biceps veins before heading for a night out at DreamBoys…
The rooms at Men's are modern, sleek and well-decorated, often with male nude paintings! Our room had lots of space and its own private balcony. The black-and-gold tiled sauna at Men's is pretty infamous, often attracting locals as day guests, which ensures it's busy enough to broaden one's cultural horizons. The hotel also has a team of talented massage boys available to service guests' aching limbs. The only downside of Men's is that it's a good 25-minute walk north from Pub Street or a 5-10 minute tuk-tuk ride, which also means it's in a quiet residential area, guaranteeing a peaceful night's rest!
Why we love it
- Well located gay-owned hotel near the gay bars
- Tropical garden with salt-water pool
- Modern-styled Khmer villas with stone bathtubs
- Beautiful community initiative: employs staff from local villages
Rambutan is a decent medium budget gay owned and managed hotel in the heart of Siem Reap.
We loved it for its central location: a few minutes walk west and you're in Pub Street, close to Barcode. Towards the east is Miss Wong's and around 10 minutes walk south is DreamBoys. Yet despite its central location, it's located on a quiet street, away from the loud party noise of Pub Street.
The rooms at Rambutan have their own private terrace with outdoor bathtub and splash shower.
Yes you read right – an outdoor bathtub – made out of stone! I'll be honest, this is what piqued my curiosity the most when researching where to stay in Siem Reap! There's nothing more relaxing after a day of temple-chasing than relaxing with my Seby in an outdoor bathtub with a few glasses of bubbly to hand.
Breakfast is included and served by the pool until midday. If you're setting early for a sunrise tour of Angkor Wat, they can prepare a breakfast box to take with you, which is a nice touch. The thing we loved most about Rambutan is how they work with the local community. When they opened in 2006, they were the first gay friendly hotel in Siem Reap, offering a safe space for local LGBTQ staff to work.
Today they continue their commitment to the local community by employing and training staff from local villages. They also run a scholarship program to fund the education for locals and they encourage their staff to study, even funding their university studies in tourism, business and finance. For this reason alone we want to support this fantastic hotel and highly advise you also do same by staying here!
3 Monkeys Villa
Why we love it
- Male-only guesthouse with a French touch!
- Exclusive and personably with just 6 rooms
- Clothing-optional pool area
- Extremely welcoming and friendly gay owners: Herve and Stephane
From the moment we arrived, French gay couple Hervé and Stéphane took us under their wing and welcomed us into the family. That's what it feels like when you first set foot into this male-only gay guesthouse.
The guys go out of their way to make your stay unique, memorable and super homely. For example, they'll ensure your Angkor Wat plans are all set, help with picnic lunches and advise on where the best gay parties are happening.
With just 6 rooms, it's a very friendly atmosphere and we quickly got chatting with all other guests, arranging tours together and heading as a group to Barcode and DreamBoys. Guaranteed you'll leave with a whole bunch of new friends – that's what we love most about 3 Monkeys!
The rooms at 3 Monkeys are a treat – designed with love! They are modern, large, with obligatory air-con and each with its own private balcony. The pool area was our favourite part of the hotel as it's where most of the guests congregate. There's always someone to hang out and chat with.
Location wise, it's outside of the city centre, around 10-15 minutes tuk-tuk ride west of Pub Street. However, Hervé and Stéphane are always on hand to help you organise a tuk-tuk to wherever you need. They also organise their own private gay events at the hotel, bringing in local drag queen artists to perform by the pool area. Find out more on the 3 Monkeys Villa Facebook page.
Gay bars and clubs in Siem Reap
The gay scene of Siem Reap is small with places quickly shutting down and reopening. Thankfully there is always a handful of gay hangouts in Siem Reap to check out. With the help of our local friends based in Siem Reap we strive to always keep this information as updated. These are the main gay bars and clubs to check out in Siem Reap:
Barcode is the main gay bar in the Pub Street area and the most centrally located of all the gay hangouts in Siem Reap, which makes it by default the most popular. We'd often start out here because we'd be in Pub Street beforehand for dinner. We love the OTT decor inside – super camp vintage French Louis XV style! The best time to come to Barcode is from 9:30pm when the drag shows start and continue until around 11:30pm. After the shows finish, the area is cleared and it becomes a dancing space.
Barcode is open every evening until around 2am. It is located at the Pub Street extension at New street A.
Heaven is Siem Reap's hottest new gay bar with some of the most handsome dancing boys that perform every evening from 9:45pm for around 2 hours. The show also includes a few drag acts. They have a Happy Hour 2 for 1 drinks offer from 8-9pm which is also when the boys are rehearsing and preparing for the show – it's fun to watch the banter between them! You can also meet and chat with them before the show. After the show finishes, the space is cleared and it morphs into a club area.
Heaven is open every evening until around 2am. It is located at 117 Salakamurek Commune, Salakamrek Road which is around 15 minutes walking distance or short tuk-tuk ride southeast from the Pub Street area.
Miss Wong is a queer-friendly lounge where you come for the cocktails. This classy gay owned intimate cocktail lounge is also one of the most famous in Siem Reap, which is why it draws in a mixed crowd. We loved the cocktails here…try a Lemongrass Collins or an Apricot and Kaffir Lime Martini! The drinks are a bit pricey compared to the other bars but definitely worth every penny in our humble opinion.
Miss Wong is open every evening until around 1am. It is located at Street 26 in the Pub Street area.
Gay spa and sauna in Siem Reap
There aren't any official gay saunas in Siem Reap. However, there are a few places to check out for some hanky panky, particularly at the cruisy Men's Resort:
The gay sauna inside Men's Resort is your best bet if you're seeking out a gay sauna in Siem Reap. Whilst it's free for guests to use, locals and guests are allowed to enter on a $5 day pass. As it's the only safe gay cruising spot in the city, it gets pretty popular with locals. It's open only from 5-11pm and located north of Pub Street, roughly 25 minutes walk or a 5-10 minute tuk-tuk ride,
Sokkhak is a gay friendly spa in the Pub Street area, a tranquil haven – Sokkhak is the Sandskrit word for tranquillity. This is not a place you'd come to cruise other guys, more a place to chill, relax and get in a few treatments. It is located at Pokombo Avenue along the Siem Reap riverside, 50 metres (164ft) before the Preah Prum Rath Pagoda. It is open every day from 10am until 11pm.
Gay Pride and events in Siem Reap
There are two main events in Siem Reap that draw in the gay crowds – Songkran in April and Pride in May:
Whilst not an official gay event, we mention it because around this time, the entire country goes crazy! Songkran is the Buddhist New Year and is one of the biggest public holidays in Cambodia. The tradition is to throw water (also talcum powder for good measure!) on each other to symbolise the washing away of bad spirits before the new year starts. Cue: cute hunky gay locals clad in speedos parading the streets Siem Reap waiting to catch your eye… We were here during Songkran and it was raucous(!) – see photo below.
Siem Reap Gay Pride (May)
The Siem Reap Pride takes place in early May. It's a 3 day festival where the gay scene of the city unites to host a variety of different events – for example an exciting opening party at Barcode, cocktail parties at Miss Wong and pool parties at the Rambutan Resort. The festival also includes events like the “Gay-mazing Tuk Tuk Race” and a morning “Fabulous Flow Yoga” event.
Gay friendly restaurants in Siem Reap
BUGS cafe…enough said! The most unique restaurant we've ever been to. The Siem Reap foodie scene will forever remind us of this. The Pub Street area also has plenty of top-notch and highly rated restaurants to try out. We've set out a few of our favourites below:
Fancy a platter of fried tarantula, scorpion and water bug? A few stir-fried silkworms, deep-fried crickets and chopped ants samosa thrown in for good measure? “WTF?!” was also our response when we found out about the BUGS Cafe. But this is a dining experience like no other! This remarkable “taste platter” is actually not too bad – certainly has a crispiness to it and a bit of chewiness from the water bug. It's also super healthy and amazing for the environment – insects are easy to rear, nutritious and high in protein. The Cambodians may be on to something with this. Go on we dare you to try it! Note, they do also offer insectless foods as well.
The best pizza in all of Siem Reap. The secret's out – our pleasure! We loved all the food at Le Tigre. It's a mix of Khmer classics like fish Amok, beef Lok Lak and green mango salad, as well as Western dishes like steaks. However, we came here several times mainly for a pizza-fix. It's also a fantastic place to come for cocktails and as a bonus, they also offer cooking classes to learn how to make those local Khmer dishes.
VIBE is a famous chain of vegan restaurants in Cambodia – one in Phnom Penh and this gem in Siem Reap. As non-vegans we were impressed! We came here to meet some friends and ended up staying for 4 hours. Some of our favourite dishes we recommend you try include the cauliflower tabbouleh, turmeric latte, ginger pineapple ice tea, the chocolate smoothie and a delicious juice/smoothie selection. They also do vegan twists on classic dishes like burritos and cheeseburgers.
Top things to do in Siem Reap
It's all about Angkor Wat. That's the main reason most come to Siem Reap – and for good reason. It's pretty breathtaking! Amongst all your temple activities, we highly highly recommend making the time to watch the Phare Circus – we were left spellbound with tears in our eyes by the incredible talents of these young Cambodians! Here is our summary of some of our favourite things to do in and around Siem Reap to help inspire you with your travel planning:
See the sunrise on Angkor Wat
It's a highlight for a reason. We'll bet the most impressive photo you'll take from your trip at Angkor Wat is of the famous temple with the reflection of the body of water in front of it and the dramatic backdrop of the sunrise behind it. It sure was for us! It's also a wonder to behold, well worth the 3/4am wake up. One of the ways to make it even more special is to experience the Angkor Wat sunrise on a private tour with a champagne breakfast or even better, on an open-air jeep tour away from the crowds.
Watch the Sunset at Pre Rup Temple
Watching the sunset at Angkor Wat is also a beautiful experience. The most popular spot for it is at the Phnom Bakheng hill. However, it can get quite crowded here, so we instead recommend going to the less frequented Pre Rup temple, for a more peaceful experience. The view is the same as Phnom Bakheng, but with far fewer people. It's our little tip to you which you'll be forever thankful to us for 🙂
The Phare Circus Show
The Phare Circus was our highlight 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 overcome her nightmares and inspires others struggling to do the same. Don't miss this! It's fascinating, entertaining and guaranteed to make you both laugh and cry. We recommend pre-booking your tickets for the Phare Circus online to skip the queues and save time.
Do a cooking class at Tigre De Papier
We mentioned Tigre above as one of our favourite restaurants in Siem Reap. However, they also do fantastic cooking classes, which we highly recommend doing to learn more about Cambodian (aka Khmer) food. During our 3-hour class, we learnt how to make chicken curry, fish Amok and beef Lok Lak. We started with a tour in a local market where we picked up the ingredients and chatted with the local markets stall owners. At the end of the class, they email you a copy of all the recipes so you can recreate them at home.
Plan your trip
We've put together some handy hints and tips to help you plan a fun and safe trip to Siem Reap. Read on to find out everything the gay traveller should know before they go.
How to get there: Most will either arrive by bus from Phnom Penh or will fly into the Siem Reap Airport. The airport is around 8km (5 miles) to the city centre and takes around 20-30 minutes by taxi depending on traffic. For ease, we recommend pre-booking your airport transfer to ensure there's an English-speaking driver waiting for you in the Arrivals Hall.
Visa requirements: Many nationalities are able to visit Cambodia visa-free for up to 90 days, so long as you have at least six month's validity remaining on your passport. Make sure you check your personal visa requirements before making any travel plans for Siem Reap.
Getting around: There is no public transport in Siem Reap. We recommend relying on the tuk-tuks to get you from your hotel to Pub Street, and over to the Angkor Wat hotels. They are inexpensive and so much fun!
Power Plugs: Power Plugs: The main plug used in Cambodia is similar to the ones used in the USA. For travellers from elsewhere, we recommend buying a universal power adaptor.
Travel insurance: We never travel without having adequate travel insurance to protect us. We highly recommend all travellers do the same! You never know when you may miss a flight, lose your luggage or get sick. Travel insurance gives you the comfort of knowing you'll be able to claim this back. We recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance because their cover is comprehensive, affordable and it is extremely user friendly.
Safety and Security: For general safety and security when travelling we also recommend the Close Circle “virtual bodyguard” app. It's an online team available 24/7 who can provide you with advice wherever you are, and in extreme circumstances, assist you with evacuation. Read more about Close Circle in our post on how to stay safe while travelling before you go to Siem Reap.
Vaccinations: All travellers to Cambodia should be up to date with routine vaccinations like measles, mumps and chickenpox. Most travellers should also be vaccinated for hepatitis A and typhoid. Some travellers may also need vaccinations for hepatitis B, cholera, Japanese encephalitis, malaria, yellow fever and rabies, depending on what you'll be doing. Check the CDC website for the most up to date info and also consult your doctor or travel nurse before heading to Penang.
Currency: In Cambodia they use the “riel”. In terms of conversions: $1 is around 4,000 riel, £1 is around 5,100 riel and €1 is around 4,600 riel.
Tipping culture: Cambodia doesn't have a strong tipping culture, so you will never be expected to tip. A service charge is often included on restaurant bills and locals will sometimes round up the bill and leave the change. You can tip if you really feel like it, and it won't be refused. We recommend using 10% as a good ballpark figure to calculate a generous tip.
Internet access: There are free WiFi access spots in Siem Reap. Most hotels, restaurants and cafes will also provide free WiFi. We recommend getting a SIM card at the airport when you arrive. They are cheap, easy to set up and will ensure you always have internet access wherever you are in the country.
Accommodation: We love using Booking.com to research accommodation options. It has a comprehensive list of places and usually displays the best online prices compared to all the other online booking engines we've tried. We also like it because most listings offer a free cancellation, which is super handy when you want to be flexible with your travel planning.
Sightseeing and adventure: For inspiration of the best things to do, we love checking what GetYourGuide offers. They always have a comprehensive list of experiences for every destination, which are affordable and very easy to book.
When to visit: The best time to visit Siem Reap is in December and January, when the days are sunny and dry. However, this is also the peak tourist season, with the most crowds and highest prices. In terms of temperatures, it's always hot and humid in Siem Reap – temperatures rarely dip below 30°C (86°F) during the day and 20°C (68°F) at night! March, April and May are the hottest months when it can get stifling hot. If this is an issue for you, avoid these months.
Gay map of Siem Reap
Here's our gay map of Siem Reap showing you where to find all the gay bars, clubs, hotels and sightseeing highlights we've mentioned in this post. Use it to plan your own amazing gay trip to Siem Reap!
For more inspiration:
- Heading to the big Cambodian capital? Check out our guide to the gay scene of Phnom Penh
- Read why we rate Cambodia as one of the most gay friendly countries in Asia
- Use our gay guide to Bangkok to help you plan your trip
- Check out our comprehensive gay country guide to Thailand for more inspiration
- Use our gay Phuket guide to plan your trip
- Read what we think are the most gay friendly countries in the world
- Read our article about what it's like travelling as a gay couple in Asia
- Read about what gay life in Thailand is like in our interview with Saroj from Bangkok
- Use our gay Saigon guide to help you plan your trip in Vietnam.