Culture is enlightening, exalting, uplifting, life-enhancing. But what they don’t tell you is what thirsty work it can be. Don’t worry, though. When it comes to where to refresh yourself, we’ve got you covered.
Why not start off with one of the Kingdom’s favourite beers, Angkor, brewed with soft spring water from the mountains of Sihanoukville coupled with the finest ingredients procured from around the world. Another premium local brew is Cambodia beer, made with only the finest European ingredients at a huge modern brewing facility on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. If the home ales don’t do it for you then grab a cold Heineken. The internationally acclaimed beer is now available all over Cambodia!
Angkor What? Bar and Temple Club, which almost face each other across Pub Street, seem to be caught in a never ending dance-off. They both have the latest tunes thumping, and beer and buckets pumping, till the early hours every night of the week.
An instantly recognisable franchise in town is, of course, the world famous Hard Rock Cafe. Situated in an old colonial-style building in the city center, it’s a two-story restaurant with a large terrace overlooking the Siem Reap River. And of course the history on the walls matches perfectly with their iconic location. You’ll see a decent selection of memorabilia such as a pair of Eminem’s sneakers, one of Tom Petty’s shirts, and even a hat owned by the Queen of Pop herself, Madonna. They have a live band from the Philippines playing everynight from 8pm onwards, smashing out covers of the worlds greatest ever rock hits!
Menaka Speakeasy Lounge is undoubtedly Siem Reap’s most secretive drinking spot. A refined atmosphere awaits you, with some incredible cocktails, such as the Samboh Sneah or the Double Rye Old Fashioned, crafted by famous American mixologist Annemarie Sagoi.
A short hop across town will find you at Charms, a Belgian-owned apero lounge bar. Grab some beers, wines, cocktails or spirits, and relax for a chat, or perhaps a battle of wits in a game of chess, monopoly, cards and other classics.
A classy atmosphere prevails at Le Bel Air, Siem Reap’s first Belgian restaurant, where 30 different Belgian beers are served in their aircon restaurant or outside in a beautiful, contemporary garden. It’s simply stunning.
Miss Wong is modelled on the drinking and opium dens of Old Shanghai. There are many in-house infusions, using superior spirits and locally sourced fruits and herbs to create cocktail ingredients that are unique to the region. The standouts are a classic Caribbean inspired punch,made with premium rums and fresh tropical juices.
A favourite in Siem Reap, The Village Cafe is a casual continental café that epitomises the charm and sophistication of a classic 1930’s jazz club, but with a twist! The cocktail menu is certainly not to be missed, with the standout being the house special and unforgettable Espresso Martini with orange zest!
Of course, there are some things that shouldn’t be left out of any Siem Reap itinerary, and a Happy Hour cocktail at the FCC Angkor is still one of them. With a view straight out on to the river, this iconic building – the old Governor’s house in the French Quarter – is ideal for enjoying two-for-one sundowners either in the fan-cooled open-sided lounge bar, which makes you feel more stylish just by being there, or in the garden. Please note however that FCC Angkor is under renovation and will reopen late January.
Another exquisite hotel, the Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa, is a colonial-style building that looks back on to a glorious, jungle-backed swimming pool. The terrace is a perfect perch from which to languidly observe the misguided souls who would actually be in that pool while happy hour is happening.
Further down the Siem Reap river, Temple Coffee Bakery n Pool Sky Lounge is a super-funky bakery by day – all glass and metal with thoughts of running away to New York to make it as a dancer – and a cool open-air, rooftop live music venue by night, with a direct view of the river. They’ve now added Temple Club II to the group, so there’s no excuse for you not to dance the night away in at least one of their locations around Pub Street!
Further riverine frolics can be had at King’s Road Angkor, a complex with galleries, cafés, restaurants, bars and Siem Reap’s super-cool Made in Cambodia Market.
Balthazar Wine Bar next door offers a sophisticated setting in which to indulge in fine wines sourced from all across the globe, along with plates of charcuterie, cheeses and gratinated toasts.
A very welcome new French café-restaurant recently opened: Khéma Angkor. You’ll be able to enjoy excellent coffee and tea with their collection of different pastries and their famous afternoon High Tea. A must is also their free flow of wine, with various cheeses and cold cuts Siem Reap welcomed the latest fast food eatery recently, but this one sets itself apart from the rest – in a rather quirky way. Being the first bar and restaurant in town to be fitted with swings, Sway Away allows you to swing and drink at the same time. Don’t forget to check out daily happy hours, where draught beer is offered for only $0.50 from 11am-8pm.
It’s not all about “if not drink for drunk then drink for what” as the Khmers say of course. There’s always the dreaded morning after to come, sorting through the fuzzy memories of the night before and holding on to anything stable to make sure you don’t spin off the face of the earth altogether. The answer for some… coffee.
Started as a small family business in Siem Reap, and now with 13 outlets nationwide, Blue Pumpkin’s warm and lively eateries and bakeries serve up a great cup of coffee along with shakes, smoothies, juices and more to keep you refreshed! It’s a great place to get out of the heat and relax on sofa beds under cooling air-con!