Thirst things first
Partygoers shouldn’t be put off by Siem Reap’s diminutive size – the local nightlife scene definitely punches well above its weight, with the good times going on well into the early hours.
Despite the frequent sound of monks chanting at the ungodly hour of 5am, Siem Reapers tend to party until well past fish porridge-o’-clock (i.e. breakfast time), with no shortage of excellent places to do so.
Cut a track over to Hard Rock Café at King’s Road Angkor and get ready to be transported to the world of rock’n’roll. Here the live inhouse band, Band@Work plays Tuesday to Sunday starting at 7pm, and belts out a range of classic hits in surroundings decked out with authentic music memorabilia such as a pair of Eminem’s sneakers and one of Madonna’s hats.
Over the river and along 2 Thnou Street is Menaka Speakeasy Lounge, a bar as intriguing as it is unique in Siem Reap, with entrance granted via a secret door at the back of a coffee shop. Discover a room furnished with classic Chesterfield sofas and wall paintings of music stars from the golden Khmer rock era of the 1960s. Acoustic background tunes make for a relaxed atmosphere, as you relish in their fine array of signature cocktails crafted from premium spirits infused with local flavours.
Laundry Bar on Street 9, with its smooth, upscale ’70s-style décor, is the quintessential hip French hangout. Help yourself to a happy hour-priced caramel liqueur and vodka while gyrating on the dance floor to live gypsy jazz, or play pool in the back room with a stylish assortment of bohemians.
Dive into the drunken throng at Angkor What? Bar – Siem Reap’s original late-night destination for the wild and carefree. Even those who don’t usually dance on tables may find themselves elevated by the end of the night, hypnotised by the blaring pop and flashing lights.
Walk eastbound and down the street and you’ll encounter Soul Train, a backpackers hangout with loud music, loads of energy, and an open-air space where you’ll boogie to your heart’s content to the beats from a live DJs. The vibrant atmosphere is kept alive with a great selection of music, which is also open to the customers to play what they wish.
If you’ve still got some energy left, catch your breath and wander back up the road to find yourself in the middle of a circle of young Khmers at Temple Bar, doing the New Orleans-style Bounce to obscenely loud music. Time your run right and you’ll get in before Happy Hour ends at 10pm to enjoy delightfully cheap drinks.
Just along from Pub Street, near the riverside, you’ll find Barcode Lounge. This chic night spot and gay bar serves up a fantastic array of cocktails, beers, wines and champagne to Dapper Dans and Sultry Susans looking for a good time.
Over in the upcoming Kandal Village area is Charms, an Belgian-owned apero lounge bar serving various beers, fine wines, spirits, cocktails and shakes. You can also play some of the many old-school board games or watch late night sports and news broadcasts.
The latest running bar with the heaviest rock bands and hardest hitting DJs in town is to be found at X Bar, where almost every quality act on the local scene, and many more passing through, ply their trade, representing all the genres Siem Reap has to offer. With visits from international acts, regular weekly events, and live music every night, the party doesn’t stop. Every Wednesday is open-mic night, followed by memorable DJ sessions. On Friday, the famous (well, at least in Siem Reap) in-house band struts their stuff. Things really get going at 2 or 3am and don’t wind down until the birds chirp and the sun rises over the rooftop half-pipe.
Cheers along Pub Street has built up and considerable reputation amongst locals, expats and tourists thanks to its lively club atmosphere and unbelievably loud sound system. The bar hosts both live music and DJ sets, with the drinks menu proving reassuringly inexpensive.
Following the huge success of a similar market in Phnom Penh, visitors to Siem Reap can now check out the Temple Container Pub Zone, a beer garden area made using shipping containers. It’s the first of its kind in the town and offers cheap beers and high noise levels where you can party alongside the local young and cool crowd.