Drinking in Siem Reap

Cambodia’s a hot country. It is winter at the moment and it was thirty degrees yesterday. Imagine what it is like in summer. After a day’s templing, you really do need a beer. Siem Reap has that covered and how. The city attracts the full gamut of tourists. There is a Hyatt, a Sofitel, a Meridien and lavish large hotels that look like they cater for the well-heeled Chinese. Backpackers are well catered for and there is a myriad of boutique B&Bs as well. If you want a refined drinking experience, then maybe the bad at the Hyatt or the FCC is the place to go. If you want to experience boozing it up on the cheap in some unique places then Pub Street’s the go.

There’s probably 100 places where you can get a 50 cent Anchor draft. The Sports Bar in Sok San Road had them for 25 cents. There was one offer for “Eight Dollars – All You Can Drink in two whole hours”. The sign advised “Buckets Included” and “Conditions Apply”. Not this time thanks. Most of the bars double as restaurants, but some are more boozer than feeder. The first bar I tried was a Siem Reap institution – “Angkor What”. I’d say that it has been getting backpackers pissed, laid and tattooed since 1998. The bar maid was hammered (at 8pm) and the weary Aussie serving us had been there 3 years. Angkor What feels like a Bali Boozer that has run out puff. $5 t-shirt was the highlight.

In a similar backpacker vein, X-Bar is catering to the hard partying young set. This is a monstrous pub of at least three levels. There’s a massive dance area with a mezzanine viewing deck above. There’s great views of Pub Street and beyond, but the highlight is a half-pipe skateboard ramp on the very top. 16 shots in an hour and then some skateboarding. Great combo.

For mine the smaller places are the best. There’s a ubiquitous Irish Pub – Molly Malone’s and other three decker booze halls, like Temple that offer outrageous happy hours and all night raves, but look in the side streets. Laundry offers live music and street front drinking. I didn’t know Cambodian reggae was a thing until I read their flyer for 27 December. The star for me was one of the more quirky bars I’ve encountered. YOLO is on little lane, which has some passing traffic (tuk-tuks, scooters, bikes). The covered bar is on one side of the street with bar stools and Papasan couches. On the other side of the lane is more seating, very much in that Opp Shop decor style favoured by so many small bars in Sydney and Melbourne. Drinks are cheap and the staff are really friendly. So far – bar of the trip.

I barely scratched the surface, but I shall return to tick off more temples and discover more bars – one day.