What a surprise; I hadn’t expected much of Siem Reap (which means ‘Thailand Defeated’ in local dialect), but it turned out to be a party town… mainly driven by the hundreds of back packers that pass through.
Its a little dusty round the edges – many of the roads on the edge of town are yet to be tarmacked – but its developing like mad and has a wide range of shops restaurants and other facilities.
In the centre of town, entertainment is based around a block of 3 main streets, the central one being labelled ‘Pub St’ and this is where most of the action is. You can find just about any style of food here from authentic Khmer (maybe) to Mexican to French Bistro to whatever… The price range covers the whole spectrum too, but good value is everywhere.
Pub St, as you might imagine, has most of the bars, including the place where it all started: ‘Angkor What’ – which claims to have been promoting irresponsible drinking since 1998 – you get the picture. Unlike neighbouring countries there seems to government enforced closing times either (for now), so the party continues well in to the night.
Between Pub St area and the river is the old market, which carries all the usual stuff – you will need to haggle. Across the river is another covered market area that is a little less frenetic, there are lots of massage places in here too.
Siem Reap is a little rough round the edges, but big developments are sure to come.
The town has is the river running through it and they have wide streets – the river is somewhat underused at the moment, but will be a great asset, the local authorities also have plans to make the streets more tree lined – if all this works out it could become a very attractive place.