Aside from its rich culture and architecture, Siem Reap has one of the best drinking scenes in South East Asia. The most famous (or infamous) place to get drinks in Siem Reap is of course, Pub Street. Pub Street is exactly what it sounds like, a street full of pubs, but also some restaurants and massage parlors. Most of the bars on Pub Street are known for their cheap buckets, a mix of terrible bottom shelf alcohol and your choice of soda. A 20 year old backpackers paradise. Buckets are a fun and fast way to get drunk but sometimes you might want something a little more sophisticated. Every bar on Pub Street is offering the "best happy hour" in town and it can be hard to decided where to go.
So we did the work. We drank A LOT. The Tipsy Gypsies got completely drunk (again), and although Pub Street is great, we also discovered a lot outside its neon glow. Therefor we've created this list of our favorite bars in Siem Reap, on and beyond Pub Street.
"You see we never ever drink
Nice and easy
We always DRINK nice and hard
We started the night nice and easy but finished it hard"
(thanks Tina Turner "Proud Mary")
One of our favorites, Miss Wong has the best central location. It is situated in a small alley, just few steps away from the madness of the Pub Street, which is way more relaxing and classy. Miss Wong is well know amongst locals and tourists, and it is well worth the visit not only for drinks but also the elegant atmosphere.
We arrived at Miss Wong around 6pm, just when the bar opened and things were just coming to life. We were immediately impressed by the gorgeous interior: high ceilings, crimson red walls, glowing lanterns hanging off the ceilings, lots of paintings and moody lighting. This place is sexy! There were so many great details in this bar and our eyes were constantly traveling up and down the walls discovering new trinkets.
We were greeted by the super cool owner of the bar Dean, who is an expat from New Zealand and has been living in Cambodia for the last 12 years. Dean opened and designed the bar himself 8 years ago. The design is based on a paining that the owner's grandmother had in her home back in New Zealand. The painting is of Miss Wong, a beautiful, mysterious woman painted by a Russian artist, who became famous for his prints of Chinese ladies he painted. The painting was a great inspiration for an asian theme speakeasy and it also reminded him of his home.
When Miss Wong opened the idea was to offer something different from the popular and cheap buckets of alcohol. The owner wanted to serve a top shelve alcohol to his clients, but 8 years ago that was a problem in Siem Reap. The better quality liquor had to be imported and was very expensive. That is why he decided to infuse his his own alcohol. Dean's background is in biochemistry, and when you taste his infused vodkas you can tell that he knows his craft. The infused vodkas, also used in mixed drinks, are very unique flavors like Tom Yum (yes the famous Thai Soup), cardamon or pepper. Vodka has never tasted better!
The Tipsy Gypsies recommend:
Jen Queens Ang-Pau
Jen Queen Year of the Cocktail
Apricot & Kaffir Lime Martini
Spiced Bloody Mary
Pepper infused vodka
cardamon rose gin
Tom Yum Gin (so pretty much all of them)
They also serve delicious appetizers. Pictured below: dim sum
This place is all about rum, but not just any rum. This rum is made in house and to make it even better, it's all infused. This place is a MUST try in Siem Reap!
We arrived to Georges Rhumerie by rickshaw around 8pm and the place was not very busy. Perhaps because G.R is located a bit "outside" of the tourist zone (aka away from Pub Street), and is why this place is not super crowded. If you want to hang out with some awesome expats and stay away from the crazy drunken tourists of Pub Street, this bar is great! The rickshaw ride was only $3 and it was totally worth the cruise outside downtown. Also, don't worry about getting back to your hotel. They have trusted rickshaw drivers waiting outside so when the bar is finally closed, they will help you get home safely. And after this journey through rum heaven, we definitely needed some assistance getting back.
We sat at the outdoor bar area, which is very casual, but if you need AC they also have an indoor restaurant. The relaxed atmosphere, very friendly bartenders, who joke around and talk with the customers is probably why so many expats (and us), love to hang out here.
Our bartender served us a flight of rum shots to start with. The flight was 10 different infused rums, and if you think we can tell you what was our favorite, we would have to say all of them! We definitely recommend this sampling experience as all of the flavors are wonderfully unique.
We desperately needed to eat something after our "little" sampler of rums, so we ordered a delicious appetizers plate of samoussa, bouchon, baida and crackers with home-made delicious jams! Trust us, you will want to snack on something while you're sipping on one of their many delicious concoctions. The snacks were well paired with the drinks and we never thought that jam and crackers would go so well with rum, but we swear it's worth it!
We don't know when to say no to alcohol, and so when our bartender suggested that we try some of their cocktails we ordered not one, but two: Bokator and George's Grog, both very delicious, refreshing and light.
Our master bartender, Houern, who was entertaining us the whole night told us that the staff likes to create their own drinks, and if they are popular they end up on the menu. He mixed us his latest creation, which was not yet listed on the menu, and we hope it has since been added because it was absolutely fantastic. It was hands down one of the best cocktails we've ever tasted. He called it a "Svay" or "Mango cocktail" ( ingredients: mango rum, mango juice, mint syrup, lime juice, milk). If you visit Georges you must try this cocktail!
The Park Hyatt is probably the most gorgeous hotel in Siem Reap, and we had the privilege of staying with them. We highly recommend that you go to and splurge at least one night with them and have a drink either on their patio surrounded by fire pits, enjoying a traditional dance performance (check schedule) or you can sip a cocktail in their gorgeous 'living room" lounge, decorated with pinks sofas, fresh lotus flowers, dimmed lights and soft music playing in the background. The design alone is worth the $10 plus drinks.
If you time your visit right, the traditional Cambodian dance performance is absolutely spectacular. Just sit in the patio and enjoy your drink and the show.
The Tipsy Gypsies recommend:
New York Sour
This hotel has a great pool and if the day is hot, which is almost always the case in Siem Reap, there is no better way to cool down than by the pool while sipping on ice cold drinks. The best time to go is for brunch on the patio, overlooking the pool area or directly by the pool under umbrellas. There is also a bar inside the hotel and their drinks are very good, but there isn't much night life going on.
The Tipsy Gypsies recommend:
Frozen Coconut Mojito
Mango "Caviar" Fizz
Did we mention the buckets? Angkor What? is a very popular, if not the most popular bar in Siem Reap and it would be wrong not to mention it. It was probably our least favorite bar because it's a bit loud. Every time we went there to meet with friends they were blasting obnoxious music. We are not saying they should change what they are doing, just keep this is mind. If you are planning on conversing with friends at this bar, forget about it. But if you want to get some cheap buckets and dance your ankles off, this is the right place for you. Angkor What? is located on Pub Street and with it's grungy design and cheap drinks, it obviously attracts a younger crowd. The buckets are large and strong so be prepared to get shit faced or make some friends to share it with. And lastly, don't wear anything white as all those "invisible" stains will be shinning bright in their black lights.
“The more I drink, the better I write and the more I write the better I drink.”
Disclaimer: We make sure to have at least few drinks before we start to write any bar or drink reviews! Because who wants to write about drinking when you're sober?