Among travelers doing the usual Southeast Asian swing (banana pancake tour they call it), there is a common unspoken knowledge that to miss Siem Reap is a mortal sin, not only for its deep history and amazing architecture, but also because of the vibrant and surprisingly fantastic nightlife in this small but very interesting city.
Ask anyone who’s travelling around Southeast Asia about their favorite cities so far and Siem Reap is almost always on the top three of their list. Unfortunately, Manila and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia rank fairly low in this list.
If you ask why, the laid back atmosphere and the jaw-dropping prices are always a factor but it also matters that the local tourism industry in Siem Reap is so alive. Local business owners here also know how it is to please their market.
They know that most travelers here come from Europe, North America and Australia, all of whom are known for their love of parties, drinking and letting it loose.
In pub street (Street No. 7), a short strip in downtown Siem Reap, restaurants and bars are aplenty each one competing for tourists, sending down prices even lower. A bucket of mixed liquor in Siem Reap costs around $4 to $8 dollars, while in Koh Pangan, the site of the monthly full moon party, bucket prices skyrocket to as much as $15.
In Kuala Lumpur, beer costs around 12 to 15 Malaysian ringgit, which is pretty steep. This is because of the exorbitant taxes on alcohol.
The crowd in Thailand and Siem Reap is also a major draw. Travellers who come to Siem Reap to party knows that people here are out for a good time and very open to forging new friendships and acquaintances, if you know what I mean.
|My $3 meal|
In all of Siem Reap, the best happening place is definitely Temple Bar. It’s where people actually go to dance all night long, watch English football and drown themselves in alcohol. There is a cultural show on the second floor, featuring authentic Apsara show, but being the party animal, I just went for the party.
Across the street, there is Angkor What bar, a dim-lighted place, covered in graffiti. Travelers from all over the world try to leave their mark in this famous bar but scrawling on the any surface available. I left my PINAS mark right at the bar.
|angkor what bar (not my foto)|
I headed straight to the party scene as soon as I touched down in Siem Reap after half a day of travelling all the way from Bangkok, with only a bar of snickers to keep me company, so it was only natural for me to get drunk easily.
Hesitantly, I took a break from the dancing and heavy flirting and searched for a sumptuous meal. I need not go far.
Just a block before pub street, right after crossing the national highway, there are endless rows of food stalls serving delicious Khmer food for about $1 to $6. Anything over $10 will get you a feast.
Exhausted and hungry from the land trip, I ordered an entire seafood noodle pot, good enough for three people. And guess how much it costs. A mere $3.
Before I embarked on my trip, I planned on spending a maximum of $50 a day to stretch my limited budget but with the jaw-dropping low prices in Siem Reap. I already got a heavy dinner and hotel room for $8.
|My reward for chugging down 8 mugs of bee rand two buckets of liquor|
I walked around Siem Reap for the good part of the evening, reminiscing on what was a big Asian adventure last year. And at around 10pm, I walked back to the main highway, back to the rows of clubs and restaurants for what would be my best night ever.
With about $25 in my pocket, I knew that it would be a long long night of drinking and I was right. The party went on until 5am but I wasn’t able to witness the party to die down because by then, I was already in the arms and bed of a newfound friend.