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Siem Reap Pub Street: Nightlife & Restaurants! Miss Wong cocktail bar, Phare the Cambodian circus.

angkor wat reflection pool, travel blog

Cambodia was one of the most inspiring countries I’ve visited.

I’ve long been fascinated by Angkor Wat — and the mysterious temple more than lived up to my expectations.

angkor what bar, siem reap pub street

However, there’s more to see in Siem Reap than just the archaeological ruins. I’ll give you a glimpse of the nightlife of Pub Street, where you’ll find bars like “Angkor What?” (Couldn’t resist taking this photo!)

You also must stop by my favorite craft cocktail bar, innovative restaurant and Phare, the Cambodian circus… read on to find out why!

lotus flowers silhouette sunrise

I’m not a morning person, but it’s worth it to wake up at 5am to see the sunrise over the reflective pool at Angkor Wat. (I’ll show you more photos in an upcoming post.)

angkor wat long hallway light shadow

After the sun rises, many tourists go on to explore the main buildings of Angkor Wat. However, to avoid the crush, I recommend seeing other temples in the morning and early afternoon — and coming back later, when it’s less busy.

Angkor Wat’s lighting conditions are also better in the afternoon. You can capture dramatic light and shadow-play such as above (in this long hallway that feels like an infinite portal).

angkor wat models photoshoot

We loved incorporating the ancient architecture of Angkor Wat into our photography. This image is by Ken Yuen, who didn’t realize until too late that Sniper Chau was in the frame!

disturbia goth fashion clothing, lovecraft shirt

Angkor Wat is one of the world’s most mysterious archaeological sites. There were rumors of a great Khmer stone city, but the West was unaware of its existence until the late 19th century.

In an ancient, mysterous lost city, it seemed right to wear clothing inspired by HP Lovecraft’s mythos. I’m wearing this exact Disturbia Dead Moon Rising top — they also make a Necronomicon top.

Shop more nu-Goth fashion below:

angkor wat window, travel photo

Can you imagine how French explorer Henri Mouhot must have felt in 1860, when he stumbled upon this view? There are over a thousand temples here, filled with images from Hindu mythology and Cambodian legends.

angkor wat narrow rectangular doorway

The unusual architecture made my imagination run wild. I imagined that this thin, rectangular door was a portal into an alien universe. 

OUTFIT DETAILSLinda Farrow sunglasses † Disturbia HP Lovecraft top † Black leggings

buddhist monk blessings, cambodia angkor

Inside the central sanctuary, we saw a monk offering blessings to visitors. 

hp lovecraft shirt outfit, Yog-Sothoth

The 12th century temple design reflects Hindu conceptions of the universe. We were glad to have our guide (provided by Le Meridien Hotel) with us, to answer questions about this fascinating place.

angkor wat temple khmer architecture

Visitors are free to climb and explore most of the temples. I went up this stepped terrace in the main Angkor Wat hall.

ramayana bas relief, cambodia art

We walked down the long covered galleries, which were decorated with exquisite bas-reliefs. Most of these carvings depict the Hindu epic tales, Ramayana and Mahabharata. 

Our guide also pointed out depictions of hell tortures, elephant warriors, martial artists, and much more.

angkor wat hall of wall carvings

An outside view of one of the long galleries, which surrounds the central sanctuary. My pose was inspired by the carvings of apsaras (celestial dancers).

buddha demon statues, angkor wat

Of course, there is much more to see at Angkor Wat. We wished we had more time to see the outer-lying temples, such as Banteay Srei (dedicated to the god Shiva).

On the way to an elephant gate topped by a Buddha, we saw this row of Buddha and demon statues. Some had been restored, hence the different conditions of the faces.

bayon buddha faces carved statues

In the previous post, I showed you the famous “tree roots Tomb Raider” temple, Ta Prohm.

We also stopped by Bayon, the richly decorated structure that is famous for its serene, smiling rock faces. 

bayon angkor wat buddha face

These depict the Buddha, or King Jayavarman VII — or perhaps both.

bayon temple buddhas

Similar to the temples in Bali, there is a lot of flow between Buddhism and Hinduism. Angkor Wat was originally dedicated to Hindu god Vishnu, but later became a Buddhist holy ground.

angkor wat hall of dancers

An ancient civilization, hiding in the jungle… Angkor Wat truly captured my imagination.

lovecraft gate symbol silver key, Yog-Sothoth

A closeup of my Disturbia UK long sleeve shirt with mesh cut outs. The symbol is the Necronomicon gate symbol, from the Lovecraft mythology.

siem reap night market bridge, pub street

There’s more to see in Siem Reap, Cambodia than the legendary temple. At night, the city center comes alive with night markets, street food and bars.

We crossed this bridge, lit up with X-lights, and John found a stuffed crocodile to take home.

siem reap tuk tuks, nightlife district

Pub Street is the center of the nightlife (including the Angkor What? pub that you saw above). It’s a cacophony of tuk tuks, partiers and bars, many of which are geared towards foreigners.

pub street cambodia backpackers

So many bars, so little time…

Pub Street was fun to walk through, but these tourist-oriented bars and shops aren’t our type of scene.

shanghai 1930s retro bar lounge

Fortunately, we found a place where we felt we belonged: Miss Wong. This retro Shanghai-themed bar is located a little off the main roads, tucked away from the crowds. Look for these glowing red lanterns at the entrance.

(Address: The-Lane, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia)

miss wong cocktail bar, chinese decor

Inside, the decor is ravishing: elegant red walls and vintage Chinese art. Dean (the owner who is originally from New Zealand) gave us the warmest welcome. We could sense that he runs Miss Wong with passion, always taking the time to make his visitors feel at home.

siem reap best cocktails, bar

Miss Wong is known as the best cocktail bar in Siem Reap. It deserves this accolade: the rose petal and mocha martinis were as amazing as they sound, and look.

We were impressed by how Miss Wong infuses spirits with Asian flavors. The Lemongrass Collins, made from vodka heated with fresh lemongrass, was one of the best drinks I’ve had all year. We were also wowed by the black pepper infused vodka, delightful on its own or as a Bloody Mary.

hipster theme bar siem reap

Miss Wong also serves Chinese dim sum bites, and has a top selection of liqueurs from around the world.

If you’re all about handcrafted cocktails and a classic, relaxing atmosphere, Miss Wong Siem Reap is a gem. You can’t miss out on this bar; tell Dean that we sent you, when you visit!

cuisine wat damnak kitchen, chef

We had a wonderful set-menu dinner at Cuisine Wat Damnak, a restaurant that merges Cambodian flavors with French culinary techniques. It is on my cousin’s list of top 50 restaurants in Asia (we are trying to go to each one).

(Address: Wat Damnak village, Sala Kamreuk Commune, Siem Reap 17000)

top best fine dining siem reap cambodia

The open kitchen and lush dining area set the mood for this special meal. Chef Joannès Rivière changes his six-course menu every week, focusing on seasonal ingredients sourced from local farms and foragers.

french cambodian cuisine restaurant

The unusual ingredients and creative preparations — like frog legs with Cambodian spices — were magnificent. The chef does an outstanding job of balancing modern and traditional, French and Khmer.

khmer cooking, luxury siem reap restaurant

Six sophisticated plates for under $30 US — only in Cambodia! Be sure to make a reservation in advance for Cuisine Wat Damnak, since this restaurant is often booked up.

phare cambodian circus acrobats

Finally, you can’t leave Siem Reap without seeing the Phare, the Cambodian Circus. Inside a big top, we saw young Cambodian performers tumble, leap, juggle, balance, dance and clown — while wearing the biggest smiles on their faces.

siem reap cambodia theater, dance performances

The show drew upon Cambodian folk storytelling, and pushed it forward with avantgarde antics and sky-high acrobatics. We watched these young performers tell a narrative that took us from primordial times to colonial conquest and beyond.

phare cambodia tumblers, acrobatics

Phare is more than just entertainment: it has the social mission of educating Cambodian youth (through their NGO school), helping them find employment, and furthering the Cambodian arts.

The crowd could sense the passion and determination of the young artists, who all overcame difficult socio-economic backgrounds.

phare siem reap cambodia circus

Phare, the Cambodian Circus has performances daily; you can find out more on their site. We loved watching these young talents, especially knowing that it was in support of Phare’s meaningful programs.

pub street sign, siem reap

Cheers to Cambodia! From Angkor Wat to the bars, restaurants and circus, I had a blast here.

OUTFIT DETAILSMichi top † White tulle skirtLinda Farrow sunglassesMetallic sneakers

cambodia sunset, farm fields

I leave you with a sunset shot. Cambodians are known as some of the friendliest people, and I’d have to agree. (Photography by Sniper Chau and Ken Yuen)

watching sunset siem reap

Thanks to HK Express for the easy direct flights from Hong Kong to Siem Reap, and to Le Meridien Angkor Hotel for the magnificent stay.

Are you as fascinated by the “Tomb Raider” temples as I am? Coming up soon — I’ll unveil the photoshoot we did amidst the archaeological ruins!

SHARE & COMMENT

26 Comments

  1. Posted January 18, 2016 at 1:21 am | Permalink

    WOW! how beautiful is Angkor Wat!

  2. Posted January 18, 2016 at 1:21 am | Permalink

    YAY Going in April!

    • Posted January 19, 2016 at 12:22 am | Permalink

      you’ll love it.

  3. Posted January 18, 2016 at 1:22 am | Permalink

    LOVE IT

  4. Posted January 18, 2016 at 1:23 am | Permalink

    Love that place! Went there oh about 15 years ago, magic.

  5. Posted January 18, 2016 at 2:48 am | Permalink

    So mystikal…

    Lovecraft shirt Must have.

    • Posted January 19, 2016 at 12:24 am | Permalink

      I went to the Lovecraft bar NYC, photos soon!

  6. Posted January 18, 2016 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful pictures and description! I love traveling vicariously through your blogs!

    • Posted January 19, 2016 at 12:24 am | Permalink

      Aww, thanks Natalie! <3

  7. Posted January 18, 2016 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for visiting us in #siemreap! Hope we see you again soon. Looking forward to reading more about your trip to #cambodia.

  8. Posted January 18, 2016 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    Hey… @lacarmina. I love you, girl! Success!

  9. Posted January 19, 2016 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    So awesome! Love it!

  10. Posted January 20, 2016 at 4:50 am | Permalink

    Beautiful country.

  11. Posted January 20, 2016 at 4:50 am | Permalink

    Well done!

  12. Posted January 20, 2016 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    Yes love it.

  13. Posted January 20, 2016 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Did you just get that shirt, or Are you into Magick, occult, alchemy, and esotericism?

    • Posted January 21, 2016 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

      I don’t identify with/associate myself with any group, but am always intrigued by history, culture, spirituality. And I do love the works of Lovecraft !

  14. Posted January 22, 2016 at 4:52 am | Permalink

    This looks amazing! Can’t wait to go! GREAT job!

    • Posted January 24, 2016 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      <3 can't wait to see you soon!

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