Pub Street is at the heart of the tourist centre of Siem Reap. Everything you do in the evening time is likely to revolve around this part of town. In fact, it’s often said that a trip to Siem Reap isn’t complete unless you visit Angkor Wat and Pub Street!
Situated next to the Old Market, Pub Street (officially Street 8), has grown to become the centre of all nightlife in Siem Reap. The area is full of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, street food, shops, market stalls, and just about everything else you could imagine.
If you’re looking to get a fish massage, eat some fried ice-cream, dance until 2 o’clock in the morning, or just get a good meal after a day exploring Angkor Wat, then it’s likely that you’ll be heading to Pub Street.
- Many places are open 24/7.
- Pub Street used to be a residential street and has grown into what it is today over many years.
- The area really comes alive from around 7pm in the evening.
- Everyone who comes to Siem Reap visits Pub Street at least once!
Where to eat?
There is something for everyone on Pub Street. Whether you’re looking to get some home-cooked comfort food, try some exotic meat, or dine out on Cambodian cuisine, you will find a restaurant which suits your needs. Walk up and down Pub Street and the surrounding areas and check out one of the hundreds of restaurants in the area. You’re bound to find something you enjoy.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of choice on offer, then you might want to consider the following places.
- The Red Piano – This popular spot is one the corner of Pub Street. It was said to be Angelina Jolie’s favourite place during the filming of Tomb Raider and when she’s in town, you can often see her in here. In fact, the restaurant even serves up its popular “Tomb Raider” cocktail!
- The Banana Leaf – Located at the other end of Pub Street, the Banana Leaf was one of the first places to open on what was once a very quiet street in town. With years of experience, live music, excellent food, it’s a popular choice with many tourists.
- Le Tigre de Papier – Another one of the “founding members” of Pub Street. Le Tigre de Papier has been open since the beginning. It has two seating areas, one directly on Pub Street and one at the back in the lane. They have an extensive menu featuring Western, Asian and Khmer cuisine.
If you don’t want to eat in a restaurant, you’ll also see many food carts and takeaway stalls in the surrounding areas. There’s fried scorpions and spiders, fried ice cream, kebabs, noodles, fruit shake stalls, and too many things to list here. Take a walk around and you’ll find a lot of street food available in the area.
Where to drink (and dance)?
When it comes to drinking and dancing the night away, most of the action tends to feature around the area with the Angkor What? bar and the Temple Bar. As the evening draws on, the music becomes louder, and the party spills into the street. Enjoy some cheap drinks, banging tunes, and lots of fun.
If you’re looking for something a bit quieter and more sophisticated, then try one of the smaller bars in the lanes. Miss Wong Cocktail Bar, the Silk Garden Bar, Picasso and the Yellow Sub are all very popular places to grab a drink.
It’s not all eating and drinking. There are also other things to do around Pub Street.
- Fish Massage – You’ll see “fish massage” signs all over. They are on glass tanks with seats around them and full of fish of various sizes. These fish just love to eat the dead skin from your feet! It’s not just a gimmick either, they actually do work and you’re feet will feel better for it. The sensation is a little odd in the beginning, but you’ll soon get used to it. Many of these places offer a drink included with the massage.
- Shopping – There are some small night markets and stalls in and around Pub Street. Mostly, you’ll find souvenirs such as scarves, ornaments, sculptures, paintings, clothes and smaller items. They all pretty much sell the same thing, so if you’re in the market for a new t-shirt, you can pick up a real bargain. You will need to haggle the price and will often be able to negotiate a good discount.
- Live Performances – On Pub Street, there is often a band playing traditional Khmer music for donations. You’ll also see other street performers trying to entertain you for donations. There are a few places which do live Apsara dance shows including the upstairs of the Temple Bar before it turns into a nightclub. Other bars have some great live performances including live bands or DJs.
- Street Sellers – Stay away from the kids trying to sell you things, it only encourages them to do it more. You’ll see many adults trying to make an honest dollar by selling products or services. You’ll find books, bracelets, sunglasses and anything someone can carry to sell. You can sometimes pick up a real bargain, so don’t always say no. If you want a book about the history of Angkor Wat, then there are worse places you can buy it from.
Pub Street is in the centre of Siem Reap town and all tuk tuk drivers will know how to get there. Unless you’re staying a long way out of town, most tuk tuk rides will cost just a couple of dollars. If you’re walking, just say to anyone “pub street” and they will easily be able to point you in the right direction. Your hotel or guest house will also be able to give you the best directions to Pub Street.
Getting to Pub Street isn’t usually a problem, it’s the getting home again which is more problematic for most people. Remember to note the name of your hotel and any nearby landmarks. If possible, take a business card from your hotel so you can show it to your driver when you want to go back. There are so many hotels, often with very similar names, so try to remember where you’re staying. It’s not too uncommon to hear stories of people “getting lost” for a few days!
You can haggle price for tuk tuks waiting at Pub Street to take you home. Never settle on the first price.
You don’t really need a tour guide to show you around Pub Street, but you can stop by here as part of a tour through the town.
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There are plenty of hotels near Pub Street. The question is how close to you want to stay to Pub Street. It might be nice to stay near the centre of town and just fall out of your hotel into the main tourist area. However, it can be noisy! Many guests prefer to stay a little away from Pub Street to enjoy the peace and quiet of Siem Reap town. It’s a small place, so you can easily get anywhere you want to go.
Why Visit Pub Street?
Pub Street is ubiquitous to Siem Reap, nearly as much as Angkor Wat! If you’re coming to visit Siem Reap, then it’s more than likely that you will find yourself at Pub Street at least once during your stay.
There are so many restaurants and bars to choose from that you should go and explore. Don’t just stop in the first place you see, take a walk around and see what’s on offer. You’ll be surprised at the number of restaurants, bars, shops and everything else in such a small area.
It’s much quieter in the morning and afternoon. There are still many places open during the day and it’s also good to go to find somewhere to get some breakfast or lunch.
There is a lot of security at Pub Street. The tourist police stand by at each end for most of the evening and there are always people about. Most people will have a great evening or night out without any incident at all. However, when you get an area with lots of tourists and a lot of alcohol, there are a few things you might want to remember!
It can sometimes be difficult to forget your limits, especially when it’s 50c a drink. But remember that you’re in a foreign country and you don’t have the same support network you do at home. Don’t let your drink out of your sight or give anybody the opportunity to tamper with it. Try not to drink 15 glasses of cheap beer and sleep it off in the middle of the street. Don’t start alcohol-fuelled arguments and start fighting, because if you get arrested, nobody is coming to help you.
Of course, you’ve read about happy pizza and your friendly tuk tuk driver offers to get you some weed. But it’s not all happy – stay away from all illegal drugs in Siem Reap. If you’re caught, it’s going to cost you.
Child Beggars and Scams
There are beggars on the street and the police do sometimes round them up. On the whole, they are persistent but not much to worry about.However, like anywhere in the world, some can cause problems. You’ll sometimes see kids high on glue around the area who seem to have the confidence of a heavy-weight boxer. Just say no firmly and move on. Don’t engage them.
One of the most popular scams in the area is the “milk scam”. Young people will walk around with babies and say that they don’t need your money. Instead, they just need milk for the baby. They will take you to a nearby supermarket (who is also in on the scam) and ask you to buy overpriced baby milk. After you have gone, they will take it back to the shop where the money is divided. The babies are often rented from nearby villages and sometimes drugged. Stay away from anyone holding a baby and begging for some milk.
Having said that, there are some genuine cases around too, so use your judgement wisely.
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