Siem Reap, Cambodia things to do: Expert tips from an expat

Originally from Whyte Yarcowie in South Australia (28 people, 24 dogs), Mat Lewis and his partner became digital nomads, living in a different city every month for eight months while they built their online business. However, Siem Reap stole their hearts, and five years later, they are still there. See


Of course, a visit to the renowned Angkor Archaeological Park is essential for anyone visiting Siem Reap. Most tourists visit the same three or four temples, including Angkor Wat, but there are literally dozens of other smaller temples scattered around the 162-hectare park. If you tell your tuk-tuk driver that you want to avoid the crowds (you don't even need to supply a temple's name), you can usually explore some of these fascinating temples without another tourist in sight.


To see a bit of the countryside, visit the waterfalls at Phnom Kulen (Kulen Mountain). A two-hour drive from Siem Reap, they're very popular with locals. Don't forget your bathers and a towel so you can swim in the waterhole under the falls, and take some sturdy shoes, as the facilities and walking paths are pretty basic.


We Australians love to barbecue, but I think Cambodians can give us a run for our money. If you're game for street food, pull up a tiny plastic chair at any of the roadside stands – often attached to the side of a motorbike – and order your favourite meat (I say meat only because you won't usually get much else on the side!) I highly recommend the delicious roast chicken, which tastes equally as good as it smells. There are always dozens of portable food stalls along the north side of the Siem Reap river, near the Old Market - just follow your nose.


Siem Reap has more bars, clubs and roadside cocktail stands than you can poke a stick at. Even though $2 cocktails sound attractive, they are usually not the best quality and are often served with some really bad music on the side. For quality cocktails (and great peanuts!), head to Menaka Lounge near the Old Market in the centre of town. Although this place looks like a small, simple cafe downstairs, its hidden speakeasy lounge upstairs serves some of the best and most creative cocktails in Siem Reap. I usually choose the Monsoon Perfume, a refreshingly modern twist on a G&T that features Cambodia's famous Kampot pepper. See


Pub Street can be a fun experience when you first arrive, but most of us expats tend to eat and drink anywhere but. There are a host of amazing bars, cafes and award-winning restaurants all only a short walk or tuk-tuk ride from Pub Street with fewer people and much less noise.