Where to Eat in Siem Reap

Where to Eat in Siem Reap

Aside from the magnificent Angkor Wat Archaeological Park and its vibrant night life in Pub Street, Siem Reap offer various places to enjoy good foods. As a popular tourists destination, they provide not only local foods, but also western and Asian food for us to relish our culinary experience.

Chicken Amok in Amok Restaurant

Amok Restaurant
On my first day, a friend suggested to try amok, a Khmer traditional food. It’s a coconut milk-based curry with fish/chicken/meat and vegetables served with steam rice. Its taste reminds me to opor/gulai (in Indonesia), but not as strong as gulai. We ate in Amok Restaurant, located on an alley in Pub Street, which claim themselves as the best Amok restaurant in Cambodia. I love the restaurant’s atmosphere with lovely floral table clothes and floral dress their waitresses wore. Try their Mango Juice, it’s super fresh!

Le Tigre de Papier
It was one of the cafes where we spent our night in Pub Street. On our third night, we were looking for a 24 hours cafe which provide coffee and internet connection since we had a presentation to make. We found this cafe still opened til 12 AM so it’s recommended for you who need free and fast internet connection when you in Pub Street.

FCC Angkor
As Blogfest Asia participants, we were invited to attend a formal dinner held in FCC Angkor Restaurant on Pokambor Avenue. It was a nice restaurant with bar, local boutique and outdoor dining tables, nicely decorated with pool. They serve local, Asian and western food. And oh, the wine was good! Too bad I can’t remember what wine was served during the dinner.

Cyra with set meals in Maharajah

Maharajah Taste of India
On the 2nd day of Blogfest Asia event, a friend asked us to find halal food for lunch. So Anirudh recommended Maharajah, an Indian restaurant located on Sivutha Boulevard within walking distance from the Phsar Chas (Old Market) accros the Terrasse des Eléphants Hotel.

Just like many other restaurants in Siem Reap, the prices are listed in US dollars but still you can choose whether you want to pay in USD or Cambodian Riel. I ordered Chicken Curry served with rice, which its taste reminds me to similar food I had in Pakistan back in 2011.

They served in quite large portion, good for food-sharing with friends. How large? Please see below picture hahaha!

The Blue Pumpkin
The Blue Pumpkin (TBP) combine bakery, cafe and ice cream parlor. You can find their chained cafes spread in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and maybe in other cities in Cambodia. I love their Apple Tart and Mojito (they were quite cheap, by the way). Read my full review on TBP here: Cool Hangout Place.


The Soup Dragon

Oh try The Soup Dragon should you want to try Asian cuisines. It’s located on Corner Pub Street and 2 Thnou St, Siem Reap. The Soup Dragon is a fine dining restaurant serve western food and Asian cuisines like Vietnamese, Thailand and also Cambodian. So yes, they serve various menu fits for group with various interests. I ate Vietnamese menu, chicken cooked with ginger. This is where we had our last lunch in Siem Reap, along with bunch of people from Blogfest Asia 2012.

Do you have any other recommendations on where to eat while in Siem Reap? Let me know! I might be going back there as I love the city so much!

Temples Hopping: Bayon and Phnom Bakheng

Temples Hopping: Bayon and Phnom Bakheng

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Previous post:
Temples Hopping: Angkor Archaeological Park

Bayon Temple

Tuk-tuk took us to the next destination: Bayon Temple. This amazingly huge temple has 216 massive stone faces of Jayavarman (and/or Budha himself) carved on its 54 stupas (towers). Two hundred and sixteen huge faces of the King. Two hundred and sixteen.. *looping*

Bayon temple entrance. See those faces?
Faces on Bayon Temple

Chichi told me that his face reminded her to the Engineer’s face from the Prometheus movie (which I haven’t watched yet). Writing this article reminds me to find and watch the movie soon.

Bayon was the last temple to be built at Angkor. Its outer walls and outer gallery features series of historical life of Angkorian Khmer. We had not much time left since we wanted to watch the sunset at Phnom Bakheng and its location is quite far from Bayon. So, I didn’t have enough time to explore Bayon Temple that left a question inside whether Angkorian people loved their king so much as they carved his peaceful face in that enormous size.

Phnom Bakheng

We headed to Phnom Bakheng which was promoted by the tuk-tuk driver as the best place to watch sunset in Siem Reap. Well, one thing I learn from traveling to many places is that sunrise or sunset (since it can be found anywhere), looks beautiful depends on your current feeling and also with whom you enjoy it.

The tuk-tuk stopped on a field where  full of people looked like in a hurry going to one direction. There were women and children selling Cambodian souvenirs as well. I spotted some beautiful silk scarfs and History of Angkor Wat book. I wanted to stop and started to bargain but the fact that we’re in a hurry chasing the sunset prevent me to do that. There was a sunset view I had to catch.

Apparently, Phnom Bakheng is located on top of a hill. It took us climbing around 30 minutes to reach the top. I’d suggest you to leave you heels or wedges at hotel if you ever want to climb the hill. Wear casual/sport shoes so you could walk comfortably as it requires you to do some hiking activity. You’ll need a strong determination in order to reach the top since it’s quite *hosh* far and *hosh* steep… Don’t forget to *hosh* bring some mineral water as you won’t find any food stalls up there. You don’t wanna get yourself dehidrated in your adventure finding the most beautiful sunset in SR, do you? 😉

There was a long queue in front of the Phnom Bakheng Temple. Gosh, I finally made it to the top of the hill and I still have to queue just to enter the temple? Oh don’t forget that you’ll have to climb the temple wooden stairs after that. After resting our feet for a few minutes, we joined the long queue. Yeah, there’s no point of climbing the hill if we suddenly gave up to the queue, right? We were so lucky we came earlier as they won’t allow visitors to climb Phnom Bakheng temple after 05.30 PM. I could only assume it has something to do with the ongoing restoration.

Long queue to enter Phnom Bakheng temple

Ancient stones and me

 

Well, there were so many tourist on top of the temple. There was also a bunch of Buddhist monks posed for tourist who wanted to take their pic. I walked around and can’t find any better place to watch the sunrise as the place was full of people. So the funny thing was that I started to taking picture of people trying to take picture of the sunset. If only I were 10 cm taller, I wouldn’t be that cranky, I think. Hahaha!

It was a bit cloudy. I only hoped that our effort to get ourselves there was worth it. I hoped that there wouldn’t rain as none of us (the bloggers group) brought umbrella with us. When the cloud moved slowly, it left us a magnificent view of the sunset right above Siem Reap. I almost forgot on how the climbing thing made my feet pain and how it got me sweaty. The sunset was beautiful.

It was worth it. Totally worth it.

Sunset at Phnom Bakheng

 

Temples Hopping: Angkor Archaeological Park

Temples Hopping: Angkor Archaeological Park

As part of BlogFest Asia 2012 program, we got a chance to visit one of three main tourism destinations in Siem Reap: the Floating Village, Angkor Archaeological Park and Siem Reap town. This optional trip was provided by BlogFest Asia committee for those who wanted to submit entry for blog competition.

It was obvious which option I chose at the first place: Angkor Wat and surrounding areas. Coming to Siem Reap without visiting Angkor Wat is like coming to Mecca without visiting Kaaba. Or coming to NYC without taking picture of yourself with the Statue of Liberty in the background. Doesn’t mean that the other places aren’t interesting for me, but it’s Angkor Wat and all I knew was I have to go there someday. It was on my bucket list for so long.

Beside that, I always adore ancient buildings like temples. The huge size of Angkor Wat makes it even more amazing and adorable. I wonder how did the Khmer people build those magnificent mega-structures without using modern technology like our people use nowadays.

Anyhoo, it was Friday morning after program briefing at the Build Bright University (BBU) when most of us gathered waiting for the trip arrangement. I shared the first tuk-tuk with Chichi and two Burmese bloggers. BlogFest Asia Commitee arranged one-day rent of tuk-tuk for us, its cost was around $15.

In front of Angkor Wat entrance
The Magnificent Angkor Wat Temple

 

Angkor Wat Temple

Our first destination was Angkor Wat, the most famous temple located in Angkor Archaeological Park. There’s a ticket booth where we were required to pay $20/person for One Day Pass. They printed visitors’ face on the ticket,  makes it a non-transferable ticket. Every time a visitor entering different temples, officer at the entrance will asks them to show the ticket. Smart idea.

As you may know, Angkor Wat –previously was a Hindu temple- was built as a representation of Mount Meru, a mythical sacred place for Hindu. Later, Jayavarman VII converted to Mahayana Buddha and then built some other temples (Bayon, Ta Prohm, Preah Khan) in Buddhist structures. Although it was neglected since the 16th century, Angkor Wat was never completely abandoned. Later, Angkor Wat moved to Theravada Buddhist use which continues to present day. We can find some Buddhist monks and visitors praying in various locations inside the temple, put some offerings as well as inviting visitors to pray too sometimes.

Every inches of Angkor Wat amazed me. It was started by looking at size of the baray (water reservoir) that was built around the Angkor Wat which has 8 x 2.3 km in size. Can’t imagine how did ancient Khmer people build such a super huge reservoir like that!

If you ever read or watched Ramayana and Mahabarata epic, you must be amazed by the bas relief carved at the left end of the temple. It’s depicting various scenes from battle of Ramayana war, battle of Mahabarata and some other scenes from Hindu epics.

Battle Scene on the Wall Relief

Chichi on the Central Tower Stairs

We also climbed up its central tower. Even though its height made me nervous at first –it’s a super tall tower-, somehow I made it to the top by stepping slowly on its stairs one by one, without ever removing my hands from the handrails even once. The view from the top was extremely beautiful, yet it was scary considering that you’d have to climb those steep stairs first.

Oh yeah, there’s also Angkor Balloon that serves tourists who want to watch sunrise above the Angkor Wat complex. I should’ve tried it on my last morning in Siem Reap, but I was too tired I couldn’t even wake up.

Ta Phrom Temple

The second temple we visited was Ta Phrom. The temple mostly got famous for its use as the Tomb Raider movie shooting location years ago. Apart from its history, the temple -that is now being restorated- has this exotic view with trees and roots surrounding and growing above the temple. It’s like the tree is eating the temple from outside with its giant roots. Exotic yet stunning combination between nature and human handiwork.

The restoration has been ongoing since 2010. Outside the temple, we can found ruins of its original structures. Wooden walkways has been erected to provide safer and more comfortable paths for visitors.

Root Outside the Ta Phrom (pic: @chicme)

 

Ta Phrom Temple

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Next:
Temples Hopping: Bayon and Phnom Bakheng

Cool Hangout Place: The Blue Pumpkin Café

Cool Hangout Place: The Blue Pumpkin Café

On our first night in Siem Reap, me and Chichi had a meet up dinner with some fellow Asian bloggers at a Mexican Restaurant called Viva on Pub Street. On our way to the restaurant, we spotted some interesting places to visit on the following nights. There were Amok Restaurant (who claim themselves as the best Amok Restaurant in Cambodia), a nice ice cream parlor across the Art Market, Cambodian massage, etc. But a friend of Chichi tweeted and recommended us to come to a cafe that has something called “the best apple pie in the world”.

Soon after we met at the Mexican resto, we looked for a cafe where Tonyo was sitting waiting for us to come. It’s a café that has “cool chairs and ice cream”. Apparently it was the cafe that Chichi’s friend recommended on Twitter.

That’s how we found this The Blue Pumpkin (TBP). It’s a café, bakery and ice cream parlor all combined.

The Blue Pumpkin (pic: @aymisayra)

We came to the cafe that’s located on the Pub Street, right across the street from the Old Market. Its first floor mostly used for their bakery while the cafe is located on the second floor.

Yes, indeed they have super cool seats (and bean bags!) that allow you to lean comfortably and laying as long as you want. They provide portable laptop tables as well. It feels like you were on your own bed enjoying the cakes and mojitos. They have free fast internet connection too. This is the place where we started a fun blogging tutorial to our Filipino friend, Kris.

We love the cool seats!
Blogging tutorial at The Blue Pumpkin (pic: @aymisayra)

TBP cafe then became our favorite place to hang out. We love it too much as we visited the cafe three nights in a row.

What to order from the cool cafe? Well, I’d highly recommend their Apple Tart. You can taste the fresh apples on top and also crunchy pie that melt on your mouth leaving a sweet and memorable sensation. I’m not good on describing foods’ taste as I can only taste “delicious” and “very delicious”. So, I’ll just let you imagine how its taste from the picture below.

Apple Tart (pic: @aymisayra)

 

Aside from the cocktails, ice cream and cakes, they also serve various Western foods as well as the Asian foods. Chichi recommended the Four Spices Ice Cream: ginger, pepper, star anise, and cinnamon. I didn’t get the chance to taste it but so far I’ve heard someone said that, “words just can’t describe it”. So yes, I’d suggest you to try its unique flavors.

Later, we found that TBP also have several other cafes located in Siem Reap, airports and also in Phnom Penh. It’s a local business that successfully expands their branches around Cambodia.

 

The Blue Pumpkin
563 Mondol 1
Svay Dang Kum
Siem Reap, Cambodia
TEL: (855) 063 963 574
FAX: (855) 063 760 742

e-mail: info.siemreap@tbpumpkin.com
www.tbpumpkin.com