Siem Reap Gay Travel
Epic temples and buzzing nightlife make Siem Reap gay travel a hit! Check out wolfyy’s tips for where to stay, hostels, visiting Angkor Wat & local bars.
The Gay Travel Experience: Siem Reap, Cambodia
A destination for the backpacker, Siem Reap is known for elaborate temples like Angkor Wat. Gay travelers are commonly found in Siem Reap since the town is a main stopping point between major gay travel destinations in Thailand and Vietnam.
During my visit while traveling solo, I did not make any gay friends, but it was clear that gay men were out and about as I experienced the nightlife. Siem Reap has a very international crowd, with equal amounts of tourists a variety of cultures.
No matter where you come from, I’m sure you can find a companion around that shares your values.
I highly recommend gay travelers visit Siem Reap, especially on routes through Southeast Asia going between Bangkok and Saigon. All of these bustling cities have authentic experiences to offer the LGBT explorer.
Gay Siem Reap: Hotels & Where to Stay
The majority of travelers in Siem Reap choose their accommodations based on proximity to Pub Street. Siem Reap is relatively small, so most hotels will be within a 10 to 15-minute walk to the town center. It is helpful to stay relatively close to the town center so you can easily find transportation.
Don’t worry about being close to Angkor Wat. You will need to drive there from your hotel anyway, so it is best to position yourself close to restaurants and nightlife in the middle of town.
Siem Reap offers a wide range of accommodations. Siem Reap hostels are also quite inexpensive. Luckily for the gay backpacker, you’ll find many luxury hostels here, so you can travel cheaply yet comfortably. These shared accommodations include swimming pools, full bars and on-site restaurants.
I wanted to check out the noteworthy Lub D Hostel in Siem Reap, so I took a walk in even though I wasn’t staying there. It looked super fun, clean and nicely decorated. The indoor-outdoor pool was awesome!
I stayed in the Central Privilege Indochine D’Angkor Hotel, located about a 12-minute walk to Pub Street. This hotel was amazing for the pool with swim-up bar, friendly staff and the best food I had while in Cambodia. I had a wonderful room with a terrace on the 3rd floor and a view of all Siem Reap. I was super happy!
Before Selecting A Siem Reap Hotel...
Siem Reap is prone to area-wide blackouts, usually during the dry season, when hydroelectric plants cannot generate enough electricity due to little overland runoff.
There were several blackouts while I was in Siem Reap and I noticed many smaller/boutique hotels did not have any generators. Be sure to choose a substantially sized hotel to avoid getting stuck in the dark!
Looking for a specifically gay hotel in Siem Reap? Ive heard great things about MEN’s Resort & Spa. Some gay travelers seek gay-specific hotels for obvious reasons. However, it is important to note that an experience at a gay hotel in Siem Reap is probably going to be quite different than one, say, in Madrid.
It is also possible to get a day pass to use the amenities at MEN’s Spa in Siem Reap. They have a nice pool and outdoor space as well as a decent gym. Make sure to check out the latest reviews before heading over!
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Siem Reap Experiences for the Gay Traveler
Here’s the low-down in the temples. Angkor Wat is obviously the big draw, but it is only one of many temples in the area. Although Angkor Wat is the most well-known, that doesn’t necessarily make it the best.
Of course, you should see it, but I also recommend spending time at the other temples. You will also encounter fewer tourists.
Depending on how long your stay is, you can choose from a one-day temple tour pass, a three-day pass or a weekly pass. Besides Angkor Wat, I recommend the Bayon Temple. At Bayon Temple it is much easier to find serene, hidden alcoves where you can be alone to take marvelous photos.
Where to Get Angkor Wat Tour Tickets
It is easiest to buy the temple tour pass the same day you visit. Tickets will include your photo and the date so you cannot share a ticket nor can you visit a different day than chosen.
There is a special ticket center you must visit before heading to the temples. If you ask any tuk-tuk or Grab Taxi driver to take you there, they will know exactly where it is. It is a large standalone building not far from the town center.
How to Get to the Temples in Siem Reap
If you decide to hire a driver, the cost may be about $8-$10 per hour. I paid $50 for five hours with a friendly woman, but I personally think I overpaid a bit. The cheapest option is to get a Grab Taxi ride to the ticket center and then drive to the first temple in your route.
From there you can either rent a bike, or get tuk-tuk rides between temples. Walking will take quite a bit of time if you go by foot. Also make sure to keep in mind the extreme temperatures.
Exploring Siem Reap Temples
I bought a one-day Siem Reap temple pass and it was more than enough for me. Using a personal driver also cut out a lot of travel time. Having air conditioning between temple visits was really comforting.
When you arrive at these temples, you are pretty much free to roam anywhere you want unless an area is specifically barricaded off. In both the Bayon Temple and Angkor Wat, I was able to find spaces in the temple completely to myself.
Finding these serene alcoves was my favorite part about the temples. Escaping the tourist trail to be in a temple, just as if you were a monk, will provide you an authentic piece of Buddhist realness.
My advice to you is to simply walk the opposite direction of wherever the tourist groups go. Fair warning, there will be loads of tourists, especially at Angkor Wat. But, you can outsmart them by losing yourself in the maze of hallways and finding your own little corner of each temple.
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Gay Siem Reap: Bars & Clubs
Siem Reap nightlife is rowdy and the locals enjoy it just as much as the tourists! I loved seeing the staff and hostesses at different restaurants bopping along to all the music as partygoers buzzed through the street.
Siem Reap is known for the best nightlife in Cambodia. Floods of tourists bring a wild vibe to an area called Pub Street, located in the town center. Pub Street has a little of everything…including bars, small clubs and restaurants. Although it is not as crazy as Bangkok or Phuket, there is certainly a rowdiness.
There are no specific gay bars in Siem Reap, but the town is quite popular with gay travelers in general. There was actually another gay traveler in Siem Reap the same time I was. We found each other on Instagram!
There are bars in Siem Reap along Pub Street. I enjoyed more than a few Angkor Draft beers (they’re only 50 cents!) at Temple Club. Even with a blackout and a subsequent generator failure, Temple Club kept powering back up to keep the music going all night! They have an indoor-outdoor dance floor area—definitely my favorite spot.
Siem Reap Gay Travel Tips
When I first crossed the border into Cambodia, I was surprised at the fact that the country operates using the U.S. Dollar! Cambodia actually uses a mix of both United States Dollars and the local Cambodian Riel.
The Riel is such a small denomination compared to the Dollar, so Cambodia uses Riel bills as change. Hence, no U.S. coins are used. Conveniently, people only exchange bills!
Siem Reap is extremely hot, so traveling around the temples can be taxing on the body. Personally, I sweat so much, that I found it completely worth it to hire a driver for a day.
Visas to Cambodia cost about $40 USD. Make sure to bring enough cash if you are crossing the border by bus, as there are no ATM machines anywhere near the border crossings. Siem Reap has its own international airport, so if you choose to make this town your only stop in Cambodia, it is easy to reach.
Most of Cambodia operates strictly in cash. Only larger commercial establishments or chain stores in both Siem Reap and the capital Phnom Penh, will take credit cards. Additionally, if the electricity fails, credit card terminals and ATM’s will not work, so it is always best to keep enough cash on hand.
In Siem Reap, I highly recommend using the Grab Taxi application instead of tuk-tuks because the tuk-tuk drivers are only interested in seeing how much they can overcharge you. I also felt much safer with Grab. The Grab Taxi app is used widely in many cities throughout Southeast Asia. It’s very cheap, and the drivers are always friendly.
Cambodia Gay Travel Safety: Siem Reap
Cambodia is a bit different from the rest of Southeast Asia in terms of safety. Travelers to Siem Reap should exercise increased caution while exploring the city.
Do not walk along the streets with your cell phone in your hand, not paying attention. Someone on a motorbike could fly by and grab it. If you are going to check your phone, stop over onto the sidewalk away from the middle of the road.
Gay Life in Cambodia
The LGBT rights situation in Cambodia is very similar to Vietnam, in that same-sex sexual activity is legal as well as the fact that there aren’t any protections for the LGBT community. Overall, there isn’t much opposition to same-sex marriage or the LGBT community, according to 2015 polls by TNS Cambodia.
Although there are no official protections for LGBT citizens, Cambodia’s government has expressed acceptance for the community. In most instances, the country falls back on laws protecting “all citizens,” but does not expressly grant the rights to the gay community.
The international community has pressured Cambodia to move forward with enacting legislation that explicitly grants rights and protections to LGBT citizens. So far, Cambodia has not passed any such laws. We therefore must remain hopeful and continue to hold Cambodia accountable for protecting their citizens.
If you enjoyed this Siem Reap gay travel guide, share with a friend. Be sure to check out wolfyy’s Phnom Penh Gay Travel Guide.