Siem Reap Gay Travel
wolfyy’s Siem Reap gay guide to hotels, hostels, local temples, nightlife & visiting Angkor Wat.
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 popular waypoint between major gay travel destinations in Thailand and Vietnam.
While traveling solo to Siem Reap, it was clear that gay men were out and about as I experienced the nightlife. Siem Reap has quite an international tourist crowd, with equal amounts of tourists from a variety of cultures.
Gay Siem Reap: Hotels & Where to Stay
Hotels near Pub Street, the local nightlife center, are popular with the majority of travelers in Siem Reap. Siem Reap is relatively small, so most hotels will be within a 10 to 15-minute walk to the town center. However, it’s more convenient to be just a couple of minutes away.
Staying in a hotel close to Angkor Wat, isn’t really necessary unless you’re not interested in seeing Siem Reap’s town center and only want to see the temples.
You will need to drive to the Angkor area from your hotel anyway, so it is best to position yourself close to restaurants and nightlife in the middle of town.
Siem Reap hostels are quite inexpensive among the city’s wide range of accommodations. 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.
Lub d Hostel is particularly noteworthy in Siem Reap, so I took a walk to see it even though I wasn’t staying there. It looked super fun, clean, and nicely decorated. The indoor-outdoor pool was awesome!
I stayed in Central Privilege Hotel, located about a 12-minute walk to Pub Street. This hotel was amazing for the pool with a swim-up bar, friendly staff, and the best food I had while in Cambodia.
With a wonderful room with a terrace on the 3rd floor and a view of all Siem Reap, I was super happy!
Siem Reap Gay Hotels
Day passes to use the amenities at MEN’s Spa in Siem Reap are also an option. 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!
It’s important to note, however, that an experience at a gay hotel in Siem Reap is probably going to be quite different than one in a big gay city like Madrid, for example.
Bring along one of your sexy swimsuits, too. For lounging around when it’s super hot out, try these men’s sport swim shorts.
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!
Siem Reap Gay Travel Experiences
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. Just because Angkor Wat is the most well-known, that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing to see.
Angkor Wat is the biggest religious building in the world, so you should of course see it. But I also recommend spending time at the other temples nearby. 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 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 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
Hiring a driver will cost roughly $8-$10 per hour. I paid $50 for five hours with a friendly woman (in 2018), 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 along 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 on 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 with an authentic piece of Buddhist realness.
My advice is to simply walk in 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.
Prepare yourself to see Angkor Wat comfortably, since Siem Reap temperatures can soar. A pack of cotton handkerchiefs to dry off sweat, breathable clothing, and a stainless steel insulated water bottle to keep water cold are all indispensable.
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.
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 at 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!
Prepare for Extreme Heat
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 more than 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.
You'll Mostly Be Using Cash
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 ATMs will not work, so it is always best to keep enough cash on hand.
Use a VPN Connection
Personal data privacy is more important than ever before. And interestingly, Cambodia is among the 66 world nations without data privacy laws. So a VPN connection will help you protect your online activity from theft or being used to personally identify you.
Travelers can benefit from using a VPN in unexpected ways too, like being able to unblock certain content and apps that are either unavailable regionally or blocked by the local government.
Getting Around 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 places throughout Southeast Asia. It’s very cheap, and the drivers are always friendly.
Cambodia Gay Travel Safety
Cambodia is a bit different from other Southeast Asian countries in terms of safety. Travelers to Siem Reap should exercise increased caution while exploring the city and be sure to follow these essential travel safety guidelines.
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.
Cambodia Gay Life
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 its citizens.
See wolfyy’s complete collection of gay travel guides for more gay destination ideas around the world.