The Ultimate Gay
Siem Reap Guide
When you hear “Cambodia”, chances are the first image that pops into your head is that of the magnificent towers at Angkor Wat. One of the world’s most famous religious sites, it is so much a national symbol that you’ll find it on the Cambodian flag. Few people come to Cambodia without making a stop at Angkor, and almost everyone stays in the adjacent town of Siem Reap, known as the “gateway to Angkor”.
This makes Siem Reap the most tourist-friendly place in the country. Everyone from couples to families to backpackers on Southeast Asian tours mingle in Siem Reap’s hotels, restaurants, and bars. The latter are mostly concentrated around the iconic Pub Street, which is the name given to a group of several narrow streets that house expat and tourist-friendly drinking spots.
The gay scene in Siem Reap is small, but it is worth checking out. It is made up of a handful of gay (or gay-owned) bars and clubs, all with distinct vibes yet all very welcoming. Head to one of these after a long day of temple-hopping to relax, have a cocktail, and mingle with both visitors and locals.
Gay SIEM REAP Nightlife
Siem Reap is a relatively small city, built almost entirely around the constant flow of tourists to Cambodia’s most iconic attraction: the temples at Angkor Wat. Like most tourist hubs in Southeast Asia, you’re never too far from a party. Here, it is to be found among the bars and nightclubs of the appropriately named Pub Street.
The whole nightlife area is gay-friendly, but there are a few gay bars to choose from. Together, they make up a friendly, laid-back, and surprisingly varied gay scene.
Miss Wong is a gay-owned cocktail bar, with a chic old-school Shanghai theme and a range of delicious and inventive cocktails that use local ingredients and flavors. It’s a classy joint, mostly frequented by an older crowd, and a perfect place to go if you want some respite from the rowdy backpacker crowd knocking back beers and buckets on Pub Street. Keep up-to-date with their events on Facebook.
Barcode is a small but lively gay bar with nightly cabaret shows and club nights. The shows are high-quality and entertaining, the drinks are delicious and reasonably priced, and the staff is always welcoming and friendly. It is located a short walk from the main part of Pub Street. For location and the lastest information check their Facebook.
Heaven & DreamBoys Siem Reap (H&DB) is a club with a daily two-hour live dancing show. There’s a happy hour between 4pm and 7pm, and the show starts at 9:45. The boys mingle and chat to the crowd in between acts, so you’re guaranteed to get up close to the eye candy. The bar is a little bit out the way from the main nightlife area, but is still just a 15-minute walk (or 5-minute tuk tuk) from Pub Street. More info on Facebook.
SIEM REAP’S GAY-FRIENDLY HOTELS
As Cambodia’s central tourism hub, Siem Reap has no shortage of great hotels. From luxury resorts to budget boutique hotels. There are even two popular exclusive men-only gay hotels in Siem Reap. Most of the hotels in town are spread around Siem Reap’s city center, where Pub Street, the Old Market, and the Royal Residence are. The towns nightlife is almost always within walking distance, and a tuk-tuk to Angkor is usually under 20 minutes.
Siem Reap Local Gay Apps
Looking to hook up in Siem Reap? As always, Grindr is the city’s most popular gay dating app. Blued (the Chinese version of Grindr) and Hornet are also popular gay dating apps in Siem Reap.
First time in Siem Reap?
Gays and The Law
Cambodia is fairly tolerant and open-minded when it comes to homosexuality. While there are no legal protections for LGBT people and gay marriage is not yet legal, there is no widespread hostility against homosexuality in the culture. In particular, locals are unlikely to have any issue with gay foreigners – although it is still difficult for Cambodians to be openly out of the closet in many parts of the country.
Generally speaking, open displays of affection – of any gender – are very much frowned upon. Of course, Siem Reap being the biggest tourist and expat hub in the country, you won’t attract much attention with a kiss in Pub Street on a Saturday night. That said, it is advisable to avoid offending the locals.
Siem Reap is very much geared towards international tourism, so gay travelers are not likely to have any problems. There is a gay-friendly network of guesthouses and hotels, and no accommodation in town is going to bat an eye at two men asking to share a bed.
Getting Tested in Siem Reap
Historically speaking, Cambodia has been behind some of its neighbors when it comes to HIV awareness and testing. This has been changing in recent years, with government efforts and funds dedicated to eradicating new cases.
However, these services can be hard to access for foreigners, due to language barriers and lack of information. For this reason, there is not a convenient place to get an HIV test in Siem Reap. If you believe you may have been infected, abstain from unprotected sex until you can get to a clinic. The closest and most convenient place to go is Phnom Penh.
In Phnom Penh, you have a few options. International HIV advocacy group AHF has several clinics throughout the city – you can find a list of them here. Alternatively, The Institut Pasteur in Cambodia also provides free testing at their clinic on Monivong Boulevard, Tuesday to Saturday morning.