Every visitor heading to Siem Reap (gateway to the temples of Angkor Wat Archaeological Park) who does a little research on Siem Reap will have heard of Pub Street. Pub Street is the center of tourist life in Siem Reap. It’s a small street on which there is one restaurant, bar or club next to another. No excessive research is needed as Pub Street is an important and always mentioned part of Siem Reap so you will have heard from it soon once you start doing your research on the town.
It was no different with me. Knowing I was heading to Siem Reap, I went to read up a bit on it to get a general idea about this town and Pub Street was a reoccurring mention in virtually every report. When I got to Siem Reap, I was aware of Pub Street, I just didn’t quite know which one it was. Pub Street is just a nick name given to a street because it houses so many pubs. It’s not an actual name given to it by the municipal government.
Perhaps that was the reason why I was unable to find Pub Street on the map of any of free publications available to Siem Reap visitors, including Angkor Siem Reap Visitors Guide and OutAbout Cambodia. But not knowing which one Pub Street has bothered me not. I knew I was gonna stumble across it sooner or later.
Then when I had my first Cambodian meal at Khmer Family Restaurant during my first wander through Siem Reap on foot, I spotted the sign saying “Pub Street” and containing an arrow. I noticed that sign after I had left the restaurant and wanted to do some more walking around town. The sign suggested that Pub Street was close, little did I know the sign meant that this was the beginning of Pub Street. Without even realizing it, when I took my turn in order to get to a restaurant and have something to eat, I have actually turned to Pub Street and wandered down it. The Khmer Family Restaurant where I had my food was also located on Pub Street, I just wasn’t aware of it.
That was my introduction to Pub Street. A few days later I found out the street on which I had my first Cambodian meal – Street number 8 is Pub Street. Why out of all streets crossing Thnou Street down which I was walking I took a turn when I hit Street 8 in order to see if there are any restaurants where I could eat – I do not know. I found Pub Street without looking for it. And since Khmer Family Restaurant offered reasonable priced, good quality food and had fast WiFi internet free for their customers, I was on Pub Street every day of my stay in Siem Reap.
Even though I didn’t get near enough sleep my first night in Cambodia and even though that night was followed by a relentless 27 hours traveling trip, once I was awaken, I have braced myself, got dressed and stepped outside to explore Siem Reap. Rain had stopped with first morning light and I was too excited to get my first feel of Asia on my own. Two Dragons guesthouse had several free brochures available on the desk right by the reception so I’ve helped myself. The larger one was called Siem Reap Angkor Visitors Guide and there were two issues of this one available – one from February 2009 and the latest one from June 2009. Aside from Siem Reap Angkor Visitors Guides, there was also a smaller, pocket sized guide called O&A Out and About Pocket Guide to Cambodia, Siem Reap Edition.
I found both of these publications extremely helpful and would recommend every visitor to Cambodia pick one of each up. They are free and widely distributed throughout touristy establishments. Your guesthouse/hotel is likely to have them at the reception and if not, you will find them in restaurants or information centers.
Granted, both Siem Reap Angkor Visitors Guide and O&A Out and About Pocket Guide to Cambodia are 90% advertising, however the rest is a whole pile of useful info. I have particularly come to like the map of Siem Reap that is provided at the beginning of the Siem Reap Angkor Visitors Guide. It’s an illustration that leaves out everything you don’t need, keeping the map simple which makes the town easy to navigate even for first time visitors. I was a first time visitor that day myself, never been to Siem Reap or anywhere in Cambodia for that matter before and the map in Siem Reap Angkor Visitors Guide has been all I need to get my way around town.
O&A Out and About Pocket Guide to Cambodia also has a map of Siem Reap. Theirs offers more of a bird’s eye perspective of the town and is split into two parts. It focuses less on listing hotels and restaurants and more on listing pagodas, gardens, museums, malls, etc. Both guides are very useful for everyone who wishes to explore Siem Reap on their own, not through the advice of Tuk Tuk drivers which is always, and strictly biased.
Explore Siem Reap on Your Own, Ignore Tuk Tuk Drivers
Tuk Tuk drivers will prey on unsavvy tourists and act like they are your best friends who will serve you with free advice. Whatever it is you may be in need of, they will hook you up with it. Trick is, they will only and solely hook you up with whoever pays them the highest commission. They will always try to advise you against going where you are heading and for going elsewhere and will have millions of arguments at the ready to present and back up their “whys”. In the end of the day, they are only looking for a kick back from establishments for each customer they deliver. This commission system is deeply embedded in the way Cabodia works. Whether you see it or not, changes nothing on the fact that it’s always working and is always present. Don’t become a victim of it. Pick up your free copies of Siem Reap Angkor Visitors Guide and Out & About Pocket Guide to Cambodia and go where your heart leads you, not where Tuk Tuk driver gets the highest kick back for you.