Swimming in Siem Reap

What we say: 3.5 stars

How hot and sticky is it in Siem Reap? Even in the cooler months of the year, after a day spent trampling around Angkorian temples or visiting any of the many other things to see, you feel horrible before it’s even midday. Clothes are stuck to everything. A river, a whole river, of sweat has gushed down your back and God knows where. Your dominant mood is sluggish with a hint of irritation. And the best, most wonderful, cure for that would be a lovely, cooling, relaxing swim.

Ready to splash out at Prince d’Angkor.

Unfortunately, you’ve checked into one of the Siem Reap guesthouses that doesn’t have a pool. Or, it does have a pool which you know because you checked when you made the booking and they said, “Yes, we have a lovely, big pool”, but it’s so small a Labrador would disdain it, the tiles are cracked and dirty, and you wouldn’t wash your shoes in the water.

Despair not. There are a couple of hotels in town that have pools, magnificent pools, and are happy to let non-guests use them, either for a fee or on condition that guests order food or drink from the bar. We describe three here, but we’ll revisit this important issue for travellers later…

The first and largest pool is at the Prince d’Angkor, a four-star hotel on Sivatha Boulevard. Not only is the outdoor pool huge, it’s also salt water, and set in a lovely enclosed courtyard. At $8, the entry fee is steep, although it does also give you access to the air-conditioned and reasonably well-equipped gym. The pool is pretty quiet too if you’re looking for some serenity, and has comfy shaded loungers, and a splash pool too.

Heading a little bit north, on the west riverside you’ll find the RiverGarden hotel, a cool jungly oasis that will transport you away from the crowds. The pool here is small, but mostly shaded, and it’s free for use provided you return the favour by buying drinks or food. The Australian owner, Deborah Saunders, has been a long time in the business of catering, and her food is wonderful. The staff here are very efficient and friendly too.

The last place is not a hotel but a restaurant. Kanell is only two minutes on a tuk-tuk from Old Market, and has really wonderful landscaped gardens, brimming with all kinds of flowers and trees. It’s very cleverly designed with little gazebos dotted around the garden so that you can eat in the shade while maintaining a little distance from everyone else if you want to. At back is a small, raised pool that is a hit with expat families on Sunday mornings when Kanell puts on a special brunch menu as well. The restaurant serves great food; choose from the poolside menu offering tasty snacks, sandwiches, burgers and so on, and a more upmarket menu with a selection of French and Asian dishes. Kanell will also provide towels if you don’t have one handy.

Go, splash out, cool off and enjoy. (And see our more recent piece on additional swimming pools in Siem Reap as well.)

Prince d’Angkor
Sivatha Blv, Mondul II, Sangkat Svay Dangkom
T: (063) 763 888
The RiverGarden
113 Mondul 111 Phoum Treang, Slorkrum
T: (063) 963 400
7 Makara Street
T: (077) 20 71 00
Last updated: 31st January, 2015

About the author:
Nicky Sullivan is an Irish freelance writer (and aspiring photographer). She has lived in England, Ireland, France, Spain and India, but decided that her tribe and heart are in Cambodia, where she has lived since 2007 despite repeated attempts to leave. She dreams of being as tough as Dervla Murphy, but fears there may be a long way to go. She can’t stand whisky for starters. She was a researcher, writer and coordinator for The Angkor Guidebook: Your Essential Companion to the Temples, now one of the best-selling guidebooks to the temples.
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