Where to work out in Siem Reap

What we say: 3.5 stars

I’m writing this now, but as it’s 983 degrees I’m as likely to think it’s a good idea to head for the gym as I am to host my own public disembowelment. On the other hand, I do know there are some people out there who are not as congenitally bone-idle as I am, so this one’s for you: how to find a gym in Siem Reap.

Cool water splash at Prince d'Angkor

Cool water splash at Prince d'Angkor.

Once, a long, long time ago when I was very definitely suffering from sun-stroke, I decided to find a gym in Siem Reap and so visited what felt like every hotel in town trying to find a decent one. What quickly became clear is that while many hotels and guesthouses might technically claim to have a “gym”, not so many have one that you could feasibly use. If you booked your hotel with a gym in mind, and happen to find yourself in one of the offenders, you have my sympathies.

The main problem was a lack of equipment. One boasted not much more than a couple of dumb-bells and a strong-smelling carpet. Others stretched their budgets to a running machine or two that usually looked like they couldn’t cope with anything more intense than Twiggy on a stroll, when she was 10. Many simply devoted inadequate space, and the scariest one was housed in a tiny room, with large glass windows on three sides, and a single tiny fan that could have had asthma. The heat in there was incredible, and probably quite dangerous. There are other options though.

The most interesting gym I’ve used, though not affiliated to any hotel, is on 7 Makara Rd (on the left hand side between the Angkor High School and Aqua). I don’t think it actually has a name. It’s is a local gym that charges only $1 at the door, or $2 if you want to use any of the running machines. The room is large and stocked with an impressive range of equipment, most of which looks like it’s composed of recycled tractor parts, which is good for getting you into the right frame of mind I guess. But, while it might not be glamorous, it does do what you need it to do, namely make you look faintly idiotic, sweat a lot, and come out with a fair justification for a nice cold beer. Note: for $1, you do not get air-con or showers, though there are fans. But you do get a towel and they have bottled water for sale.

Back in town, there’s another local gym on the little road that leads from the junction that links Pokambor Avenue, Sivutha Boulevard, and the river road. As you go move away from the roundabout, down the river towards the Tonle Sap, take the right turn about 20 yards down. Down here about 200/300 metres on the right hand side, you’ll find a small local gym that is also insanely cheap. There’s not as much equipment here as the other one, but if all you want is a cheap, quick and dirty work-out, it’s got the basics for what you need.

If you really prefer an in-house gym but are on a budget, then the Mandalay Inn has a really surprisingly well-equipped roof-top gym. Looking out across the whole of southwest Siem Reap town, the space is naturally aerated by the breezes, and the view will keep you entertained as you work out. As it’s only accessible to guests, you won’t have to worry too much about crowding either.

In the mid-range, the Prince d’Angkor on Sivutha Boulevard offers a decent, indoor air-con gym, with changing rooms and access to their enormous salt-water pool, all for $8 a day which is not a bad deal if you’re not doing it too often.

For the same price, the Angkor Century Resort & Spa also has good facilities: their running machines are better than the Prince d’Angkor, but they don’t have a lateral pull-down machine. Their pool is also large and lovely, and there’s a snazzy spa offering an exotic range of scrubs, massages and facial treatments inside the same building as the gym.

Last updated: 31st January, 2015

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