Sip in affordable style
Buy one get one? With so many bars and restaurants in Siem Reap you can do better than that thanks to the numerous happy hour deals that will keep you merry come cocktail o’clock. But why bother with a happy hour in the first place? Alcohol is very, very cheap in Cambodia – we’re talking US$0.50 draft beer and $1.50 cocktails being commonplace. Many restaurants also offer a permanent happy hour of 2-for-1, undermining the meaning of a happy hour somewhat. But there tends to be a reasonably strong correlation between rock bottom prices and either the quality of your beverage or the ambiance you’ll be able to enjoy it in.
Though most drinking holes are clustered around the main hub of activity, Pub Street and the Old Market in the downtown area, it’s worth seeking out the happy hours in some of the town’s top establishments if you’d like a taste of luxury for less. Drink prices are halved or on two for one, making them excellent value as they become comparable in cost to the offerings in the regular bars and restaurants in the centre.
Boutique hotel FCC is the former French governor’s mansion, sitting on the riverside in a leafy vantage point. Happy hour runs from 17:00 till 19:00 daily with half-price drinks. Though the cocktails themselves might not blow you away, you can’t go wrong with a cold beer when it gets warm (which is most of the time and the bar is fan-only). It’s easy to while away an hour or two in this attractive building sat out on the upstairs balcony.
Heritage Suites is another boutique hotel, though a little further out of town. Happy hour in the air-conditioned bar is from 17:00 till 19.00. Head here on a Thursday night when the weekly Jazz In the City draws in the punters for live music and an extended happy hour until 22:00. Though there’s no formal dress code, best to leave the Vang Vieng look behind.
Alternatively head over to Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa. Happy hour runs daily but Friday is when it’s most happening with live music from late afternoon until 19:00, when happy hour ends. Drinks are half price – note that tax will be added to the bill on top of listed prices. If it’s not the band or drinks that draw you in, then a free buffet of finger food might. Due to some taking unfair advantage of this without purchasing drinks, you are expected to buy a couple during happy hour, which shouldn’t pose a great challenge. Service is not the speediest but with the air-con bar or large, semi-covered outdoor seating area this is a popular spot.
To take it up a notch even further in the style stakes, kick back in the Living Room lounge and bar on a Friday night at five-star Park Hyatt Hotel. You can also sip on their creations in the courtyard at this modern and stylish property with half-price cocktails during happy hour.
The smarter restaurants around also have some good deals, providing a similarly sophisticated setting to enjoy a drink. Palate is a smart, contemporary restaurant with a rooftop bar overlooking the river. It’s buy-one-get-one-free on all cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks from 17:00 till 19:00. You also get to choose a free tapas, which are excellent quality and will whet your appetite for dining in the pan-Asian restaurant on the ground floor. If you want to drink a little earlier in the day then NEST, on Sivatha Boulevard, offers buy-one-get-one-free on all cocktails from 15:00 till 16:00.
By Caroline Major
Last updated on 29th March, 2015.