Savor authentic Khmer cuisine
Sample local favorites like fish amok (fish curry steamed in a banana leaf) and beef lok lak (sliced beef tenderloin in garlic and pepper lime sauce) at homegrown restaurants like The Sugar Palm (Taphul Rd; +855 63 964 838; thesugarpalm.com). For elevated Khmer fare, check out Cuisine Wat Damnak (Wat Damnak Village, Sala Kamreuk Commune; +855 77 347 762; cuisinewatdamnak.com) — which made number 43 on Asia’s Best 50 Restaurants 2016 list — for modern reinterpretations of classic dishes.
Enjoy a spot of jazz
Relax and unwind in style at Heritage Suites Hotel’s popular Jazz in the City series, which takes place from 7pm in the hotel’s lobby lounge every Thursday. This is where independent musicians gather to perform jazz classics and standards. The happy-hour cocktails and canapés are absolutely delicious — I especially love their gin & tonic, and Quail’s Egg with Béarnaise Sauce.
Wander about in Kandal Village
Kandal Village is a stylish little enclave in the heart of Siem Reap that’s lined with eclectic cafés, shops, spas and boutiques run by independent designers, both local and foreign. It’s the perfect place to while away a lazy day.
Visit lesser-known temples
Check out the shrines of Preah Ang Chek and Preah Ang Chorm (National Route 6, between Oum Chhay St and Pokambor Ave), dedicated to two Angkorian princesses, and Ya Tep (National Route 6), which pays homage to a neak-ta, or a powerful spirit connected to a particular area. Both shrines are popular among locals, especially newlyweds, who visit them with heartfelt prayers for health, prosperity and a good life.
Give back to the community
I personally support and encourage contributing to projects that lessen poverty through education in Siem Reap. Consider lunching at the Sala Baï Hotel & Restaurant School (Wat Svay, Tonle Sap Rd; salabai.com), which offers vocational training to more than 100 disadvantaged youths. For one-of-a-kind souvenirs, check out local outfit Ammo (ammojewellery.com), a social business that fashions contemporary jewelry out of bullet casings. Besides functioning as a creative means for local artisans to upcycle scrap metal, this unique venture also provides jewelry apprenticeships to disadvantaged youths in fields such as design and marketing.
Admire the Angkorian sunset
There are many places in the city where you can enjoy gorgeous sunset views. One of my favorite vantage points is Srah Srang. Formerly an ablution pool, its waters offer beautiful reflections of the sunset. Alternatively, you can book a private tour of the Tonle Sap Lake with Heritage Adventures (heritage-adventures.net). You’ll get to drink in the sunset views with a glass of champagne in hand — perfect for a romantic evening.