In our new MILK Men’s City Guides travel series, we’re bringing you our must-see things to do, see, eat, drink and shop in some of our favourite destinations all over the world.  Think of it as a modern man’s city guide.  To kick things off, we’re bringing you to Siem Reap.  Since the fall of the Khmer Rouge in the late 90’s, Cambodia has slowly begun to reopen its boarders to tourism and it is now one of the top destinations to visit in South-East Asia.  Its most famous attraction, Angkor Wat, was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1992.  Cambodia has an incredibly rich history to discover; having been the largest empire in South-East Asia during the 12th Century, its people were prolific in building temples and engineering agricultural as well as architectural advances.  Many of Siem Reap’s temples in the Angkor Wat precinct and beyond were abandoned when the Khmer Empire fell and nature’s power took over, giving its temples an eye-opening ‘ruinous’ feel that was made famous in films such as Tomb Raider.  There are still believed to be hundreds of temples all over Cambodia that have not yet been uncovered.  Many are still in the midst of a massive international restoration process.  Now is undoubtedly an interesting time to visit the historically significant city of Siem Reap, where the capital of Angkor once sat.  Read on to discover our tips on how to explore this ancient capital below.

 

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SEE

All the guide books and travel blogs will tell you to leave at 4am and go to Angkor Wat toes the sunrise.  We agree with one of these two things; do get up at 4am, but don’t go to Angkor Wat.  Instead, head to Bayon, Angkor Tom and the Elephant Terrace (or, if you’re up for a longer driver, Bantaey Srei, Ta Prohm and Beng Mealea are a must).  Most tourists go to Angkor Wat to watch the ‘famed’ sunrise before then going to Bayon and beyond.  There are two problems with doing things this way: one is the obvious swarm of tourists with whom you will be sharing that ‘special’ spiritual moment, the second is that the famous pink sunrise is actually quite rare and a number of uncontrollable factors will determine whether or not you’ll actually be able to see it.  Therefore, we suggest heading to the outer temples before the tidal wave of tourists descend upon them, giving you space to actually enjoy them virtually on your own.  Instead, head to Angkor Wat during lunchtime from around 11-2pm, when the big tour groups will dissipate, giving you a much more pleasant experience.  Alternatively, if you’re dying for that famous picture of Angkor Wat reflected in the pond, go at sunset; the light will be just as beautiful, but there will be far fewer tourists with whom to fight for a coveted photo spot.  You might even share the moment with a few of the local monks (and monkeys) who live there.

Wear: beat the heat in our ‘Rio de Janeiro’ linen shirt.

 

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EAT

Cambodian food is not a well-known cuisine around the world, but it should be because it is quite simply delicious.  The closest thing you could compare it to is Thai food, however Cambodians don’t eat as much spice or chilli, so their food is a lot less confronting on your digestive system.  One of their most famous dishes is ‘Amok’, which is a mild yet flavoursome coconut curry that is cooked in banana leaves, typically made with fish.  The food scene in Siem Reap is definitely burgeoning at the moment with so many incredible and still affordable options to choose from.  One of our must-go places for authentic Khmer cuisine in an elegant environment in Siem Reap is Malis.  It’s set in the centre of the bustling shopping and restaurant district, so you’ll have plenty of places to wander post-meal if you want to give your legs a bit of a stretch.

Wear: paired with cotton trousers, a light poplin shirt such as our ‘Barcelona‘ style is a great choice for the evening.

 

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DRINK

One of the most interesting bars you can visit while you in Siem Reap is, without a doubt, Asana.  This is a quaint bar that’s housed in an authentic and original old wooden house, serving Khmer-inspired cocktails.  The environment is sophisticated, yet unpretentious and the cocktails feature a wide range of native Cambodian herbs, spices and ingredients, such as turmeric, sugar cane, tamarind, kaffir and galangal.  It’s also just a stone’s throw away from the energetic centre of nightlife, Pub Street, so it makes for a convenient stop on your nighttime itinerary.

Wear: roll up the sleeves of your ‘Barcelona’ shirt to reveal the contrast gingham detail on the cuffs, relax, and enjoy your drink. 

 

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SHOP

Artisans d’Angkor provides both an eye-opening look into the process of Khmer workmanship, as well as a unique opportunity to shop locally-made artisanal pieces where 100% of the proceeds go to payment towards the artisan, training & education of new craftsman and the development of local arts.  You can visit one of their various workshops where they provide free daily guided tours in many different languages, giving you the chance to see the painstaking process required to make one exquisite piece of silk; or you can admire the precise handiwork of a local stone and wood carver and you can learn of the delicate craft of silk painting, among other things.  Originally opened at the end of the 1990s, the business now employs over 900 artisans and has 42 workshops throughout Siem Reap, providing work for the rural populations who may otherwise be unable to earn a living.  Top of our must-buy list is one of their silks; once you see what it takes to make just one small piece of silk by hand, you’ll never be able to look at the fabric the same way again.

Wear: for another day in the heat of the sun, our linen ‘Mombasa‘ safari shirt is a safe bet to keep you looking stylish and feeling comfortable.