A night out in Siem Reap, Cambodia

This trip was hosted (what does this mean?) – I travelled to Cambodia and Vietnam and experienced the RV Mekong Pandaw cruise as a guest of Vietnam Airlines.

Koulen II Restaurant buffet and traditional dance show

On our second night in Siem Reap, after a day exploring the temples at Angkor Archaeological Park, our driver takes us to Koulen II Restaurant for a buffet dinner and traditional dance show.

The huge dining room is bustling with activity – most diners are seated at long communal tables and staff weave briskly through, taking drink orders, delivering drinks and clearing dishes. The buffet is extensive, with Khmer, Chinese and Western dishes, vegetarian dishes, a large range of Asian desserts and fresh local fruit. The choices are mind-boggling – this buffet demands multiple visits. My photographs only capture some of what’s available.

A massive dining room.

Enormous buffet with lots of choices.

Pork with pineapple

Pork with pineapple – very generous with the pineapple! A list of ingredients is listed next to each of the hot dishes.

Pork ribs with cabbage soup

Pork ribs with cabbage soup. The homestyle soups are especially good.

Green mango salad

Green mango salad.






Sauces. And a ferris wheel!

There is an amazing array of food to choose from, but what I love most are the stations where staff cook dishes to order while you watch.

At this station, the ladies cook up pork-filled pancakes and rice cakes. In the corner a staff member grates thin ribbons of green mango for salad.

Cooking pancakes and rice cakes.

The noodle soup station is very popular – the longest part of the process is waiting in the queue. Once it’s your turn, choose your noodles, proteins and veggies and your bowl of broth and goodies is assembled right before you at lightning speed.

Noodle soup station.

I make a stop at the deep fry station where a fellow is busily frying up battered banana, carrots and sweet potato. The enormous oil-filled woks give off a great deal of heat. It all tastes so very good, but deep-fried battered carrots are terribly addictive.

Deep-fry station - bananas, carrots and sweet potato

Deep-fry station – bananas, carrots and sweet potato.

I stop at the fried noodle station for some stir-fried flat rice noodles with chicken and vegetables. It’s mouthwatering sight and smells fantastic. There’s also a very popular station where skewered meats are grilled, and a spring roll station where fresh and deep-fried spring rolls are in constant high demand.

Fried noodle station. The tossing of the stir-fry in the pan is almost hypnotic to watch.

At 7.30pm, the show begins.

Musicians on stage

Musicians on stage. Having explored the Angkor temples earlier today, the stage set is particularly evocative, resembling one of the faces from the Bayon temple.

Traditional dance

Traditional Khmer Apsara dance.

Traditional dance

The Apsara dance is very graceful to watch.

The restaurant is still abuzz when we leave. Clearly, there still a lot of eating to be done.

Koulen II Restaurant
50, Sivatha Street, Mondul II, Svaydangkum, Siem Reap Kingdom of Cambodia.
Telephone: (855) 92 630 090
11am to 10pm daily
Buffet begins 6pm
Dance show begins 7.30pm
This restaurant is aimed at the tourist market, but the food is plentiful and tasty and you’ll get to try plenty of Khmer (Cambodian) dishes, including various soups and curries, green mango salad and fish amok, curried fish in coconut milk steamed and served in a cup made of banana leaf (reminded me of Malaysian otak-otak, but much milder – delicious!).

Angkor night market

After dinner, the boys and I walk towards the Angkor Night Market. The traffic seems to come from all directions. There are puddles to avoid as well as tuk-tuks. The balmy air smells of charcoal grill and all kinds of delicious things. As good as it was, I’m a little sad I’m full of dinner.

Walking to the night market

Walking to the night market, doing our best to stay out of traffic’s way.

Batman tuk-tuk

The coolest tuk-tuk I saw in Cambodia, the Batman tuk-tuk.

Angkor night market sign.

Clothes for sale. There are lots of clothes, scarves, jewellery, bags, and countless Buddha statues on display.

There are many fish foot spa “Dr fish massage” places all along the street. For a fee, you’ll be given the privilege of dipping your feet in a cool aquarium where dozens of little fish will nibble away. Be aware though, that fish foot spas are banned in certain countries for health safety reasons.

A less fishy street-side massage right next door.

Bags for sale – I bought a couple of elephant-shaped bags for my nieces. Luckily I have Burt by my side while I’m shopping – he’s much better at haggling than I am. US dollars are accepted at all the stalls. 1 US dollar is equal to approximately 4,000 Cambodian riels.

More bags for sale (someone is watching me).

Street food stalls.

Angkor Night Market, Siem Reap
Located just off Siwatha Street – look for the Angkor Night Market signs
Every night 4pm to midnight.

Pub Street

How can a group of Aussie blokes resist the lure of a place called Pub Street? I’m happy to follow them as they head towards the neon red lights.

Heading towards Pub Street

The streets are crawling with locals and tourists. There are lots of balcony bars and restaurants, street food and market stalls.

Angkor What? A sign above the entrance proclaims “Promoting irresponsible drinking since 1998.”

The Temple Club has an ornate facade designed to resemble the Angkor temples.

Don’t feel like a pub drink? At this Street Bar a Fruits you can get smoothies, fruit juices and yoghurt shakes made fresh for you using an array of local fruits.

Pub Street, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Pub Street, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

We’re really enjoying our night out but it’s been a long day and now time to rest our weary bodies. We grab a tuk-tuk back to the hotel, a quick ride that costs us just a few dollars. My first ride in a tuk-tuk – great fun!

Tomorrow morning we’ll be leaving the Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa and Siem Reap to embark on our much anticipated Mekong River cruise…

This trip was hosted (what does this mean?) – I travelled to Cambodia and Vietnam and experienced the RV Mekong Pandaw cruise as a guest of Vietnam Airlines.

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