Wat Bo Village in Siem Reap was recently crowned Asia’s coolest neighbourhood and now it has its own pocket guide to give the lowdown on the area’s spots.

After officially being crowned Asia’s coolest neighbourhood by Time Out magazine, Siem Reap’s Wat Bo village is on a high. And now the area’s eclectic collection of boutique stores, hip hotels, and atmospheric bars, cafes and restaurants are being highlighted in a pocket guide.

Tourism-reliant Siem Reap has been hit hard by the pandemic, so it’s about time Temple Town had something to celebrate. And what better than earning the title of Asia’s coolest neighbourhood – and third in the world – by Time Out magazine?

The Keys by Tomaka sits in Wat Bo Village

Wat Bo Pocket Guide

In addition, the community of business owners have united to produce a cute pocket guide that throws the spotlight on what makes the village so special. “We’ve always loved this area of the city, with its intimate scale and laid-back vibe,” says Joni Aker, general manager of Treeline hotel.

“This guide serves a practical purpose, but it’s also a celebration of that sense of community, of having helped each other through a long and extremely challenging period and having come out the other side with renewed energy and a shared sense of wanting to make this neighbourhood even better.”

Sitting east of Siem Reap River, Wat Bo Village, which is named after Wat Bo Pagoda, one of Siem Reap town’s oldest places of worship, has evolved in recent years. Once a sleepy part of town, today it is home to a vibrant mix of elegant hotels, stylish bars and music venues, award-winning restaurants and charming coffee shops.

“Wat Bo has always had its own charms, and I’m very pleased that it’s getting more attention these days,” says Nguon Venchhay, a partner at Cuisine Wat Damnak, Cambodia’s first restaurant to make the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list – first in 2015 and again in 2019. “It’s always good for a city like Siem Reap, which relies heavily on tourism, to have more interesting districts.”

The pocket guide features a map to the neighbourhood and a QR code for more information. It is free at participating establishments in Wat Bo and elsewhere in the city.

Wat Bo Village Highlights

Here are some highlights to Wat Bo Village that feature in the guide:

  • Banlle: This is Swiss-trained Cambodian chef Pola Siv’s vegetarian restaurant, set in a traditional wooden house with a wraparound vegetable and herb garden
  • Miss Wong: Iconic cocktail bar that has cemented itself as a Siem Reap institution. It relocated to Street 26 from the Pub Street are in 2020
  • Fermenters Kitchen: A probiotics drinks brand headquartered at Miss Wong
  • Dialogue: A cute, hip coffee shop within a charmingly aged shophouse on Street 27
  • Treeline Hotel: A design-led boutique hotel and local arts champion that regularly stages exhibitions featuring Cambodian artists
  • Suri Spa: A boutique wellness spa
  • Footprints Café: A co-working space, café and library
  • Tevy’s Place: A restaurant that doubles up as a social enterprise on Street 26
  • Paris Bakery: A French deli and bakery that offers freshly-baked pastries, cheese and cured meats
  • The Sugar Palm: Chef Kethana Dunnet’s restaurant on Street 27 serves classic Cambodian dishes based on recipes passed down through generations of her family
  • Maison 557: A boutique hotel with a charming retro aesthetic, home to several dining outlets

The Wat Bo Village pocket guide also lists dining spots south of Wat Bo Village. These include:

  • Bean Embassy: A coffee shop and roastery
  • Cuisine Wat Damnak by chef Joannès Rivière and Nguon Venchhay is the first Cambodian restaurant that made it to the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list
  • The Muffin Man: A pastry and cakes specialist that serves coffee and savory meals
  • Haven: A culinary and hospitality training school and restaurant with alfresco and indoor dining spaces
  • The Keys by Tomoka: A quaint bar and eatery set in a lush garden complete with a pool and renovated traditional wooden houses for an overnight stay
  • Jomno : A restaurant by young chef Chomnab Seiha, which serves elevated takes on Cambodian street fare.