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29 Mar 2024 By

Once You Are Ensconced in The Loving Embrace of This Emblematic Hotel, You Feel Energised and Ready to Explore The City And, of course, All The Multitudes of Angkor Wat.

You get out of the airport in the afternoon heat and want to seek the solace of your luxury hotel immediately, but the ride to the city centre is much longer now. The new Siem Reap International Airport has been relocated to an hour outside city limits, so comfort was delayed (but the ride was lovely). An hour later, though, the palm fringes and sharp features of the Park Hyatt Siem Reap loomed into view, and our spirits lifted.


Previously the Hotel De La Paix — an iconic heritage landmark here since 1957 — Park Hyatt Siem Reap has been creatively reimagined by award-winning designer Bill Bensley. He blends Khmer architecture with art deco and a hefty dose of Cambodian artefacts and heritage. This ultra-luxe hotel sits majestically in the beating heart of the city and is the ideal spot to explore Angkor Wat or experience the country’s culture and cuisine.

We were here for Angkor Wat (naturally) but weren’t ready for the 4 a.m. start, so we decided to delay our visit to the ancient temples for a day to indulge in the many curated, authentic experiences the hotel was known for organising: exquisite dining, culinary tours, a distillery visit, a city cycling tour, and charitable initiatives that care for the local community.

We started with an immersion into Khmer cultural dance and cuisine . We got our evening going with a traditional set menu, a culinary flair blending Cambodian spices with international techniques.

Accompanying the dinner were live performances inspired by Apsara, the celestial dance, and Bokator, the Angkorian martial art. The Apsara motif looms large in Khmer culture, and its depiction is seen throughout the Wats and temples.


Sra Sor Rice Wine Adventure

We travelled by traditional tuk-tuk through quaint villages and, after 30 minutes, arrived at what seemed like an illegal brewery but was, in fact, a legit, old-school (read: kampung) operation.

Park Hyatt Siem Reap rice wine

The distiller/elder was still using age-old traditions to produce homemade rice wine that is only sold to the nearby villagers — it’s a spirit that’s still very much favoured by Cambodians till this day. Before distillation, the rice is milled and fermented naturally (in the open!). 

Park Hyatt Siem Reap rice wine

Straight from the pot still, the spirit condenses and is ready for tasting at about 68% ABV. (It’d be diluted before being sold, of course.) The rice wine is surprisingly quaffable, with hints of sweetness and barley.

Park Hyatt Siem Reap rice wine

Then, it’s off to the beach for sunset and rice wine cocktails, specially set up by the hotel staff for us — they know we like a drink or two. The rice wine cocktails were expertly crafted by our roving bartender, a recipe that included loads of Cambodian flavours like passion fruits, spices and limes. 

Time flies when you’re having a good drink in your hand. An hour later, this was our view:

siem reap sunset

A good silhouette is worth waiting for.


Foodie Fun

Park Hyatt Siem Reap

If you’re a gourmand, then there are food adventures as well. Take a Cambodian Cooking Class, where the hotel’s acclaimed Khmer chefs will teach you the intricacies of Cambodian cuisine, including a local market visit — this session caters to all levels of cookery skills. There’s also the Taste of Cambodia, where you tuk-tuk to a village to learn how Num Banh Chok, a Cambodian Rice Noodle dish, is made. You might have to lend a hand (see above) to help with the old-school method of making the noodles (we’re talking… old school, real farm-to-fork), but it’s worth it when they serve you the fresh noodles with curry for lunch 👇🏼

Park Hyatt Siem Reap noodle lunch

How do you say ‘yum’ in Cambodian?

The Living Room Bar

Park Hyatt Siem Reap Living Room

It’s time for drinks. The luxe bar within the hotel lobby is a cosy sanctuary with bold plush armchairs, but if you prefer to see the action, the extended bar top is where it’s at. The menu is reasonably extensive, and the signature cocktails wisely use many local ingredients and Cambodian spirits (rum, gin, rice wine and vodka) when appropriate.

Park Hyatt Siem Reap Living Room

I had the Vesper with two local spirits (it was bracing and clean). I loved the presentation, which kept the drink cold.

Park Hyatt Siem Reap Living Room

I also recommend The Angkorrian, which reminded me of a Lemmy (rum & coke) — but in a good way! Drinks average US$10, so no excuse to not have a few more.


Angkor Wat Sunrise Trek 

Angkor Wat Siem Reap

The hotel provided us with an informed and entertaining guide who was integral to our Angkor Wat experience. He knew the best spots for photography, the secret footpaths, and the timing for each locale to avoid some of the crowds. (Advice: Get your tickets online to avoid the queues. No matter how early you get to the main temple, a crowd will already have formed for the sunrise. So, good luck finding a vantage point. And wear comfortable shoes.)


Angkor Wat Siem ReapNo poster or Angelina Jolie movie will ever do the temples justice — the UNESCO World Heritage site must be experienced in person and in slow-mo. Take your time exploring all the ancient ruins, wats, and gardens. The secluded Prasat Preah Khan (above) ended up being our favourite.

Life of Luxury

The Cambodian afternoon heat can sap your will to live, so the only thing to do when you’re not indulging in the hotel’s many curated activities is to swim in one of the two hotel pools or go to the spa for a vigorous Cambodian-style massage. Then swim again. Then dinner. The bar. Repeat.

We came for Angkor Wat and were glad to discover a modern architectural wonder in the city’s centre — we got the best of both worlds!

Other Highlights

The centrally located luxury hotel in Siem Reap is ideal for exploring the ancient ruins of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and modern Khmer culture in nearby Pub Street and the bustling night bazaars.

  • The Night Market is a mere 500 metres away, where you can find scarves, woodwork, pottery, and social enterprise stalls selling craft and artwork. And spices and fresh food, plenty of spices and fresh food.
  • Kandal Village is even nearer, an expat enclave with an eclectic range of cafes, souvenir stores, arty homeware and art galleries.
  • The Made in Cambodia Market is also a short walk from the hotel, featuring — literally — all Cambodian-made, quality artisan products like leather goods, silver, spirits, fashion, accessories and artwork. Your purchase directly helps with their income and skills development.


Book a stay at Park Hyatt Siem Reap here.

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