by Sarah Brown
Whether you look forward to it with a tummy full of butterflies, dread the pressure of ensuring a rom-com worthy display of affection, or dismiss it as another product of consumerism, Valentine’s Day is upon us.
Luckily, if it’s not a holiday you enjoy it’s easy enough to let it breeze by, as it’s not a traditional Cambodian celebration and there are few reminders that it’s even happening in Siem Reap. Admittedly recent years have seen savvy sellers flogging romance-themed nick-naks and flowers to young Cambodians eager to get in on the action, but generally it’s easily ignored – although the same can’t be said of Phnom Penh where the day is full of heart-shaped balloons, giant teddies and restaurants full of couples. So for those living in Siem Reap, it’s good news if Feb. 14 usually brings you out in a cold sweat.
If, on the other hand, you have (or – let’s face it – your partner has) high expectations for what is allegedly the most romantic day of the year, Temple Town offers a multitude of ways you can celebrate this universal day of love. As with most social occasions here in Siem Reap, there are plenty of excellent opportunities to mark Valentine’s Day with good food.
Flow, located on Street 26, offers an excellent Asian-fusion menu in a chic, intimate setting, and even has a neat little garden tucked out the back for a pre-dinner cocktail or two. Cuisine Wat Damnak – widely credited as Siem Reap’s best restaurant, and rightly so – would also make an excellent choice, as you can while away the evening over their incredible five- or six-course tasting menus. It’s also worth keeping an eye out to see whether any restaurants or hotels offer Valentine’s specials, as they have in recent years. However, these often aren’t advertised until the last minute.
If you’re looking for a romantic evening while immersing in the beautiful Cambodian scenery, a countryside dining experience at Villa Chandara can hardly be beaten. Watch the sun set over the rice fields as you enjoy a glass of wine on the balcony of a traditional wooden house, before tucking into a candle-lit Khmer dinner to the sounds of traditional music. This experience can be arranged through About Asia, and is sure to impress your other half.
For the more adventurous couples, a sunset boat ride along Angkor Thom moat could be the perfect way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, especially if you pack a hamper and break out the bubbles as you float along. On the other hand, why not soar above the temples with a romantic hot air balloon ride for two, or even whip through the Archaeological Park with Angkor Zip Lines?