Although somewhat light on residential property, Siem Reap offers opportunities for canny investors as well as plentiful dining, drinking and cultural options.
By Nicky Sullivan
While most often passed through en route to the legendary temples of Angkor, Siem Reap is blossoming in its own right.
Although new residential stock is taking some time to emerge, luxury hotels are springing up across town, with more in the pipeline. With so much activity it is surely a matter of time before the real estate market livens up. Throw in a sophisticated bar and dining scene and it is clear that temple town is set for take off.
The residential market
Siem Reap is a low-rise city and investment opportunities tend to come in two-storey packages. At present, investment potential is limited mainly to villas built in attractive traditional style with artfully integrated modern amenities to appeal to expatriates and wealthy locals. Current options range from six-bedroom properties on 1,780 square-metre plots for just over USD500,000 to three-bedroom properties on 700-square-metre plots at USD218,000. Investment opportunities can also be found in the city’s hospitality sector. At the time of writing, various properties were on the market including a nine-bedroom guesthouse at USD65,000, a 27-bedroom centrally located hotel with pool for USD300,000 and a USD1.5 million, 45-bedroom mid-range hotel with pool and sky bar.
See siemreapproperties.com for more details.
Phum Baitang has been making headlines across the world since its opening in 2015. When Angelina Jolie was looking for somewhere for her and her crew to stay during the filming last year of “First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers”, the choice of Phum Baitang surprised no one. Many of the resort’s 45 wooden, stilted villas, have their own private pools and all are surrounded by lush tropical gardens and rice paddies. The sumptuous spa, modelled on the nearby temples, is particularly tempting.
It took Cambodian celebrity chef, Luu Meng, a long time to find the right location for the Siem Reap branch of his long-running Phnom Penh restaurant venture but most would agree that it was worth the wait. The riverside spot, on the edge of the town centre, opened in early 2016 and became an institution. Modelled on Prasat Kravan (the “Cardamom Sanctuary”) temple, the impressive white facade encloses a silk and sandstone interior where Chef Meng’s menu of Khmer food showcases his drive to promote the best of his nation’s food culture.
The Little Red Fox Espresso
Brisbane boys Adam Scott and David Stirling made an instant splash in Siem Reap with their devotion to perfect coffee at one of the liveliest cafés in town. Little Red Fox has expanded since opening in 2014 and now operates over two floors with an airy, art-filled upstairs offering a quieter alternative to the bustle downstairs.. It offers the best coffee in town — exclusively blended for them by Feel Good Coffee in Phnom Penh — and a menu that incorporates cakes and modern bistro fare. The café triggered a bohemian surge in the area with new design shops and restaurants are popping up like fashionable mushrooms.
Constable Gallery At Large
Celebrated artist Sasha Constable – gereat-great-great-granddaughter of John Constable – has been in Cambodia for more than 15 years and recently turned her hand to gallery ownership. The emphasis here is on offering exposure to Cambodian artists many of whom graduated from Battambang’s famed Phare Art School. The mixed-media gallery presents a changing selection of work, but regulars include veteran Svay Ken and new talents such as Chhim Sothy, Ou Vandy, Chhan Dina, Suos Sodavy. Foreign artists based in Cambodia are also well represented and include, Vincent Broustet and Constable herself.
Phare The Cambodian Circus
An evening that is guaranteed to delight by virtue of a heady, hypnotic, mesmerising cascade of music, theatre, dance, art and acrobatics. Born out of Phare Ponleu Selpak, a multi-arts initiative in Battambang founded by former refugees the, circus specialises in performances that take inspiration from conflicts and questions that Cambodians continue to face each day. Despite the often-serious subject matter, the shows are delivered with a humour, flair and passion that leaves you feeling exhilarated and enlightened.