Lots of travelers like to experience local sports when in foreign places. While sports aren’t for everybody, they can help travelers to get a sense for the authentic side of a given town or population. Sometimes that means catching a football match on television in a local pub; sometimes it means joining in with throngs of bettors before a major event; and sometimes it means attending a competition that might be unlike anything a tourist would see wherever he or she came from. In any case, sports can be revealing and thrilling when combined with travel.
With this in mind we’re outlining some of the sports attractions and experiences you might enjoy in Siem Reap and elsewhere in Cambodia, if your exploration of the country goes beyond the practically mandatory trip to Angkor Wat.
Watch International Sports at a Local Bar
Siem Reap has more sports bars than a lot of people might guess. There are numerous places where you can enjoy good company, comfort food, and a few drinks while watching whatever sports happen to be on television. The most entertaining spot among them may just be Jungle Burger, a Kiwi-themed venue said to have a devoted base of expat fans. It’s a place like this where, in addition to some of the better burgers and beer around, you’ll likely see some internationally popular sports on TV. Another well-known option is Score Bar on Sok San Road, screening live sports on one huge screen and several smaller HD TVs.
Check Out Your Betting Options
A lot of people find betting to be one of the best ways to enjoy sports, particularly when trying to get into something new. In Cambodia, this is something of a grey area. While Cambodia-based betting is technically prohibited, there appears to be some uncertainty regarding online betting. Given that much of this industry is based on the UK and bookmaking platforms are accessible online, this means there may indeed be some opportunities to get in on the action before watching local or even international sports from Cambodia. Just be sure not to get caught up in anything you aren’t comfortable with!
See Local Football
As for actually attending sports in Cambodia, you’ll have different options depending on where you are in the country and what season it is. By and large though, football is now considered the country’s second favorite sport (after volleyball), and there are a few places to see quality professional football. Your best chance at catching the Cambodian national team (which is FIFA-affiliated) is at the Phnom Penh‘s Olympic Stadium, a simple but impressive venue that seats 50,000 fans for big matches. And if you’re interested in a newer, more modern stadium, you may want to look into Western Stadium, also in Phnom Penh. This is the home venue of the Western University FC professional team, and seats just an intimate 1,000 spectators. No large stadiums are to be found in Siem Reap, however football is played at several smaller fields across the city. Don’t be shy to watch or even join in! Cambodian people are very welcoming!
See Local Bokator
Travelers who really want to get a feel for local sport might be most drawn to bokator. This is a fascinating martial arts sport, based on Khmer fighting techniques (and complete with weapons techniques) and dating back nearly 2,000 years. Sometimes described as a more elaborate form of kickboxing, it’s a thrill to watch, if you can find the opportunity to do so. The sport has been up and down in recent years in terms of its popularity and the support it receives from the government. But in the spring of 2017, it was considered to be resurgent, and it’s still performed throughout the country today. It is perhaps the most authentic Cambodian sporting experience you can witness.