Vegan on Vacation: Siem Reap, Cambodia

siem reap

This month I was fortunate enough to have time for a vacation.  It was my compadre’s birthday so we packed up our backpacks and headed out to have an adventure.  Despite having lived in Thailand for the past year and a half, this was my first real time out of the country.  We took a bus from Mo Chit station in Bangkok and 10 hours later…hello Siem Reap!

By the time we got there on the first day, we were STARVING.  We hadn’t been able to eat on the bus, and by the time we got there we needed food. And fast.  After wandering around trying to find a particular restaurant, we finally said forget it, and ducked into the first Indian restaurant we saw.

It was the best food I had on our trip.  Probably even the best Indian food I have EVER had.

We went back twice, and I can’t stop thinking about it.  They have a vegan set meal that’s three different curries, naan, and rice for four dollars.  And it is bomb.  The curry was so good,  particularly the aloo palak.  I’ve never been to an Indian restaurant that didn’t have vegetarian/vegan options, so if you’re somewhere that’s not so vegan-friendly, and can find one, you’re good to go (just make sure to check with them about ghee).  Siem Reap has quite a few Indian restaurants, but the one we ate at, loved, and that I cannot recommend enough was the Taj Mahal.  Unfortunately I was too hungry the first time and too excited the second time to take a picture but I snagged this one off Trip Advisor:


a standard Thali set (photo courtesy of Trip Advisor)

We had done our research before we went, and were prepared for the un-vegan-friendliness.  We heard that street food was off limits, and after smelling the shops on the sidewalk we knew it to be true.  Not that it was particularly shocking – we can’t eat street food here in Thailand either.  Even on HappyCow, there are no vegan-specific restaurants, mostly just restaurants with vegetarian options.  And because of the French influence most of those options have butter, cheese, etc.

In Thailand when I’ve told people I was vegetarian, I got kind of a pat-on-the-back, good-for-you  response.    In Cambodia…a waitress laughed in my face.  Needless to say, we thought vegan Khmer food was out of the question.  We tried and tried to find it but no luck.  Finally on our last day…success!  We found it at Chamkar restaurant.  It’s vegetarian, but most of their options are vegan.

2013-05-16 14.14.11

This was the ‘wedding day dip.’  The dip is made with creamy coconut milk and full of mushrooms, peanuts, and water chestnuts.  The sliced baguette they served with it was incredible.

2013-05-16 14.21.09For my entree, I had cassava fritters.  I’d never had cassava before (in root form anyway.  Apparently it’s where tapioca comes from) and it was sweet and delicious.  This was served along brown rice.

One last restaurant worth mentioning is the Vitking House.  It was a little bit of a bike from our hotel, but it was worth it.  Despite the mixed reviews on HappyCow (and one hilarious one about a tofu substitution) we had no problem getting vegan food there.  I had the noodle soup full of plump mushrooms and vegetables and it was pretty good.  The real highlight was the drink menu.  I’ve never had peanut milk before, but it was AMAZING.  I am not ashamed to say I ordered two of these:

2013-05-15 17.15.30

iced tea with peanut milk

We did go to a few other restaurants, but everything was pretty ‘meh.’  Overall though, I’m glad we got a few good meals in there.  Here are some non-food related pictures from our trip:


Angkor Wat


one of the gates into Angkor city


Bayon Temple


even ancient statues like eskimo kisses


Ta Prohm (where they filmed Tomb Raider)


relief at Angkor Wat


fluffy cotton candy clouds


sunrise reflection



We were so lucky to be able to see these ruins.  If you ever have an opportunity to come here, take it!  It’s magical.

Stay tuned for part two…Vietnam!


2 thoughts on “Vegan on Vacation: Siem Reap, Cambodia

  1. Hi! Great article and beautiful pictures! I just found your blog (so I will do some more exploring) but I had a question for you. What did you eat for the rest of your trip and what do you eat in Thailand? (I mean do you just mostly cook your own food?)

    I ask because I am planing a 2 month backpacking trip through Cambodia and Thailand and the only thing I am concerned about is the food. I am vegan and highly allergic to gluten and dairy. Are the markets/stores pretty diverse? (I don’t eat out much anyway, so that wouldn’t be anything new, but it is nice to know there are some vegan restaurant options!)


  2. Hi,
    I’m off to Siem Reap next year (currently on a Vegan Food Quest around the rest of SE Asia and loving it! Great post that was really informative, can’t wait to try that peanut milk!!

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