Of all the parties in the year, Halloween is by far the one Siem Reap does best as half the town converts into a lurid B-Movie green room populated by divine monsters, deranged ghouls and demonic divas, plus one or two drunk people.
It’s true that there may be any number of grouches grumbling to themselves on the side lines, complaining about the lack of respect for the celebration’s ancient traditions or the blunt tedium of yet another sexy teacher/student/traffic warden outfit or whatever.
But most people are too busy partying to take much notice.
Halloween’s roots lie in Ireland, where it was once thought that the nebulous veil separating the material and spirit worlds is at its thinnest on the eve of Samhain, October 31.
Formerly, this spiritual world was taken to refer to the realm of the disembodied departed but a more contemporary understanding would seem to chiefly encompass those spirits that come pre-bottled.
With that in mind, here is Insider’s get ghoulish round-up of some of the best spook fests in town.
Halloween in Siem Reap without husband and wife team Charlie and Zoe would be like guilt without the sin: effectively pointless and not a lot of fun. The duo’s hugely energetic and freakishly entertaining Halloween pub crawls have become the stuff of legend. There was concern that, with the recent temporary closure of Charlie’s bar, there might not be a party this year, but Charlie Kumar is not going to let such minor details get in the way.
“There’s going to be a party, come hell or high water,” he told Insider. “Whether Charlie’s is open or not. Hopefully though, it might also actually be the opening party for our new location.”
Charlie and Zoe’s pub crawl will be kicking off at 7pm from X-Bar, and there will be big cash prizes for the most creative costumes. Creepy crawlers have to participate in the entire tour de grog for a chance to win the big prizes, which is why organisers are not revealing the locations of the venues on the route until the big night.
If revellers prefer to stay put, musical monsters the X-Rays will be rocking the X-Bar from 8:30pm for an evening line-up that includes face painting, drinking games, shots and drinks specials for anyone wearing a costume.
Kraig and Feyne will also be taking off on a fiendish Siem Reap Pub Crawl at 7.30pm.
Halloween’s roots may lie in Ireland, but somewhere along the way it became as American as Old Glory, and Belmiro’s will be proudly waving the flag with special ‘booritos’, pumpkins, drink specials and a chance at prizes for people in costume.
Soul Train Cocktail Bar and YOLO will combine for another one of their sizzling street parties, starting with a warm-up party at 7pm, with free face painting. DJs, live music, breakdancing and games from 9pm onwards..
For something frightful apart from partying, Phare Cambodian Circus will be running its show, Chills, from October 20 to 25. Conjuring up the nightmares that haunt our minds, this is a classic Phare cocktail of theatre, music, dance and circus skills used to tell a story about facing fears and anxieties.
The Station Wine Bar promises a special ‘scary’ ladyboy revue, and Asana Wooden House will be hosting a party with $1 shots and beers to get the punters feeling all spooky.
Angkor What? Bar will also be giving away tons of prizes, sponsored by Tiger Beer.
Rosy Guesthouse won’t be doing its traditional party this year, but to get in the mood Halloween cocktails are being served in the week running up to fright night.
And to not forget the kids, Tori Green is hosting children’s pumpkin lantern-making, fancy dress and face painting party at King’s Road on October 31, from 4pm to 6pm, followed by a ‘spooky’ live music performance and fancy dress parade.
Of course, for all the Halloween madness some dress-up is going to be needed. There may be tailors all around town but at Rosy Guesthouse costumes and accessories that the owners have brought over from England are on sale.
And Sunny Nail, on the south side of Central Market, is offering special spooky nail art applications for as little as $10.
But for people who actually want a respite from Halloween madness, Heritage Suites Hotel is hosting a special Masquerade Ball with a carnival theme on Thursday, October 30.
This is part of the celebration of the first-year anniversary of the Angkor Rat Pack band which will be playing its best tunes on the night.