Phare, The Cambodian Circus
Phare, The Cambodian Circus is an amazing local experience founded in early 2013. It’s a perfect place to relax after exploring Siem Reap during the day. They have nightly shows, 365 days a year, and I can say that it’s truly more than just a circus. The performers use theater, music, dance and modern circus arts to tell uniquely Cambodian stories. Plus nearly 75% of the profit goes directly to Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPSA). The PPSA is a school founded in 1994 by nine young Cambodian men returning home from a refugee camp after the fall of the Khmer Rouge. Eventually, they started offering formal K-12 education and professional arts training in areas of the visual arts, theater, dance, and circus. Today more than 1,200 pupils attend the public school daily. The best thing is that all the programs are offered for free. Then in 2013, with the aim of financial self-sufficiency, PPSA created the Phare, The Cambodian Circus.
The show has been seen by over one hundred thousand people, and many of the performers travel around the world on tour. Needless to say, the 330 person big top was full at the performance we attended! The performance itself was excellent. All of the performers were very skilled in numerous areas of aerobatics, and it flowed nicely from one act to another. The small circus tent made for a very intimate experience, and you were even able to walk down and meet the performers after the show.
Not only is the show itself great, but the circus grounds also host a small boutique and cafe where you can relax either before or after the show.
Welcome to the nightlife scene. Pub Street, officially titled Street 8, is the culinary and nightlife hub of Siem Reap, similar to Khao San Road in Bangkok, Thailand. You’ll find an assortment of restaurants, bars, street performances and nightclubs. Motor traffic is blocked off after 5:00pm, so you are free to stroll the street and take in the lively atmosphere. We walked through Pub Street around sunset one evening and ate dinner. Frankly, this area is very Americanized in regards to the food that is served and the people that hang out in the this area. We aren't into the club/drinking scene but if you love nightlife, drinking and dancing then I would definitely recommend this area.
The Old Market in downtown Siem Reap was about a 10 minute walk from our hotel. From the street, it looks like a simple block of pop-up store fronts. It's not until you dive into the shops that you realize the Old Market is a 1 block by 1 block labyrinth of tchotchke shops, food stalls and more. If you need a Cambodian souvenirs, you will definitely find one here.