It’s become a bit of a tradition now that every April I write a column with tips on escaping the heat in Cambodia’s most punishing months. By Sarah Brown
When I wrote the first column a few years ago, I certainly wasn’t intending for it to be the start of a series, but as temperatures continue to reach new face-melting heights I’m pretty sure there are still Siem Reap residents and visitors looking for place to escape the burn.
Besides, things change so quickly in Temple Town that the air-conditioned havens I recommended a year and beyond ago may well no longer be around, and I feel a certain duty to share my favourite chilled hideouts with fellow sweat-tache sufferers.
So, without further ado, here are the places I recommend checking out (translate: semi-permanently moving in to) while we ride out the next month or so seemingly on the surface of the sun…
One of the newest – and most instantly popular – spots in town is BioLab. I have to be honest, I was pretty disappointed to see the French Institute leave its beautiful building on Wat Bo Road, but the arrival of BioLab in (primarily) the upstairs of the former school has somewhat sweetened the deal.
The chemistry lab theme is a fun novelty, the coffee isn’t half bad and, most importantly, there’s a large air-conditioned upstairs café and co-working space that’s perfect for whiling away an hour or two during the hottest part of the day.
If you’re after lunch or a healthy snack, then a short walk over the river is Vibe, another relatively new addition that offers an incredibly delicious plant-based menu against an extra Instagram-able backdrop. There’s an air-conditioned café area upstairs, and I can strongly recommend hiding out with a zingy pressed juice or smoothie.
As the sun goes down you may want to swap your coffee or green juice for a glass of something stronger. Luckily, just a short walk along the river is another new spot, this time in the form of a wine bar.
Balthazar has been open for a few months now, and brings a little Phnom Penh after-dark chic, along with an interesting wine menu and a cheese plate that was a borderline religious experience. On the other-hand, if the evening’s getting later and you’re looking for another spot for drinks, Long’s bar is really the only place to go.
Tucked down the little lane behind Dakshin’s, Long’s is a laidback space to kick-back, sink a delicious cocktail or enjoy the coldest beer in town. With the temperatures soaring, what better excuse to take an evening off?