April has landed, humidity hangs heavy in the air, the sweat is flowing and the insanity is setting in. Whether it’s escaping the heat throughout the month or finding ways to keep busy in the capital during Khmer New Year, here are five tips for survival.
Take a Dip
The swimming pool should be everyone’s best friend throughout April – there’s nothing quite as cooling as the crisp bite of water to provide refreshing respite from the suffocating air. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of pools in Phnom Penh, with the majority open to outside guests for a small fee. There’s plenty of room to secure a spot at Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra’s spacious offering. For $15, visitors get a sports club day pass, which includes access to the gym. For something a bit more intimate, head to Rambutan’s smaller offering, which sits in the dappled shade thanks to the tropical garden. Small groups of respectful outside guests are welcome during low season, provided $7.50 is spent on food and drink per person. Those based in Siem Reap, can dive into the sister hotel’s boutique pool for the same set up.
With the sticky heat failing to wane even after dark, turn the temperature down a tad and spend the evening on a rooftop. Here, the waft of the warm breeze beats the heat on ground level, which is further fuelled by fumes spluttering from the capital’s mounting traffic. Le Moon, on the top floor of Amanjaya hotel, is a popular spot, with its spacious, open-air terrace offering views that take in the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers and bustling riverside below. For now, Eclipse Sky Bar is Phnom Penh’s highest rooftop bar, sitting on the 24th floor of Phnom Penh Tower. The slightest breeze tears through the air up there, making sampling a tasty cocktails an even more enjoyable experience. Sun and Moon hotel’s Cloud 9 rooftop bar is another cool spot to watch the city buzzing below.
Escape the City
Shaking off the capital’s chaos automatically sooths the simmering heat. Koh Dach is a stone’s throw away and comes coupled with a rural tranquillity that offers a respite from Phnom Penh. The silk weaving centre, which is clearly sign-posted from the ferry terminal, is also home to a cosy riverside picnic spot. Wooden huts ($5 a day) stand on stilts in the shade of trees that dot the banks of the Mekong, where a swimming area has been marked in the water. With a small shop selling food and drinks, this is a pleasant spot to laze on an afternoon. For a weekend break, Kirirom and its pine tree filled forests that boast temperatures dipping a few degrees lower than Phnom Penh is only a couple of hours away by car. Check into vKiriom Pine Resort, which offers a range of accommodation, including tents, villas and cottages, an infinity pool and other outdoor activities.
Hit the Water
An evening on the river brings with it a welcoming breeze. The Tonle Sap and Mekong are lit up at night by various boats cruising its currents, so there’s no shortage of options running through the night and day. A wealth of operators offer boats for private hire (starting from about $10 per hour depending on the size and quality of boat), as well as cruises that include food and entertainment. Cambo Cruise’s two-hour sunset dinner outing takes guests on a trip along the Mekong River, with a hearty buffet, traditional Khmer music, cocktails and coffee. A full bar and a la carte menu are also available on board ($24 with buffet/ $15 without / children half price).
Abuse the Air-Con
We care about the environment at AsiaLIFE so we’re not suggesting you lock yourself in doors and crank up the AC – however tempting that may be. However, you can use and abuse what’s already on offer across the capital. The cool climes of air-conditioned AEON Mall is as appealing as ever during April. And with plenty of shops to browse, restaurants and food outlets to eat at, as well as an arcade, bowling alley, cinema and ice-skating rink, a day can easily be spent enjoying the shopping centre’s icy air. Film buffs can keep cool without breaking the bank and indulge in a string of Hollywood hits, independent outings and documentaries – all in the luxury of AC – by buying a ticket offering access to films featured that day at all Flicks venues and The Empire, for $3.50.