Sunday, March 09, 2008

Cambodia travel – some like it hot

Susan Derby
Special to the Los Angeles Times

If you’re thinking about visiting Cambodia soon, go this month (March) if you can handle some heat (by April, it’ll be even hotter). Or plan a trip for summer, when monsoon rains cool things down and really only inconvenience you for part of the afternoon.

A few years ago I traveled around Cambodia in late April, when the heat was really beginning to escalate (which it does starting around March, before hitting a peak in May or June to initiate monsoon season). The temperature was in the 90s and the humidity oppressive.

I remember stumbling around after a trip to the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum. The gravity of what I’d observed there was enough to make me delirious, but in addition I’d come down with heat stroke. I spent the next couple days cooped up in my room with fever, a migraine and nausea. If you go to Cambodia in April, bring a big hat, and drink bucketfuls of water.

Why go: Thailand’s neighbor to the southeast, Cambodia is fascinating in many ways, but it has a sobering yet educational impact on many tourists; its recent history is so heartbreaking that you can’t leave the country the same person that you were upon entry. Angkor Wat and its surrounding temples and ruins are truly sights to behold. And adventurous foodies can try all manner of unusual edibles: locusts and spiders, for instance.

What’ll it cost me?: In his article “Countries where dollars go the distance,” L. A. Times Staff Writer Jason La breaks down general food and lodging costs. Right now you’ll spend around $1200 for a flight from LAX to Phnom Penh (PNH) after taxes. Maybe that sounds exorbitant, but if you’re shelling out $10/night for a room, you may decide it evens out. If you’ve got miles, though, all the better.

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