Cambodia with Kids? Oh Yes!

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I’m proud to announce that we did it! Our family returned from the beautiful country of Cambodia with our 3 kids (8, 5 and 3 months). While grand images of Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, have long captured our imaginations, Brennan and I certainly had apprehensions about whether a trip to Cambodia would be best attempted when our kids were a little older.

Cambodia with kids? You bet you can. Learn how to do Southeast Asia like a pro
Pang Family at Angkor Wat

Like many of our friends who gasped with surprise at the idea of taking three young kids to this developing country, we were under the impression that Cambodia was more of a destination for foolhardy adventure travelers.

Travel internationally with kids to Cambodia and Thailand with Trekaroo!

November to March is the best time to visit Cambodia. 

…Avoid crowds between May to October. From one mom to another, we could not have pulled off such an amazing trip without the help of Wild Frontiers.

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Prior to having children, Brennan and I would definitely have categorized ourselves as independent and adventurous travelers. We were likely to jump on a plane with our Lonely Planet guidebook and not much of a plan. However, as we all know children change many things, including how we travel. Since we now pick our destinations more carefully, how did Cambodia make our list of spots to take our young kids? Well, first of all, we picked Siem Reap, Cambodia because it is home to Angkor Wat, a place we have been eager to visit. We wanted to see it bad enough that we were willing to put up with quite a bit with the kids. Surprisingly, after a few hours of poking around on the web, we got the sense that tourism in the town of Siem Reap had developed considerably in recent years.  There was a good range of accommodation from $10-15/night dives to a couple of $400/night 5 star hotels. With a 3-month-old, it was important for us to have a comfortable place to retire to after a long day of exploring in the heat.

Check the best deals on Family Friendly Hotels in Cambodia

Cambodia with Kids offers unique learning experiences

We also came across other activities that looked interesting to young kids – visiting floating villages, ceramics classes, cooking classes, tuk-tuk rides, elephant rides and more. We also found out that December to February is the best time of the year to visit Siem Reap which worked perfectly with our schedule.  While hotels are more expensive and attractions are generally more crowded during high season, being able to travel when the weather is cool and dry seemed important when one has kids who aren’t used to heat in tow. Mind you, they aren’t the only ones who get grumpy when it’s hot.

Wild Frontiers (formerly Journey’s Within) plans custom tours for families looking to discover Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. Right from the get-go, Andrea was a wealth of suggestions for kid-friendly things to do around Siem Reap. It’s no wonder that she knew exactly what we would find interesting. Being Americans themselves they totally understood what would be intriguing and what would be challenging for a family coming from the west. At the same time having lived in Cambodia for the past 8 years with their young kids, they really had the inside scoop on what’s kid-friendly. After just a few email exchanges, we had a wonderful itinerary planned, packed with lots of adventures beyond the temples. I would probably not have considered many of the adventures for lack of information about whether they were kid-friendly or not.

Look for the best prices on Family Friendly Hotels in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Fascinating Tour of a Silk Farm

I couldn’t have possibly anticipated how much it would reduce my stress as the default trip planner in our family to have Wild Frontiers take care of all the logistics. I think it was worth every extra penny we paid even before we stepped foot on the plane. We started each day being greeted by our smiling driver and English speaking guide, Santu, ready to show us their wonderful country. Andrea had handpicked our guide because other families had reported back that he was great with kids and indeed he was. Our usually shy boys quickly warmed up to him and loved listening to the stories he told. Since we were the only ones in our tour group (yes, it is a fully customized tour), it never mattered whether we were late to start the day. Instead of spending 45 minutes each morning figuring out the logistics of moving our family of 5 around for the day and arguing about the itinerary, we were able to focus on getting our kids ready for the day’s adventures and immersing ourselves in the experiences of the day. I never realized how distracted I often am during our trips because I’m multitasking between attending to the needs of children and thinking about where we’re heading to next.

Much to our delight, our well-planned itinerary allowed us to take in more experiences during our 5-day trip then what we could have planned for on our own. After we nailed down the list of activities we thought looked interesting to us, Andrea planned out the itinerary with thoughtful attention to our children’s need for a few restful afternoons to kick back by the pool.

She also knew that visiting multiple temples a day would be rough on the kids, so the itinerary always included an activity the kids would find fun like a ride in a helium balloon. If you’re thinking of visiting Southeast Asia, here are my BIG two thumbs up for getting Wild Frontiers to help plan your trip.

Santu our guide and willing babysitter

Much to our delight, another reason that Cambodia is such a great place to visit with kids is that the people of Cambodia have an extraordinary love for children. Not only were they incredibly patient with our kids, but we also found a slew of willing babysitters wherever we went. That meant that as parents we didn’t have to do the usual tag teaming we’ve been accustomed to. Instead, we were both able to participate fully in each activity. Whether our hands were covered in clay at a ceramics class, or we were just settling down for a nice meal, the moment baby let out the smallest whimper, there was someone eager to entertain or hold her. We also stayed at family-friendly hotels that offered a kid’s club or babysitting for a nominal fee of $5/hour. The babysitters we hired at our hotel spoke English very well and had been well trained to work with western families. We never felt uncomfortable leaving our baby with them because they had been trained and vetted by the hotel. This allowed us to enjoy a few dinners without kids in the evenings at a very reasonable cost.

Our family’s trip to Cambodia was not just wonderful because of what we got to see and do but because of the lovely people we met along the way. The graciousness of the Cambodian people and the care of the wonderful staff at Wild Frontiers who welcomed us to their country made for an unforgettable trip. Our 8-year-old will remember our pottery class with fondness, our 5-year-old beams into a smile at the memory of riding in a Tuk Tuk, while our 3-month-old was a champ and won the hearts of many. As for me, I will remember Cambodia for her lovely people and her tense but fascinating history. Thanks to Wild Frontiers, our trip planning was a breeze and our adventure a fascinating one for our whole family.

Featured photo by: Shutterstock

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About the author

LiLing Pang is Co-founder and CEO of Trekaroo . She is a mom to two boys and a girl and recently traveled through Central America. Together with her husband, Brennan Pang, they hatched the idea of Trekaroo one summer day along the California coast while searching for the best kid-friendly tide pool near La Jolla with their curious 2 and a half year old.
24 Responses
  1. Lydie Thomas

    What an amazing post and an amazing family trip!

  2. Andrea Ross

    It was great to have you and I’m still impressed that you traveled with a three-month-old! Thanks for highlighting Journeys Within and we look forward to hosting many Trekaroo families in the future!

  3. Tina

    I’ve always wanted to go! What a fun read. Journey’s Within Boutique Hotel is beautiful.

  4. tony

    I really enjoy watching your 5 years old son enjoy his ceramic class. very nice of you to share some tips about staying in Siem riep too.

  5. Christophe

    Lovely article, I really hope it will convince more family to visit this amazing country and especially Siem Reap…

  6. Bron

    Lovely to discover your blog. We loved Siem Reap and we hope to explore PP and The coast next year with our three kids.

  7. Emma Becker

    I am going to Cambodia on September this year. Besides Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam are also listed to be visited. But still I have a question about a hotel you might have seen during your visit in Siem Reap. I booked the following hotel: Tara Angkor Hotel. You know if it is a good hotel? I heard good stories about it. What are the best attractions to visit in Siem Reap and in the surrounding?

  8. Chris

    Tara Angkor is a really nice hotel with a perfect location on the way to Angkor Wat, a well known address in Siem Reap, so a good choice.

  9. Emma

    Thank you, do you know by any chance one of the following restaurants? Tonla Sap, Tonla Mekong or the Tonla Chaktomuk? I want at least one fancy meal.

  10. Chris

    I guess you wanted to write Tonlë (river in khmer)? What type of food are you looking for? What do you mean by fancy?

  11. Emma

    Dear Chris,

    Thank you for responding. Yes those are the restaurants near the river I think. But it doesn’t matter what type of food it is, as long as we can eat meat, fish or vegetarian. Are one of these 3 restaurants recommendable?

  12. Chris

    Sorry Emma I don’t know those restaurants, there is dozen and dozens of places like this in Siem Reap so. For information Tonlé Sap is the lake near SR.

    Do you want to eat local or western? Traditional or fusion? Local far away from the tourism? Give me your price range and I will advice you with pleasure on the best places in town…

  13. Emma

    Ok, no problem Chris. The place doesn’t have to be so crowded, so a little is ok. The budget lies around 30/40 pound per person. As long as the restaurant i clean and looks good I am happy with my birthday.
    Thank you for helping me.

  14. Chris

    30/40 pounds??? You wanna buy it???

    Sorry sorry you know Cambodia is really cheaper than England, you can have a really good meal for $5. But if you are looking for something special, here we go:

    French: Abacus –

    Fusion/Asian: Nest Angkor Café-

    Local/Khmer: the Touich –

    Fusion : Cuisine Wat Damnak –

    I hope that it will help you…

  15. Emma

    Haha yes i know, but at least we have a budget! But as long as it is a good restaurant I am happy. But I will have a look at your websites, and thank you for your response.

  16. Chris

    You’re welcome, always a pleasure to help people to enjoy “my” lovely city!!

  17. Holly

    Hello Emma,

    I read your message and wanted to help you, because I have been in Siem Reap a lot of times. The Tara Angkor hotel is a beautiful hotel and is ideally and conveniently located, Tara Angkor Hotel is situated only 6 km from the Angkor Wat Temples, 15 min drive from the Siem Reap International Airport, a few minutes stroll to the Angkor National Museum and a short ride to the city town center with an array of Cambodian souvenirs, shopping and culture. They have a few promotions that you can make use of if you haven’t booked already: Last minute bookings, summer sales, early bird promotion or Angkor temptations. Of course there are a lot more, but have a look at their website. It is not that far to the Angkor temples that I would advise you to see for sure. I would say, grab yourself a 3 day pass and find yourself a decent tuk tuk driver to take you to the farther ruins and for a drive in some of the outlying villages. If you’re up for it consider renting a bike and checking out Angkor Wat on your own. There’s a lot to see and do so a lot depends on your time and budget. A few temples I would strongly suggest you check out besides Angkor Wat itself are Bayon Temple, Angkor Thom and of course Ta Prohm just to see the amazing tree. The Banteay Srei temple is farther out of Siem Reap but has a very different feel than a lot of the others. If you want to do something else as well, you can visit the day and night market. I can really recommend these attractions. If you need to know more, let me know.

  18. LiLing Pang

    Chris, thanks for helping Emma out.

  19. LiLing Pang

    Emma, we also really enjoyed our meal at Red Lantern on Pub Street. Did you check out this article?

  20. Rebecca

    Hi! Just wondering, did you give your children anti-malarials? And if you did, which one did you give them and did they have any side effects? Travelling to Cambodia with our 3 year old in a few weeks and we are undecided about giving him the medication because we’ve heard the side effects can be nasty and long lasting. Also because we’ll only be there for 2 weeks and we’re only really visiting ‘low to no’ risk areas, we’ve been advised that it’s not completely necessary for the anti-malarial medication and that with proper protection (deet especially!) we should be fine. What was your experience? Thanks 🙂

  21. Brennan Pang

    Hi Rebecca-

    We did not give our children antimalarials when we went as we were only in low risk areas as well (Siem Reap area). I don’t recall seeing all that many mosquitos. I would just advise bringing mosquito repellent and applying it on top of your sunscreen.

  22. Rebecca

    Thank you for your reply! Appreciate it!! Can’t wait to explore Cambodia after reading your post!!

  23. Gary Li

    Planning on travelling their with our kids as well(6,3 , and 6months) how was traveling around with the baby? Did you need to bring a car seat?

  24. LiLing Pang

    Hi Gary,

    There is no car seat law in Cambodia. So if you bring a car seat, it is really your choice. I don’t even recall most cars having seat belts. We did bring an infant car seat with us so we had somewhere to put the baby when we were in the car/van. It’s hot and humid in Cambodia so while I had baby in a carrier most of the time, it is very uncomfortable to have a baby strapped to you the whole time. It was helpful to have a place to put the baby down. However, if you want to travel light, I think the car seat is really optional in terms of safety because there is little opportunity to use it to keep a child safe when traveling in local transportation. Nonetheless, it is helpful to have a safe place to put the baby down for meals and such. A lightweight umbrella stroller might be more useful overall.

    There is a reason why baby powder was invented if there were ever a place to use it to keep baby comfortable it’s in these hot and humid environments. The whole family used it to stay comfortable. If your wife is still nursing, definitely bring along some packets of electrolytes. It’s really easy to get dehydrated between the heat, nursing, and exerting yourself walking around a lot. An umbrella for shade might also be helpful since baby is too young for sunscreen. There is some natural bug repellent that is safe for kids. I definitely recommend picking up some before you leave.

    Definitely bring along all your baby necessities like diapers and wipes…and diaper rash cream. Apply it preventively. Humidity is a beast on skin that is not used to it. Cambodians are darling with young kids. We felt so welcomed and loved. I think it’s best to minimize your time romping around the temples with your young kids. Instead, take in the cultural experiences many of which I detail in my blog posts about Cambodia. And I highly recommend that you contact Journey’s Within to help you with your trip planning. They really were crucial to helping us enjoy our trip to Cambodia with young kids. Seeing a driver waiting for you and the kids with a cold bottle of water when you emerge from a tiring hike through a temple is simply pure joy. Let them know Trekaroo sent you.

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