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Cambodia with Kids? Oh Yes!

We’re re-sharing this fabulous series, Cambodia with kids, originally posted on Trekaroo in 2012. 

I’m proud to announce that we did it! Our family just 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 myself 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.

Trekaroo Trip Southeast Asia Cambodia & Thailand

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.

While looking for family-friendly accommodation in Siem Reap, we found Journey’s Within Boutique Hotel, one of the few properties that explicitly described themselves as having family-friendly accommodations.

Family-friendly Villas at Journey’s Within Boutique Hotel

We were delighted to discover that not only did they have a family-friendly hotel, owners Andrea and Brandon Ross live in Siem Reap with their young kids and run a tour company. 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 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 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 Journey’s Within 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.

An elephant ride was the highlight for many on our Cambodia with kids vacation

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 or an elephant ride. If you’re thinking of visiting Southeast Asia, here is my BIG two thumbs up for getting Journey’s Within 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, we 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 both the Journey’s Within Boutique Hotel and Victoria 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 Journey’s Within 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 Journey’s Within, our trip planning was a breeze and our adventure a fascinating one for our whole family.

Check for availabilities on Family Friendly Hotels in Cambodia

Travel internationally with kids to Cambodia and Thailand with Trekaroo!Inspired? We’re partnering with Journey’s Within for our very first Trekaroo Trip.

Discover your family’s summer adventure in Southeast Asia with Trekaroo and Journey’s Within.

Trekaroo Trip: Cambodia & Thailand 

 

Check out the rest of our Cambodia with kids series

Cambodia with Kids? Oh Yes!

Angkor Archeological Park with Kids

Siem Reap- Adventures with Kids Beyond Angkor Wat

Family-friendly Hotels in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Comments

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19 Responses to Cambodia with Kids? Oh Yes!

  1. Lydie Thomas May 15, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    What an amazing post and an amazing family trip!

  2. Andrea Ross May 15, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    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 May 15, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

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

  4. tony May 17, 2012 at 4:31 am #

    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 October 31, 2012 at 2:16 am #

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

  6. Bron November 20, 2012 at 1:19 am #

    Lovely to discover your blog. We loved Siem Reap and we hope to explore PP and The coast next year with our three kids.
    http://coopsnpeps.blogspot.com.au/2010/12/top-10-things-for-kids-to-do-in-siem.html

  7. Emma Becker March 13, 2013 at 8:06 am #

    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 March 13, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

    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 March 19, 2013 at 4:03 am #

    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 March 19, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    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 March 21, 2013 at 3:33 am #

    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 March 21, 2013 at 5:30 am #

    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 March 22, 2013 at 4:51 am #

    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 March 22, 2013 at 5:13 am #

    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 – http://www.siemreap.net/dining-nightlife/restaurants/a/abacus/

    Fusion/Asian: Nest Angkor Café- http://www.siemreap.net/dining-nightlife/restaurants/n/nest-angkor-caf%C3%A9/

    Local/Khmer: the Touich – http://the-touich-restaurant-bar.blogspot.com/

    Fusion : Cuisine Wat Damnak – http://www.cuisinewatdamnak.com/

    I hope that it will help you…

  15. Emma March 25, 2013 at 5:16 am #

    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 March 25, 2013 at 8:10 am #

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

  17. Holly May 15, 2013 at 9:07 am #

    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 May 15, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

    Chris, thanks for helping Emma out.

  19. LiLing Pang May 15, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    Emma, we also really enjoyed our meal at Red Lantern on Pub Street. Did you check out this article? http://blog.trekaroo.com/siem-reap-cambodia-with-kids-adventures-beyond-angkor-wat/

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