We had read and heard so much about the awe-inspiring and stunning Angkor Wat, which is also one of the world’s 7 wonders. We always wanted to visit Siem Reap to discover the history and mysterious beauty of Angkor Wat. We had also been warned that the Angkor tour was not suitable for kids, as it involved lots of walking and climbing, more over the weather would be so hot and humid, plus it's a poorer country which lacked of facilities, etc… The answers had always been no-no-no for kids.
But we wanted to see Angkor Wat so much, which I then Googled "Siem Reap with kids" and was since convinced that it's definitely doable with kids. So off we went and came back safely intact, not just with our 3 kids, but also with my parents who are in their seventies. Dad and mom had been wanting to visit Cambodia as they have lots of neighbours from Cambodia who settled down in Malaysia since decades ago.
So Siem Reap is definitely more than doable with kids. It’s a beautiful city with wonderful people. The streets and even the poorer villages are generally clean and we did not see rubbish everywhere or anywhere. Cambodians are humble, nice, respectful and a little shy, even the street vendors aren't pushy but so gentle which make it harder for us to say no. We read that we shouldn't give money or buy things from the child vendors, as it will "encourage" the growth of the trend and these kids will then not be sent to schools. We however brought some clothes, books and stationeries for some of the village folks. We ate at our hotel and restaurants, which were clean and some even had fine dining setting. We enjoyed Khmer food, which was similar to the combination of Thai and Chinese food. Our favourites were Lok-Lak, Amok, Sour Soup and Curry. None of the food was spicy, which made it kids friendly.
Khmer food at one of the restaurants we patronised.
This trip had been an eye and soul opener for all of us, seeing the fascinating Angkor Wat and the lifestyle of the locals. We were also blessed with a good driver who spoke good English and shared with us his own stories and some histories of Cambodia. Some stories we heard and our own experiences with the village folks were so sad and we could only do our small parts by keeping them in prayers. Tip is not expected in Cambodia, but if you can, please please please tip them a dollar or two, if you think they have provided you with good service. It helps them and their families.
Here are our kids friendly itineraries. Tip: To start the temple tours as early as possible and you can relax in the hotel pool in the afternoon before heading out for dinner or night shopping. :)
Arrived Siem Reap International Airport at 1.15pm local time – Had lunch at our hotel - Damnak Villa Boutique Hotel
which is within walking distance to Old Market, Night Market and Pub Street – Sunset tour to Pre Rup Temple by Romok (the name of Tuk Tuk in Cambodian) . Our Romok driver first brought us to purchase the Angkor Pass. We bought the 3-Day Pass at USD40 per person, free of charge for kids below 12. Ticket check can be quite strict at each entrance point and please always have your tickets and passports ready (for children below 12). Another tip is to purchase your ticket at 4.50pm, you will get free entrance to view sunset, which means the validity of your ticket will start on the next day only, especially helpful if you plan to get only 1-Day Pass at USD20 per person.
Dad and mom's first romok (tuk tuk) experience.
Picture taken on the way to Pre Rup. Apparently, they were attending some prayer ceremonies in their local temple.
Pre Rup - one of the temples that required a bit more climbing of stairs. :)
Yes, that's me in my maxi dress and wedges at the peak to watch sunset. :)
Sunrise at Angkor Wat + small circle tour to Bayon Temple and Ta Prohm Temple + pottery class at Khmer Ceramics & Fine Arts Centre
in the afternoon. We set off at 5am and reached Angkor Wat at 5.20am, just in time to catch the beautiful sunrise. Our hotel had prepared simple breakfast box for us for a “ picnic" at Angkor Wat. The tour to all 3 temples were amazing, as each temple had its own uniqueness. Angkor Wat is stunning with its grand scale and incredible detail. Bayon is so serene with many unrestored parts and smiling stone faces on the many towers. The very popular Ta Prohm (Tomb Raider was filmed here!) is largely left in a living ‘jungle’, it’s worth the trip there by just admiring all the great trees! We reached back our hotel after a wonderful lunch, rested for awhile and went out for the super fun and interesting pottery class. :)
Angkor Wat at 5.30am, it's simply serene and stunning.
The peaceful morning at Angkor Wat - good thing about visiting early in the morning and during low season.
Papa Bear and the cheeky cubs.
My imagination was bringing me back to its glorious ancient time. I feel like we lived in that era. LOL
Too beautiful! Us and Angkor Wat. LOL
Simply stunning! The Bayon temple had become natural playground for Brother Bear and Sister Bear.
I totally immersed myself in the stunning beauty of the ancient Khmer city.
Hide and seek in the temple. Another bonus point of visiting during low season, it's more relaxing for both parents and kids.
The scene that appeared in the movie. You had to queue to take picture, which we didn't. :)
The fun pottery class. You just have to call or email to book a session and the centre offers free pick up.
The centre will fire, glaze and deliver your masterpieces to your hotel for free too.
The final products. Please do this at the beginning of your trip, as the centre will need at least 24 hours to fire and glaze your masterpieces. :)
Day 3: Banteay Srey + big circle tour to other temples like Preah Khan, Neak Pean and Pre Rup. We first set off for Banteay Srey which was about an hour drive from the city centre. It was an enjoyable journey out from the city passing by villages and seeing the lifestyle of the locals. We reached back our hotel around 4pm. Kids had a blast in the swimming pool and the huge bathtub in the room, and we strolled around the night market and pub street after dinner.
Spot Brother Bear and his buffalo friends. :)
Dad and mom at Banteay Srey Temple which has intricate carvings.
Banteay Srey is also known as Ladies Temple.
Dad's sampling the palm wine (tuak).
We also bought some palm sugar from the roadside stalls, the palm sugar can be used for cooking. Yeah, that's our awesome driver who supplies us with cold water and wet wipes free of charge throughout our trip. :)
Our beautiful Sister Bear.
Our faithful Onya baby carrier. :)
Remind me of the quote: To the world, you are a person. To your family, you are the world.
Yeehaa... The last temple of the trip! We made it! Angkor tour with 3 kids and my parents!
Day 4: A relaxing shopping morning at the old market. Our driver then came to pick us up from the restaurant we had lunch to visit the Silk Farm which was 16km away from the city centre. The company has another workshop and showroom in the city centre as well, where you can see stone and wood carving process. You do not have to pay for the entrance fee and tour guide service. But you may support them in return by purchasing something from their showroom. The company is providing training grounds and job opportunities for the locals, which mean you purchase to support a noble cause. Anyway, any dollar spent in Cambodia is helping the people. Our driver also drove us to some villages to distribute goodies we brought. The smiles on the village folks' faces were priceless. They welcome any contributions, as they live under inadequate conditions - no water and electricity, some kids are not attending schools and some families are earning less than a dollar a day.
Our boutique hotel is strategically located and it's walking distance to the night market, old market and pub street.
Dad and mom at old market.
A relaxing day today. No temples and no maxi dresses. LOL I love dresses!
Brother Bear was curious with the cocoon which produces silk.
Their works are amazing.
We enter some villages to distribute some goodies like clothes, bags, books and stationeries to the villagers. You may do the same and make arrangement with your driver to visit these folks. I'll try to do a post on this later.
Day 5: Our flight home is at 2.15pm. Papa Bear and I decided to revisit the renowned Angkor Wat, just the two of us, the love bears. LOL The advantage of travelling with other adults – they could help with minding the kids for a few hours! We also revisited the Old Market to get some Cambodian pants for mom and more local produces like cashew nuts and dried mangoes as souvenirs for families and friends. Then, heavy heartedly, we bid goodbye to the hotel crew and our driver.
Siem Reap at 6.15am. The famous picnic spots among the locals. :)
Me at the entrance of Angkor Wat.
The man who took lots and lots of photos of me. :)
When our eyes meet, the world goes quiet and nothing matter more than our love for each other, not even the man who accidentally photobombed this picture. LOL
Love this picture of ours!
One of my favorite parts of Angkor Wat.
Beautiful, isn't it?
Angkor Wat is truly amazing. :)
All in all, we enjoyed our stay in Siem Reap very much. End of May, the time of our visit is considered as low season in Siem Reap, as it’s the start of their rainy season. I would however think that it’s one of the best times to visit with kids, as the occasional rain cools down the temperature and it’s not as crowded that you don’t take photos with hundreds of tourist in the background. LOL I would like to end this blog with these 2 lovely and funny pictures of Papa Bear and I. All pictures of me in low back dresses were taken outside of the temple. It's best to cover your knees and shoulder when visiting the temples. :)
The famous hands holding pose. :)
The funny version. Just for fun! LOL