The temples of Angkor Wat have been on our radar for quite some time but we were a bit hesitant about Cambodia. Seen from home, Cambodia seemed a bit outside of our comfort zone, but we were wrong! SO glad we went. The five days in Siem Reap are the best memory of our 5 weeks around the world. We loved everything: the Cambodian people, the food and of course the temples. If you are hesitating to take your kids to Siem Reap, please don’t. You’ll have the most amazing time! To help you plan, here are a few tips and ideas for Siem Reap with Kids.
Arriving in Siem Reap with Kids
Buying a visa on arrival is very easy. As soon as you enter the airport, take a form to fill out and when you are done, see the officers on the right hand side. Here you need to pay 30$ per person and additional 2$ pp if you don’t have a passport picture with you. The visa will normally be ready in less than 10 minutes after what you need to go through immigration.
If you don’t have a pre-booked hotel transfer, just go the the Siem Reap Airport Taxi Service before exiting the airport. Here you can prepay a flatrate to downtown taxi (10$) or a tuk-tuk (9$) and the driver will meet you just outside the building. Easy and convenient! If you are looking for a family friendly hotel, you can read about our stay at the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra.
Touring Angkor Wat with Kids
Before going to the temples you’ll need to buy Angkor Wat passes. These are available either for 1 day (37$), 3 days (62$) or 7 days (72$). Children below 12 don’t need a pass (free) but you’ll have to prove their age. In case of doubt, it is best to carry their passports with you.
To tour the temples with a tuk-tuk we paid 18$ for a day or 10$ for half a day (3 hours). Carry a map of the temples and just show the driver where you want to go. He’ll wait for you at every stop which is very convenient. It’s your private Hop On Hop Off Tuk- Tuk.
Best way to see the temples of Angkor Wat with Kids
To give you an idea about the different temples, here a few pictures:
Siem Reap with Kids – Angkor Wat
Ta Prohm (famous for Tomb Raider)
Siem Reap with Kids – Angkor Thom
Baphuon – Elephant Terrace – Phimeanakas
Just outside Banteay Kdei entrance at the opposite side of the road you’ll see Sras Srang baray.
Siem Reap with Kids – Siem Reap Quad Bike Adventure with Kids
If you are looking for an activity off the beaten track in Siem Reap, this one is for you and your older kids. Communication with Quad Bike Adventure was straight forward, you can book directly on their website and get a 10% discount. We booked the same day for the 2 hour driving tour. You will be picked up from your hotel by Tuk-Tuk 30 minutes before the departure time. Arriving at the office you’ll get a short introduction about how to drive the quad and a safety briefing. Handling the quad is very easy and our guide, Sony gave clear instructions during the tour.
The tour will take you through rural villages, rice paddy fields, where you’ll see the local population, cows and water buffalos.
Stopping along the road to give pens
Siem Reap Quad Bike Adventure is an activitiy that is not to be missed while visiting Siem Reap. We enjoyed every minute of the tour. Driving the quad through the Cambodian countryside was a great way to get a glimpse of the local lifestyle. To see the children wave at you and high five while you drive past was the most rewarding. A truly unforgettable experience!
Siem Reap with Kids – Day trip to a Floating Village
To visit the floating village of Kampong Phluk we decided to hire a driver and a guide for the day. Although we mostly prefer to visit places on our own, hiring a guide turned out to be the best decision. We were picked up by a big van at the hotel on the agreed time. The drive to Kampong Phluk took around 45 minutes. Shortly before arriving at the boat embarking station we stopped, so that the guide could buy our tickets. We heard stories about tourist being ripped off here, so having the guide buying the tickets for us, was a relief.
At the harbor you meet with the boat driver. Here again, it was useful to have our guide because he could communicate with the boat driver and take us exactly where we wanted to go. The boats are simple and authentic but equipped with life jackets just in case….
During the cruise you’ll pass by the houses, schools, police station etc… During the month of April the water is at its lowest point and in October the highest, a difference that can be as high as 10 meters. We got off of the boat in the village. It was interesting to see the local school and see what it is like to live in the village. It was an eye opening experience for us and even more for Alexandre and Chloé.
Local kids on their way to school
Alexandre and Chloé at the local school
A few impressions from the floating village
Boat sharing to go to secondary school
Once we were back on the boat we headed to the Lake Tonlé Sap. We stopped at some kind of station where our guide informed us we could jump into another boat where ladies can take us into the mangrove for a little tour. Unfortunately they were not able to accommodate the 4 of us in 1 boat so we decided to skip. We also felt that at 5$ it was more like a tourist trap…
Once you get to the lake, you can imagine its hugeness. While the motor is stopped for a few minutes you’ll be approached by a boat selling fresh fruits, drinks, snacks etc….giving us a feeling of a made up scenario rather than an authentic experience…
On the way back to the harbor, the boat driver stopped at his house to pick up snakes he caught earlier. We asked our guide if we could have a look inside the house and were very lucky to get a sneak peak into it. The boat drivers younger brother showed Alexandre and Chloé how he killed frogs with a sling shot. His mother was repairing fishing nets. 5 people live in this house with only one mattrace, a small tv, an open fire and food macerating in a 35 degree heat… We thanked the family for giving us this once in a lifetime opportunity to enter their privacy, gave a little donation and climbed back on the boat.
Floating Village of Kampong Phluk with Kids
Snakes on a stick. Would you try?
Back in the van we stopped several times because Alexandre and Chloé brought pens from home to give to the children. Some ran away because they were afraid (our guide said they never saw “white” kids) and others were so happy that they called all their friends. It was really special and we’ll never forget these kids.
We also stopped at a local market where our guide explained us what they were selling and how life works in the countryside with no running water…
Visiting the Floating Village with Angkor Smiling Tours
We really enjoyed our trip to the floating village and Tonlé Sap and were very happy with our choice to hire a guide for several reasons: He could communicate for us with the local population, we were able to see places like a local school, a market and even our boat driver’s private house. This would probably not have happened without a guide.
If you are visiting Siem Reap we really recommend Angkor Smiling Tours and more specifically Sam. He speaks perfect English and will customize the tour to your wishes.
Siem Reap with Kids – Old Market (Psar Chas)
The old market is one of the most popular markets in Siem Reap and definitely worth a visit. Be prepared for souvenir stalls with arts and crafts, strange sights and smells and ultimately to haggle hard to score yourself a bargain.
Pub streets really comes to life at dusk. The street is lined with pubs (of course) and multi level restaurants. In the side alleys you’ll find clothes shops and many spas offering cheap treatments.
Things to know while in Siem Reap with Kids:
• Outside the temples, children will try to sell you all sorts of souvenirs. Although it is hard to say no, the authorities advise against buying from the kids. Most of the time they are exploited and encouraged by their parents to leave school to make easy money with the tourists.
• Always take water before visiting the temples
• Children living outside the tourist spots will be very happy to receive pens, notebooks, clothes…
• Be prepared to your kids reactions to the poverty of the local population
If you have any questions about visiting Siem Reap with Kids, please leave a comment below or contact us. For travel inspiration with Kids Like Letzflyaway on Facebook and subscribe to new posts.