We decided to take the plunge to travel to Siem Reap with a 5 year old and a 2 year old about 12 months before we actually left Australia. There was many, many hours of research and this was my first real experience of ‘travel blogging’ – I was so excited that travel blogging actually existed (I know, I know…..!!). I asked so many questions of a few different travel bloggers. I would not have been confident in taking this trip if not for Sally from our3kidsvtheworld – she had so much information she was happy to pass on (thank you Sally). So, Siem Reap with kids – yep you can do it!!
We flew Vietnam Airlines for this trip. We could have flown Air Asia for about half the cost but it would have meant two travel days instead of one and we would rather get to our destination quicker rather than having hours (or overnight) to spend in an airport.
What you can find in this post
I am so glad we chose to travel in June – which is the start of the wet season, but we only had rain twice in the week. There were still lots of tourists around and I can’t imagine watching the sunrise at Angkor Wat with 10,000 other people (in January)! The beaches in June are not ideal so we decided to combine some of Vietnam with this trip and leave more of Cambodia for another time. Check out this website from Selective Asia for a great interactive map on what the weather is like in Asia for any particular month.
How long should you spend in Siem Reap with Kids?
We loved Siem Reap and a week here with the kids felt like a perfect amount of time and I actually can’t believe I was worried about travelling to Cambodia with the kids. I’d definitely recommend Siem Reap as a destination for families (with kids who love to climb and explore). Ned’s age was actually spot in. Olive was a bit young for the amount of walking involved (which we were well aware of before the trip) but we have to give her credit as it was stinking hot and she was happy with the climbing and exploring parts. Sure, they might appreciate what they are seeing being a bit older, but I’d do it before the teenage years, otherwise they’d just mope around in the heat (like we saw with a couple of families with teenagers – ha ha – and yes that’s a generalisation!). I’d recommend having a week in Siem Reap with kids and it’s not somewhere I’d recommend you ‘pop’ into for a quick visit (without kids yes possibly) as you don’t want to overload yourselves with temples. The most we did was 2 temples in a morning and this was plenty for the kids, and Ross and I said it was enough for us also…this also gives you some down time and time for some of the other activities on offer and time to really get a feel for the area.
The kids were terrific, and we were pushing them pretty hard. People have asked me how we managed and ‘were the kids really good’? We find with travelling and life in general that the best thing to help the kids is preparation. We talked to them about the trip months in advance (to the point I am sure they didn’t believe we were actually going!) and when we were away there was nothing we sprang on them without warning – every night we talked about what we were going to do the next day and over breakfast we talked about the day. We warned them about the heat but they knew we would always be coming back for swims, ice creams and smoothies. I am sure some of their best memories are the ice creams and smoothies!
Vaccinations for Cambodia
You will need to arrange vaccinations before your trip so chat to your doctor a few months before you go to work out what you will need. We all had to have a couple each – much to Ned’s disgust 😊 They are not cheap so please factor this into your budgeting.
We decided not to do the course of Malaria medication so we took a large aerosol can of Aeroguard and wouldn’t you know – we didn’t need to spray ourselves once! I think I saw two mozzies in Siem Reap (the hotel also sprayed one afternoon when we were having an arvo sleep).
VISA Details for Cambodia
We arranged our Cambodian VISA online before we left through their e-visa website . You are able to do this for slightly cheaper upon arrival at the airport (it is US $30 per person and you need to have a passport sized photo with you) but we thought after a long flight we would want to get through immigration as soon as possible. Our VISA cost US$30 PP with a US$7 processing fee. It was such a simple process. I stuffed up Ross’s birth date and they changed it for me within a matter of hours with no extra charge. This is so very different to applying for the Vietnam VISA.
It still took a while to clear through the airport though, but the queue for the visas was very long so I was glad we didn’t have to worry about that also! The airport is small and as soon as we walked outside we saw a sign with our name – thank goodness! We were ready for bed!
Siem Reap with kids
We had 3 days of visiting the temples when we travelled with Sok our fantastic tuk tuk driver, a few down days, a tour with Dani from Bees Unlimited, a day trip to Beng Malea and a family massage. To be honest we tried to avoid the main tourist area ‘Pub Street’ and ate down the smaller side streets but the kids loved it when we did venture in to the lights, people, noise etc. There are also quite a few stalls selling fried spiders, snakes, scorpions etc. They do ask that you pay 50cents to take a photo and we only saw a couple of people actually make a purchase and try to take a bite!
Of course, there were other things which we just didn’t have time for. There are many, many temples to explore (but to be honest I am 100% happy with the temples we saw and lots of people only spend a few days here trying to squash them all in to a short itinerary ). We had spoken about the possibility of a day trip to Kbal Spean but the hike in the heat turned us off and we didn’t make it to the Phare Circus which is meant to be brilliant. There are horse riding tours, other countryside tours and ziplining, war museum, silk farm and Tonle Sap Lake. There definitely isn’t a lack of things to do with kids in Siem Reap.