This post is part of our family month, during which we’re celebrating the joys of travel with kids. For more inspiration, have a look at our family page.
It’s difficult enough to keep kids entertained on holiday without adding ‘culture’ into the mix, but Cambodia is a surprisingly fun antidote to the usual noisy family resorts. Here, dad-of-three and Cambodia buff Tom Weston explains why.
Cambodia is unlikely to leap out at you as an obvious choice for a family holiday. The country is synonymous with the temples of Angkor and, as every parent knows, visits to cultural sites are likely to only elicit groans from kids.
This complaint can be addressed in two very important ways. Firstly, these aren’t just any dull old temples, these are veritable snake-dangling, monkey-clambering, giant-faces-in-the-jungle, Indiana Jones-style temples. These are the very antithesis of the dry ruins your parents dragged you round as a child.
The second, and perhaps most important, point is that Cambodia has far more to offer than temples. Nearby Siem Reap has a fantastic range of excellent value family-friendly resorts, most boasting the all-important swimming pool to fill ‘downtime’ moments. For the active, there are rope courses, horse riding and cycling; for the more culturally inclined, try rice-planting, traditional thatching or Khmer cooking classes. Child-friendly eating options and even a kooky modern Cambodian take on the circus all make this an ideal spot for families.
Beyond Siem Reap there are plenty of other great family destinations. Who even knew that Cambodia had a coastline, yet squeezed in between the popular beach destinations of Thailand and Vietnam is an, as yet, relatively undeveloped scattering of delightful islands. Quiet resorts with safe, warm, shallow seas await, while Koh Rong is the perfect spot for the traditional end-of-holiday wind-down.
Before you get to the beach, how about a boat ride through the stilt villages and floating markets of Tonlé Sap or a trip across the lake to Battambang? The latter is a charming colonial town; explore its countryside by bicycle or by taking a ride on the famously hair-raising Bamboo Train.
Not far from the capital, Phnom Penh, is the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre – another guaranteed hit with the kids. Here, visitors can help out in the daily routines of rescued sun bears and other rare wildlife – a guaranteed way to curtail any potential groans.
If you’ve been inspired by some of these experiences, you can try most of them on our Family Cambodia itinerary, which visits Siem Reap, Battambang, Phnom Penh and Koh Rong, and includes all the experiences mentioned here. This trip is recommended for families with children aged eight and above. Just get in touch with one of our experts to find out more.
This article first appeared in issue #2 of East, the Inside Asia Tours Magazine. To download previous issues or sign up to receive your very own (FREE) paper subscription, click here!