Angkor Wat with kids should be on every families bucket list, it was certainly on ours. We visited last week and weren’t disappointed, in fact I would go as far as to say that it has been the highlight of our tour through South East Asia.
Classed as UNESCO World Heritage site, Angkor Wat, in its beauty and state of preservation, is unrivaled. Its mightiness and magnificence bespeak a pomp and a luxury surpassing that of a Pharaoh or a Shah Jahan, an impressiveness greater than that of the Pyramids, an artistic distinctiveness as fine as that of the Taj Mahal.
Sounds impressive doesn’t it!
Tips For Exploring Angkor Wat With Kids
When should you visit Angkor Wat?
Most guides will tell you to visit mid-year when there are less tourists, visit the temples as early as you can and to avoid the high season (November-February). We visited in January and yes there were lots of tourists, but in no way did it impact on our visit or experience as a family. We still had moments when we were alone in the temples, particularly when we went further afield to the lesser known ruins.
High season in Cambodia is not the same as Thailand, there are far less tourists here, don’t be put off visiting in high season. We also didn’t get up early, we’re far too lazy for that. We arrived at the temples around 10.30am each morning, refreshed after a lie in and a good breakfast. We never had to queue and were able to explore straight away. Our advice is to go with what feels right for your family.
Where should you stay when you visit Angkor Wat with kids?
Siem Reap has a huge choice of accommodation for families. 5 star luxury resorts, boutique hotels, guesthouses, hostels and homestays are all on offer. We chose to stay close to the Angkor area, just outside of Siem Reap, whilst we explored the temples. We opted to stay in a family room at Community Homestay, to get a flavour of real life in Cambodia.
We were warmly welcomed into the home of Ken and her family and were well looked after for 4 nights. Our kids really enjoyed playing with Ken’s children, we felt like we were part of the family. Rooms book up fast, so if you would like to try the homestay experience we recommend booking ahead.
If you prefer hotels or just want to have access to a pool then we recommend staying at Tanei Resort & Spa. Its located 1km from Siem Reap centre, has a 23m infinity pool, well priced restaurant and some of the best staff we have ever encountered in a hotel before. We loved it that much we extended our 5 night stay, to 15 nights!
1, 3 or 7 Day Pass?
For us Angkor was never going to be a whistle stop tour, I really don’t think you could do it justice with a one day pass. But that’s us, you might think differently. We found that a 3 day pass gave us enough time to see the most famous temples (Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm) on day 1, temples further afield on day 2 and a day of adventure searching for the Ta Prohm dinosaur on day 3 (more on that later).
I think 7 days of exploring temples may have been a bit much for the kids.
If you are visiting Angkor Wat with kids then its good news for you! Kids under 12 get free entry to the temples. Make sure you take their passports though, our kids look a lot older than Cambodian children so we had a hard time convincing the staff that our 9 year son wasn’t 15!
A one day pass costs $20, 3 days $40 and 7 days is $60. Pretty good value in our opinion.
What are your transport options for exploring Angkor Wat with Kids?
Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples are located several kilometres outside of Siem Reap centre, you will need some form of transport to get there. We chose to hire a tuk tuk driver for 3 days at a cost of $15 per day, this was organised through our homestay so we didn’t have any hassle around haggling a price. If you do choose to barter with a local driver expect to pay around $20-25 per day in high season, maybe cheaper in the low season.
Having our own driver was brilliant, our kids always love tuk tuk’s so they were very happy to be cruising around in one. Our driver was very friendly, spoke English well and always had a supply of cool bottled water for us when we returned hot and tired from the temples.
We also saw many visitors riding bikes (easy to hire in Siem Reap, some hotels offer them for free) around the temples and in coaches/minibuses on what looked to be organised tours.
What should you take with you (and what you should leave at home)?
Unless your transport provides free water then make sure you take some with you, exploring the temples is thirsty work. We also recommend that you take sunhats for the kids, sun block and a camera. Keep shoulders and knees covered, some temples will not permit entry if you are not dressed appropriately.
If you are travelling with babies or tiny tots leave the stroller at home, it will be useless to you. Angkor Wat with kids, was clearly not on the minds of the ancient civilisation that designed and built it! Instead, take a carrier for your baby or make arrangements with your hotels baby sitting service to take care of your little one whilst you explore.
Finding somewhere to eat, how easy is it?
The entrance to each temple is surrounded by vendors selling all sorts of stuff. You will find water, juice and fruit readily available. There are also restaurants on the roads leading up to each temple where you can find Asian and Western cuisine.
We ate at restaurants near the temples on 2 of our days out and found them to be of average quality and poor value. It wasn’t a massive issue for us, it was only 2 days and we were hungry. An alternative option would be to ask your hotel to organise a packed lunch or to ask your driver to take you back to town to eat.
Street Kids at Angkor Wat
You will see lots of kids selling souvenirs at the temples, both inside and out. You might want to brief your kids on this before you visit. There are lots of arguments all over the web as to why you should and shouldn’t buy from the kids. I wont get into that debate here, maybe in another post. I would be interested to hear what your opinions are?
Exploring Angkor Wat with Kids? Make it fun and search for the Ta Prohm Dinosaur.
You have to do this! We got a tip from one of our Facebook followers that there was a dinosaur carving hidden in the depths of Ta Prohm. As its the temple where scenes from Tomb Raider were filmed, we made it our mission to go there and play Lara Croft on the hunt for treasure.
We did it on the third day when the kids were starting to become a little ‘temple fatigued’ and we found that it renewed their enjoyment and passion for exploring the temples. It took us around 1.5 hours to finally find the dinosaur after inspecting every carving at the temple. Dad found it, much to the kids disappointment.
If you do want to search for the Ta Prohm dinosaur then I will give you the same clue that was given to us…‘It’s located in a quiet corner at the back of the temple, near an overgrown Banyan tree’.
I hope you have found this guide useful. Please let us know if you have anymore questions that we haven’t already answered, we would love to help you have a fantastic time in Cambodia with your family. Angkor Wat with Kids is simply amazing, something they will never forget.
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