Siem Reap for Kids

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As a family vacation destination, Cambodia’s Siem Reap doesn’t get the same level of attention as some of Southeast Asia’s all-star tourist destinations. It’s not as glitzy as Singapore or Hong Kong; it lacks Bangkok’s impeccable tourism infrastructure; and it can’t compete with the sunny shores of Bali. Still, the ancient city’s famous temples are well worth the trip, and there’s plenty of other fun for all ages to be had if you know where to look.

Siam Reap for kids

Whether you live in Cambodia or just want to stop by for a quick getaway, here are some places to take the kids beyond Angkor Wat.


See an old-fashioned circus

There’s nothing like a night at the Big Top to get the kids excited. And Phare Ponleu Selpak (Behind Angkor National Museum in Siem Reap; 855-53/952-424; US$5 for children) is like no circus you’ve seen before. This NGO-founded show teaches disadvantaged children a marketable skill. The circus was started in Battambang, but has been so successful that they recently opened up a second venue in Siem Reap. Be prepared to be dazzled with acrobatics, fire shows and music.


Go horseback riding

You can, of course, see Angkor’s temples on foot, but that’s awfully rough on short-legged family members. A better bet is to rent a tuk-tuk for the day (roughly US$20) to save some walking. An even better idea though, is to see the sights from astride your very own steed. The Happy Ranch House Farm (855-12/920-002; horseback rides from US$25 per hour) is a guaranteed hit with any aspiring young equestrians. And while the temples are the main draw, there’s no reason you can’t ride off into the rice paddies and surrounding scenery. The ranch cheerfully accommodates riders of all abilities and has gentle, non-threatening ponies for the littlest visitors.


Play miniature golf

While the crumbling temples around Siem Reap offer adventurous little ones plenty of opportunities to climb, crawl and play Tomb Raider, after a few days of touring they may well be exhausted. Rather than trying their patience, take a break for a round or two of mini-golf at Angkor Wat Putt (7 Makara Rd., Siem Reap; 855-12/302-330; US$5 for children), the first course of its kind in the country. It makes for a perfect break in the history lesson.


Have a good meal the whole family can appreciate

Much of the cuisine in Siem Reap’s walkable downtown caters heavily to tourists, which is both good and bad for the travel-weary family. On the plus side, it’s easy to find relatively bland kebabs, pizzas and kid-friendly fare. Unfortunately, mom and dad (as well as your more adventurous eaters) may get bored with these rather pedestrian offerings. For a real treat, Cuisine Wat Damnak (Behind Wat Damnak Pagoda; 855-77/347-762) has delicious set menus.

For all the moms who have been to Siem Reap, what did your family most enjoy? Are these the items on your list? Or do you have your own Siem Reap family secrets? Tell us what you think in the comments section below!

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1 Comment

  1. Jodie  /  February 5, 2014, 5:56 pm Reply

    Thanks for this article. We moved to Phnom Penh 7 months ago from Bangkok. While I’ve been to Siem Reap several times over the years, we only first went as a family this past December. We were there to participate in the Bike4Kids Angkor Bike race. It was a great weekend. But in all this time I had no idea that you could tour the ruins on horseback. That is now at the top of my list of things to do next time I’m there! I didn’t know that there was mini-golf either. Cool! My favourite part of being there last time was having our own bikes with us (complete with child-seat; whether for cycling around Angkor or just around town. Thank you for the tips.

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