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Angkor Wat and Beyond with Kids in Cambodia’s Siem Reap

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Cambodia’s Siem Reap was a small town a hundred years ago until tourists and historians started coming here in droves after the discovery of the 9th – 13th century ruins of Angkor Wat – the largest preindustrial city in the world. Angkor has UNESCO World Heritage status and thousands of tourists visit the most famous and best-preserved ruins daily at Angkor Wat. Now a busy rural city, Siem Reap and the nearby Angkor Archaeological Park offer a lot of exciting activities for families.

Ruins at Ta Phrom at Angkor Archaelogical Park in Cambodia

Exploring the Ruins at Ta Phrom in the Angkor Archaelogical Park

1. Explore Angkor Wat by foot or tuk tuk.

Kids will love exploring Angkor Wat, particularly if they try to imagine how the huge structures were made without machinery and what each of the buildings might have been used for.

For a truly magical day, head to the nearby ruins of Angkor Thom. At a time when London and Paris were still just towns, Angkor Thom was a vibrant city of over one million people. Counting the giant faces and searching the intricate carvings for animals at the Bayon will occupy the kids as you explore the amazing temple. Be sure to check out the hundreds of elephant carvings at the aptly named Terrace of the Elephants.

Bayon at Angkor Thom in Cambodia

The Bayon at Angkor Thom is famous for its hundreds of stone faces and intricate carvings of everyday life in the 12th Century

Just the tuk tuk ride (a motorbike with a carriage containing seats) to Angkor Thom is an experience in itself. You’ll pass vibrant forests filled with monkeys, enter through the city’s ancient gates and ride through the ancient ruins.

Dinosaur Carving in Ta Phrom at Angkor Archaelogical Park in Cambodia

Is it a dinosaur or a rhino?

2. Dream of dinosaurs at Ta Phrom.

Made famous by the movie Tomb Raider, the tree-filled ruins of Ta Phrom at Angkor Archaeological Park have a special highlight for children – a carving of an animal that looks surprisingly like a stegosaurus. Despite the perfectly plausible explanation that this is just a fancy rhino, your children will love finding this proof that not too long ago dinosaurs roamed Cambodia. Maybe they still do…

3. Eat peanuts with crocodiles.

Dead Fish Restaurant and Bar in Siem Reap has several large crocodiles housed in pits within the restaurant! While you enjoy a drink, your kids will have a great time eating free peanuts and drinking apple juice as they watch the crocodiles.

Tree roots at Angkor Thom in Cambodia

When the ruins of Angkor Thom ruins loose their appeal, there are plenty of trees to climb

4. Enjoy food and fun at night markets.

Siem Reap’s night markets are filled with toys, handicrafts, and clothes. Go here for family-friendly meals, explore gardens, and maybe brave a fish spa pedicure.

5. Visit the floating villages of Tonle Sap.

Taking a boat cruise past the floating villages of Tonle Sap is a lot of fun for families. Your kids will love seeing how children live their entire lives on the water, including going to class in a floating school.

6. Play and shop at Lucky Mall.

Lucky Mall has a small indoor playground plus ridiculously cheap ice creams and toys. It’s a fun place to escape the heat for an hour or two.

Monks at the ruins of Angkor Thom in Cambodia

A common sight – monks amid the ruins of Angkor Thom

7. Explore modern temples and listen to monks chanting.

Modern temples in Cambodia are a bright affair, with amazing colors and carvings. We've seen carvings of chickens wearing capes, hot pink monuments, and the meanest looking demons. Many of the monuments are built with steps and paths exactly the right size for little feet to explore. As long as you're respectful no one will mind your children climbing and exploring as they search for monuments painted in their favorite colors or try to spot all the gods and demons.

During the day, temples will generally be quiet and you may encounter young monks wanting to practice their English. Beginning around 5 pm the temples are usually filled with monks chanting and praying – it’s an amazing sound to enjoy on your way out for a family dinner.

Would you want to visit Angkor Wat and the other Siem Reap sites with your kids? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Tracy Burns, her husband, Colin, and their two young children are on an open-ended round-the-world trip to spend more time together as a family and find a place they’d like to call home. Colin works location independently while Tracy home-schools their children, coming up with ever more inventive ways to occupy the kids using only the resources that fit in their backpacks. She blogs about their travels at

  1. Do you have a tourism company other than Disney who specialize in traveling with children?

  2. Great blog, Cambodia is perfect, also for kids!

  3. Hi Tracy. I stumbled upon your blog, as I was searching for tips on travelling to Siem Reap with my 2 year old son. I just wanted to ask you if it’s recommended to bring a stroller? Thank you so much! 🙂

  4. wandering educators says

    oh, i can’t WAIT to go! thanks for the great tips!

  5. Tracy Burns says

    Thanks Phil, we’re having a wonderful time. So glad we decided to take this journey.
    Phxbne – we were a little worried about whether the kids would enjoy Angkor but they had a wonderful time. I’m sure your daughter will love it … although make sure you take a morning to explore solo with your camera

  6. This is top on my bucket list – glad to know my daughter will like it too!

  7. I so want to go there now! How awesome that you’re traveling the world and home-schooling the kids. I love it

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