Angkor Wat attracted nearly 2.6 million tourists to Cambodia in 2018, a 5.45 percent jump over 2017. It’s little wonder this massive religious complex gets so much attention. Especially when you consider the magnitude and majesty of the ancient Khmer Empire site. But the adventure doesn’t have to begin and end at Angkor.
Located in northwestern Cambodia and just 15 minutes from Angkor Wat, Siem Reap remains both a living embodiment of Khmer culture and an active, diverse urban center. What’s more, you’ll find plenty of activities for family travelers.
Here’s our list of fun, family-friendly activities to check out in Siem Reap when traveling Cambodia with children.
Khmer Gastronomy 101
Khmer cuisine is founded in rice, pork, chicken, and seafood and inspired by the spices and flavors of India and Thailand. At Siem Reap’s many restaurants, you’ll find plenty of dishes that even the pickiest eater will love. These include delectable coconut milk curries, fried spring rolls, and spicy Khmer chicken soup.
And don’t forget to sample fish amok, Cambodia’s national dish. The epitome of Khmer cooking, fish amok is steamed and served in a banana leaf with coconut cream on top. Many restaurants provide rice and vegetables on the side, too.
The nation’s tropical climate with warm annual temperatures means you’ll enjoy your fill of exotic fruits. Dazzle your taste buds with sapodillas, mangosteens, and rambutans. Feeling courageous? Then, give durians a try. If you can get past the smell, you’ll be rewarded with a sweet, custard-like inner flesh reminiscent of almonds. Finally, cashew mango smoothies satisfy any sweet tooth.
The Phare Ponleu Selpak Circus
The Phare Ponleu Selpak Circus is an Artistic and Social Center that has been running as a non-profit association since 1994. It was founded by a group of young ex-refugees from Battambang Province. Phare Ponleu Selpak translates as “the brightness of the arts,” and you and your kids will be amazed by this show-stopping treat.
Best of all, no animals are involved in the performances that you’ll see. Instead, the circus features high-energy, immensely-skilled teams of young acrobats.
They perform traditional Cambodian folktales and stories through vibrant dance routines. You’ll also learn about Khmer culture through theater, music, and circus arts. What’s more, proceeds from each performance go towards providing training and a living wage to the youth performers that you’ll see.
Discovering the Countryside near Siem Reap
Angkor Wat was originally constructed along the banks of the Tonlé Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. The lake remains a crucial aspect of Cambodian life and culture. People even live on its waters. Boat tours of the lake offer glimpses of unique wildlife as well as the chance to see these floating households and villages. During your tour, you’ll learn about the different cultures housed there, from Khmer to Vietnamese and Muslim.
You can also get away from the hustle and bustle of city life in Siem Reap with a visit to the city’s outskirts. Trade in the sounds of honking cars for the soothing melodies of local birds and other wildlife while taking in Cambodia’s picturesque scenery.
One of our favorite ways to get out and about? Enjoy a quad bike tour of the Cambodian countryside where you’ll catch sweeping vistas of forests, marshlands, and paddy fields. It’s an eco-friendly way to explore this exotic land. And you’ll give your family a chance to get active and bond over new experiences.
Traveling Cambodia with Children
From floating villages along the Tonlé Sap to quad bike rides through the Cambodian countryside, you’ll find plenty of great adventures awaiting you in Cambodia with children. You’ll also enjoy exploring mouthwatering Khmer cuisine and watching the awe-inspiring entertainment at the Phare Ponleu Selpak Circus.
Are you and your family ready for the Southeast Asian vacation of a lifetime? Join us on our upcoming 13-Day Thailand and Cambodia Family Adventure, an immersive, authentic way to experience Thailand and Cambodia with kids.
At Our Whole Village, we create transformational trips for curious families who want to create lasting memories while making a difference. We’re here to help you and your family experience the world, its peoples, and its cultures. Contact us today to learn more about the unforgettable experiences that we handcraft for curious families just like yours.