500 million people follow Buddhist beliefs making it the fourth largest faith in the world. Based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, a Hindu prince born in 563 B.C.E., Buddhism advocates for nonviolence and kindness. When it comes to Cambodia for kids, there are many multicultural lessons you can teach about Buddhism’s legacy in this gorgeous destination.
Let’s explore some of the physical symbols of Buddhism you’ll see during Cambodia travel.
Despite his wealth and sheltered upbringing, Siddhartha Gautama was troubled by human suffering, and he wanted to understand how to alleviate it. So, he abandoned his royal position to seek enlightenment, giving up all of his worldly possessions.
In the process, he realized that humans need to cut out greed, ignorance, and hatred to end human suffering. He also came to understand that good actions get rewarded with good consequences. But good actions cannot cancel out bad ones.
Sacred Buddhist Sites in Cambodia
Based on his enlightenment, Siddhartha taught that humans cause themselves pain when motivated by desire, stupidity, and anger. But letting go of desire and rising above stupidity and anger leads to authentic happiness and freedom from suffering.
After Siddhartha’s death, his teachings about moderation, balance, and non-harm traveled throughout much of Asia. Since the 5th century, Buddhism has shaped the culture of Cambodia. In fact, nearly 97 percent of the population of Cambodia identify as Buddhist.
The history of Buddhism in Cambodia spans many successive empires and kingdoms. As a result, Cambodia contains many powerful sites still sacred to Buddhism today. Here are some of the most significant ones that you’ll see on a trip to Cambodia.
The ancient city of Angkor Wat contains the largest single religious building in the world, a 12th-century temple built to commemorate the Hindu god Vishnu. Between the 13th and 15th centuries, it transitioned into an important Buddhist site as it remains to this day.
Buddhist monks and nuns continue to worship there. Angkor Wat remains a powerful symbol of Cambodia and a fitting symbol of Cambodia’s historic transition from Hinduism to Buddhism.
Lying 25 miles northeast of Angkor Wat, one of the most sacred Buddhist spots in Cambodia is the mountain of Phnom Kulen. It contains the Reclining Buddha, a massive statue measuring 26.25 feet (8 meters) tall. The biggest statue of its kind in the country, it draws pilgrims from all over Cambodia to worship each year.
Finally, near the Royal Palace of Cambodia in Phnom Penh is Wat Ounalom. Wat Ounalom represents the headquarters of Cambodian Buddhism.
It dates to the 15th-century and includes 44 structures. Visitors can wander the grounds as long as they remain modestly dressed (for women, shoulders and knees covered) and respectful. When entering the temple, be sure to remove your shoes.
Cambodia for Kids
Buddhism has had a significant impact on the physical landscape of Cambodia. Its temples, statues, and sites prove fascinating places to visit while traveling Cambodia with kids. What’s more, they provide great opportunities for talking with your multicultural kids about who Buddha was and why he’s still remembered today.
Interested in learning more about the legacy of Buddhism in Cambodia? Or, how to approach travel to Cambodia for kids? Check out our 13-day Thailand & Cambodia Family Adventure, a rich, kid-friendly way to visit some of the most extraordinary destinations in Asia.
At Our Whole Village, we create tours designed 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 families just like yours.