In the 12th century, the Khmer Empire’s political control stretched across the far reaches of Southeast Asia. The Angkor Wat Archaeological Park remains an homage to this moment in history. The largest religious complex in the world, Angkor Wat measured four times bigger than Vatican City in Rome. What’s more, it required more than 5.5 million tons of sandstone to build. That’s more stone than all of the Egyptian pyramids combined! Yet, the inhabitants of the city mysteriously abandoned it some 500 years ago. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992, visiting Angkor Wat remains an essential highlight of traveling Cambodia with kids.
Still, it can be tricky to navigate with little ones due to large crowds, the scale of the park, and some of its less than kid-friendly features (e.g. steep drops and water bodies). It’s also not the most stroller-friendly place. But with the right knowledge and a little planning, Angkor Wat with kids proves immensely rewarding.
Getting to Angkor Wat
Your trip to Angkor Wat starts in Siem Reap, the nearest modern-day town to the archaeological park. Located about 3.7 miles (6 km) to the south, it’s a favorite base camp for accessing the ancient city.
To reach Angkor Wat from Siem Reap, many transportation options exist including cycling, hiring a private car, taking a bus, or hiring a tuk-tuk driver for the day. Travel by morning or evening is best to avoid heat and crowds. If you’re looking for photo ops without the crowds, evening gives you a chance as people move out of the park. Here are five more tips to make your travels to Angkor Wat more pleasant (and kid-friendly!)
1. Be Respectful
Angkor Wat remains a religious site, so make sure that your family understands this and approaches it with respect and reverence. Bring along something to cover your shoulders and make sure that your knees remain covered, too. While these might sound like stringent requirements, they aren’t all that different than the dress you’d need to enter some churches in Italy and Greece, which may require head coverings, to boot!
2. Prepare for Heat & Sun
Heat will be your biggest enemy at Angkor Wat, which means taking precautions to avoid dehydration and sunburns, too. Make sure you bring along sunscreen and plan on applying it liberally and often. Hats and sunglasses are also crucial for a good experience. Finally, take advantage of rest in shady spots.
3. Stay Hydrated
Bring lots of water, and stay hydrated. You’ll also see water vendors around the complex to replenish your reserves when they start to run low. Dehydration can hit little kids hard. Often, they forget to drink, and this can lead to severe dehydration quicker than you’d think. Remind kiddos to drink up regularly.
4. Be Firm
While we’re on the subject of vendors, don’t let anyone bully or beg you into parting with extra money. Some vendors and beggars at Angkor Wat get relentless. Prepare to be firm. If you want to contribute to Cambodia in a beneficial way, consider donating money to a reputable charity instead. That way, you can guarantee meaningful change rather than perpetuate the cycle of poverty. See our 13-day itinerary for more opportunities to make a difference while traveling Cambodia with kids.
5. Come Fit & Ready to Carry Babies
Exploring Angkor Wat can involve steep stairs. So, you need to be in decent shape if you want to do lots of temple exploring. While safety rails have been installed over the past few years, temple exploration is not advised for pregnant women or small children due to the steep temple stairs. Since the park is not stroller-friendly, bring along a comfortable carrier for infants.
Cambodia with Kids
Interested in learning more about Cambodia with kids? Or, maybe you’d like to find a kid-friendly tour of Angkor Wat the whole family can get behind? Check out our 13-day Thailand & Cambodia Family Adventure.
At Our Whole Village, we create tours designed for 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.