Cambodia for kids

27.03.09 06:29 AM By Jim James

familyphoto Travelling to Cambodia with our 16 month old daughter, Amity, was a good combination of adventure and convenience. Nearly 2 million tourists visited Cambodia last year to see the Angkorian-era (9th-13th century) Khmer Empire temples at Angkor Watt just outside Siem Reap, and while the town of Siem Reap is becoming more westernized with child friendly food, ATM’s, and the Internet, it still has enough challenges to make it exciting to former backpackers. Cambodia Getting to Cambodia is fairly painless from Beijing. We flew from Beijing to Phnom Penh on China Southern Airlines CZ324 which departed at 0800 and arrived at 15:05 which meant that Amity traveled during her naptime. You can get a visa on the Internet or pay US$25 on arrival – but take 2 photos with you. We over nighted in Phnom Penh and then hired a driver and car for the 4 hour drive to Siem Reap. The cost was US$65 which was double the cost of 6-7 hour bus journey and gave us the option for pit stops. Once in Siem Reap, population circa 90,000,there is a wide range of hotels starting at backpack hostels at US$12 to 5 star Hotel de Paix at US$750. We elected for Hotel Mysteres Angkor which was on the east side of the Siem Reap river, which was a mistake; access was via a temple and burial grounds, the neighbourhood was noisy and they placed us in a suite with a spiral staircase – not ideal for a toddler! Always ask the question about location and if the room is toddler friendly. Angkor Archaeological Park Getting to the Angkor Archaeological Park takes 20 minutes from Siem Reap by Tuk Tuk and we planned 4 days to cover the 400 square kilometer park. Tickets are sold for ($20), three-day ($40) and seven-day ($60) visits. To see the park for 4 days but only pay for 3 we took the hot air balloon ride that is just inside the park but for which one doesn’t need a park ticket. From 200m up the tether great yellow balloon gave a fantastic view at sunset (6:40) and it was safe for Amity, who was more excited by the earth bound chickens running around the ticket office. There were also elephants, monkeys and all manner of animals in the park, some to ride. 6a00d8341f324553ef01156e805096970c <a style="float: left;" href=""> family We moved hotels to the Shanta Mani on the west side of the river by the old market. We used the mornings to tour the Park by TukTuk as it was cooler for Amity, returning home each day for lunch, pool and naptime. In the late afternoons we went back to the Park carrying Amity in a backpack. There is a good aircon restaurant in the park opposite the Angkor Wat which serves fruit juice and both western and Asian food and that proved a safe haven on the second day. A tour around the park can take 2-5 hours depending on how adventurous the parents and patient the toddler – Amity stood up to 3 hours before melting down, saved only by the icecream vendor. Amity After 3 days of visiting Temples we had had enough of history and went on a boat tour on the Tonle Sap, Asia’s largest freshwater lake, some 15km south of Siem Reap. We paid US$20 per person (Amity rode for free) for a boat ride that navigated past a Vietnamese boat people floating village including a school. wife and Amity Sunset on a floating restaurant and then back up the estuary to a magical dusky tuktuk ride with Amity fast asleep to the soothing sounds of a tropical evening. We checked into the luxury of the Foreign Correspondents club and felt we had arrived home. floating restaurant Cambodia is a manageable holiday with a toddler but it is worth deciding how much you want to trade convenience for cash. Our holiday for 7 nights amounted to around US$3,000 including flights, car, accommodation, passes and food. It could have been done for half as much but with greater amounts of patience. The people of Cambodia have lived with many more hardships than we did, and the people we met were welcoming and hospitable. We all felt safe both in the daytime and nighttime. For an alternative to Thailand or Indonesia, I would recommend Cambodia - Take suntan lotion, mosquito repellent, and a some shades. Amity with glasses For a useful guide