A perennial Stubborn Mule favourite, Cambodia offers families the perfect blend of rich culture, awe-inspiring ruins, friendly villages, remote jungle, and tropical palm-fringed beaches. Flanked by Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, Cambodia has much in common with its neighbours but retains a charm all of its own.
For an authentic Khmer experience, spend a night or two with a local family, where the kids will be immersed in rural life and can make friends with local children. If adventure is more your thing, head into the Cardamom Mountains for jungle hikes and river kayaking.
From riding the Bamboo Train or cycling through the paddy fields to catching the sunset from the world’s eighth wonder, we’ve whittled down the many unique experiences on offer here to give you our Cambodia with kids Top 10. Enjoy!
Our top 10 Cambodia with kids activities
1. Explore the world-famous ruins at Angkor Wat
Any Cambodia with kids trip HAS to include the largest religious temple complex on the planet. Be warned though, the site is huge. While you can easily visit the main temples of Angkor Wat, Bayon, and Angkor Thom by foot, we find that families of every age much prefer cycling (or taking a tuk-tuk), so that they are able to explore the outer-lying ruins more easily. This helps avoid the ‘are we there, yet?’ pleas. Sunset at Angkor Wat can be a very touristy (a.k.a. busy) affair so you’ll get a much better view from atop one of the less-visited ruins – and a vista to yourselves too. We can also take you to lesser-visited ruins, hidden in the jungle, where you and your family can explore away from the crowds. See our sample Cambodia itineraries – both take you to Siem Reap and the Angkor Temples.
2. Take the Bamboo Train at Battambang
Less visited and touristy than Siem Reap yet Cambodia’s second-largest city, Battambang is known for its French architecture and cosmopolitan feel. It also boasts an even more famous attraction that anyone travelling through Cambodia with kids should visit: the bamboo train. Affectionately known as ‘Norrie’, the bamboo train is essentially a bamboo platform that balances over two sets of wheels and is powered by a motorbike engine. It was once used to great effect in the days following the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge and proved a lifeline to villages needing to transport goods across the country. Today, with the roads much improved, the Norrie has become more of a tourist attraction, albeit a kooky one. Check out our Cambodia Highlights trip.
3. Go zip-lining in the jungle
Near to Angkor Wat (but not invasively so) is a zip-line eco park, where you and your kids can soar through the forest canopy in a thrilling way, enjoying amazing jungle views as you do. So. Much. Fun.
4. Visit twin towns of Kep and Kampot
In the south of Cambodia, near the Vietnamese border, lie the attractive twin towns of Kep and Kampot. Kep sits on the coast where you can spend a wonderful couple of days taking a boat ride to Rabbit Island to go snorkelling, visiting a butterfly farm, taking hikes in the national park and exploring the crab market. The market is great fun for kids and you can watch as the fishermen bring in the day’s catch before tucking into a large plate of freshly cooked seafood. Prawns on a stick anyone?
Kampot is equally worth a visit, a slightly ramshackle but utterly charming collection of colonial buildings on the edge of a river. After wandering around the town, visit a pepper plantation and take an early evening cruise on the river to watch the fireflies dance over the water.
5. Take a boat trip to a stilt village on Tonlé Sap Lake
On the shores of the massive Tonlé Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and one of the richest fishing grounds in the world, you’ll find a number of stilt villages. When the water level is high enough (all year round except Easter) your kids will love taking a boat trip around the village, weaving in and out of the stilts. Impress them even more by telling them that this is the only lake in the world where the waters change direction, then see if they can find out why…
If you’re wondering what a stilt village may look like close up, check out our Cambodia Armchair Traveller Photo Blog.
6. Explore the Cardamom Mountains
In an action-packed holiday in Cambodia with the kids, there aren’t that many opportunities to get out and explore the countryside. However, one exception is a gorgeous eco-lodge in the Cardamom Mountains, in the southwest of the country bordering Thailand. Here you can really get out to explore virgin forest either by quiet trails, spotting wildlife, monkeys, and tropical birds and butterflies, by kayak, or by taking a sunset boat ride. We take you through the jungle to a waterfall where you and your family can swim in the pool at the base of the waterfall – sheer bliss! Spend two or three nights at this fabulous eco-lodge on our Cambodia Highlights itinerary.
7. Enjoy the tropical islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloen
Just off the coast of Sihanoukville are the paradise isles of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloen, where you can stay in Robinson-Crusoe-style beach huts (or, if you prefer, a more upmarket resort). Pleasures here are of the simple kind but you and your family will love the laid-back nature of the white-sanded and palm fringed isles. Its a great place to swim in the turquoise waters and far from the construction sites plaguing mainland coastal Cambodia.
8. Take a cookery course
In the South East Asian pantheon of famous cuisines, Thailand and Vietnam take the top spots for internationally loved dishes. Who doesn’t recognise a Thai green curry or a freshly rolled Vietnamese spring roll? But Cambodia deserves its place too, and has plenty to keep the foodie happy. Think fish wrapped in banana leaves, coconut soups, lim-marinated beef salad and, for the braver amongst us, stir-fried red ants. One of our favourite activities to include in a Cambodia with kids itinerary is a traditional cookery lesson where you can learn some of the secrets of Khmer cuisine.
9. Watch circus skills and acrobatics
The Cambodian Circus, Phare Ponleu Selpak, is a social enterprise based in Battambang that has transformed the lives of hundreds of local children. It is a success story as well as a fascinating, engaging, and entertaining day or night out. You can watch the school run circus skills and dance classes throughout the day before they take in a real performance during the evening. Do read more about what’s been quoted as, The best experience in Cambodia.
10. Meander along a scenic river and stop for a swim
There’s something magical about exploring by kayak or canoe; something about the peace and quiet as you glide through the water with nothing to hear but birdsong and the gentle sound of water dripping from the paddle. In the south of Cambodia, deep in the Cardamom Mountains, you can paddle down the Tatai River to one of Cambodia’s most impressive waterfalls. Stop for a swim and soak up the jungle views. Read more in our Places to visit in Cambodia.
Further north, near Kratie, you can kayak down the Mekong through a flooded forest to a small island in the middle of the river. Stop for a swim and a snack of sticky rice before heading back onto the river to look for river dolphins. Although river dolphins are rare, Kratie is one of the best places for sightings. Bliss.
More about traveling to Cambodia with kids
Want to find out more about this fascinating country? Visit our Cambodia family holidays page, e-mail us via our contact page, or call 01728 751752 to speak with a family travel expert. We are specialists in travel to South East Asia and would love to hear from you.
Liddy Pleasants, MD Stubborn Mule Travel
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