Cambodia customer reviews
We are very proud of the feedback that we get from our trips and are pleased to share reviews from past travellers. These are kept as up to date as possible. Please have a read through to get a real sense of the kind of experience that you might have on a family holiday in Cambodia.
Herrington Family (with teenagers 13, 15 and 18)
Travelled Summer 2019 – Cambodia and Vietnam
Hi Liddy – We really liked Cambodia – both hotels were great. We really enjoyed the bike tour of the temples and would love to do that again at some point. We also liked how few non-Cambodians there were in Battanbang. Our only regret was the time of year not being ok to visit the islands in the south.
We had a good time mainly relaxing at Hoi An and playing in the sea but found the place far too touristy for our taste – the place seemed to be flooded with Chinese tourists. The hotel was good and the manager was particularly helpful as my son started with very bad back problems and needed to go to a chiropractor.
We really enjoyed Hanoi – and found it less busy than Hoi An! The trip on the last day was great. Not overly keen on the hotel; they were very officious in tone and the place seemed dated despite only being 3 years old…
Thanks again for sorting everything Liddy – throughout the whole process you have been great.
Cohrs Family (with child aged 3)
Travelled May 2019 Cambodia and Laos
Liddy – Thanks again for organising our trip. As we said, we had an amazing time and are really impressed by Stubborn Mule. Some of the things that were really brilliant and special: in Luang Prabang our guide was great at avoiding the crowds. We were nearly the first people to the waterfall and the first to the swimming area, as an example. This really made the experience special.
– In LPB, there is a buffalo farm on the way to the waterfall. We stopped there on the way back and really recommend it for families – you feed and wash buffalo and also other animals and it is a social enterprise, trying to improve local farmers nutrition and finances. ( A great example of the flexibility of the guides – with no issues about adding an extra stop.)
– The guides in Laos were really amazing, interesting, brilliant with Zander and a delight to spend time with – especially Sad in LPB and Ting in Champasak. We would highly recommend using them again. The drivers were very good too…
– Nong Kwiew was great and we were able to do a small canoe trip as an extra – again, great flexibility by the guide who also checked with the agent / his boss that it was Ok to do that we were impressed by. He then joined us to make sure it was OK.
– Our son is train mad and we got to see the only train in Laos in the 4000 islands tour. We loved the tour as well.
– The hotel in Hanoi was superb – excellent service and lovely place…
– Halong Bay trip was excellent and really good vessel / service / experience. We avoided the crowds again
– The train trip between Hue and Danang is AMAZING – brilliant views and worth doing even if it is just that bit. (We also loved the whole overnight train – especially as Z is a train nut.)
– The driver in Champasak was really good. Safe and didn’t use his phone when driving.
Douglass Family (with children aged 7 & 9)
Travelled Easter 2019
Hi Kelly – We absolutely loved Cambodia and I think your comment about it being like Thailand 20 years ago was spot on. As expected everything ran smoothly, your partners managed our transitions perfectly and were very knowledgeable about all of the sights that we visited.
The hotel was well situated with a lovely pool and was perfect for a base in Siem Reap. The tour of Angkor Wat by tuk tuk was amazing and a great way to see the temples. As promised the guide was flexible meaning that we could take it slow, see the main temples and support the children through the unrelenting heat! Zip-lining was a huge highlight, even for my husband who is scared of heights! Fortunately we were offered a free upgrade to the gold package, which I would say is a must as we would have found the activity too short otherwise.
The hotel was beautiful and in truth I would have loved to have stayed an extra night to really appreciate the tranquillity. The bike tour of Battambang was lovely although slightly challenging for K who had a rather rickety bike! He got there in the end but we would have appreciated better quality children’s bikes as they were far inferior to the adult mountain bikes we were given. The bamboo train was great fun and coupled with the bat cave and Phnom Banan was a great way to spend the afternoon.
It was a trek to get there but it was so worth it. We spent 2 amazing days, swimming, kayaking, and paddling boarding in the river, which was such great fun. The trek to the waterfall was a very hot 2-hour walk but it was well worth the effort. This was probably our favourite region and the photos of the area just do not do it justice…. It was simply stunning and a great way to spend a few days.
At our request we were expecting to share a small lodge but on arrival were given 2, one of which was a newly built lodge, which was lovely, the other being the standard ECO lodge. To be honest Kelly this was a god-send and you were right about recommending 2 rooms. It was extremely hot and 4 in a standard lodge would have been a struggle!
Koh Rong was picture postcard beautiful and although we would have preferred a small resort, we were happy with our choice. We didn’t have a sea view room but the garden view adjoining family rooms were lovely and it was a perfect place for a bit of downtime. We went on a boat trip for the afternoon using a local company, which was basic, and although the marine life is limited, was nice to have a snorkel, do some fishing and visit a secluded beach. On the wait for the boat transfer we got the chance to join in with the locals celebrating the Khmer new year which was a great experience for the kids – needless to say we were soaked within seconds!!
As we needed to be close to the airport this hotel was ideal for our needs and a great place to chill before our final flight home…
Thanks again for all of your help and support, you have proved that being organised makes for a nice relaxing family adventure. This was particularly apparent when we were in Battambang and there was a German group of 7 who hadn’t organised their transport to Koh Rong and ended up spending half a day trying to make arrangements!!
Randolph Family (with children aged 13 & 14)
Travelled December 2018
Liddy – Happy New Year! Thanks you very much for organising our amazing trip. Everyone has had lots of fun and really enjoyed the experience. Battambang was great and possibly could have had an extra day relax there since the hotel was so beautiful. The highlight was the cookery course…, which was superb and enhanced by a fascinating visit first to the market to buy our ingredients. J nearly went vegetarian but it was such an interesting experience and more relevant than trips to markets on previous holidays since we were then using what we bought!
A close second was the trip on the bamboo train (the old one) and the visit to Wat Banan . We also really enjoyed the visits to the bat cave and circus.
The cycle trip was a bit disappointing as it was mainly through the centre of town though there was a sense of achievement that we all survived! We noticed that some people cycled to the sunset at the bat cave and then their bikes got picked up / they returned by tuk tuk – just mention this as it might be a better alternative than city centre cycling for others on future trips?! We played a game at Sihanoukville of guess what we have enjoyed doing in Cambodia and tellingly the Battambang cycle trip never featured!!
Maisons Wat was superb place to stay. Really loved the swimming pool and the rooms and being in the countryside. They gave us earplugs as there was quite a lot of local music from the nearby village but for us that just enhanced the experience.
We were a bit “lost” when we eventually arrived at la Rose Suites as we had a couple of hours when we were not quite sure what to do. Hotel was very comfortable and in a good location but the swimming pool was too small to really swim in.
The sight seeing day was very good even if the whole day was quite tiring. We did the Killing Fields in the morning which we all found incredibly moving and it was really good that our guide suggested 45 minutes at the Russian market, a nice distraction before our fab lunch at Friends cafe.
We loved our stay here. It was idyllic and didn’t matter that the tents were not floating. We were looked after so well and it was a very relaxing experience. Loved being able to swim in the river.
We ended up staying in two family tents though M and J could have easily slept in the annex of our tent where there were two single beds…
The excursions were great and the trip to the Tatai Waterfall was fantastic and a highlight for everyone.
The boutique hotel was probably one of the better hotels on Otres 2 though we ate at Tamu for several nights. The family room was very spacious but the sofa / foldaway beds quite uncomfortable. Breakfast was however great and the beach area and pool were super.
We were a bit disappointed about the lack of decent places to eat which were not too Westernised. We visited Koh Rong Samloem for a day and walked to Lazy Beach resort. In hindsight it might have been good to stay a couple of nights on the island though I am not 100% convinced I would have liked the rustic bungalows of Lazy Beach despite the glorious setting and snorkelling!
In summary our highlights (though hard to choose):
G – Tatai waterfall, Battambang cookery lesson and Bayon Temple
Me – Cycling to temples, sunset quad biking and Battambang cookery lesson
M – Floating village, Angkor Wat sunrise and sunset quad biking
J – Tatai Waterfall, Battambang cookery lesson and quad biking
Woods Family (with children aged 16 & 18)
Travelled Summer 2018 – Cambodia & Vietnam
Hi Charlotte… many thanks for planning the holiday for us , it was absolutely fantastic. I’ve been singing your praises and promoting your company to anyone who asks about the trip ever since!! …. Absolutely loved Vietnam and the people we met there – already planning to go back one day and cover the Southern part of the country. Cambodia was even better!!
Angkor Wat and the other sites we visited were amazing – probably the most impressive historic sites I have ever visited
Visiting them by bicycle is a must do!! It was just brilliant peddling around the sites and into the woods – wizzed past monkeys, elephants and some interesting locals!! Kids tell me this was their absolute highlight!!
The Angkor Rural resort was one of the best hotels we stayed in – beautiful little boutique hide away, simple but lovely “huts” , stunning little pool and the friendliest, happiest and most helpful staff I’ve ever met !!! Food here is totally fine but not amazing, however we ate out in town where there were hundreds of great options.
Free tuk tuk into town during the day (only a few pounds at night) which was an exciting 15 minute ride away and easily and quickly organised by the hotel
Trip to the fishing village was fun – great boat trip and meeting the crocodiles and snakes was clearly something the kids enjoyed !!
The food we had for lunch on our trips in Cambodia was just amazing – enjoyed trying some of the more unusual curries and stews – all washed down with local beers at 50p per bottle!!!
All the guides were excellent, especially Dun who looked after us from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay.
Kids loved the bicycle ride in Hanoi and city tour was informative and great fun (rickshaws !)
The home stay and the resort at Pu Luong were stunning – amazing views over the rice terraces and mountains, and the food delicious!! Wanted to stay here for a few more nights! Lunch on the way to the home stay was stunning!! Almost too much for us as we ate a few hours later in the home stay – which was also great!! But we felt bad for our hosts as we struggled to eat it all!! Although we made up for it – destroying the banana pancakes for breakfast the next day!!!
Nim Bin was ok and needed as a stop over before Ha Long Bay – but the historic sites were a bit disappointing. The boat trip was a too much of a tourist trap… loads of coaches and the boat guides kept trying to take short cuts! Was the only time on our trip that we were pressured for tips.
Hidden Charm hotel at Nim Bin was really comfortable with a nice outside bar area and pool – also some good restaurants a few minutes walk away.
Ha Long Bay was better than I expected (not a big fan of boats) with stunning sites, amazing sunsets and fun canoeing and swimming. We were totally amazed at the quality (and quantity!) of the food on board the Fairy Sails and the crew were so friendly and helpful. (We did notice lots of plastic rubbish in some parts of the bay – this could be an issue if not tackled soon – I think the local government need to get more pro active in cleaning it up , even if there’s a tourist tax levied to pay for it.)
Train to Danang was an experience – kids loved it … I couldn’t sleep but I enjoyed the experience never the less (honestly!)
The hotel near Hoi An, Boutique Resort, was perfect to recharge a little, beach was lovely and only about 5 mins taxi into town (restaurants here are just amazing …. and incredible value!) Hoi An is a must see, great town (even managed to get some jackets tailored for myself and son at a great Taylor’s called Tina’s.)
So in summary this really was a family trip of a lifetime and we can’t thank you enough for advising us on the relevant options and organising it all!
Will be in touch when we are ready for the next visit !!
Thanks so much once again
Macfarlane Family (with children aged 8 & 12)
Travelled Summer 2018 – Cambodia & Thailand
Dear Liddy – Thank you for another wonderful family holiday! Our trip to Thailand and Cambodia was incredible. 3 weeks went so fast! Overall we had a wonderful trip and are so very sad it’s over. Thank you for all your help!
We enjoyed Bangkok and the Nuovo City hotel was a great choice. It’s a modern hotel in a good backpacker area close to all the sights, with some good restaurants on the same street (especially Madam Musur). The rooftop pool is small and did get crowded, but was perfect for when we arrived off the plane. The grand deluxe rooms had good a/c and were spacious and breakfast was good too. We saw lots of sights and enjoyed ourselves, but it was very hot and crowded and so we were pleased to be moving out of the city after 2 nights.
Ludia on the River in Ayuthaya was a nice hotel, but did not have a restaurant and there was not much local choice. They recommended the very smart hotel boutique hotel next door and we ate there both nights. The swimming pool was lovely. We spent a day walking around but it was very hot and given we were heading to Angkor Wat in Cambodia we could have skipped Ayuthaya. However, if this would be your only visit to an ancient site, then it was interesting, but I would recommend hiring a tuk tuk/guide for the day to take you around.
We really liked Khao Yai National Park. The evening trip to see millions of bats exiting their cave was like being on a wildlife documentary and was absolutely incredible. Next day hiking the park was also good, if muddy – our highlights were being in the jungle tracking gibbons swinging through the trees above us and seeing a variety of snakes. Our guide via the hotel was excellent and the Khao Yai Nature Life resort itself was a good choice – simple but good a/c, 2 pools and a decent dinner.
We passed across the land border into Cambodia – an interesting experience for us all. We loved Siem Reap and were very pleased that we had 5 nights there. The Damrei Angkor was the perfect choice of hotel – great location and good modern rooms. Definitely use tuk tuks to get around – we tried walking a few times and it’s not worth it! Siem Reap has a really fun atmosphere and lots of amazing restaurants with the French influence.
We would recommend the local market near the Kings Road area as it’s less hectic than the Pub Street one and had more choice. The reason we were there was it’s the gateway to Angkor Wat, and even with our high expectations, we were blown away. We had a guide booked for day 1 and ended up booking him for day 2 also as he was excellent and it made such a difference. We had a much needed rest day on the 3rd day before driving out of town with him on the 4th day to see the lake and the temple in the jungle, which was a good trip.
The flight from SR to Phuket was very easy and we transferred to the jungle camp. We loved the lake boat trip, but it rained an incredible amount. In dry season we could have stayed another night here and done another trip as there were several that looked good, but the rain and jungle was very loud at night and in August we thought 2 nights was enough.
In Koh Samui the Lawana was a very busy hotel. We had a 2-bedroom apartment, which was spacious with good a/c, but the pool was not big for a busy beach hotel and was constantly full, it was difficult to get a lounger and the restaurant areas were not great. Food was ok, but a similar price to the very smart hotel 2 doors down where we ended up eating several times.
I loved swimming from the beach, which had nice sand, but it’s quite narrow and is part of a strip of hotels. There is no snorkelling directly from KS, so we booked a day’s boat trip to nearby islands. It takes around 1.5 hrs to get to them though, so it’s only a good idea in good weather. We enjoyed the trip, but it was busy – there were around 40 others on our boat and perhaps 3 or 4 other boats at each stop.
The overnight train to Bangkok was fine – definitely pleased to have tickets that gave us a 4-berth compartment.
U Inchantree in Kanchanaburi was a fab hotel – amazing river views with a nice restaurant making the most of them. Rooms are small, but perfectly formed. Pool is not huge, but not busy and with amazing views. We loved the area which is very beautiful, but haunting due to the history of the Burma/Thailand railway. The train ride and memorial visit were well worth it. We also did a day’s cookery course with Tom who was brilliant, especially with the children and he helped us cook one of our best lunches. We especially liked going to the market with him first in the sidecar of his motorbike!
We then stayed at the Hintok Camp but were a bit disappointed with this. Felt it was a little unloved and was the only place we stayed where we did not feel a warm welcome. It was a difficult situation in that the recent rain meant their pool had been flooded by the river and they had closed it and all their sitting spaces too, so we were very limited on what we could do. Food was a buffet and very average – we had been expecting a BBQ under the stars which did not happen. Tents were fine, but the treehouses in Khao Sok were much more comfortable.
Erawen waterfalls is one of our favourite ever walks – truly amazing. It took around 4.5 hours to climb to level 7 and swim and then come down but absolutely worth it. We also did a 2 hr hike the next day along Hellfire pass, which is a memorial walk along parts of the original Burma railway. The audio headsets were brilliant and although it made us sad, it was a good thing to do and the children learned a lot about WW2.
Eyles Family (with child aged 10)
Travelled Easter 2018
We had a fantastic time – thank you! Love the country, the people and the fantastic food. The second week definitely felt more like a holiday! In my ideal world I have realised that moving on after two nights is a bit exhausting, but there is nowhere we went that I would want to take out if we did it all again.
In no particular order, here’s our feedback……
- Loved Chateau D’Ankgor – HUGE room, nice pool etc
- Phka Vila – OK, but glad we were only there two nights as it was a bit of a crush
- Rainbow Lodge – amazing – and how they produce such fabulous food I don’t know
- Mekong Dragon – noisy room and decidedly average breakfast
- Angkor Watt – loved it, but the bike ride in the heat nearly killed us – we’re not as fit as we thought!
- Battambang – the bamboo train had just reopened, so we were able to ride on that. Our guide (David) was really excellent and made arrangements for us to have a local (freshly killed chicken) lunch when we returned from the temple. He also helped us try snails! His local knowledge was great
- Phnom Penh – Our guide was a little bit too graphic and detailed about the Killing Fields. By the time we got to S21, my daughter was beginning to find it a bit much, so decided not to take her in some of the rooms – it’s one thing to hear and understand, but to see graphic images was a bit too much. We were glad to have a great place for lunch and then “lighten up” by visiting the palace. I enjoyed what we did, but would have also liked a bit more time to see some of the fabulous buildings in the city, which we only really came across on the day we were flying home.
- Sihanoukhville – perfect end to our trip. Great place and nice accommodation at the Sea Breeze resort
So many thanks to you and your team for excellent organisation – everything ran like clockwork. I’m already thinking about next year – Ecuador!??
Whightman Family (with children aged 7 and 9)
Travelled Easter 2018 to Vietnam and Cambodia
The Dragon Legend was an excellent boat and I thought actually the most comfortable and luxurious accommodation we had in Vietnam! I absolutely LOVED Maison polanka in Cambodia – OMG one of the best hotels I’ve ever been to, it was amazing and every detail was thought of, excellent service and unique – a little haven in the busy city
Minshall Family (with child aged 4)
Travelled February 2018
Hi Kelly – We’re good thanks, just about getting over the post holiday blues. We got back safely and we had an amazing time, thank you! I do indeed have some comments, hopefully not too rambling and constructive ones. Firstly I’d like to say thank you to you and your team for arranging a brilliant trip. It was the perfect introduction to Cambodia, it’s given us a real taste of the country and we’d love to go back!
We’d also like to say thank you to the team in Cambodia; the guides, Sinn, Nakim and Long all made us feel extremely well looked after (particularly considerate of our four year old), they were a wealth of information and genuinely friendly. The drivers too were all very friendly and polite (even with minimal English) and we felt safe travelling with them.
Frangipani Villa – nice pleasant hotel, friendly staff and a nice pool area. The only down side was that our room had no natural light as the window faced another part of the building and there was no space to be away from the bed. So as we were travelling with a four year old we ended up in a dimmed room very early on (though it being the start of the trip and being jet lagged it was probably a good thing!).
Day 2 and 3 visiting the temples, this was brilliant and Sinn provided a wealth of information about the sites and culture. It was also really interesting to see the fishing village, the boat ride was fun and we managed to fit in the ox ride on the same day as well. This was a great way to see the village (a little voyeur but fascinating). We did venture to the night market and Pub Street which was a great place to people watch and see a very different side to Cambodia that we saw the rest of the trip – G loved having a fish foot massage though.
Day 5 – the travel to Battambang – the only thing I would say is that this took longer than anticipated but don’t think there was anything that could be done about that!
Day 6 – Battambang Resort – absolutely loved this resort. The room was simple but beautifully set up and the grounds and pool area were also beautiful. It was great for G to see the banana and mango trees. It was a really peaceful and relaxing place (apart from the wedding celebrations which were extremely loud, not that the resort could do anything about that). Room wise, it was great to have a terrace to be able to relax in the evening (while our daughter slept).
We loved our tour of Battambang, again a really good taster of a town in the agricultural area. We didn’t go to the Bamboo train after speaking to the guide, he had poor feedback since the train has been taken over by the Government and we felt that we didn’t want to support the new set up. However he did take us to see the bat cave instead which was an amazing site.
Day 8 – This was a very long day as we set off at 6am and unfortunately the hotel transfer to the island wasn’t until 4.30pm.
The transfer out was comfortable however I would say anyone who gets seasick might want to reconsider… The beach and sea at Koh Rong is absolutely beautiful. However we were disappointed by our accommodation at the resort, it wasn’t bad but it wasn’t up to the standard of the rest of the trip.
Day 13 – again a long journey to the Cardamon Hills but extremely interesting and again through different landscapes. And then Rainbow Lodge was the highlight of our stay. We absolutely loved the resort and being able to stay in the trees with evenings listening to the gecko’s and watching fire flies from our terrace. The room was again simple but beautifully done and the food was exceptional.
Elliot and his team were all very friendly and helpful and again accommodating of a four year old. We had two boat trips out while there, and it was so good to be surrounded by the trees. G loved this resort as well – she thought findings the gecko’s and lizard spotting was brilliant – though I would say its definitely not for all children (as I’m sure you know), they’d have to like nature and not be bothered by the walk ways.
Day 15 – travel to Phnom Penh – unfortunately this took much longer than 4.5 hours. We didn’t get to the hotel until around 4pm. This meant that we had a very very condensed tour before going on the cruise. Long, our guide was brilliant and did make the most of the time we had and cheered us up after a very long day! The room at Anise Villa was again pleasant, a typical city room though a little small to have a pull out – there was no room between the beds.
Overall it was an amazing experience and one that all of us will never forget. Highlights were definitely Rainbow Lodge and Battambang Resort.
Drimmer Family (with children aged 7 & 11)
Travelled Christmas 2017
Hi Lee. Thanks for your follow-up. I can report the trip was a big success and I’d highly recommend Cambodia to any family, the Christmas window for climate seems optimal. Overall was extremely good on communication and always very punctual and on it. We particularly enjoyed the variety of locations we saw which made us feel we packed a huge amount in without in any way feeling rushed. Cambodia has captured our hearts forever and we’re really pleased with the itinerary you helped build for us so thank you.
A few points I’d mention on some specific highs and lows:
– Overall accommodation of a good/very good standard – the 4 Rivers Lodge is absolutely amazing and a must do for anyone who has time/in the area
– The beach stay was a great chill out point and the coastline is really nice, get here now before it gets overdeveloped which appears to be on the horizon
– Private tours gave a good degree on flexibility
– For anyone in Battambang I would strongly suggest Nary’s Kitchen cooking class – very family friendly and a great thing to sub out over biking (see below)
– Battambang more a 2 not 3 night stay for us – better to have more time at beach or 4 Rivers (3 nights there ideal)
– Day 1 post-travel/jet lag at the temples not ideal, better to have later into journey
– Bike riding in Battambang not recommended unless kids super good riders – more city cycling versus riverside
– Lodging all of a similar level but the hotel in the capital definitely a level down from the others and a bit far out from main attractions
I will definitely be in touch for future travels.
West Family (with grandpa & children aged 9, 14, 17 & 18)
Travelled Summer 2017
Dear Liddy – Thank you so very much for organising a holiday of a lifetime for our family – we spent the most amazing two weeks in this beautiful country, saw breathtakingly beautiful scenery and monuments and learned some more about its brutal past. Everything was perfect – the people, the hotels, the tours… our guides were all wonderfully friendly, informative and attentive – Bho, Channi and David – as were our drivers. Each place we stayed was glorious. We’ve had the most wonderful time. Thank you once more – we are so glad we went through Stubborn Mule!
Parry Family (with children aged 12, 16 & 18)
Travelled Summer 2017
We had a totally fabulous time – really loved it. The itinerary was good and we had a wide range of experiences. All of the guides were marvellous. They were knowledgeable and keen to share local stories and unusual local delicacies (!)… It was lovely for us to be able to talk with them about theirs and this family’s experiences of the ‘killing time’ as many of them called it. The family stories were upsetting and encouraging in equal measure. It was also interesting to hear their views of the current political situation in Cambodia and how they think the election will turn out next year. Lee, thank you so much for all your help and advice. It was definitely a holiday we won’t forget.
Ferguson Family (with children aged 10 & 12)
Travelled Easter 2017
Hi Liddy – The trip was fantastic so thank you so much for all of your help. All of the hotels were great with really friendly, lovely staff. Our concern about the 4 Rivers lodge being too hot were unfounded as they supplied two powerful air-fans. Our only problem was the quality of the minibus that was used for the tour in Battambang which was ok for a day pottering around town but not good enough for the long transfers – l spoke to Kelly who quickly sorted it out for us and all other transport was fine.
We completed feedback forms on all of the guides apart from our last one in PP. His name was Bo and he was fantastic so could you try and get this fed back to agent? He dealt with the whole genocide explanation really sensitively with the children, and had a personal story to tell as his professional parents were moved from PP to work in the countryside, he lost an older brother to disease and still has a missing uncle.
l’ll be in touch for our next trip…
Payne Family (with children aged 10, 11 & 12)
Travelled Easter 2017 to Cambodia & Vietnam
Dear Liddy – Thank you so much for helping to organise the most amazing holiday to Cambodia and Vietnam! We have wanted to visit here for many years, but never felt comfortable planning it on our own. We don’t typically do package holidays. We want to be in and amongst the communities and not just walking through and peering in on them. (This is pretty easy to plan on your own in Europe and America). I had sent out enquires for Asia in the past to other similar companies only to find out that there was an age limit, which always left one or two of our boys out of the trip. We were so happy to find Stubborn Mule Travel as they actually believe, much like us, that having kids doesn’t mean we have to stop seeing the world.
In both countries we appreciated the local knowledge of places to stay, especially for those amazing homestays we just never would have found on our own. We had amazing guides and drivers. It was wonderful to have local people guiding us as they found some brilliant experiences for us, like the chopstick factory and making fishing nets with a local family. It also allowed us to interact with local people much easier along the way, which was brilliant.
Having a driver/guide all to ourselves was such a treat. They were all so patient and accommodating to those spontaneous moments that weren’t on the schedule. Once they saw we were flexible and how interested we were in the culture, they also made some spontaneous stops of their own for us too. These moments were so important for our family, especially for our boys to be alongside and hang out with adults and children from somewhere very different to there own home. There is no better life lesson than this for creating a wider world view that will impact them for the rest of their lives.
We decided we did not stay long enough in Cambodia and that we definitely need to see other places than those near or within Siem Reap. We absolutely loved our time there! The main temples left me speechless and the boys in awe. I couldn’t believe that we had made it to Angkor, somewhere I have wanted to go for many, many years. We insisted on going on the boat ride at Kampong Phluk the little village on Tonle Sap Lake, even though it was the dry season. It was spectacular seeing the stilts that these houses were built on and to learn that the water level is 15 meters lower than in the wet season. We thought it was still a fantastic trip, even though our guide was worried as we wouldn’t see the stilt house level with the lake as during the wet season and would be disappointed. So we’d say it was definitely worth going there in the wet or dry season.
Beng Melea was spectacular, but they no longer let you climb in and amongst it. There are railed paths upon which you can walk to view it. No worries as the boys loved it and we did find a few smaller temples that were fine to climb on later in the trip. We did manage to see around 10 temples some with hoards of people and a couple of temples when it was just us! (We loved Ta Nei) We loved the Rolus Group and Bantrey Srei and were so glad we made the trip out there.
Our guide was very knowledgeable and encouraged us to try unusual foods, interact with monks etc… and was helpful in explaining the history of the place and the stories and ways of Buddhism, especially to our boys. He was very good to make sure we knew what to expect the next day before departing us. We look back after our time in Vietnam and wish we could have been on foot in the countryside there, stayed in a homestay and have had a chance for our boys to meet some local children. We would have enjoyed meeting people and learning about their life, job, culture etc… We had hoped the ox cart ride might have given us this experience.
I guess being a bit more underdeveloped than Vietnam, these type of opportunities are not as common/organised here. It would be good for possibly future trip there for us to discuss options like that with you. The only surprise is that our driver took us to some expensive Western priced places to eat every day and so a lot of our food budget for the whole trip was blown in 4 days! We suppose they get to eat free when they bring us there. Just something to know when planning trips to Cambodia for others. Before going we read to our boys a book called Little Brother by Allan Baillie. It was a gentle introduction to them about the Khmer Rouge reign, some of what was set in Angkor. They referred to it many times over the 4 1/2 days we had there. I just thought it might be a book you could add to your suggest reading list that you sent us.
Everything we did in Vietnam was wonderful. We loved all the unique and beautiful places we visited here and really enjoyed the cycling, kayaking, visiting families, boat rides, fishing, cooking, eating and the homestays. I can’t really pick out a favourite, because every day we did something new that we loved that too! Each day was a holiday in itself! Most days the views were incredibly breathtaking and the city of Hanoi was a good, short contrast to the countryside.
It would have been helpful for our guide to prepare us the night before for our next day adventure. A few times we found ourselves packing on the side of the road as we needed a rucksack for the night or we needed to take everything we needed for the day as we wouldn’t be back to the van until the evening or perhaps we just needed a different pair of shoes. Also one day we were told it would be an hour walk to our homestay and 4 1/2 hours later (8 miles) we arrived. Don’t get me wrong, it was beautiful, amazing, a very unique experience which we loved. We did however only take one bottle of water each and we’d probably left a few things in the van.
We also were very disappointed that the government had put a hold on swimming and kayaking in Ha Long Bay, which meant our second day on the boat we followed a group around, watching while they did what we had done the day before. I imagine the tour boat companies were still trying to figure out how to manage the removal of these 2nd day cruise activities. We just wanted you to know, as we were not sure how long this would be the case. Apparently there had been a fatality related to an accident between these activities and one of the tour boats.
I have taken way to many photos. I will send you a few later that you can feel free to use to help advertise Stubborn Mule or perhaps just to make you smile at a trip well planned. We have told everyone about your lovely and helpful company. We cannot recommend your travel help enough. I cannot even begin to express how much we enjoyed every single minute of our time there. It was a lot of money for us, but we felt it was worth every penny we paid for it and more.
We certainly got the most out of every moment that we were in Asia. Your knowledge was key in making our trip to Cambodia and Vietnam the most amazing adventure we have ever been on with our boys. Who knew you could find things to please us all. My 10 year old said, on most days, “This is the best day of my life! Do we have to go home?” Which is pretty impressive considering he didn’t even want to go!
Thank you for your patience with me going back and forth about what I was after in a holiday like this. It was everything we could have hoped for. Our only complaint is that we just didn’t stay long enough.
Now to start looking for our next Stubborn Mule adventure!
Family A (with children aged 8 & 11)
Travelled Easter 2017 to Cambodia & Vietnam
Hi Helene – I hope you have recovered from your trek now – how brave you are – I’m so impressed and congratulations to your family too… The holiday you arranged was just perfect and we had the most wonderful time. It was definitely a trip of a lifetime and we have so many fantastic memories. The organisation was amazing and everything went so smoothly.
I think the only thing we struggled with was the bike ride to and around Angkor Wat. It was over 38 degrees and we found it so hot and had to end the day after lunch. We did however manage to see some of the other temples the day after when we went by tuk tuk.
The people we’re just so lovely and friendly and nothing was ever too much trouble. Our guides were great – very varied but we enjoyed listening to what they said and finding out all about them, their life and families…. One of the funniest things was the BBC filming when we went on the Battambang railway. So at 8.30 in the morning we were being filmed for an episode of ‘All about the place’ for CBBC joining in with I would walk 500 miles by the Proclaimers!
Thank you once again – all we’ve got to do now is decide where to go next!
Davey Family (with children aged 4 & 6)
Travelled February 2017 – Cambodia, Laos & Burma-Myanmar
Hi Helene… Overall thank you we have had an amazing holiday with lots of enriching experiences that we will always treasure. I’ve attached a few photos of us so you can see the big smiles all round!
– I am really, really glad we did the homestay option over the beach – as it was great for all of us and so lovely to see our children interacting with local children without being able to speak the same language. Also they really do treat you like royalty at the homestay (i.e pack a cooked dinner, set up tables and candlelight dinner just in front of the temple in Banteay Chmmar with musicians in tow – all for us just us and one other couple….wow! I would particularly recommend this off the beaten track experience for other families…
– We LOVED the slow boat down the Mekong – very relaxing and scenic. Cambodia in general is just an incredible country and really rated the temples in the forest in Kampong Thom as well.
– We hired scooters for a day in Bagan, and had a ball exploring the temples on our own!
– Of course all the temples in Siam Reap are just too impressive for words and I’m really glad we had the extra time there to soak it in as a family or flying solo.
…. Many thanks for putting together an amazing trip for us and best wishes.
Mok-Bush (four adults)
Travelled November 2016
Thank you very much for the wonderful holiday in both Cambodia and Vietnam. It was beyond my expectation scenery wise and would love to stay longer.
Keene Family (two adults)
Travelled November 2016
We had a great time, just have not had chance to get our notes down from our trip. We will get back to you next week with feedback.
Lagerberg Family (with children aged 15 & 20)
Travelled October 2016
It was a really enjoyable trip. The guides were excellent – the second being particularly good. The pace, mix and range of venues/sights worked for us. Two of the crew got very bad food poisoning after a restaurant recommendation but that’s just part of traveling.
Family H (with children aged 13 & 16)
Travelled summer 2015
Mum’s Feedback – It was just brilliant, thanks so much Liddy. Itinerary was perfect. We were wondering if the pre-Angkor temple day was going to be a bit much – extra travel, another temple day – but it was fantastic getting a taster of a smaller site with no crowds at all, and lots of jungle.
Really enjoyed the family business visits too – really interesting. Girls loved it all as well. We managed to do both the Killing Fields and the prison and they were fine with them. We weren’t sure if they would want to do both but they were really interested. Guides were excellent, and the driving was good too. Thanks again
Dad’s Feedback – We had a fantastic time, a really great family experience for us all. The itinerary was just right, hotels were lovely, nicer than I was expecting actually. In particular the FCC and the tamu will be live long in the family’s memory!
The guides were excellent. Huet, in Siem Riep in particular was a very charismatic and informative guy, he told us a lot about the war etc. I am sure having different guides is the best way to go, as having the same person for that long may have been a bit much.
Thanks very much. Only minor issue was that one of the minibuses had no seat belts. Siem Reap to Battanbang I think. Thanks again. We will def come back when planning another trip one day I hope.
Family H (with two children aged 11 and 14)
Travelled summer 2015 to Thailand and Cambodia
We had a wonderful holiday – it lived up to our expectations and was truly memorable. Very happy to give you some feedback to help you plan for others – and what follows below is all in the spirit of the holiday being fantastic overall.
For us, it is hard to keep the list short, and every visit was really interesting, but the absolute highlights were:
The elephant trek. Absolutely amazing, a once in a lifetime experience we won’t forget. The kids totally loved it.
The trek to the village and stop overnight. Not easy for our 11-year old daughter, who needed lots of encouragement, but the walk was interesting (Taksin was very entertaining!) and the visit at the end of it was brilliant. Unfortunately we were there on a Sunday so there was no school, but we still met lots of the local children who took great delight in meeting us and messing about with our kids. We were made to feel very welcome, and the facilities, while basic (as we were expecting), were clean and inviting.
Angkor. As you would expect, we were blown away by the ruins, though the bike ride was more of a challenge than perhaps we had realised (see below). My 14-year old son said it was so much better than any ruins or castles he had ever been to in the UK.
Kwai River Floating Raft Lodge. Loved it, and the “river drifting” was as you might expect a massive hit with the kids.
Kwai Bridge, railway and museum. We all learnt such a lot and enjoyed (if that is the right word) hearing about what happened to the PoWs and other workers. And of course the kids thought it was really cool to walk (and lie down on!) the train tracks.
Our guides. All were very knowledgeable and friendly. A special mention to Nue and Taksin who went out of their way to accommodate us (particularly my daughter) and made the visits really special.
Hotels in Cambodia. We loved the Hanumanalya Villa and the Tamu was also really special.
The food! We had so many lovely meals, but the best were often in the basic restaurants that our guides took us to for lunch where we would have fresh cooked dishes – we were never disappointed or worried about hygiene.
A few small bits of feedback:
None of the minibuses in Cambodia had seatbelts that worked, even though they were modern and newish vehicles. The drivers were all good, but as you know traffic in Cambodia is pretty erratic – we didn’t see a good reason for the minibuses not having working seatbelts.
The Buddy Lodge. A great location and nice rooms: however they backed onto a nightclub and so we had two disturbed nights of loud music and noise until 2am. Not great on jetlag…
The Gate hotel in Chang Mai. Compared to the other places we stayed it felt a bit tired (and the breakfast was always cold!). But my family say I am being too fussy. The staff were very friendly though.
Cycle ride round Angkor. I hadn’t really factored in the distances; heat; traffic and the uncomfortable bike seats that you inevitably get on hire bikes, so this wasn’t quite the romantic, leisurely pedal around the ruins I had envisaged! Having said that my son and I really enjoyed it, especially the off road bits. My husband and daughter would be less enthusiastic, and it certainly detracted from my daughter’s experience of the ruins. I would still recommend doing it though, but you may just want to manage people’s expectations a bit.
Hope that helps!
Thanks again for a great itinerary.
Family P (with three children aged 11, 14 and 15)
Travelled summer 2015
The trip was a real success and we really enjoyed Cambodia and thought the people were fantastic. Overall, we had a great holiday, loved the hotels, the food and the people, and there was lots to see and do. . Finally, just to say, thank you for organising the trip for us. I think all the extra refinements really helped make this a holiday that suited our needs and we really enjoyed it.
We really enjoyed all the hotels, which were exactly what we were looking for – small and intimate but with pools, and fine for children. Service was good at all the hotels and breakfasts generally very good. The pick of the hotels was Ren Resort by the beach, as it was more luxurious than the others, but to be honest all the hotels in towns were very good and I wouldn’t fault any of them. The boys loved having a pool at the end of the day and this made a big difference to the holiday.
Whilst the Four Rivers Resort was a beautiful spot, and they really looked after us well, this is probably the one part of the journey we wouldn’t do again. It takes quite a lot of travelling to get there, and the resort itself is very expensive. The weather was incredibly hot and humid when we were there and without air conditioning it was quite difficult to sleep well. Finally, the children were not particularly happy not to have wi-fi! This all sounds a bit negative – actually we did enjoy the place, loved the hospitality and the trip to the waterfall was a real highlight. However, on balance it probably wasn’t quite as good or as good value for money as the rest of the trip.
The itineraries worked well and I think we largely spent the right time in each place and went to see good things. All the buses turned up on time, and everything went smoothly.
As you know, we spent about four separate half days at the temples in various places. Although K and I would have liked to have spent longer at the sites in Siem Reap, I think this was a good compromise for the children, and still gave us a really good taste of Angkor Wat and the other temples at Siem Reap – which were of course absolutely amazing!
The quad biking and zip wire adventures were both fantastic and we would really recommend them for families. The former took us through the padi fields and again gave us a good sense of real Cambodian life. The zip wire adventures had plenty of good zip wires and we were looked after well.
In Phnom Penh, we particularly enjoyed the Killing Fields, the Genocide Museum and lunch at Friends.
We added in the Circus at Battambang and, although this was quite expensive by Cambodian standards at $56 for the family, it was different and really enjoyable.
The one exception in terms of itinerary was the day we were leaving Siem Reap. The itinerary was that we would go to the floating village on the way to Battambang. However, when the guide turned up, after we had checked out of the hotel, we were told that we would be coming back to the hotel after the trip, before leaving in another bus on the same road back again to Battambang. The last part of the journey to the boat was through thick mud and so the journey took a really long time. Finally, on the way back, the guide took us to a massive tourist restaurant full of coach parties! So all in all it wasn’t a great day and it was frustrating to still be in Siem Reap at 2pm having already done a lot of travelling.
The floating village itself gave us mixed feelings. On the one hand it was fascinating, especially when school finished and all the school children paddled back to their houses. However, it did feel a bit like we were invading their privacy, especially as the guide told us that the trips are run by a corporation and the villagers get no share of the money. Hopefully one day someone will set up some sort of eco tour where the villagers benefit from the tourist trade.
We had three guides: Mr Borey in Phnom Penh, Mr Hoeut in Siem Reap and Mr David in Battambang. All were very good:
Mr Borey was really caring and put himself out to make sure we had a great time. It was clearly emotional for him taking us to the Killing Fields and Genocide Museum, and that really brought home the horrors of the civil war to us.
Mr Hoeut was probably less warm than the others but again he really made an effort to make sure we enjoyed the trip.
Mr David was really interesting, much more open in terms of giving us a refreshingly honest view of the politics of Cambodia, and he really showed us some real life, taking us to non-touristy markets and businesses, which was fascinating. We decided we wanted to see the circus in Battambang and he and the driver stayed on to take us, which was nice of them.
Transport was all pretty good. None of the minibuses had strong enough air-conditioning that could really cope with the 35-degree heat and high humidity, but that was hardly surprising. All the minibuses turned up bang on time, and the drivers all seemed pretty good and safe enough.
Family V (no children)
Travelled November 2014
We have just about recovered from Jet lag now and thrown ourselves into Xmas preparations! We thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of our trip and will recommend Stubborn Mule to any friends wishing to travel in that area. We would also like to mention that at NO time did we feel intimidated or threatened when wandering around late at night, which could be a concern to some tourists.
The hotel choices were excellent with a special mention for Villa Chitdara in Luang Prabang (this town was our favourite place of the trip), Hotel Beau Rivage Mekong made us extremely welcome and was well situated, The Skylark Hotel in Hanoi was very friendly and accommodating looking after us on our return from Halong Bay like old friends, the Betel Garden Homestay was just perfect with the manager even inviting all guests for dinner at their expense one evening and La Jolie in Saigon became like a home from home with excellent friendly and helpful staff!
The Mekong Delta Lodge was the perfect place to end the trip, as this was how we felt the real Vietnam was – very few tourists and a simple way of life. Perhaps the only hotel that fell short was in Kampong Thom – although this was only an overnight stop and not a problem to us. We were happy to walk into the town centre but other less well-travelled tourists might find it a little disconcerting wandering up to the main centre for a restaurant. They might well prefer to be more in the centre of things.
We couldn’t have wished for better guides or drivers – they were more than willing to alter the itinerary to suit us when we became ‘templed out’ or ‘marketed out’. Their knowledge extended to other areas of interest way off the set itinerary and we felt that we became real friends with them all.
In Cambodia, our guide, Mr Hoeun Hoeut even took us to his home village to meet his parents and sister when we really didn’t want to visit another temple that day and his family were overjoyed to meet us. We were also very privileged to be invited to Mr Lee’s home in Luang Prebang for dinner – quite a unique experience and yet again made extremely welcome by his extended family and friends. The local restaurants serving typical local food that we were taken to were great and we always managed to strike up conversations with the local workers eating there.
We were well looked after by all our guides and drivers in all places and cannot fault their care, knowledge, politeness and friendliness. We would be very grateful if you could pass on our thanks and comments to all agents involved.
We were grateful that you had suggested the second night in Halong Bay be spent on Monkey Island as the bay itself, albeit beautiful, was extremely busy with so many boats and the karaoke on those moored within a few hundred yards of us went on long into the night! We think we would have been disappointed in Halong Bay if we hadn’t sailed further off and enjoyed the peace and serenity of the islands on the way to and including Monkey Island.
We especially enjoyed the times when we went ‘off piste’ and visited little local farms and villages mixing with local people off the tourist route although the bamboo train was an amusing experience. Also the times when we were able to wander the streets in the evening finding little local drinking holes and sampling the local beer and food! As we have travelled extensively in Africa on our own we find it a little difficult to comment on the organised excursions such as the Mahout day- we personally found it a little too patronising although everyone else on the trip appeared to have a good time. The majority of excursions were fine and well organised – it only seemed to fall below par slightly when transferred to local tourist agencies. (Personally, I hated Vang Vieng – the Ibiza of Laos! in my opinion. Although the Elephant Crossing hotel was fine). I hasten to add that K was more than happy to watch the scantily clad young ladies in their bikinis wandering drunkenly past as we sat having a beer!
I have always been in the habit of writing a daily diary when on holiday so please be assured that these comments are not from memory but from my daily thoughts whilst away.
I hope we will get to chat to you at the Destination Travel Show in February and hope that these comments will be of interest to you.
Family C (with one child aged 18)
Travelled March 2014
We all enjoyed Cambodia and had an excellent tour thank you. Overall all accommodation was surprisingly good.
Anise Hotel Phnom Penh
Breakfast very good, room basic but very adequate with everything we needed.
Phka Villa Battambang
Breakfast very good, Room very attractive, excellent bathroom. Hotel management very interactive and could do anything you needed. Supplied us with excellent club sandwich pack up for the boat.
Suorkear Boutique Hotel Siem Reap
Breakfast very good, pack up supplied for dawn visit. Really nice and helpful, friendly staff in restaurant and reception. Hotel Tuk Tuk arrangements first class and worked well, not a problem being out of town. Room very attractive, excellent bathroom.
Reef Resort Sihonoukville
Breakfast very good. Hotel management always around and seen. Rooms basic but very adequate with everything we needed. Pool very nice.
4 Rivers Resort
Outstanding food, breakfast and evening meals. Pack up lunch on excursions huge! Expensive but enjoyed it. Resort is very different, tranquil but exciting. Tent exactly as seen on website, smart bathroom. No wi-fi and TV is monitor screen only, can borrow DVD’s. Massage very good
We didn’t get adjacent tents but next but one, which was ok. The Manager came with a strange tale about us moving tents on the second night but we didn’t in the end.
Hotels haven’t all got into shower gel yet.
Guides and tours:
Provided with mobile phone for use in Cambodia, returned at end of stay. Very useful!
Waiting at airport, day one guide was a bit nervous, and he liked to keep us on time. Provided 1 hour shopping op at the Central Market and 30 mins at the Russian Market, which were additional to schedule.
Friends restaurant extremely good.
Long drive to Battembang but found good place for lunch and a stop at a village silversmith. Boat trip was on a huge boat built for 30.
I really liked Battambang. Our guide had excellent English. G took the bike, it was a good job that I took the tuk tuk with S who for whatever reason couldn’t manage the bike at all. Our tour went through town and was quite a long one. G was fine on the bike and enjoyed it but it would have been too far for me. In my head was a leisurely ride down the canal towpath but we went on a far more comprehensive tour. The circus and bamboo train are both outstanding. Our temple trip was well organized.
For the circus and slow boat to Siem Reap we had a different guide as our Battambang guide was going to a family wedding. Our second guide was a pleasant chap and spoke English very well. The boat trip was eventful, we were having a lovely ride and stopped off in two or three different places to sightsee. We weren’t sure if the sightseeing was planned or just handy places to stop while the driver tried to fix the problem with the boat. In the end the driver rang for backup and a small boat came to tow us along slowly until another larger boat from Siem Reap could get to us. When it arrived we transferred mid river into the replacement boat and towed our other one behind. It took almost 10 hours to get to Siem Reap but we enjoyed it.
We were delivered to the hotel and our driver who spoke English fairly well explained that we would be picked after breakfast for our tour. Anyway we decided that we would like to be at Angkor for sunrise so the driver contacted our guide who came out to the hotel to discuss this with us, as it wasn’t nailed down on our itinerary. Anyway there was no problem and we were picked up in plenty of time the next morning.
The guide said to us we would find something to eat on Pub Street if we wanted to eat down town. Pub Street was a bit of a surprise, we had no idea.
Our guide was good at finding the right place to take the photo from and ensured we saw what we had come to see. Although you have to see Angkor Wat I think that Ta Prohm and Beng Mealea were my personal favorites. When it came to lunch with a local family our guide said that he could not think of anywhere where that he could guarantee was clean. I made a throw away comment so its back to yours then and a while later our guide suggested that maybe his parents could provide us with lunch before our flight to Sihanoukville. The guide’s parents live out just past the airport in a nice house. His father is a retired farmer and his brother who came to help his mother cook lunch is a policeman. They put on a large spread for us and were happy for us to take photos and ask questions. The meal was planned to be a typical meal taken on mats on the floor so we got an absolute authentic experience. It was extremely kind and his father said that he was very happy and never ever expected to have a foreigner visit his home. Our driver and Chea Win also came to lunch and it made a very memorable visit.
Very much a seaside town. It was a good flight and we were collected from the airport and collected again to be taken to 4 Rivers. Our driver didn’t speak English but it wasn’t a problem as he was consistently in the right place at the right time. We think that he stayed overnight in Tatai prior to taking us back to the airport. He made proper stops for food and toilets and had cold water available, indeed everybody did in what was a consistently hot country.
I think that Kep / Kampot may have been more interesting but were completely the wrong direction for where we were heading and our drive was long enough as it was.
The Mangrove tour started with a tour around the local village, which was very interesting. We then proceeded to the mangrove and launched the kayaks to get a closer look.
The waterfall tour was very relaxed and there was just the right amount of water to be able to be underneath it. Our guide from the hotel was very attentive and doubled as lifeguard.
The hotel also did a complementary tour after dinner just a little way down stream to see the fireflies. You could also take kayaks out to paddle around or to visit the island opposite where most of the staff live. The older people on the small island initially arrived there to get away from Pol Pot and it is their children that now work for the hotel.
All guides throughout seemed happy to chat about their personal lives – how/where they live, how their family had coped through the Pol Pot era. One guide had been a monk and he explained how this had come about and how his education had been funded through UNICEF.
Call us and we will be happy to provide you with a free-of-charge no obligation itinerary and quotation designed for you.
Cambodia in pictures
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