One place we have yet to go, hence when Craig asked to write about it I was keen to hear about it. Asia will always be close to Australia for us so it's still on our list of places to go... one day.
Siem Reap may be known as a mecca for backpackers, but it’s just as much a fantastic and educational destination to take your kids if they dream of stepping into the shoes of the intrepid jungle explorers. As the gateway to Angkor Wat, one of the world’s most important archaeological sites, Siem Reap has all the ingredients for an adventurous holiday that your kids will enjoy every bit as much as you - and vice versa!
Here are four of the unmissable experiences to have with kids when you’re in Siem Reap.
1. Experience the sunrise at Angkor Wat
Just imagine the sense of adventure your kids will feel as you creep through the jungle by torchlight à la Indiana Jones. Take up your station by one of the ancient library pools for a dramatic sunrise that gradually throws orange light over the majestic ruins of Angkor Wat, which represent 600 years of the Khmer civilisation. This is a true bucket list experience, with the added bonus that there are far fewer tourists around at dawn, which makes for a more relaxing visit with children in tow. As the sun comes up, the kids will love exploring the ornately carved ruins and finding their way into the hidden corners of this sprawling ancient city. To get even more from the experience, get them to look out for the unusual birds and insects that inhabit Angkor - it’s a haven for wildlife.
2. Ta Prohm
Jungle-covered Ta Prohm is one of Angkor’s most intriguing and evocative temples. Half reclaimed by nature, enormous tree roots emerge from the crumbling ruins of a building that was once inhabited by over 2,700 monks. Building work on the temple started in 1186, and an inscription records a staggering 80,000 workers being involved in its construction. It was used as a location in Tomb Raider, so your kids can have fun recreating their own Lara Croft scenes amidst these surreal ruins.
3. Go up in a tethered balloon over the temples
A tethered balloon ride gives you the exhilaration of going up in a hot air balloon, with the added reassurance that you’re still firmly tied to the ground. As such, it’s a safer (and cheaper) alternative that you can enjoy with your children for commanding views of the temples of Angkor, which are a kilometre away. You can walk around in the basket, so you’ll get a 360 degree view from about 200m up.
4. Dress up for a traditional Khmer photoshoot
Finally, an activity the kids are almost guaranteed to love: dressing up! A traditional Khmer photoshoot involves you and the kids donning some glitzy costumes and posing for photographs as Khmer princes and princesses. Great fun for the kids, and a bit of pampering for weary parents, it’s the perfect way to wind up your trip and get some more unusual holiday photos of your whole family to take home as a unique souvenir.
One final tip: try getting about from place to place by tuk tuk. These speedy little motorised rickshaws are enormous fun and are certain to go down well with kids of all ages.
Image Credits: All images and copy provided by S.E Asia travel experts Insider Journeys.
Craig Harrison is a SEA expert. He spends his early years backpacking around it's countries before settling down in Thailand to start a family.