One of the best things about living in Singapore is being able to easily travel to surrounding countries. Places like Thailand, Indonesia and Cambodia are only a short flight away and mostly very affordable. Knowing very little about Cambodia we decided to organise a trip to visit Siem Reap over a long weekend, toddler in tow of course. It was quite an adventure as we changed accommodation after one night, rode around in tuk-tuks, and explored temples with a busy 1 year old. Before heading over I searched the internet for information about traveling with a toddler and didn’t find much information, so here is my attempt at easing a fellow parent's trip in the future.
Book a hotel with a pool.
I’m a huge AirBnb fan. We have found absolute gems in places like Turkey and Bintan using AirBnB, and so naturally I decided to find another little bit of paradise in Cambodia using the platform. The pictures looked amazing, the reviews were great, and the description sounded heavenly. Well, it wasn’t. The place we booked was in a completely rural area and required a very bumpy tuk-tuk ride through some dark corners of Siem Reap. The actual place had potential, but it was dirty and simply not fit for a toddler to toddle about. So one night in and we decided to book into a hotel. We stayed at the beautiful Sofitel and felt like we were on a second honeymoon, this time with our little tot. The hotel had a gorgeous pool, and we spent a lot of time cooling off there because Cambodia is crazy hot.
Tuk-tuks and cars.
Tuk-tuks are the most common form of transport and I loved sitting in the back, wind in my hair, while our baby bug got to see everything and everyone we passed by. They are cheap and easy to call, but I would suggest asking your hotel to call one for you as there are some scammers around who end up taking you to their cousin’s shop instead of your specified destination in the hopes of making some commission off your purchases.
I’d also suggest arranging a car to and from the airport. We were fetched in a tuk-tuk in torrential rain and had to squeeze all our bags, a carseat, and a pram in the small cart with us. We laughed so much, but really it wasn't very fun at all.
Get there early
Siem Reap’s main attraction is the temple complex known as Angkor Wat, but there are plenty of other temples worth the visit if you have the time. The history is fascinating, and a simple Google search will give you more information than I could even try fit into this post so I’ll stick to travel advice for now.
Get to the temples as early as you can to avoid the heat and the crowds. This was pretty easy for us because our bug was still on Singapore time and so waking up at 5:30ish. We arranged for a tuktuk to pick us up from the hotel at 6:30 and we were at the temples by 7:00. Remember that your driver will need to take you to buy a ticket at a different location before heading out so you’ll need to factor this time in too. Our hotel was kind enough to pack breakfast for us in the mornings and we ate this on the way or at the entrance of the temple, keeping an always hungry baby happy. We didn't spend too much time at each location because we didn't want an overtired, grumpy little person. By the time we left the temples at around 8:30 hordes of tourists arrived, streaming into the complex as we swiftly made our way out. And we were there in low season!
If you are short on time then I’d suggest going to my two favourite temples which are Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm (where Tomb Raider was filmed). You'll really be able to enjoy the sites, history and energy of this amazing place without zooming around to a million different locations.
Finding vegan food was so easy in Cambodia. Everywhere we went people were super accommodating and my heart literally exploded when the head chef at our hotel came out, looked me in the eye and said “ You’re vegan? You are safe here”. Our hotel adapted dishes that weren’t vegan and always asked us how they could improve. We also explored some vegan eateries that we found online and really enjoyed Chamkar house. The setting is lovely and the local food was delicious! We didn’t love Peace Cafe even though all the blogs promised we would. The food was ok, but the sushi was warm, the flies drove us nuts and the whole feel was more dirty, backpacking hippy than cool veg cafe.
Forget the stroller. We left ours in the hotel because it was impossible to take around in the tuk-tuks and temples. Even the town isn’t really geared for strollers, so if your babe is small and happy to be held then take your carrier with!
Siem Reap is really hot so pack light clothes and swimming costumes because you'll need to cool off after a day exploring.
Remember pants or long skirts because you’ll need to be a bit more covered to enter the temples.
Pack snacks. Take loads of your kiddo's favourite snacks because they aren’t easy available in the shops.
Don’t drink the water! If your little is drinking formula you’ll be able to buy bottled water for their bottle and boil the kettle in your room to sterilize them. Otherwise most hotels are pretty happy to assist!
Siem Reap is definitely doable with a toddler and even a baby, and it really is an adventure. If you have any other questions that I haven’t covered, let me know and I’ll update the post!