Cambodia family holidays
Engaging culture, sandy beaches, tempting food and welcoming smiles make Cambodia a great destination for families who love adventure.
After staring wide-eyed at the magnificent Angkor temples, intrepid kids will delight in scrambling through jungle-covered ruins at Beng Mealea or Koh Ker, or camping in the shadow of Preah Khan.
Beyond the temples, you can tuk-tuk through Phnom Penh’s vibrant streetfood scene, meet local families in rural villages, kayak across Tonle Sap lake, and make the journey your own.
Highlights of a family holiday in Cambodia
- Explore temple ruins, deep in the jungle, that put even the most absorbing game of Minecraft in the shade.
- Kayak across Tonlé Sap lake to watch birds take flight between the floating villages.
- Bump along village roads by ox-cart, and discover what it’s like to grow up in rural Cambodia.
- Stare down a few deep-fried tarantulas, and the kids might never complain about eating vegetables again!
With a UK based team of Destination Specialists with offices and partners across Asia, ensuring we focus on staying really local in our approach. Our specialists have travelled extensively in Cambodia and throughout Asia, many having also lived in the region.
Along with enjoying great travels, the team regularly inspect the best hotels, seek out new activities and design new routes – for inspiration we’d suggest taking a look through some of their Favourite Journeys. The weather during any of the kids' holidays is always an important consideration and we have that covered with our best time to visit Cambodia section.
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Cambodia with kids: what to expect?
Kids are always up for exploring Cambodia’s awe-inspiring temples, and many families head straight for the familiar bustle of Siem Reap, with the magnificent Angkor Archaeological Park right on the doorstep. If you’re travelling with very little ones, we’d suggest taking a couple of days to do the main temple tour, as it is a pretty big site!
Central Siem Reap has plenty to offer visiting families, including strolls through the sensory-stimulating markets, workshops by the inspiring Phare Circus, and winding tuk-tuk tours, which are a great way to see the city without letting little legs get tired.
For a family experience that’ll really spark the imagination, camp overnight near the tree-covered temple ruins at Preah Khan. Wander around the atmospheric temples by torchlight, sleep under the stars, and wake at first light to explore the ancient structures with no-one else around…
Travel further south to Phnom Penh, to explore more of the country’s rich culture and ancient history. Being in the capital offers a good opportunity to talk about Cambodia’s tragic modern history with older children too. Let little ones run off steam in the Royal Palace’s expansive courtyards, cycle over the Japanese Bridge, see weavers at work on nearby Silk Island, and help care for rescued sun bears at a local sanctuary.
Family holidays in Cambodia - as everywhere - are best when taken at your own pace. Our top tips? Focus on a few key destinations, take fewer long journeys, and schedule in some flexible days. Less can definitely be more!
For that proper family r&r time, you can’t beat the gorgeous Cardamom Mountains. The Rainbow Lodge is a laid-back base for spending time in the wild, away from screens and WiFi, with kayaking, trekking and waterfall swimming on hand if you’re eager to keep active.
To find out more about where to go in Cambodia with kids, head to our Cambodia Travel Guide Section.
Things you’ll all love in Cambodia
What to do in Cambodia: Discover more with our hand-picked experiences & highlights
Few visitors to Cambodia witness rural Khmer life in such detail, let alone enjoy this level of one-to-one time with a Cambodian family in their own home.
Our unique 'village explorer' trip not only shows you a different way of life, but slows you to another, older pace, as you travel by oxcart through the rice fields and a number of traditional villages, visiting a local market and sharing lunch with a friendly family.
The artists of Cambodia’s Phare circus perform at the peak of human ability – juggling with fire, dancing in perfect synchronisation and tumbling gracefully through the air – which is truly mesmerising to watch. Take part in a circus-skills workshop before the show, and chat to the performers, getting a glimpse behind the magic of one of the greatest, most enduring entertainments on earth.
For over a decade, the dedicated team at the Elephant Valley Project (who have recently opened a sanctuary in Thailand, too) have been providing a haven for retired elephants and a new livelihood for local mahouts (elephant keepers). This experience will give you close but ethical access to these magnificent creatures, and to the project that protects them.
Our temple camping expedition is undoubtedly one of the planet's more unique glamping experiences. You’ll sleep in a hi-spec modern tent pitched (by your team of specialists) just metres away from the ancient temples hidden in the Cambodian jungle. Kids will love exploring the ruins by torchlight, before relaxing at camp staring at the astonishing depths of the Milky Way in all its uninhibited glory.
Where to rest your head...
Three of our favourite family-friendly hotels in Cambodia
Responsible Travel in Cambodia
Levels of poverty have, in recent times, thankfully decreased in this once war-torn nation, driven in part by significant foreign investment. However, through the gaps that are left in this approach to social-economic advancement have fallen tens of thousands of street children that live in extreme poverty.
The prevalence of children that are sleeping on the street is startlingly high. Sadly, this situation has led to the growth of ‘voluntourism’ experiences that instead of helping these children, does in fact further perpetuate their situation. We do not condone any visits to orphanages or schools, and advise you to be aware of them when visiting Cambodia.
Thankfully, tourism can - and is - playing a positive role. Hotels, restaurants and operators across Cambodia contribute in a variety of ways, driving awareness and supporting meaningful projects that are helping ensure children and the most needy lead safer lives. At the most impressive ends of the spectrum are projects such as the Shinta Mani Hotel Group, who provide education, vocational training, seed funding and job opportunities through their foundation.
Away from the streets, their are numerous lodges shining a light on the many conservation challenges. We always favour including these, and the most responsible focused hotels, in your holiday ensuring that a good percentage of your spend reaches the people, the wildlife and the environments that need it most.
Our Cambodia Specialists' top tips for families
With quite a few parents among our well-travelled Destination Specialists, we know how important it is to get the finer details sorted before travelling with kids, and we always go the extra mile to make sure they are. We want everyone to enjoy each moment without sweating the small stuff.
If you have any questions, or want to have a chat about planning your family holiday to Cambodia, we'd love to have a chat. In the meantime, here are a few FAQs to help you get started…
- Don't forget the down time
Include a decent amount of relaxation time between temple-exploring adventures to give your energy levels a boost. This can really ensure you get the most from every moment, and no-one gets overtired.
- How much beach time should I include?
If you’re keen to include some beach time in your family holiday to Cambodia, consider making it a double destination trip. Vietnam and Cambodia pair perfectly, and you can combine the best of Cambodia’s culture with a few days on one of Vietnam’s stunning beaches…
- When is the best time of year for a family holiday to Cambodia?
Cambodia is blessed with one of Asia's simpler weather systems. The country has two distinct weather seasons, but you can travel in Cambodia all year round. The very best weather in Cambodia occurs between October and April, so it makes a fantastic destination for an Easter adventure, or an Autumn or February half-term getaway. During these drier months, the North and East of the country are on the table too, opening up the opportunity for elephant encounters in Mondulkiri. Christmas is a really popular time for holidays to Cambodia, so if you fancy spending the festive season in Phnom Penh, make sure you book early!
- Do I need a guide in Cambodia?
Having an experienced, knowledgeable and welcoming local guide on hand during your trip is absolutely invaluable. From meeting you upon arrival, to transferring you between locations, and generally making everything about your family holiday in Cambodia as smooth as possible, they’re an integral part of your journey. We pride ourselves on using only the best guides working in any region, and all our guides are trained to the highest level, and fully certified and licensed. The feedback we get from our clients is that they can make a great trip into an outstanding one. Find out more about our brilliant guides
- Is Cambodia safe for families?
Several of our Destination Specialists have travelled to Cambodia recently with their families, and found it safe, welcoming, supportive and reassuring. It’s still a developing destination, so you’re likely to find some things at different standards to what you’re used to, and factoring these in is common sense. If at any time you’re unsure of anything, our fantastic guides are always on hand to help.
- What vaccinations do I need for Cambodia?
When planning a trip to Asia, it’s important to consider the possible requirement for vaccinations and immunisations. Most importantly, we stress that you should contact your doctor or medical practitioner well before you depart to get their advice on any vaccinations you may need for your trip. If you’ve travelled recently and believe that you are already up-to-date, it is still worth checking as vaccinations have a varying life span. Much of Cambodia has been designated low risk for malaria on the NHS Fit For Travel map, and the NHS Travel Vaccinations site has lots of up-to-date information on travel vaccinations too.
- Do I need a visa to go to Cambodia?
Yes. Citizens of the UK, EU countries, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and almost all other nationalities will require a visa to visit Cambodia. Other nationalities should check with the Cambodian Embassy in their country of residence for the most up-to-date information. If you’re arriving in Cambodia by air, you can obtain your visa in advance of departure with the easy to use online e-visa service. Most nationalities can also obtain their visa on arrival at either Siem Reap or Phnom Penh Airport for a fee of $30. We recommend using the e-visa service when possible as it saves unnecessary queuing upon arrival. If you are arriving in Cambodia at a land border you must obtain your visa at your arrival point. The cost is $30 plus an extra $5 - $15 'stamping fee'.
- What should I pack for a trip to Cambodia?
Light, long sleeved shirts, a light scarf or two, and long trousers or skirts will mean that you’re prepared for any eventuality, including modest dress codes at sites of religious significance. They’ll also help provide valuable protection against strong sunlight and mosquitoes. Though you can buy more than you might assume in the bigger cities, we’d recommend bringing your own supplies of any essentials, such as nappies, formula etc., as well as your preferred brand of sunscreen and a good insect repellent. If you’re travelling with tinies, consider taking a really good baby carrier, as push-chairs might be a pain to get around with.
- What’s the best currency to take to Cambodia?
You can’t obtain Riel outside of Cambodia, but both US$ and Riel are widely accepted. It is essential to arrive with some US$ if you are obtaining your entry visa upon arrival, as you have to pay in US$ cash. It can also be beneficial to have some on arrival for immediate use until you locate an ATM. ATM machines are available in Siem Reap, Battambang, Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh and usually offer good rates of exchange, often better than at currency exchange bureaus or hotels. ATMs only dispense US$ cash. When purchasing items using US$ it’s quite normal to be given your change in Riel.
- Where can I see wildlife in Cambodia?
Though not one of Asia’s most renowned wildlife destinations, there are some really special wildlife experiences to be had in Cambodia. Walk with elephants at the inspirational Elephant Valley conservation project in Mondulkiri. Keep your eyes open for sun bears as you trek near the Tatai River. Spot storks, ibis and pelicans (and perhaps even crocodiles) as you kayak across Tonle Sap lake.