A laid-back, child-friendly outlook and countless combinations of adventure, history, contemporary culture and beach time make Cambodia a prime destination for flexible family holidays with relaxation at the core.
Whilst Angkor Wat’s iconic outline takes the headline spot, and certainly fires the imagination, it’s the less-visited temples - overgrown with greenery over hundreds of years - which bring Cambodia’s ancient culture most vividly to life. Looking beyond the temples, take tuk-tuks through Siem Reap’s vibrant streets, go kayaking across Tonle Sap, and dig deeper into Cambodian culture in the capital, Phnom Penh. Further afield, discover locally-run community projects and grab some much-needed family downtime in the beautiful Cardamom Mountains or on Kep’s calming coastline.
The most refreshing family holidays in Cambodia are taken at your own pace. Focus on key places, make the most of shorter internal journeys, and schedule a few flexible days to soak it all in.
Stephen - Cambodia specialist
Engaging culture, sandy beaches, tempting food and a warm local welcome make Cambodia ideal for families who love all kinds of adventure.
Many families head straight for the familiar bustle of Siem Reap, with the magnificent Angkor Archaeological Park right on the doorstep, but stepping slightly sideways takes you away from the crowds and plunges you into a more immersive kind of temple exploration. Head into the jungle to Beng Mealea, similar in scale to Angkor Wat yet engulfed by centuries of greenery, which feels like stumbling upon a lost world. Wander amongst fallen stones in the ancient city of Koh Ker and scramble uphill towards the magnificent ruins at Preah Vihear. The atmosphere surrounding these ancient sites is mesmerising, bringing the past to life to inspire history students of all ages.
Siem Reap has plenty to offer families aside from being Angkor’s ‘gateway’. Take strolls through the town’s sensory-stimulating markets, pausing to try some of the unusual bug-related snacks (such as deep-fried tarantulas and chilli crickets), whiz through the evening streets by tuk-tuk, and take workshops with the inspiring Phare Circus community project.
Pick up the trail of the country’s rich culture and ancient history again in Phnom Penh, where riverside streets combine old and new, creating constant contrasts. Taste a few more street food treats and wander in the Royal Palace courtyards. Cycle towards Silk Island to watch weavers at work, learn about sun bear conservation at a local sanctuary, and take poignant moments to understand more about Cambodia’s turbulent recent past at the city’s memorial sites and museums.
Just outside Siem Reap is the wide expanse of Tonle Sap lake where intrepid families can kayak their way towards out-of-the-ordinary memories. Combine outward-bound adventure with immersion in the region’s distinctive daily culture as you pass the ‘floating villages’ and witness a dramatically different way of life. Budding photographers can snap great shots of the natural landscape and wildlife, and some lucky travellers may even see the legendary Mekong giant catfish which can grow up to ten feet long!
At high water, paddle through the flooded forest looking out for snakes, turtles and otters, stop at farms for picnic lunches, and pay a visit to the 200-year-old Cheu Khmao Pagoda on the shoreline.
For dedicated family time out, to fully unwind and recharge, you can’t beat the Cardamom Mountains. Surround yourself in natural beauty, with no city lights or screen time distractions, and hike along peaceful forest trails, watch out for gibbons and hornbills on the banks of the Tatai River, and get hands on at a Wildlife Alliance community project in Chi Pat. The Rainbow Lodge makes an ideal base for spending laid-back time in the wild, with kayaking, trekking and waterfall swimming on offer if you’re eager to keep active.
On the other hand, if your family likes their down time to have a coastal flavour, head for the low-key, rustic beaches of Kep to sit on the sand, dip your toes in the sea and feast on the region’s legendary crab.
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.
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…
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 - $15 'stamping fee'.
Light, long sleeved shirts, a light scarf or two, and long trousers or skirts will mean that you’re prepared for any eventuality, including modest dress codes at sites of religious significance. They’ll also help provide valuable protection against strong sunlight and mosquitoes. Though you can buy more than you might assume in the bigger cities, we’d recommend bringing your own supplies of any essentials, such as nappies, formula etc., as well as your preferred brand of sunscreen and a good insect repellent. If you’re travelling with tinies, consider taking a really good baby carrier, as push-chairs might be a pain to get around with.
You can’t obtain Riel outside of Cambodia, but both US$ 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.
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.