I know that my blog is about things to do in Kuala Lumpur, but I hope you don’t mind if I share a little something with you all from our recent trip to Cambodia.
Not only is the city of Siem Reap just a two-hour direct flight from KL, it is also an absolutely amazing city that transports you to another time and allows you to experience a completely different pace of life. It felt like we’d travelled much further to be able to find such a contrast to the busy modern city life of KL and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Needless to say, we did this trip with our 5 year old twins and I wasn’t at all worried that the trip would be ‘too cultural’ or not ‘fun enough’ for them! They’re used to our adventures taking us to new lands and have done everything from climbing volcanoes by torchlight to swimming in seemingly bottomless waterfalls during our time in Indonesia so, I knew they’d do well
Having said that, it was important for us as a family to have a hotel that had a decent pool so that after a morning of sight-seeing, they would at least be able to unleash their pent up energy within a resort environment! Fortunately you have a fair few options in Siem Reap and we found quite a few places via Agoda that offered family rooms or triple rooms and most had pools. The deciding factor for us was when I found a hotel with pool, children’s pool with slides AND a children’s playground! I couldn’t book quickly enough! So, The Angkor Palace Resort & Spa would become our base for the 5 days we were to stay there.
Before we flew out to Cambodia we toyed with the idea of booking some tours with a travel company but thought we’d wait to see just how things were once we arrived – and I have to say it worked out perfectly!
Every hotel has ‘tuk-tuks’ affiliated with their property so you know who you are dealing with and the receptionists are always happy to sort out a ride for you. Not only was it convenient, it was an amazingly cost-effective way to get around the city. Considering we were a family of four, an entire day of having the tuk-tuk and driver for ourselves (who would take us where we wanted, suggest lunch spots or just wait for us to finish at one temple before heading on to the next site) only cost $20! Add on a sunrise or a sunset and it would have been $25…. Now you can’t beat that! We had our freedom to stop and start when we wanted, we admired the streets and the views from our quaint little mode of transport and the whole experience only added to our Cambodian holiday.
When it comes to sight-seeing, needless to say you have your choice of temples to see. But what is also good is that there are ‘circuits’ available that all the drivers know of so if you’re unsure, grab a map from the airport or your hotel and go with the flow.
Now doing all this with young children may not appeal to some but these amazing ruins gave our twins the most natural of playgrounds to explore; tunnels and doorways, little chambers to hide in and, on occasion, walls and rocks to climb all over!
They’ve tried to count the many faces of ‘Bayon’, mingled with monks at Angkor Wat, and turned themselves into mini ‘Tomb Raiders’ at Ta Prohm, the site where temples and trees entwine to give you one of my favourite temples of all.
If you ask them their favourite parts of the trip, they would both say ‘riding around in tuk tuks’ and I can’t say I blame them! They were great! Another great experience that tops their list was the evening that we went to the ‘Phare Cambodian Circus’, an acrobatic performance with music, comedy and theatre given by young Cambodians. This ‘show’ has become very popular so if you’d like to help support this fabulous cause of taking underprivileged youngsters and training them in arts/dance/acrobatics, buy your tickets online before travelling in order to avoid disappointment.(http://pharecambodiancircus.org)
For me, the highlight of our holiday was a half day boat trip to Lake Tonlé Sap. This again was something we booked once in Siem Reap although this time we reserved a hotel car and driver. It worked out at a great rate of only $35 for what would have been a 4/5 hour trip and we were extremely happy with the service.
Only an hour’s drive from Siem Reap we then had a private boat for the four us (which we paid for separately once there – children were free, and we paid $20 at the time per adult) which took us up the river through the floating village.
This itself was amazing, but then we stopped and went ashore to walk through the village and had the opportunity to visit a local school and donate some art supplies. Absolutely magical.
These children who have so little gave us so much in their smiles, laughter and endless questions – it was truly beautiful.
Other attractions on any trip would have to be the night markets and the ‘infamous’ pub street where you’ll find an array of bars and restaurants, clubs and pubs as well as street sellers and shops.
Something that should be seen once, even if you decide its a bit too crazy to return the next evening!
Cambodia and its people left an ever-lasting mark on us. It really was such a fabulous trip and showed us the true beauty of a country that I had never thought I would get the opportunity to visit.
Here, I shall just say, if you haven’t yet been to Cambodia, please do. You will love it…. Hopefully just as much as we did. S x