Cambodia with kids? No problem!
Marika & Michal, Travelers
4. July 2016
We are a family of 4 (parents and 2 kids – Michael (7 years) and Matej (6 years), addicted to travel to less traditional destinations. I must say, that we are not rich enough to travel with travel agency, so we are travelling with kids on our own. Our goal is also to inspire another families to travel without travel agency.
In 2014 we were experienced travelers – we were in Bali (Indonesia), Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Maldives, but also somewhere in Caribic (Dominican republic). But Asia is the best option for travel with kids.
Nice people, excellent cuisine, perfect accomodations and neverending white beaches. And the most important – unbelievable prices !
Time for our next journey to Asia had come and we chosen Cambodia. We were charmed by this country, so we decided to write our first travel blog post about Cambodia.
- Cambodia is a kingdom in Southeast Asia. The population is around 15 million people and the country is well known mainly by its history from second half of 20th century – Khmer Rouge era.
- Generally Cambodia is very poor country – nominal GDP per capita is only USD 1145 – source Wikipedia).
- Although the people in Cambodia are very poor, they are incredibly nice and smiling.
- Official religion in Cambodia is Buddhism.
- The main sector in Cambodia is agriculture – they grow mainly rice. Top industrial sector is textile (maybe also you are wearing T-shirt made in Cambodia )
- If we are talking about tourist destinations, we have to mention temple complex Angkor Wat in southwest Cambodia, which also belongs to UNESCO World Heritage. Angkor Wat is the larges religious monument in the world.
- In recent years, the tourism is more pronounced and the main destinations are Angkor Wat and beaches around Sihanoukville and also favourite islands Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem.
How we got there?
We are searching flights for our friends and family. Few days before Christmas (2014) we found return flight from Vienna to Bangkog for 269,00 € / per person.
This was a error made by airline Transaero (they went bankrupt). Error was made due to wrong exchange rate Russian Rubel – Euro. Advantage of the flight was only one short stopover in Moscow on the way there. Usually the price of this ticket is around 500,00 €, so we bought almost 2 tickets for this price.
Flight to Bangkok has more advantages, but the main is:
- Bangkok is a metropolis, from which you can travel almost everywhere within Southeast Asia.
Due to the fact, that we visited Thailand year ago, we decided to visit another country, our choice was Cambodia or Philippines…
In that time the flight from Bangkok to Manila was for 170,00 € per person so we rejected this option. Anyway we visited this country in FEB-MAR 2016.
Our cambodian itinerary
Cambodia with kids
So we bought flights from Bangkog to Phnom Penh for about 60,00 € / person and we started to prepare for our journey.
Before each trip we are preparing in detail and we are reading lot of travel blogs. We are well prepared for everything, what we can encounter in Cambodia (even for Dengue fever and malaria).
At the beginning lot of people asked us, if we´ve gone crazy to go to Cambodia with 2 small kids. People often unnecessarily condemn this country. The thing is, that probably they don´t know much about it.
Frankly, Cambodia is much more safe than countries like Egypt, Turkey, Tunisia etc.
It started in early March. Flights Vienna – Moscow and Moscow – Bangkok were without any complications. Maybe only one disadvantage of the flight to Bangkok is that this city has 2 international airports, intercontinental flights are going to Suvarnabhumi (BKK) and flights within Asia are going to Don Mueng (DMK) .
But this is not a problem, because if you are at one airport and you have ticket for flight from another airport in your hand, you can use FREE SHUTTLE BUS – free bus, which runs each 30 minutes between these two airports. But you have to calculate with 30-60 minutes drive (due to the traffic in the city).
AirAsia is well known airline for us (we used it during our trip to Southeast Asia in 2014) so we knew what to expect. You will receive some paperwork in the aircraft – some forms for the Cambodia entry. Some of them are not even in English so we were hoping that we did not donate part of our bodies by our signatures 🙂
Traffic in capital city
Phnom Penh, Cambodia with kids
Phnom Penh – the capital
We travel on our own. We book flights, accomodation and tranfers. If we are unable to book something from our home, we are doing it directly at the place and we usually use our English skill. Travel without travel agency has more advantages – we will plan everything based on our preferences.
During the trips you can make friends, who can get you to the places, where usually tourists can not go. The most important thing is that it is much cheaper (to travel without travel agency).
In Phnom Penh we stayed 1 night in hotel Harmony Phnom Penh Hotel (4*, family room for 82 USD/night).
We chosen this hotel for its location and mainly for its ROOF TOP POOL with Mekon view. We love this kind of pools and usually we must have at least one roof top pool on each trip. The view was extraordinary, you can check.
After our arrival to the hotel, we jumped into the pool. Our kids enjoyed it after a very long journey. After 2 hours in the pool we decided to make round trip around Phnom Penh in tuk-tuk.
I took full advantage with my „bargaining skill“ and we paid only USD 4 for hour round trip in the city centre.
Maybe also you will be lucky and you will find funny local tuk-tuk driver, who will invite your kid for unforgettable drive – driving this vehicle. We have to admit, that we were little bit afraid, but he drove really safe. It’s worth a children’s laughter.
The day after right after the breakfast, we visited „smelly market“, which was right next to the hotel. We have to admit, that we would never buy a meat from this market. Wide choice of meat but you can imagine what will happen with it in 40 degrees of Celsius without any refrigerator. We felt that some of the pieces were already going through a stage of decomposition – but locals were buying in bulk. Wide choice of frogs, eyes, brains, but also spices, vegetables and fruits, which we never seen before.
We continued from Phnom Penh to the area around the Sihanoukville (old fishing town) wich beautiful beaches. We booked transfer from Phnom Penh – Sihanoukville in advance with Giant Ibis in air conditioned minibus with capacity of 12 people.
One way ticket was USD 12/person – water was included in the price. 230 km long way we did in 4 hours. Funny thing was that even the bus was full, the driver stopped once in a while and always picked up some locals.
We had also one very interesting somewhere in the middle of nowhere, where we bought pineapple and mango. This part of the country looks very poor, but this is real Cambodia.
Sihanoukville is probably the best known fishing town in Cambodia. After our arrival, we used tuk-tuk to get to „our“ beach. There are more beaches in Sihanoukville, but we chosen most peaceful one – Otres beach. It is cleaner than Serendipity Beach.
We stayed in bungalows about 50 m from the beach (Otres Beach resort – bungalow USD 45 per night, breakfast included). First night we met Slovak Martin, who works there almost 3 years as a volunteer – they are preparing project for cambodian children. Angkor beer is very nice, but next day we had a headache.
We were very surprised how many Slovaks live in Cambodia.
We stayed 3 days on Otres beach, which we used also to make some local friends (mainly our children). Generally to travel there with children is very interesting because of reactions of locals. Everybody wants to have a picture with our kids, they felt like movie stars.
Koh Rong Samloem
From our hotel on Otres beach, we had a transfer to Serendipity Pier by tuk-tuk. From pier, we got to the Koh Rong Samloem island (Saracen Bay Pier) – speed boat return ticket was for USD 20. The journey takes about 50 minutes, nobody of us suffers nausea, but we had a stomach problems.
Koh Rong Samloem island is a small paradise on Earth. Cambodia has really beautiful beaches and islands. If you want to get from Sihanoukville to islands, you have more options – most pronounced is Koh Rong island, well known for its paries. We wanted to have more peaceful nights on white beaches, so we´ve chosen Samloem.
This island is not harmed by developer activities, there is only few bungalows.
We stayed our 5 nights in Saracen Bay Resort, in house directly at the beach.
Nine totally beautiful bungalows with direct access to the sea (Saracen Bay is perfect for small children, because sea level rises only slowly). There is a jungle right behind your bungalow. We wanted to go to explore local fauna and flora, but we changed our minds right at the edge of the jungle when we heard strange animal sounds.
The jungle is full of snakes, monkeys and other similar animal species, typical for this part of Asia.
All the resort is eco-friendly, electricity is working only between 18:00 – 22:00. Nevermind, you have enough time to charge your cameras, phones, GoPro cameras, tablets to have enough energy to the next evening. Forget about TV, air-condition. Mobile phone signal is very weak and there is no wifi on island, so you can enjoy your time without work and FB there. Saracen Bay features perfect restaurant, which we really recommend. When we are talking about asian cuisine, we love fried bananas – the best we ever had were here in Saracen Bay.
You have to sleep under the mosquito net, because there are many kinds of mosquitos on the island. We were lucky because tiger mosquitos did not find us so we did not have any problems with Dengue fever or malaria. We do not use any vaccination or anti malaria pills. We only had repellent suitable for exotic countries, but we did not even take it from our baggage. Repellent with DEET substance is the best for Asia.
During our stay in Koh Rong Samloem, I received few mosquito bites, but when I showed it to locals, they were laughing and said: „DON´T WORRY!“ After tiger mosquito bite, you would have another tit there.
The best experiences we had in the very first night. We layed down in bed and I started to tell fairy tales to the kids. After 5 minutes, we all jumped away from bed, there was a big bug (5 cm long) in linen, it tried to get out. We threw it out to the jungle.
All other nights were very quiet, but we fallen asleep with the feeling, that right behind your bungalow, there are wild animals, which you usually see only in ZOO or on Animal Planet. All nights there are locals walking on the beach with fire torches.
Five nights in Saracen Bay Resort was the best experience in Cambodia for us.
After 5 nights in Koh Rong Samloem we returned back to Sihanoukville, but now we stayed at Serendipity beach which is much crowded and busy than Otres Beach.
This beach will offer very good prices of souvenirs, accomodation or food.
But forget about magnets and postcards. We wanted to buy some and locals pointed us to the shop, where local woman said – „sure, we have magnets“!
At the cashier, there were 3 types – one with elephant, second with Angkor Wat and one with monkeys. We asked her that we need 4 pieces of each. But we realized that these 3 pieces was all they had. 3 magnets from all Serendipity Beach. But fortunatelly, we were able to buy some at the airport.
we recommend great accomodation – Beach Club Resort
Serendipity beach, Sihanoukville, Cambodia with kids
Skuon – spider town (surprise for our kids).
In Sihanoukville we took a taxi to Skuon, which is about 80 km north from capital Phnom Penh. Our taxi driver Phearon Kong stopped on the road for us, we tasted traditional street food. The journey to Skuot took about 4 hours and was unforgettable.
He became our friend and we are in touch with him till today.
Small traditional town Skuon is well known, because you can taste here spiders, frogs, bats and other delicacies. We tasted these big spiders and we can really recommend it. We have to also give credit to cambodia kids, because they speak English fluently.
There are not so many tourists in Skuon and in March 2015 we were maybe the only tourists with kids there. We were attraction for locals. Local women said that if we want to check the local market, they will keep an eye on our kids. It was just crazy! Would you leave your kids with Cambodians who have full buckets of spiders? After a while, we said yes and we went to find something to eat.
After our arrival (we were not away for long time) we noticed, that there are lot of people around our kids. When we came closer, we noticed that our younger som had big spider on his hat and older son was playing with another spider. We were shocked… But when we saw their smiles, we were OK. We are not afraid of anything.
If you get here, Thank you!
We would like to give you one quiz question:
What do you think, what was the total price of our 16 days journey around Cambodia? If you say that 500 € per person, you are right! But we personally think that you bet different prices.
Total price for all our family was 2000 €.
Definitelly there are cheaper types of accomodation (we did not choose cheapest ones), we could save at least 300 €.
Would you like trip to Cambodia for 1700 €?
We will be very thankful for your comments under the post and also if you like our FB page facebookovú stránku Cestuj s deťmi.
Trips with kids – advantages
If you travel with kids, you have many advantages:
On far east your kids will receive attention, which can help you if you are looking for something. Often you will get to places to local people, who will show you how they live. And also if you are at the airport with kids, they will allow you to go to the front. And you can also get to the airplane cockpit.
We felt like celebrities, everybody wanted to have photo with us 🙂
Taste your SPIDER!
Our hobby became our job – we are searching for cheap flights for companies and for other travelers – more info here: Airfly.
Our next trips
Sri Lanka (Nov-Dec 2016), Zanzibar (Feb-Mar 2017).
In the future, we want to visit Mauritius, Laos, Myanmar and our travel dream is Papua New Guinea and islands in Pacific ocean. And also Transsiberian train which we would like to try in summer 2017.