When we started our trip to Southeast Asia, we weren’t sure if Cambodia would be an appropriate place to visit with our four young daughters. But now that we’ve explored the ruins around Angkor Wat and experienced the culture and people of Siem Reap and Phnom Penh first-hand, I’m extremely happy we came. The journey to get here from Thailand was not the easiest day of travel, but we were well rewarded from our first day in Siem Reap.
Everyone who comes to Siem Reap comes to see the temples in and around Angkor Wat. And although Angkor Wat is the most recognizable temple name, there are actually many more temples around the area of Siem Reap, including Ankor Thom and Ta Prohm. The first is known for its massive area and the fifty-four towering heads of stone at the famous Bayon Temple, the latter for the impressive scenery of jungle roots growing over and through the temple ruins. If you’ve seen the movie Tomb Raider starring Angelina Jolie, you’ll recognize the scenery.
You can spend several days, even weeks exploring the ruins around Siem Reap if you can stand the heat and don’t mind the crowds. For us the best option was a one-day tour and a guide (hint: buy a one-day pass the afternoon before which you can use immediately to view the sunset at Angkor Wat). Even one day is a lot to ask of our kids given the 95 degree heat (heat index was 104 that day) in obviously non air-conditioned environments. But they endured the 8-hour experience, even picking up new career aspirations along the way (Emilia and Josephine now want archaeology kits for their birthdays). We shared that templed-out feeling at the end of the day.
Angkor Wat is a place that words don’t really do justice. It truly is a place that must be seen to be fully appreciated. My daughter’s blog does a much better job at conveying the sense of beauty and magnificence at these sites, so I will take the easy way out and attempt to provide our impressions of the wonders of these temples in the slideshow below. I hope you enjoy.