Siem Reap, home to the world famous temples of Angkor Wat. If you are traveling to South East Asia, this is a place you must have seen!
If you’re in my situation, and you have a young baby, you might have doubts about this destination. Doesn’t it have tropical diseases? Isn’t it way too hot over there? Didn’t people tell you to travel to safer places?
Of course you have to do what YOU feel comfortable with! But if you’re looking to confirm that YES you can travel to Siem Reap with a baby and YES we would go again anytime – you’ve come to the right place!
I do think it’s important to be informed, to enjoy your trip to the fullest. Here are my top tips when traveling with a baby to Siem Reap!
How much time to spend in Siem Reap
I’ve learned that when traveling with a baby, you want to take it easy. Either you go for a shorter time and pick only one or two sightseeing activities, or you go for a longer period with enough rest in between.
We’ve spent one whole week in Siem Reap. This gave us plenty of time to explore Angkor Wat (which is huge), see a bit of the city, and most of all: relax! I think one week would be your maximum though, as Siem Reap is pretty small. Anytime between 3 days and a week would be ideal!
Where to stay
Before Cleo was born, we weren’t too fussed about where we stayed. We were out exploring most of the time anyway! This has definitely changed since we have a baby in tow. A newborn will sleep anywhere, but once your baby is a few months old she’ll need a more stable napping routine. You’ll unavoidably be more tied to your hotel – so the right pick is everything!
One great benefit about traveling in Cambodia is that accommodation is relatively cheap, so you can treat your little family on a comfortable stay for a reasonable price. Two places I can highly recommend are Navutu Dreams Resort and Templation.
Navutu Dreams is truly a dream come true: three outdoor pools, including two saltwater ones, in a gorgeous garden. They only have 28 rooms so it never gets too crowded. We stayed in one of the “grand suites” which has two rooms, perfect for a family. They also have a yoga studio and a spa, which was exactly what this mommy needed! And after all the pampering, you can lavish on local Khmer and international food in their open air restaurant. Additional bonus is that they’re an eco-friendly resort using renewable energy and water refill stations among others. A final thing we loved about Navutu is their complementary tuktuk service to the city.
The second place I can recommend is Templation. I can guarantee that you’ll never want to leave! We enjoyed one of their private pool rooms with outdoor bathrooms. They also have an award winning restaurant where you can order a floating breakfast (which someone clearly loved). Most of all, their hospitality is outstanding. When they found out I only drink decaf coffee, which wasn’t available in the room, they offered me free coffee at the restaurant during my whole stay (and everyone from the staff remembered my choice)!
What to pack (and what to forget)
The weather in South East Asia has a big advantage in terms of packing: you can forget heavy jackets or big boots! You’ll get away perfectly with light breezy clothes, for you and your little one. Here’s my Cambodia packing list:
- Bring a baby carrier. Angkor Wat is much easier to explore if you can pop baby in a carrier. Apart from the temples, you’ll be popping in and out of tuktuks, exploring narrow markets or walking on streets with limited to nonexistent pavements – so a carrier will make your life much easier!
- This brings me to my second item: you can leave your stroller at home. We brought it as it also functions as a car seat which we needed to get to the airport and back. But we haven’t used it during our entire stay!
- A travel cot is on the list of items you can forget too. We always stay at places that provide one (check in advance to be sure) as we like to travel light.
- What you do need: one or two muslin blankets (or scarf) as a cover in airconditioned spaces, nursing cover, or playmat.
- An umbrella against the sun is useful when wearing your baby in a carrier.
- Don’t forget mosquito repellent for you and baby! If your baby is too young, there are also repellent stickers you can put on clothes or on the carrier. I also bring a mosquito net that can go over baby’s bed (or stroller, if you decide to take one).
- Sun hat and sun glasses (if your little one will wear them) are a YES in this tropical country.
- Finally, bring your usual diaper bag – inside I keep a separate small bag with all changing essentials (diapers, reusable pad, wipes, cream) so they’re easy to whip out when it’s time for poopy fun.
There’s no need to overdo it though! Bring what you think is essential or hard to find. Apart from that, Siem Reap has convenience stores and pharmacies if needed.
How to visit Angkor Wat with a baby
While in Siem Reap, it would be a shame not to visit the stunning temples of Angkor Wat, right? That’s what we thought too!
Sure, it’s trickier with a baby, but it’s definitely doable! Keep in mind that Angkor Wat is BIG – the archeological park stretches over 400 km2 and has more than 1000 temples. Pick a few you’d like to see: Angkor Thom and Bayon are stunning, but they’re also the most famous ones hence the most crowded. If it’s feasible for your family, try going there early or late!
You can do your temple hopping by tuktuk, but we arranged a car/van with driver and I’m glad we did! It doesn’t cost much and made our sightseeing way more comfortable. Cleo wasn’t too fond of long hot walks, so in between the temples we were happy we had a place to cool off. She also got thirsty and the car was a convenient place to feed her. We enjoyed driving through the impressive site and hopped off every time we saw a temple in the shade, lol! Don’t forget a carrier and an umbrella against the sun, and be sure to cover up (legs and shoulders need to be covered in Buddhist temples).
To be honest with you, we took a three day pass to enter Angkor Wat but only went there two days. It was amazing to see the temples and I’m very happy we saw them in real life – but it wasn’t Cleo’s favorite activity due to the heat. So the third day we were just too tempted to stay in our lovely resort and relax… If your child is bigger, it might be easier though!
What to see and do apart from Angkor Wat
Siem Reap is a lovely little town, especially coming from a metropole like Bangkok. Take a “remorque” (Cambodian tuktuk) downtown – it’s an activity in itself, when you have a baby! It was breezy and offers plenty of interesting sights. Once we got off the remorque, we enjoyed a stroll downtown. One of our favorite areas was Kandal Village, which has lots of cute shops and coffee bars. We loved The Little Red Fox Espresso, Crane and Shop 767. Be sure to try out the delicious Khmer cuisine!
If you’d like to do some shopping, the “Made in Cambodia” market was my favorite place for fashion and crafts. You have the chance to meet and support local artisans and artists.
Enjoy the love
I don’t think anyone loves babies more than a South East Asian! People constantly came up to us to look and smile at Cleo. It may slow down your pace, but it’s such a fun way to bond with locals. In restaurants the staff will even propose to look after your little one – if you’re comfortable with that, you can enjoy free babysitting service! There’s a whole lotta love in the air, especially with a baby on your arms. I’m sure Cambodia will surprise you in many good ways, and you’ll take a little piece of its positivity back home!