Angkor Wat is on the bucket list of many world travellers. Our time in Siem Reap and visiting the Angkor Archaelogical park was a highlight and also a low time. We were wowed and impressed by the vastness of the temples and humbled by the resilience of the Cambodian people. We also had two very sick children.
S started to get sick when we were in Phnom Penh and the short flight to Siem Reap was a challenge as she was so miserable. The following day L started showing the same symptoms. With very high temperatures and sore throats it quickly became clear this was more than a cold. In Siem Reap it is possible to get antibiotics at a pharmacy and the hotel helped us find a pharmacy and buy penicillin. However we had to work out the dosage ourselves and couldn’t be sure how good the penicillin was and whether it had been stored correctly. After 2 days on the medication they started to show slow improvement but it was some time before they were fully recovered and they were very tired for a full week.
In the end it became another challenge that we overcame as a family, but at the time it severely impacted on our experience in Siem Reap. We arrived on the Wednesday and had booked our driver and guide for Thursday to Angkor Wat. We were due to leave on Saturday afternoon to fly to Bali. We really hadn’t left ourselves with much time to spare.
We went ahead with the trip on the Thursday and we pushed the kids to get through it as much as possible while giving them as many opportunities to rest as we could. We did one less temple than planned and were back by about 3pm. Our guide was sympathetic and helped carry S up and down steps. I don’t think the kids have very happy memories of Angkor Wat and I don’t blame them!
A famous lost city of the ancient world, Angkor was the capital of the Khmer Empire, built in the 12 Century AD. The largest religious monument in the world, Angkor Wat is the largest temple in the Angkor complex or ‘city’.
We headed here first but I would suggest going later in the day as it seems that many groups follow the same schedules and start here in the morning.
Famous as the setting for the movie Tomb Raider, this temple from the late 12th and early 13th Century, is very popular with tourist groups. It has been left largely as it was found, set in the jungle with trees growing in and around the crumbling ruins. Exploring the nooks and crannies of Ta Prohm is a real adventure, it is a fun and more interesting temple to visit with children and great for photography. Ta Prohm was a favourite with Paul and the kids.
After a lunch break we headed to our final temple.
Bayon is another well-known temple at Angkor. It is unique because of it’s stone towers each with smiling faces on 2, 3 or 4 sides. There are said to be up to 200 faces but there is no conclusive count because some are ruined.
This was my favourite temple that we visited and was a bit quieter after lunch. We were able to park L and S in a shady spot and take a short walk around.
There really is too much to take in during one day at Angkor, next time I would definitely buy a 3 day pass. Despite the kids feeling really miserable and it being hot and busy, several weeks later they remember their day at Angkor Wat. They tell me they enjoyed Ta Prohm with the trees, Bayon’s faces and walking through the long galleries looking at the carvings. It wasn’t a complete disaster but it could have worked out better with more time.
In Siem Reap we stayed at The Treasure Oasis Hotel, we cannot say enough good things about the staff there and how helpful and caring they were. Every day they asked how the kids were doing and if we needed anything for them. The location is not close enough to walk to the town centre for restaurants and bars but easy to take a tuk tuk, and a good location for Angkor Wat and the airport. They greet you with cold towels every day when you return from sightseeing, such a treat!
More posts about our time in Cambodia including tips for visiting Angkor Wat with Kids coming soon.