And no, Angkor Wat would not be top. If you asked the kids.
Things to do in Siem Reap with kids besides Angkor Wat in 2023
So, you’re all set to explore the magical city of Siem Reap, where ancient temples reign supreme and history whispers secrets from every corner.
Let’s be honest, this is the reason we head to Siem Reap… Angkor Wat. It really is a breathtaking temple, one of the most iconic and well-preserved archaeological sites in the world.
There are some great Worldschooling opportunities to learn about the Angkor Civilisation but how much did our kids engage with this? Not so much.
After a month in Siem Reap, here are the best bits:
Luckily Siem Reap is a bit of a dark horse and has many things to offer families hoping for more than temples. We stayed in Siem Reap for a month and despite a bout of Dengue Fever for Jak, the kids loved the range of activities there.
Hero Rats at APOPO
$8 | Under 10 FREE.
Cambodia is among one of the countries most heavily impacted by landmines worldwide. The legacy of past conflicts has left the nation with a significant number of landmines and unexploded ordnance, posing a huge threat to civilian safety and hindering development. Efforts to clear these hazards have been ongoing, but these are time consuming and costly. This is where APOPO comes in.
APOPO, uses innovative methods to detect and safely dispose of landmines– HeroRATs! These African giant pouched rats might be small (not in terms of rats, they are absolutely huge on the rat scale), but they play a big role in saving lives.
Trained by APOPO’s experts, HeroRATs possess an exceptional sense of smell, enabling them to detect the presence of TNT, a key component in landmines. Their lightweight bodies ensure they don’t trigger the explosives, making them safe and effective mine detectors.
The HeroRATs scurry through minefields, locating buried landmines with impressive accuracy and speed. Their efforts aid mine clearance teams in safely disposing of these hazardous devices, allowing communities to reclaim land for farming, infrastructure, and development.
It is beyond impressive what this organization is doing in Cambodia and your visit helps to support them.
This is an odd one and definitely not on the general ‘things to do in Siem Reap’ list. Head to Angkor Eye (the giant ferris wheel) where you will find the ferris wheel…a few stalls…and a segway hiring shop. For $2 for an hour, you can ride a segway around a semi abandoned amusement park(?). As I said, this one is definitely different but it was a fun experience. There is also a park/climbing thing for the kids to run around on for $1.
Sample a piece of rural Buddhist culture; experience a traditional Monk blessing.
Sitting on the stairs of the little Pagoda, the Monk will pour blessed water over you while chanting Pâli prayers. As an option, if you so wish, the Monk can tell you something about what the future may hold for you.
Let me give you a tip here, we were told that we may get and I quote here ‘a little wet’. This is an understatement. We had a very thorough blessing and was absolutely soaked to the bone. It was fun though.
K2 Inline skating
$2 including rental
A cracking little place for the kids (and adults) to hire rollerblades and skate in this indoor park. Head there during the day for a quieter visit and avoid the weekends. This was our kids first time skating and they loved it.
$18 Adult/Kids 12+
$6 6-12 years
$3 Under 6
Phare Circus is an exhilarating and mesmerizing performing arts spectacle. Established by Phare Ponleu Selpak, a non-profit organization, the circus showcases a unique fusion of Cambodian culture, art, and storytelling.
The talented performers, most of whom are underprivileged youth, use their skills in acrobatics, dance, theater, and music to deliver breathtaking and emotive performances. Each show weaves together powerful narratives that touch on Cambodia’s history, society, and the human experience.
The energy, passion, and sheer talent of the artists leave audiences awestruck and deeply moved, making a visit to Phare Circus an unforgettable experience that not only delights but also supports a worthy cause. Head there early for Cambodian street food from 17:30.
Cambodian pottery $ 25 USD per person
Ceramics painting $ 25 USD per person
Cambodian pottery Class + Ceramics painting $ 45 USD per person
This is a great class for families in Siem Reap to enjoy, create and learn about Khmer art…for just $25US you’ll be picked up and dropped back to your hotel and have a one hour and 45 minute class where you’ll make a Khmer pot – and it will be fired for you. The kids will love it because they can try to use the turning wheel. Plus the centre employs hearing impaired workers so it just feels good in your heart as well.
Water Park Khnar is a popular destination among local families for a relaxing day out. Kids will have a blast enjoying the water park’s attractions, such as water slides and swimming, while the rest of the family can unwind in private bamboo huts for some shade and comfort.
To make the most of your visit, it’s advisable to arrive early, especially on weekends or holidays, as it tends to get busy. The bamboo huts are complimentary to use throughout your stay, and attentive waiters are on hand to take your food and drink orders. Alternatively, you can opt to sit in the restaurant area. The meals are reasonably priced, predominantly Khmer-style dishes with a few other options, and are of good quality. During a recent visit, a family of four spent around $20 for a day of swimming, eating, and relaxation – definitely budget-friendly. Upon entry, you’ll receive coupons that can be used for the water activities, and any unused coupons can be refunded upon exit.
This one isn’t far out of town but can be tricky to find. Address: Lucky Villa Rd, Krong Siem Reap | Across from Garden Flower Resort, Siem Reap, Cambodia
$4 Adventure Island
The wake park offers a cable pulley system with an instructor for 2 hour lessons
Experience an exhilarating aquatic adventure at Aqua Land as you challenge your friends and race through thrilling water obstacles. This inflatable obstacle course is a lot of fun and definitely challenging if you are taller than 5ft!
There is a great ‘beach’ here too that is a great setting for a sunset drink.
Angkor Wat Putt, is a miniature golf complex located just 15 minutes from Siem Reap town. Surrounded by picturesque rice paddies and occasionally visited by curious cows, this oasis offers a cool escape from the town’s heat. The 18-hole course takes you on a journey through miniature replicas of iconic Cambodian Temples, complete with tunnels, angles, hills, and valleys to challenge your putting skills.
Feel free to bring along some snacks to enjoy at the shaded seating areas between rounds or buy drinks when you are there
Cycling in Angkor Archaeological Park with kids is not only possible but also highly recommended for a fun and family-friendly adventure. The park has become increasingly bike-friendly in recent years, with bike lanes and drivers accustomed to cyclists. The well-preserved forests surrounding the temples provide shade, making it enjoyable to ride at almost any time of the day. The terrain is almost entirely flat, ideal for both novice and young riders.
There is a great 23-kilometer cycle path, which meanders through the west of Angkor Wat temple, past Kravan temple, and leads to Ta Prohm and Ta Keo temple. Another path runs along the top of the ancient walls of Angkor Thom, offering a magical and traffic-free experience.
Both paths are within the forest, away from the main roads, and are well-maintained for safe cycling with children. There are no official rest stops, but you can find small cafes and restaurants along the way for breaks and refreshments.
There are monkeys in the park. While they can be cute and entertaining, it’s best to keep a safe distance from them. Macaques can be mean!
For your visit, make sure that adults have their shoulders and knees covered if entering the temples. You can bring a sarong or light wrap as a makeshift skirt or shoulder cover.
To use the bicycle paths, you’ll need an Angkor pass, available at the Angkor Ticket office or online. Kids under 12 enter for free, but it’s a good idea to carry proof of age if your child looks older.
There are almost 7 million massage places in Siem Reap, well, probably not that many but you won’t struggle find one. There is a range of treatments available but we enjoyed a family day out for a massage, everyone stays quiet for an hour or relaxation. It’s bliss, and you can easily find a massage from $6-10…it’s a bargain. The Spa Siem Reap on the corner of Son San Rd was totally legit and good with the kids.
Experience the thrill of ziplining through the lush jungle canopy near Angkor’s temples. Angkor Zipline offers two courses featuring 6 single ziplines, 2 super ziplines, 1 double zipline, suspended sky bridges, a Spiderman bridge, and an abseil descent.
Committed to responsible tourism and preserving the natural and cultural heritage, Angkor Zipline adopts eco-friendly practices such as reducing plastic, using biodegradable products, and recycling waste.
Located within the Angkor Archaeological Park, guests can enjoy an exhilarating adventure while exploring the temples all in one day. Angkor Zipline strives to set an example for sustainable tourism practices in Cambodia, benefiting both the community and the environment.
As fun as this sounded, we gave it a miss. At $49 per person it was out of our budget!
In summary, Siem Reap is a city of hidden treasures waiting to be discovered by families seeking more than the iconic Angkor Wat. From the remarkable HeroRATs of APOPO to the captivating performances at Phare Circus, your visit can support meaningful causes.
Looking for something else to do?
I have heard there are some temples near by too.