Like many places in Southeast Asia, travelling with children in Cambodia can be a lot of fun as long as you have the right attitude. The Khmer people adore children and will shower attention on your offspring, who will find playmates and a temporary babysitter at practically every stop.
Best Regions for Kids
Phnom Penh & Around
Siem Reap has a whole range of activities beyond the temples, including mountain biking, ziplining, escape rooms, crazy golf, cooking and pottery classes, and sumptuous spas offering family pampering. There are some excellent dining spots, and many are child-friendly. Accommodation is also impressive and offers incredible value for money from April to October. Most hostels, guesthouses and hotels have inviting swimming pools.
Temples of Angkor
The temples of Angkor are the headline act for the parents, but children may tire of exploring after one or two, so it pays to plan ahead. Breaking up temple visits into bite-sized half-day chunks is a winning formula and ensures some time for non-temple activities like ziplining. The jungle temple of Ta Prohm is always a favourite for budding Indiana Joneses or Lara Crofts. The enigmatic faces of Bayon are also a winner, although note that the upper levels will be closed until at least 2022. The massive face gates of Angkor Thom are an epic alternative, particularly the jungle-clad East Gate.
Down on the coast, islands such as Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem are proving popular with families thanks to their beautiful beaches and gentle seas. There are also plenty of other beaches around Kep and Koh Kong and some river estuaries that offer water-based activities like boat trips, kayaking and firefly spotting.
This is arguably the least compelling region for families thanks to some long road journeys to remote temples and niche wildlife activities like birdwatching. The best place in the region is Battambang which offers the novelty of the Bamboo Train and is a charming place to hunker down in a bargain boutique hotel with a pool.
Mondulkiri is home to the Elephant Valley Project, where you can walk with the herd; a flagship gibbon-spotting project in Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary; and the impressive Bou Sraa Waterfall, one of the highest in Cambodia. It is also possible to view rare freshwater-river dolphins near Kratie or swim in the crystal-clear waters of Yeak Loam Lake in Ratanakiri.
Long Beach This 7km-long beach on the west coast of Koh Rong has fine white sand and clear turquoise waters.
Lazy Beach Long home to just one eponymous resort, Lazy Beach on Koh Rong Samloem is a beautiful spot for families to kick back and let time stand still for a while.
Koh Ta Kiev While Sihanoukville turns into a concrete jungle and Koh Russei is populated with high-end resorts, Koh Ta Khiev remains a relatively deserted island close to the mainland.
Koh Tonsay Rabbit Island or Koh Tonsay is a short boat ride from Kep and offers a real beach and delicious fresh seafood, including the legendary Kep crab.
Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre Learn how to be a 'bear keeper' or 'elephant keeper' for a day at this world-class wildlife rescue centre outside Phnom Penh.
Elephant Valley Project Walk with the herd at this elephant retirement home in the jungle-clad hills of Mondulkiri Province in Northeast Cambodia.
Angkor Zipline Fly through ancient jungles around the temples on the Angkor Zipline near Siem Reap and listen for the calls of the resident family of gibbons.
Freshwater Dolphins Encounter small groups of the extremely rare Irrawaddy dolphins living in the Mekong River at Kampi, just north of Kratie.
Ta Prohm The original jungle temple was used as a backdrop for Lara Croft-Tomb Raider, starring Angelina Jolie, so should earn kudos with Maleficent fans.
Bayon This temple is just plain weird thanks to all the massive faces staring out into the jungle. Children will relish the photo opportunities.
Beng Mealea Kids can clamber about wooden walkways and staircases in this immense jungle temple, which is like an ancient sacred playground.
Phnom Kulen Not strictly a temple but a holy mountain that was the location of one of the first Angkorian capitals. It has an iconic waterfall, a pretty riverbed carved with lingas and a giant reclining Buddha carved from a massive boulder.
Durian This might not be the most popular fruit for visiting children thanks to the noxious smell, but they won't forget it in a hurry.
Lychee Known as kulen in Khmer, as in the holy mountain of Phnom Kulen near Siem Reap, lychee season falls around May to July.
Mango Year-round mangoes are available in Cambodia, but it is the Khmer New Year fruits that are turbocharged by the heatwave of April and May that are simply out of this world.
Mangosteen It is rumoured that Queen Victoria offered 100 pounds to anyone who could deliver her a ripe mangosteen, so it is now known as the queen of fruit.
Rambutan It may be hard to persuade the children to eat this fruit due to its curious appearance, but it is a great travel snack and available year-round.
Need to Know
Car Travel Most vehicles have seat belts, but child seats are not common. Request one in advance via a tour operator.
Pushchairs City footpaths can be overcrowded, making it tricky to navigate a large pushchair. In rural areas, there won't be a pavement (sidewalk), so prepare to walk along the roadside and consider a durable pushchair with sturdy wheels.
Health Regular hand-washing is important to head off potential medical problems. Children should not play with animals, as rabies is common in Cambodia.
Safety Do not let children stray from the path in remote areas, as Cambodia remains one of the most landmine-affected countries in the world.
Nappy Changing Facilities in public restrooms are rare, limited to a few tourist-friendly establishments in the big cities.
Baby Products Bring along a sufficient supply of baby products if travelling in rural areas.
Restaurants Children's menus and high chairs are rare beyond the main tourist centres, but most restaurants are welcoming to children of all ages.
Supermarkets There are some good supermarkets in the main centres, but options thin out in the provinces.
Lonely Planet Kids (www.lonelyplanetkids.com) Lots of activities and family-oriented blog articles.
Childsafe (www.thinkchildsafe.org) ChildSafe is a global movement to protect children and certifies hotels, restaurants and other businesses as child-safe, in the fight against human trafficking and sex tourism.
Move to Cambodia (www.movetocambodia.com) Leading resource for foreigners planning a move to Cambodia, which includes useful recommendations for families.