Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Family Adventures: Discover the greatest temples Angkor Wat

 Angkor Wat is one of the most beautiful and fascinating places on the planet. Made by the Khmer kings in a process that lasts almost 4 centuries, this magnificent area has been abandoned and hidden by the forest. Re-discovered by a French man about 150 years ago, Angkor Wat is ready to become one of the most visited archaeological and artistic sites on the planet.

Kids love Angkor Wat
We booked a family adventure tour  with ACTIVETRAVEL CAMBODIA (ATC), a member of ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA. ATA has several itineraries for Family Adventures in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, from two-day to two-week, with multi-activity adventures. The itineraries mix the cultural and the fun, for example, trek-and-bike trip, fishing villages, caves, boat trip, pirate ship aquarium...

Best View
Nestled between the huge roots of a banyan tree, watching my two kids clambering around the dilapidated ruins of the remote and glorious Beng Melea Temple, trying to find me in an Indiana Jones inspired game of hide and seek!

Dish to die for
Special Food in Cambodia
The one to boast about when you get home is stir-fried red tree ants with beef. I ordered it purely for shock value but it was surprisingly delicious, with the ants adding an unusual lemony flavour. I’m not sure I’ll try to recreate it at home, but I certainly wiped the plate clean! And, amazingly, it didn’t ‘taste like chicken’.

Top Tipple
Angkor Beer. It comes in big bottles, served ice cold, at the end of a long day of sightseeing. What more could you want?
Mango and banana fruit shake, with cocktail umbrella for sophistication value, and marshmallows on the side because why the hell not?!

Best Activity
The obvious choice is cycling to the fabulous ruins of Angkor Wat, following smaller tracks through the paddy fields to some of the more remote and little visited temples. But our kids’ favourite was searching for dolphins in the Mekong in the far north of Cambodia.


Advice to Travellers?
Don’t be tempted to just whizz through Cambodia to see Angkor Wat and then leave to focus on the ‘bigger neighbours’ of Thailand and Vietnam. There is so much to see in this small country, and the people are incredibly friendly, particularly towards children, that you will regret it if you don’t spend a bit more time exploring.

Fun at Angkor Wat

Your Dream Itinerary
Start in Phnom Penh and spend a couple of days exploring this laid back and attractive city by tuk tuk – any kid will enjoy a day of sightseeing if they are transported by tuk tuk! Then head west towards Angkor Wat, stopping en route at the beautiful pre-Angkorian temples of Sambor Prei Kuk. You’ll have the ruins to yourselves and they are perfect for exploring, with lots of crumbling temples for the children to clamber around. If you fancy it, spend the night in a local village on a homestay. 

Then continue on to Siem Reap, the town next to Angkor Wat; there are great hotels here with swimming pools and lots of ice-cream parlours and international restaurants if the children are in need of something other than stir fried red ants! This is where you base yourself for a few days visiting Angkor Wat – either by bike or by tuk tuk depending on the age of your children. Make sure you visit some of the smaller more remote temples, away from the hordes. 

Liddy and family ride the Bamboo Train
Finally head to Battambang, a lovely French colonial town with crumbling charm and the great attraction of the ‘bamboo train’ a ramshackle contraption which is basically a small bamboo platform that is placed over two sets of wheels, powered by a tiny motor and driven by a child usually under the age of 14!

Memorable Moment
A group of Buddhist monks on a pilgrimage to a remote hilltop monastery guffawing with laughter as my five year old son, who had spent the last ten minutes teasing his two year old sister about being scared of the local monkeys, screamed with fright as a monkey jumped literally right over him, landing just next to his lap to snatch his half eaten banana!

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