Visiting Angkor Wat with young children is hard. It’s not impossible and I still recommend it, but for your own sanity make sure you’re not trying to do more than is necessary.
And make sure you have as much as possible prepared beforehand.
In terms of writing this post, I’m writing on the basis of how we dealt with Angkor Wat with both our children. At the time our son had just turned 4 and our daughter was 7 months old.
So depending on the age of your child some of these tips can be altered to suit your family dynamic.
Obviously the older the child the more freedom you have. But young children tire quickly, and babies can get heavy to carry for long periods of time.
1. Buy your ticket the day before
It’s definitely worth buying your ticket the day before. The main office shuts at 5.30pm, but if you manage to buy a ticket just before closing then it can be used for the whole day after and to witness sunset at one of the temples that evening as well.
We thought we’d do sunset at Angkor Wat so we could witness sunrise elsewhere. It didn’t quite happen like that, but if you look at our pictures you can see what sunset and sunrise looks like at Angkor Wat to compare.
Even if you don’t want to start your temple journey on that day it’s worth buying your ticket because you don’t want to be dealing with it early in the morning if you want to witness sunrise.
We bought a one day pass because of time restraints and costs. But if you have more time to spare buying a pass for more days would give you more freedom on spreading out your visit to suit you.
2. Start at sunrise
This is especially important if you only have a one day pass. As you hurtle towards Angkor Wat in the dark you may wonder why on earth you’ve dragged yourself and your kids out of bed. But it’s worth it. The sunrise is spectacular and you really do want to take advantage of the cooler mornings.
Don’t forget to get your guesthouse to prepare you a breakfast bag to go. You’ll be grateful for it.
3. Keep your pass on you at all times
Keep it somewhere safe but easily accessible. You’ll be asked to show it at every temple you visit. We thought once we’d shown it at the main entrance to the temples we could just put it away.
But that’s not the case. We learnt the hard way. Our tuk tuk dropped us off outside one of the temples. And joined the throng of other tuk tuk drivers somewhere in the far distance. No doubt to chat, socialise or catch up on sleep.
Jesse had to walk a good 20 minutes and then figure out which driver and tuk tuk was ours for the day.
He couldn’t find him in amongst the mass number of tuk tuks. But thankfully our driver had spotted him and drove over to see what was wrong.
It was obviously all sorted, but a waste of precious time.
4. Use a baby carrier
Strollers are absolutely pointless. You may want to bring one if you decide to stop for some food at one of the street vendors before heading into a temple (mainly to use as a high chair) but otherwise stick to a carrier.
5. Try and use an English-speaking driver
This sounds terrible I know. But the level of english in Cambodia varies tremendously. And that’ll impact on the experience you have when it comes to Angkor Wat.
If you’re happy to stick to the basic routes then any tuk tuk driver will be fine. But we really wanted to pick and choose where we wanted to go.
We didn’t want to be at Angkor Wat for sunrise as we wanted to visit a temple with fewer people. In fact we’d planned our own temple route, and our driver just shook his head. He didn’t understand what we wanted and just took us on the normal route. We just went with it because with such a language barrier there wasn’t much else we could do.
If there are certain temples you want to visit then an english speaking driver is essential.
We met the driver of Visa Tour and he offered us a great price to show us around the temples we wanted either by tuk tuk or by car. But we decided for ease we’d just go with one of the hotel tuk tuk drivers.
It was possibly our biggest regret, and when our friends landed in Siem Reap we gave them the phone number for Visa Tour.
They bought a three-day Angkor Wat ticket and spent a lot of time with Visa Tour and loved their experience. It was individual to them and they went to the temples they had researched themselves.
You can use Visa Tour yourself by booking on WhatsApp: +85586776742, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook.
6. By midday consider making your way back home
If you do Angkor Wat at sunrise, you should be able to make it to two other temples before lunch when the heat becomes unbearable- especially when you’re baby carrying.
We managed Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm before we called it a day. And I feel that those three temples all gave us something different and unique.
And after those three we were templed out. We didn’t feel the need to see anymore temples!
For the rest of the day we splashed around in the pool back at our accommodation.
7. Consider hiring an air con car to see more
A tuk tuk is the main form of transport around the temples. But for comfort and to explore more definitely consider a car. And of course it’ll have air con. Which means you may be able to stretch out the time you’re visiting the temples. You also won’t be tied to a route around the temples. Tuk tuks are limited in where they can go because of distance.
Again consider Visa Tour.