Just back from Cambodia: Fenton’s Cambodia family holiday

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After the inside scoop on Cambodia family holidays? Fenton, one of our Cambodia experts, is just home from his latest visit to the country. And this time he took his two young children along for the ride!

We’ve got a lot of children between the team here on HA. So we know first-hand the value of travel for little minds. Taking your children to experience new places and different cultures is a worldly education like no other.

What’s more, Cambodia family holidays offer so much for kids and parents alike! Read on to hear all about Fenton’s latest adventure, along with some wonderful family photos that absolutely belong on the mantlepiece.

Where did you go?

I spent the Easter holidays exploring Cambodia with my wife and two young children. We ventured to the famous sights of Angkor Wat, enjoyed the quieter beaches of Koh Rong Island, and everything in between. 

Siem Reap offers a lot to see and do besides temples, so we spent a few days here. We met landmine-detecting ‘Hero Rats’, and walked with elephants in the countryside of Kulen Mountain. 

The capital city of Phnom Penh is modernising fast, but still retains the charm of a smaller town.  We also went to some lesser-visited spots – the artsy town of Battambang, the verdant riverside town of Kampot, the coastal fishing town of Kep, and the rural landscapes of Kampong Chhnang.


What did you get up to while you were there?

So much! We explored the golden Royal Palace in Phnom Penh in the 40 degrees midday sun (slathered in sun cream, of course). Hiked up to a mountain-top monastery for a view of the sunset without another person or vehicle in sight. Tried some delicious spicy sauces at a picturesque pepper farm (and bought a few bottles as souvenirs). And relaxed on some of the most impossibly-beautiful white-sand beaches I have ever seen.




Did you discover any secret spots you can tell us about?

The Farmhouse by Smiling Gecko is part social venture, part luxury countryside escape. Days can be spent relaxing by the pool, enjoying a spa treatment, or dining on some quintessentially Khmer cuisine. But, you can also head out on excursions to learn more about the local people, and the lives they live.  Although some of these are eye-opening, and even a bit upsetting (garment factories are abundant in these parts, creating ‘fast-fashion’ for Western wardrobes) it will help you understand the struggles the county has been through. And with it, how lives can be improved through the right intentions

The money you spend here goes back into the communities, the people serving your meals are gaining training for better jobs in the city, and you are sure to go home with warm memories, knowing that you have given a bit back during your travels.  

Talk to us about the food… what was your favourite meal?   

Cambodian cuisine doesn’t get the recognition is deserves. It’s easily as incredible as its neighbours’ food in Thailand and Vietnam.  A curry in Cambodia is not too spicy, but rich and flavourful, and great with meat, fish or even made entirely vegetarian. My wife – a diehard seafood fan – would tell you that the Fish Amok curry is the best dish, but I personally think the Beef Lok Lak, with a pepper and citrus sauce, is the Khmer king. 

Where was your favourite place you stayed?  

The Royal Sands on Koh Rong Island is a certified paradise, and no amount of photos can do it justice.  White sand, turquoise seas, impeccable service from every lovely, smiling member of staff, and an attention to detail that makes you never want to leave.  It’s not the cheapest place to stay on the island, but it is worth every penny.

Cambodia family holiday - white sand beaches




What was your most unforgettable interaction or moment on your Cambodia family holiday?

 Our guides and drivers are the people who really make our holidays incredible, and my own trip was no different. Getting to know real people, asking them questions about their lives, hearing about their experiences, and bonding with them in a genuine way. This is an experience you can’t get if you only holiday in self-contained resorts in the sun! 

This was a Cambodia family holiday after all, and travelling with young children can be tricky. But, everyone went above and beyond to ensure that drives were comfortable and tours were enjoyable. We were forever greeted with smiles, and always parted with a hug. 


Your favourite experience: What’s the bit you’ll be telling your friends about over dinner?  

When we were choosing to head on a Cambodia family holiday, we knew the kids were the most excited to see elephants in Kulen, just outside of Siem Reap.  This ‘retirement home’ for nellies is a beautiful destination, where you can get up close to these magnificent gentle giants. You get to prepare their food, feed them, and stroll alongside them in their forested homes. And there’s certainly no riding of any kind, which thankfully was made illegal some years ago! 

What we didn’t expect was how much the children would take to another animal – the African giant pouched rats, who have been trained to sniff out landmines and save lives.  The APOPO organisation allows you to see these superhero rodents in action. You’ll learn all about the valuable work they do in Cambodia (and all over the world). 





What were your key take-homes, what did you learn on your trip? 

Cambodia is a great standalone destination, often demoted to a ‘city break’ to tag on to a trip to a neighbouring country.  Spend a bit of extra time here and you will be rewarded with wildlife encounters, unforgettable scenery, delicious food, and the smiles of a nation.

What’s the thing people absolutely can’t miss? 

When in Phnom Penh, even if it’s not part of your tour, be sure to visit Tuol Sleng. Here you’ll learn about the heartbreaking genocide of the Khmer Rouge regime.  It will bring you to tears, but is the best way to understand the Cambodian people, their struggles, but also their resilience to come back from such dark times.

Any top tips to share with us?

The US Dollar has been the main currency here since the early 90s, but the government is trying to encourage the use of its own Riel wherever possible, especially for smaller transactions.  Breaking large dollar bills is tricky, and any damaged notes may be rejected.  Do ask your hotel or a bank to give you ‘small change’ of any money you withdraw from an ATM, and if you are unfortunate enough to find yourself with a torn $20 dollar bill, bring it home with you… the locals may not be able to use it!  



Quite frankly, there were far too many picture-perfect photographs for us to be selective with these. So enjoy an extended selection of the Fenton family’s holiday snaps. If you’re thinking of a Cambodia family holiday (or an adults only one!), Fenton is fresh home from the country and ready to share all of his insider info. Give him a call on 01242 253 073 or request a quick quote to get your holiday plans rolling.