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Jan
18

Our Kid Friendly Siem Reap Top Picks

Everyone goes to Siem Reap to see the majestic Angkor Wat, but there is so much more to do there if you have the time.  We spent 13 days in Siem Reap and only three of those days were dedicated to the temples.

So what else is there?  Here are our top picks for Siem Reap with Kids:

The War Museum

The War Museum was actually a highlight for our family.  The actual museum part of it was just OK, although the kids really loved seeing all the war machines and guns (me, not so much).  The memorable part of The War Museum was meeting Mr. Soon, one of the free tour guides.  Mr. Soon took us through some of the exhibits while he told us his life story.  Mr. Soon was 10 years old when the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia. His family fled in fear and were caught by the army. His father was killed. His mother and sister were taken and he never saw them again.   He was taken to an army training camp and was trained to be a soldier.  He fought for the Khmer Rouge in the Killing fields and later in the war against Vietnam.  He lost his leg when he stepped on a land mine during the war with Vietnam. His story was so incredibly sad and moving.  Visiting The War Museum gave our children a glimpse into the atrocity of war from a first hand account. When they touched the guns they understood that those guns actually killed real people. When they saw the land mines on display they understood that those are the same mines that took Mr. Soon’s leg.  This museum gave them a deeper understanding to a difficult subject.

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Phare Circus

The name of circus is misleading here. Yes there are acrobatics in the performance but that is the only similarity.  Instead of a true circus I would describe it as performing arts.  The performance that we saw portrayed a powerful story about a young woman who lives through the war.  It was beautifully enacted and I admit I shed a few tears on more than one occasion.  This is definitely worth the money to see ($56US for our family of four), as the profits go to help this NGO put at risk youth through school.


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The Land Mine Museum

When we visited there were no guides on duty which was a shame after our learning experience at The War Museum.  We took the self guided tour which meant walking around reading the signs on display.  There were some personal, touching stories from land mine victims and this gave us a glimpse into the lives of the many amputees that we saw in our time in Cambodia.  The money from the admission ($5 per adult) goes to help fund the dismantling of land mines in Cambodia as well as an orphanage for young land mine victims.

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Walking Pub Street

Three million tourists a year come to visit Angkor Wat and at some point in their trip most of them will end up on Pub Street.  Restaurant after restaurant line the streets and alleys in the centre of Siem Reap and it is an attraction in itself.  Whether you are looking for a place to eat, a place to drink, or a place to watch all the people, this is the place to come.  It is also, by the way, the place to come if you are looking for fried tarantulas, snakes on a stick, or deep fried crickets.

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Eating For A Cause

There are many NGO’s working in Cambodia helping to relieve the poverty of this country.  We saw so many beggars on the streets.  We also learned that the women we saw with young babes asking for help to buy formula were actually a part of a scam. The women have deals with the stores and would return the formula to the store and receive 50% of the money.  We all want to help when we see people in such dire circumstance but giving money to beggars only perpetuates the problem.  One of the ways we found to help was to frequent restaurants that were a part of NGO’s.  Our two favourite places were Marum and Haven.  Both of these places help at risk youth by giving them food, shelter, education, and training in the restaurant business so that they can go on to find jobs in the tourist industry.

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If you find yourself in Siem Reap, give yourself time to do more than just the temples and you will be rewarded!

 

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