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Cambodia… If we conducted a short survey, the public would surely say that it’s one of the worst holiday destinations if you’re travelling with a child! Maybe not as bad as Africa, but also quite dangerous… More respondents would probably go with Mexico, because it’s often associated with crime, gangs, drug cartel wars. Is it due to the fact that we perceive it as the third world with another culture and different food?

We did Mexico a long time ago – and I believe that’s a perfect spot for holidays with a little one, preferably with one that’s still breast-fed or on modified milk and baby food, because not everyone enjoys the spicy, coriander-flavoured Mexican cuisine, especially not every one-year-old… We have also been to another so-called exotic place – Thailand – which is a true paradise for travellers, tourists, backpackers and others, who sometimes all need the same things, despite the appearances. Everything is pretty simple for those visiting Thailand – we are 100% sure of it, especially after our trips to Vietnam and Cambodia. Everything is easy, starting from no visas, the feasibility of renting a car and of travelling around the country. There are more difficulties in Cambodia, but it shouldn’t stop anyone 🙂

Siem Reap, Kambodża, podróżowanie z dzieckiem, rejs,
on a ship from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap

Cambodia… My mom considered not leaving church and praying on her knees until we come back. I assume that if any of my school or high school friends is reading this post, they’re smiling subtly, thinking about her persistent calls :)… So, why would she prey on her knees? Because of mosquitoes, because of Dengue fever, because of malaria and the Japanese encephalitis (according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), because there are more mines than anywhere in the world and it’s best to avoid rural areas (according to Martyna Wojciechowska and we believe her, but we’ve never considered visiting them anyway), because it’s dirty, unhygienic, because of Amoebiasis and the Typhoid fever (once more the Ministry of Foreign Affairs + travel medicine doctor). Where are you going to eat? Where are you going to sleep? Since we started travelling with Maks, there’ve been more questions – with a child? Maybe you should let it go? And what if you get sick? I’ve told you about this a thousand times already!! 🙂

We didn’t change our plans – we flew from Bangkok to Cambodia and we highly recommend it! There’s a lot to see, there are great relaxation spots, there’s food, it’s exotic, amazing and brace yourselves… it’s very CHEAP! And here are some pointers worth considering that might facilitate your journey, especially if you’re travelling with a child. If you haven’t read our posts from Cambodia, give it a go, as I’m sure you’ll find them encouraging...

podróżowanie z dzieckiem, Kambodża z dzieckiem,. Phnom penh, Pałac Królewski
Maks hugging his favourite figurines in the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh

* HOW TO PREPARE FOR A TRIP? WHAT TO PACK?

We prepared ourselves for the trip just as we did for our previous journeys, and we packed similar things. We paid more attention to the first-aid kit, especially for children, most importantly to indigestion products (Enterol, Smecta, Acidolit for Maks, carbon and Stoperan for us). We also bought various anti-mosquito products, preferably DEET, such as Mugga + we took some more delicate ones, i.e. Antybzzz Ziaja. However, we resigned from the malaria prevention programme recommended by the Vaccination Point. I explained our reasons here. We took some sun blocks – they’re strength should depend on your skin’s proneness to sunburns. We’re resistant, and so is Maks.

We took three more gadgets. A small pot – it turned out useful (milk for Maks, tea for stomach problems). We also brought a mosquito net for Maks’s bed, but we didn’t use it, and a bed-tent Deryan — out biggest pre-journey discovery. The tent saved us many times and allowed us to choose better, quite decent accommodation for PLN 70 per night that didn’t offer children’s beds. It’s a useful gadget – it unfolds and folds quickly, it’s very light. There were times, when we were changing location, when I wondered where it is and it was just in my bag on my shoulder, and I hadn’t realized it!

Maks slept in the tent during approx. 10 nights during the entire trip – some hotels offered children’s beds. He was not as impressed as during the first night at home, and he asked for a bed a few times, but since he fell asleep in the tent he had slept throughout the night without problems. We definitely recommend the tent as an emergency solution for short and long travels!

We didn’t take any other extra gadgets with us to Cambodia. You can read more about packing for holidays with a child here. This time we managed to do rather clever packing, and to eliminate one extra suitcase, so I was quite proud of myself, as I am the general packing master of the family J

* HYGENE

Is it dirty in Cambodia? This is a frequently asked question… Well, the streets look evidently different than in Poland, street food, some children playing on the pavement (but much less often then I’ve expected), few stray dogs, remnants of empty coconuts, some vegetables scattered around a food market. But we have never ever in Cambodia came across dirt that could be frightening, overwhelming, it’s nothing compared to India.

Cities, such as Siem Reap and Phnom Penh offer many hotels and restaurants even cleaner than in Europe. I must admit: the wooden country huts look rather discouraging and indeed, it’s not surprising to hear in the media about a 10-year-old boy who died in Cambodia due to Avian influenza, because he was delivering dead chickens in his village. However, I assume that neither your, nor my child will deliver any dead chickens, but it will stay in a decent hotel and will eat in decent places. In this case, there’s nothing to worry about.

If you’d like to be extra cautious, comply with the advice of our paediatrician – give your child Enterol once a day, preventively. Additionally, prepare your child’s milk on boiled bottled water, boil bottles and children’s crockery, wash her/his teeth with bottled water, etc. We decided to apply these rules to Maks because for the first 3 days in Phnom Penh he was suffering from stomach problems – we don’t know what had caused them because they had started on the plane to Bangkok, but thankfully Enterol, Smecta, dark chocolate, rice and boiling crockery quickly fixed the problem.

podróżowanie z dzieckiem, Kambodża, Angkor Wat, Siem Reap
Maks chose the “scenery” for the picture himself 🙂

* AVAILABILITY OF CHILDREN’S PRODUCTS

If you stop in a large city, you won’t have any problems with finding milk, nappies or baby wipes. However, I didn’t see baby food jars very often – only in large supermarkets.

Modified milk is usually available in large quantities – in cans. In Warsaw I usually choose a carton, while here there’s only one type of milk for two-year-olds and I managed to find it in a large store. Well, you’d probably have to hustle one more can into your suitcase! 🙂 However, in Cambodia, similarly to Thailand nappies come in small packs – of 15-20 items, and that’s very convenient for me, as I notoriously have to find extra space for more and more things in my suitcase 🙂 Especially now when we need 1-2 per day, for nights and some for longer trips.

Now, in Hanoi, Vietnam I’m a bit upset about these small packages because it’s surprisingly difficult to find nappies in the so-called Old Quarter, or the city centre, where we live. But that’s another subject – a child in Vietnam 😉 In Cambodia, in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap we quickly found great supermarkets that offered basic children products and a variety of products similar to Alma or Piotr i Paweł! Was it difficult? No, it wasn’t! 🙂

It’s possible that you’ll learn the price of milk in Siem Reap even if you don’t have children. On one of the main streets filled with bars and restaurants, women holding children in their arms offer milk to buy… Be careful, as the price usually varies between 10 and 20 dollars, due to the fact that there are no small packs. And I have some doubts about what happens with this milk… However, we got stung once and bought it…

* MEDICAL SERVICE AND PHARMACIES

Thankfully we didn’t have a chance to test them, but we saw many private practices, hospitals and children’s clinics both in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. If you had smaller problems, there are many pharmacies with a wide range of well-known drugs (especially in Siem Reap). I had no problems to buy an equivalent of Polish Enterol by simply showing the name of the active ingredient… And it was cheaper 🙂

*  FEEDING THE LITTLE ONE

podróżowanie z dzieckiem, satay, kambodża
mix satay
Kambodża, restauracje, podróżowanie z dzieckiem, AHA restaurant
in Siem Reap you’ll habe no problems with finding European dishes, such as spaghetti — an all kids’ favourite

In places such as Phnom Penh and especially Siem Reap you don’t have to worry about food for your little one. There are many restaurants, cheap and expensive. A cost of a meal in an average, but decent restaurant starts from $3, and in an elegant restaurant from $9, so there’s nothing to worry about. You shouldn’t risk having very cheap food… better safe than sorry. Anyway, your meal will be much cheaper than in Poland – I guarantee it.

And for a child? Of course rice with sauce, or fried rice, i.e. with chicken but also small skewers (similar to Thai satays), and there’s a very good access to Western cuisine – I don’t know if your child also loves them, but Maks simply adores noodles, so he chooses them as often as he has a chance – so he had napolitana, bolognese, alfredo – and he loved them all! Better restaurants additionally offer a kids’ menu, or they can prepare something special for your little one. That’s a great plus!

And of course bottled water to drink, coconut juice, although Maks has stopped loving it since last year (we love it even more!). You might consider fresh juices – I was a bit afraid, especially after his earlier stomach problems.

And what about the popular Asian street food? – in Thailand street food usually looks very tasty, but it was different in Cambodia. It didn’t tempt us very much and we didn’t feel like trying it, and therefore we didn’t even consider giving it to Maks. Food in restaurants was much cheaper than i.e. a quick lunch in Poland that most of us have.

* NOVEMBER TEMPERATURES VS. A CHILD

When we got to Bangkok and left the airport we felt like in a sauna. We have prepared ourselves, because we had experienced it last year. Loads of water and mandatory head covers. And lunch in an air-conditioned restaurant preferably between 12 and 2 pm. But, it turned out that it’s even HOTTER in Cambodia! (although it seemed impossible in Bangkok!) In Cambodia, sightseeing before 4 pm was one of the most exhausting things I’ve ever done, and our visit to Angkor Wat at 11 am was only about waiting for a tuk-tuk and a breath of fresh air!

In the following days we tried to spend more time by the pool and to travel in the morning or in the late afternoon. Don’t leave without a wet hanky and a bottle of water! And of course remember about a deeply refreshing chilled coconut juice!

Kambodża, podróżowanie z dzieckiem, Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, temperatura w Kambodży
phew, a bit too hot!
Angkor, Kambodża, podróżowanie z dzieckiem, sok z kokosa
during our visit to the Angkor complex

* ENTERTAINMENT FOR CHILDREN IN CAMBODIA

What is there to do for a toddler in Cambodia? Will (s)he like it or not? (S)he’ll definitely like the fact that it’s warm and that you can swim in a pool many times a day 🙂 And unfortunately (s)he can’t have that in Poland in November… There are many hotels with pools in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap for PLN 70-100 per night for a twin room with breakfast. Maks preferred the pool but he also enjoyed everyday tuk-tuk rides. There’s much to observe, it’s great!

Maks also enjoyed sailing and observing animals, i.e. crocodiles, and he quite liked visiting temples, such as the Royal Castle in Phnom Penh. He also got crazy happy about bicycles – he likes to ride a bike in Warsaw but he couldn’t do it for a while – we stopped having bicycle trips when the summer ended. But when we had rented a bike in Cambodia, he continued to talk about it in Vietnam. But I have to warn you: it’s not easy to find a bike with a child’s seat in Phnom Penh, despite the fact that bicycle tourism is very popular, especially near Angkor Wat…

Kambodża, podróżowanie z dzieckiem, basen z dzieckiem
“Daddy, are we going to the swimming pool today?”
Kambodża, Angkor Wat, podróżowanie z dzieckiem, Siem Reap
visiting Angkor Wat with a buggy — a bad idea, if you ask me 😉

Kambodża, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, rejs

To sum up: a child is happy, entertained, fed, safe. Cambodia is definitely more difficult to travel with a child than Thailand, but it’s rather a pro, than a con – it’s till pure, not touristic, more exotic, more authentic. And that’s why it’s fascinating, tempting, encouraging us to return… So, despite the fact that when you think of Cambodia with a child, other will tell you that it’s a bad idea, listen to us! We already miss it, here in Vietnam…