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4 week itinnery help - toddler in tow!

  • crookedjo

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 2

    Ok we have four weeks, flexible mid Sept-mid Dec.
    Diving, beaches, great food and culture our passions.
    Dont want to be upping every few days as whilst travelling with 3yr old daughter is great the physical moving about is not!
    Was thinking fly into HCMC meander to PP then stuck - how is best to get to Siem Reap area? Struggling to find an airline who actually flies,or will quote it - am I being really blonde??? Would a bus journey be as awful as I am thinking, worthwhile stops or the way to break it up ?
    Maybe coming back down via the coast.
    Any and all help would be great please - totally open to suggestions, not even booked our international flights yet!!!
    May the winds be with you. xxx

    #1 Posted: 16/7/2011 - 01:51

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  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Well, I know you can fly from Bangkok to Siem Reap... But since you want to fly into Saigon, that's not much help. There has to be a flight from PP to Siem Reap. Can't imagine there not being one. Rasheed you out there?

    #2 Posted: 16/7/2011 - 01:54

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    BTW you realize you are not moving through the most developed part of SEA right? Normally that's not a question asked, but with a 3 year old in tow...

    #3 Posted: 16/7/2011 - 02:02

  • busylizzy

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    You can very easily catch a bus to Siem Reap from PP, cost is around US$5-7 each (not sure about cost for toddlers). Once you are in PP, go down by the river (the main 'touristy' part of town), and you will see agents selling tickets. I bought mine from a lady operating a mobile booth - I was a bit concerned about legitimacy but the ticket was for one of the main bus companies and all was good. For an extra $1 or so, you can upgrade to the VIP bus which I guess is just a bit more 'luxurious' although I'm not really sure what the difference is. I figured I could afford the $1 so went with it.

    I've done this route by bus 3 times now and quite enjoy the trip. You drive through rural areas, villages, etc - I think it's nice as far as mobile sight-seeing goes - lots of interesting things to watch along the way. The bus ride is about 6 hours all up . They usually pick you up from your accom in a small van and take you to bus station. The bus was fairly comfortable, and they play DVD's (LOUDLY!) for your entertainment - not that you can understand them!. It stops half way between PP and Siem Reap for about 30mins or so in some town whose name I forget. There is a large restaurant there with decent toilets that you can use (even if you do have to sneak in, pretending you are going to eat there) - and there is also a smaller cafe about 50m away selling ice cream, pizzas and other stuff. There are also lots of local sellers hanging around selling fruit, bakery items, fried insects and other interesting things that might take your fancy.

    I can't recall if there was a toilet on the bus because I always manage to just 'hold on'.

    I think you will be find with a 3-yr old in the area (not that I've had experience with that mind you!). I actually think in the main areas of PP and SR you will be quite comfortable. The hotels and guesthouses are of a good standard, you will have fun getting around in the tuktuks, there are a good range of restarants (up market and cheaper style) plus you can find local markets and eating places around. And there will be plenty to do. Just keep hold of your child obviously when out and about on the streets - the driving can be pretty crazy at times, motorbikes on the pavement, etc.

    Also doing the trip from HCMC to PP is quite a nice one, although I stayed at a few different places around the Mekong area (HCMC -> Can Tho -> Chau Doc) as part of an Easy Rider trip. But you can do that easily enough by bus. Or you can just go straight from HCMC to PP by bus or boat.

    In Chau Doc, we caught a boat to PP which was a very comfortable ride - just like a bus on water. I think the whole trip might have been about 5 hours. They stopped at the border where you get off and wait around for 1/2 hour or so while your passports are stamped, etc. You do this once at the Vietnam border and again 100m up the river at the Cambodia border). You can sor your visa's out yourself, or pay the guide $2 each to do it for you - which leaves you free to sit and relax with the family.

    Hope that helps!

    #4 Posted: 16/7/2011 - 06:07

  • eastwest

    Joined Travelfish
    17th December, 2009
    Posts: 772

    Since you are considering flights from PP to Siem Reap, which indicate you have a bit of bigger budget, I'd say take a private taxi.

    It's a lot cheaper than flights and far more comfortable than the bus. It also gives you the freedom to stop anywhere you like along the route which might come in handy with a todler.

    Best to ask in your guesthouse but check beforehand what sort of car it is. If you do take a taxi driving around in PP you can negotiate with the driver directly. There are some pretty beat up cars driving around in PP and whilst fine for short PP-trips you don't want to take a trip to SR in them. Price should be anywhere between $50 - $100 for that trip and that depends mostly on whether you book direct or via guesthouse and what sort of car it is.

    #5 Posted: 16/7/2011 - 12:08

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Liz,
    Six hours on a bus with a 3 year old is really pushing it. Remember, except for really interesting sights and perhaps some animals, the kid isn't going to ooohh and ahhhh at rural anything. After a few hours, it's going to be bored silly and want off! At which point, they have a tendency to become unpleasant and difficult. The overnight buses are better, because most kids fall asleep quickly in a moving vehicle at night (and sometimes in the day - in which case your golden for however long it lasts). How do I know this? Because I have taken the bus with my four year old little girl to various locations in Thailand. She's pretty good most of the time, but the four hour ride to Khon Kaen is pushing it (although she has remained well behaved, but likes it about as much as I do). Remember she specifically said:

    "Dont want to be upping every few days as whilst travelling with 3yr old daughter is great the physical moving about is not!"

    I am sympathetic to her on this one. That's why I cautioned her concerning movement from Saigon to PP. That's not a short distance, and the areas in between are not all that well developed. I would fly it (in fact, I wouldn't go to Saigon at all. I would go to Bangkok and then fly to Siem Reap).

    #6 Posted: 16/7/2011 - 12:43

  • busylizzy

    Joined Travelfish
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    Depends on the kid, doesn't it? Some travel well; some not so well. The original poster asked for some information; I provided some, based on my experiences. It's up to them to decide whether it's useful or practical to their particular situation. If not, that's fine. But then maybe it will be useful to someone else.

    #7 Posted: 16/7/2011 - 19:12

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Indeed. More is better.

    #8 Posted: 16/7/2011 - 19:15

  • crookedjo

    Joined Travelfish
    7th June, 2011
    Posts: 2

    Thanks for all your replies guys.
    Not too phased by travelling with little one, although you are right it will be the most under developed part of SEA we have been too - Malaysia, Thailand and Bali before. Thank god no more formula or nappy hunts though!
    The bus options sound 'do'able - hadnt thought of a night option, that would be good. Maybe if we can find a taxi nearer to $50 than $100 that would be a great option. Our daughter has taught us that sometimes convienince is worth paying a bit more for!
    Out of interest why would you not travel to Saigon? I was only thinking that is was probably the best option to cover S Vietnam and Cambodia but maybe not then?

    Any other suggestions on places not to miss or avoid???Someone at work has just suggested that Ankor is not worth the hassle of either getting there or the hassle there.

    May the winds be with you. x

    #9 Posted: 17/7/2011 - 01:26

  • busylizzy

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    I would disagree your workmate - it would be a shame to miss out on Angkor if you are in the area. You are going off peak so the crowds will be down a bit which should make it more pleasant. There is a large number of temples there - but don't try to cover them all (esp with child in tow!). Do some research and pick the ones that appeal the most to you. I would strongly suggest some of the smaller ones which are worthwhile - but not inundated with tourists. For example, one of my favourites was Banteay Kdei, which is similar to the famous Ta Phrom, but far less visited and in some ways more interesting because they've left it in it's fallen dilapated state.

    Most people head to Angkor Wat for sunrise photos. If you go early, I would give that a miss and and head straight to Bayon (the temple of faces). The Bayon is a beautiful temple that is also popular, but by going there first, you miss the worst of the crowds (because they are at Angkor) and the early morning light makes for some awesome lighting on the faces for your photos. Carry on to another one (Ta Phrom maybe) THEN head back to Angkor mid-morning. Now the crowds have moved on and you will have the place (nearly) to yourself. It's a much more pleasant way to see it - and probably a bit easier on you when travelling with child.

    And speaking of your child, visiting the temples can make for a pretty long day. I would suggest you plan on driving back to the hotel during the lunch period to escape the hottest part of the day - and nap time if required. Then go back a bit later in the day. Just pre-arrange this with your tuktuk driver first.

    Also, you can go around 4 or 5pm (I forget which one it is) and you can buy a ticket for the next day - but still have access to the temples for an hour or two that night. Most people head to Phnom Bakeng (high up a hill, for the sunset pics)- but don't go there at this time! It's hideous - it's literally heaving with masses of people crawling all over every part of the temple, trusty point and shoots in tow all fighting to get that perfect shot. It had absolutely NO atmosphere at all. Find another place to go to at sunset.

    With regards to HCMC - I can't really comment. I only passed through for 2 days, it was Xmas Day, and my travelling partner was quite sick, so I didn't see much! But others who have been generally enjoy it. And if you want to go through the Delta area, then it's a logical place to start. I would suggest you continue with your plans. If you find the big city doesn't do it for you, then you can move on to Ben Tre or Can Tho when you are ready.

    #10 Posted: 17/7/2011 - 03:43

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  • MADMAC

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    I would have gone via Bangkok precisely because I would not want to go from Saigon to PP on a bus with her. I would prefer to fly from Bangkok to Siem Reap - pay for the convenience as you said. Also, Thailand in general is more developed than Vietnam which for me is a big plus - again, especially with my little girl.

    #11 Posted: 17/7/2011 - 12:41

  • SBE

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    Thailand in general is more developed than Vietnam

    I didn't realize you'd been to Vietnam MM. In what way is it less developed? Are the roads there worse? Buses not as good? What are the trains like compared to Thai trains? Accommodation options?

    #12 Posted: 17/7/2011 - 21:42

  • MADMAC

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    SBE
    I've never been to Vietnam. But I can read. And what I've read concerning Vietnamese development (as well as Cambodia) makes it clear to me that it's far less developed than Thailand. Then there are simple facts:

    Thailand's global per capita GDP rate: 88th in the world. Vietnam 142.

    Thailand is a wealthier country, and wealthier countries have, in general, better infrastructure.

    And of course I've talked to my friends who were in both places. And without exception (including my Vietnamese expat neighbors who visit Vietnam annually) Thailand has a much more modern infrastructure.

    Why? Are you contesting this?

    #13 Posted: 17/7/2011 - 23:17

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Oh, and I think you'll notice I recommended they FLY. I didn't mention trains or buses, did I? Do you have a young child?

    #14 Posted: 18/7/2011 - 00:07

  • SBE

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    I just find it rather presumptuous of you to tell someone to scrap/alter their holiday plans when you haven't actually been to any of the places they want to go to!

    You didn't make it very clear that you've never been to Cambodia or Vietnam so the OP may have mistakenly thought you were speaking from personal experience.

    A 60 year old American friend of mine took her 18 month old granddaughter on a trip just like yours crookedjo. Opposite direction, leaving from BKK->Poipet-> Siem Reap ->Phnom Phen (all by local bus) and then to Saigon by boat and then they did the delta region of Vietnam which she enjoyed. I think she went a bit slower than you're planning though, pretty sure she was away more than a month doing that alone. Just the two of them and she said the kid was as good as gold, a right little trooper. Kids are all different as Lizzy said, and you know your daughter better than anyone but you might be surprised how much she'll put up with!

    Road conditions have improved since I was there but even so I didn't find the bus journey from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh all that bad. See what you feel like when you're there. You'll have a better idea whether or not you need to fork out extra money for a taxi (And there will be 3 of you so you'll be saving 3 bus fares, not just one, eases the pain a bit.).

    I like Lizzy's suggestion about taking a midday break at Anghor Wat. In fact I'd go further and suggest that you choose a hotel with a pool and that one of you takes the afternoon off to splash around in the pool with your daughter on alternate days. The other one can grab a tuk tuk and driver or a bicycle and go and look at the temples in peace and nobody gets too templed out. Three solid days of temples is often too much for adults never mind children!

    My friend stayed at the Bopha Angkor on my recommendation. (I went there for a swim a couple of times but didn't stay there). My friend described it as an "oasis'', said the food was excellent too, but that was back in 2005 so it may not be as good now. Any decent hotel where you can splash about and cool off would be good!

    #15 Posted: 18/7/2011 - 02:54

  • SBE

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    PS Forgot.

    Maybe coming back down via the coast.

    Via the coast of where? Thailand or Cambodia? You'll have to back track if you go to the coast of Cambodia from Siem Reap!

    #16 Posted: 18/7/2011 - 03:09

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    "I just find it rather presumptuous of you to tell someone to scrap/alter their holiday plans when you haven't actually been to any of the places they want to go to!"

    I did not tell them to scrap their plan. I said "If it were me..." And explained why. It is up to them to draw their own conclusions based on their research and what they know about their child and the input garnered from others here. That's all I am saying. From MY PERSPECTIVE, it makes more sense to fly into Bangkok (assuming flights not already booked, or also assuming they didn't get some good deal to fly into Saigon) and fly from there to Siem Reap. I have traveled many times with my little girl, and while she travels pretty good, nonetheless it is certainly a lot more stressful than when moving about on your own.

    #17 Posted: 18/7/2011 - 03:41

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