My wife and I are thinking of taking our kids (1,3,5) and heading to Cambodia, Vietnam and possibly Laos. We just want to relax and take it easy and hang out for at least a month or so in each country.
Has anyone taken young kids to these places for a while? How did you find it and how welcome are they?
Anything else to add? Thanks in advance!
#1 Dents has been a member since 4/8/2007. Posts: 2
A few questions to ask you before I respond to your queries. What type of trip are you thinking of - staying in a few spots for an extended period or following the backpacker trail? What standard of accommodation are you looking at? How will you be traveling from place to place - how? What time of year? All these factors will make a difference to the answers you'll receive.
#2 marianwarren has been a member since 12/3/2006. Posts: 270
Hi sorry to have not been clearer.
My job ends in December, so January would be the ideal time for us to leave. We were hoping to stay in one place for long periods of time as it's less stressful to the kids and I think you get more feel for a place.
We were looking in staying at a fairly decent but not topline guesthouse. I've heard that renting in phnom penh isn't difficult so that's an option.
#3 Dents has been a member since 4/8/2007. Posts: 2
We spent 11 weeks in SE Asia last Nov, Dec and Jan.
I’ve asked my husband Chris for his opinions on this subject plus my own observations during our recent trip. We spent 11 weeks in SE Asia last Nov, Dec and Jan.
Most Asian cities are very crowded & footpaths, as we know them are rare, so give prams & strollers a miss. Traffic is extremely heavy in places like Phnom Penh and Saigon. Traffic lights & pedestrian crossings are few & far between and are mostly useless as the locals tend to ignore them. Crossing the road near the market/bus station in Saigon is extremely daunting. Scary for 2 adults and a 16yr old, can’t imagine doing it with 3 small kids.
Transport between towns, usually by bus, or mini bus, will be crowded, bumpy and arduous. Sometimes even if you buy tickets stipulating that you expect separate seats for your children, you will end up with them on your lap (more so in mini buses than regular bus companies). Chivalry is dead when it comes to transport – no one gives up their seat for a worst one. We spent 8 hours in a minibus (seating for 11 passengers) with 9 adult passengers and 5 kids – not much fun for the kids, parents or the rest of us. We also noted that families with small children had 3 times the luggage, which needed to be fitted on top of the vehicle or inside making conditions even more cramped. We know how much stuff small kids require.
Children’s playgrounds are nonexistent.
On the plus side, almost all Asians are approachable and helpful, although shy – definitely due to lack of communication. Children tend to be working at a young age – in Phnom Penh many sleep on the street – literally: not even cardboard between them and the pavers. So westerner’s and the local’s realities are incredibly different.
The only time we saw western and local children playing together was on Ko Lipe in Thailand - so maybe the islands of Thailand or the beaches of Southern Vietnam would be a good bet if you are hoping for cross cultural interaction.
This is such a big subject – hope we’ve been helpful – feel free to pose more ???’s if you think we can shed some light.
Marian & Chris
#4 marianwarren has been a member since 12/3/2006. Posts: 270
Oops on the cut and paste!!!
#5 marianwarren has been a member since 12/3/2006. Posts: 270
I don't think you should sweat I took my daughter from 11 months travelling around SE Asia, and I now currently live here in Phnom Penh and have for over 3 years.
SE Asia is great for kids, and kids are welcome everywhere, my main piece of advice would be don't move around to much. The North and the South of Lao are stunning, and Cambodia especially Kampot is great and it's my daughter's favourite place.
All you really need when travelling is huge amounts of paitience and remembering you are in a developing country and that things take time, and you're in no hurry really so roll with it....
Enjoy... it is great..
#6 jemima has been a member since 8/8/2007. Posts: 1
Some good advice already -- we've been doing a bit of travel with our eight-month old and while a bit younger than your youngest, the luggage thing pointed out by Marian is 100% on the money.
The first time we packed to go away with the bubster I was left scratching my head looking at the extra luggage wondering who the other three people were who we'd seemingly packed for!
Hot water can be tricky and cots have been non-existent for each of our trips -- though we're fine with her in bed with us. We get the guesthouse staff to boil up anything we need boiled (bottles etc) - has never been a problem.
I'd agree with Jemima's comment to about not going to too many places. If you're considering a fair bit or travelling in Cambodia I'd say skip the public transport and hire a car with driver. Very reasonably priced and far more comfortable than the bus.
As already mentioned the locals are generally amazingly good with kids -- far more helpful than in the west (in our experience) and while the language barrier can be a challenge, it's not insurmountable.
Watch food especially street food -- particularly with the youngest, drink loads of water and lots of peelable fruit.
As much as travelling with kids can have its low points, it does give you a kind of privileged access into the lives of your hosts that you'd never otherwise gain -- a stroll downstairs to ask for the bottle to be boiled up can end up as dinner with the Grandma as she dotes over your kids.
My wife and I are planning to travel to Vietnam & Cambodia in December with our almost 2yr old. Would you suggest leaving the pram and using a backpack style baby carrier?
#8 greys has been a member since 17/9/2007. Posts: 4
I do - you will spend as much time walking on the road as you will on the footpath, dodging people, parked scooters, merchandise, foodstalls and depending on where you are, the raised concrete storm water covers in the middle of the footpath. Sometimes when the paths are high there will be bricks and a piece of timber so scooters can be pushed up onto the path but nothing wide enough for a pram. You will have more mobility with the baby backpack.
#9 marianwarren has been a member since 12/3/2006. Posts: 270
I'd agree 100% with Marian -- while a 2-year old will get a bit heavy, you'll find a pram to be often totally impractical. This is particularly the case in Vietnam where the pavements are primarily used to park seventeen million motobikes, but also in Cambodia, where often there's little in the way of footpaths.
Traveling with children in SEA is generally not a problem.
We have many families traveling with children coming through our hotel in sieam reap each month. The children are aged everything between 8 months up to to youth age. Most partents says its easyer than they expected - however, I can see that many of these are very openminded people though...
We have also offered to let staff baby sit for the families that have stayed longer than they planned, which has been much appreciatet in many cases.
The coldest season is from nowember til february, also this is the dry season so it it probably the easiest month to travel with children.
Most locals adores western children, and will be very helpful.
I have heard fom parents that it is useful to bring some foods the babies are used to in case you can not get hold of it here - it saves you from changing food habits and risking stomach problems for the baby..
many travel with a baby backpack, but we have also had families that have found the pram very useful in Siem Reap town.. Its a small town, and easy to walk around exloring with a pram...
#11 kristinholdo has been a member since 30/11/2007. Posts: 11
We traveled with our 2 year old around Vietnam & Cambodia over Dec & Jan this year. Having the backpack carrier for him was a god send, forget the stroller. We stocked up on antibiotics, malaria tabs etc. just in case. The biggest problem we found is that vendors would often give him food like fruit as seeing a baby in a pack is quite a novelty, being in the pack we would only find this out when we'd hear him chewing & finished half the treat!
#12 greys has been a member since 17/9/2007. Posts: 4
Just coming back from 6 days in Siem Reap (Cambodia) and 9 days in Vietnam, from South (HCMC) to North!
If you have any questions, feel free to shoot an email!
A couple of advices/places we enjoyed:
Cambodia- Siem Reap and Angkor Temples:
+ Do not miss Bantay Srei temple! Even if it's quite far (especially by tuk tuk) and not so big, this temple is so much different from the others, beautiful carvings, etc...
+ You can hire a tuk tuk for the day to visit the temples, cost something around 10/12$ max
+if you decide to go to Tolme Sap and the floating village, don't pay more than 10$ at the "official" registration desk! Their starting price was 25$ and it went down to 10$ (but you have to be at least a small group to be able to negotiate)..
+ An amazing guesthouse/restaurant in Siem Reap: Les Orientalistes (http://www.les-orientalistes.com). Beautiful and clean bedrooms, excellent (and cheap!) Khmer& French food, super friendly English, French and Spanish speaking staff (they arranged all our visits for us+ our visa for Vietnam at a ridiculously low price)- definitely recommended!
+ the departure tax from Cambodia recently went up...25$ now!
+ If you're planning to use night trains (cheap and relatively comfy..), try to book in advance at the train station...if you do it through an agency, they'll charge you twice the price...also, the 6 sleepers berth are not that bad and relatively cleans...but try to book either the top ones or the 1st level ones...you'll have no space to store your luggages otherwise...
+ Hoi An: this is a shopping paradise!!! we made 2 suits, a couple of silk shirts, linen pants, etc...for less than 100$ and in 3h! you'll find plenty of tailors in Hoi An- bring them a model and they'll do whatever you order in a couple of hours...cheaper price are in the central market.
+ Hanoi: very good hotel, the Discovery Hotel (22 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hoan Kiem), perfect location in the old quarter, very clean and super friendly (and honnest!) owner! be careful as there are a couple of "fake" discovery hotels in Hanoi, check out the address first!
+ Halong Bay: APT Travel (travel agency): very good cruise, clean boat, good food for 55$/pers. a good middle range option for Halong Bay
#13 yafoing has been a member since 3/4/2008. Posts: 2
In Cambodia, Many tourists come with their children.
No problem, here, except some things like mosquito bites...Cambodians love children, and will always come to them. I think you will meet a lot of khmer people while travelling with them!
Enjoy, no wories!
#14 lovelygh has been a member since 24/9/2008. Posts: 10