Bayon temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia
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4 Day Adventure in Siem Reap With Teens (2024)

Last Updated on March 17, 2024 by Nicole

I took my 3 teens (11, 12 and 14 years old) to Siem Reap as part of a 17 days trip to Southeast Asia. We went to Phuket, Chiang Mai and Bangkok in Thailand; the Mekong Delta in Vietnam; and Siem Reap in Cambodia. We had many unbelievable experiences, but one of my favorite places was Siem Reap. It offered lots of beautiful and well priced hotels and restaurants, and exciting adventure and cultural attractions. More importantly, it was also still very authentic. We easily coexisted with the locals and could still see how they lived and worked. If you are looking for a 4 day itinerary with your teenagers in Asia that offers you safety, excitement and more, then Siem Reap is the place to go.

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At A Glance

I know you are busy. If you only have a couple minutes to spare, here are the key takeaways from this article.

  • Siem Reap is a fantastic destination to take your teens. It is safe, has modern conveniences and offers lots of culture and fun.
  • Try staying at the Angkor Rural Boutique Resort. It offers a glimpse into the local’s lives without sacrificing comfort.
  • If you only have a couple of days, make sure you take a private tour of Angkor Wat and other temples, take a quad bike tour of the countryside, and shop in the tourist center.

If you can find more time, try to read my full article. It explains my suggestions, gives you details about experiences that you will have, and provides travel tips.

Ancient temples in Siem Reap
Ta Prohm in Siem Reap (Florian Hahn Photographer)

Why You Should Consider Siem Reap With Your Teens 

On its face, Siem Reap may seem like an odd choice for a vacation with your teens. Cambodia is a very poor country. Siem Reap is landlocked and it was brutally hot and dry when we visited in March. The roads were barely paved. Consequently, it was really dusty and in many places, very stark.

But, it was my favourite place on this holiday for many reasons.

Siem Reap has it all

Siem Reap provided a microcosm into Cambodian life without sacrificing a strong tourism infrastructure. There were beautiful hotels, restaurants and shops scattered in the main tourist corridor that would make any type of traveller happy.

However, a few blocks away, there were busy streets with locals going about their day to day lives. Food stands, vegetable and fruit markets, and motorcycle repair shops lined the streets. I loved watching the ebb and flow of everyday life – the blend of traditional living with nods to modern life.

You head a few more miles away, and you end up in the countryside, surrounded by farm land for as far as you could see. Cars and motorcycles were replaced by horses and oxen pulling carts, or people stacked onto the back of bikes precariously pedalling by. Cows and water buffalo casually exist in the yards of locals. This transformation from sophisticated hotels and restaurants to rural life happened within a 15 minute drive from start to finish.

What To Do On A Siem Reap Vacation With Teens

We spent 3 nights/4 days in Siem Reap, and they loved it. Here are things to do for a fantastic experience.

Stay At The Angkor Rural Boutique Resort

We stayed at one of my favourite hotels of all time. Angkor Rural Boutique Resort was not in the tourist centre of Siem Reap. Instead, it was about a 15 minute drive away, nestled amongst farm land and rice paddy fields.

It was very small. There was a handful of bungalows scattered about the property, a small pool, and a little restaurant. Each bungalow was large, filled with beautiful traditional furniture, comfortable beds, and a luxurious modern bathroom. We also had a small deck and an outdoor jacuzzi.

The pool, lounge chairs, and a couple of the bungalows at the hotel in Siem Reap.
The pool, lounge chairs, and a couple of the bungalows at the hotel.

It felt authentic

There were many things that made this place special to me. I loved being surrounded by the locals living their lives. As I said, the hotel was very small. I could walk from one end of the property to the other in around 3 minutes. However, beyond the walls of the property was a small village, a local store, and lots of farm land and rice paddy fields. I felt like I was part of the community. I was able to watch the traditional lives of the locals by sharing their space and yet, I didn’t feel like I was interfering with them.

Our hotel in Siem Reap
One side of the hotel property with a view to farmland and local houses.

As a tourist, I often feel like my presence in a traditional community is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that I am spending money on food, housing, or tours and therefore, helping the community prosper.

The curse is that my mere presence changes the focus of the community. They give up their normal schedule or traditional way of doing things to cater to me, the tourist. But here, I didn’t feel like anyone was taking any notice of us and I liked that.

Food And Service

The food was unbelievable. Everything was exceptionally fresh and the flavours were unlike anything that I have ever eaten in North America. They grew a lot of their own food or purchased the ingredients mere hours before a meal was prepared.

The staff was small, but they were very kind and helpful.

One night, they surprised us with dinner in the garden. They hung lights around us and we had our own DJ who played music while we danced.

On another night, we had a cooking lesson with the owner and the chef. We were taught family recipes that I wish we had written down.

Juliet waiting for our cooking lesson in Siem Reap.
Juliet waiting for our cooking lesson.

Included in the cost of our stay was airport pick up and drop off, massages, and our own car/tuk tuk and driver in the late afternoon/evening so that we could spend time in downtown Siem Reap.

We loved having the car and driver. We never felt like we were giving up access to the trendy bars, restaurants and shops in town by staying outside the tourist center.

All of this was offered for a ridiculous low per night per bungalow. It was amazing.

If you are looking for other adventures in Asia with your teens, consider some of these amazing destinations that we have done:

The Temples

Most people come to Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat which is a temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world. We booked a full day tour and it was extraordinary. The tour included a large air conditioned van, a driver, guide, and cold bottled water as needed.

However, what I wasn’t prepared for was how many other temples exist in and around Siem Reap, and how remarkable they all were. Our tour also included touring some of these. We loved exploring Bayon and Ta Prohm. Like Angkor Wat, they were well preserved and showed phenomenal craftsmanship.

Siem Reap
Angkor Wat (Cristian Moscoso Photographer)
Ancient Temples in Siem Reap
Having a little fun at Bayon in Siem Reap
Ancient Temples in Siem Reap

Cambodia Quad Bike

Another highlight of our 4 day holiday in Siem Reap was a three hour ATV tour of the countryside. Even though my children were only 11, 12 and 14 years old, they were each given their own ATV to drive. I was a little apprehensive about my youngest driving alone, so another guide sat with her and helped her out.

This tour was one of the funnest we have ever taken. We drove along country roads and dirt paths that barely had any cars. Several times, we ended up in wide open fields where we sped around without worrying about pedestrians, motorcycles or stray animals. We visited small modern temples and corner stores, and were able to fully take in the dry, stark nature of the countryside. By the end, we were covered in sweat and dirt, and wanted to do it all again.

ATV tour outside Siem Reap
Exploring local temples on our ATV tour.
ATV tour in Siem Reap
Taking a break from the hot sun and dust on our ATV tour.
After ATVs in Siem Reap
I’m a little dirty after our ATV tour of the countryside!


There isn’t a shortage of shopping in Southeast Asia. On the contrary, you could probably spend all day every day shopping in certain towns and cities. However, I felt that in Thailand, the same products were offered again and again no matter what city, town or market we were in.

Siem Reap was different. There were a lot of shops offering unique sophisticated crafts and original art. It was refreshing exploring the different stores and their goods, and witnessing some extraordinary talent.

Most evenings, we took the complimentary car and driver and went into town. We usually found a spot for desert or a drink, and then, wandered around shopping. My teens really liked our nightly ventures into the town center.

Last Word

Siem Reap is a city that I would definitely recommend adding to your Southeast Asia getaway with teens. It offers you an opportunity to see traditional living, without sacrificing modern conveniences. There is a strong tourism industry which allows for both interesting and exciting tours, fantastic hotels, and terrific shopping.

The food is absolutely delicious and the service is excellent. Angkor Wat and the other temples were fascinating to see and explore. Best of all, it was very inexpensive.

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Our family fell in love with Siem Reap during our four days there. We explored temples, took cooking lessons, drove ATVs in the countryside, ate some of the best food in the world, and stayed in a beautiful ecolodge surrounded by rice fields and farms. It was extraordinary. #travel #familytravel #travelwithkids #travelwithteens #adventuretravel #Cambodia #Asia #responsibletravel. |Angkor Wat, authentic, Bangkok, Bayon, Mekong Delta, oxen, shopping, Ta Prohm, temples, Thailand, Vietnam|
Siem Reap was my favourite city in Southeast Asia. It had beautiful hotels, delicious food and amazing service. We enjoyed exploring Angkor Wat and was surprised by all the other ancient temples around that were also fascinating to visit. The shopping was great and the tours we took were exceptional. The best was an ATV tour of the countryside.

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  1. Looks like you had a wanderful time. We are heading to Singapore and Bali in 6 days. If the vulcano in Bali doens’t go to sleep, we might change plans and go to Cambodia. #WeekendWanderlust #Travel

    1. I heard the beaches in Cambodia are phenomenal too. I just read that it used to be very difficult to get to them without a long drive from Phnom Penh. I think you can fly direct from Ho Chi Minh City to some beautiful beaches if you want to compliment a visit to Siem Reap with some beach time. Have a great trip!

  2. My daughter visited Cambodia this last summer and loved it – the beaches and of course Siem Reap. We missed it off our itinerary and spent more time in Bangkok than I would have liked (I didn’t like it but then food poisoning for the entire time didn’t help!) Next time – Siem reap for sure!!! #weekendwanderlust

    1. As soon as I read “food poisoning”, my heart went out to you. How awful! Anyways, I hope you get to Cambodia before it changes too much from tourism.

  3. Such an adventurous trip to Asia! I have been to Siem Reap myself 7 years ago. I guess it must have changed a lot in the last years. As I now have two small kids, I am wondering – would you recommend to go there with smaller kids (<4 years)?

    1. Hi Yasmin! I am not sure whether this would be the right place for really little ones, especially if it is as hot as it was when we were there in March. The kids will likely only want to be in the pool! My kids struggled with the heat when we went to see the temples and they were a lot older. I think that they could sit on the ATVs with you (but you would need to double check that) and I’m sure that they would love that. Would they be engaged with a cooking lesson? My gut says to wait a few more years and then, I think all of you would have a better time.

  4. What fun! Glad you found Siem Reap better than expected, but too bad to hear about the Mekong cruise. We’re considering a cruise there also, so we’ll ask about the development of the area. The quad runners look like loads of fun! Would love to do that, and the cooking class. (Yes, the eating, too!) Thanks for sharing on #WeekendWanderlust!

    1. I think where you cruise in Vietnam is super important for your experience. We took the Mekong Eyes (a beautiful boat) from a spot a couple hours drive away from Ho Minh City. I think if you head to a more remote part of Vietnam, you will have a more authentic experience. Have fun!

  5. Sorry that the cruise was kind of a let down. It is kind of sad to see modernization take over yet it can be a good thing for the locals. Darcee & I are considering going to Siem Reap in 2018 so I am researching it and to explore Angor Wat and all the other temples looks like a great bucket list adventure. I think I would love to take the ATV adventure you guys went on. Nothing like getting all dirty on a once in a lifetime experience.

    1. Have a great time! It was an unexpected gem. I don’t know when you plan to go but we went in March and it was really, really hot. With respect to the cruise on the Mekong Delta, I think this would have been more successful farther away from Ho Chi Minh City. Next time!

  6. Hi, I’ve always been put off going to Siem Reap because a few of my friends who have been there have said the amount of beggars that are there means you spend more time being harassed for money than seeing the temples. I must admit though the photos that you get there are spectacular and it certainly looks to be much better than the Ayuttaya ruins in Thailand.

    1. Hi David, I just spoke to my husband and neither of us saw any beggars at any of the temples, except one temple, and only in the parking lot. Once we got onto the grounds of the temples, we were completely left alone. There were hardly any people at some of the lesser known temples which made the experience even nicer. So, I don’t know if we were lucky or perhaps, the authorities have gotten better at controlling access to the grounds of the temples.

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