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By: Mango Cambodia Posted: February-08-2012 in
Bonfire on the beach
Mango Cambodia

How many times have you heard that perennial whinge during the school holidays? Yet, as all expat parents will know, there is a natural limit to the number of child-friendly distractions even the most resourceful of us can conjure up in and around our beloved Phnom Penh.

The plethora of boutique hotels and spas that have sprung up around Cambodia in the past few years has made it easy and comfortable for families to get away from the city for a while. Just plonk the kids in the pool, reach for that novel you’ve been trying to read for months and relax. But even the most active of children need something more than chlorinated water and an inflatable dolphin to occupy them after a while. Often they can be demanding parental attention before you’ve even reached the end of your first chapter. It can be very hard for mums and dads to get a real break.

A family adventure group tour could well be the answer. Leaving Phnom Penh with a qualified tour leading team in the morning, you’ll be picked up after lunch in Sihanoukville and taken by boat (complete with all safety features including mandatory life jackets) to a nearby island, where a fully staffed and well-equipped camp site awaits. The activities for the kids begin almost immediately, combining organised games with treasure hunts, mysteries to solve and challenges to overcome.

While Mum and Dad truly relax, the kids learn about nature, make new friends, build their self confidence and win prizes – not for themselves but for deserving kids at a local project back in Sihanoukville. It’s a win-win situation, all round. Before you know it, you’ll have reached the end of your book and be relaxing in a hammock with a chilled glass of wine. (Kids? What kids…?)

There’s nothing quite so magical as the camaraderie felt when gathered around a campfire at night, with a whiff of freshly barbecued seafood in the air and the soft lapping of tranquil waters at your feet. And it’s a well-documented fact – all kids love to toast marshmallows in an open fire and join in with a rousing sing-along under the stars. (It’s a not-so-well-documented fact that many mums and dads quite like this, too!) There are no rules to say that Mum can’t bring her guitar along, or Dad can’t improvise the percussion with sticks and stones. This is the stuff that memorable family trips are made of, and it’s all good character-building experience for children – not to mention the great photo opportunities afforded. You’ll have some fabulous pictures to send home to the kids’ doting grandparents.

It’s smart move to stock up with sun screen and insect repellent, and to bring along a favourite pillow if you’re a “delicate” sleeper. It’s also wise to bring a torch and some handy snacks in case of emergency hunger pangs. There is nothing worse than a hungry child, two hours before the next scheduled meal time and miles away from your own, well-stocked fridge!

One night in a tent can be great fun, but let’s face it, any more than that and it can start to feel like something of a penance, unless you’re a particularly hardy creature who is most at home with the elements of nature. Luckily you can soon be back in your comfort zone, leaving by boat from the island and returning to the mainland to switch to the more traditional “hotel with pool”. But the organised activities do not have to stop, and there’s even a special family quiz, pitching families against each other in friendly competition and testing the knowledge the kids have gleaned on their adventures so far.

For activities involving the whole family, there are expeditions to Ream National park and other areas of outstanding natural beauty and there’s also a visit to the project where the prizes won in various challenges are presented, by your kids, to their local recipients. Another great photo opportunity for Grandma’s sideboard.

It’s definitely one way of fighting off those school holiday blues and getting a well-earned break. Alternatively you could stock up on pirated DVDs and stick the kids in front of the box. Or maybe just ship them home to Grandma for the week - while you read your book?

Mango Cambodia’s all-inclusive Family Adventure Group Tours run over spring half term, from 3rd to 7th March and again over Khmer New Year from 13th to 17thApril. Early booking is advisable as numbers are limited.


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