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6 Kid-friendly Destinations in Southeast Asia

11 Apr, 2018 | Travel Blog
Family vacations should be opportunities to escape routine and engage with each other in real conversations and maximize our time together in fun activities that bring families together.

When it comes to choosing a place to go for a vacation, the question that often comes up is: “Is it family-friendly?” Some just take their children everywhere and let the kids entertain themselves with smartphones or tablets that contain games, music, movie, and everything that a kid enjoys in this modern world. But if that's the case, then vacations are no different from our normal days in which we can just get the children around the table at dinner. 

Family vacations should be opportunities to escape routine and engage with each other in real conversations and maximize our time together in fun activities that bring families together.

You will find in this post answers to frequently asked questions about traveling with kids. From telling how a destination is considered kid-friendly and the needs of children, of all ages, to the best places to go in Southeast Asia for families. Scroll down to continue to read or simply jump on the article you care to.

1. Know What Things Make A Destination Kid-friendly 

When thinking of a destination to travel to with children, parents are often concerned if that destination is deemed “kid friendly.” For me, there will always be positives and negatives of visiting a destination that we can never know in advance. You might think Southeast Asia countries in the far east with exotic cultures and bizarre food are not easy for children, but it turns out that they have so many treasures to be proven amazing places to visit with kids. Remember these necessary tips to travel with kids to Southeast Asia.

Many people think destinations with water parks, beaches, wildlife in national parks, and theme parks like Disneyland are child friendly. But is it enough? It’s true but not enough. To have a successful family vacation, your children need to be comfortable, safe and eat well. That means the destination must have 5 things to make a place kid-friendly, including accommodations with facilities dedicated to children, a wide range of food so even a picky child can have something to eat, or proper weather that is not too warm or too cold. And of course, childcare systems are available. You never know what will happen to a kid while traveling.

2. Learn What Your Kids Need While Traveling, At Different Ages

You are looking forward to your vacation but you want to make sure your younger members are happy too. Traveling with them gives a lot of challenges but it also offers opportunities for them to see the world and for your family to create lifetime memories. 

The strategy is to keep your kids engaged in every activity. Do some research on the places you want to go and things your kids love to do to find out how to travel with kids of all ages because a baby’s need is totally different than a toddler’s need. For example, while a baby sleeps most of the time making them the easiest companies, you must pack diapers, wipes, a carrier, and extra clothes. Toddlers are lovely and interesting comrades with their curiosity but their daily routine needed to be kept.

3. Think About The Places Where Your Kids Love To Travel To

When talking about traveling with kids, what you want to do decide where you go. Do you want to relax on the sandy beach, follow the call of nature, seek good food, or get excited in a big city? Once you figure out what you want to spend your time on, you know where to go and there are many places that most kids love to travel to. 

I’m sure all children love beaches where they can jump the waves, build sand castles, or swim in the cool, blue water. Literally, the shore is a huge sandbox with rocks and shells under their feet and the waves are much more fun than any pool. Especially if the beaches are like beaches in Vietnam and Thailand in the south, with warm temperatures all year round. 

Theme parks are best for school-age children where they are entertained by dozens of fun activities. Mountains is cool as well. Mountains offer opportunities for kids to be in nature and fresh air to breathe, challenge their fitness with some trekking trails and explore new cultures from ethnic groups living there.

4. Best Families Vacations in Southeast Asia

Parents often get overwhelmed by many options when trying to choose the best vacations. Southeast Asia has many great destinations that you can select from. It offers a long list of friendly local people, some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, amusement parks, kid activities, good food, and most important, it is safe for travelers, of all ages.

- Hanoi, Vietnam

Many think that cities are for better job opportunities and better places to raise kids but not kid-friendly places to travel to. But Hanoi offers many interesting activities for kids to enjoy and lively food scenes to delve into while you travel the city in Vietnam tour packages. Don’t be surprised if they want to stay longer than your initial plan.

Here are 8 best activities for children in Hanoi

1. Take A Streetfood Tour

When traveling, a food tour is a treat for both kids and adults. Foor tours allow you to sample the local cuisine and introduce to your children several dishes in three or four hours. Since your tour guides often are locals so you are taken to taste the best bites of Hanoi which is famous for its street food scents. It would even be better if you choose a food tour with Chef. Who better to advise you on food than a food expert? 

2. Tour The City On A Jeep

Jeep tours are exciting and adventurous for people of all ages. Who doesn’t like climbing into a Jeep and rolling around the streets of the city or the surrounding Hanoi as the sun and wind blow through the hair? Your family can get exposed to various places and cultures, experience the sights and sounds of the city, and create memories that both parents and children will cherish forever. 

3. Create Family Bonding In A Cooking Class 

If your child loves to eat and have fun, you want them enrolled in a cooking class. A chef will take you to visit a local market, teach you how to use a knife the right way (yes, you might use the wrong way all the time.), and tell you about the art of Vietnamese cooking. Under his guideline, you will learn to cook some of the most popular Vietnamese dishes. When class finishes, you’ll have lots of delicious food to eat and a few rising Master Chef juniors in the future. 

4. See Water Puppet

Seeing a water puppet show is a must-visit in Hanoi. The unique art form of water puppets has been played in northern Vietnam for more than a thousand years in the Ly dynasty to entertain the King and his guests. The puppeteers stand waist-deep in the water, behind a curtain, and use bamboo sticks and strings to perform wooden, colorful puppets moving on the water, telling dramatic stories. Quirky characters inspired by Vietnamese personalities will truly captivate your kids.

5. See Hanoi From Lotte Observation Deck

There is a kid's playground on the 5th floor (appropriate for kids from 2 to 7) in the Lotte Tower, but the most amazing attraction is the Sky-Walk. Its walls and floor are made of glass, bringing a real sense of heart-stopping excitement when you try to walk on and look down at the bustling street from the 65th floor which is 267 meters high from the ground. This is certainly not for the faint-hearted. 

There are telescopes to view the city, a photo counter where you can have family photos done and printed at a reasonable price, a media gallery, and an Inner U&I machine to test the romantic degree for parents. A fast-food restaurant and a cafe are on the same floor.

6. Visit Military History Museum

Although I said earlier that many kids don’t like museums but the Vietnam Military History Museum is something different. It displays many interesting artifacts such as the Chinook helicopter, the MiGs, and the wreckage of planes from Vietnamese wars. This museum can beat any museum in the world of the collection of military vehicles that it owns. Your children can also climb the flag tower to have a great view from the top. 

7. Make Pottery At Bat Trang Village 

20 kilometers from Hanoi is Bat Trang Pottery Village - one of the must-visit craft villages in Vietnam. A day visit and your kids will learn to make pottery in a traditional way with clay and a spinning wheel. It looks pretty easy to do, but once you try, get ready for a funny, distorted product that will leave you with a real appreciation for the local artisans.

8. Visit The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

This museum might be the best interactive museum in Vietnam. It has a large outdoor display area with several house models of Vietnamese ethnic groups, such as Gia Rai’s grave house and Ede long house which showcase the unique indigenous culture of Vietnam. Your kids can climb up to a stilt house and see how ethnic people really live in some areas of the country. The museum also offers puppet shows in the morning and afternoon every weekend, for an additional fee.

Hot tip: 

- Visit Halong Bay which is only a 2-hour and 15-minute drive from Hanoi. One day cruising Halong Bay on a luxury ship would be an experience that would delight every child.

- Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Spreading over 12 provinces of the country with a diversity of wildlife, full of fun activities, a true feeling of Vietnamese country life, reasonable prices, and long been considered a safe destination, more and more families choose to explore the Mekong River with kids. 

Consider these 8 best activities for children in the Mekong Delta.

1. Take A Mekong Cruise 

Cruising on the water is an amazing experience for kids, especially toddlers who are always fascinated with trains, planes, cars, and boats. A Mekong river cruise brings some fabulous cultural insights, adventures, good food, and cozy cabins. 

When out and about, on shore excursions, there is plenty of Vietnamese countryside life such as fauna, flora, animals, and everyday items of the local for your toddlers to learn. And in the onboard leisure time, relax on the sun deck where you can take in the poetic sights of the Mekong going by. 

2. See The Workshops And Taste Coconut Candies

The Mekong Delta wins an award for its hospitality and seeing some workshops are one of the best ways to get insight into local life. 

A boat tour will take you traveling on the river and stopping along the way to visit different workshops. Brick making, carpet weaving, broom knitting, and rice noodle making are some to name, but coconut workshops might be the most interesting and, literally, the most delicious ones. Here, your children can learn how to make coconut candies and sample their candies after.

3. Cycle The Villages, Pick The Fruits, And Taste Honey Lemon Tea

Now it’s time for your kids being active. Hop on a bike and pedal on the narrow paths of the village and visit orchards that this region has a lot to offer. Thanks to the pleasant climate, the fruit seasons in the Mekong seem to be all year round. The kids will love to sample many kinds of tropical fruit, which they pick by themselves while parents sip a cup of lemon tea mixed with honey harvested from the beehives in the garden. 

4. See The Floating Market 

When life belongs mainly on the water, the floating markets are a thing. Get up early as the market starts around 5 AM or 6 AM and finishes at about 10 AM. From your boat, you will see large boats piled high with regional fruits and vegetables and small boats paddling alongside them making a purchase. The sellers hang their products on a bamboo pole so the buyers can easily spot them. 

There are also ladies selling breakfast, coffee, and drinks making on their small boats, just like mobile restaurants. Floating markets are certainly an eye-opener for your children about the exotic culture of Vietnam.

5. Catch The Fish And Cook 

This may be the funniest activity for kids. Your host will take your family to a small pond full of mud and let you try to catch a fish with bare hands! This ends up with a lot of laughs when the fish tries to escape from your hands. And they are very good at that. 

When you come back with victory, you will grill the fish with the help of your host and discover how the people in the Mekong make food with fresh grilled fish. One of the tastiest dishes ever, I would say.

6. Visit Tram Chim National Park

A great place to teach your children about nature and wildlife. The park spans more than 7,300 hectares and is home to 231 species of water birds. It’s easy to spot rare birds such as the Burmese Sarus crane, the greater adjutant, and the black-headed ibis. The best time to visit is from September to December when the park is at its best.

Hot tip:

Try tropical fruits. Thanks to its land’s fertility, the Mekong Delta has many different kinds of fruit such as pomelo, orange, coconut, mango, pineapple, longan fruit, rambutan, jackfruit, banana, and dragon fruit. They are all very healthy and sweet.

- Phuket, Thailand

Phuket - a not-to-be-missed destination in any Thailand vacations, is another top family-friendly destination. Loaded with quite a lot of attractions, Phuket boasts kid-friendly beaches, turquoise sea water, a favorable climate, vibrant food scenes, and an enormous list of activities that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. 

Check out 10 activities that are suitable the most for your children.

1. A Food Tour At Phuket Old Town 

Among so many reasons to visit Phuket, food definitely is one. It has sat quietly in the shadow of Bangkok’s famous street food scene for a very long time but in the last few years, it is slowly but steadily emerging as a new destination for foodies from all over the world. Put a food tour into your family’s plan after a dip in the crystal clear water in this tropical paradise.

2. Swing Through The Treetops At Jungle Xtrem Adventures Park

Make your wild adventure dreams come true by participating in this fun but challenging activity. Choose one among a few levels according to your skill and fitness level and have a day of fun out climbing, balancing, jumping, and swinging. This is a pretty long course and definitely not for the faint-hearted, so it’s suitable for children from 8. 

Prepare proper shoes and expect that there may have a few tears but the staff is very attentive guiding you all the way through. 

3. A Morning With The Elephants At Phuket Elephant Sanctuary 

This is an ethical elephant park where your children have a chance to walk with the elephant, feed them, watch them roam in their natural environment, and show them ethical interactions that elephants love to receive. Being close to the giant is just a wow experience. 

4. Visit Soi Dog Foundation

If you want to teach your children that every little thing can make the world a better place, take them to Soi Dog Foundation - the S.E.Asia’s largest nonprofit rescue organization for sick and vulnerable street dogs and cats. Once you are here, you will have too much love to receive from the dogs and cats and not enough love to give back to them. 

Sign up for a visit at 10 AM and 1:30 PM from Monday to Friday if you want a guide. Volunteers are welcome from Monday to Friday, from 9 AM. 

5. Flowboarding At The Surf House

Surfing may be many kids’ dreams (and maybe even our dream, as well.) Pansea beach in Phuket is one of the top 10 surfing hubs in Southeast Asia but if surfing the beach is a bit difficult for your kids, make their dreams come true in the Surf House, where your kids can learn to ride the waves, slip, splash, and laugh. It is designed for all ages so it’s very safe to play.

6. Cave Canoeing with Joh Gray’s Sea Canoe

The #1 tour in Phuket. John Gray Sea Canoe may not be the only and surely not the cheap one around Phuket but he is the father of cave canoeing in Thailand. He discovered it decades ago and has built up a crew caring about customers and nature. Going with John’s crew, you will stay away from the crowd to enjoy nature at its best.

7. Visit Baan Teelanka - The Upside-down House

Your kids certainly will be happy at this topsy-turvy place. It is quite bizarre, with all the furniture in the house upside down, which may make them feel a bit strange at first. The maze garden in Baan Teelanka is great fun, too. Play in two teams and make it a competition who can get out of the maze first. You know, kids love good competitions.

8. Try Dino Park Mini Golf

The jungle and dinosaur-themed mini golf course is a must-visit in Phuket if you travel with kids. Instead of normal holes on the ground, the holes here will go through caves, big bones, or over a bridge. If they’ve had enough with the golf course, there are many other attractions to keep them interested, such as dinosaur footprints and statues, caves, and even a waterfall. 

9. Trick Your Eyes At Phuket 3D Museum

Just like its name, the exhibition will fool you with its interactive 3D paintings using geometrical illusions. Your family will have a couple of hours having fun here.

10. Have Great Fun At The Splash Jungle Park

 A fun water park for young splashers. It features a pool, a lazy river, and exhilarating rides. This park overlooks the picturesque Mai Khao Beach.

Hot tip:

Visit Karon viewpoint on a hill south of Kata Noi Beach. You can see three bays from here: Kata Noi, Kata, and Karon. It’s best to visit in the late afternoon for the fantastic sunset view

- Koh Samui, Thailand

Despite the fact that gorgeous beaches are the main attractions of Koh Samui, they aren't the only reason. Your family will soon find there are plenty of choices for a great vacation besides water activities. 

Let's look at 8 kid-friendly activities that parents like to take their children to when they have a vacation in Koh Samui.

1. Cruise Ang Thong Marine National Park

It’s hard to deny that a beautiful beach will attract people of all ages. Let’s set off on an adventure to explore the Ang Thong Marine National Park, an archipelago that comprises over 42 islands. Your family can, together, experience many activities including kayaking, swimming, snorkeling, or even hiking up the rocks to have splendid views if you still have enough energy to do that.

2. Visit Fisherman’s Village

This part of Bophut beach has its name from the fact that it was once a fishing village. After the fishermen moved because of the collapse of the pier, charming wooden houses have been transformed into boutique stores, bars, and restaurants, making the fisherman’s village one of the most lively parts and by far the nicest walking street on the island. 

The place has a beach holiday vibe. Suitable for families looking for a place to shop, dine, and relax on bean bags by the beach with a drink on hand. 

3. Taste Delicious Food at Lamai Night Sunday Market

More than just a hangout spot for shopping, Lamai Night Market serves as a place for people to unwind with families and try many kinds of Thai food in Koh Samui. Locals often set up their stalls at about 4 PM but you should go there late in the afternoon to enjoy the lively atmosphere of the market. Make sure you come with an empty stomach as there is a wide variety of food to try.

4. Try Samui Football Golf

This game is so much fun. It is a hybrid of football and golf in which players try to direct a football into 18 holes by their feet. Your family can divide into two teams, and whichever team uses fewer strokes to finish the game will be the winner

5. Go Karting

Boys love go-karts. Some girls do, too. Karting centers in Koh Samui offer some courses that suit everyone’s skill level and age, so even if you’re a novice rider, you’ll still have a safe and fun time

6. Learn Muay Thai

If you have a boy, it’s a good idea to take him to one of several Muay Thai training camps in Koh Samui. Muay Thai or Thai boxing is the Thai national martial art that was developed for the battlefield and has been famous worldwide as a combat sport that attracts most men and boys. 

The training camps offer training sessions for beginners, advanced, and professional fighters. Your sons will have a couple of hours to learn self-defense techniques, sweat off, get fit, and meet friendly people. 

7. Have Fun At Samui Water Parks

Samui has some of the best water parks in Thailand. Both Coco Splash Adventure & Water Park and Pink Elephant Samui Water Park are spacious and filled with exciting water activities for children and adults alike.  

8. Go To Paradise Park Farm

A great place for kids, especially the young ones. They will be entertained for hours, seeing and feeding many kinds of birds and animals. After the stroll, they will definitely want to play in an infinity pool overlooking the Gulf of Thailand. The park offers plenty of food and drinks, too. 

Hot tip:

Book an island hopping tour that connects Koh Samui with other beautiful islands such as Koh Phi Phi, Krabi, and Koh Phangan to have the most exciting beach vacation ever.

- Malaysia

It’s easy to travel around Malaysia with kids. Most Malaysians speak English and many signs of restaurants and traffic are in English as well. The country is mixed of cultures - Chinese, Indian, and native Malay. The wildlife in rainforests is abundant with orangutans, tropical birds, and countless other rare animals. The food is great, the public transportation systems are clean and efficient, so you can move around the attractions easily. There are many things to do here to keep your children busy and happy.  

We find 7 activities for kids in Malaysia for you to look at.

1. Visit the Royal Malaysian Police Museum

The Royal Malaysian Police Museum boasts a wonderful collection of artifacts telling the history of the Malaysian police force. It has a good display of weapons used from the olden time and multiple outdoor attractions such as train carriages, police ships, cable cars, tanks, and a helicopter that the kids will really love to see. Not to mention, the entrance fee is free.

2. Go To Legoland, Johor

Do you know any kid who doesn’t like colorful Lego bricks? The Lego Kingdom is filled with attractions: castles, knights, dragons, and even roller coasters. Your kids can build race cars then test them on the racing track in the Imagination section, play in the big pool with a lot of giant lego bricks floating over the water in the Lego Water Park, and see lego replicas of famous landmarks in the Miniland.

3. Taste The Local Cuisine

Malaysia cuisine is a perfect blend of flavors from Chinese, Indian, and Malay cuisine. Your family will have a real treat when visiting the country. After the first bite, you will wonder when your next meal is coming and how you can get it sooner. Nasi Lemak, Curry Laska, Hainanese chicken rice, Nasi Kerabu, and Ayam Percik, you name them yourself.

4. Visit Danum Valley Conservation Area in Borneo

It has not only the highest concentration of wild orangutans in the world but is also a great place to catch a glimpse of Sumatran rhinos, sun bears, leopards, elephants, and crocodiles in their natural habitats.

5. Ride The Skycab In Langkawi

Riding a skycab in Langkawi is one of the most thrilling activities for kids. The ride will take you all way up to 700 meters above the sea leave, from the foothill of Machinchang mountain to its summit. Along the way, you will see breathtaking views of lush jungles and the entire Langkawi. 

6. See The Lost World of Tambun, Perak

An excursion through a world of adventure for the entire family. There are lush jungles and 7 amazing attraction parks. Your water babies will like tube rides and pools at the Water Park, little adrenaline junkies will find their interest at the Amusement Park with roller coasters, while parents will be happy to find time for yourselves at the natural hot spring.

7. Play At KidZania, Kuala Lumpur

This is a whole new experience for your children. There are around 60 “workplaces” for kids to practice their dream jobs including being a pilot, a police officer, a firefighter, or a doctor. 

Hot tip:

Don’t leave Malaysia until you see Langkawi Nature, Kedah. This is an archipelago of 104 islands, surrounded by beautiful tropical rainforests and amazing wildlife. A trip to Langkawi is the best way for the children to get close to the beauty of nature.

- Singapore

Is there any better place to visit in the world with kids than Singapore? Singaporeans speak English, the public transportation system is just excellent, the food is great, and the city is jammed with family-friendly attractions and awesome activities that your children may insist on coming back for their next vacation. 

Don't forget these 7 activities in your Singapore trip.

1. View The City From Singapore Flyer

A great way to introduce Singapore to kids from the second-largest observation wheel in the world. From 165 meters up, your kids can’t help saying “wow” to the amazing views of Singapore's cosmopolitan cityscape and even the surrounding islands of Indonesia and parts of Malaysia. 

2. Experience The Marine Life At S.E.A Aquarium

Take your little ones to the world of ocean wonders, home to more than 100,000 marine animals of over 1,000 fascinating species. Kids will be staggered to see nurse sharks, hammerhead sharks, giant eels, giant octopuses, and poison frogs.  A leisurely pace would take about 2.5 - 3 hours but it's definitely an experience you won’t forget.

3. See Wildlife At The Night Safari

A 30-minute drive from the city center and it’s easy to understand why this place is awarded as one of the top 10 best family experiences in Singapore. Set in a humid tropical forest, it opens in the evening and is made visible by lighting that resembles moonlight. Manage your time to watch the Creature of the Night Show, which is very humorous, entertaining, and interactive. A rhino feeding session is another experience your kids will cherish.

The hint is to come early, travel light, buy tickets online in advance, and skip the crowds waiting for the tram. 

4. Encourage Curiosity At Science Centre

If you’ve got a curious youngster,  this is the best way to satisfy their curiosity to explore the world. The center was designed as a fun way to educate children about the wonders of science. With more than 1,000 interactive exhibits, your kids might want to spend more than one day here. 

Don’t skip Omi Theatre with the awesome surround-sound and surround-screen show about dinosaurs, the Outdoor Water Play where your kids learn about water volumes, waves, and flow, all while splashing silly in water, and the KidsStop where you pay only $10 for no time limit play.

5. Visit Gardens by The Bay

Your children don’t need to be garden lovers to fall in love with this fascinating garden. You are lifted to the top level, which replicates a tropical mountain with waterfalls, and then you make your way down to discover the site. The highlight for kids is the Children’s Garden. This attraction consists of trampolines, balancing beams, hanging bridges, a water playground, tree houses, and other awesome play equipment. 

6. Visit Singapore Zoo

It is by far one of the best things to do with kids in Singapore. The zoo is large, has a lot of trees to keep it shady, and a wide range of exotic animals such as Komodo dragons and orangutans. The enclosures are well-maintained and well-designed, allowing kids to get close enough to the wildlife and see them clearly from various angles. This helps keep the kids engaged in the excursion. 

There are orange juice machines pretty much everywhere to quench your thirst on warm days. 

7. Uncover Singapore’s Culture In China Town

Loud, busy, and overwhelming with shops and stalls, Chinatown is definitely worth the visit. This place is a good place to start a fascinating peek into the culture and history of the city and one of the world’s safest and cleanest Chinatowns. Take a walk on the streets, marvel at the colorful shop signs, shop the toys, sample the food, and take in the sounds to understand more thoroughly why Singapore is always the most-visited city in the world. 

Hot tip:

Eat and eat more! Try all the local cuisines and visit some of the great hawker centers.

 

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