Family travel, especially with young children, can be quite challenging. Issues like budget, room space, accessibility to attractions and cranky kids can put off parents from leaving home. But with enticing promos from airlines, especially low-cost carriers, tours and even comfortable accommodations with plenty of space like apartments and other local properties thanks to Airbnb, the hassle of travelling abroad is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Let’s look at some of top choice destinations that promise fun for all ages.
In case you missed it: Places to Stay at Family-Friendly Destinations This School Holiday – Part 1
Phu Quoc, Vietnam
The biggest island in the Gulf of Thailand called Phu Quoc (pronounced ‘foo kwok’) is considered one of Southeast Asia’s best-kept secrets. Not only are the beaches unspoilt, the district off the coast of southern Vietnam comprises 28 islands that are mostly UNINHABITED – granting dramatic scenes at every turn. Be it beach time, swimming, snorkeling, boat trips or even squid jigging in places like Bai Thom, Bai Sao and Vung Bao, take your kids to some of the unique farms that grow pepper and pearls as well as the fish sauce factories. Going back to nature, the Ganh Dau trail offers great hiking while Suoi Tranh waterfalls are feature a sight to behold. Popular theme park Vinpearl Land comes with all the fun rides and an underwater aquarium. Visit the safari zoo Vinpearl Safari and you’re sure to get the Oohs and Aahs from the little ones. Another unique highlight you’ll get in Phu Quoc is the Phu Quoc Ridgeback is one of the world’s three rare ridgeback-type dogs that have whorls running down their backs.
Shopping: Duong Dong Market, Dinh Cau Night Market, Phu Quoc Pearl Farm, The Green Boutique Phu Quoc
Theme park: Vinpearl Land
Famous landmarks: Boat rides to uninhabited islands, Phu Quoc National Park, Vinpearl Safari, Suoi Tranh waterfalls, pearl farms, pepper farms, fish sauce factories
For families who want to escape from hectic cities, east Malaysia’s Sabah is the perfect place where you are surrounded with lush jungles and beautiful islands with pristine beaches and fine sands. For a simpler itinerary, you can settle at the capital Kota Kinabalu where you’ll still get the beach and various attractions like monuments, parks, an aquarium, a bird park, museums and more. The state is considerably larger than other states in the country, if your children are comfortable with long drives, exploring the state is definitely worth it. Lok Kawi Wildlife Park features a vibrant ecosystem including the unique long-nosed locals, proboscis monkeys. The family-friendly Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary in Sandakan is also worth visiting and the hike at
Kinabalu National Park gives visitors a look at the country’s highest peak and the world’s largest flower, Rafflesia. You definitely don’t want to miss the marine parks like Tunku Abdul Rahman, Pulau Tiga, Turtle Islands, Tun Sakaran Marine Park, Sipadan Island and Tun Mustapha, to name a few, that promise crystal clear waters, rich marine life, warm locals. From snorkeling to diving, a trip to these parks will leave the family smiling from ear to ear.
Shopping: Kota Kinabalu Central Market, Kota Kinabalu Handicraft Market, Gaya Street Sunday Market
Theme park: Indah Jaya Waterpark, Sinilou Kibambangan Water Park
Famous landmarks: Sabah State Museum & Heritage Village, Upside Down House, Kinabalu National Park, Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, Kinabatangan River Cruise, Mari Mari Cultural Village, Poring Hot Springs
Beyond the traffic gridlock and rowdy crowds, visiting Bali can be an exciting experience for a family. Once you’ve had your fair share of time at the hotel pool and on the beach, Bali also has other activities including nature exploration, thrilling safaris, water parks, rafting up in the valleys and water sports down by the coastline. First highlight has to be Waterbom Bali. Dubbed as one of the best water parks in Southeast Asia, the park features 17 world-class water slides and games for all ages.
Spare some time to see animals from Africa and Asia at Bali Safari and Marine Park (it comes with a water park, too) or spot over 250 different types of feathered friends at Bali Bird Park. Parents with children aged over seven can try their hands at white water rafting in Ayung River while kids who wants to learn about surfing can head to Rip Curl School of Surf. For a bit of culture, you can head to Uluwatu for the ‘Kecak Dance’ or Taman Nusa Bali that offers a glimpse into Indonesia’s ethnic groups.
Shopping: Ubud Art Market, Kumbasari Art Market, Tegallalang Handicrafts Village, Celuk Village
Theme park: Waterbom Bali, New Kuta Green Park, Lollypop Playland, Green Camp, Bali Treetop Adventure Park, Circus Water Park
Famous landmarks: Bali Safari and Marine Park, Bali Bird Park, Turtle Island, Monkey Forest, Taman Nusa Bali, Kemenuh Butterfly Park, Gili Islands
Gold Coast, Australia
World-class beaches, ancient rainforests and delicious treats, Gold Coast has everything for the family. For a scenic drive, head to Mount Tamborine on a day trip for breathtaking hinterland views. Springbrook National Park, meanwhile, boasts one of the best natural wonders in Queensland with a waterfall that goes underground to a glow-worm cave.
The beaches stretch 70 kilometres and are dotted with family-friendly spots. Theme parks are aplenty in the city and take some time to see animals at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary as well as David Fleay Wildlife Park that is also home for platypuses. Known for its legendary surf breaks, so why not treat your kids to a splashing good fun at surf schools like Walkin’ On Water Surf School provides lessons for children!
Shopping: Carrara Markets, Burleigh Art and Craft Markets, Harbour Town Outlet Shopping Centre, Paradise Centre
Theme park: Dreamworld, Sea World, Movie World, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Aqua Splash Gold Coast
Famous landmarks: Mount Tamborine, Burleigh Heads National Park, TalleBudgera Creek, Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens, Currumbin Rock Pools, Jellurgal Aboriginal Culture Centre, Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium, Gold Coast Wax Museum
Auckland, New Zealand
Also known as Tamaki Makaurau by locals, Auckland is the world’s largest Polynesian city with over 200 ethnic groups – a cultural melting pot for visitors to experience from entertainment to savoury food. The city’s stunning landscape features three harbours, a lush green landscape dotted with 48 extinct volcanic cones which are mostly family friendly. Introduce your children to the country’s history as well as indigenous Maori culture which, among others, include whare (carved meeting house) and giant waka (big canoes carved from a single tree) at Auckland War Memorial.
For nature attractions, take a trip to Auckland harbor which is surrounded by stunning islands. The popular choice is Waiheke Island for its beautiful beaches, family-friendly cafes, vineyards, restaurants and walking tracks. The city’s underwater aquarium Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium lets you walk through tunnels to see sharks, stingrays a plethora of marine life. The best part? You can also see you can see New Zealand’s only colony of Antarctic penguins up close at its Antarctic Ice Adventure.
Shopping: Queen Street, High Street and Chancery, Karangahape Rd or K’ Road, Takapuna
Theme park: Rainbow’s End, Silverdale Adventure Park, Snowplanet, Vector Wero Whitewater Park
Famous landmarks: Sheepworld, Sky Tower, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Hobbiton, Waiheke Island, Butterfly Creek, Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, Auckland Zoo, Mount Eden (Maungawhau) volcanic crater
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