Traveling with the kids, whether they’re tiny tots or troublesome teens, can be fraught with hassle: there’s so much to consider, from getting the right vaccinations to packing all the essentials. But, it’s worth it: nothing is more edifying for young minds and more bonding for a family than exploring new places together, and for a full spectrum of family experiences, Asia is unbeatable.
A continent of extremes, wonders, and wildly varying cultures, religions and landscapes, Asia is packed with mind-broadening and life-changing adventures that will make your family vacation utterly unforgettable. From rare wildlife to the latest technology, a trip to Asia will enthral the whole family.
Here are our top destinations in Asia for traveling with the kids:
With its vast sprawl and the world’s largest population, China is home to countless different ethnic groups, each with their own cultures, traditions and lifestyles. Observing and interacting with these cultures, as well as exploring the country’s beautiful mountains and fast-paced cities, is a great way for youngsters to have their eyes opened.
No trip to China would be complete without a visit to the Great Wall. Whether you hike along it with a local historian or soar above in a helicopter, visitors of all ages will be spellbound by the sheer size of the structure.
A distinct change of pace and yet no less fascinating, the UNESCO protected town of Lijiang offers charming cobbled streets, lazy canals and wooden buildings of the old town, while in Ping An you can take horseback rides through the stunning Chinese countryside and meet the local Yao and Zhuang people.
And be sure not to skip the chance to see the adorable pandas of Chengdu, where you may learn from the scientists responsible for the breeding program and get up close to the creatures and their cuddly cubs.
Not just ethnically diverse and naturally beautiful, the archipelago of Indonesia is also a logistic godsend for families planning vacations around European and American school holidays. The dry season falls between June and October, and so, with Father Time and Mother Nature on your side, you can enjoy some fun in the sun with your family.
Head to beautiful and tourist-friendly Bali where opportunities for creativity abound. Get your youngsters involved in arts and crafts with the locals, and learn native techniques like batik and silver smithing.
Komodo National Park offers the chance to see in the flesh its famous, eponymous dragons and snap some photos that will be the envy of every kid in class.
It’s a fascinating and eye-opening experience to visit a country like Japan, so modern it’s almost futuristic, and yet so rooted in history and culture.
Explore non-stop Tokyo, from Tsukiji Fish Market to the Pokemon Center; be sure to pick up the latest gadgets in Akihabara – aka the “electric” district – and get creative with a workshop in the ancient art of origami or Japanese drumming.
The learning opportunities continue in cultural capital, Kyoto, and the most exciting way to get there is by high speed bullet train. Here, partake in a workshop on Japanese confectionary, see a traditional tea ceremony and explore a historic castle.
Hakone offers the chance to ride the Owakudani Ropeway for a bird’s eye view right over Mount Fuji and a soak in the warm sulphurous waters of Japan’s hot springs. In Osaka, visit the marine life in the aquarium and explore nearby Nara Park, home to hundreds of friendly deer.
For such a tiny island, Sri Lanka has its fair share of opportunities for adventure and exploration. Dambulla is home to Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, where the giant residents roam happily in their natural habitat.. At Bentota, by the sea, you’ll find the Kosgoda Turtle Conservation Project, where endangered turtles thrive safely, undisturbed. Bentota also offers all manner of watersports, and if thrills and spills are popular with your tribe, a trip to Kitulgala allows for some white water rafting.
For a little heritage, head into the heartland to the ancient and victorious kingdom of Kandy, home to the sacred relic of Buddha’s tooth. Kandy also makes for a great base from which to explore the central countryside with its many hikes along mountain trails amid lush green tea plantations.
With glorious warm temperatures and dry, sunny weather from November to February, Thailand makes for the perfect winter getaway.
All roads (well, flights) lead to Bangkok where you can explore the stunning Grand Palace, take a longtail boat around the canals of the old town and learn the art of Thai cuisine in a cooking class.
For up-close encounters with exotic animals, trek through the jungle of Chiang Rai on elephant-back before joining in with feeding and bath time. In nearby Chiang Mai, get cozy with baby and adult big cats at the Tiger Kingdom.
Finally, Thailand’s beautiful seaside hotspots include Krabi, home to world-class rock climbing and Koh Samui, where watersports and undersea adventures await.
(UPDATE: Remote Lands no longer encourages the use of Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai)