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Handy Tips for a Family Holiday to Asia

7th January 2015

Family holidays to Asia tend to fall under one of two categories: low-key, picture-perfect beachside getaways or buzzing, culture-laden capital explorations. While there’s an incredible array of possibilities in between, there's no denying that Asia appeals to both young and old alike. From theme parks and museums to outdoor adventures, you won’t hear a single peep from your brood about being “bored”. Singapore, Bali, Hong Kong, Phuket and Tokyo are some of the most popular family hotspots in Asia, so check out these travel tips before you go.

singapore gardens by the bay

Singapore

What’s to love – Flaunting a fine balance of familiar Western comforts and exotic Eastern influences, sky-high Singapore makes for a fantastic first big holiday abroad with the family. It’s one of the safest, cleanest and most organised destinations in Asia and offers an easy introduction to the bustling continent. If you’re stilling getting around with a pram in tow, unlike many other Asian destinations here you’ll find well-maintained footpaths and pothole-free streets that ensure a smooth ride.

Top Tip – Before your plane’s wheels touch down on the runway be aware that Singapore isn’t the cheapest destination in Asia, so if you want to make the most of the amazing experiences on offer, bring a budget that’s befitting to the experience. Wherever you go, you’ll find plenty of ATMs dotted across the island, making it easy and convenient to access your money as you explore.

Top 5 Family Activities
1. Head to the world-class Singapore Zoo or the world’s first nocturnal zoo, Night Safari.
2. Glimpse incredible skyline views with a Ferris wheel ride on the soaring Singapore Flyer.
3. Ride the double-decker city sightseeing bus on a DUCK Tour or HiPPO Tour.
4. Wander the futuristic yet beautiful Gardens by the Bay, which spring to life in colour and sound at night.
5. Don’t miss the cutting-edge rides, shows and attractions at Universal Studios Singapore.

waterbom bali

Bali

What’s to Love – Bali presents the perfect mix of bustle and bliss, so you can gear up for adventure or wind down and relax with the family. One of the best things about travelling here in a group is that it’s highly affordable, so you won’t hit the hip pocket too hard. The incredible array of accommodation options also mean it’s easy to find resorts and hotels with great facilities, kids’ clubs and in spots like Nusa Dua, private beaches too.

Top Tip – It’s easy and affordable to explore Bali with a private driver who can take you anywhere you like, wait for you, and take you back to your hotel at the end of the day. There’s no need to arrange this in advance – simply ask your hotel to recommend a driver once you arrive (be sure to confirm that seat belts work for every seat). We suggest you book a private transfer before you arrive, to save any extra hassles once you land.

Top 5 Family Activities
1. Cool down with a day on the water slides and rides at Waterbom Bali.
2. Get up close and personal with wild monkeys at Monkey Forest in Ubud.
3. Hit the ropes, ladders ,tunnels, trapezes and swings at Bali Treetop Adventure Park.
4. Watch the enthralling Kecak Fire Dance performance at Uluwatu Temple at sunset.
5. Try the water sports on offer at Nusa Dua, including stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking and glass-bottom boat rides.

hong kong

Hong Kong

What’s to Love – Hong Kong is incredible for the sheer variety of experiences on offer. Families can check out the big city attractions one day and escape to the mountains or beachside the next. While Hong Kong has a strong Chinese culture that’s fascinating to explore, it’s also very westernised, making it less of a culture shock for young travellers.

Top Tip – Hong Kong is fabulous for walking around – even at night, when the bright neon lights make the journey even more fascinating. Better yet, once your feet get tired the public transport is great. Taxis are easy to wave down, tram rides are scenic, and the MTR underground rail system is clean, efficient and cheap. Don’t be surprised too if your youngsters are fascinated by even the simplest of experiences, like taking the iconic Star Ferry across the harbour between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island.

Top 5 Family Activities
1. Young and old alike can’t resist the characters, rides and magic of Hong Kong Disneyland.
2. Ride the wonderful Ngong Ping Cable Car ride to Lantau, then get off to explore the giant Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery in the mountains.
3. Catch the world’s largest light and sound show from the Avenue of Stars along the Tsim Sha Tsui promenade.
4. Revel in the fun, sights and action of Ocean Park, an animal theme park and amusement park.
5. The vibrant markets of Hong Kong are fabulous day and night – kids will especially love the goldfish market, bird market and flower market.

phuket snorkelling

Phuket

What’s to Love – Phuket is a wonderful destination for travelling with kids because it’s relaxed, safe and easy to get around. Free from any big city crowds, you can spend your days building sandcastles on the beaches or venturing off to affordable kid-friendly attractions. Thanks to the strong local tourist infrastructure, there are plenty of western food options, the locals speak English and kids’ clubs are easy to find in the range of family friendly resorts that grace Phuket’s shores.

Top Tip – Don’t spend up big before you leave home. Pack lightly and fill up once you arrive! There’s a massive range of markets and shops in Phuket selling summery clothes and beach essentials at great prices – like beach towels, swimmers, hats, sunglasses, sarongs and light, breezy outfits. Many resorts and hotels will also provide you with towels to use by the pool and down by the beach. If you’re a fan of inflatable swimming toys though, we recommend you bring those with you.

Top 5 Family Activites
1. Spend an afternoon white water rafting or elephant trekking through the lush green jungle.
2. Enjoy some indoor fun at the Phuket Trickeye Museum, the Baan Teelanka Upside Down House or the Chamber of Secrets.
3. Take a private boat ride to a nearby island for the afternoon with a snorkelling stop along the way.
4. Slip down the slides and rides at Splash Jungle Waterpark at Mai Kao Beach.
5. Catch the rich and exotic theatrics of a Phuket Fantasea Show over dinner at the 4,000-seat themed restaurant.

tokyo

Tokyo

What’s to Love – So much about Japan will appeal to the playful minds of children, and there’s nowhere better than the capital to soak up the nation’s iconic cute and kitsch style amongst the flashing neon lights. Look closer to discover buildings painted with comical characters, food fashioned into cute animals and fashions full of sweet embellishments, from ribbon and lace overload to Hello Kitty brand mania. Beyond the Kawaii culture, kids will also be enthralled by Japanese comics, martial arts, sumo wrestling, and the colourful gardens and temples.

Top Tip – When it comes to navigating Tokyo, be sure to pick up a few maps to help you – both one in Japanese (for when you ask for directions) and one in English. Better yet, get one map that has both! Don’t stress too much about trying to compare the street names with what you see on the map though – you’ll quickly notice that landmarks are used more than street names to determine directions.

Top 5 Family Activities
1. Head straight to Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea for a taste of the Walt Disney magic.
2. Explore more theme parks, like KidZania, LEGOLAND, Yomiuri Land, Tokyo Joypolis and Fuji-Q Highland.
3. Witness a colourful explosion of Japanese art and culture at the Advertising Museum Tokyo, Tokyo Anime Centre or Studio Ghibli Animation museum.
4. Learn the traditional art of paper-folding with an origami lesson at Origami Kaikan.
5. Dine in one of Tokyo’s many quirky themed restaurants, like Alice in Wonderland, Vampire Cafe, Ninja, or a cat cafe that’s filled with furry felines for company.

Looking for more family friendly tips for Asia? Check out Sample Seoul with the Family, our Family Guide to Malaysia and the Best Theme Parks in Asia.