With a plethora of places to stay, a public transportation system that is clean, efficient, and easy to use, myriad places to eat and plentiful attractions, Singapore is a firm favourite for families exploring Asia. The beaches may not be the best, but many hotels have pools and you can stroll along the sands of Sentosa Island and East Coast Park and take trips to interesting islands such as Lazarus, St. John’s, and Pulau Ubin.
Soak up the views from the Singapore Flyer, see the iconic Merlion statue in Merlion Park, admire diverse and colourful religious buildings, like the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, Masjid Sultan, and Sri Mariamman Temple, and have outdoor adventures at places like the MacRitchie Reservoir, Singapore Botanic Gardens, the Southern Ridges, and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Few children can resist the appeal of the Supertrees at Gardens by the Bay, and there are many museums to stimulate curious minds. See the nocturnal animal kingdom at the amazing Singapore Night Safari.
Singapore really comes into its own for families on Sentosa Island, with theme parks and fun activities galore. Enjoy movie-themed rides and shows at Universal Studios Singapore, see the exhibits at Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom, ride the luge, soak up the views from the Tiger Sky Tower, marvel at the gigantic Merlion, and step back in time at Fort Siloso. Adventurous kids will love MegaZip Adventure Park, and Kidzania Singapore is perfect for younger children.
Another of Asia’s super cities, Hong Kong combines the old and the new for a cultural, fun, and family-friendly holiday. Easy to navigate and with plenty of places to eat, drink, and sleep, there’s something to keep everyone happy here.
Hong Kong Disneyland is an obvious choice for a day out filled with laughter and smiles. There are rides to suit all ages, shows, and the opportunity to get up close and personal with beloved characters. The firework show over Sleeping Beauty’s Castle is the perfect end to a magical day. For more thrills and theme-park fun, spend a day at Ocean Park Hong Kong. The combination of rides, shows, play areas, aquatic creatures, and a large aquarium will appeal to kids (and adults!) of all ages.
Ride the Peak Tram for iconic views over Hong Kong’s harbour, stroll through the pleasant Hong Kong Park, or take a boat trip to try and spot pink dolphins. See the unusual rock formations in the eight Geoparks, ride the cable car to the large Buddha statue at Po Lin Monastery, and take heaps of cool pictures at the Trick Eye Museum or the 3D Repulse Bay Visual Art Museum.
Thailand’s largest island of Phuket often features on many bucket lists. There are beaches to suit every mood. Whether you and your family are looking for lively stretches of sand with many amenities or somewhere a little quieter and away from the crowds, Phuket’s beaches are sure to please. Splash Jungle Water Park is a top place to cool down and have watery fun without the sand, and there are many boat trips to nearby islands.
There are restaurants that serve traditional Thai cuisine and almost any international dish you could think of, plenty of hotels (many with swimming pools), and an array of attractions.
The interactive Phuket Trickeye Museum is sure to make everyone smile and the novel Baan Teelanka (Upside House) offers many more marvellous photo opportunities. Play a round of mini golf at Dino Park, feel the rush at Kathu’s Flying Hanuman treetop adventure course (kid-friendly activities available), marvel at an array of aquatic life at Phuket Aquarium, and observe many colourfully feathered creatures at Phuket Bird Park.
There are many activities for older children, including ziplining, wakeboarding, zorbing, canoeing and mountain biking, among others. Theme parks like Siam Niramit and Phuket FantaSea add even more diversity.
The Malaysian state of Sabah, located on the island of Borneo, is a great choice for adventurous families that are looking for somewhere a bit different. If you and your kids love nature and wildlife, you’ll have a ball! Just remember: a trip to Sabah will require a bit more planning and patience than many other places on this list, and it’s more suited to older kids and teenagers than toddlers.
In the state capital of Kota Kinabalu you’ll find beaches, monuments, parks, an aquarium, a bird park, museums, and more. Take a cultural excursion to the Monsopiad Heritage Village to learn more about the area’s past, explore the underwater world with incredible snorkelling at Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, and spot an array of wildlife at Lok Kawi Wildlife Park. The long-nosed proboscis monkeys are normally crowdpleasers. Nearby, Rumah Terbalik (Upside Down House) is an unusual attraction.
Elsewhere in the state, Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, near Sandakan, is a highlight. The nearby Rainforest Discovery Centre is well worth a peek too, with a huge assortment of plants found in the jungles. Soak in naturally heated waters at Poring Hot Spring and admire the views from the treetop canopy walk. The Kinabatangan River is a fabulous place for nature spotting and Kinabalu National Park is perfect for families who love hiking. Look out for the highly unusual rafflesia, the world’s largest flower.
One of Indonesia’s most popular islands, Bali attracts many people all throughout the year. Restaurants serve a wide selection of international cuisine, making it easy to please even the pickiest of eaters. There are many activities and sightseeing opportunities, though you can also spend days relaxing in the sunshine on sandy beaches while the kids splash in the sea. Older children might like to try their hand at surfing; there are many surf shops near the beaches.
If you want a change from the more popular, and busier, beach resorts like Kuta and Sanur, check out pretty Nusa Dua. While in the area, visit The Pirates Bay to let your imaginations run free and take a pirate-themed dinner cruise. There are a couple of great water parks in Bali as well, including Waterbom Bali Park and Splash Water Park. For natural experiences aplenty, head inland. There are volcanic mountains, verdant rice terraces, waterfalls, and wildlife-rich forests to explore. Thrill-seeking families should add Bali Treetop Adventure Park to their itinerary.
Ubud is a great place for culture-loving families, with energetic shows, art galleries, temples, and a laid-back atmosphere. There are great hiking opportunities close to hand and kids are often captivated at the Monkey Forest.
Bali Safari and Marine Park, Big Tree Farms Bamboo Chocolate Factory, Gallery Trick Art 3D in Seminyak, and The Green Village are even more family-friendly places to visit in Bali.
Phu Quoc, Vietnam
The island of Phu Quoc is a great place for families looking for some laid-back beach time in Vietnam. Many spend days sunbathing, swimming, and playing on the numerous beaches. Long Beach is the most popular, and where you’ll find the greatest selection of amenities and facilities. Other top beaches on Phu Quoc include Bai Thom, Bai Sao, and Vung Bao. Boat trips and snorkelling are fun and, for something a bit different, how about an evening of squid fishing?
Vinpearl Land is a popular theme park, with rides, shows, a water park, an underwater aquarium, a 5D cinema, and more. If your children love seeing animals, the safari zoo of Vinpearl Safari might be just what you’re looking for.
The Coi Nguon Museum provides an educational experience, as is a visit to one of the island’s famous fish-sauce factories and pearl farms. Pepper farms and bee farms may also appeal. The Ganh Dau Trail offers great hiking and the Suoi Tranh waterfalls are a scenic sight.
You can combine your island stay with off-the-beaten-track explorations of the picturesque Mekong Delta, where you can take boat trips and bike rides through outstanding areas of natural beauty.
Thriving, colourful, busy, and modern, Tokyo is a veritable wonderland for kids and adults alike. The bright lights and crowds may be a bit overwhelming at times, but there are heaps of attractions to enchant children and help everyone to have fun. The Japanese capital has many family-friendly accommodations, from Western-style hotels to traditional Japanese abodes and ryokans where you can all sleep on tatami mats and experience local life.
There are theme parks galore, with something for all ages. Enter the cute and kitsch world of Hello Kitty at Sanrio Puroland or let kids act out a range of scenarios at Kidzania. Then observe many creatures from across the world at Ueno Zoo followed by a few hours at Hanayashiki, believed to be the oldest amusement park in Japan. Or why not channel your inner architects at Legoland Discovery Center?
Of course, few kids can ignore the allure of Tokyo Disneyland! DisneySea is a unique Disney experience, combining all your favourite characters and water-based attractions, while Universal Studios takes you deep into the world of movies.
For some outdoor time, check out the city’s many pleasant parks. Walk with dinosaurs in Kodomo no Mori Park, paddle on the lake at Inokashira Park, and soak up the scenes at Futakotamagawa Park, the Imperial Palace Garden, and Shinjuku Gyoen. If you’re up for a hike, head to Mt. Takao. Don’t miss the nearby Monkey Park too.
There are tons of fun educational experiences in Tokyo, including the National Museum of Nature and Science, the Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation and Sony ExploraScience. Visit cultural highlights, be awed by animation at the Ghibli Museum, ride in a rickshaw, take a water bus tour, soak in an onsen, and much, much more.
Wide streets, great transportation, a range of accommodations, diverse food, and many attractions and activities make Taipei a great place to explore as a family.
Many of Taipei’s major cultural sites are interesting for everyone. Visit the large Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, the beautiful Longshan Temple, and the National Palace Museum. Marvel at Taipei 101 before riding to the top for breathtaking views. You can enjoy views of nature with a ride on the Maokong Gondola.
See many animal species, including pandas, at Taipei Zoo, soak in the natural hot spring of Beitou, and spend an evening shopping and eating at the bustling Shilin Night Market. A hike along the Nangang District Hiking Trail up Elephant Mountain is a great way to burn off excess energy while enjoying terrific views. Taipei Children’s Amusement Park has an assortment of rides and play areas, and the popular Leofoo Village Theme Park, with rides, shows, animals, and a water park, is an easy day trip from Taipei.
One of China’s most modern cities, Shanghai has a rich assortment of things to do and see for everyone. You can combine theme parks and cultural sites with museums, parks, shopping centres, and more. There are many child-friendly places to stay and finding something tasty to eat won’t be a problem. Try some of the many themed restaurants for an unusual dining experience.
Shanghai Disneyland is often near the top of the list of things to do with the kids, and for good reason. The theme park offers a day of enchantment for all. Cool down on hot days at the enormous Dino Beach Water Park, and watch many animals at Shanghai Wild Animal Park and Shanghai Zoo. Home to an impressive array of marine life from around the globe, Shanghai Ocean Aquarium also boasts the longest underwater tunnel in the world. Watch your kids’ faces light up as you hop on the rail car that travels through the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel and soak up the views from the observation deck of the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower.
People’s Park is a top place for children to run and play and for adults to stretch their legs, and Century Park has a fishing lake, a beach, walking trails, and play areas. Other lovely parks include Fuxing Park, and Jing’an Sculpture Park.
Snap loads of great holiday pictures at the interactive 3D Magic Fun House and cosy up with celebrities at Madam Tussauds. The Shanghai Science and Technology Museum will inspire curious kids and the skilled acrobats at Shanghai Circus World will leave them speechless.
A fairly small country in the Middle East, Jordan isn’t usually one of the first places that pops into your mind when considering where to take the family on holiday. If you’re looking for somewhere new and exciting, however, Jordan is ideal. You can book tours of this stunning country for convenience, though it isn’t difficult to rent a car (with a private driver) and explore from a central base; almost everywhere can be reached from the capital of Amman on a day trip! If you love ancient sites, history, culture, and nature, Jordan is difficult to beat.
Immerse your kids in a new culture with a stroll along Amman’s Rainbow Street and a visit to the lively souks. Other highlights of the capital include The Children’s Museum, with many hands-on activities, the lush King Hussein Gardens, where kids can burn off excess energy, the open-air museum of Jabal Al-Qalaa, and the beautiful Abu Darwish Mosque.
The Roman ruins of Jerash are a short drive from Amman; step back in time as you explore the well-preserved site. The iconic Lost City of Petra is a must when in Jordan. The many marvellous structures and inviting nooks and crannies are sure to wow all members of the family, and the horse ride through the Siq is often a hit. Discover the lunar-like landscapes of Wadi Rum, visit Bedouin tribes, and take a camel ride. Float in the salty waters of the Dead Sea before heading to the Red Sea for excellent snorkelling and sunbathing on the sandy beaches of Aqaba.
Asia offers so much for families. When are you visiting?
This article was originally written by Uniqua Hardy and has since been updated.