Travel learning experiences make every day a school day, without kids being in school. Hooray to that we say. Here are our 10 top educational adventures from making sushi in Tokyo to exploring the Batu Caves in Malaysia.
Learning to make sushi in Tokyo
Everyone’s favourite Japanese dish is as fun to make as it is to eat. Preparing sushi with a local English-speaking teacher is a great learning experience for the whole family. Not only will it give you and your kids the skills to perfect Nigiri and Maki, it’s an insight into fascinating Japanese culture too.
There are classes held all over the city, but some of the most fun incorporate a trip to the famous Tsukiji Fish Market, for even more local flavour. There are even vegetarian sushi classes and a gourmet option that uses wagyu beef. Best of all, you get a free and delicious sushi lunch at the end!
Sculpt your own Terracotta Warrior in Xi’an, China
Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum in Xi ‘an city, China might not sound familiar. Until you hear it’s the site of the legendary Terracotta Army. This phenomenal collection of warriors and their horses is an incredible place to visit with kids. Go with a guide to bring the experience to life, and marvel at the 2,000 year old creations only discovered by accident in 1974.
To add to the experience, the site museum allows children to sculpt their own miniature warrior out of clay. It’s an inspirational experience and also a lovely souvenir to take home.
Learning about the Mongolian desert
Better suited to teenagers, this activity really transports you to another world. Ride across the Mongolian desert on a native horse – of which there are more in Mongolia than there are people. Arrive at your overnight Ger (a yurt) for an evening free from screens with nothing but the stars above you.
In the morning, you can all help the nomads with their work, such as milking the cows, herding the horses and tending to the sheep. It’s a once in a lifetime unforgettable experience.
Visiting Vietnam war tunnels with a Viet-Cong vet
The tunnels of Cu Chi are an immense network that connects the districts of Ho Chi Minh City. During the war, they were used by the Viet Cong as hiding spots, as well as for communications and supply routes. Now preserved by the government, they are open for visitors to explore and discover.
Climbing and crawling around in tunnels is sure to be a highlight of your children’s day, but to make the experience even more interesting, you can enlist the support of a local veteran of the Vietnam War as your guide. You’ll all enjoy the first hand accounts and colourful storytelling as you explore this hidden world.
Be Tomb Raider for a day at Ta Prohm
In Cambodia with kids you might want to sidestep overcrowded Angkor Wat and head for less visited, but no less remarkable, Ta Prohm. Close to the city of Siem Reap, this temple was the setting for the 2001 film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.
Over the years, the jungle has grown up through the ruins, making for an other-worldly landscape that’s just begging to be explored. Kids will adore scrambling around the tangled tree roots and exploring the nooks and crannies of this temple, as will you.
Make paper out of elephant poop in Chiang Mai
Are your kids of an age where they find poop absolutely hilarious? Then you can’t miss the POOPOOPAPER Park near Chiang Mai in Thailand. Incredibly eco-friendly products are manufactured out of, you guessed it, elephant poop. Roll up your sleeves and get stuck in to create your own POOPOOPAPER product, and learn how dung is usefully recycled.
It’s outrageously playful and fun, but underneath it all, there’s a serious sustainability message, and that’s a good learning experience for everyone.
Ride a train in circles in Yangon, Myanmar
The city of Yangon in Myanmar is hectic, to the point of being almost painful to spend time in. For a different outlook on the city, the Yangon circular railway gives you a window to the routines of daily life in Myanmar away from the busy city.
The entire circular route takes three hours to complete, covering more than 45 km of track and 39 stations. The more stations you pass, the more the landscape outside changes, with concrete city buildings giving way to rustic villages and rice paddies. It’s a unique way to soak up the real atmosphere of Myanmar, without any walking at all.
Celebrate Holi in India
Holi is a festival that adds colour not just to people’s skin but to their hearts and minds too. There’s no better place in the world to join in with this fabulous tradition than in India itself. While throwing colours at each other is sure to be a highlight of the event for your family, the day is also filled with musical performances, colourful parades and traditional food and drink.
Holi is celebrated all over India in March, so you can take your pick of where to go. However, it has its roots in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, making this arguably the biggest and brightest of all Holi festivals.
Learning all about Indonesia in one day
See all of Indonesia in one day at the Taman Mini Indonesia Indah. Here, you can learn about the indigenous culture of all the Indonesian provinces, and discover the local history, religions, and wildlife of the country.
Each of the traditional houses represents a province, with unique architecture and traditional craftsmanship. Inside, you can discover costumes, artefacts and food from each province. There are gardens, mini parks and an amazing 16 museums to explore around the park, more than enough for a full day out.
Go batty in the caves in Kuala Lumpur
To the north of the vibrant city of KL, in the district of Gombak, lies Batu Caves. The site itself is incredible to arrive at, with the towering golden statue of Lord Murugan standing 140 feet tall at the bottom of the stairs. The great staircase, with 272 steps, leads up to the main Batu Caves and temple. Visiting the temple cave is free, and the walkways have been meticulously engineered to make it safe for everyone to explore.
A little way back down the staircase lies the Dark Cave, which is where you and your family can really go batty. Home to trapdoor spiders, interesting rock formations and a colony of bats, this cave is naturally dark and refreshingly cool. Just wait until the guide instructs everyone to turn off their torches to experience total and complete blackness!