The world’s largest and busiest continent covers every type of family holiday you can think of and plenty you never imagined in your wildest dreams.
From travelling across south east India by train to exploring the cities of China or discovering the new and ancient in Japan, guided-tours work wonderfully with kids in Asia.
Countries like Thailand, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Indonesia are beachy and calm as relaxed, independent holiday experiences. And, for difficult to please teenagers, Asia’s cities are incapable of being anything but impressive.
So whether you want the Indian Ocean’s white sands or the thrum and chaos of Tokyo, Dubai’s ridiculously tall buildings or the gentle charm and ease of Sri-Lanka and Bali, you have an entire continent of holiday options to choose from.
A holiday in China deserves to be described as, ‘once in a lifetime’. Not only is it the world’s third largest country, the first dynasty was established here in the 21st century BC so its vast size is well-matched by a long and complex history. The country’s very well organised and a multi-centre tour is a fantastic experience for older kids. There are endless variations on a theme. And, whether you want to see cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and Xian or dip into areas like Chengdu for the pandas and Guilin for the amazing limestone karsts and mighty rivers, you’ll be treated like honoured guests by local guides and almost overwhelmed with courtesy and attention.Take me to China
Stretching from Indian Ocean to the Himalayas, India is an immense country. So, where to even start planning a family holiday is a challenge. This is one place where it’s worth considering one of the many multi-centre tours designed for families with children of 5 and over. Rajasthan in the north west is the largest state and a popular family holiday destination with Indians. The gentler, but no less lovely, south is where you’ll find Goa, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh: again much loved by home-grown visitors for incredible scenery, vast national parks and the type of legendary train journeys India as good as invented. There are serene beach resorts in the south east and, of course, vast cities. But, if you’re travelling to India with kids for the first time, don’t start your holiday somewhere hectic like Mumbai. It’s better to ease into India and let kids slowly get to know – and love – its eccentricities and wonders.Take me to India
The world’s largest archipelago is made up of thousands of islands in Indonesia and includes wildly far-flung destinations like Sumatra, parts of Papua New Guinea and enormous swathes of Borneo. But the most family friendly island by far is beautiful Bali. With its own international airport, the lively resort Kuta right on the coast and a stunning landscape that’s as wild as it is easy to explore, almost nowhere in Asia comes close for unforgettable family holidays.Take me to Indonesia
Also known as Burma, Myanmar is still relatively undiscovered and barely touched by tourism. The Asian country borders Thailand, Laos, Bangladesh, China and India and is home to more than 100 ethnic groups, making it a diverse and vibrant melting pot of cultures. The city of Yangon, the country’s largest, is a fascinating visit as it has the highest number of colonial buildings in southeast Asia, giant golden temples and delicious street food stalls. In rural Myanmar farmers tread through emerald green paddy fields and teak monasteries are set like jewels in the hillside. Pagodas and giant Buddhas are popular tourist attractions, as are the more remote villages that hold fast to their traditional way of life. Rice noodles, fish soups and tea leaf salad are authentic Myanmar dishes that travellers should be sure to try during their visit to this beautiful country. Flights from the UK take on average just under 13 hours.Take me to Myanmar
Over 7000 islands make up this southeast Asian country spanning the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. It is the 12th most populated country in the world, yet still retains its natural beauty and is home to diverse and fascinating wildlife. Naturalists often have the Philippines at the top of their travel bucket list, as visitors can don snorkels to swim with whale sharks in the clear waters. Some of the most visited islands such as Boracay are tiny in size but attract many visitors due to their idyllic tropical aesthetic, with postcard-worthy sand and clear waters with a plethora of colourful marine life. Festive occasions lasting between a day and an entire month are celebrated in style in the Philippines with bright costumes, colourful decorations and dancing. There is a strong Catholic influence throughout the country due to Spanish settlers arriving in the 1500s, and quaint churches of various styles are a popular attraction for photographers. The Philippines also has plenty for sports enthusiasts, with volcanoes to hike and countless walking trails through the countryside. A direct flight from London takes around 15 hours to the Philippines, while a journey with a stop will take around 18.Take me to Philippines
Japan is good to get to know through its cities. Ancient Tokyo was virtually destroyed during WWII and even the Imperial Palace here looks like a modern business park in beautiful gardens. But it’s a dazzling city for older kids and teenagers – shopping with the Cosplay Girls on Takeshita-dōri is a holiday in itself. For a complete contrast, travel north to Kyoto and enter the land of glorious Shinto temples, geishas, tea ceremonies, cherry blossom and zen gardens. The geography of Japan is astounding and it’s a country where customs and rituals rule, so tours are fantastic experiences with kids here and the Japanese are unfailingly courteous and well-informed guides.
Even Malaysia’s capital, Kuala-Lumpur, astounds and delights kids with its taller than tall buildings, waterparks, theme parks and endless parade of entertainment. Remarkable islands like Penang and Redang are prized for their beachy fun, water sports and easy-going atmosphere. And if you can’t imagine Malaysia without the jungle, Kota Kinabula is where you want to be for encounters with orang utan, safe exploring and outdoor adventure in the untamed, but accessible, wilds.
Sri Lanka sits just off the south east coast of India. This ancient country with its serene Buddhist culture is home to a number of World Heritage Sites and has one of the loveliest coastlines in the Indian Ocean. Understandably, conservation is high on the agenda here and outstanding nature reserves, turtle hatcheries, dolphin pods and exotic wildlife are a delight for inquisitive kids. The island is also known for easy-going and friendly beach hotels with everything from water sports and dive schools to children’s activity programmes and clubs.Take me to Sri Lanka
Thailand is a fascinating country but, for family holidays, the Phuket Peninsula in the south west and Ko Samui in the south east are still as wonderful in many ways as ever. For a barely touched by tourism experience, Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi are just a short sail from Phuket and the Phi-Phi Islands are the place for deserted lagoons, hidden coves and wilderness landscape further south. Ko Samui is the country’s longest established resort and, as part of the spectacular Ang Thong National Marine Park, it’s a perfect combination of beach-based thrills and complete escapism.Take me to Thailand
A country for someone who wants to see it all, Vietnam is home to glistening temples, ancient pagodas, rolling green hills and buzzing cities. One of its most popular attractions is Halong Bay, a vast expanse of water speckled with rock pillars and hills that rise out of the bay. Visitors often hop onto a traditional junk boat for a sailing experience and to see Cua Van, the incredible village that exists floating on the water. Families can take an overnight train and sleep on comfortable bunks to get from city to city; a unique experience that saves time and money on accommodation. There is of course plenty of sobering history to discover, as relics from the Vietnam war are everywhere- visit a museum or the Chi Chi underground tunnels to find out more about the reality of what life was like during this period of history. There are plenty of great beaches around Vietnam, many of them practically deserted and others with convenient family friendly resorts and hotels. The food has a strong French influence and good coffee and baguettes are found in most places, which makes travelling with children a little easier. Traditional food includes noodle ‘pho’ and savoury pancakes stuffed with meat and bean sprouts. To fly to Vietnam from London takes around 12 hours.Take me to Vietnam
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