We could list over 100 destinations for a perfect Asia holiday with kids. Instead we asked Family Traveller Asia expert, Barry Finneran, to curate a list of 12 places she thinks families should be visiting soon. Her personal hotel recommendations alone are worth a look!
12. Laos: one of the less touristy countries for an Asia holiday
Laos has a small country feel and is less touristy than some of its neighbours, plus it’s also very safe, with a low crime rate and the people are exceptionally friendly.
This won’t be a beach getaway like many others on our list, but it more than makes up for that with exquisite nature and exciting family activities.
We suggest you start this Asia holiday in the Laos capital, Vientiane, home to Wattay International Airport. A new high speed rail system means travelling around Laos by train very easy, but do spend a night or two in Vientiane. Top of our to do list here is exploring Buddha park, as well as visiting Wat Si Saket and discovering the city’s growing food scene.
Then move on to buzzing Vang Vieng for jungle hikes and activities on the Nam Som River. Finally, unwind in Luang Prabang with its epic sunsets, stunning Kuang Si Waterfalls and fun strolls through the city centre Night Market.
You might want to stop and relax completely in Luang Prabang, but trips to neighbouring places like the Elephant Conservation Centre are also thrilling for kids. And when it’s time to leave, you can fly from Luang Prabang international airport or return by train for flights out of Vientiane.
Recommended family hotels in Laos
- Views of the Mekong River and an outdoor pool make Crown Plaza Vientiane a great choice for families.
- Surrounded by dramatic countryside, Riverside Boutique Resort is a tranquil base for exploring Vang Vieng.
- Luxurious tented villas and a lush jungle setting give Rosewood Luang Prabang exceptional kid-appeal.
When to visit Laos with kids
Travel as close to October as you can. October to March is the dry season in Laos and the weather may be hotter, but the country is easier to travel around.
Remember to apply for any necessary entry visas well in advance so unexpected delays don’t affect your travel plans.
11. Phú Quôc, Vietnam: the island for beaches, waterfalls and incredible marine parks
Phu Quôc is the ideal beachy Asia holiday for families. With over 30 beaches across the island, its waters are also crystal clear and perfect for snorkelling, scuba diving or just happy doggy paddling.
Phu Quôc National Park manages both the island’s nature reserves and its marine protected areas. So you’re guaranteed beautiful, untouched nature underwater and on land; unmissable terrestrial visits include a pepper farm and a crocodile farm as well as a colourful butterfly park and Suoi Tranh waterfall.
Once you’re all natured-out, there is plenty of fun to be had at Vinwonders Phu Quôc Amusement Park. Although the cable cars from Phu Quôc to nearby Thom Island are as thrilling as any theme park rides.
It’s impossible to talk about Vietnam without mentioning local food and in Phu Quôc that makes a trip to Bach Dang Night Market a must.
Our handpicked Asia holiday resorts in Phu Quôc
- With its separate kids’ pool and waterslides, Intercontinental Phu Quoc is very family friendly.
- For spacious villas as well as a luxurious spa think about Mövenpick Resort Waverly Phu Quôc.
- Choose Meliá Vinpearl Phu Quoc for family villas options and excellent restaurants
Best time of year to visit Phu Quôc
Late April is when the weather here is hottest, but between December and March is a good time to visit with kids.
Vietnam has a strict no-visa-no-entry policy so make sure you organise all visas well ahead of your trip.
10. Sri Lanka: a paradise Asia holiday with extraordinary wildlife experiences
Sri Lanka is definitely the right Asia holiday for young adult travellers. However, there’s occasionally a question mark over how suitable it is for families. Well we can say that, despite last year’s understandable protests over the economic crisis, the country looks set return to full glory for the peak 2023 season.
As most visitors to Sri Lanka arrive at the international airport in the capital, Colombo, there’s a temptation to hang around the city. But we don’t advise you spend more than a day or two here since there’s so much to explore elsewhere.
For a start you could head South along the coastline towards Galle and its surrounding towns.
Be picky about beaches on holiday in Sri Lanka
One of our top tips is to be picky with Sri Lankan beaches as some have strong currents and serious surf. Although all the ones we’re recommending are on the calmer side and also supervised by lifeguards.
Unawatuna is possibly the country’s most popular beach thanks to its vast expanse of sand, coral reef and nearby turtle bay. Just be aware the sea can get choppy from time to time.
If you’re after consistently tranquil waters, then Dalawella features a natural paddling pool which younger kids love. Alternatively, Hikkaduwa and Merissa beach share similar characteristics to Dalawella and are steadily growing in popularity with families.
Wildlife makes this Asia holiday unforgettable
Another big Sri Lanka highlight for kids is the wildlife which includes turtles, leopards, elephants, monkeys and, if you’re lucky, blue whales! Most family resorts are able to arrange wildlife tours or you can visit places like Pinnewala Elephant Sanctuary independently.
It’s fair to say that many cultural sites can be a bit of a trek with kids, but certainly not all of them. The ancient city of Anuradhapura is a good choice for children, likely to evoke plenty of wonder and hopefully sneak in some education too! And of course most kids will appreciate an iconic train journey in Sri Lanka, as some of them are regularly voted, ‘most beautiful in the world’.
When it comes to family resorts, we recommend splitting your stay between at least two so you can make the most of beaches, historic sites and wildlife.
Our recommended family resorts in Sri Lanka
- For the best of both Unawatuna and Merissa Beach, choose Weligama Bay Marriott Resort & Spa.
- As the name suggest, Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort is a tranquil choice near the old fort town of Tangalle.
When to visit Sri Lanka for family holidays
Sri Lanka weather in the south is sunniest from December to April. It can be hot at times, but travel is easier than in the rainy season.
Top tip for hungry kids
You won’t find many international chain restaurants in Sri Lanka and local food can be a bit spicy for kids! The top child-friendly dishes we highly recommend are hoppers, samosas & vegetarian kottu.
9. Sarawak, Malaysia: an experience-rich Asia holiday unlike any other
Located in the cultural melting pot of Borneo, the Malaysian state of Sarawak is a perfect destination for kids to learn about different cultures and local ways of life.
In Kuching, the Sarawak capital, top places to visit are the Semenggoh Nature Reserve orang-utan sanctuary and Bako National Park. There’s also Sarawak Cultural Village where kids can join in with traditional dancing and singing as well as cooking and crafts.
Another stop not to miss is the Cat Museum. Yes, you heard that right, the Cat Museum. Kuching is affectionately known as the City of Cats and this weird and wonderful museum is indeed a tribute to all things feline.
Further afield, and requiring a flight to get there, is the Gunung Mulu National Park World Heritage Area. This remarkable park is located in Borneo’s protected rainforest and contains no fewer than four awe-inspiring caves which, along with their surroundings, are like something from another world.
When it comes to accommodation in Kuching there are a handful of resorts which are great value compared to other Asia holiday destinations.
Our favourite family resorts in Sarawak
- For luxury villas and large family suites think about Cove 55, 30 minutes’ drive from Kuching.
- Right on the edge of Gunung Mulu National Park, 5-star Mulu Marriott Resort & Spa is a dreamy indulgence.
The best time to visit Sarawak
April to September is the non-rainy season in Sarawak which means you have the best conditions for exploring.
Top tip for adventurous families
If you’re extending your Asia holiday here, it’s worth thinking about flying to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah. The bio-diversity in this northern region of Borneo is equally amazing, plus you also have the coast to enjoy. Shangri-la Rasa Ria Resort in Kota Kinabulu is a good choice for families.
8. The Maldives: the ultimate archipelago for an Asia holiday
Evolving from a predominantly honeymoon destination, these days the Maldives is an equally enticing holiday choice for families.
There are now so many family-friendly resort islands you’ll find everything available from baby sitting and kids clubs to cooking classes, marine conservation activities, water sports and, of course, snorkelling and diving. Naturally, building your own holiday itinerary is all part of the Maldives’ resort experience, but it definitely means all-inclusive packages are a smart choice for families.
Our pick of family resorts in the Maldives
- Six Senses Laamu on Laamu island immerses families in Maldivian culture and the natural environment.
- Niyama Private Islands features kids’ clubs for individual age groups, as well as an overwater spa and nine restaurants.
- Luxurious Four Seasons Resort Kuda Huraa offers craft sessions for kids based on Maldivian culture, plus baby sitting for younger children.
- All-inclusive Club Med Kani is everything you expect from Club Med with added Indian Ocean beaches, water sports and outdoor fun for kids.
When to go to the Maldives
The best time to visit the Maldives is between November and April, outside monsoon season.
Top tip for adventurous families
Arriving at Malé International Airport after a long flight with kids, an easy resort transfer is bliss. Make sure a sea plane or speedboat transfer is included in your booking.
7. Palawan, Philippines : an other worldly place of white sands and karst mountains
It comes as no surprise that Palawan is regularly named one of the world’s most beautiful destinations. Although your holiday here might need slightly more planning to get around, it’s more than worth it for the beautiful beaches, magical caves and awe-inspiring Karst mountain ranges rising sheer out of the ocean.
Made up of 1,769 islands, Palawan can be a lot to research so we’ve kept it simple and stuck to three of the most popular spots for families.
Discover the underground river in Puerto Princesa
Visit Puerto Princesa for the legendary UNESCO World Heritage Subterranean River National Park. Don’t miss a boat tour of Honda Bay, then venture into the darkness at the Hundred Caves. And, as well as astounding natural phenomena, Puerto Princesa is great for museums and markets, local culture at the tribal village and a gorgeous butterfly garden.
Try an island hopping Asia holiday in El Nido
El Nido is where to discover your inner Robinson Crusoe hopping around some of the most beautiful islands in the world. Happily, there are plenty of tour operators who can organise an El Nido trip for families, either on a private or shared boat. Remember to factor in rest days chilling on pristine white sand beaches like Snake Island or Nacpan Beach.
Try snorkelling in clearest of clear Kayangan Lake
Choose Coron to see the twin Lagoons and Kayangan Lake. The lake is famous for its 40m-plus so of course snorkelling and scuba diving are big in Coron.
The route you take in Palawan is really up to you. However, if you’re travelling with kids, we suggest paying the extra to fly between destinations. It’s worth the cost to avoid five-hour bus and ferry journeys. Flights are also a good idea when you plan on staying a week or less and want to see one or two islands.
If you are going for longer, then why not visit them all! You can also look at doing longer boat tours between each destination for a slow-travel, sustainable Asia holiday.
Our pick of Palawan resorts for your Asia holiday
- For a truly unforgettable stay try El Nido Resorts Lagen Island.
- Family friendly Club Paradise in Coron sits surrounded by a marine reserve.
- Another marine reserve favourite with families is Two Seasons Coron Island
When to visit Palawan with kids
Avoid the rainy season and visit between January and May.
Child-size life jackets are not always available, so to be safe it might be worth investing in your own for this trip.
Coming soon! Family Traveller Asia launches in March 2023. Dedicated to showcasing the most amazing countries in Asia, fabulous family hotels and resorts as well as travel inspiration and ideas. Can’t wait? Take a look at Family Traveller Asia Facebook Instagram or TikTok for latest updates!
6. Hong Kong: a vibrant Asia holiday packed with culture
Hong Kong is a vibrant and exciting city, packed full of family friendly activities so you can be sure kids will never go without fun here.
Of course the highlight attractions are always Disneyland Park, Ocean Park, a ride on the Star Ferry in Victoria Harbour and visiting the Big Buddha on Lantau island.
However, even shopping in Hong Kong is exciting as there are entire streets dedicated to toys: our tips are Fuk Wing Street or Tai Yuen Street. And this is all before we get to the food! Something for everyone doesn’t quite cover the city’s menu, whether you’re looking for familiar restaurant chains or local tastes. Dim Sum and Roast Goose are our Hong Kong go to!
Our pick of family hotels in Hong Kong
- Choose The Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong for its galaxy of Michelin stars and incredible harbour views.
- For authentic local luxury, try the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong.
- Kids will love the fun whirlpool just for them at JW Marriott Hong Kong.
- If Disneyland is a main draw you want the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel.
The best time to visit Hong Kong
Hong Kong is cooler between August and late December, but not quite full rainy season.
Most Hong Kong hotel rooms only sleep up to three guests, so families usually have to booking more than one room or opt for connecting rooms.
5. Bali, Indonesia: an Asia holiday paradise with incredible family resorts
Bali continues to be one of the world’s most family friendly destinations and its combination of incredible beaches, nature, resorts and infrastructure is hard to match in any other Asian island.
As for where to base this Asia holiday, there are almost too many places to choose from. So we’ve opted for some safe bets in the most developed and easily accessible areas, because family getaways to Bali are often more about relaxing than stressing over discovering the undiscovered.
The most family orientated area in Bali is dreamy Nusa Dua beach, just 15 minutes away from the international airport. Think amazing 5-star resorts, incredible restaurants, friendly bars and unlimited activities.
In between chill time at the resort or by the beach, you’ll want to try some of our favourite Bali must-dos for families. Bali Safari & Marine Park is just over an hour away from Nusa Dua and definitely worth a full day. Not only do you get to see over 100 species here, there’s also a waterpark to burn off any energy left after meeting the Komodo Dragons!
Furthermore, on the west side of the island is Bali Sea Turtle Society where families can help with conservation efforts and even release baby turtles into the sea. Also in the west you’ll find culture rich Ulawatu, world famous for its temples and must-see Kecak Balinese Fire Dance shows, traditionally performed to repel bad spirits!
Our favourite family resorts in Bali
- We can highly recommend Meliá Bali, minutes from Nusa Dua and named Asia’s Leading All-Inclusive Resort 2022 in last year’s World Travel Awards.
- Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort adds family-friendly to French-inspired 5-star luxury.
- For traditional Balinese hospitality at the heart of everything, choose 5-star Grand Hyatt Bali in Nusa Dua.
When to visit Bali with kids
Aim for May to September and try the beginning of May or end of September to avoid crowds.
The level of traffic is one thing that always surprises about Bali, so don’t forget to factor that into your travel plans.
4. Seoul, South Korea: a trend-setting city that blends tradition and technology
Seoul is without a doubt one of the trendiest cities in the world at the moment, churning out endless cultural phenomena from K-pop to fashion and food. So your kids can expect to have the coolest stories, memories and photos to take home from here.
But before diving into the hip side of things, make sure to get your fill of traditional Korean attractions.
Start with a visit to Changgyeonggung & Gyeongbokgung Palace then take a walk through the streets of Bukchon to see the authentic hanok houses. If want more playful activities there are plenty of options ranging from Lotte World theme park to wholesome Alpaca World.
Seoul family hotels in great locations
- Lotte Hotel Seoul is based in downtown Seoul minutes away from the metro station and Dongdaemun Market.
- Another well located hotel is the Courtyard by Marriott Seoul Namdaemun which features sizeable family suites.
- Cool and minimalist Metro Hotel is our mid-range choice in a good, central location.
- Another great mid-range option in the city centre is ENA Suite Hotel Namdaemun.
Best time for a family holiday in Seoul
Visit between March and May for cherry blossom season, and from September to November for best weather.
Top tech tip for travel to Seoul
South Korea doesn’t always use standard apps, so download Kakao maps which is more effective here than Google maps. Download the Jihachul app too for help navigating Seoul’s very efficient and clean subway system.
3. Chiang Mai, Thailand: an Asia holiday rich in history and natural beauty
It may not have the beaches of our other Asia holiday destinations, however, Chiang Mai more than makes up for it with an abundance of culture and family activities. In fact, that’s exactly why we’ve chosen it ahead of some of the beachier places in Thailand this year.
Chiang Mai temples should be right at the top of your to-do list. Wat Phra Doi Suthep is our top pick. Set on a mountain top, it’s no surprise to find this magical temple is one of Thailand’s most sacred. By complete contrast, visit Doi Inthanon National Park. Even younger kids will enjoy this outdoor adventure as the park features paved paths.
Seeing elephants in Thailand is an understandably contentious activity. However, a visit to the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai reveals that times are thankfully changing, and these amazing creatures are now cared for and respected as they should be. For a more adrenalin-pumping experience try exhilarating Flight of the Gibbon ziplining, one for kids of all ages.
Our top pick from the wide range of excellent Chiang Mai hotels
- The Four Seasons Chiang Mai has everything from a kids’ club to Thai cooking classes to keep families busy.
- Ideally located by the river, Cross Chiang Mai Riverside also features a great pool.
- Expansive Horizon Village Resort includes botanic gardens and a zoo as well as an on-site spa and gym.
When to visit Chiang Mai in Thailand
Between October and April is the best time to visit Chiang Mai, although you might also want to look at times of annual local festivals, such as Loy Krathong Festival at the end of November.
2. Kyoto, Japan – an Asia holiday steeped in tradition
While less bustling than the Japanese capital, Tokyo, Kyoto is still vibrant and eye-catching, plus it has a bit more of a relaxed atmosphere for families.
In truth, we deliberated over whether this should be titled Kyoto and Osaka, as we definitely recommend you visit both in 2023. The good news is, from your base in Kyoto, you can travel to Osaka in just over 30 minutes by bullet train.
In Kyoto itself, the traditional temples of Bongeunsa Temple & Jogyesa Temple are must-sees. Next up on your culture list has to be the Samurai & Ninja Museum: always a favourite with kids. And for outdoor activities, we recommend the Monkey Park as well as hugely Instagrammable and TikTokable, Arashiyama Park which has plenty of space to run around, just be careful not to get lost!
Accommodation is where Kyoto really shines. Before we dive into the amazing selection of hotels on offer we first have to mention Machiya guesthouse style stays and Ryokan all-inclusive stays. These traditional Japanese houses are found in historic Gion and Nishijin districts and let families experience authentic Japanese life in Kyoto. We can recommend Garden Ryokan or Yachiyo Seikoro.
Some of our favourite family hotels in Kyoto
- For something different, try BnA Alter Museum: a hotel which is also a museum and features funky rooms kids love.
- Choose Hyatt Regency Kyoto for all out luxury, spacious rooms and amazing service.
- The Cross Hotel is a true all rounder with everything families want and at a reasonable price.
Best time to visit Kyoto
Kyoto’s cherry blossom season runs from 20 March to 14 April. For mildest weather visit between March and May or from September to November.
1. Sentosa Island, Singapore: the Asia holiday where families come first
After visiting Singapore there are three main takeaways: the city is super-clean, highly accessible and very safe. Thanks to excellent Changi Airport and the vast number of Singapore Airline routes, it’s also one of the easiest Asia holiday destinations for families. Plus, the city centre is under 20 minutes from the airport and Sentosa Island only another 15 minutes away. In fact, this accessibility is a dream when you’re arriving with sleepy kids after a long flight.
The main reason Sentosa Island specifically tops our list of Asian destinations for 2023 is because it has everything you could possibly need in one place. So within minutes you can be on the beach or enjoying nature, exploring the city or visiting the seemingly endless list of family attractions like Universal Studios, S.E.A. Aquarium, cable cars, ziplines and the unmissable Skyline Luge.
With mainland Singapore just a short skip across the Sentosa Gateway Bridge, you can easily add the iconic Gardens at the Bay to your break, as well as Singapore Zoo & Wildlife Reserve which is opening its new Bird Paradise aviary in mid-2023.
Our pick of exceptional Sentosa Island hotels
- The newly opened Village Hotel Sentosa includes four differently-themed pools, a kids club and large family rooms.
- Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa Resort has its own beach, amazing pool and play area, as well as a games room for the older kids.
- Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa is also a favourite, with spacious suites and outstanding reviews.
When to visit Sentosa Island with kids
Singapore’s hottest season is from February to April, so visit between December and June for a good balance of less rain & humidity without too much heat.
Sentosa Island innovates and excites, yet keeps sustainability and education as a priority, which means it will continue to delight families for years to come.
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