We always enjoy meeting adventurous families while traveling; from the family homeschooling their kids abroad in India to the grandmother and granddaughter searching for elephants in Thailand, it can be a truly rewarding way to spend time with loved ones. While planning family travel can be intimidating, it doesn't have to be. Some parts of the world lend themselves perfectly for travel with all ages and interests.
With plenty of natural wonders, cultural experiences, and kid-friendly activities, Southeast Asia is the new family hotspots for adventurous travelers. Traveling with kids to SE Asia exposes them to cultures, people, religion, ideas, tastes, and smells that most children would never even dream of. With some planning and preparation, you're sure to give yourself and your family the journey of a lifetime!
Airfare: Flights may be expensive getting to Asia, but once you're there your dollar goes a long way. 4- and 5-star hotels are a reality without breaking the bank and you can have a nice dinner out for around $5 per person.
Transportation: Travel within SE Asia has gotten a lot easier in the past few years, with easily crossable borders, ever-expanding train, and river travel. All making this area of the world ideal for "open jaw" travel – flying into one city and leaving from another.
Weather: Wet and dry seasons exist in SE Asia and knowing when they are can help you to decide where to visit. Dry season is typically November to May, with the months of March through May being quite hot. Wet or "Green Season", as the locals like to call it is June to October. While it can be rainy in some spots, don't totally write off traveling wet or green season! A prepared family could have a blast during Green Season
Preemptive: Check into necessary visas - most are obtained on arrival! There aren't any vaccincations required for most of SE Asia, but be sure to set up an appointment with a travel nurse or your doctor to get the current scoop.
Packing: Pack light! With average temperatures for the region hovering around 80F year-round it is easy to pare down. It also makes family travel easier and you'll most likely buy a lot once you discover the bustling, bright, and inexpensive markets.
Focus: Make a must see and do list. Without one, your 12-day vacation will quickly turn into a 12 month one!
THAILAND: Explore idyllic beaches and glittering temples, beautiful national parks, and traditional villages in the north.
Bangkok: The colorful and exciting hub of SE Asia, Bangkok offers everything, from age-old palaces that will educate and entertain, to ultra modern sky trains and bustling markets. Explore colorful alleys and floating markets by bike and longboat
Chiang Mai: Thailand's cultural and outdoor capital, Chiang Mai has a wonderful mix of cultural sites, jungle activities, hikes, and animal projects sure to entertain everyone in the family. The perfect place to meet your new elephant friend!
Krabi: Beautiful beaches can be a perfect finale to any family trip. Lounge on the beach or take to the water in a kayak or to snorkel. There are many options for active adventure, relaxed beach time, and even cultural interaction with local communities.
VIETNAM: Connect with kind people and get immersed in history spanning from the ancient to the modern.
Hanoi: Hanoi's narrow streets and markets are the stuff of legend. Vietnam's history is intertwined in every brick and road corner, making for built-in historical and cultural lessons. Traditional Vietnamese water puppet shows are a great way to end a day!
Ha Long Bay: Head just outside the city to spend an idyllic two days and one night on board a Vietnamese junk (boat) in Halong Bay. Visit hidden caves and fishing villages, kayak and, of course, go swimming.
Hoi An: With its great weather, sandy beaches or the quaint grid of cobbled streets, Hoi An is a perfect family destination. Take a scenic train ride to get there and then explore this UNESCO city or take a bike ride in the countryside.
CAMBODIA: Visit ancient ruins explore intriguing cultures that will provide your children with lifelong memories.
Siem Reap: The temples of Angkor have enough mystery and wonder to keep the old and young entranced. You can also check out the countryside on bicycle or head to the Apsara Arts Center to see how some Cambodian teens are channeling their creative talent.
Banteay Chhmar: Stay in a luxury tented camp near a sprawling Khmer style temple complex that showcases nature's ability to retake even the grandest of structures.
Tonle Sap Lake: Paddle through a stilted village and through flooded forests to see how locals co-exist with the lake and this UNESCO biosphere reserve.
LAOS: Enjoy spectacular scenery, visit sacred temples, and discover the laid-back charm of the friendly Lao people.
Luang Prabang: A historic and charming city which perfectly displays the mix of French and Laotian influences. Prepare and give daily alms to the local monks for a spiritually enriching morning.
Elephant Conservation Camp: Spend the day with elephants! Learn about their lives and rehabilitation, help feed and bathe them, and get to know these gentle giants.
Si Phan Don: Cruise through this riverine archipelago known as Four Thousand Islands at the confluence of the Mekong River and the Don River. Head to the Bolaven Plateau for some hiking, waterfalls, and coffee plantations for a parent favorite, coffee!
MYANMAR: Meet incredibly friendly people, explore ancient temples, and experience diversity in landscape from moutains to sea.
Bagan: Take to the skies in a hot air balloon to see this massive temple complex from above. Embark on a 4x4 jeep safari to visit local villages outside of the busy touristic zone.
Inle Lake: Paddle, bike, and hike around the lake to explore stilted villages and monasteries, hidden temple forests, leg-rowing fishermen, floating gardens. Learn how to cook delicious Burmese cuisine with a local family.
Yangon: The Colonial cultural capital of Myanmar appears frozen in time. Wander the grounds of the massive golden Shwedagon Pagoda or take in a traditional puppet show!
Whether you end up swimming with elephants, learning about conservation efforts, scaling the steps of Angkor Wat, staying with a family in their home, purchasing snacks from vendors in the bustling markets or all the above, on a family trip to Southeast Asia you are all sure to learn and grow together from this exotic and fascinating part of our planet.