WHY ASIA CONTINUES TO HOLD THE CROWN FOR MULTI-GENERATIONAL EXPERIMENTAL TRAVEL
Colorful and exotic enough to stimulate even the most formative mind, but also considered one of the safest destinations on earth, Asia is ideally geared towards family travel.
Children are, of course, valued the world over. However, they are particularly revered in many Asian countries, virtually guaranteeing a warm and friendly reception from the locals.
Indeed, in nations that may not – on the face of it – be the most obvious choices for family travel such as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Indonesia, there’s a good chance that the little ones will be the star attraction in any entourage.
There are fun activities to be found across the region. Asia’s fast-paced cities are a hive of enjoyment for youngsters, with everything from thrilling cyclo rides to market visits providing limitless stimulation.
Outside the main population centers, things are just as exciting. The magical landscapes of the region offer scope for everything from river rafting to splashing around and snorkeling in warm, crystalline waters. Meanwhile, banner draws such as the temples at Bagan in Myanmar and Angkor in Cambodia are as riveting for kids as they are for adults.
A well-used saying is that travel opens the mind. And while that’s the case across the ages, exposure to different ways of life is especially beneficial for children. Asia, of course, is outstandingly rich in culture. Whether it is learning the rudiments of batik in Indonesia or observing monks collecting alms in Buddhist nations such as Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, travel in Asia is both educational and fun.
Family focused draws can be found across the region. The more developed destinations have plenty to offer in terms of traditional family-orientated fun. Thailand has long been a favorite with tourists and the “Land of Smiles” boasts a formidable range of kid-friendly hotels and resorts as well as fun parks, gently sloping beaches and places to cavort. Tokyo and Hong Kong, meanwhile, both boast Asian outposts of the Disneyland franchise as part of entertainment portfolios that encompass museums, multi-screen cinemas and much more besides.
For many, however, the whole point of an odyssey to Asia is to go beyond the familiar to really get under the skin of its many and varied destinations and cultures. From whizzing through the Beijing hutongs (narrow alleys and streets) in a vintage motorbike sidecar and marveling at street-food culture in Vietnam’s pulsing cities to commandeering a horse and cart in Myanmar, families can partake in a host of experiences that are as fun as they are unique.
Arts and crafts are also a major feature of itineraries on the paradise island of Bali in Indonesia. While leisure is very much the focus on the beach enclaves that ring the “Island of the Gods”, the culturally rich town of Ubud is the ideal place for immersion into traditional arts such as woodwork, batik and Balinese dance.
Enthralling family holidays can also be enjoyed in some of Asia’s less established tourist destinations.
Cambodia’s tourism infrastructure has developed dramatically in recent times and there are thrills to be found across the country. In the capital, Phnom Penh, a favorite activity is to take a tour of the city’s riverside area in a cyclo while at Angkor – the ancient seat of the Khmer Empire – kids can live out their Tomb Raider fantasies at Ta Phrom, an evocative relic enveloped by foliage and thick tree roots. Other pulse-quickening adventures include zip lining around Angkor, bathing in deep jungle pools in the southern province of Koh Kong or cycling around picturesque islands in the mighty Mekong River.
Like Cambodia, Laos perhaps wouldn’t be the first country that comes to mind when it comes to planning a family holiday. The beautiful land-locked nation is famous for its calm and relaxed aura and is a fantastic choice for a laid back and stress-free break. One of the country’s most convivial destinations is the former royal capital Luang Prabang. The city in the north of the country is widely regarded as one of Asia’s most beautiful and its colonial architecture, shimmering temples and range of top-class dining options can be appreciated by all age groups. The city is a great base for activities such as encounters with elephants and immersive visits to local villages while nearby attractions include stupendous caves and powerful waterfalls.
Myanmar too is developing into a rounded destination to suit all ages. The largest country in mainland Southeast Asia, Myanmar is also one of the region’s least discovered – an enticing carrot for adventurers of all ages. While theme parks and multiplexes are thin on the ground, kids can enjoy entertainment of a more cultural hue, whether it is taking part in an impromptu game of chinlone, the graceful national sport, or learning how to make lacquer ware – a specialty craft in the country.
With so many activities on offer, the hardest decision when it comes to travel in Asia is choosing what to leave out of an itinerary. The only thing that is certain not to be on any agenda is boredom.