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Bangkok might not win any beauty contests, but it competes at the highest level when it comes to shopping. Families in Bangkok can while away entire days browsing malls dedicated to toys and collectibles; beautiful handmade clothes for kids and grownups come in at surprisingly affordable prices, cute wooden toys can be found in abundance, and there’s no end of opportunity to haggle over the price of electronic goods.

With more malls, shopping quarters and markets than you can shake a stick at, it can be hard to know where to begin getting that retail therapy fix in Bangkok, which is why we’ve cherry-picked the very best spots for you and your brood to shop in this big, bright and sometimes bewildering city.

Zombie Books

Books, booze and zombies. That’s pretty much every kid and adult taste catered for, so there shouldn’t be any problem in enticing the family to this uber-cool bookstore in the middle of Royal City Avenue (RCA, known as Bangkok’s party quarter). The carefully-curated collection of over 10,0000 titles includes vintage kids books in English on the first floor, and there are nooks and crannies galore for flicking through the pages post-purchase. A co-working space and gallery caters to an artsy crowd, and the brightly-decorated third floor bar (yes! a bookstore with a bar!) serves up fruity concoctions with zombie/monster-inspired names that are sure to be a hit with the kids while parents sip their grown-up mixed drinks. Vintage sci-fi and horror prints on the wall It’s open until midnight and attracts a hipster crowd after dark, but families with littlies won’t feel out of place here during daylight hours.


Thais loves their collectibles, and GachaBox is one of the best spots in town to shop for them. It’s hard to know who’s going to love this place more – grown-up nerds or their kids, but what’s certain is that it’s possible to spend entire hours here playing ‘name that character’ while browsing the seemingly endless shelves of cute replica superheroes, cartoon characters and collectible ranges such as Fluffy House and Be@rBrick. It’s located on Siam Square – a known cool kid hangout home to any number of hip boutiques and street stands – so grownups can convince themselves that they’re hip young things as they drool over ultra-rare Star Wars figures. Gachabox has a handily central location on Siam Square (opposite the super-ritzy Rolex store).

♣ Fun fact: Giving the kids spending money? Tell them to check out what’s on the back of their Bahts. Each Thai coin is emblazoned with the image of a Thai temple, and all of them are in Bangkok. See if they can recognize, for example, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (1 Baht coin); the Marble Temple (5 Baht coin) or, if you’re feeling generous, the Temple of Dawn (10 Baht coin).

Check out some of the lesser known attractions for families in Bangkok

Plan Toys

There’s a simple joy to the wooden toy, and the Thais have never fallen out of love with these retro-style creations. One Thai brand that has built up a great reputation internationally is Plan Toys, which has impeccable sustainability credentials (the imagination-firing toys and games are made from natural rubber wood trees, with no fertilizer used in the soil for three years before harvest, and the wood is dried using a chemical-free kiln-drying process). Covering all age ranges, the colorful toys range from tiny pull-along animals to entire magic kingdoms, and the focus is on encouraging imaginative play involving the whole family. Plan Toys ships internationally, but families in Bangkok shouldn’t miss a trip to the flagship store at Sathorn 10, Bangkrak.

Hallo Heidi

This cute and colorful clothing store ticks a whole lot of boxes for trend-obsessed kids and their long-suffering parents. Made in durable, breathable fabrics with stitching that’s made to last, the girls’ and boys’ lines include floaty cotton dresses and fun jumpsuits as well as cartoon-stamped tees and hard-wearing shorts, all of which help kids and their responsible adults keep their cool in the Bangkok swelter. Their sneakers and sandals look as good as they feel, so you won’t be shoehorning your five-year-old fashionistas into ‘dull but practical’ footwear. You’ll find Hallo Heidi at 5 Phetchaburi Rd, Thanon Phetchaburi, Ratchathewi.

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♥ BOXOUT: If the kids are flagging in the Bangkok heat, a day at a mall may be in order. It’s more exciting than it sounds – as well as that blessed air conditioning, sparkling clean bathroom facilities and surprisingly impressive range of offerings in the food court, you’ll find family-friendly treats such as a giant aquarium (at Siam Paragon); a rooftop water park (The Mall); ice-skating, and even Thailand’s own Madame Tussaud’s (Siam Discovery).


For a real treat, kit yourself and the littlies out in handmade silk creations from this renowned Bangkok brand. Almeta ship to luxury stores across the world – including Bloomingdales – but there’s unparalleled range  (and better prices) at the plush Bangkok store (the company motto is ‘cocoon yourself in luxury’). Manufacturing top-quality silk goods since 1992, the firm offers made-to-measure clothing and ready to wear pieces in more than 1,000 different silks, taking in every color of the rainbow and myriad subtle shades in between. And if you think silk sounds like too much hard work for dressing messy kids, seek out the range of ‘lazy silk’ machine washable items. For extra jazz and pizzazz, some ready-to-wear clothing is accessorised with feathers, seashells and other natural trinkets. You’ll find the Almeta showroom in Sukhumvit, opposite the Grand Millennium Hotel.

Papaya Vintage

Prepare to spend a fair few hours digging for treasures in this gigantic warehouse close to the more famous Chatuchak Market (in itself well worth a visit for kids’ toys and gifts, including traditional toys made with banana leaves, and some fun and funky clothes), which is jam-packed with old-school toys, comics, and collectibles of every kind. Vintage film posters, giant Star Wars figures and all manner of crazy costumes add to the fun, and Instagrammers will have a whale of a time snapping away. You might even come home with some valuable vinyl or an abstract art vase, who knows?

It’s a little out of town, at Soi Lat Pharo 55/2, Lat Pharo Road, so well worth combining with a weekend visit to Chatuchak Market.

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Ahh, Bangkok, with your to-die-for desserts you are really spoiling us. Sweet-toothed families in the Thai capital should get ready for some serious sugar rushing – and some serious camera-snapping too. Bangkokians take their sweet stuff seriously, and the appeal goes way beyond merely tasting good – appearance is everything here, and that extends to that sugary confection you’re about to spoon into your mouth.

Some Bangkok desserts have made international news – the insanely huge ice cream feasts at Mo and Moshi – for one, but there are plenty of places where you and the family can tuck into those sweet treats without joining a huge queue of guidebook-wielding tourists. Whether you’re all about the ice cream or planning a treat for a unicorn-loving tot, our carefully-curated list shows you where to get your spoon into those damn fine desserts in kid-friendly settings.

The secret one: Floral Cafe

Bangkok’s vast, sweetly-scented Flower Market in Pak Klong Talad  is a tourist attraction in its own right, but only a few visitors know that there’s a gorgeous little cafe hidden among the fragrant flora. Floral Cafe is accessed by a hidden flight of stairs behind Napasorn florist, and once your inside, you might find it hard to leave. Chandeliers hang from the ceiling, immaculate flower arrangements and bright blooms sit on every available surface, and the cakes and coffee are some of the best in town. The homemade cakes (from 150 baht) impress with their size and intricate icing details, and they pass the taste test too, while the frappes are heaven on a hot day. You’ll find the cafe at 67 Chakphet Road – it’s worth combining with a visit to the Flower Market.

Here are few more lesser known activities for families traveling in Bangkok

The not-too-sickly-sweet one: Mori Dessert Bar

 This is one of relatively few places in Bangkok that caters equally well to kids looking for crazily-coloured explosions of sugar, and grown-ups looking for more serious desserts. Alongside a collection of cakes fashioned into cartoon characters, and a famous range of hyper-colored milkshakes that see brightly-colored slabs of cake perched atop the shake itself (along with lollipops for good measure); there are more subtle creations such as strawberry mille feuille (180 baht) and some excellent matcha. If you’re lucky enough to visit around the turn of the year, try the Hanabiraa traditional flower blossom sweet, here made with sakura. A serious patisserie that’s also great fun for kids, this one’s a win-win.

♥ Tip: Need extra cash for your trip to cake heaven? You’re never far from an ATM in Bangkok, and most will accept all standard international cards. One word to the wise, though – the cash comes out before the card, so don’t walk off with your money and leave the card behind (doh!).

The Cuddly One: Hungry Bear Pancakes

If your little cubs’ energy levels start dropping mid-shop at Siam Paragon, treat them to a meal at this super-cute cafe. Pancakes come in all manner of guises – both sweet and savory, from 130 baht, add an extra 15 baht for DIY toppings). There’s even an opportunity to set up a teddy bears’ picnic on the artificial grass, if you get here outside the busy lunch times.

The super-chic one: Sretsis Parlor

Foodie fashionistas, step this way. This beyond-fancy tea room is the latest venture from chic Thai fashion label Sisters (yes, Stretsis is the label name backwards…) and is an intimate, immaculately-appointed ‘living room’ that looks like something straight from the pages of a style magazine. It’s a surprisingly family-friendly space (although you’ll want to come nicely dressed and tell the kids to mind their manners if they want to get their paws on those super-sweet desserts). The grownups can sip tea from bone china (or Champagne from a crystal flute), and the signature cakes (from 250 baht) are decorated with tiny frosted flowers that look (almost) too good to eat. Stretsis Parlour has a suitably grand address: It’s located on level two of Bangkok’s Central Embassy.

∴ Boxout: Candy Colored Cabs. Yep, everything from the cakes to the cabs comes brighter than bright in Bangkok. What’s up with the colorful cabs? It’s really as simple as denoting which cabs belong to which firm (like the locals, you might soon find yourself picking a favorite color ‘team’ during your stay.

The cuddly animal one: Caturday Cat Cafe

Feline-loving families can’t go wrong at this kiddie-pleasing spot, where friendly moggies wind their way around diners’ feet as they sit among colorful scatter cushions and tuck into seriously good desserts such as a rainbow crepe cake, chocolate shock cheesecake, and a deliciously gooey chocolate cake with ice cream. At around 140 baht a pop, desserts here won’t blow the budget, and simply flicking through the menu (set out like a photo album) and the ‘hall of fame’ of cat portraits on the wall is a fun activity in itself.

And if your family likes nature and animals, here is whole route for nature loving families traveling to Thailand.

The Whimsical One: Perhaps Rabbits’

Just on the right side of twee, this Alice-inspired cafe remains pleasingly under-the-radar. With astonishing attention to detail, the owners have created an enchanting space where kids and parents can enjoy Mad Hatter-style tea parties, complete with colorful tea sets, dainty sandwiches and the most intricately-decorated cakes imaginable (made fresh each day at Perhaps Rabbits’ own bakery, just down the road). It can be tough deciding between so many super-sweet confections, but chocoholics can’t go wrong with the Rabbit Hole mud cake, which is rich in both chocolate and caramel, and comes decorated with cute icing bunnies.

The famous one: Unicorn Cafe

Want to feel like you’re having a tea party inside a sherbert-fueled fever dream? Even if you’ve never entertained the idea of tucking into brightly-hued layer cakes while keeping company with a whole host of My Little Ponies, chances are that at least one of your kids has. At Unicorn Cafe, everything is bubble gum bright – even the spaghetti – but it’s the rainbow-colored cakes that will have excitable kiddies fizzing with delight. Sink into a fluffy pastel-colored armchair and try to resist calls to throw on a unicorn costume for a photoshoot with the family. Tasteful it’s not, but a visit to this place will be a literal dream come true for many an excitable pre-teen. Unicorn Cafe is at 8 Sothorn, around 10 minutes’ walk from BTS Chongnosi

Spice up Your Family Trip to Ulaanbaatar With these Off-Radar Activities

If you’re planning a family trip to Ulaanbaatar, chances are high that you like to take the road less traveled. Officially the coldest capital city in the world (a word to the wise: come in the short, warm summer or be prepared to do battle with sub-40 temperatures), the Mongolian capital rarely features in any international lists of the best places for family holidays. The allure of Mongolia is largely about its wide open spaces and proximity to wild nature, and Ulaanbaatar is often overlooked as a tourist destination due to its severe Soviet architecture and pollution (especially during the winter, when locals understandably burn a lot of fuel in order to warm their homes). Families who do make it here – perhaps for a few days’ stop off before heading into the countryside-  often find themselves surprisingly taken by the place. There are a good number of appealing museums, an intriguing mix of the modern and the traditional, and children will likely make friends very quickly at the local parks or skating around the town squares. Under-the-radar activities here tend to be more about getting away from the noise and smog than beating the tourist hordes – tourism here is still very much in its infancy, but these crowd-free spots are sure to add even more color to your family’s Ulaanbaatar experience.

Stay in a Ger

A what now? You might know these traditional nomad dwellings as yurts, but in Mongolia it’s a ger, and many Mongolian families still live in these round, tent-style homes. You don’t have to stray far from the high rise apartment blocks of downtown Ulaanbaatar before spotting the ger districts, and some families in the surrounding countryside open up their homes to travelers keen to experience a taste of traditional life. It’s thought that up to half of Mongolian families live in gers, and these well-insulated felt homes do a good job of protecting their inhabitants from the harsh winter conditions. A handful of companies in Mongolia now offer ‘luxury ger’ experiences, but while it’s by no means good form to just turn up at a ger camp and ask a family if you can bed down for the night, travel guides in Ulaanbaatar (many don’t have an online presence yet) can point you in the right direction. There are tourist ger camps in the stunningly beautiful Terelj National Park, which have a few mod cons, but asking around is normally enough to secure a stay in a family home, where the owners will often throw in home-cooked meals and nightly music performances for a very modest nightly rate.

Drink Airag (and Offer Vodka)

Strictly one for the grownups, this – it would be rude not to sample the local tipple (quit literally), if you’re staying in a family home, turning down a drop of the hard stuff is considered very bad manners. While it’s not hard to find more standard booze such as lager, this is the authentic booze taste of Ulaanbaatar. Airag is a potent drink made from fermented mare’s milk, and is usually ladled out of a large container into dauntingly large bowls or cups. It’s perhaps not what you’d describe as a pleasant taste, but after a couple of spoonfuls you might not notice the slighly acrid flavour. In return, offer a bottle of vodka, which is usually very gratefully received and likely to be opened – and shared – on the spot.

Visit a Hidden Monastery in Terelj National Park

The third-largest protected area in Mongolia, the mountainous Terelj National Park is also one of the most beautiful spots in the country, and feels like a real escape to wild nature, just a short distance from the city. Pass the tourist ger camps on the southern edge and families in Ulaanbaatar can find outdoor activities to suit their energy levels and the kids’ ages. There’s some magnificent trekking to be done hereincluding the tough hike to Arypala, some 3km from the photo-worthy ‘Turtle Rock’ at the park’s entrance. A stiff, winding climb leads to a small Buddhist temple and meditation center reached by extremely steep steps. The views from the top are worth the climb. You can always bribe kids and teens with the promise of archery classes – there are several places to practice this traditional sport within the par, and staff at the ger parks can point families to the nearest bow and arrow site.

Visit a Puzzling Museum

Families in Ulaanbaatar can put their collective intellectual skills to the test at the somewhat hidden ‘Intellectual Museum’, which is more kid-friendly than it might sound. A museum dedicated to puzzles and problem-solving, the first task to complete is finding the place 🙂 – a 30-minute walk from most of the downtown tourist attractions in a residential part of town. Once here, expect giant chess sets, the Mongolian version of a Rubik’s cube, and a whole host of other games that will keep kids and adults busy for hours. It’s a good rainy day option, but worth a visit even when the sun shines.

Give the Kids a Break from Mutton

Meaty, mutton-based dishes tend to be the mainstays of Mongolian dining, but there are plenty of international restaurants in Ulaanbaatar if the kids start griping about local fare. Reclaim your sanity for a moment by promising them some ice cream or frozen yogurt. The centrally-located Moyo does a nice line in Froyo with fruity toppings, so parents visiting Ulaanbaatar with kids can get some vitamins into them by stealth.

Enjoy Crowd-Free Adventures on your Trip to Phuket With Kids

Mention that you’re planning a family trip to Phuket, and you might get a few raised eyebrows. While it’s famous on the one hand for glorious beaches, family-friendly hotels and more than its fair share of splash parks, indoor play centers and theme parks, Phuket has also become synonymous with large crowds, pickpockets, backed up traffic and a rather seedy downtown.

Don’t let that put you off – look beyond the overcrowded district of Patong, with its infamous ping pong shows, rubbish-strewn beach and tourist traps – and you’ll find a side of Phuket that’s ripe for family adventures. Along with admiring the impressive architecture and eye-catching street art of the Old Town, bartering with street sellers at busy local markets and taking to the water to see weird and wonderful marine life, there are a whole host of ways to enjoy a fun, safe, and crowd-free trip to Phuket with the fam.

Let the Kids Run Riot on Mai Khao Beach

Leave the crowds and hawkers of Patong Beach behind, and take the kids instead to Mai Khao Beach. At 11km long, this coarse sand beach stretches further than the eye can see, and while there are a couple of upscale hotel resorts here, for the most part it is blissfully un-developed. With one end falling under the protected confines of Sirinat National Park, there are no beach bars or vendors trying to sell trips, tours and tourist tat, instead it’s just miles of white sand and clear water. Even in the high season, it’s perfectly possible to spend hours here without seeing another soul. Bring a picnic and plenty of water, and let the kids roam free for the day. At the other end of the noise scale, the farthest edge from the National Park joins onto the island’s airport, and the sight and sound of the planes soaring right overhead is a dramatic one. Families at Mai Khao Beach won’t want to spend all day under this noisy flight path, but it’s worth it for the spectacle before before or after a long beach session.

Climb Monkey Hill 🐵

Phuket has its fair share of animal attractions, but who wants to see the animal inhabitants of the island in captivity? Instead, lure the kids on a hill-climbing, view-admiring expedition up to the highest point on the island, with the promise of wild monkeys to be spotted along the route. Local buses and vans stop at the bottom of a long, winding walk (about 15-20 minutes’ climb, longer with small children, try to come here before it gets too hot) and families can stop at viewpoints and platforms along the way. Crowds of macaques hang out here, enticed by the fruit offered by locals and a scattering of curious tourists, but they’re not the only attraction – the views over Phuket are astonishing, especially at sunset, and it’s fun to try to keep quiet, so the monkeys lose interest and it’s possible to watch them going about their monkey business.

🍜 Eat here:

If you splash out on just one ‘fancy’ family dinner in Phuket (it’s a little pricier than some local spots, but still far from extortionate), make it Pha Chom Tawan Kawala, tucked away amid the tropical foliage on a hillside between Kamala and Patong. Although it’s held in high esteem by locals, it’s virtually unknown among foreign visitors. Along with an MSG-free menu of traditional Thai dishes, using super-fresh seafood and the restaurant’s own garden produce (fruit smoothies here are a favorite with little visitors to the restaurant), the big draw is a viewing platform with glorious views over the sea. Exploring the surrounding area is a good way to build up an appetite, and there are even a couple of hidden beaches to be discovered.

Back On the beaten track: Visit an Upside Down House

Occasionally, an on-the-beaten-track is worth the visit simply because it can’t be found anywhere else. Phuket’s Upside Down House is one such spot. Families with kids in Phuket will be getting snap-happy with the camera as they explore this curious attraction – literally a house, built upside down, with amazing attention to detail – everything from the tableware to the paintings on the walls are the wrong way up, and there’s even an upside down tuk tuk. There’s a garden maze, complete with tree house, to be explored, as well as an Escape Room and even a ‘Drunk Box’, which makes everything looks a bit off-kilter, and allows kids to get an idea of how their parents see the world after a couple of Happy Hour cocktails on the beach.  It’s definitely touristy, but families with younger kids will likely find a trip here will keep them in the children’s good books for a while.


The dazzling tropical island of Boracay is no longer the hidden gem it once was – thanks to its photogenic beaches and picture-perfect landscapes, it’s become one of the most visited destinations in the Philippines. But while a flurry of interest from chic travel mags has made it a favorite destination among honeymooners and the fashion set, there’s a whole lot of fun to be had for families in Boracay. At just 4.5 miles long, the island punches above its weight when it comes to attractions and activities, and there’s a lot more to Boracay than the famous White Beach, golf and luxury resorts.  

Active families in Boracay will be in their element here, and it’s surprisingly easy to give crowds the slip and indulge a sense of adventure with activities and attractions that still feel refreshingly off the beaten track…at least for now.

Set the Alarm Early for Crowd-Free Kite Surfing

The aptly-named White Beach is without a doubt the most famous of Boracay’s strands, and the 3-mile long strip of soft white sand is the first port of call for visitors looking for long, lazy days swimming, shopping and sipping cocktails. Those who like their beach vacays a little more active tend to flock to Bulabog Beach, which has become the main hub for water sports adventures on Boracay. Once the sun is high in the sky the beach and the water get packed with kite surfers and wind surfers, but early risers will be rewarded with blissfully crowd-free waters and a stunning sunrise. There are any number of kite surfing schools along the water’s edge, and families in Boracay with not-so-little kids can rent equipment and get pro tips whatever their level of experience and expertise. (toddlers and kids too young to ride the wind can have immense amounts of fun paddling and watching parents and siblings splash around…) There are simple accommodations on the beachfront too, aimed squarely at the kitesurfing crowd, so visitors can just prep their own breakfast and head straight to the beach. Once the crowds arrive you can head back for a nap – or refuel and head off for adventures elsewhere.

Hire Bikes or Trikes

Bicycle hire is a good way to get off Boracay’s main thoroughfare (there’s essentially one main road on the island, full of honking horns and speeding scooters). There are several bicycle hire companies on White Beach, and kids whose little legs are not up to cycling can take it easy on the back of a tandem bike and let their parents or older brothers and sisters do the legwork. Families in Boracay can cycle through coconut palm-lined trails up to to some of the highest peaks on the island for glorious views – at around 100 meters above sea level, Mount Luho is the island’s loftiest vantage point, and families who brave the tough(ish) trails to reach the top will likely be rewarded with glimpses of 🐒 monkeys and colorful birds. A small viewing platform at the top is a good spot to rest and have a picnic. If that sounds too strenuous, families in Boracay can rent a manned ‘Trike’ – an adapted ‘taxi-bike’ with space to carry more passengers and luggage than most people would think possible (or safe). For peace of mind, families can hire the entire trike and driver for a few hours (agree a price in advance), and head off to hidden beaches and other beauty spots.

Enjoy Island-Hopping Adventures…Minus the Crowds

There are any number of companies offering beach-hopping boat trips around Boracay, ranging from boozy party boats to luxury ‘sail and dine’ options. But for only a little more than the price of a tour, families in Boracay can hire paraw sailboats (make sure you ask for life vests, and hire a skipper too if you’re not experienced in life on the open waves). Bring food and snacks, and set your own agenda – enjoy dazzling sunsets, head off to hidden beaches, escape to tiny, deserted islets…it’s your call. Ask for word of mouth recommendations about reputable operators, and be prepared to haggle for the best prices.

Get to Know the Taho Man

For cheap eats with real local flavor during your family trip to Boracay, you need to get to know Taho. Listen out for the call of ‘Tahoooo’ and you’ll soon spot a vendor strolling the sands (they are almost always on the sands), with metal pails slung over his shoulders. Catering mainly to the locals, they’re selling an energy-rich mix of silken tofu with tapioca pearls and a sweet, syrupy mix called arnibul (essentially a caramelized sugar syrup). Imagine a cross between custard and bubble tea, and you’re somewhere close, but this is way tastier than the sum of its parts, and the soft texture and sweet taste makes it an easy way to get protein into little ones.  Locals love it for breakfast, and as it costs mere cents, it’s an affordable way to fuel up for a day’s adventure.
Here’s a list of family friendly hotels in Boracay

Add Extra Spice to Your Trip to Kathmandu with these Off-the-Beaten-Track Adventures

Let’s be honest – Kathmandu isn’t the first name that springs to most people’s minds when planning a trip with the kids. A history of political instability and a reputation for pollution and chaotic streets means many families leave it off their Asian itineraries, but families that do make the trip will find a whole host of family friendly adventures, and that sense of satisfaction that comes from knowing that you’ve ventured where relatively few family travelers have gone before. This ‘City of the Gods’ is home to magnificent temples, deep shrine-filled valleys, and some of the most colorful street life anywhere on the planet – (think monkeys and bovine beasts jostling for space with pedestrians in bright religious robes).

Families in Kathmandu are unlikely to find themselves battling to escape the tourist masses, but escaping the thick pollution and the congested streets is more likely to be a concern. Luckily, fresh air is never far away – families can expect to spend time hiking and getting to grips with nature, without straying far from the city.

Spend a Day on a Farm

Kathmandu is better known for its chaos and congestion than its fertile farmlands, but families in the city need only delve a little deeper than street level to find that some enterprising locals are indeed raising vegetable as well as livestock at various semi-rural spots. Some companies such as Backstreet Academy arrange trips to urban farms, where families can spend the day learning how to work the land and see how a self-sustaining vegetable farm can work in a big city, and older children can even enjoy collecting eggs and milking cows. It’s hard work, but one which should work up an appetite to enjoy a meal made with freshly-picked produce. It’s not your average day in the big city, which is part of the appeal, and families prepared to put in the work will learn a great deal about traditional Nepalese farming methods.

Check out a Hermit’s Art Collection

Of all the off-the-wall things to do in and around Kathmandu, visiting the home and art studio of a self-declared hermit could perhaps be top of the list. At the Hermitage – an artist’s cottage set in grand gardens some 6km from the city at Pasang Lhamu Road in Bouddha – Manju Babu Mishra welcomes curious visitors. Those who make the trip can can admire his many very distinctive artworks and stroll around impressive gardens filled with fruit trees and sculptures. He may not choose to venture out himself, but the self declared hermit does enjoy welcoming visitors to his home, and waxing lyrical on his favorite subjects – art and literature. That might not sound like the most alluring prospect for kids, but a quick peek around the garden – and the novelty of the whole thing – should pique inquisitive children’s imaginations.  

Take a Hike

There’s no question about it, the air pollution in Kathmandu is an issue. The air quality ranks among the worst in the world (anti-pollution masks are advisable), and families are likely to find themselves literally gasping for some fresh air. Handy, then, that some of the most beautiful countryside imaginable surrounds the city on all sides, and taking a hike or jumping on a bike is a family-friendly way to explore it. It’s rare to see many other walkers even on well-known routes such as the Chisapani hike and Nagarjun hike, and the sunsets over the horizon are truly magical. Perhaps most stunning of all is the hill station of Nagarkot, which sits at 2300 feet above the Kathmandu Valley, and where the snow-topped mountains make a particularly picturesque backdrop to hikes and nature walks – the trekking route around the town takes some three hours, taking in traditional mud hut villages, bright wild flowers and dense forests. There are guided walks available, but experienced walkers will find it easy to navigate the trails by themselves. About one hour’s bumpy drive Northeast of Kathmandu, it’s possible to see Nagarkot as a day trip, but with plenty of inexpensive places to stay, it’s worth making it into a short side trip to make the most of the mountain air and fresh breezes.

Don’t Miss this Fried Ice Cream

OK, so this is no hidden gem, and it’s not going to win any healthy eating awards, but kids and their parents need a sweet treat sometimes, and the fried ice cream rolls at FunKey Delights rally deliver the goods. Stirred, fried and cooled ice cream is served up in all manner of drool-inducing combinations, many of which feature chocolate in diverse and abundant forms – anyone for the signature fried ice cream roll, featuring chocolate cookies, chocolate syrup, chocolate itself, and chocolate pie. Yes, it’s darned chocolatey.  Fruit puts in an occasional appearance, should parents need to convince themselves that there is a health element to be gleaned from a visit to this calorie-laden cafe, and kids can even set to work making their own ice creams to be devoured in seconds.

With its incredible beaches, equally impressive diving spots, teeny tiny Tarsiers and famous ‘Chocolate Hills’, Bohol Island is one of the best destinations in the Philippines for families. It’s an easy ferry ride from Cebu, so it’s hardly surprising that the island attracts a fair number of tourists, all keen to see this tropical paradise for themselves. The grand Spanish-built churches add to the island’s appeal for architecture buffs (although kids may be less impressed), and there’s endless opportunity for snapping envy-inducing photos. But while the Instagram brigade are very much in evidence at this supremely photogenic island, there’s no shortage of opportunity for families in Bohol to leave the crowds behind and find off-the-beaten track adventures. Be prepared to spend some time gazing out the window of vans and buses, and you’ll be richly rewarded.

Paddle Through an Enormous Mangrove Plantation

Most visitors to Bohol make a beeline for the beaches, but some of the most awe-inspiring boat rides and stand up paddle opportunities can be found inland, at Banacon Island Mangrove Forest. Spanning an incredible 425 hectares, this watery region, in the north of the island, is said to be the largest man-made mangrove plantation in Asia, and is notable for its incredible biodiversity, with all manner of colorful fish and curious crustaceans hiding out under the water. Although it’s growing as an eco-tourism attraction, the island remains refreshingly under-the-radar, and it’s worth the effort to get here (a bus ride of around three hours from the provincial capital, Tagbilaran City, to Getafe Wharf, followed by fun 20-minute pump boat ride). Once on the island, families in Bohol can try their hand at kayaking or Stand up Paddle, or just let somebody else do the legwork by taking a boat tour along the waterways. It’s a glorious way to escape the crowds and see a different side to Bohol than the white sand beaches.

Discover Hidden Waterfalls at Candijay

Boho’s tallest and most beautiful waterfalls have traditionally been overlooked by international visitors to the island, due to some slightly tricky transport options. Better roads and increased marketing efforts are starting to change that, but – for now at least – families in Bohol are likely to be the only foreigners in sight at Can-Umantad Falls, in the stunningly beautiful town of Candijay, some 90km east of Tagbilaran City. As well as vivid green rice terraces – widely regarded as the most beautiful in Bohol, visitors will find caves, mangrove swamp and the town’s biggest attraction  – the Can-Umantad Falls. The water that nourishes the rice paddies above rushes down here to create a series of cascades, the tallest of which crashes down from a height of 60 feet to reach a pool below. Getting here requires a bus or van ride of around two hours, followed by local cab or habal habal ride (the latter, a kind of modified motorbike capable of carrying multiple passengers, has a dubious safety record) to the rice paddies, and a 15-minute trek to the falls. Bring snacks, swimming gear and make this a worthy side trip by booking into one of the town’s guest houses and spending a couple of days exploring.

See a Super-Rare Double Barrier Reef at Danajon Bank

Divers – prepare to get excited. Danajon Bank is one of only six double barrier reefs in the world, and spans some 90-miles off the northern coast of Bohol. It’s home to some of the most incredible marine life anywhere on the planet, yet is virtually unheard of internationally. The super-rare geological formation sees two sets of coral reefs, thought to have formed over 6000 years,  teem with mind-boggling numbers of fish and sea creatures,can be reached as part of a dive trip either from Bohol or from Mactan in Cebu. Can’t dive? There are plenty of PADI schools in Bohol for adventurous families keen start their underwater adventures.

for more diving adventures click here.

Eat Here: Buzzzzz Cafe

Panglao Island is a top-spot for families looking for ridiculously scenic beaches and world-class diving. It’s no longer under-the-radar, but families in Bohol can still find virtually deserted stretches of sand after a little trekking. Reward little ones for their activity with a visit to Buzzz Cafe, tucked away on a little street next to Bohol Bee Farm. A kids’ play area will keep younger visitors happy, while the delicious ice creams – made with honey from the farm, as well as other delicious ingredients such as fresh ginger – mean this place is worth getting back on the tourist track for.

Spice Up Your Family Vacation With These Lesser Known Attractions In Koh Samui

If your idea of a beach paradise involves endless stretches of pale, soft sand,  tropical jungle and clear warm waters teeming with tropical fish, Koh Samui is likely to be your dream destination. In fact, this super-alluring Thai island is many a traveler’s idea of a tropical idyll, and it’s become one of the most visited vacation destinations in the region. But while there’s no denying the island’s popularity with everybody from backpackers to the luxury travel brigade, a family visit to Koh Samui doesn’t have to mean English-language menus and jostling others out of the way for a decent spot on the beach. It’s surprisingly easy to escape the madding crowds and find under-the-radar experiences where you’re more likely to meet animal inhabitants than other humans. And the good news is, families are never too far away from ‘civilisation’  – the easy access to ATMs, pharmacies, large stores and other modern amenities can take some of the stress out of your Thai island adventure with the kids.

Cool off in secluded waterfalls

When it comes to Koh Samui and bodies of water, most people make a dash straight for those famous beaches. But for a day’s crowd-free splashing around and cooling down, it’s hard to beat the island’s waterfalls and natural pools. There are several to choose from, and with most of them requiring at least a little legwork to reach (nothing too strenuous, but bring plenty of strong insect repellent), tourists rarely make the trek. The best known (but still pleasingly isolated) of Koh Samui’s falls are at Na Muang, some 12km  from Nathon town. A short, jungly walk leads to the first of two breathtakingly beautiful pool, while those who carry on for an extra half hour are well rewarded with a spot that feels even more blissfully isolated. Families who fancy exploring a little bit of wild nature also have the option to hike around the well-marked trails in the surrounding Namuang Safari Park.  

Visit a Secret Buddha Garden

Put on your comfiest walking shoes and get set to head high up into the hills to visit one of the most magical spots on the island. It’s a steep climb to reach the Secret Buddha Garden via a clearly-marked trail (it’s possible to make much of the journey by off-road vehicle if little legs aren’t up to it…), but well worth the effort. The tropical gardens are a treasure trove of hidden statues – depicting animals, deities and, of course, Buddha – as well as streams and small natural pools. There are even footprints said to have been made by the Buddha himself. A viewpoint looking out over the island is the perfect place to rest the legs and enjoy a picnic and watch birds and butterflies 🦋 flutter by. The garden is less ‘secret’ than its name suggests, but while most locals and visitors have heard of it, few make the effort to actually visit, so kids will have plenty of opportunity to race around to their heart’s content.

Take a Snorkeling Side Trip

There’s no denying the beauty of Koh Samui and its beaches, but for serenity, snorkeling and scuba diving, families can take a side trip to Koh Phangan, which is served by regular ferries – the trip takes around four hours and is a pretty ride in itself, but it’s worth considering spending the night in one of the island’s cheap and cheerful guest houses. It can be busy with tourists and the Full Moon Party set during high season, but with 30 beaches on the island, a little walking is all it takes to leave the crowds behind and discover blissfully quiet spots with some of the best diving and snorkeling imaginable. Bring sturdy walking shoes and a heck of a lot of repellent, pack water and a picnic and you can while away entire days on the sand before heading back to civilisation and catching the sunset from a beach bar.

🌜Tip: To avoid the crowds coming to Koh Phangan for the full moon parties, try to schedule your trip to dates few days after the moon is full.

Eat here: Peak Eye View Restaurant

Families in Koh Samui can work up a heck of an appetite making the ascent to this hidden restaurant (it’s along the same route as the Secret Buddha Garden, and makes a good pitstop on the way back) which has a magnificent vantage point 600 meters above sea level. Kids love the chilled fruit smoothies, and the traditional Thai dishes taste all the better when eaten outside taking in those jaw-dropping views over the entire island. Peak Eye View Restaurant is still a well-kept secret – for now – so visitors can feel rightly smug about discovering a genuine hidden gem on Koh Samui.

Spice Up Your Family Vacation To Koh Phangan With These Lesser Known Attractions.

The tropical Thai island of Koh Phangan has a (somewhat deserved) reputation as a place for hedonistic Full Moon Parties, but there’s more to the place than backpackers going to town on the booze buckets. Away from the party hostels and party beaches, Koh Phangan is an extremely family-friendly destination, and a trip here offers plenty of opportunity to slip away from the hungover hordes and the honeymooning couples. Boat trips and jungle hikes are the starting point for many island adventures, and families in Koh Phangan are never far away from an opportunity to let the kids race around on secluded beaches, snorkel among schools of colorful fish, splash in natural pools or take a nature trek through the deep jungle that covers some 90 per cent of the island. So while there may be 10-20,000 partiers rocking up to Hat Rin for the Full Moon fun, there’s plenty of scope for age-appropriate, crowd-free activities elsewhere.

Take a Free Herbal Sauna (and visit a giant tree!)

When you’re on the road with the family, the idea of a de-stressing, de-toxifying sauna and massage may well seem pretty darned appealing to everyone from tired out toddlers to their travel-weary parents. But we’re not talking ritzy, high end hotel spa treatments here. At the Wat Pho Sauna and Thai Massage, in Baan Tai Village, monks from the nearby Buddhist Temple have set up a herbal sauna surrounded by wild forest and well-populated fish ponds, and now welcome visitors to come and soak up the herbs’ healing properties. While the treatments are popular with partied-out Full-Mooners, they’re also a nice option for families – the herb-scented steam opens the pores and cleanses the system, and littlies who don’t fancy breathing in healing air are likely to enjoy the relaxing Thai massages that are also on offer. There’s no need to worry about paying a premium, either – the monks ask only for a fair donation.

🌲 Nearby, families can check out the island’s biggest tree – a giant tropical Yang Na (rubber tree) which has been left to grow unhindered for hundreds of years and now it is over 50 m’ tall,

Embark on Jungle Adventures and Splash in Natural Pools

With the world and his wife making a beeline for the beaches of Koh Phangan, it’s easy to overlook the rich tropical jungle that covers vast swathes of the island.  Which is all the better for adventurous families keen to get off the beaten tourist track. Slap on the DEET, strap on sturdy walking shoes and head to the trails that lead through steep jungle paths to Thaan Sadet waterfall, in the North East of the island. Sitting in the middle of a gloriously wild national park, this is in fact not one fall but a series of cascades and natural pools, surrounded by giant boulders and stepping stones and stretching out over some 3km. Families with energy to burn can follow trails from the falls up to the island’s tallest peak – Khao Ra – which stands nearly 630 meters above sea level. Viewpoints at the top offer staggering views over the island, its beaches and the surrounding ocean, and cooling off in the pools on the way back down is a nice reward for tackling the climb.   

Get Sporty

The diving, snorkeling and kite boarding on Koh Phangan are hardly a secret, but families can practice a whole host of non-water based activities on the island, too. Volleyball, football and  a sport known as jorkyball – a kind of 2-on-2 variation of soccer – are all popular on the island, and there are numerous sports facilities and classes where kids and parents can brush up on their skills or learn new ones. Each month, huge beach volleyball and beach football tournaments attract big crowds, and grownups who think they’ve got the skills can sign up to take part. If that’s a step too far, just watching the matches is enough to stir up enthusiasm for kicking or volleying a ball around a beach, and after all that racing around, the kids are likely to be zonked enough to for their parents to enjoy a peaceful beachfront meal and/or sunset cocktail.

Eat Here: Roots and Leaves

Cakes and Thai-Indian curries served inside a rustic hut surrounded by wild jungle make a meal at Roots and Leaves feel like a real family adventure. On the edge of Than Sadej National Park, the cafe serves huge portions of sweet and savory dishes made with the freshest ingredients imaginable, with plenty of vegan and gluten-free options for those that want them. Far from feeling like a worthy ‘clean eating’ spot, though, this welcoming little cafe serves genuinely delicious dishes that savvy locals and visitors consider to be some of the best food on the island. It’s hidden away from the main drinking and dining strips on the island, and feels all the more exciting for that.

Spice Up Your Trip With Some Of The Lesser Known Activities For Families Traveling to Palawan

By Philippines standards at least, Palawan is a big deal in terms of tourism. The largest region in the country, the Palawan archipelago has become the subject of much interest among the high-end travel press, with writers enthusing about the pristine beaches, paradise islands and magnificent marine life. The jungle-covered rocky islands shooting straight out of crystalline waters are picture perfect, and international tourists are increasingly heading to the towns of El Nido and Coron, in particular.  But families in Palawan needn’t worry – it’s not yet become the destination of choice for the full moon party brigade, and the region remains little-visited in comparison with many other Asian destinations. It’s not hard to dodge the crowds here, and travelers visiting Palawan with kids will find plenty of opportunity for off-the-beaten track adventures in spots that are unlikely to house luxury hotel resorts anytime soon.

🎅A word to the wise – hiring a bike is a cheap and practical way to zip around from one beauty spot to another with the fam.

Go Snorkeling at Port Barton

Shhh, don’t mention the village of Port Barton to folks back home. This still unspoilt beauty spot remains somewhat under the radar among foreign visitors to Palawan, and families will likely have the ocean to themselves as the island-hop their way around the waters surrounding this laid-back village, where noisy bars and upscale restaurants are conspicuous by their absence. There are a handful of simple guest houses in town, and local guides will happily ship visitors out to the impossibly-scenic nearby islands of Exotic Island, German Island and Paradise Island. The snorkelling is some of the best in the Philippines, and families can get up close and personal with all manner of colorful sea creatures at the appropriately-named Aquarium 1 and Aquarium 2 (open water sites that genuinely feel like being inside a vast aquarium). Don’t expect fast internet connections (or indeed any internet connection at all, much of the time) at this sedate locale some three hours north of Palawan’s capital, Puerto Princesa, but set aside some time just to soak up the incredible seascapes and the laid back vibe.

Island-hop Around Araceli

If you’re after blissful isolation during your family trip to Palawan, head for the remote northeastern municipality of Araceli. Still untroubled by tourism, this stunning part of the archipelago takes some reaching (a two-hour boat ride from Puerto Princesa to Roxas, followed by a four-hour boat ride), but once there your brood will be able to race unhindered down long stretches of sand where the only inhabitants they’re likely to disturb are flocks of colorful birds and crowds of chittering monkeys.  The fresh-caught lobster make a ridiculously tasty dinner after a day’s swimming alongside Nemo-esque clown fish, among the ocean’s other inhabitants. Nature-spotting trails are another way to pass the time here, but really, you’re unlikely to want to tear yourself away from the beaches. There are a few unpretentious spots to stay her, the real luxury is the opportunity to unplug and enjoy the island escapes and the superb coral reefs Angoy, Kutad and Marakit islands. Ask around at the pier, and you and the family will find a fishing boat with a skipper ready to whisk you off.

Follow the Trails Around Olangoan Falls

One of relatively few real beauty spots close to the Palawan capital Puerto Princesa (although, who are we kidding, everything in Palawan is pretty easy on the eye…) the Olangoan Falls, Binduyan, is around two hours’ motorcycle or jeepney ride north of Puerto Princesa, followed by some scenic trekking through jungle paths (bring plenty of water and sensible shoes, and prepare for some steep climbs), to reach a series of pretty waterfalls and cooling natural pools. Crowds gather here at weekends and holidays, but come midweek and things will be blissfully quiet, or just cool off and then trek a little more to find a secluded spot for a family picnic.   

🍨 Eat Here: Baker’s Hill

It’s a hill! With a bakery at the top! This Puerto Princesa cafe is firmly established on the tourist trail, but still worth exploring – entice the kids onto their bikes by telling them that they’ll be rewarded for their uphill pedaling with cheesecake, cookies and house speciality banana cream pudding. Not only that, but there’s a small, Disney-themed playground at the top, complete with strolling peacocks, and views for the parents to admire while the brood are burning off that sugar high. It’s possible to wander a little farther afield for some crowd-free trekking, too.

Here are some family friendly hotels in Palawan you can check.