southeast asia with kids


Tropical Thailand is a destination that lends itself well to adventures by train. Whatever your travel style, there’s a train journey to suit it. Imagine lazy days winding through the hills watching beautiful landscapes unfold at one end of the comfort spectrum, or chatting with locals in cramped carriages at the other extreme. Families with kids will find train travel in Thailand a lot more comfortable than bus travel, and it’s more scenic and less stressful than air travel – no hanging around airports, queues to pass through security, etc.

Fans of trains and train travel will find their railway-based adventures in Thailand extend beyond the journey itself. There are train-themed cafes and bars, iconic railway stations, incredible station hotels and even a food market with trains rushing right through the middle.

Families in Thailand will find that train travel is part of the thrill of the trip, it’s an exciting way for kids to see the country and its people, and sleeper trains tend to be a novel alternative to a hotel bed.

♣ There are three classes of regular train in Thailand – Third Class is the least comfortable, but often the most entertaining option, but better suited to short journeys than long haul trips, due to the less-than-luxurious wooden seats (when you can find a seat, that is…)

Second class steps up the comfort level and is popular with backpackers and familieson a budget – families can sit together on seats facing each other, which convert into beds at night on sleeper trains, and some carriages are air conditioned.

If the budget allows, First Class is the best option for long haul train journeys in family, offering comfortable seating and sleeping, private carriages, and a secure travel experience – the price still compares favourably with air travel and/or the cost of a hotel bed. Train tickets can be bought at rail stations (buy in advance if you’ll be traveling during public holidays), but it’s sometimes easier to book through a reputable agency. Although they’ll charge a commission, it’s often cheaper and less hassle than making a special trip out to the station.

Dodge the speeding trains at Maeklong Railway Market

Just short of an hour’s train ride from Bangkok, this bustling produce market it (in)famous for the honking trains that speed right through the middle of the shops and stalls. It’s wonderfully Instagrammable, but make sure you take photos from a safe distance – don’t let kids hang around on the rails, and move away from the tracks if you hear the train horn! The trains rush through at a pace, but barely ruffle a feather or squash a mango, and the market workers, well accustomed to the spectacle, merely return to their vocal sales patter as though nothing happened. Trains leave from Bangkok’s Wongwian Yai Station each morning, and cost around 10baht. It’s also possible to take a cab or bus, but hey, the train’s the thing.

Visit an Incredible Railway Station at Hua Hin

One of Thailand’s most emblematic train stations, Hua Hin is literally fit for royalty. Built in the 1920s to welcome King Rama VI and his family when they headed to the nearby beach, the ornate style and exuberant decor is a major tourist attraction today. The Royal Waiting Room, built in the style of  Maruekkhathayawan Palace, is a world away from your average cramped and uncomfortable waiting area. Almost as grand, the nearby Railway Hotel (now owned by Centara Group, rooms from around 5,000 baht)) has sweeping lawns, luxurious accomodation and staff dapper in uniforms that call to mind the area’s royal past.

♥ The kids and I LOVE trains, and we try to experience as many kinds of trains as we can, in every destination that we go to. We went on train journeys in India, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Mongolia, Japan, Turkey, Austria, Italy, France, and Israel. We especially liked the Mongolian night train, the Bangkok sky train, The express super-fast train in China, and the metro in Istanbul.

Bangkok Train Adventures For Families

There’s very little that can’t be found in Bangkok – for better or worse, it really is a case of seek and you shall find. That doesn’t apply only to insalubrious activities – if you’re looking for a cute pet cafe or, indeed, good clean train-based fun, you’ll find it here.

Ride the Skytrain

The best way to move around this traffic-choked city is by riding high above the streets on the smooth, affordable Skytrain. Great fun to ride, the BTS, as locals know it,  covers large swathes of the city (see map) , and runs from 6.30am until around midnight. If you’re traveling with kids it’s a godsend, as traveling from one spot to another becomes part of the fun rather than a chore. It can take a little getting used to ticketing etc (there’s some useful info here) but once you’ve got the hang of it, the BTS is a doddle to use. If you can’t reach your destination overground, head underground – the MRT, or Bangkok metro, is modern, cool, clean and essentially a pleasure to use, with plenty of elevators and ramps for families with strollers.

Take Tea and Cakes in a Train Cafe

You can take tea in a train without fears of spillage at Tales Cafe Hostel in Khaosan – an uber-funky cafe-hostel-co-working space designed to look like the interior of a contemporary, chrome-filled train. The cafe is strong on cold brews and matcha tea, while the hostel is about as chic as backpacker options get, with all mod cons and dorm meds styled to look like train sleeper cabins (beds from 350 baht). The private room is a good option for families with young children, and kids will love the idea of sleeping in a ‘static train’.

Meanwhile, at Inn Train, there’s a good selection of cocktails, coffee, Thai and international food, and once again there’s an opportunity to share a co-working space with the digital nomad gang. The whole thing is designed to resemble a train, and there are board games to keep kids busy while grownups catch up on their emails or just relax with a drink.

Take an epic train journey

There are many epic long rail adventures for the taking in Thailand (including some retro-chic luxury options with Orient Express and some back-to-basics fun to be had rattling along in budget carriages). For a shorter journey that delivers plenty am emotional whack, take the three-hour ride from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi, which takes in glorious countryside before arriving in the picturesque town. It also passes over the Bridge of the River Kwai (made famous by the film of the same name), which is part of the infamous Death Railway built by Allied Prisoners of War during World War II, and as such is something of a harrowing- though scenic and very worthwhile – experience.

♣ Tip: Food and Drink on Thai trains

Many travelers picture themselves sipping drinks in a Thai railway bar as the scenery glides by, or chattering over shared beers in a busy second class carriage. However, alcohol is actually now banned on Thai trains (as are cigarettes, although some determined smokers do sneak a few in on occasion). With rare exceptions, food on fancier trains tends to be underwhelming and overpriced, so it’s usually a good option to bring your own supplies, and while the vendors selling everything from chicken to rice cakes onboard is entertaining, families should bring along easy eats and snacks for fussy eaters, as options will be limited once you’re chugging along the tracks.


A trip to Thailand is packed with opportunities for high-adrenaline fun, and there’s no need to miss out on the white-knuckle adventures just because you’ve got the kids in tow. Some extreme activities in Thailand are suitable for all ages, while others are only for adults, teens and older kids, but younger travelers are sure to get a rush from seeing their parents braving these challenging experiences. So get ready to embrace the fear factor and have some extreme fun in Thailand.

 Fly Like A Gibbon Through the Jungle

Ever seen a gibbon fly? Me neither, but they do swing impressively through the jungle, and you will too on Southeast Asia’s longest zipline, known as The Flight of the Gibbon. This all-ages activity takes place in rainforest around one hour’s drive from Chiang Mai involves a total of 28 zip-lines, totaling 800 meters, with 53 treetop platforms. The experience also includes four abseils, the highest of which is 50 meters, and you can challenge your head for heights on four dizzying sky bridges, and the vertigo-inducing spiral staircases of the ‘Zigzag Way’.

You Got This: The Flight of the Gibbon might be terrifying for anybody with a fear of heights, but it’s a safe activity that’s suitable for kids aged five and up.  Do you really want to wimp out in  front of the kids? Family packages with Treetop Asia offer a four-for-the-price-of-three deal (approximately $125 USD per person before discount), and the eco-tourism company works with jungle conservation projects. 

 Be a Human Slingshot in Pattaya

Wheeeeeee! Being catapulted through the air at 150 kilometers per hour is a thing in Thailand or, more specifically, at the adventure-sports haven that is Pattaya (more about Pattaya bungee jumping later). Flying along like a human Angry Bird is both exhilarating and, let’s face it, freakin’ terrifying, as you experience 4G forces and go from 0-150 kilometers/hour in less than a second. Bigger travelers take note, though: there’s a maximum weight limit of 100 kilograms. Prices from around $35 USD, with discounts for second flights, should you care to repeat the experience.

Mind the Fear Factor: Although there’s no stated minimum age, this one is a bit too hair-raising for younger kids and is best suited to those aged 16 and over. Younger members of the party can look on and laugh as their parents are willingly flung through the air at great speed.

 Learn to Skydive in Style

Thrill-seeking families in Thailand can check into an “extreme aviation” resort: Birds Paradise in the northeastern region of Isan. The center is cultivating new skydivers, but guests can also learn to fly ultralights, scramble over obstacle courses, and take on some pretty tricky mountain biking courses. This is one of very few United States Parachute Association schools in Thailand, and with jumps at a minimum of 12,000 feet, the views are incredible. The temperate climate here is in divers’ favor too, and jumps take place pretty much every day of the year.

Need More Convincing? With a spa, restaurants and comfy lodgings, this is the comfortable way to learn to dive. And for those who just want a one-off experience, tandem dives (no experience necessary) are the way to go.

 Extreme Bungee Jumping in Pattaya

The east-coast beach town of Pattaya is as famous for its extreme sports as it is for its gorgeous beaches, and no adventurous traveler worth their salt will want to come here without taking the highest bungee jump in Thailand. This is one for older teens and parents, but younger kids can admire their parents’ and siblings’ bravery. After going through the necessary safety procedures, daredevils will be lifted to a cage at nearly 60 meters (try to enjoy the view if you can) before leaping into the abyss. Once it’s over, bungee-ers can sip a drink at the bar and watch the whole thing back on a big screen.

Safety First: Before jumping, you’ll have to sign a waiver to state that you don’t have any medical conditions, and that you’re not intoxicated (pre-loading and jumping do not mix). Bigger brave souls will also need to step on the scales (there’s a max limit of 150 kilograms). Prices start around $30 USD with Pattaya Bungy.

 Roll Along the World’s Largest Water Zorbing Course

Get ready to channel your inner hamster! The Rollerball experience in Patong, Phuket, involves two people clambering inside a giant water-filled ball, before they are pushed off the top of a hill to go rolling along a 200-meter custom-built course.  Kids aged six and up can join in with this one, and it’s dizzyingly-good fun. The hilltop location makes for some terrific views, and a bar serving cocktails and soft drinks is a perfect place to admire the vista once you’ve done your rolling for the day (don’t drink and roll, it’s unlikely to end well). The experience costs around $20 USD per person, including local area hotel pickup.

Extreme Planking: Rolling around in a giant ball not extreme enough? Try Rollerball planking: essentially lying on the ground, flat out, while two people roll over you in a ball. Just think of it as a rather unusual massage.

Maybe you will also enjoy our special route for nature-loving families traveling to Thailand.

India and extreme sports go together like a good curry and raita. With the mighty Himalayas counting among its seven mountain ranges, India is also home to six major rivers and vast swaths of jungle. This diverse and dramatic topography makes India prime territory for a an adrenaline-pumping excursion or two, and there’s no need to leave the thrills and spills by the wayside just because you’ve got the kids along. These heart-racing activities will guarantee major kudos with the kids, whether they can take part themselves or cheer you on from the sidelines.


Cliff Jumping in Rishikesh

Who doesn’t want to fling themselves of a 30-foot-high rocky cliff edge for fun? Suitable for pretty much anybody aged 12 and over (vertigo sufferers, non-swimmers or anybody with an extreme fear of heights need not apply), this heart-racing experience draws hordes of thrillseekers to the Himalayan town of Rishikesh, which sits in a sheltered bay on the banks of the River Ganges. This is not a DIY activity–the right gear and preparation are vital to making this disaster-free. Tour operators such as River Rafting Rishikesh will make sure everything goes smoothly.

You got this: It might sound terrifying, but it’s hard to beat the thrill of jumping off a sheer rock face into the ultra-refreshing waters of the Ganges. The jumps are usually enjoyed as part of a rafting trip, and jumpers can start off low and build up their height as they build courage. The rush gets faster and more intense the higher you go!

Be Snake Savvy: Would-be adventurers in India should be on their guard for snakes – there are some 270 species in India, around 60 of which are highly venomous. The beautiful King Cobra is the world’s largest venomous snake, while the Indian Python and Saw-Scaled Viper are other slithering beasts you definitely don’t want to bump into.  Snake lovers can see the beasts in relative safety at Nag Panchami, the Hindu snake festival held each year to honor the beautiful, but deadly creatures.


Flyboarding in Goa

You could spend your time in Goa getting some down time on the beach, or you could spend it shooting straight out of the water like a Marvel superhero. Goa is India’s biggest water sports destination, and the latest trend among thrill-seekers at Baina Beach is Flyboarding, where a board is attached to a jet ski and sent soaring into the air by a powerful stream of water. It looks incredible and, while this is strictly for older teens and adults, the little ones are going to be agog at the grownups’ new-found superpowers. It doesn’t take long to master the moves (Atlantis Watersports will soon have you up in the air), although you’ll need to be a reasonably strong swimmer, and leave your sense of fear at home.

Down a Notch: If Flyboarding is a step too far, families in Goa might want to start with Kneeboarding. It requires less balance than waterskiing and wakeboarding, so it’s a good option for members of the family looking to build confidence in the water.



Take South Asia’s Longest Zip Tour

Wheeeeee! Families in northern India can soar over the jungle canopy on South Asia’s longest zipline tour: a two-hour Flying Fox aerial adventure that will thrill anybody with a love of heights and a penchant for good views. It’s worth making the 80-kilometer trip from Chandigarh to reach Kikar Lodge, in Nurpur Bedi, to fly above the forest and valleys on five ziplines with jungle canopy walks in between.  If any members of the family are fearful fliers, not to worry! You can distract them with the lodge’s other adventures, like paintballing and night safaris.

⛷ Boxout: Shiny Happy People

The city of Chandigarh, capital of the states of both Punjab and Haryana, was voted the happiest in India in 2017. With low crime levels and high per capita income, its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a pleasant place for families to take a stroll.


Canyoning in Manali:

Canyoning is like several adrenaline-pumping activities rolled into one, and there’s no better place to practice it than the high altitude Himalayan resort town of Manali. Canyoners will climb, jump, abseil, scramble and swim down sheer rock faces, crashing waterfalls and rock pools. Although it looks challenging, it’s surprisingly easy to master the techniques, and is suitable for physically fit people from the age of around 14 and up. Don’t attempt to go it alone though! Operators such as Himalayan Trails will make sure all the safety measures are in place before you set off on your adventures.


Hot Air Ballooning in Rajasthan

This is one adventure that’s open to every member of the family regardless of age, fitness level or fondness for exhausting physical activity. It might seem like a soft option, but soaring high into the air over mountains and villages is definitely going to get the blood pumping. At around $260 USD per person with SkyWaltz, the price might also send your pulse racing, but getting a bird’s eye view of the landscape, fortresses and palaces is pretty incredible.

Inside Info: Families are in for a treat if they take their flight during November’s Pushkar Camel Fair, when thousands of camels, horses and cattle head to Rajasthan in one of India’s longest-established and most colorful festivals. Pushkar is also one of the top shopping destinations in Asia!


Need more ideas regarding how to travel on a budget with your family? Check out my eBook available for download on Amazon here!

Experience Traditional Vietnamese Activities with Your Family!

When is the last time you snagged a catfish with your bare hands, lapped up ripe rambutan pudding, or imbibed some fresh artichoke tea? The next time your brood is navigating the frenzied thoroughfares of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, take the chance to engage in all of these traditional Vietnamese happenings. Vietnam encompasses a diverse conglomeration of Asian cultures, never-ending friendly faces, and countless affordable adventures—you will be able to embark on all kinds of authentic activities without worrying about busting your budget. So enjoy the full array of Vietnamese cultural offerings, and dive straight into the (stinky) durian delights!



Vietnam boasts over 3,500 kilometers of coastline and more than 2,000 islands, which makes its culture heavily centered around the ocean. Fishing has always been a popular hobby and source of income for the Vietnamese, and for traveling families, it can be a perfect pastime. For those who are traveling inland, there are plenty of opportunities to seek your freshwater fish fare in rivers. Those who love beach days will enjoy searching for ideal deep-sea fishing spots. Bait, lures, poles, reels, and tackle are easily rented or purchased in local shops in towns bordering bodies of water. No permits or licenses are needed for fishing in Vietnam, so challenge yourself to catch your dinner!

Where to go:

Phú Quốc Island: Here, barter with local fishermen to arrange a trip out on the ocean for as little as $20 USD. If you are planning on catching larger varieties like ocean sunfish and marlin, you may need to commission a private trip through a tour operator. There are also opportunities to fish from the shore if you are on a tighter budget—try the Duong Dong River to hang with locals or dangle your bait off of the Cua Can Bridge.

Mekong Delta: If you are feeling especially confident, you can try “mudfishing”, where you try to catch catfish or eel hiding between rocks with your bare hands. Try this activity in freshwater areas like the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam. Again, here it is best to barter with village fish folk for a personal boat ride as opposed to booking with tour agents—a great opportunity to practice your haggling!


Eating Ph

If bare-handed fishing isn’t your thing, you’ll need to fuel up somehow, so try slurping down a bowl of fresh phở. The dish has become a crowd-pleaser in many Western eateries, but its home is in Vietnam. For those who are not noodle soup connoisseurs, phở refers to a broth that can be dressed up to the diner’s delight. Choose from add-ons like seasoned beef or chicken, cilantro, onions, bean sprouts, and basil, and infuse your meal with fish sauce or chili. The phở from your hometown go-to joint will pale in comparison to a piping-hot dish prepped within the energy of Vietnam, so take the time to search for your new favorite spot in the homeland of this delectable noodle soup. You’ll surely find it phở-nomenal and un- phở-gettable. Phở sure.

Where to phở:

Hanoi: Phở is usually eaten for breakfast in Hanoi, so start your day at your local soup spot. The best places often run out of fare around lunchtime, so get an early start to ensure you can taste the most delectable of phở.

Ho Chi Minh City: In southern Vietnam, the broth is often thickened with sauces and herbs, contrasting the clear broth found in the North. Venture down the coast to try this alternative version to the thin soups found elsewhere.



After filling up on phở, satisfy your kids’ sweet tooth with bowls of super cheap hot or cold chè, made from ripe local fruits. There are infinite versions of chè, but it is usually a pudding or sweet soup flavored with mangoes, sweetened black beans, coconut, rambutans, and other seasonal delights. If you enjoy the taste and smell of rotten eggs (sign me up!), try chè made from durian, the notoriously stinky fruit which is illegal in most public buildings and on many kinds of public transportation. You can find this dessert in local grocery stores or in food stalls tucked away in city streets. Adventurous eaters can down chè with seaweed and aloe vera.

Where to go:

Hanoi: Try Quan Che Muoi Sau on Ngo Thi Nham Street. Here, you can taste the chè dumplings. Chè 95 is also a great spot that serves all kinds of dessert, including yogurt, sweet sticky rice, and caramel options, all for less than $1 USD.

Ho Chi Minh City: In southern Vietnam, chè is often served with sweetened coconut cream. Chè Khánh Vy in District 10 of the city is a great place to start your sweet southern culinary tour.


Vietnamese Dance

Feeling a need to ward off some impending evil? Look no further than the lion dance! The artsy ones in the family will enjoy a hearty dose of culture whilst listening to Vietnamese instruments like the dan nhi (fiddle), dan nguyet (two-string guitar), and the dan tam (lute) accompany traditional dancers. The lion dance is one of the most famous boogies in Vietnam, and acrobats and martial artists usually perform alongside the dancers. The dance originated in China (Vietnam did not gain full independence from China until 1000 AD), but it has developed a distinct Vietnamese flavor over the last ten centuries. Most of these rituals are performed during lunar festivals, so chances are you’re already knee-deep in Vietnamese culture—reveling at a festive lunar celebration—if you have the chance to witness one of these traditional jigs.

Where to go:

Hanoi: Need to get your groove on? Visit this city in autumn to see the lion dance during Trung Thu, which falls on the full moon in August. This festival honors each family’s ancestors (see the final activity in this article), and fortunately involves eating tons of cake and fruit!


After a grueling day of fishing and chè tasting, it is time for a traditional Vietnamese massage, known as tam quat. Originally developed as a medical strategy to stimulate circulation and eradicate stress, tam quat is now popular for tourists and locals alike. Centuries ago, the practice was only performed by blind masseurs, as the massage is designed to react to people’s energy and muscle tone. A combination of forceful kneading and direct pressure applied to tight muscle groups helps the patient relax. Cupping is also popular, which involves applying warm suction cups to different areas of the body. Some can be turned off by the trademark circular bruises left behind after the treatment, but cupping does not hurt and instead often results in many beneficial results ranging from improved blood flow to mitigated migraines. Cup, cup and away!

Where to go:

Ho Chi Minh City: If you are in need of a cupping session to recover from your globe hopping, make a pit stop at the Traditional Medical Hospital. If you are exploring Ho Chi Minh City, try to choose an outlet that is certified by the medical Department of the city: Dai An in District 11 is a great choice, as is Cham Cuu Chuong in District 7. Expect to spend around $5-$10 USD for an hour-long treatment—even less if you choose to chance it on a street massage.


Most Asian countries have a rich tradition of drinking tea, and Vietnam is no exception—Vietnamese people have been cultivating tea for thousands of years. In Vietnam, drinking tea has historically been a practice of the upper class. Green tea, or trà xanh, is especially popular in Vietnam, and is known for alleviating infections. If you’re feeling fancy, lotus and jasmine teas are considered delicacies because they are difficult to produce. Green tea leaves are placed meticulously within the flowers where they soak in the essence of the bloom, after which the tea is packaged for consumption. Some teas even include lotus petals themselves. No trip to Asia is complete without soaking in the atmosphere from a street-side tea stall, so get sipping!

Where to go:

Lamdong: Lamdong is the home of the some of the oldest trees in Vietnam, some dating back to more than 1,000 years ago. This part of the country is overrun with tea plants, so visit this area to get a glimpse into Vietnamese tea production. Artichoke tea, called trà atiso, is the most famous kind of drink produced in the Lamdong region.

∴ In addition, Tea is actually served at almost every local restaurant. You will see a big jar of tea, waiting for you, for free, on every table. When the weather is hot, the tea will be served with huge cubes of ice, and they will drink it, with no sugar at all, from a beer glass. You can enjoy it on every meal :-).

Honoring Ancestors

Most Western cultures emphasize individual successes and independence, while Eastern traditions are rooted in collectivist principles like family and cooperation. One common Eastern phenomenon is the multi-generational household, which exemplifies the central aspect of family in collectivist nations. For example, Vietnamese people erect altars in their homes and prepare daily offerings to honor their ancestors, taking special care to celebrate them during the full moon. The Vietnamese believe that their ancestors have the power to bring good luck long after their deaths. As you explore Vietnamese cities and villages alike, you will discover temples and altars tucked into every nook and cranny, as the Vietnamese perpetually offer fruit, photographs, candles, wine, and even money to their ancestors.

Where to go:

Hanoi: Tran Quoc Pagoda is an exceptional example of a center of worship in Hanoi, but temples and altars pepper every inch of the country. Most temples in Vietnam will have altars where you can honor your own ancestors or place small offerings for your loved ones.


Need more ideas regarding how to travel on a budget with your family? Check out my eBook available for download on Amazon here!

A family trip to China is never going to be dull: the simple act of ordering a meal or crossing the road can be a white-knuckle experience in the big cities. But adventurous families looking for adrenaline-packed thrills and spills can rest assured that there are plenty of extreme activities in China that will step up the insanity levels a notch or 10. The only question is, are you brave enough to tackle them?


The Ultimate Skywalk: Coiling Dragon Cliff Walkway

A head for heights is going to be essential for some of China’s most extreme attractions! You don’t need to be in perfect shape or be above a certain height to experience this daredevil attraction on Tianmen Mountain in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Hunan. A glass walkway stretches for 100 meters around the mountain, clinging perilously to a cliff edge 1,400 meters high, while offering mind-blowing mountain views for anybody calm enough to appreciate them. The 1.5-meter-wide walkway is open to anybody game enough to step out onto the heart-stopping skywalk. Opened in 2016, it’s the longest and most dramatic of three similar walks in the Tianmen Mountain Scenic Area, and looks out over Tongtian Avenue, which makes 99 dramatic turns as it snakes up the mountain.



Take a Walk Across the World’s Highest and Longest Glass Bridge

Hunan is establishing itself as quite the destination for thrill-seeking visitors to China! In addition to the hair-raising, cliff-clinging skywalk, iit also hosts the world’s highest and longest glass bridge. At a height of more than 300 meters, the bridge stretches 430 meters over the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon, and visitors can add extra spice to the experience by bungee jumping or ziplining over the abyss.

? Tip: Don’t try to wing it with this one–there’s some advance planning needed. The bridge can hold a maximum of 600 people at any one time, and entrance (from around $18 USD for bridge only) needs to be reserved in advance for a specific time slot. A Chinese ID card is required to book on the official site, so families on holiday in China would be well advised to book with a tour agency.   

⛷ Boxout: Even taking a trip to Walmart can be an adventure in China! Expect to see whole sharks, turtles and crocodiles on ice, and even live, hopping frogs. Being brave enough to cook and eat one is a further step up the adventure ladder.



Tackle the World’s Biggest Skate Park

If heaven is a half pipe, then the SMP Skate Park, on the outskirts of Shanghai, is Paradise itself. This is the world’s largest skate park, hosting seven concrete bowls, a 40-meter half pipe, rails and a mock street-scene, all set out in a somewhat spooky lunar-esque landscape. Built by skate specialists Convic at a cost of around $25 million, it’s the ultimate place to showcase your mad skills (or just watch the offspring showcase theirs). Entrance to the park is around $10 USDThe park has bleachers seating several thousand spectators, and gets busy at weekends for major skating events. During the week things are quiet – somewhat eerily so, allowing visitors to hone their skills without onlookers.


Brave this Terrifying Cliff Swing 

Ahhh, swinging through the air, so relaxing…except when you’re being pushed off a cliff edge into misty nothingness over a 300-meter sheer drop! Few parents are going to willingly watch their kids be strapped into this vertigo-inducing swing at Wansheng Ordovician Park. The highest mountain swing in the country comes complete with safety harness, but this might be one that’s strictly for the grownups. In addition to the swing, there’s a daredevil footbridge over a canyon to reach a lookout point, and the world’s longest and highest cantilevered walkway, which juts out in an A-formation for more than 80 meters from a sheer cliff edge. White water rafting, climbing and canyoning are other activities in the park.


Keep Cool with Whitewater Rafting

Daredevil families in Shanghai can escape the city swelter and get an adrenaline rush with white water rafting trips out remote locations such as Xinan Jiang, near Huangshan, and Bairma Tan, Anqin. Against an impossibly scenic backdrop, visitors will navigate Class III and Class IV rapids (on a 1-6 scale, 6 being near impossible). Dragon Adventures offers trips that can be tailored to meet families’ individual needs, and younger visitors can simply splash in calm pools.

You can also try our route for nature-loving families going to China.


The prospect of a family trip to India can be a daunting one. While this vast, hugely diverse country has family-friendly attractions and activities galore, it’s also notorious for chaotic cities and the infamous “Delhi Belly.” Luxury travel in India is a whole different ball game, however; this two-week trip takes in all the best sights and experiences for families in India, while avoiding the complications and inconveniences. With high-end hotels at every stop, and quality private transfers to get from A to B, our memory-making trip of a lifetime takes the stress out of a first-time family trip around India.


Day 1-3: Delhi

India’s beyond-busy capital (the population is about 25 million) is the obvious place to begin your family vacation in India. Begin in style with a private transfer (around 35 minutes’ drive) to the city’s grandest hotel, the Leela Palace, whose fleet of Rolls Royce and BMW cars is available for airport meet and greets. The super-plush hotel has enormous rooms and incredible suites, and is very accommodating for families. A heated rooftop pool, ritzy spa, and several on-site restaurants mean the family is unlikely to want to move far from the hotel for the first 24 hours–all the better for recuperating from jet-lag! A 24-hour babysitting service is available should the grownups feel like exploring the city after dark.

? Boxout: India’s enormous capital city is divided into “Old Delhi” and “New Delhi.” The former a chaotic maze of medieval lanes, and the latter is a neat, modern garden city designed according to the skillful plans of British architect Edward Lutyen. Both sides of the city sit atop the remains of several previous incarnations of the city.

Given Delhi’s size and scale, the best way to see the sights is via a private driver and guide. Spots not to be missed include the UNESCO-listed tomb of Mughal ruler Humayun, the vast Red Fort, and the former home of Gandhi at a museum created in his honor. The vast Lodhi Park is a great spot for picnics and a rare bit of peace and quiet, while kids love the city’s Deer Park. Located in the southern part of the city, the park boasts ducks, rabbits and other fluffy friends as well as the eponymous deer. A rickshaw ride around Old Delhi, taking in the colorful bazaars, is a fun way to round off your family stay in Delhi.

? Tip: It’s worth giving the kids a crash course in Indian history before arriving in Delhi. Particularly prevalent are the might Mughals, who ruled the Indian subcontinent from 1526 to 1857. The six Great Mughals: Babar, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb built a powerful empire and left a legacy of distinctive art, architecture, literature, and food.


Day 4-7: Varanasi

Board a flight to Varanasi, the captivating spiritual capital of the Hindu world. From Delhi, the flights last about 90 minutes. Take a riverboat tour along the Ganges River to admire the many grand palaces and temples, and watch the hordes of pilgrims perform ritual ablutions in the holy waters. Visitors can see master silk weavers at work, buy gorgeous silk creations, and all ages will enjoy a visit to the 18th Century Durga Temple, famous for its monkey inhabitants as well as its grand design. It’s well worth taking a side trip to nearby Sarnath, where Buddha gave his first sermon after reaching enlightenment. Deer Park in Sarnath is a lovely place for families to take a picnic.

Where to stay: Check into the intimate Taj Nadesar Palace, where beautiful gardens are perfect for kids to run amuck in, and where guests can enjoy BBQs in the open air as they soak up the views.

?Boxout: Varanasi’s Golden Temple, dedicated to Shiva, only admits Hindus (and sacred cows), but non-Hindus can admire the glimmering gold-plated spire from outside. Nearby are narrow lanes packed with wandering animals as well as food sellers, market stalls and numerous mosques.


Day 8-9: Agra

There are just a few direct flights per week between Varanasi and Agra, home to the magnificent Taj Mahal, so be sure to time your flights accordingly–or allow time for the scenic eight-hour train ride.

Where to stay: For a truly luxurious family stay in Agra, book into the Oberoi Amarvilas, which is the only hotel in the world whose rooms have a view of the Taj Mahal, just 600 meters away. This hotel truly turns the luxury level up to 11, but remains a fun place for families – kids will love the enormous pool, the fountains and the golf buggy rides to the Taj Mahal. There’s fine-dining on site, with kids’ options available (and babysitting for parents who feel like a fancy meal sans kids).

? Boxout: Mangoes galore 

Like mangoes? You’ll be in your element in India. India is the largest producer and consumer of mangoes in the world, and there are more than 100 different varieties. Kids tend to love mango whipped up with yogurt to make a cooling lassi, and they’re a great ingredient for grown-up cocktails, too.


Day 10-11: Jaipur

It’s a drive of around three hours from Agra to Jaipur, so be sure to book a suitably comfortable car and load the kids’ backpacks up with pens/pencils/iPads or whatever else keeps boredom at bay. You’re en route to Rajasthan’s famous “Pink City.”

Where to stay: Stay at the Rambagh Palace, and watch the kids’ faces light up when they’re greeted by a parade of decorated elephants and horses on arrival at this former royal residence. Aside from the opulence of the hotel itself, visitors on luxury family holidays in Jaipur can visit hill forts and spectacular palaces, race around vast parks and gardens, and soak up the color and culture of the medieval backstreets and bazaars, where tribespeople in bright sarees and turbans sell beautiful textiles and leatherwork.


Day 12: Udaipur

Set aside time in your schedule for at least a day in one of India’s most beautiful cities (90-minute flight from Delhi). A luxury family stay in Udaipur should include a boat trip around Lake Pichola, tour of the ornate city palace, and a visit to Jagdish Temple. Kids can try out their bargaining skills shopping for keepsakes at the bazaars, and burn off energy at the compact-but-fun Saheliyon Ki Bari Garden, where marble elephants, fountains and forts compete for kids’ attention.

Where to stay: Where you and the brood can lap up the luxury at Oberoi Udaivilas.


Day 13-14: Mumbai

Take the 90-minute flight to India’s other super-city, Mumbai (formerly Bombay), where you’ll  The hotel can book you a whistle-stop tour of the big, bright city (famously the home of Bollywood) – be sure not to miss a boat ride out to the Elephant Island Caves, which is filled with fascinating Hindu statues dedicated to Shiva. Dining options take in everything from a patisserie serving fine pastries, to seafood and tapas, as well as traditional Indian cuisine, so guests may want to spend their last few nights simply lounging by the pool, soaking up the views and reflecting on their luxury family holiday in India.

Where to stay: Round off your trip in style with a stay at the Taj Mahal Palace, in the south of the city which offers dramatic views of the Arabian Sea, and where kids are greeted with a “Kids’ Passport” packed with puzzles and other things to do. Aside from exploring the vast, palatial pool and its grounds, the hotel lays on a range of bespoke creative activities for kids, so the grown ups can enjoy some pampering treatments at the super-lavish spa. Babysitters are available to look after the brood if the grownups feel like a kid-free nightcap or two.

We go to India for few months almost every year, so check out our top tips for family travel to India.

Before going to India try to learn some Hindi!

Giant pandas. The greatest wall in the world. The Terracotta Army. Magnificent mountains and over 5,000 years of history… China has plenty to appeal to kids and teens, and there’s no need to mention the stunning landscapes and 20-plus UNESCO World Heritage Sites that will have grown ups’ eyes popping. Visiting this enormous, culturally-exotic country en-famille might sound like a mammoth undertaking, but China is well geared up to tourism, and luxury family holidays in China offer heaps of excitement and adventure without sacrificing any creature comforts – in fact, China’s finest five-star hotels are among the most luxurious anywhere in the world. Our 14-day itinerary offers a chance to catch China’s big ticket attractions, as well as some off-the-beaten track kiddie-pleasers and some seriously swanky accommodations.

? Tip: China is a kid-friendly country, and families are made to feel welcome the length and breadth of the land, and your kids may well feel like mini-celebrities if they have very ‘Western’ looks. Be prepared for plenty of snapping cameras and curious locals, especially if the kids are very fair-skinned and light haired. .

Day 1-5: Beijing

With its towering skyscrapers, honking traffic and sheer enormous scale, touching down in Beijing can be a giant culture shock for families who have just arrived in China. A stay at the fabulous Four Seasons Beijing will ensure your luxury family vacation in Beijing gets off to a smooth start. Pre-arrange a transfer (the hotel can do this for you, and having the driver greet the family from the plane can be a major stress-saver when arriving at this vast airport after a long flight). The Four Seasons is epic in scale and luxury levels, as a good location among the grand Embassy buildings of the Central Business District, and offers some great family-focused extras such as kids’ spa treatments, table tennis classes, traditional Chinese craft-making classes, and fascinating tea ceremonies – there’s even a library on the Executive Level. The hotel can arrange private sightseeing tours (and a private driver is a good way to see all that this enormous city has to offer. However you choose to see the city, be sure to get out early at least one day to see the locals going about their group morning exercise classes at the stunning Temple of Heaven. Other must-visits for families in Beijing include the gigantic Tiananmen Square (look out for vendors selling kites – kite-flying is a popular family activity here) and neighboring Forbidden City (just the word ‘Forbidden’ is usually enough to pique kids’ interest, and it’s impossible not to be impressed by the largest palace complex in the world, protected by a six-meter deep moat and 10-meter high wall) . A visit to the Great Wall at Mutianyu is another must-do, as is a trip to see the giant pandas at Beijing Zoo. Boat cruises on the city’s beautiful Kunming Lake, taking in the Summer Palace, are nice extras, and evening activities for families in Beijing might include watching a Kung-Fu class or puppet show, as well as getting to grips with chopsticks at some of the city’s excellent high-end restaurants.

? Boxout: Let’s Go Fly a Kite A popular extra activity for kids in China is a kite-making class. The traditional craft has been practised for centuries, and kite-flying is a hugely popular pursuit in Chinese cities. The intricate kites are made from bamboo and silk, and children of all ages tend to enjoy learning how to create their own.

Day 6-9: Xian

Take a transfer to the airport for the 2h 15min flight to Xian (multiple flights daily), where your family will get to meet the 6,000-strong Terracotta Army. There are several high-end accommodation options for your Luxury Family Trip to Xian – for modern luxury on a large scale, try the Sofitel Xian on Renmin Square, while more boutique accommodations come courtesy of Epoque Hotels, which has two upmarket, characterful boutique properties for your luxury family trip to Xian.

A trip to see the Terracotta Army is the main draw in Xian, but there are plenty of other impressive attractions here: dating back to the 11th Century BC, the former capital has a staggering amount of ancient ruins, tombs, pagodas and temples, as well as a Ming Dynasty city wall, and natural wonders including Mount Hua – one of China’s mightiest mountains – and the relaxing Huaqing Hot Springs. Again, the best way to take it all in is to arrange a private driver/tour guide. Try to catch a shadow puppet show at Gao’s Courtyard- a popular draw for families in Xian.

Day 10: Guilin

Take the 2h 15 flight to beautiful Guilin (several flights daily with multiple operators), and pre-arrange a transfer from the airport to Shangri-La Guilin – a super-swanky hotel with a traditional pagoda-style architecture, and a magnificent location between mountains and river. The real appeal of this spot is the beautiful setting, prepare for some rest and relaxation (plan some spa and pool time at the hotel), as well as more active family-friendly pursuits such as bamboo rafting down the river or hiking in the hills

Day 11: Li River Cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo

From scenic Guilin, take a cruise down the astonishingly-beautiful Li River (think mist-shrouded mountains, serene riverside villages and locals punting along on home-made rafts). Your hotel should be able to make bookings on luxury boats (or charter a private boat and skipper) to make the 3-hour journey to Yangshou. Allow time on the way to check out the Reed Flute Cave, with its dramatic stalagmites and stalactites (tours take about an hour). Yangshuo itself is more about peaceful retreats than truly luxury lodgings, but Li River Resort, high in the mountains above the city, has priceless views, a lovely pool and impeccable service, with families made to feel extremely welcome. Your family visit to Yangshuo should include activities such as hiking among the rice paddies and gloriously green hills, and the hotel can also arrange family cookery classes and painting lessons.

? Box out: Charming by day, Yangshuo town center gets packed and noisy after dark, and loud disco music may keep light sleepers awake. For a good night’s sleep, take the family to one of the peaceful hillside towns and villages instead.

Day 12-14: Shanghai

It’s a couple of hours’ drive to Guilin airport, where you’ll take a flight to Shanghai City (2h 15mins, several flights daily). Check into the plush-but-family-friendly Peninsula Shanghai and arrange to be picked up by one of the hotel’s own fleet of Rolls Royce cars. The pool and spa are both among the best in town, so allow for time to enjoy them. Super-modern Shanghai has a lot to pack into a couple of days, but highlights for a luxury family trip to Shanghai should include a visit to Shanghai Natural History Museum, a stroll and picnic through Ying Dynasty-era Yu Garden, whose lakes, pagodas and rockeries are a delight for small children and frazzled parents. Visiting the nearby market for keepsakes is another highlight, and an evening visit to catch a super-skillful Acrobatics show (ask at the hotel for bookings) is a cross-generational crowd pleaser and makes a fantastic last-night’s activity to round off your vacation in style before the flight back home.

Check out this post as well: 15 Things You Need to Know When Going to China with Your Family.

And for more luxurious ideas try this website

Spice up your trip with some of Chiang Mai’s hidden secrets!

One of the most popular cities in the north of Thailand, Chiang Mai hosts visitors from all over the globe enjoying the main attractions on the daily. It’s also considered to be one of the popular destinations for families traveling in Thailand. But what hidden treasures does the city have to offer? Here are 4 must-have experiences below!


Baan Kang Wat Artist Village

Relatively new, Baan Kang Wat Artist Village is still largely uncharted by the millions of tourists that pass through Chiang Mai, which makes it the perfect excursion for a break from the outside world. The village is home to local artists and their respective stores, homey pop-up shops, food stands, and of course coffeeshops galore. You’ll find more than just your average market purchases in the village. Quality, handmade items are for sale, and lovers of all things vintage will have a field day here!

You’ll definitely find your share of ex-pats fond of the remote-working life in Baan Kang Wat, as they’re certain to be taking advantage of the village’s many cafés and free WiFi. Consequently, if you’ve come abroad with your own work to do, this is certainly the place! Many of the coffeeshops are themed and catered to specific tastes. For example, the Library Café is littered with floor mats and bookshelves, encouraging a relaxing afternoon curled up with Thai tea and a good book.

If you want to do more than simply relax on your vacation, there are also many a workshop you can enjoy. For instance, you can head to the amazing Pa Cha Na Ceramics Studio, where you can get hands-on experience creating your own pottery. You can also sit back and watch other artists create.


2-Day Traditional Karen Weaving Class

If you’re in Chiang Mai with kids, this is a fabulous opportunity for them to learn a new skill! This experience takes a slightly larger commitment of 2 days. You’ll learn about traditional Karen tribal culture through a unique medium, exploring the local customs and general lifestyle of the people. Weaving is the first thing you’ll notice that distinguishes the Karens from other tribes. The magnificent patterns and colors they use are ones you will learn how to create on this trip. You’ll be picked up from your residence in Chiang Mai and embark on a tour that you can personalize if you choose. The standard 2 day Traditional Karen Weaving Class includes: meals and accommodations, two weaving lessons, a northern Thai cooking class, treks to the jungle waterfalls, and of course, a survey of the local markets. The tour runs at $110 USD per person. It’s suitable for all ages, and the guides there are very attentive.


Monk Chats

Some of the Chiang Mai temples, or wats, have a “Monk Chat” program, which allows your family to sit with a monk one-on-one and ask them anything you want, from their general lifestyle to specific questions about their beliefs and practices. Your family will have the exclusive opportunity of learning from Thai monks personally, and you can incorporate it into the inevitable temple hops your family will find itself on. All you have to do in return is provide them with conversation, so they can work on their English! Some Chiang Mai temples of note which offer this program include Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Suan Dok, and Wat Sisuphan, with some available only in evenings and some going on all day. Wherever you decide to go, make sure to do your research beforehand so you get there at optimal Monk Chat time, and get ready for an incredibly enriching experience.


Warorot Evening Market

The one market you can’t miss, Warorot provides you with endless delectable options! Sadly, our human bodies aren’t capable of consuming the amount you would need to sample everything in one sitting, but you and your family can definitely make a dent in the various stands and stalls. Meat lovers will enjoy the sai ua (Chiang Mai sausage) and nam prik ong (chili-tomato pork dip) while vegetarians might want to go for some kaeng khanun (jackfruit curry). If you visit the market during the daytime, it may mimic the other various markets situated around Chiang Mai, what with its streets full of dried fruit, vegetables, jewelry, silks, handicrafts, goods and wares that could occupy you for hours. However, the prices you’ll encounter here are better than those of other local markets, and the goods are of a higher quality. Give yourself ample time to explore all the corridors and roads, so you can satisfy your pockets as well as your stomachs!

You can also take a look at the lesser-known and hidden spots for families traveling in Bangkok.

Need more ideas regarding how to travel on a budget with your family in Asia? Check out my eBook available for download on Amazon here!

This beautiful, beguiling country is packed with opportunities to explore everything from ancient cities to hidden caves. Visitors on luxury family trips to Vietnam can unwind in style at some seriously impressive kid-friendly hotels and boutique guest houses. What’s more, the Vietnamese tend to dote on children, so a warm for you and the brood is virtually guaranteed.

Our itinerary for a two-week family trip to Vietnam proves that a luxury vacation with the kids doesn’t need to mean abandoning your sense of adventure. If you’re craving some luxury, this 2-week itinerary allows plenty of time to relax and soak up Vietnam’s beauty and unique ambience, while still packing in plenty of big ticket sights, experiences and family-friendly activities.


Day 1-3 Ho Chi Minh City

The city formerly known as Saigon is still frequently referred to by the old name, as well as being commonly shortened to HCMC. Whatever you choose to call it, it’s wise to start your Vietnamese family vacation here, rather than throwing the brood in at the deep end by starting the trip in noisy, chaotic Hanoi. HCMC is a gentler introduction to Vietnamese cities, and there’s plenty here to keep the family entertained for at least a few days. There’s a lot to pack in, so hiring a driver/guide to whizz you around the city’s best sights and attractions is a wise move. Be sure to find time to take in one of the famous Water Puppet Shows, where folkloric tales are enacted on a “stage” of water (there are several in the city, but the Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theater in District One is reliably good), while the city’s zoo and botanical gardens also merit a visit.

Where to stay: Get things off to a comfortable start by checking into one of the city’s plush family-friendly hotels. For high-end accommodations on a grand scale, we recommend Park Hyatt Saigon, where the family-pleasing amenities include lush landscaped gardens, an outdoor pool, a super-handy location perfect for downtown sightseeing, and even a butler service for families wanting to go all-out. Families looking for a more boutique option might want to try Villa Song, which has 23-beautifully-appointed rooms and suites and a gorgeous riverside location. Both hotels can arrange transfers from the airport, and both have good on-site dining, so it may well be tempting to spend your first day and night just relaxing and soaking up the tropical bounty.

? Box out: Your kids may never forgive you if you leave HCMC without a visit to Suoi Tien Cultural Amusement Park. It’s a Buddhist-themed park, where rollercoasters and waterslides whizz past statues and shrines, and staff stroll around dressed as golden monkeys. Located in District 9, it even has an artificial beach. Best to side aside a whole day for this one!


Day 4-5 Mekong Delta Cruise

A luxury cruise along the Mekong Delta will be a memorable part of your family trip to Vietnam. Kids tend to love the colonial-era boat replicas, and the cabins are cool and comfortable. Meals are provided on board, but be sure to mention ahead of time if there are fussy eaters or food allergies. You’ll glide past gorgeous pagodas, drinking in stunning sunsets (and delicious cocktails, should the mood strike!) as you go. Excursions such as cycle rides and cookery classes are optional extras. One high-end option is Les Rives Experience, and for those who want to step up the luxury level, private speedboats and skippers are also available, which allow families to set their own sightseeing agenda. Plan to spend at least one night aboard.


Day 7-10 Nha Trang

Avoid the risk of car sickness and take a flight (around one hour, several flights daily) to the beautiful beach city of Nha Trang. Island-hopping boat tours and a visit to VinPearl Amusement Park offer further family fun. Book into your own private paradise at Evason Ana Mandara – a luxury resort set right on the softest, whitest sands imaginable. There’s a Kids’ Club (free for under-fours) and tons of water-based activities for older kids and teens. A spa (parents and kids pampering sessions available) and plush bar and restaurant mean families on luxury breaks in Nha Trang may never want to leave.


Day 11-12 Hanoi

After soaking up sun and spectacular views at Nha Trang (a flight from Nha Trang to Hanoi takes a little under 2 hours), the batteries should be recharged enough for a visit to the big city. A fun way to see the city is to take a bike ride to the the tranquil Hoan Kiem Lake, a pleasant setting for afternoon water puppet shows. On your second day in the city, have a guide take you on a whistle-stop tour of the city’s best temples and pagodas, stopping for lunch in the French Quarter, and visiting the Museum of Ethnology, which provides an interesting look at Hanoi’s multi-ethnic makeup, where kids can peek inside traditional dwellings.

Where to stay: Look for centrally-located lodgings on Hang Trong, Ngo Queyen or Hang Bong for ease of access to major sights. One lovely option for families is Apricot Hotel, an artsy lakeside spot with an emphasis on the finer things in life like afternoon teas, fine pastries and brightly-colored cakes. There’s a rooftop bar with glorious panoramic views so visitors can get the lay of the land as they sip sundowners at cocktail hour. Families on a luxury trip to Hanoi should have their hotel arrange a direct transfer from the airport.

?Box out: Kids with a head for heights can zip up super-speed elevators (50 seconds from ground floor to 65th floor) where a glass-floored Sky Walk offers a birds’ eye view of the city that’s not for the faint-hearted.


Day 13-14 Halong Bay

No luxury family break in Vietnam would be complete without a cruise around the magnificent Halong Bay, an UNESCO World Heritage Site with crystalline waters and dramatic conical islands. It’s a short hop from Hanoi, and your hotel will be able to arrange transfers and book boat trips. Do your research in advance, though–there are lots of types of trips available, but kids tend to enjoy the traditional-style junk boats. Indochina Junk is good option for off-the-beaten track exploring and it has a license to explore some regions that few other boats are allowed to visit, all with a focus on sustainable luxury travel.

? Tip: Halong Bay boat cruises are best for pre-toddling babies and kids that are old enough to know about boat safety. As strollers aren’t a practical option on the islands you’ll be visiting, kids will need to be small enough to be carried or big enough to walk by themselves. Unless you want to spend your whole cruise chasing your toddler all over the ship, it’s best to either take wee babies or wait until the kids are older.


Day 14- Hanoi/Departure

Back to Hanoi to catch the flight home! If your flight leaves late at night, it’s work making a quick trip out to Tam Coc, a group of three hidden caves famous for their natural beauty set the city in the glorious Vietnamese countryside.


Need more ideas regarding how to travel on a budget with your family in Asia? Check out my eBook available for download on Amazon here!


The Philippines isn’t the easiest place to travel: many people don’t speak English and tourist facilities are severely lacking in most areas. On the other hand, Filipino nationals are very welcoming and hospitality is a cultural value, so it is an ideal destination for families. There are many ways to make your family’s Filipino jaunt smoother! Here are my top 6 tips for family travel in the Philippines:

1. Friday is flyday.

In The Philippines everyone flies on Fridays. If you’re planning to catch a flight on a Friday, be sure to book it far in advance and make sure to get to the airport even earlier than usual. In addition, many businesses and offices are closed on Fridays, so just don’t plan anything of significant importance on Fridays.


2. Beware of typhoon season.

Typhoon season in the Philippines is from June to October. Although they can be benign, an unexpected typhoon does have the potential to ruin your plans for a few days. During these storms, you cannot dive or snorkel, and most ferries and airplanes wont take off. Be flexible with your planning.


3. Use water dispensers.

They’re everywhere! At only a peso ($0.05 USD) for 200 mL or 5 pesos for a liter. You can either use the little plastic baggies provided at the dispensers, or choose the eco-friendly version and refill your personal bottles. You wouldn’t believe how many times it saved us from thirst on a hot day in the market!


4. ATM 411

In The Philippines, it can be difficult to find an ATM because cards are uncommon amongst locals. It’s always better to stock up on cash before leaving the bigger cities. These days, money changers and Western Union seem to have conquered The Philippines, so many Filipinos work abroad and send money back home.


5. SIM-portant!

Acquiring a local SIM card is very important. There’s not a lot of WiFi, so talking with family members back home can be difficult without a SIM card (and mobile data tends to be much faster than any WiFi you’ll find). Smart network has better coverage, but Globe’s mobile data is faster. Keep in mind that phone calls in the Philippines are outrageously expensive. If at all possible, send texts to save money.


6. Island-hopping

Island-hopping, snorkeling, and diving are probably the best activities in the Philippines–the biodiversity of the reefs is unmatched. But before you can enjoy these activities, you have to rent a boat and a driver. When you arrive on each island, you have to pay “taxes” that drivers seem to make up on the spot. Reasons for these charges include “keeping the island clean,” and “to walk on the island,” or “to swim in island waters.” When you go island-hopping, keep these hidden fees in mind. Plan ahead because for a family those do add up. Of course, the most important thing to remember about snorkeling or diving is that you’re coming to the fish’s home. Respect the environment and everything that lives in it.


7. Don’t forget your underwater camera!

Did you read the tip above? snorkeling and diving are the best things you can do around the Philippines, and you definitely want to have a camera with you to document your new fishy friends. You can’t post a photo you couldn’t take on social media!


Bonus tip: It does get very hot in The Philippines, and who doesn’t love ice cream? Try the local purple (yes, purple!) ice cream called ube which is made from purple yams. Sweet potato ice cream–now what could possibly be bad about that?


Need more ideas regarding how to travel on a budget with your family in Asia? Check out my eBook available for download on Amazon here!