While the region rose to prominence as a backpacking destination, South East Asia has now long been a great location for family travel, with many places and activities to appeal to both young and old.
In Vietnam, resorts and beaches in Da Nang or Phu Quoc are great options for a holiday spent relaxing in the warm weather and swimming, either in a resort pool or in the ocean by the pearly white beaches. Wandering the streets of calm and safe Hoi An is also a great option, as the bright lights and life everywhere is sure to distract the young ones from what may otherwise be perceived as a “boring” cultural experience for the kids. For more active families, a few days spent cycling through the valleys of Mai Chau, kayaking in the Mekong or a day spent planting rice in Laos offers both extraordinary scenery and physical activity. Ha Long Bay is a must-see for any visitor to Vietnam, but perhaps even more so for families, as the jutting rock formations are sure to inspire the imagination of anyone, especially children.
More family-friendly beach resorts can be found on various islands in the region, like Ko Phi Phi, Ko Chang and Ko Samui in Thailand or Koh Rong in Cambodia. Also in Cambodia is Angkor Wat, which may seem like a poor choice to entertain the little ones, but with a little effort it’s easy to engage their imaginations and make them feel like they’ve landed in an Indiana Jones movie. The temple complex is also teeming with wildlife, from monkeys to colourful birds, sure to excite children and parents alike.
For more memorable animal experiences, a visit to an Elephant conservation centre will give kids the chance to interact with these magnificent creatures that they’d otherwise only see on television. Be aware though, many elephant organizations engage in unethical practices, so research is imperative. A few well-reputed organizations are the Elephant Conservation Centres in Chiang Mai, Thailand and Sainyabuli, Laos and Conserve Natural Forests in Pai, Thailand. There is also a fantastic Wildlife Rescue Centre just outside of Phnom Penh where families can help out with the care of the endangered animals.
All in all, South East Asia offers something for family members of all ages, and is a great place for for parents wishing to foster a sense of fascination and curiosity for travel and the wider world in their children.