Easter is fast approaching, so it’s time to plan your ultimate family getaway.
It’s hard to find the right balance when looking for a family-friendly location, with great weather and enough activities to keep the little ones entertained. Great food definitely doesn’t hurt either! So if you’re craving a relaxing beach break, a city adventure or simply plan on getting back to nature for a few days, we’ve rounded up a selection of family-friendly destinations to help you make your mind up. The best bit is they’re all just a short flight from Hong Kong, making them ideal regardless of whether you’re planning a long weekend or a more extended holiday.
Read more: How To Travel With A Newborn Baby
Looking to balance a beach vacation with fab food and lots of fun and unique activities for the kids? Then look no further. Hoi An is sure to be a favourite for both parents and youngsters. If having an early morning swim in the ocean, spending the day ziplining through the jungle, then feasting on Vietnamese food sounds good to the kids, start looking at flights now!
What to see: Wander around Hoi An’s picturesque old town, ducking into shops to pick up some souvenirs along the way. If your children are too little to enjoy lots of walking around, hire a Cyclo (a traditional Vietnamese taxi) for a personal tour. Make sure to spend some time on one of Hoi An’s beautiful beaches (a beach day always goes down well).
What to do: Experience the traditional Vietnamese way of life with a Fishing and Rice Paddy Fields Tour. Kids will love marvelling at the catch of the day in the fish market, fishing with traditional nets, paddling in the traditional bamboo basket boats and having a go at farming rice. The fabulous lunch and snacks that are provided definitely don’t hurt either! Hoi An is famous for its lanterns, so why not do some arts and crafts and go to a Lantern Making Class?
What to eat: As much as we love Pho, there are plenty of other foods that you should try in Hoi An. Head to Banh Mi Phuong, famed for being the spot that Anthony Bourdain said has the best Banh Mi in Vietnam. Also try a Bahn Xeo, which is a savoury pancake with lots of delicious filling options. Morning Glory and Vy’s Market Restaurant both serve up delicious Vietnamese recipes passed down through the generations.
Getting there: Hong Kong Express, JetStar and Cathay Dragon offer direct flights to Da Nang (which take 2 hours). From there, it’s just a short drive to Hoi An.
If the cuisine alone isn’t enough to make you grab your kids and jump on the first flight to Chiang Mai, the activities on offer will likely persuade you. If you have any elephant-loving little ones at home, it’s safe to assume that they will have no complaints about heading to this great spot in Northern Thailand.
What to see: Get a good look at the jungle and the wild gibbons that call it home, on an adrenaline-filled zipline tour with Flight of the Gibbon. This full-day tour is sure to tire out the kids, which is never a bad thing!
What to do: Spend the day at Lanna Kingdom, which is an ethical elephant sanctuary where the whole family will be able to feed and connect with these amazing rescued elephants. Or let the kids channel their inner master chefs by taking a cooking class where you’ll all head to the local market to pick up the fresh ingredients. Budding fishermen will love spending the day learning to fish for Mekong catfish.
What to eat: When in Thailand, head to a hawker market and eat everything in sight! A good rule of thumb is to head for the stalls with long lines – if everyone else is eating it, you probably want to be, too. If you’re travelling with older kids or teens, go on a guided food tour so you don’t miss out on any of the best local dishes.
Getting there: Cathay Dragon, Thai AirAsia and Hong Kong Express offer direct flights to Chiang Mai (around three hours).
Kuala Lumpur is another good city to visit with your little ones. With endless options for fun activities and fantastic food, you’ll be spoilt for choice. It’s easy to get around too, which is an added bonus!
What to see: Make your way to the top of the PETRONAS Twin Towers for a stunning view of the Kuala Lumpur skyline. Check out birds of all shapes, sizes and colours at KL Bird Park, home to the largest walk-in aviary in the world.
What to do: If your youngsters are in the mood for a day at a theme park, head to Sunway Lagoon, which is sure to be a hit with the whole family. Make sure not to miss the world’s largest surf pool and the Nickelodeon Lost Lagoon! Head to KidZania, a miniature city for 4 to 14-year-olds, which gives them the opportunity to do some role play and learn about a variety of different occupations, even earning Kidzos (the local currency) to reward them for their hard work. For science-loving tots, Petrosains Discovery Centre is sure to be a highlight of the trip. It’s both educational and interactive, which is a great way to keep the kids entertained, while still learning.
What to eat: Malaysia is a melting pot of many cultures, making it a fantastic place to eat. Visit Chinatown or Little India for a fun experience filled with endless selections of delicious food. While it doesn’t serve up strictly Malaysian food, it’s also worth making a trip to Out of Africa. This restaurant is fully equipped with a great kid’s menu, playground and even a swimming pool! What more could they want?
Getting there: Cathay Dragon, Air Asia and Malaysia Airlines offer direct flights to Kuala Lumpur International Airport daily, which just take 4 hours.
Just a short trip from Hong Kong, Kyoto is a great destination for animal-loving kids. With its fantastic food and safe atmosphere, it’s definitely one of the best spots in the country. The beautiful cherry blossoms are in full bloom in April, making it the perfect month to hop on a plane to see this family-friendly Japanese city.
What to see: Jump on the Kintetsu Nara express train and head for the deer-filled city of Nara, for a day that’s sure to be the highlight of the kids’ trip.
What to do: If the trip to Nara ignited a new love for animals in the little ones, spend a day exploring the Kyoto City Zoo, which is also home to a petting zoo where the family can get up close and personal with various creatures. Don’t miss the Kyoto Railway Museum, which is sure to amaze kids (and adults) of all ages with the diversity of trains on display. If the family is in the mood for adventure, Universal Studios Japan is just a bullet train ride away in Osaka!
What to eat: A trip to Japan wouldn’t be complete without feasting on the local cuisine. Head to Ippudo Ramen for a perfect bowl of soupy goodness for lunch and treat yourself to delicious sushi at Kiyo sushi for dinner. Visit Okonomiyaki Katsu for a tasty and fun interactive food experience that’s sure to be a hit.
Getting there: Cathay Pacific, Jetstar Japan, Hong Kong Airlines, Peach and ANA offer direct flights to Kansai International Airport, which is just a quick train ride from Kyoto. The flight takes 3 hours and 20 minutes.
When considering your fly and flop options, don’t forget about Cebu. It’s the perfect place to unwind and kick back, but it also offers a good selection of activities to stop boredom creeping in.
What to do: Spend a day island hopping and snorkelling through Cebu’s crystal clear water, while the kids chase the colourful fish around the coral. Jpark Island Waterpark will provide another day of water-filled fun, or if your kids have a need for speed, spend an afternoon go-karting at Kart Zone.
What to eat: Introduce the little ones (and yourself!) to the local cuisine and head to one of Sugbo Mercado’s two locations for a fun-filled evening, sampling new flavours. Grab some grilled pork or baked scallops, while the kids can always opt for mac & cheese or Pad Thai. They’ll enjoy finishing off the evening with Silvanas (crunchy frozen meringue wafers), as you cool off with a well-deserved Popsicle cocktail.
Getting there: Cebu Pacific offers daily, direct flights to Mactan-Cebu International Airport, which take 3 hours.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on 25, February 2019 by Izzy Baehr and updated on 24, January 2020 by Jess Mizzi.