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 whether 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.
There is a long-standing rivalry between Singapore and Hong Kong over which city caters best for families and little ones – but (dare I say it), Singapore just might win this one! It’s safe, clean and fun for all ages.
What to see: Head to the stunning Gardens by the Bay and take in the views, while your under-fives splash around in the free water play areas. Don’t miss the free Rhapsody Light and Sound Show at 7:45pm or 8:45pm, which is sure to be a hit with the little ones. Why not end the evening on a high by having dinner at the iconic Marina Bay Sands, with a Singapore Sling in hand!
What to do: Eat breakfast with the orangutans (yep, you read that correctly!), then head to Adventure Cove Water Park on Sentosa Island for a day filled with tubing, slides, and high ropes. You’ll love it just as much as the kids do! Later in the evening, keep the younger members of your party entertained by taking them on a Night Safari for a once in a lifetime adventure.
What to eat: A trip to Singapore wouldn’t be complete without a visit to one of its famous Hawker markets. A favourite is Lau Pa Sat Festival Market, where you can take your pick from the 200 food stalls on offer (so rest assured even the fussiest of eaters will find something they like). Feast on chilli crab, satay, and kway teow noodles, which are all washed down perfectly with an ice-cold Tiger beer (or two!).
Getting there: Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Scoot offer daily, direct flights to Singapore’s Changi Airport. The flight from Hong Kong takes approximately 4 hours.
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 see: If your kids or teens feel adventurous, whale shark watching may be the perfect way to get an adrenaline rush! Or else just enjoy relaxing by the pool or beach, and soaking up the sun.
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.
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 an 11-minute 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 Air India offer direct flights to Osaka International Airport, which is just a quick train ride from Kyoto. The flight takes 3 hours and 20 minutes.
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, Petrosians 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. 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.
Bali has long been a favourite holiday spot for Hong Kongers and their families. The island is jam-packed with beautiful beaches, volcanoes and rice paddies, making it the perfect place for your kids to get into nature and breathe lots of fresh air. It doesn’t hurt that there are lots of kids’ clubs that’ll entertain your little ones for the day, while you relax or do a bit of exploring on your own.
What to see: Get a different look into the depths of the ocean by taking a glass bottom boat ride. When on land, take a scenic walk (or bike) through the rice paddies near Ubud, stopping in at a temple along the way. Then spend the evening watching a Balinese dance show, which you can find all across the island.
What to do: Get the kids to try their hand at surfing, at one of the island’s many surf schools. And why not take a lesson at the same time? There are plenty of other water-based activities on offer too. Conveniently located near the airport in Kuta, Waterbom was ranked the best waterpark in Asia in 2018 for a reason! With thrilling slides, a relaxing lazy river and an exciting bungee jump, it’s definitely worth a trip. Take some adult time to relax on the beach one day and drop the little ones off for a couple hours at The Garden Kids Club, where they can get busy gardening, cooking, lego building, story telling, and much more.
What to eat: Feast on freshly caught seafood in Jimbaran Bay while the kids build sandcastles and play in the ocean. Make sure you sample classic Balinese dishes like Nasi Goreng and Satay at any local restaurant. If you’re looking for a fun-filled dining experience, Pirates Bay is a good bet. Complete with an abandoned pirate ship, a tree house and lots of fun activities, head to Nusa Dua and make a day out of it.
Getting there: Hong Kong Airlines and Cathay Pacific offer direct flights to Bali, which take around 5 hours.
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. This full day tour includes a waterfall visit and lunch and 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 Airlines offer direct flights to Chiang Mai, which take 3 hours.
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 at 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. If you’re in Hoi An over the weekend, make sure you catch the Water Puppet Show, which lasts just 45 minutes.
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.
Getting there: Hong Kong Express and Cathay Dragon offer direct flights to Da Nang (which take 2 hours). From there, it’s just a short drive to Hoi An.
Thanks to Jessica Mizzi for her helping in compiling this article.
Featured image courtesy of Limor Zellermayer via Unsplash, image 1 courtesy of Chen Hu via Unsplash, image 2 courtesy of, Ryan Yoo via Unsplash, image 3 courtesy of Timo Volz via Unsplash, image 4 courtesy of Izuddin Helmi Adnan via Unsplash, image 5 courtesy of Jamie Fenn via Unsplash, image 6 courtesy of Deanna DeShea via Unsplash, image 7 courtesy of Toomas Tartes via Unsplash