It’s time to start planning your family’s Mid-Autumn travels!
Mid-Autumn (September 14) is fast approaching, along with public holidays for National Day and Chung Yeung in early October. It is the perfect time to use your leave wisely and maximise those vacation days. We’ve done the research for you and put together destinations perfect for a long weekend, as well as a few for those with a bit more time up their sleeves. Whether you want to fly and flop with the family or encourage your little adventurers to get off the beaten track, there’s something for every family with these Mid-Autumn travel options.
Pristine jungles, wildlife encounters, indigenous culture and food markets, oh and did we mention the gorgeous beaches and family-friendly resorts? Mid-Autumn is a great time to visit Sabah, Malaysia. You can expect it to be fairly dry, with the odd afternoon thunderstorm that’s common to the tropics. Fly into the biggest city in the area, Kota Kinabalu (Air Asia flies direct from Hong Kong) and plan to spend just one night in the city to visit the fabulous Night Food Market. Pick out the freshest seafood along with Malaysian, Filipino and Chinese fare and eat with the locals.
The real gems of Sabah however, are found outside the city. Jump on a short flight to Sandakan and schedule a visit to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (you can even do this as a day trip from KK if you are really short on time). The kids will learn about the vital work of the project and be amazed to see these creatures up close.
While you’re in the area you might like to visit the Turtle Islands for the tail end of the nesting season (which finishes in October). Spend your day snorkelling crystal clear waters and in the evening watching the sea turtles come up to the beach to nest. Specially-trained rangers collect the eggs, which are then relocated to protected hatcheries. If you’re really lucky you’ll see them hatch and returned to the ocean!
If you have older, nature-loving kids, you could consider extending your stay for an overnight trip down the Kingabatan River. The journey will take you deep into the heart of Borneo’s rainforests where you can search for wild orangutans, proboscis monkeys and the rare pygmy elephants. Stay overnight in a lodge and fall asleep to the sounds of the jungle. Borneo Dream and Borneo Eco Tours can arrange packages to visit Sepilok, Turtle Islands and the Kingabatan River.
Finish your trip back in Kota Kinabalu and stay in one of its fantastic beach resorts. Sassy Mama has tried and tested Gaya Island Resort with a one-year-old in tow and can highly recommend its service, spa and environmental initiatives. Make time to chat with the in-house ranger and marine biologist. They are doing fabulous environmental research and happy to share their projects with resort guests.
Another stand-out option for families is the ever-popular Shangri-La Rasa Ria. Located about a 45-minute drive from the city, this beachfront resort has fantastic kid’s facilities including kiddie pools, waterslides and kid’s club activities. It also has a 64-acre nature reserve on the property so you will be able to get back to nature. A great option if your little eco-adventurer is too young for deep jungle exploration!
Expect blue skies and mild days to greet you in this family-friendly city. Seoul is a great city break; you’ve got bright neon lights and a bustling atmosphere, but it is also incredibly safe, clean and well-organised. Top priorities for parents when choosing a child-friendly destination!
There are wide, open parks, historical sites and museums specifically for little ones. Make time to visit the Seoul Children’s Museum along with the Children’s Museum at the War Memorial of Korea. While military history might not sound all that appealing for kids, this is actually a fascinating museum complete with indoor soft-play areas, outdoor playgrounds and exhibits focused on how important peace is to South Korea.
Eat your way around the city and indulge in some classic Korean food while you are there. The kids are sure to love some Korean barbecue and fried chicken and we’re sure you can entice their hungry mouths with tasty noodle and rice dishes, too. Koreans also love a theme and you’ll find everything from cat cafes to coffee shops with sheep roaming the patio (yep, you read that correctly)! There’s something to please everyone.
Accommodation options are endless in the big city but aim to base yourself in the city centre around Jongno, Myeongdong or Chungmunro for easy access to all attractions.
Koh Samui is perfect for a quick beach break at this time of year. There are direct flights from Hong Kong and in just over three hours you can be relaxing in paradise! While it is the second-largest island in Thailand, it is just 25km from top to bottom and easily explored by car.
Indulge in some quality family time at the beach. Find your own stretch of sand and settle in for long, lazy days by the sea building sandcastles. If you are more of an adventurous family, head inland and try out zip-lining, go-karting, football golf or the Pink Elephant Samui Water Park.
There are accommodation options for all budgets. Whether you are looking for a five-star resort or luxury villa, or something a little more low key, there is something for everyone. Expect warm, Thai hospitality, large servings of mango sticky rice and a long weekend to remember!
With short direct flights (to Naha or Ishigaki), incredible safety and friendly locals, Okinawa ticks all the boxes for a family holiday. Towards the end of September and into October the wet season is winding down (much like Hong Kong), but the balmy evenings still envoke the holiday vibes.
Billed as the “Hawaii of Japan” you’ll feel a world away from the bustling streets of Tokyo or Osaka. Instead, find yourself snorkelling in crystal clear waters with tropical fish, sea turtles and graceful manta rays (scuba diving families should head south to Ishigaki and dive Manta Scramble).
Fancy some culture with your beach days? For hundreds of years, the Okinawa Islands were ruled by the Ryuku Kingdom, separate from the rest of Japan. Take the kids to Shuri Castle for a first-hand look at this ancient culture and round out the day by visiting a local artisan and painting your own pottery Shisa at Tsuboya Dori (Pottery Street).
It would be rude to not to mention that the people in Okinawa are amongst those with the longest life expectancies in the world. There must be something in the water – or the food! Try out local delicacies like rafute, (Okinawan pork belly), local soba noodles, fresh seafood and umibudo (sea grapes, a type of local seaweed).
If you have a few extra vacation days up your sleeve, the springtime in Sydney is a wonderful time to visit. The flight time is a little longer (about nine hours), so plan on staying at least five nights to a week.
Spend a few nights based in the city centre and make a beeline for Circular Quay and the Opera House (be sure to check out what shows are playing in the various theatres). Then stroll along the coast, through the Botanical Gardens for an iconic harbour view at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair (a sandstone rock cut into the shape of a bench – perfect for resting little feet!). Explore the family-friendly precincts of Darling Harbour, Barangaroo and The Rocks and be sure to check what events are on. The weekends are often bustling with markets, street performers and entertainment for all ages.
Once you’ve had your city fix, take to the water with a ferry ride to Manly or Watson’s Bay. It’ll be blue skies all round in September so you must schedule at least one day on iconic Bondi Beach. Treat the kids to some surf lessons and then stroll around the headland on the stunning Bondi-Bronte coastal walk.
For a day or overnight trip further afield, the Blue Mountains overflow with hiking trails, boutique guesthouses and wildlife encounters while foodies should venture north for wine tasting in the Hunter Valley.
Adventure-seeking families with older kids should book their flights to Bhutan for a family holiday to remember. October is considered one of the best months for travel to Bhutan so make the most of those public holidays!
Journey to Paro for scenic vistas over the Himalayas and hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery. This sacred Buddhist site sits perched amongst the lofty cliffs and the only way in is to hike or ride a horse to the top (perfect for little legs that tire easily). You’ll be rewarded with breath-taking views and an insight into this unique mountain kingdom’s culture.
The only way to visit Bhutan is on an organised tour but note that the country limits the number of tourists at any one time. This is actually a great thing as it means the industry is highly regulated by the Tourism Council to focus on “High Value, Low Impact.” Be sure to check its website for up-to-date lists of licensed tour operators.
There are all levels of accommodation in Bhutan, from basic budget guesthouses to luxury properties. If you have the means, plan for a night or two at the COMO Uma Paro for wellness and relaxation, or the Taj Tashi in Thimpu for its luxurious rooms and sweeping mountain views.