Asian family holidays don’t have to be all beaches and kids’ clubs. Cities can offer great getaways if you take it easy and pick your activities to suit the whole family.
Research, research and then research again. It is time-consuming but if you can plan a day out with the knowledge that a kid-friendly park, activity or restaurant is within reach then the day will go a lot better for the whole family.
Try and set out early before the crowds and the heat, and endeavour to aim low with one thing before an early lunch.
Locate playgrounds and parks for a chance to run around and let off some steam, and then if the day is not going well, be prepared to give up the afternoon for a swim at the pool, or even a movie.
Sometimes, hard advice to follow.
If you have older kids let them help plan. There are great books and travel journals out there especially for kids, so they can get involved from the start and then journal their adventures.
Traffic is varying degrees of “heavy” across Asian cities, so be mindful and try to navigate the cities avoiding busy commuter times. Also research best modes of transport.
Sometimes taxis are not your best option, public transport is a much better idea.
Choosing a hotel
Reviews, reviews, reviews. Well, maybe that is an overkill but do take the time to read reviews from other families, especially when traveling with toddlers. A pool and/or spacious garden is a must.
The last thing you need when returning at the end of an outing is a hotel which caters to honeymooners or businessmen who look disparagingly on your kids as they yahoo in the pool.
However, you are in luck as Asia is a child-friendly continent. Also, where possible try to get a hotel as close to public transport as possible. That last stretch of the day is often the hardest.
If you have the budget and are in a big chain hotel consider a club room. The option to feed the kids on nibbles while sipping a cocktail or mocktail with your significant other can be a nice thought at the end of a busy day – much nicer than dragging the poppets to an expensive restaurant past bedtime.
Look for an online booking site like bookings.com. They offer things like free cancellation on many hotels – just in case.
Also look for clear information on hotel child policies. Things like if breakfast is included, and if extra beds or cots are available.
Transportation as an attraction
Many cities have unique and wonderful ways of traversing the city. Bangkok has the klong boats while Hong Kong has the trams.
These are fabulous attractions in themselves. Even the metro can be great fun if your kids have never ridden it before.
The idea of a tuk-tuk may have them heading to any tired and dusty museum without a peep.
If you have a view from your new mode of transport take the long way to your destination so the kids can soak up the glory of the ride and you can soak up the sights of the city.
Work around meal times
Kids and food can be tricky, even at home, but this is a great chance to get the kids to try new things. Mix it up between local kid-friendly options and the standard pizza option.
This is back to the research component of your trip. So get an idea of what restaurants are in the area you are spending your day in, or google family blogs for some insider information on dining with kids, but always remember, fried rice is a life saver.
Look for good break spots
While you may have made a note on parks and playgrounds it is also a good idea not to discount a mall as a much needed stop.
Asia has an abundance of malls and sometimes a bit of air-conditioning and an indoor playground is just the respite the whole family needs especially on those particularly hot, rainy of hazy days.
Also great to drop the kids and non-shoppers in while you pop off for a quick bout of retail therapy.
Something for everyone
The biggest bargaining chip of all is the chance for the kids to go to a theme park, a water park, or some other totally kid-targeting attraction, but don’t use it first.
Keep that one as a carrot to dangle as you get a chance to do some of the things you would enjoy in the city.
And remember, don’t be afraid to take turns with one adult at the pool with the kids while the other goes off for a few hours.
Both of you then get a chance to do your own thing and enjoy something you really want to do, without subjecting the whole family to it.
Happy Go KL is the go-to site for families in the Klang Valley. Their content is written by parents for parents, so you know where to get out and about with your kids in KL and the surrounding region.