Ten kid-friendly activities in Asia
First published 26th July, 2009
Southeast Asia is overloaded with activities and attractions, but sometimes it can be a bit of a challenge to kind activities that don't involve Wii that really work with kids. So here's ten pointers on activities and destinations that your kids might find make the trip all that more memorable. This is part four of a ten-part series on travelling with children in Southeast Asia. A new story will appear on Travelfish every Monday with a new installment
Go elephant riding I
Your kids have no doubt seen them in books and may have seen one at a zoo, but Southeast Asia is where they can finally actually ride an elephant. Climbing on the back of a pachyderm is a memorable moment, whether it's to go visit some ancient ruins at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, or wander in the jungles around Thailand's Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai. Their backs are hairy, not smooth! Here's a tip: A ride gets pretty dull after 20 minutes or so, so don't get too enthusiastic and book a safari.
Meet the marine life I
Many Southeast Asia beaches are calm, their waters warm and fish remarkably colourful and plentiful, making them ideal locations to learn to snorkel or dive. Some favourite spots to don a mask, snorkel and fins include Thailand's Ko Lanta and Ko Phi Phi, Cambodia's Ko Tonsay (Rabbit Island), and the Perhentians in Malaysia. If you're more adventurous, kids from the age of 10 and up can learn to dive at prices much less than in the West. Thailand's Ko Tao is one of the best spots to learn.
Sizzle up a storm
You've toured the markets, now get those kids in the kitchen! Cooking schools are plentiful across Southeast Asia, and most will happily accept older kids into their adult classes. A wide range of classes are offered, from fruit carving to whipping up full-on feasts. Scope out Apple's in Kanchanaburi, Frizz in Phnom Penh or Hai Scout Cafe in Hoi An, for starters.
Annoy people seeking peace and quiet on the beach
Southeast Asia is an affordable spot for your kids to have a whirl at high-octane watersports that might otherwise be too pricey at home. You'll be inundated with offers to take to the water on banana boats, jetskis or parasails in tourist centres like Thailand's Phuket or Ko Samui, Cambodia's Sihanoukville, Vietnam's Nha Trang and Malaysia's Langkawi. Safety standards vary, so gosh, Mum and Dad will probably have to have a go first to check it all out.
Get up close and personal
Southeast Asia is among the final refuges of many primates and making an effort to see them in their authentic environment is well rewarded. Go see the heart-melting orangutans in Borneo, or head to the Gibbon Experience in Laos or Treetopasia near Chiang Mai. You could end up raising a Jane Goodall. If you're a plain old monkey fan, Southeast Asia is definitely your oyster, but one of the best spots to have your pocket picked by a simian is Thailand's Lopburi.
Go elephant riding II
While typical elephants riding trips are bundled in with trekking or some historic sights, more unusual elephant activities can be arranged. In Laos' Luang Prabang you can do a "Living as a mahout" course, where along with riding, you get to bathe and care for the elephants. Just outside Thailand's old capital Ayutthaya, you can visit the Elephant Kraal -- a care centre for older and rescued elephants. Both are very kid-friendly and provide amazing memories.
Meet the marine life II
There's more than one way to poke a parrot fish. If snorkelling and diving isn't to your kids' tastes, they might like to swim with dugongs on Ko Libong or go for a splash with sea turtles in Malaysia's Perhentians. Don't get wet at all and just tour the excellent Siam Ocean World in Bangkok, or just dip your feet in the water and get exfoliated by er, hungry fish, in Singapore.
Go for a boat ride
Southeast Asian waterways are worthy of exploration. Take a boat ride from Tha Ton to Chiang Rai on the Kok River, try a cruise on Sanghklaburi lake, or explore the limestone hongs in Phang Nga Bay in Thailand. The Pak Ou caves outside Luang Prabang is a great little trip, while having a poke around the Don Dhet and Don Khon in Laos' Four Thousand Islands is scenic. In Vietnam, jump in a kayak and explore Ha Long Bay.
Go five-star for a day
Kids' clubs are now de rigueur at five-star resorts. Not staying at one? You may still be able to buy a day pass for your kids to attend activities for a day. These are affordable and the activities on offer are usually top notch. You may then need to put up with some whining about the $20 buck a night place you're taking them back to stay at.
Float down to the mall
Both Thailand and Vietnam have a rich heritage of floating markets. In Thailand, the easiest to visit is the very touristy Damnoen Saduak market, but you're better off making the effort to reach the far more interesting Taling Chan Market. In Vietnam, the Mekong Delta is where it is at, with excellent floating markets within range of Can Tho and Vinh Long. Aside from the markets themselves, the trip there and back is also fascinating.
Related readingTips on packing for a baby
Tips for keeping your kids healthy
Tips for eating with kids on the road
Read 1 comment(s)
Add your comment
Feature story quicklinks
- Giving back in Southeast Asia (19)
- All stories
- Angkor Hospital For Children
- Blue Dragon Children's Foundation
- COPE: Helping people move on
- Epic Arts
- Free the Bears Laos
- Gibbon Rehabilitation Project
- Helping Phuket's children in need
- Helping Siem Reap's rubbish dump families
- Helping Singapore's transient workers
- Helping the Karen of Burma
- Humanitarian Services for Children of Vietnam
- Khlong Toey Music Program
- Lifestart Foundation, Hoi An
- MyME Yangon
- Soi Dog Foundation
- Swim Vietnam
- Thai Freedom House, Chiang Mai
- The Samui Prison Project
- The SET Foundation
- Burma ()
- Cambodia (9)
- Indonesia (4)
- Laos ()
- Malaysia (1)
- Singapore ()
- Thailand (66)
- All stories
- 10 Thai treks aside from Chiang Mai
- 31 Thai islands
- 5 Southern Thai towns to lose time in
- A weekend on Ko Samet, Thailand
- An extra day in Krabi
- Andaman Sea island hopper
- Are Thailand’s cheap guesthouses disappearing?
- Chiang Dao getaway
- Chiang Mai's temples
- Corruption in Thailand
- Elephant's World Kanchanaburi
- Exploring Lamphun
- Exploring the Lungs of Bangkok
- Far southern Thailand: Go or not?
- Five days in Khao Lak, Thailand
- Great Thai food blogs
- Highlights of Chanthaburi province
- How to do Khao Yai National Park
- Ko Chang's east coast
- Ko Lanta's best budget guesthouses
- Ko Mun Nork: a nearby paradise
- Ko Pha Ngan 7-day detox:Colonic fast
- Ko Pha Ngan's best beaches in 2013
- Ko Phi Phi on a budget
- Ko Tao for non-divers guide
- Ko Yao Noi or Ko Yao Yai?
- Loy Krathong in Thailand
- Motorcycling the Chiang Rai loop
- Narathiwat: residence of good people
- Navigating Bangkok: The BTS Skytrain
- Phuket by night
- Phuket for kids
- Phuket heritage walk: Car parts to saris
- Phuket's secret beaches
- Planning around Thailand's civil unrest
- Roll your own Kanchanaburi
- Should I book for the full moon party?
- Should I cancel my Thai holiday? No.
- Should I cancel my trip to Thailand? No.
- Soi Thong Lo, Bangkok
- Songkran festival in Thailand
- Staying at a Thai monastery
- Thai islands for nature lovers
- Thai islands to lose yourself on
- Thai visa FAQ
- Thailand tsunami wrap
- Thailand's Full Moon Party
- Thailand's Mae Khlong market
- Thailand: Where to from here?
- The best beach on Ko Samui
- The best places to stay on Ko Kut, Thailand
- The bridge over the River Kwai festival
- The changing face of Ko Lipe
- The road to Sangkhlaburi
- The road to Sangkhom
- Trekking in Thailand
- Two days in Kamphaeng Phet
- What are the alternatives to Bangkok?
- What is the best beach on Ko Tao?
- What is the best island in Thailand?
- What's a good beach on Ko Pha Ngan?
- What's a good beach on Ko Samui?
- Where to stay in Sukhothai?
- Where to stay on Ko Samet, Thailand
- Which beach on Ko Samui?
- Which island in Trang?
- Vietnam (19)
- All stories
- A short break in Nha Trang
- A Weekend in Can Tho
- Do nothing and see the best of Hanoi
- Doing the DMZ from Hue
- Exploring Kon Tum
- Exploring Vietnam's Mekong Delta
- Great Hanoi cafes to chill out in
- Hanoi escape
- Hoi An -- Walking over the dragon
- How to do the Dien Bien Phu loop
- Is the Hoi An culture tour worth it?
- Motorbike Vietnam's Central Highlands
- One day in Hanoi
- Responsible shopping and eating in Hoi An
- Saigon's top 10 cafés
- Saving Vietnam's bears
- Street food safety
- Two Wheels & Ricefields: A review
- Which is the best street food tour in Hanoi?
- Accommodation guides (4)
- Travel with kids (7)
- Opinion & advice (17)
- All stories
- 10 reasons to do an adventure tour
- 10 reasons to travel independently
- A year's worth of travel for 2013
- Christmas and New Years in Southeast Asia
- Do I need reservations for my holiday?
- Evil man of Krabi
- Fifteen tips for a great holiday in Asia
- Getting a cheap airfare to Asia
- Great river trips in Southeast Asia
- Hotels should never charge extra for WiFi
- Long distance buses in Southeast Asia
- Mass tourism in Southeast Asia
- Nine Asian upcountry hideaways
- Planning a Gap Year? Some advice.
- Ten Southeast Asian trips for 2008
- Ten thoughts on ten years with Travelfish
- Where is the best place in Southeast Asia for ...
- How do I? (8)
- Cycling Asia (12)
- Health and safety (6)
- Money and finance (4)
- Diving guides (5)
- Photo essay (3)
- Guest blog (2)
- General (15)
- All stories
- 10 Christmas days in Asia we're yet to have
- 10 dumb things I've done while travelling
- 34 ways to travel greener
- Asian animal experiences
- Call me Mr Massage Magic
- Chefs Without Borders
- Flying is fun!
- Mr Golden
- On being a travel writer
- Teaching ESL in Asia
- The 211 country honeymoon
- The Boxing Day Tsunami: 5 years on.
- To Teach or Not to Teach
- Travel writing scholarship 2012
- Tuk to the Road Charity ride
- Book reviews (5)
- Interviews (8)
- Explore Bangkok by BTS (18)
- All stories
- Bangkok by skytrain: Ari
- Bangkok by skytrain: Asok
- Bangkok by skytrain: Chid Lom
- Bangkok by skytrain: Chong Nonsi
- Bangkok by skytrain: Mo Chit
- Bangkok by skytrain: National Stadium
- Bangkok by skytrain: On Nut
- Bangkok by skytrain: Phaya Thai
- Bangkok by skytrain: Phloen Chit
- Bangkok by skytrain: Phrom Phong
- Bangkok by skytrain: Ratchadamri
- Bangkok by skytrain: Ratchathewi
- Bangkok by skytrain: Sala Daeng (S2)
- Bangkok by skytrain: Sanam Pao
- Bangkok by skytrain: Saphan Taksin
- Bangkok by skytrain: Siam
- Bangkok by skytrain: Surasak
- Bangkok by skytrain: Thong Lor
Sign up for Travelfish Burp!
Our weekly wrap on Southeast Asian travel.
Click here to see a recent newsletter.