Ten kid-friendly activities in Asia

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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.

About the author:
Samantha Brown is a reformed news reporter. She now edits most of the stuff you read on Travelfish.org, except for when you find a typo, and then that's something she wasn't allowed to look at.

Read 1 comment(s)

  • great places to visit ..but can anybody provides us any assistance on internet only

    Posted by Pradeep on 4th May, 2014

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