Our friends at Lightfoot Travel asked us to share our recommendations for family minibreaks in Asia - it wasn't easy but we eventually narrowed down our favourites!
Head to: Borneo
For nature-loving families, Borneo should be your absolute first choice for a short break away from city life.
Stay: Take your mini adventurers to Sepilok Nature Resort in Malaysia. This boutique resort, tucked away in the jungle, is a must-visit for any tot who wants to grow up to be the next Bear Grylls. Choose one of the pretty wooden chalets that look over the lake, then get ready to explore.
Eat: Enjoy a big jungle brunch at Lindung Sepilok in Sandakan. Mum can recharge her batteries with a latte, while the tots tuck into focaccia sandwiches, homemade burgers and artisanal sodas.
Play: You don’t have to go far to get a slice of the action – not only is the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary next door to your resort, but it’s not unusual to spot them in your garden every now and again. If you would like to see some more cuddly creatures, take one of the 12-seater boats along the Kinabatangan River. As you gently glide along this waterway you could easily spot a proboscis monkey, gibbon, or possibly a pygmy elephant if you’re lucky.
Head to: Cebu, Philippines
The beaches in this region are simply stunning. We’re talking about whiter-than-white sand and crystal blue waters.
Stay: Hit the beach! Head to the Shangri-la Cebu. This kid-friendly resort is the perfect place to start a family holiday. Your tots will have smiles a mile wide when they discover the waterslides at Aquaplay, the multi-level indoor playground in Adventure Zone, and that’s even before they get to explore the hotel’s six-acre Marine Sanctuary that clownfish, angelfish and rainbow fish have made their home.
Eat: Children will love the kids’ miniature buffet in the Shangri-la Cebu’s Tide restaurant. Mum and dad will be pleased to know that children under 12 can eat for free.
Play: Go island hopping! You have Olango Island and the six islets of Sulpa, Gilutongan, Nalusuan, Caohagan, Pangan-an and Camungi on your doorstep, so catch one of the island-hopping cruises and go and have an adventure. You can snorkel, swim or step ashore and spy the wildlife at the Olango Island Bird Sanctuary. If you want to stretch your legs further you can take a hike to the Kawasan Falls in Moalboal then cool off with a dip in the picture-perfect pools.
Head to: Bangkok
This is one city break that the kids will love. The capital of Thailand has so much to offer including floating markets, grand temples and a whole host of child-centric activities.
Stay: Tots who love the finer things in life will want to visit The Peninsula Bangkok. They can sign up for an art class, join The Peninsula Academy’s Junior Chef programme and sample gourmet treats their own children’s menu. They will also love the fact that it’s on the Chao Phraya River and they can go for a ride on the hotel’s shuttle.
Eat: Eat the “Best Pad Thai in Bangkok” at Thip Samai at Maha Chai Road. There are lots of different types of Pad Thai to choose from, all of them delicious. Note that there’s often a queue for a table and it’s closed on Mondays.
Play: If it’s a super-hot day, take the kids to the impressive Children’s Discovery Museum at Chatuchak Park. This place is a real gem with enough fun and educational activities to fill a whole day. There’s a Dino Detective Park (everything you’ll ever need to know about pre-historic mammals), a brilliant outdoor playground (with fountains to cool down) and a Science Gallery. It’s pure interactive entertainment for children of all ages. Once they’ve had their Jurassic Park moment, you can take them to the Art in Paradise Museum at the Esplanade Shopping Centre on Ratchada Road. This is a quirky 3D-gallery where visitors are encouraged to pose as part of the paintings. You can also take a boat from The Peninsula to Wat Pho where you’ll find 46-metre-long reclining Buddha.
If lazing at the beach or by the pool is on your wish list, then book a break to the small-but-perfectly-formed Malaysian island of Langkawi.
Stay: On one of the best beaches in the world. Book into Four Seasons Langkawi at Tanjung Rhu Beach. This quiet tropical paradise is the perfect place to enjoy endless hours of swimming, snorkeling and sandcastle building.
Eat: Enjoy a fish barbecue lunch, the culinary speciality of Langkawi. Seafood is seriously good here and we really love the local fish that’s stuffed with coconut sambal. Look for the “ikan bakar” signs for an authentic outdoor barbecue restaurant.
Play: Take a Mangrove Tour from Tanjung Rhu Jetty. This small-boat tour through the mangroves includes a peek inside Crocodile Cave – home to hundreds of bats (if you dare). Or if it’s a rainy day, book a ticket to Underwater World and marvel at its 15-metre-long, walk-through-water tunnel. The aquarium boasts 500 species of animals and sea creatures, as well as extensive displays of Tropical Rainforest, Temperate and Sub-Antarctic eco-systems.
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