By: Keri Hedrick
Welcoming back as a guest Keri Hedrick – an Aussie expat mom of three. She is the blogger behind Our Globetrotters – Adventurous Family Travel and also the co-founder of city travel planning tool Little City Trips, a great new website established as a go-to planning resource for all things CITY TRAVEL with your kids!
After extensive travel between her current home in the Middle East and her family home in Australia (she previously shared her guide on how to plan an Australia vacation here), she shares with us today her favorite South East Asian cities that deserve far more than just a transit stop; what to see and do with the kids, best family restaurants and the perfect places to stay as a family.
Whether you are simply transiting through to the other side of the world and using an Asian city to change planes, or perhaps you’re destined for one of the regions idyllic sandy white beaches, do yourself a favor and plan a city stop into your South East Asia itinerary!
South East Asia is one of our favorite little corners of the world, not just the amazingly friendly people, fantastic food and warm weather, it is one of the most welcoming places to take the kids.
Here are our 3 favorite South East Asian stopover cities with their mustn’t miss family highlights:
Singapore with kids
Singapore has to be our number one choice for a city stopover, there is SOOO much to do with the kids! You could easily fill a week, but we would recommend as a start allowing at least 3 days to get around the city highlights.
Arriving in to award-winning Changi Airport, the city is about 30 minutes taxi ride away. There are two main family-friendly areas to stay, Sentosa which is actually an island off Singapore, or around Clarke Quay/Orchard Road. Sentosa will have you close to a lot of the theme parks and water attractions, while Clarke Quay will give you the bustling, modern inner-city vibe.
Absolute highlights that you mustn’t miss In Singapore include
The iconic Gardens by the Bay, home to the cities “super trees” light show, as well as huge climate-controlled conservatories the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest and a super kids adventure playground and water play area.
Wildlife Galore! Singapore Zoo is one of the world’s best with its natural rainforest setting and spacious enclosures; Jurong Bird Park has the world’s largest aviary and plenty of fun and educational shows and interactive experiences, while the Night Safari offers children the chance to see nocturnal animals in their habitats, situated in a lush tropical jungle north of the city centre.
Sentosa Island – home to Universal Studios, Kidzania, Adventure Cove water park, SEA Aquarium and much more! The best way to get there is taking the Singapore Cable Car offering you spectacular city views on the way.
Favorite kid-friendly restaurant in Singapore
Head to the beach and FOC Sentosa. Here the kids can play in the sand or splash around in the pool while mum and dad tuck into some delicious tapas and rose wine.
Top place to stay in Singapore with kids
Shangri-La Singapore is a must with the family absolutely front of mind in this luxurious city offering set in lush tropical gardens near Orchard Road and including fun family-themed rooms, or on a budget check out family-friendly hostel Hangout at Mount Emily.
Bangkok with kids
The Thai capital is larger and more sprawling, but nonetheless enthralling and well worth heading beyond the airport to explore.
The city is well spread out so there are several areas that would make good options for families including Sukhumvit, a modern area of town with good public transport access, shopping malls and many dining options. Alternatively, try Siam which is also well connected by the Skytrain and easy access to attractions such as Kidzania and Siam Ocean World.
Mustn’t miss highlights in Bangkok
The Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Khaew) are the perfect introduction to Thailand with their gleaming golden temples – combine your visit here with a river cruise down the Chao Praya River.
Bangkok’s floating markets are one of the city’s oldest traditions. Take a boat tour to see the bustling river life, bargain for souvenirs and full appreciate the sounds and sights on offer. Older kids may enjoy combining this with a food tour and learning more about Thai cooking.
Family entertainment galore can be found at Dreamworld – Thailand’s answer to Disneyland! Rollercoasters to fair ground rides and a variety of shows, or if you’re more of an adrenaline junkie and like to keep your cool, try Siam City Park that combines water parks and thrill rides, including the world’s largest wave pool!
Favorite kid-friendly restaurant in Bangkok:
Treat the family to dinner at Sala Rim Naam at the Mandarin Oriental. Enjoy some of the best Thai food in town and watch the traditional Thai dance and Muay Thai show, which the kids will love.
Top places to stay in Bangkok with kids:
Our top pick is the Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort set in lush landscaped gardens and with family suite options, or on a budget try Ibis Styles Bangkok Khaosan Viengtan which has you in the heart of the action with family rooms including bunk beds.
Hong Kong with Kids
If anyone has ever told you Hong Kong is not that family-friendly, listen up! It’s true that it might not be the most stroller friendly city in the world, but it is without a doubt a treasure trove for family exploration and really captures the heart and soul of Asia.
A comprehensive public transport system of trains and trams, buses to boats make this a fun city to navigate, and most definitely include these “things that go” as part of your itinerary.
Other mustn’t miss highlights in Hong Kong include:
The Peak is normally the top of every visitor’s list. Perched high above the city and accessed by the Peak Tram, the world’s steepest funicular railway, there’s far more than just spectacular views; The Trick Eye Museum and Madam Tussauds can be found here, along with a playground, or make the short walk up to the even more spectacular Mount Austin Park.
There are two fabulous family theme parks to explore: Disneyland Resort Hong Kong may be a little smaller than some of its overseas counterparts but nonetheless just as magical and frequently without the crowds. Ocean Park is Hong Kong’s oldest and most beloved, mixing animal and thrill ride attractions. The Grand Aquarium hosts a huge range of sea creatures, and here you can also capture a glimpse of the Giant Pandas.
Hong Kong is mostly about experiencing everyday life; get out on the water and enjoy a harbour cruise, explore the city’s many markets and haggling for a bargain, try dim sum, hop on a Star Ferry or take a Big Bus tour. You can learn more about Hong Kong with kids here.
Favorite kid-friendly restaurant in Hong Kong
We love taking the kids for dim sum and Maxim’s Palace City Hall is the most iconic place in town. This is one of the only places left in Hong Kong where dim sum is ordered from steaming dim sum carts, pushed around by surly waitresses.
Top places to stay in Hong Kong with kids
Unless your primary reason for stopping is to visit Disneyland, your most central places to stay making sightseeing easy are on Hong Kong island or in Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon.