Adventurous Travel Around South East Asia With Kids
Get ready for a family adventure. We've found 5 exciting experiences around South East Asia to inspire intrepid families.
If a pool and Kids Club just won’t cut it, you’ll be pleased to hear SE Asia is a superb launchpad for adventure travel. From cycling in Vietnam to scaling the heights of Thailand, let us inspire your family’s daredevil side. As with anything involving adventure and risk, ensure your providers are accredited, meet international safety standards, read up on reviews and buy comprehensive travel insurance!
Surf’s Up In Bali
If you and the kids are into extreme sports, Bali has it covered. Best of all its dry season (April to October) makes it a great alternative to potential wet seasons in much of South East Asia. Bali is a fun place to learn to surf, with a number of schools offering kids lessons. Odysseys Surf School has been teaching wannabe surfers since 2003. They recommend private classes for kids age 7 and up, with a one on one student/teacher ratio. The price includes hotel pick up and all surf equipment. Best of all if you’re not able to stand up on the board after your first lesson, you’ll get an extra one for free!
Surfing aside, Bali has plenty more action in the water. Wira Watersports offers the ‘Flying Fish’ experience – picture a mega banana boat that can launch you two metres above the sea!
Ninety minutes north inland of Seminyak is Ubud; a town nestled in the rainforest and regarded as Bali’s cultural centre. More Zen than the buzzy beach resorts in the south; Ubud is also a base for white water rafting. Bali Adventure Tours offers a fun trip on the Ayung River, navigating 33 class II and III rapids.
Where to Stay
Avoid the crowds of Kuta and station yourselves in the smarter Seminyak. The Legian is a perennial family favourite for luxury lovers. If you’re travelling in a group, consider renting a private villa. With private chef and driver they often work out to cheaper than a luxury hotel. Bali Villas have a huge range of properties on their books at varying price levels.
Getting to Bali
Fly direct from Hong Kong with Hong Kong Airlines, Garuda and Cathay Pacific.
On Top Of The World – Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia
Photo from Flickr
At over 4,000m in height, Mount Kinabalu towers over the Malaysian state of Sabah and is the highest mountain in South East Asia. Whilst the climb is not technically difficult, it is still challenging and requires a good level of fitness (build up your stamina on one of Hong Kong’s many hiking trails). No specialist equipment is required, only good walking shoes, a headtorch and a windproof jacket. The recommended minimum age for kids is at least ten years old. Be sure to reserve your climb in advance as the daily climber quota was reduced following the earthquake in mid 2015.
Plan to spend the night before your climb in a guesthouse close to the mountain in order to acclimatise to the altitude. It usually takes two days to climb up and down Mount Kinabalu with one night spent in a mountain hut. Prepare to set out at 2am on day two in order to reach the summit for a breathtaking sunrise (making the mighty ascent worth all the pain!). Check out MountKinabalu.com for further information.
Once you’ve finished your climb, the resorts of Kota Kinabalu (a two hour drive from the National Park) are a welcomed bonus. Only ten minutes from Kota Kinabalu Airport, the Shangri-La Tanjung Aru has tonnes of activities available from snorkeling to mini golf.
Getting to Kota Kinabalu
Direct flights to Kota Kinabalu from Hong Kong are available with Cathay/Dragon, Air Asia, Malaysia Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines
When to Visit
The best time to climb Mount Kinabalu is the dry season, between March and August.
Desert Island Adventure In The Philippines
If you’d like to spend your days sailing pristine turquoise waters and your nights camping on a deserted island, then you’ll marvel at this Palawan experience. Whether you want to join a scheduled group adventure or charter your own private boat, TAO is THE company to book your Palawan adventure through. The trip lasts for 5 days and a native Bangka boat will sail you through a series of deserted islands. You’ll set up camp each night in a unique location with a chef who cooks amazing meals with fresh ingredients.
Don’t expect a luxury boat cruise, the emphasis here is rustic and authentic. It is recommended that children are at least 5 years old with confident swimming ability. You wouldn’t want to travel all that way and not be able to enjoy the amazing snorkeling!
Getting to Palawan
Boat trips depart/return from either El Nido or Coron. The closest airport to El Nido is Puerto Princesa – fly from Hong Kong via Manila with Philippine Airlines. The closest airport to Coron is Busuanga – fly from Hong Kong via Manila with Philippine Airlines.
When to Visit
Monsoon season (June to October) is generally calmer water for sailing. TAO’s website has more in depth information on weather conditions and general FAQ.
Spiderman Adventure in Krabi, Thailand
In November 2015, Hong Kong Airlines commenced the first direct route from Hong Kong to Krabi. What makes this area of Thailand so special is that the beauty doesn’t just lie in its beaches. Towering over the turquoise waters are impressive limestone outcrops making this area world famous for rock climbing.
Real Rocks Climbing is the only climbing school in Krabi that offers a custom kid/family friendly program, ideal for kids 5 years and up. After you’ve been fitted with your gear, you’ll set out to the outdoor climbing crags on the beach and learn to climb! Following your climb, you’ll spend the next two hours trekking, caving and abseiling. If you haven’t caught the climbing bug and want to try out other adventures during your Krabi stay, try kayaking the mangrove forests of Thalane Bay. The water is usually calm so perfect for beginner kayakers and kids. There are many different tour operators offering kayaking trips, be sure to pick an accredited one.
Another must-do activity is swinging through the trees at the Treetop Adventure Park. Here you can experience the rainforest on high through a series of rope courses, zip lines and canopy walks.
Where to Stay
Head straight form Krabi to Railay, which is accessible only by long tail boat due to the high limestone cliffs cutting off access from the mainland. For high end luxury, look no further than Rayavadee, one of the few resorts actually on Railay beach. For a more affordable option, try the Railay Bay Resort & Spa
Best Time to Visit
November to April
Getting to Krabi
Fly direct from Hong Kong with Hong Kong Airlines or via Bangkok with an airline combination (Cathay/Bangkok Airways)
Get On Your Bike In Vietnam
Beautiful Dalat in Vietnam’s central highlands is the perfect base for those seeking adventure. The charming mountain city of Dalat is a calming contrast to the frenetic pace of Vietnam’s larger cities. There are a huge amount of adventurous activities on offer from canyoning to whitewater rafting.
However, if your number one priority is to ‘get on your bike’, this is the place to do it. For an excellent safety rating and qualified guides, look to Phat Tire Ventures who offer several different cycling packages. The easiest ride is an all day cycle from Dalat to Nha Trang. After some uphill, there’s 28k of uninterrupted downhill… phew!
If one day is not enough, choose the 6 day/5 night Dragon’s Tail Ride from Dalat to Hoi An. You’ll cover countryside spanning remote villages, rubber plantations, waterfalls and lakes. Even better you can end your trip in the picturesque town of Hoi An, sampling the delicious local food and resting your weary legs at a local beach resort.
Where to Stay
For a few relaxing nights before your cycling adventure, check into the Ana Mandara Villas Dalat Resort & Spa, a collection of 7 original French colonial villas.
Hoi An has plentiful accommodation options to suit all budgets. The Victoria is always a popular choice.
Best Time to Visit
December to March
Getting to Dalat
Fly with Vietnam Airlines via Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi. There are direct flights to Danang (30 minutes from Hoi An) with Dragonair and HK Express