Top Activities for Your Family Trip to Asia

Top Activities for Your Family Trip to Asia

By CindyUpdated Sep. 8, 2021

Asia never ceases to surprise its visitors. For families, it is a wonderland packed with fun activities enjoyable to both kids and adults.

For a family trip of about two weeks, it is wise to plan one special activity every two or three days in besides the regular sightseeing. While you are at it, think of those activities that are safe and educational. Here’s how we can help.

Safety is always the first concern

A family trip should involve fun experiences and create precious memories; obviously getting hurt is neither of these.

At the planning stage, your children might brainstorm with you some awesome ideas of what they want to do while they are in Asia. It’s the parents’ job to assess the safety of all these possibilities.

For example, if your kids are interested in scuba diving in Nha Trang, research well and find an agent of good repute, with a proper license, who takes appropriate safety precautions.

It may also be important to give the children some safety guidelines before and while you are on the road. As for special activities, you will be given some instructions on the day, and you may want to review the main points with everyone in the family.

Some activities are only appropriate for a certain age; for example, in Hue children younger than 12 years are not permitted to ride on a motorbike. In such cases, back-up plans may be necessary, to keep everybody happy and safe.

Safety is often mutual. An activity which is good and safe for the family should also be good and safe for the local community and environment. Try to avoid activities that don’t fit this standard, such as riding on aged elephants or diving into a protected sea.

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Learning through experience

Certainly, you don’t design your family trips to be after-school study programs, but wouldn’t it be nice if your children learned a thing or two while they were in a strange country? Good learning activities may focus on different cultures, lifestyles and some hands-on experience.

This might sound daunting at first, but such activities will encourage your children’s curiosity. Allow the children to use knife and scissors at the one-hour lantern-making class (under good supervision, of course), and you may find they are enjoying themselves more than you had imagined.

Such activities help the adults learn a thing or two as well. You might be surprised how well your 8-year-old son can identify the plants while trekking in the Khao Yai National Park together, or how naturally talented your children are at a calligraphy class in Tokyo.

Below is a list of family fun-time activities recommended by Asia Highlights, based on different destinations and with age-appropriate instructions. Of course, these are just the tip of the iceberg; there is much more.

Theme parks are not on our list, because we focus more on cultural immersion and human interaction.

Japan

Tokyo: Tsukiji Market, sushi-making, and rickshaw ride

What to expect:

  • Tsukiji Market, the largest fish market in Japan, is scheduled to move to another location sometime over the next year or two. Visit before it disappears.
  • Have a hands-on experience of sushi making in a private home. Choose your own toppings. This is fun for both adults and kids.
  • Sit back in a vintage rickshaw and whizz around Asakusa town where you can see the Thunder Gate, Senso-ji Temple and bustling streets without being squeezed by the crowds.

Age: all ages

Best time: all year round

Hakone: Mt. Fuji and spend a night at an Onsen hotel

What to expect:

  • Ride on the Romance Car from Tokyo
  • Get up to the 5th Station on Mt. Fuji, a mountain symbolic of Japan, and send postcards with unique stamps that can be found nowhere else in Japan.
  • Take a ropeway up the mountain to see it from a different angle.
  • Soak up the hot spring water of an Onsen hotel (most have their own hot spring baths).

Age: all ages

Best time: all year round; April is recommended for cherry blossom, October to December for autumn leaves

Kyoto: Fushimi Inari Shrine and Nara Deer Park

What to expect:

  • Thousands of red torii (red gates in front of temples) make for great photos.
  • Mingle with locals during their daily worship as they pull a[Can't say 'stroke a rope'. Usually it would be 'pull a rope'. But it could be 'push a rope'?] rope to ring a bell, as a prayer for cleansing from the mountain spring.
  • Get to Nara to feed some cute sika deer, roaming freely in the streets, temples, and woods there.

Age: all ages

Best time: all year round; February and early March are especially recommended for the cherry blossom

Recommended Tours

China

Beijing: Forbidden City, Great Wall, and painting Peking Opera facial masks in a hutong

What to expect:

  • Walk through the massive Forbidden City and learn by listening to interesting little-known stories about the emperors who used to rule China.
  • Hike up to the Great Wall or take a cable car, but you should definitely try a toboggan slide down the hill.
  • Step into a traditional hutong house and learn about the art of Peking Opera. Paint a facial mask in your colors of choice.

Age: better for children over 6 years of age, as it requires a lot of walking

Best time: March to April before it gets too hot and too crowded during the summer vacation; September to early December when it is cool and autumn colors are simply beautiful

Xi’an: Terracotta Warriors and Horses, plus a make-your-own-terracotta experience

What to expect:

  • Visit the wondrous site of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses. Your tour guide will choose the main features to introduce to you and you’ll have a chance to take photos with [Is it 'with' or 'of'? Please check!]one of the clay warriors (a replica).
  • Stop by a local workshop where you can learn how to make a miniature terracotta warrior.

Age: better for children over 6 years of age

Best time: May to October, but it will be crowded during July and August because of the school summer vacation

Mongolia

Horse-back riding and stay a night in a Ger in the Gobi Desert

What to expect:

  • Ride wild and free on horseback in the boundless Mongolian desert, and roar by jeep towards an oasis.
  • Stay overnight in a local Ger (a yurt, for Mongolian nomads), a special night away from wifi and PS4. You can chitchat till you fall asleep.
  • Help out local nomads with their work: milk the cows, trim the sheep and herd the horses.

Age: better for children above 12 years old

Best time: from May to early September, cool summer time in Mongolia

Vietnam

Hanoi: Ethnology Museum, Old Quarter by cyclo

What to expect:

  • Original houses are brought from the hill tribes and rebuilt in the grounds of the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, creating a warm welcome to children and adults who want to explore the hill tribe cultures.
  • Stroll around Hoan Kiem Lake, where you will see locals playing sport, and selling all kinds of quirky stuff.
  • Sit back in a cyclo (a kind of rickshaw) and paddle through the streets of the Old Quarter, with stops at Toy Street or other specialty streets, and enjoy ice cream at a time-honored shop.

Age: best for children between 3 to 15 years of age

Best time: all year round

Hoi An: Cooking class with countryside cycling

What to expect:

  • Cycle around the countryside of Hoi An, observe local life, and learn about plants, herbs and veggies.
  • Enjoy an intimate cooking experience with an experienced chef, learning to cook 3 to 5 classic dishes.
  • If early morning is no problem for you, we can sneak over to the early morning fish market, known about only by a few insiders.

Age: better for children 6 years old and over

Best time: all year round

Recommended Itinerary

Ho Chi Minh City: Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels with a veteran

What to expect:

  • Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels with a former Viet-Cong veteran who’s been living near the tunnels for ages.
  • Children can crawl into the narrow tunnels to relive the experience of the Viet-Cong soldiers, or climb up into[Is it okay to add 'into' here?] an old tank (a real one).

Age: best for children 6 years old and over

Best time: all year round but the tunnels can be hot and crowded during summer vacation

Cambodia

Siem Reap: Angkor adventure

What to expect:

  • Yell out “Angkor WHAT?” at the entrance of Angkor Wat and hop on a tuk tuk to Angkor Thom.
  • Get inside the movie set of Tomb Raider and climb up the old trees at Ta Prohm.
  • If you have more than 3 days to spend in Siem Reap, take a day trip to the less-well frequented Beng Meala, or climb up Pre Rup to witness a gorgeous sunset.

Age: best for children 6 and over, as there will be a lot of walking

Best time: all year round, but it can be hot during summer

Siem Reap: Jungle zip-lining

What to expect:

  • Fly on zip-ropes[Is this correct? It needs some explanation, or else it sounds like real flying!] through the jungles inside the Angkor Wat complex, with appropriate safety precautions and with proper protection.
  • Fly amongst wildlife, butterflies, flowers, fauna and towering trees, overlooking the wonders of Angkor Wat; the entire course consists of 3 sky bridges and 21 platforms, guided by certified Sky Rangers.

Age: for children above 5 years of age

Best time: all year round, but it can rain a lot during the wet season

Recommended Itinerary

Laos

Luang Prabang: Alms-giving, morning market and waterfalls

What to expect:

  • Sit at the side of the street and wait to offer alms to marching monks in the early morning; practice love and generosity with people who have different religion and lifestyles.
  • Visit the morning market and you will see all kinds of quirky things that people actually take as food. Try some if you dare.
  • Go for a great dip in the multi-level Kuangsi Waterfalls, stopping at a bear sanctuary on the way to the falls.

Age: best for children 6 years old and over

Best time: all year round, especially good in the summer

Luang Prabang: Ock Pop Tok dyeing experience

What to expect:

  • Learn about the ancient tradition of dyeing cloth, passed down from generation to generation. Kids can make their own tie-dyed[What does this mean? Unclear. Needs clarifcation.] T-shirts or try weaving on a bamboo loom.
  • Other interesting displays at the center give good lessons about traditional cultures and ways of living. Count yourself in as a supporter of the local community.

Age: best for children 6 years old and over

Best time: all year round

Thailand

Bangkok: Temples, river, floating market, street food, and adventure by tuk tuk

What to expect:

  • Try out Bangkok’s local transportation: Skytrain, long-tail boat and crazy tuk tuk! If your kids are transport fans, they will be amazed by the fast and chaotic transportation system.
  • Explore local life at street-level, in the floating market and along the Chao Phraya River. Hit all the must-see spots in a day, enjoying super-fast public transport and having a lot of fun.
  • Your tour guide knows exactly where the best Pad Thai is, and you can try out a lot of great street snacks.

Age: all ages

Best time: all year round

Chiang Mai: Tunnel temple, flower market and poop poop paper

What to expect:

  • At the foot of Doi Suthep lies Wat Umong, which is also known as the tunnel temple. It fascinates both children and adults with its labyrinth-like underground passages.
  • Visit some local markets, such as Waroro Market or Ton Lamyai Flower Market. Have yourselves a carnival-like blast.
  • Have fun and a civilized hands-on experience at the Poop Poop Paper Park in Mae Rim, making recycled paper out of elephant poop.

Age: all ages

Best time: all year round, but during summer you will encounter more rain and heat than usual

Recommended Itinerary

Myanmar

Yangon: Yangon circle train, cityscape and sunset at Shwedagon Pagoda

What to expect:

  • The 32-mile Yangon circle train is meant to get you off the beaten track and help you see the city from a different angle. Wobble round for 20 minutes and investigate a local market which is rarely visited by foreign travelers.
  • Learn about the history of Myanmar with an easy walk in the downtown area. Get back to the main landmark Shwedagon Pagoda by sunset, when locals are doing their end-of-the-day rituals.

Age: best for children 6 years old and over

Best time: best between November and March, as the train has no A/C and it can be unbearably hot during summer

Bagan: Temples, villages and people

What to expect:

  • Visit some of the thousands of ruined temples and pagodas. Your tour guide will lead you to some special pagodas, for the best viewing points.
  • Stop by a local village and learn about the process for making Thanaka; a local non-chemical specialty that can be used as lotion and sun screen, especially good for children.
  • Talk to a novice or an adult monk at a monastery, to learn about the monks’ lives.

Age: best for children at least 6 years of age, as you may need to climb up some of the pagodas

Best time: all year round; especially autumn and winter, namely October to January, for clearer views of the plains

Inle Lake: Boat trip to visit Samkar/Indien, lotus fiber weaving and one-legged fishermen

What to expect:

  • Charter a long-tail boat for a day, to visit some major sites on the lake, including a pagoda complex, floating villages, and floating gardens. Have lunch at a floating restaurant overlooking the lake.
  • Learn about how locals reel off lotus fibers and weave them into silk, or try your hand at making Shan paper, an ideal way to escape the afternoon sun and do something fun together
  • Watch the beautiful sunset over the lake and watch as fishermen row their boats with one leg and cast their nets. You can take some good shadow photos, if your lens is at the ready.

Age: all ages

Best time: all year round

Although we don’t have enough space here for all fun activities, we don’t need to look further for reasons why your family won’t be bored in Asia.

Here we have a Family Trip to Mangolia, China and Thailand (AH-19) just as a sample taste. Have your own family fun with a quick contact now (tailor-made button).

Plan your Family Trip to Asia with Asia Highlights

Asia Highlights welcomes the chance to help you achieve your travel plans. See our itinerary below and let us do the work for you.

15-Day Family Trip to Mongolia, China and Thailand

You might like to read

Vietnam Travel Guide

Myanmar Travel Guide

Cambodia Travel Guide

Laos Travel Guide

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