As your kids become teenagers more travel options open up, so let’s put some exciting options on your family’s bucket list. These are our experts’ recommendations for family trips in some of the top Asia destinations.
Borneo – Best for wildlife & adventure
Borneo has some of the last true wilderness regions in the world, and you don’t have to be Bear Grylls to get stuck in.
There are all kinds of safe and exciting adventures to be had, including boat trips through mangrove forests, kayaking trips, whitewater rafting, canopy walks, river lodge stays, and all manner of world-class wildlife experiences. See orangutans and sun bears in sanctuaries, take a boat trip along the Kinabatangan River to spot pygmy elephants and crocodiles in the wild, or (if your teens are up for a challenge) hike up Mount Kinabalu to see the sunrise from the top of the highest mountain in Southeast Asia.
Borneo won’t stay this way forever, so now is the time to visit before it’s too late. It’s also not cheap, so we don’t recommend travelling with young children who might not remember just how awesome it all was!
Check out our Borneo Family Adventure tailormade itinerary, which includes whitewater rafting, a kayaking adventure and visits to three wildlife sanctuaries.
Thailand – Best for beaches & ease of travel
Thailand has been a popular holiday destination since the 1970s — decades longer than its neighbours — which means it’s had plenty of time to get good at it.
Combine absolutely stunning landscapes with excellent accommodation, delicious food and superb transport links and you have a guaranteed winner for a family holiday with teens. It’s also a great place to visit if your kids are fussy eaters, as there are good Western food options in practically every location.
What we love most about Thailand is the balance of adventure, relaxation and culture. No matter what your kids are into, you’ll find it here: massive flea markets in buzzing cities, palm-fringed beaches for snorkelling and swimming, cookery classes, elephant sanctuaries, jungle eco-lodges and boat safaris. You name it, Thailand has it — and it’s cheap as chips.
Check out our Active Southern Thailand tailormade itinerary, which includes a diverse array of active experiences, a street-food walking tour and plenty of R&R time on the sandy beaches of Krabi and Phuket.
Vietnam – Best for geographical diversity
Much like Thailand, Vietnam’s geographical diversity means it has a fantastic range of different landscapes for families to explore. Thousands of miles of coastline mean some fabulous beaches (especially in the southern islands), but there are also opportunities to get further off the beaten track than is possible in Thailand — exploring the spectacular caves of Phong Nha National Park, for instance, or trekking in the mountains of the far north.
The Vietnam War is still a presence in the country today, and wriggling through the old Viet Cong tunnels at Cu Chi or Vinh Moc is a great way to bring history to life. Earlier history is represented too, and can be fun to explore by bike in lantern-strung Hoi An or the former Imperial capital of Hue.
All over the country, there are street food stalls, cooking classes, night markets and shopping opportunities to keep everyone busy — and it’s safe enough to let teens wander free and explore.
Check out our Adventurer’s Vietnam tailormade itinerary, which includes hiking in Sapa, caving in Phong Nha and two full-day cycling tours in central Vietnam.
South Korea – Best for cool culture
Thanks to the ‘Korean Wave’ that’s seen Korean pop culture sweep the world in recent years, your teenagers might well know more about South Korea than you do. In fact, Korea is creeping up on Japan as one of the world’s top destinations for weird and wacky youth culture, and a trip to Seoul is packed with opportunities to have fun at amusement parks, visit game cafés, try on a hanbok, eat Korean BBQ and shop ‘til you drop in thrift stores, mega-malls and cutting edge beauty salons.
Beyond Seoul, Busan offers Instagram-bait in spades, with its jumble of brightly coloured alleys, cute coffee shops and trendy arts spaces. Andong is the gateway to traditional Korean culture, Jeju has beaches and caves, and in the mountains there are endless opportunities for hiking. For teenagers with their finger on the pop culture pulse, South Korea is a no-brainer.
Check out our Korean Wave tailormade itinerary, which includes visits to famous K-Pop locations, a K-Pop dance class and a stop-off at Hapcheon Movie Theme Park.
Cambodia – Best for indulging your inner Indiana Jones
We’re willing to bet that even the most difficult-to-please teenager won’t fail to be impressed by the root-strangled, ‘Tomb Raider’ temples of Angkor. Angkor Wat is the biggest and most famous of them (recognisable from the Cambodian national flag), but hop on a bike and you can quickly get away from the crowds and have an adventure among the many lesser-known ruins that sprawl around Siem Reap. Cool down by the hotel pool in the heat of the midday sun, then in the evening head out to see incredible acrobatics at the Phare Circus.
Beyond Siem Reap, Cambodia has the largest area of unbroken rainforest in mainland Southeast Asia and some of the best wildlife experiences outside of Borneo. There’s also the rattletrap Battambang bamboo train, street food tours, ziplining, rural homestays and cultural classes from pottery-making to rice farming — so there’s never an excuse to be bored.
Check out our Kingdom of Adventure tailormade itinerary, which includes a street food tour, an acrobatic performance, a treetop zipline and a relaxing beach stay.