Asia – Where to Stay and What to Do
Note: This page is part of my Top Spots recommendations. It’s organized alphabetically by country and then by city, but it’s purposely not indexed since I want to inspire browsing, and help you to discover places you may not have thought of as kid-friendly. If you attempt to book one of these activities, restaurants or hotels and it’s not in business anymore, or you don’t find it to be kid-friendly, please let me know!
- Activity: The Great Wall of China is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and is amazing to see in person. I prefer the Mutianyu section of the wall, easily accessible with a private driver. Plan a trip for when you’ll have the wall almost to yourself. I’ve been able to accomplish this on cold winter days as well as on springtime afternoons.
Hong Kong, China
- Destination: Hong Kong is a great introduction to China (and Asia) for kids. English is still an official language, the metro (MTR) is very easy to use, the food is great, there are theme parks and a lot of interesting sites, and no visa is required to visit. My two blog posts on Hong Kong with Kids are here and here.
- Hotel: It’s expensive, but The Peninsula is the place to stay. Perfect service and location, and my son loved the pool.
- Activity: Lantau Island. Go to see the giant Tian Tan Buddha, but also wander around the nearby temples, the Lantau trail and the Wisdom Path.
- Activity: Ocean Park is an amusement park with rides, an aquarium, giant pandas, and a lot to do to occupy the better part of a day – without many other tourists. One of the better parks for kids anywhere.
- Destination: Bali is great for kids. There are beaches, hikes through amazing rice terraces, water parks and the Ubud Monkey Forest. It’s my 10-year-old’s favorite place in the world. My blog post is here.
- Hotel: The Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay. The villas (with private pools), beach, pools, restaurants, service, kids amenities and kids club were all excellent. My daughter loved the AntiGravity Yoga!
- Hotel: The Four Seasons Sayan. Our villa was perfect, and I love the view from breakfast. As with all Four Seasons, the attention to and respect for kid guests is great to see.
- Hotel: Kayumanis Jimbaran is a private villa complex just two minutes from the beach. We loved our villa, private pool (the largest that I’ve seen on the island), afternoon tea and the overall service. It’s also priced far lower than larger resorts.
- Restaurant: Cuca is next door to Kayumanis Jimbaran and is excellent, with inventive tapas and fun attention to retail. Very kid-friendly as well. My 11-year-old says it’s her favorite restaurant anywhere.
- Restaurant: Kayumanis Resto at their Jimbaran location has excellent food, and the teakwood building is beautiful. My very best meal in Bali was here.
- Restaurant: We love Kafe Ubud – it’s our go-to lunch place whenever we’re in Ubud. Great atmosphere and a wide-ranging menu.
- Activity: My daughter’s absolute favorite thing on the island is the Monkey Forest in Ubud. It’s a little nerve-wracking carrying/hiding bananas past the monkeys, but she loved feeding them and having them climb all over her.
- Activity: The A Day in the Life of a Balinese Farmer 4-hour excursion at Four Seasons Sayan was brilliant. We started with a hike through the nearby rice fields and forest, ate breakfast by the river, learned to prepare rice fields and plant rice, and then finished with Balinese massages. A really fun morning.
- Destination. Kyoto is amazing. Of course everyone knows Kyoto is amazing so it gets crowded. But go anyway. Just try to time your visit for off-season. My post on everything we did and loved is here.
- Hotel: We stayed at the Kyoto Inn Gion. Small rooms, but the location is great, and the staff is excellent.
- Activity: Head to Fushimi Inari shrine early in the morning to be able to walk through the orange gates without crowds.
- Activity: Arashiyama is known for the bamboo forest, but also walk along the river and visit the temples. It’s a great area of the city to spend the better part of a day.
- Activity: GEAR. A fun non-verbal performance featuring dance, magic and juggling.
- Destination: Tokyo is my youngest daughter’s favorite city in the world. From anime to the temples to Harajuku to the food, she loves it all. My blog post on Tokyo and everything we’ve done is here.
- Hotel: The Park Hyatt Tokyo. Ever since I saw Lost in Translation I wanted to stay here. It didn’t disappoint. Amazing rooms, service and views, and the pool is iconic. Don’t stay anywhere else!
- Activity: A food tour through Asakusa with Arigato Japan. One of our favorite food tours we’ve done anywhere in the world.
- Activity: A tour of Ikebukuro’s arcades with Context Travel. So much fun!
- Activity: The Mori Digital Art Museum is absolutely amazing – interactive light displays throughout two floors and a lot of unique rooms. Maybe my favorite museum in the world? Will be a must-visit every time we return to Tokyo.
- Destination and Resort: Six Senses Laamu. Our favorite resort anywhere. Absolutely stunning in every direction, and very kid-friendly. We loved our overwater villa, the pool, the sunset hammocks, the kid-sized bicycles with customized plates, the food, the beaches and the prices. We moved on to another resort after Six Senses and it was a disappointment. Don’t stay anywhere else! My blog posts from our two stays are here and here.
Zighy Bay, Oman
- Destination and Resort: Six Senses Zighy Bay. This is an amazingly kid-friendly resort, with an option to paraglide in to check-in (my daughter loved it). It feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere, but it’s actually easily accessible from Dubai. From the villa setup to the kid-sized bicycles to the dining options to the kids club and teen club, it’s very family-friendly. My blog post is here.
- Destination: Palawan was amazing and very kid-friendly, with easy island-hopping, kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling, beaches and short hikes. My blog post is here.
- Hotel: We loved the Miniloc Island Resort. Everything was taken care of for us (airport transfers, meals, excursion bookings) and the other kids at the resort all seemed to be having a great time. The resort will move a third bed into its double rooms for kids.
- Destination: Singapore is a practically perfect city, and one of the safest cities in the world. We’ve found ourselves doing one-day/two-night layovers there frequently and always love going back. My post on how we maximize our short visits is here.
- Hotel: The Fullerton Hotel is perfectly located, just a short walk from the Merlion and the bay, and is very kid-friendly. We loved the interactive exhibits on the history of the hotel (it used to be the main post office). They even organized Segway rentals for us.
- Hotel: The Fullerton Bay Hotel is similarly perfectly located, and we loved the amazing view of the marina from our room.
- Destination: Sri Lanka has it all: culture; nature; great food; fun activities; and warm weather. My blog post is here.
- Activity: Take the train south from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya / Ella. Incredible!!!
- Hotel: The Cinnamon Citadel Kandy is perfectly located for exploring the central part of the island and is very kid-friendly (rooms, pool and food options).
- Hotel: We enjoyed the Hotel Eclat. The location was good, a few minutes from a MRT station, and kind of in the middle of the all of the places we wanted to go. The food at the basement restaurant was good and my son loved the disappearing wall between the bedroom and bath.
- Activity: Our cooking class with Ivy Chen was excellent, making dim sum, baked duck and pineapple cake. Ivy is a great instructor (very patient!) and the food was great.
- Hotel: The Peninsula Bangkok. I’ve stayed here several times solo and with my kids and it’s probably my favorite hotel in the world. There’s so much to love: the service; the pool; the iconic ferries across the river; the spa; the view (above); the food. My post on the optimal Bangkok layover is here.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
- Activity: Hot air ballooning over Chiang Mai with Balloon Adventure Thailand. One of my favorite mornings ever.
- Tours: Best of Ephesus Tours. There’s a reason they’re ranked number one on TripAdvisor. Our guide Isik was great at tailoring the tour to our kids, the heat and the crowds, and the lunch she arranged was among the best we’ve had in Europe.