Top international holidays with kids
Stuck for ideas about where to take your brood for your next overseas holiday? Here are some great places the whole family will enjoy.
- June 2018
An overseas trip is an incredible experience for the whole family – sights the kids have never seen before, a new culture to explore and new adventures to enjoy together. Whether you’re a family of thrill-seekers or just happy with a week of beach and sun, here are some great holiday ideas that the whole family will love.
Bali is blessed with plenty of family-friendly adventures – there’s so much on offer, the challenge is choosing what to do. For energetic kids (and adults with a sense of adventure), the adrenaline-charged, tree-swinging antics of the Bali Treetop Adventure Park and the wild watery wonderland of Waterbom Park with its 16 waterslides over 3.8ha are both perfect options.
Group bike tours taking you through the lush countryside and rice paddies around Ubud are a great family activity, and the kids will love getting up close to the cheeky residents of the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary there, too. And of course, there are the beaches – Kuta, Sanur and Batu Bolong are particularly good for beach bunnies.
If you want to give your kids the chance to experience Balinese culture more deeply, they might like a traditional dance show – the Barong style, with its monkeys, monsters and witches, is more likely to appeal. Choose the quirkier temples to avoid temple fatigue – take them to Goa Gajah near Ubud, which you enter through the mouth of a demon carved into a rock face, or Pura Luhur Batukau, hidden away in dense jungle.
Read more about our favourite Bali adventures for kids.
Ho Chi Minh City
Make no mistake: HCM is a big bustling town notorious for its chaotic roads – keep the kids close whenever you cross one! But it’s also packed with sights and activities to keep the whole family entertained for days. Take the kids along to a colourful and fascinating traditional water puppet show, scale the Bitexco Financial Tower for incredible city views from the Saigon Skydeck, and keep them topped up with customised Vietnamese desserts from the plentiful street stalls. If your kids are budding MasterChefs, they’ll love learning to cook delicious Vietnamese cuisine; many cooking classes offer kids’ rates.
On a tight budget? Check out our ideas for free family-friendly fun in Ho Chi Minh City.
To get out of the city, do a Mekong Delta tour. Floating along the delta waterways on traditional sampan boats is a real adventure, and visits to the local producers of treats like coconut candy will only sweeten the deal. Or take an educational visit to Cu Chi, a great way to give the kids some perspective on what’s here called ‘the American War’; kids of all ages will enjoy the experience of squeezing through the preserved Viet Cong tunnels. For a theme park with a difference, head out to Dai Nam Park, about 30km from HCM, for great rides, an impressive open zoo and a fantastically cheesy Disneyland-style Buddhist temple complex.
Kilometres of beaches, surf and sun – Honolulu’s natural gifts alone give it a pretty good rating on the kid-friendly scale. Plus, there are plenty of man-made attractions to keep the whole family amused. Just out of Waikiki are the Waikiki Aquarium and Honolulu Zoo, where educational programs include reef walks and behind-the-scenes tours with zookeepers. The easy hike up volcanic cone Diamond Head is a great family activity, and surf lessons and canoe rides will keep the kids busy on the beach while you catch up on holiday reads and sunbathing.
There are also plenty of great free family-friendly activities in Honolulu to give your wallet a break!
Hire a car and take a mini-road trip along the north shore of Oahu, stopping along the way for horseback rides and ranch tours at Kualoa Ranch and an educational visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center. Then head east to Hanauma Bay, one of the island’s best places for snorkelling, to give the kids a chance to see Hawaii’s famous marine wildlife up-close. Close by is the lighthouse at Makapuu Point, where an easy climb up a paved hiking trail will reward you with breath-taking coastline views.
Although Queenstown’s reputation is as a high-octane paradise for adrenaline junkies, it also has a kid-friendly side. Many of its iconic adventures, like bungee jumping, jet boating and white-water rafting, are equally accessible to young thrill-seekers (though age and height restrictions may apply). For calmer, or younger, kids, set a more sedate pace on a Segway tour around the town, and then take a drive around the district to visit local farms and meet new-born lambs and feed enormous Highland cattle.
A safe way to take to the skies is on the Skyline Gondola to Bob’s Peak – just sit back and enjoy the amazing views. When you get there, you’ll find walking tracks, mountain bike trails, paragliding and more. Especially good for kids is the Skyline Queenstown Luge – over 6s can ride alone, under 6s with an adult – as you steer your way back down to sea level. Queenstown is also a great destination for a family ski trip – all the ski fields here have beginner slopes for kids and novice skiers.
Phuket’s beautiful beaches, relaxed Thai atmosphere and huge range of resorts for every budget make it an all-time favourite destination. It’s a holiday island with a booming tourist industry that has produced an almost endless array of kid-focussed attractions. This is a boredom-free zone: you and your kids can indulge in every imaginable form of fun – water parks, bird parks, go-karting, man-made surf waves, trampoline gyms, horse riding, butterfly gardens … if your kids can dream it up, it’s probably here.
Favourite diversions include Dino Park Mini Golf (mini-golf with life-sized dinosaur models), The Upside-Down House (a house where everything is upside-down), and Phuket FantaSea, a ritzy, glitzy Las Vegas-style take on Thai culture and a great kid-friendly night-time activity.
Get back to basics on the island’s many beaches – Karon, Kata and Kamala are particularly good for kids. Or get away from it all by hiring a private longtail boat and whisking the family off to the peaceful and secluded Koh Khai Islands.