10 Trips to Take Before You're Ten
August 29, 2014
From saving the animals to sliding down the Great Wall, we've got action-packed trips for all ages. Whether you're young or just young at heart, these aspirational vacations are all kinds of fun. By Diana Hubbell.
Published on Aug 26, 2014
1 SWIM WITH THE ELEPHANTS
Riding elephants is fun… bathing is even better. For a cool experience, splash it up with these gentle giants in the river with White Elephant Adventures Laos (white-elephantadventures-laos.com).
Cooling off with playful pachyderms.
2 TAKE A TRIP TO THE ZOOS
Our region has some of the world's best zoos. Here are four cities to walk on the wild side.
Taipei Zoo (english.zoo.taipei.gov.tw) The largest zoo in Asia has all kinds of cool critters to check out.
Singapore Zoo (zoo.com.sg) Night Safari and Kidzworld are just some of the cleverly designed features at the Lion City's animal kingdom. The attractions, which house more than 2,800 animals, are spread throughout the city, and merit several days of exploration.
Lion Family, Singapore Zoo
Taronga Zoo, Sydney (taronga.org.au) With more than 4,000 animals from at least 350 species, not to mention an admirable conservation program, this zoo sets the bar high.
Kuala Lumpur Bird Park, Malaysia (klbirdpark.com/index.cfm) Fine, feathered creatures flutter all over the free-flight aviary, a massive open space where kids can see Indian blue peacocks and others flashing their plumage.
3 GO ON AN EPIC CHINA ADVENTURE
Forget about the palaces and pagodas; instead build a Middle Kingdom docket chock full of awesome stuff no one else's kid is doing.
Toboggan the Great Wall A great reason to climb the wall is so you can slide down it. Carts come equipped with brakes, and two-seaters are available for parents with extrasmall ones, meaning the ride is thrilling but still safe. Mutianyu section of the Great Wall; mutianyugreatwall.net.
Ride camels along the Silk Road In Dunhuang, Gansu province, let your kids channel their inner explorer and venture off on the path set by ancient spice traders. (travelchinaguide.com)
Camel rides in Dunhuang
Travel to a distant world The towering limestone karsts of Zhangjiajie National Forest, part of UNESCO site Wulingyuan Scenic Area in Hunan province, are so surreal they inspired scenery in the film Avatar. Your kids may not see any aliens, but they should watch out for monkeys.
4 DO A LITTLE DANCE
Traditional Khmer dance features gorgeously ornate costumes that your kids will love. The best part is that when they see a show or sit in on a class run by Cambodian Living Arts (cambodianlivingarts.org), the ticket fee goes towards helping other children pursue their passions.
Classic Khmer moves
5 GET THE BEST OF BANGKOK
Non-stop fun for the juvenile jet set.
The Artist's House Thai shadow puppets are an ornate display sure to keep the kids entertained. Baan Silapin; Soi Wat Thong Sala Ngarm, Phasi Charoen; +66 83 034 9858.
Kidzania (bangkok.kidzania.com) Children enact their grown-up fantasies as pilots who fly simulation planes, firemen who spray real hoses, and much more.
Kids play chefs at Kidzania, Bangkok
Siam Park City (siamparkcity. com) Need a great way to escape the scorching temperatures? Head to the waterpark, complete with a massive wave pool.
6 TOUR TOKYO MUSEUMS
Trust us—this beats the pants off a school field trip.
Start your urban trek at the Tokyo Toy Museum (Yotsuya, Shinjuku-ku; +81 3 5367 9601), a repurposed elementary school where just about everything is interactive, then head straight to the Studio Ghibli Museum (ghibli-museum.jp/en) for a visit with Totoro, Kiki and many other popular animation characters from films released by the studio. End the day with a dessert at the Jiyugaoko Sweets Forest (2-25-7 Midorigaoka, Meguro; +81 3 5731 6600), a confectionary complex decorated with whimsical pink trees.
Studio Ghibili Museum, Tokyo
7 THE BEST PLACES FOR WINTER SPORTS
Sledding at Everland, South Korea (everland.com) This all-purpose theme park out in Yongin, Gyeonggi-do, sets up a ride called the Snow Buster, which hauls children's tubes to the top of a slope, then lets them careen down. It's a bit of a schlep from Seoul, but worth the trip.
Skiing at Niseko, Japan Teach kids how to safely swoosh down the slopes at one of Asia's top ski areas. Niseko Village Snow School; niseko-village.com.
Powdery pursuits at Niseko Village
Ice skating at Houhai, Beijing The extensive lakes in this city park, which wind around historic hutongs, freeze in the winter, making them a popular place for families to strap on their skates.
8 CATCH SOME WAVES IN SRI LANKA
Learn a sport, tackle a new ride, or take in the local marine life.
Ride the Surf Even little ones can learn how to board at either Hikkaduwa or Arugam Bay. Surf Lanka; surflanka.com.
Watch Whales Track down blue whales, dolphins, orcas and whale sharks on this family-run ship that sets sail from Mirissa Beach. Raja & the Whales; rajaandthewhales.com.
Go Banana Boating Hang on for dear life as the boat bounces and weaves through the waters of the Bentota River, in Aluthgama. Sunshine Watersports Center; srilankawatersports.com.
Running the shores of Hikkaduwa
9 SAVE THE ANIMALS
Conservation and vacation go surprisingly well together, especially if there are aspiring young Captain Planets in the family.
The Borneo Big Three This Malaysian eco-haven spoils environmental tourists for choice. Turtle Islands Park (turtleislandborneo.com) off of Sabah allows visitors to witness new hatchlings being tagged and documented. Proceeds go to turtle research and aid. If you like your animals cute and furry, Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (Sepilok Rd., Sabah; +60 88 248 698) nurtures orphaned baby apes. Meanwhile the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary (proboscis.cc) is home to island's funniest-looking primates.
Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue Centre, Indonesia (tasikoki.org) Conservationists in Suluwesi started this center to rehabilitate victims of animal trafficking. Volunteers can see sun bears, orangutans, cockatoos and other fab fauna.
Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center (panda.org.cn) At Sichuan's famed attraction you can see these cuddly bears roam in a large, natural-looking habitat.
The Panda Breeding Center in Chengdu
10 RIDE ROADS AND RAILS
Borneo: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, to Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei This island has a continent's worth of biodiversity, and the day-long drive is one of the best ways to take it in. Stay at the Gayana Eco Resort's over-water villas (gayana-eco-resort.com), then swim in Asia's largest man-made saltwater lagoon pool at The Empire Hotel & Country Club (theempirehotel.com).
Water villas, Gayana Eco Resort
Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, Thailand For two-and-a-half hours, pass through some of the lushest tropical jungles anywhere. Stop at Charin Garden Resort (Mae Suai Dist., Chiang Rai; +66 5 391 8628) for a slice of the owner's homemade pies.
Perth to Sydney, Australia Cross this starkly beautiful countryside as you travel from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific in your very luxe steel steed on the Great Southern Rail (greatsouthernrail.com.au).