Family holidays often mean overpriced, gated resorts, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Yes, it’s true that when travelling with kids, safety and convenience come first. Yet at the same time, what’s the point of going overseas if it doesn’t help the little ones cultivate a sense of curiosity and adventure?
Taipei, Taiwan ($$$)
Why visit? For the families with young ‘uns requiring easy transportation, the incredibly modern city of Taipei is a good bet. Rich in culture and history, and packing a range of activities from the sightseeing type to the thrill-seeking ones, there are plenty for the kids to do.
Fly there: If you’re on a budget, the likes of AirAsia and Scoot fly to Taipei from Singapore as low as SGD $367.
Highlights: Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall; Taiwan Democracy Memorial Park; Longshan Temple; Taipei 101; Elephant Mountain; Daan Forest Park for a day of free play; Taipei Zoo for a 165-ha experience (oh and pandas); Maokong Gondola for a thrilling cable car ride.
Duration: Seven days, but shoot for 10 if time allows.
We would stay at: This gorgeous apartment in the city, near the wildly popular Shi-Da Night Market.
Sleeps three to six people, costing SGD $100 per night.
If you’d prefer something else, check out other listings in Taipei here.
Yogyakarta, Indonesia ($)
Why visit? Forget Europe – here’s a destination rich in heritage. Yogyakarta is an ancient Southeast Asian capital with UNESCO World Heritage sites, and won’t hurt your wallet as much either. Walk amongst 9th century ruins, listen to stories spanning hundreds of years and seek out numerous opportunities of wonder for the whole family.
Fly There: Garuda flies there from Singapore for a very reasonable SGD $356 (return).
Highlights: The Kraton (Royal Palace) for a monarchal peek into Javanese culture; Borobudur – a Buddhist temple, and Prambanan – a Hindu temple, to experience Indonesia’s religious diversity; hiking Mount Merapi to explore Yogya’s famous natural landmark; Ullen Sentalu museum along the way to learn about native history; Ramayana Ballet for an impressive song and dance storytelling.
Duration: Five days
We would stay at: This two-bedroom villa in the heart of the city.
Comes with air-conditioning, wifi and a private pool. Sleeps six. From SGD $264 a night.
If you’d prefer something else, check out other listings in Yogyakarta here.
Phuket, Thailand ($$)
Why visit? Sometimes you just wanna play it safe and not push the limits of family travel. After all, not everyone’s wired to handle crying babies in remote locations. Phuket, along with all its tried-and-tested attractions, hears you.
Fly there: As low as SGD $146 return from Singapore. Even less when the budget airlines have their all-so-often flash sales.
Highlights: Siam Safari for humane elephant trekking; FantaSea Park for a magical wonderland; Dino Park Mini Golf for dinosaur-themed mini golf (duh); Zorbing because hamster ball; Splash Jungle Water Park for a wet ‘n’ wild time; Baan Teelanka (Upside Down House) for a whole new perspective; island hopping; ATV tours.
Duration: Five days should be enough time to try out all the touristy things in Phuket – leave the rougher stuff for when the kids are all grown up.
We would stay at: This massive three-bedroom villa which comes with its own pool, jacuzzi and sunbeds.
Live it up for just SGD $151 a night.
If you’d prefer something else, check out other listings in Phuket here.
Melbourne, Australia ($$$$)
Why visit? Laidback Melbourne is known as one of the most livable cities in the world, and is also the fashion capital of Australia. That makes it great for parents who want to squeeze in some shopping while keeping the kids entertained.
Fly there: Expect to pay anywhere from SGD $350 to SGD $700 for return tickets to down under.
Highlights: Hiking in the Grampians and Wilson’s Prom; Luna Park for the oldest continually operating wooden roller coaster in the world; photo-taking with the famous bathing boxes in Brighton Beach; watching penguins play in Phillip Island; checking out old gold mines in Ballarat; scenic driving along the Great Ocean Road; cafe-hopping in Brunswick and shopping at Bourke Street.
Duration: Seven days if you’re keeping your vacation within the city, but allow for two weeks if you’d like to explore Melbourne’s surroundings.
We would stay at: This penthouse located just a short walk from the Melbourne Central — it will make an ideal base to explore the city. SGD $176 per night.
If you’d prefer something else, be sure to check out other listings in Melbourne here.
Hong Kong ($$$)
Why visit? Bustling Hong Kong packs shopping and snacking together in one of the most family-friendly vacation destinations ever. Towering skyscrapers dominate the skyline, whilst hundred-year-old traditional sights line the city’s narrow alleyways. It’s old, it’s new, it’s amazing – welcome to Hong Kong.
Fly There: From as low as $450 return from Singapore.
Highlights: Ocean Park; visit the Tian Tan Buddha And Po Lin Monastery via Ngong Ping 360; The Peak; Hong Kong Global Geopark for geological exploration; Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade for a great stroll; roast meat; various markets – and of course, glorious glorious dim sum.
Duration: Three to five days should suffice.
We would stay at: This cosy apartment in Causeway Bay.
Eating and shopping have never been easier. Sleeps six. From SGD $154 a night.
If you’d prefer something else, be sure to check out other listings in Hong Kong here.
Seoul, Korea ($$$$)
Why visit? For those seeking an instant immersion into history and culture, there are few places better than Seoul. Not only is it safe and clean, the city is also a haven for fashionistas. Korea’s capital will also appeal to fans of K-pop, who come in all ages these days.
Fly there: Transit flights go as low as $627, but a direct flight will cost you approximately $825.
Highlights: Gyeongbokgung Palace to play dress up; free children’s museums like the Children’s Museum of National Museum of Korea or the Children’s Museum at the The War Memorial Of Korea; Namsan Park to take in the Seoul-ful landscape; Lotte World for kid and parent-friendly fun; picturesque Nami Island; Thanks Nature Café – a cafe housing a fluffy sheep duo.
Duration: Seven days, or 10 if you really, really want to pamper your kids.
We would stay at: This huge Gangnam-style duplex that will surely wow your family.
Sleeps six, and is a steal at just S$106 a night.
If you’d prefer something else, be sure to check out other listings in Seoul here.
Osaka & Kyoto, Japan ($$$$)
Why visit? That’s right, you heard us – the sister cities Osaka and Kyoto of the Greater Osaka region can easily be checked off in a single trip. Less crowded and hectic than Tokyo, the two make excellent choices for the parents who want a chill yet family-friendly environment. Kids get playtime in new places while parents get to unwind and find their inner zen. It’s win-win.
Osaka Highlights: Osaka castle for heritage and view; the bright lights at Dotonbori, Universal Studios Japan for Harry Potter fans; Umeda Sky Building. (Don’t forget to try the food – the city is not called ‘nation’s kitchen’ for nothing!)
Kyoto Highlights: Take a day trip to Nara for Nara Park to play with free-roaming deer; the massive Todai-ji Temple; walk through 10,000 red pillars at Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine; stroll down Gion to soak in the atmosphere and visit Nijo Castle for a taste of ancient Japan.
Osaka: This delightfully clean and simple tatami home just a stone’s throw away from places-of-interest Namba, Shinsaibashi and Dotonbori. Sleeps six, from S$116 per night.
Check out other listings in Osaka here.
Kyoto: Set amidst lush greenery, this three-bedroom house is just minutes away from the serene Arashiyama bamboo grove.
Also comes with six bicycles for easy exploration of the surroundings! From S$151(or MYR $453, HKD $840, PHP $5227, INR $7247) a night.
Check out other listings in Kyoto here.
Gold Coast, Australia ($$$$$)
Why visit? Yes, everyone knows the three worlds of Gold Coast. But don’t let that overshadow the city’s other attractions. Set near enough to the equator to remain sunny, but far enough that it isn’t sweltering, Gold Coast makes a killer destination to connect with nature.
Fly there: AirAsia flies there and back for $1,196. Full service airlines will cost you around twice as much.
Highlights: Movieworld, SeaWorld, DreamWorld; Burleigh Heads National Park O’Reilly’s Tree Top Walk for a supersized version of the MacRitchie Treetop Walk; interact with Aussie wildlife at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary; visit glow worms at their natural habitat at Springbrook National Park.
We would stay at: A private waterfront oasis? Four bedrooms and 15 minutes from the trio of amusement parks? Sounds awesome.
Sure, it’s a little steep at S$235 per night, but the kids will be happy.
A little bit out of your budget? Fancy something even fancier? Check out other listings in the Gold Coast here.