Asia with Kids – The Best Asian Family Holiday Destinations

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More and more people are looking for the best Asian family holiday destinations. Sure, Australians and Europeans have been coming to Asia with kids for decades. But now they are joined by larger numbers of North Americans, Russians, Chinese, and Southeast Asian tourists, as well. There are so many family-friendly destinations in Asia to choose from. Which is best for you and your kids? I hope this post helps you make that decision. Read on for tips and insight into some of the best holiday destinations in Asia for family.

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The Best Asian Family Holiday Destinations

So what are the best holiday destinations in Asia for family? I’ve spent over a decade trying to figure that one out. The good news? There are so many great places to visit in Asia with kids. The bad news? How in the heck are you going to decide on one? Below are what we think are the best Asian family holiday destinations from our own experience. Then we add three more Asian destinations that many other family travelers consider the best holiday destinations in Asia for family. What’s the best country to visit in Southeast Asia? What’s the best country to visit in Asia in general? There is no one answer for everyone. However, I’ll try to give a short summary of why each place makes our best destinations list. Then you can decide where in Asia you want to visit.  

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Japan 

Japan best country to visit in asia

Out of all the best Asian family holiday destinations, we recommend Japan the most. Of course, we may be a little biased. After all, Keiko grew up in Osaka and we lived in Tokyo for over a decade. Yet even if we had only visited once or twice, I’d still consider Japan one of the best family holiday destinations in Asia. Yes, the entire country. Japan is safe, culturally unique, and full of every type of family travel escape you could be interested in. Amazing cities. Pristine wildlife. Fascinating cultural and historical sites and some of the best food on the planet. That’s Japan. Here are a few of the best holiday destinations in Japan for families.

Tokyo

Tokyo top family-friendly destinations in Asia

Tokyo will always have a special place in my heart. After all, we lived in Japan’s dynamic capital for 13 years. My kids were born there, and I spent over a decade exploring Tokyo with kids. That said, Tokyo is easily one of the best Asian family holiday destinations for families of all ages. It’s the safest big city in the world, with an unmatched transportation system. Tokyo has museums, history, playgrounds, free events, and dozens of incredible day trips in every direction.

Osaka

osaka castle best Asian family holiday destinations

My wife Keiko grew up in Osaka, and we visit her family there usually once or twice a year. It’s often placed (far) behind Tokyo and Kyoto by travelers, but I consider Osaka one of the best holiday destinations in Asia for family travel. For one, it’s a great hub to all Japan’s Kansai region has to offer: Kyoto, Kobe, and Nara are all one or two hours away by train. Then there is the city itself. Sure, it’s a little grittier than Tokyo, but Osaka has loads of culture, museums, and festivals the entire family can enjoy.

Kyoto

Kyoto best family holiday destinations in Asia

For many family travelers, Kyoto is at the top of their list of best Asian family holiday destinations. It’s easy to understand why. For those new to travel in Asia with kids, Kyoto has a unique image and mystique to it. And for many Asia travel buffs, it lives up to its reputation. Many come for the UNESCO-nominated temples and shrines. Yet you also have beautiful nature just beyond the city limits. Kyoto is much smaller scale than Tokyo, obviously. This means that it’s a less overwhelming family-friendly destination in Asia.

Nara

Nara best Asian family holiday destinations

Nara often sits in the shadow of its more renowned neighbor, Kyoto. However, Nara is also one of the best Asian family holiday destinations. If anything, it’s possible that it’s an even better holiday destination in Asia for families with kids. Why? Well, wildlife experiences tend to stick in a child’s mind. I don’t consider the deer who wander Nara’s temple ground “wildlife” — they’re pretty tame. Yet small children won’t make this distinction. Nara is more than wandering doe and stags, however. The shrines and temple grounds here are just as impressive as those in Kyoto, but often with smaller crowds of day trippers.

Hokkaido, Hakuba & Other Winter Destinations in Japan

Niseko Hokkaido skiing in Asia with kids

If you love snow, then Japan offers some of the best holiday destinations in Asia for family ski trips. The Hakuba and Minakami regions have feet of power long into spring. Then you have Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost prefecture. Hokkaido has some of the most impressive ski slopes in the world. In addition, some lift tickets here can be much more affordable than in places like, say, Park City Utah. Another aspect that makes Hokkaido and Hakuba some of the best holiday destinations in Asia for family in winter? Onsens. That’s right, Japanese onsen (hot spring) culture is best appreciated when the weather is cold. What could be better after a day in the snow than a family bath to soothe aching muscles?

Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur Best countries in Southeast Asia to visit

Southeast Asia is home to many of the best Asian family holiday destinations, and Malaysia is possibly the most accessible. In fact, I consider Malaysia the best country to visit in Southeast Asia for people new to Asia with kids.

Why Malaysia? For one, English is spoken well and widely throughout the country. This makes for a softer landing for those new to travel in Asia. Secondly, Malaysia has the best infrastructure in the region. The roads are great on both the Peninsula and Malaysian Borneo. Water, power, and internet are reliable country-wide, as well. Then there is the amazing amalgam of cultures and ethnicities that call Malaysia home. Walk the streets of Georgetown, Kuching, or the capital of Kuala Lumpur and you pass by citizens whose families came from China, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and the UK, as well as varied indigenous groups in Borneo. They have different cultures, religions and food traditions, but they all mix in relative harmony here. Malaysia is one of the best Asian family holiday destinations for anyone interested in Southeast Asia. We love it so much we’ve spent over a year and a half in and out of the country.

Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur Malaysia best country to visit in Southeast Asia

Back in the late ‘90s, when I first started traveling in Asia, I thought of Kuala Lumpur (aka KL) as merely a layover spot. Boy was I wrong. Fast forward a decade, and we discovered that KL is one of the best Asian family holiday destinations for a number of reasons. Their science museum is possibly the best in Southeast Asia. The food scene would take months to cover. Public transportation makes it easy to navigate between workshops, parks, and gargantuan shopping centers that are unlike any I’ve ever seen.

Penang

Penang family-friendly destinations in Asia

This island close to the Thai border was home for around a year for us, and we look back at our time in Penang with a smile. Penang is one of the best Asian family holiday destinations thanks to loads of kid-friendly activities and an easy lifestyle. Penang travel is just easy: easy to get around, easy to find good food, easy to find fun things to do, too.

Langkawi

Langkawi waterfall

Langkawi is one of Malaysia’s most beautiful islands and one of the best holiday destinations in Asia for family. You have beautiful beaches, lovely resorts, and amazing wildlife. Spend a day snorkeling or take the cable car to the lookout point. Or take a boat tour through warm waters. It’s all happening in Langkawi!

Kota Kinabalu (Borneo)

Our Family Guide to Sabah: Things to Do in Kota Kinabalu with Kids scuba diving Gaya Island Downbelow adventures

When it comes to family-friendly destinations in Asia, Malaysia’s peninsula gets most of the attention. Yet I’m happy to say that Malaysian Borneo also has at least two Asian family holiday destinations that we’d recommend. The first is Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Borneo’s northern state. Kota Kinabalu (aka KK) is the more popular Asian destination for families in Borneo. Its larger, modern airport is a hub for airlines connecting to other Southeast Asian destinations. Here you’ll find everything from small hostels to all-inclusive resorts. But KK one of the best family holiday destinations in Asia because of all the activities it has to offer. There are hiking and trekking, with loads of flora and fauna to see. Then there are adventure sports such as rafting and scuba diving. These are just scratching the surface of all that KK has to offer.

Kuching (Borneo)

Kuching Borneo best family holiday destinations in Asia

In the southern state of Sarawak, the city of Kuching quickly because of one of our favorite family-friendly destinations in Asia. It has many the trekking and wildlife opportunities of Kota Kinabalu. Yet the city itself is mellower and less hectic than its northern neighbor. The town is sleepy at night but with plenty of dining options. Then there are national parks with incredible wildlife just outside of town.

Taiwan

Jiufen Taiwan Kuching Borneo best family holiday destinations in Asia

In 1997, I went to Taiwan to teach English. The plan was to stay one year in and then return to Atlanta and resume my career. Plans changed. I loved Taiwan so much that I stayed close to four years. Fast-forward to 2013 and Keiko and I brought our kids back for two months. It was amazing. The island had changed what needed to be changed (cleaner streets and air, safer roads) and kept what makes it wonderful (originalist Chinese culture, amazing food and some of the friendliest people in the world).

Taiwan is one of the best Asian family holiday destinations for a number of reasons. For one, Taiwan could be considered more “Chinese” than Mainland China in many ways. For example, Taiwan never suffered through the Cultural Revolution. That’s when Mainland China obliterated most art, temples and religious traditions. Yet in Taiwan, all this remained relatively intact, sacred and practiced. Taiwanese people also tend to be more welcoming and open than they are across the strait. That translates into more authentic interactions with locals.

Thailand

Chiang Mai Thailand best country to visit in asia

I’ve often called Thailand the “Disneyland of Southeast Asia,” and I mean that in a multitude of ways. Thailand has been one of the best Asian family holiday destinations for decades. In fact, many people think Thailand is the best country to visit in Southeast Asia, and they continue to visit year after year.

Why do they consider Thailand the best country to visit in Southeast Asia? Because Thailand has set up a huge and complex tourist infrastructure to cater to tourists of all kinds. No matter your age, interests or budget, Thailand has transportation and accommodation for you. On top of that, Thailand has some of the most beautiful beaches, mountains, and temples in Southeast Asia. If not the world. Many people flock to Phuket and Koh Samui. They are stunning places, but Southern Thailand has many other amazing beach locations, too. And don’t forget and highlands of northern Thailand. Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai may not have the beach, but they are both incredible holiday destinations in Asia for family as well. We’ve spent several months in Chiang Mai and felt like we had just scratched the surface.

Indonesia

Ubud Bali best Asian family holiday destinations

Search for info on the best Asian family holiday destinations and Bali will inevitably be one of the first places to come up. We love Bali. It’s easily one of the most family-friendly destinations in Asia. And that goes double for those new to travel in Asia with kids. We recommend it to everyone, but keep in mind that Bali is one island in a massive country. We have just begun to scratch the surface of Indonesia, but I am looking forward to returning many more times. When it comes to the best Asian family holiday destinations in Indonesia we can recommend Bali, Lombok, and Sumatra from personal experience. Yet we have heard great things about family travel in Yogyakarta, Flores, Komodo, and more.

Vietnam

Mekong Vietnam best holiday destinations in Asia for family

This is one of the most polarizing places for family travel in Asia. In fact, Vietnam divides almost all Asian travel fans into two groups: those who love it and those who…well, don’t. We are in the first camp. Vietnam is one of my favorite destinations for family travel, and I consider these places some of the best family holiday destinations for the adventurous. If you think the kids are old enough to handle it, you can dwell on the history of the war there. In fact, if you’re from a country who participated in it, I think you should. However, your travel in Vietnam doesn’t have to focus on the war. Ours hasn’t. 

There are plenty of other awesome Vietnam attractions and activities to keep kids of all ages occupied. Vietnam has hiking, hill tribes and Halong Bay in the north. Expect beautiful beaches, colonial charm, and amazing food in Central Vietnamese towns like Hue & Hoi An. Then there is Southern Vietnam. We loved the crazy, electric vibe of Ho Chi Minh City so much that we considered moving there. The Mekong Delta is a trip in itself. Vietnam gets mixed reviews. Some have a bad experience there, while others (like me) think it’s the best country to visit in Southeast Asia. You’ll have to decide for yourself.

More of the Asian Family Holiday Destinations

Singapore best places to visit in Asia

Singapore

Many travelers consider Singapore to be the best Asian family holiday destination in the world. We haven’t been yet, but I get it. Singapore is sophisticated, cosmopolitan and safe. It’s a bustling, prosperous city-state, and like Malaysia, it has a fascinating blend of cultures, religions and culinary practices. What’s more, Singapore has for decades been developed as a family-friendly country in Asia. There are loads of great places to go and things to do. Heck, even its airport is a top Asian destination in itself!

South Korea

I’ve been to Korea on my own twice, and I can’t wait to take the kids there. Like its neighbor Japan, Korea has been through major technological advances over the last few decades. And when it comes to music, art, and cinema, it has arguably surpassed Japan as the most influential over youth culture. Places like Seoul and Busan are brimming with art, design and big-city excitement. On the other hand, places like Jeju Island beckon those who want to escape from it all. Oh, and of course there is the DMZ and (not so) friendly neighbor to the north if you’re interested in that.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong usually makes the travelers’ lists of best Asian family holiday destinations thanks to its amazing infrastructure and shopping and dining opportunities. Small and sophisticated, Hong Kong is easy to get around, and English is spoken widely. Just keep in mind that narrow streets, the cacophony of languages and the gruff, gritty exterior can deliver maximum culture shock to Asia travel newbies.

What’s the Best Travel Destinations in Asia for YOUR Family?

There are so many family travel destinations in Asia, that it’s hard to choose just one. And just because one country has the best Asian destination for one family doesn’t mean it’s right for you. For example, I haven’t written about India and Sri Lanka here at all. Why? Well for one, I haven’t been, but also because India one of the most extreme and polarizing Asian destinations for families. Some have a bad experience, while others have a life-changing experience there. But I’d like to hear from you. Where do you want to go? Where have you been? And where do you think are the best holiday destinations in Asia for family? Are you interested in North Asia (Korea, Japan, etc) or possibly South Asia (India, Sri Lanka)? Or are you looking for the best country to visit in Southeast Asia? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. 

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you,  we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase, book a room in one of these Asian destinations. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help find the best holiday destinations in Asia for family.

Image Credits: #9, #20

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