I’ll hold my hand up and say it: yes, we are travel bugs, the kind who like to skip off any chance we get, often every chance we get. It didn’t deter us when we had our son and our daughter’s now earning her travel stamps too. Travel unlocks an entirely new world, and while the world is one’s oyster, there are scores of destinations close to home that are perfect for that family vacay.
The city escape – Singapore
Kid-friendly ideas abound south of the border. A favourite is the amazingly well laid-out Singapore Zoo where – besides the usual suspects – there are white tigers, pandas, a polar bear and kangaroos. With feeding sessions, elephant rides, animal shows and a water play area, there’s lots to cover and it’s easy to spend hours here.
Skip across town, go green and take a walk around the lush Gardens by the Bay to enjoy views of the Marina Bay skyline while you saunter past flowering shrubs, pretty pavilions and open lawns. Don’t miss the Flower Dome, Sun Pavilion and the Cloud Forest where you’ll find the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. Kids will love the dedicated Children’s Garden with its interactive fun and water play. If you’re still up to it, close by is the 165-metre Singapore Flyer, the observation wheel offering fabulous views of the island city.
Fancy a different type of night out? Grab your tots and head to the world-renowned Night Safari. Jump on a tram ride, pick a trail walk or simply sit back and enjoy the Creatures of the Night show. No one goes home disappointed.
For a reprieve from the heat, walk through the cool confines of the S.E.A. Aquarium as you gawk at all manner of sea life including hammerhead sharks, sea jellies and giant spider crabs. And yes, you’ll find Nemo here too!
History buffs – Siem Riep
Impressive monuments, ancient temples and striking Khmer architecture assures you that you’ve arrived in Siem Reap. The revered Angkor Wat, a UNESCO Heritage Site, is the obvious first stop and a spectacular sight especially at dawn. With kids in tow though, head across later in the morning to skip the jostling crowds. The sight is no less dramatic and it’s worth spending some time walking through these ruins believed to have been built in the 12th century.
That isn’t the only temple to call on and Angkor Thom and Bayon are two other popular must-dos. Family elephant rides are possible from Angkor Thom to Bayon providing a novel and exciting way to travel. Slide off your gentle pachyderm and have a ball exploring the many faces on the numerous towers at Bayon.
Once you’ve had your fill of ancient temples, you can choose from a sunset cruise from Angkor Thom, giddy up at The Happy Ranch Horse Farm or don a chef’s hat and try whipping up some Khmer fare. As a grand finale to the day, wander through the Siem Reap night market, enjoy the din and pick up some charming baubles to take home.
Adventure lovers – Phuket
An easy flight away and not too hard on the pocket depending on what you do, Phuket is a top choice for an effortless getaway. Gone are the days of only beaches and resort pools for fun; this wildly popular Thai destination is a blend of lifestyles with much up its sleeve. If it’s water sports you’re after, Thailand has gorgeous beaches and there’s surfing, snorkelling, jet skiing, parasailing and more if you don’t fancy simply frolicking in the waves.
For a change of tempo, amble along colourful Phuket town and pop into the Trickeye Museum, an interactive 3D painting exhibition that is oodles of fun for all or get soaked at the Splash Jungle Water Park in Mai Khao. Sprawled over 6,400sqm with a wave pool, 335 metre lazy river and slides galore, it’s a good chunk of your day outdoors so religiously slap on the sunscreen.
Other treats are elephant rides at Siam Safari, Baan Teelanka for a comical experience in an inverted house, Mini Golf at the Dino Park and island hopping cruises to the nearby Phang Nga Bay and Phi Phi. Top off your day with an exciting night out at the Fantasea show in Kamala Beach. Its impressive line up features magic, acrobatics, stunts, pyrotechnics and is rounded off with a huge cast that includes elephants, tigers, goats and chickens!
A little bit of everything – Bali
Always a hot favourite, the Island of the Gods beckons all wanderlusters. Sun, sand and surf aren’t the only things this famed Indonesian island has to offer. Olden day temples, dramatic mountains, thriving rice terraces, soaring volcanoes and a variety of cultural and historical elements make this a destination that appeals to a varied audience.
It’s straightforward to travel through Bali, and with children, your best bet is to hire a car with a driver to go at your pace. Temples are aplenty here with the exotic Tanah Lot, a rock formation well-known for beautiful sunsets and equally worth the trip is the Uluwatu temple – one of Bali’s sacred spiritual pillars. Perched on a cliff and home to hundreds of monkeys, the temple is a stunning vision against the cobalt Indian Ocean.
In Nusa Dua, let the kids play at being Jack Sparrow at the Pirates by The Bay playing facility or head to the Monkey Forest in Ubud where you can buy bananas to feed the macaques. Both children and their long tailed friends are free to roam around to burn off some energy. Similarly entertaining are the Bali Safari & Marine Park with 300 species of animals, Bali Tree Top zip-lining for adrenaline junkies and the Waterbom Water Park with dozens of slides to keep the young and younger happily amused.
Happy travels and escapades ahead folks!
Annabelle Josef is a girl from KL who married the best guy she knows and lives with him and their two little folk in the neighbouring red dot of Singapore. She runs a juggling act of school runs, swim classes, play dates and diaper changes, absolutely loves to travel and one day aims to complete a full marathon. Between one trip and the next, she is a freelance writer, amateur photographer and is earning her chops as a Lego master builder.