Southeast Asia With Kids

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We posted already about our experiences of travelling around Southeast Asia with kids (for 5 years!) now let’s have a look at where you should go in Southeast Asia. What are the standout, must-see places, attractions, and destinations

southeast asia with kids children in southeast asia
Southeast Asia With Kids

You’re probably in the process of planning your Southeast Asia trip, or thinking about taking your children to Southeast Asia, so I suggest you get a notebook and start listing the places you and your kids, absolutely HAVE to see or visit.

Later we can talk about the practicalities of joining your destinations together into an itinerary and organising your travel plans.

Could you do me a favour? Tell me in the comments how long you are planning on being in South East Asia for? How much time do you have?

If I know what the typical amount of time is for families planning to visit Southeast Asia, I can help you better.

Southeast Asia With Kids

How to Travel Southeast Asia With Kids
For you, for Pinterest, just use the red button which will appear when you hover.

Southeast Asia with kids isn’t so hard, do not be put off. I know new travellers may see Southeast Asia as a whole other world but it’s really not.

There is much to see and do in Southeast Asia that is child and family-friendly. The people are mostly warm and friendly, the food is amazing and hotels can be superb and affordable.

There is a well-worn traveller trail in Southeast Asia and it’s been there for decades. You won’t be breaking any new ground and thousands have gone safely before you, with kids too.

Southeast Asia is full of travellers, backpackers, and holiday-makers. Arguably too many of them. So let’s have a look at some of the places you really should try and see during your precious time in the magical east.

Update: If you want to read our experiences of travelling in Asia during the outbreak of coronavirus in early 2020, that post is now live.

Which Countries Are In Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia comprises Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Philippines,  Indonesia, Myanmar, East Timor, and Brunei. 11 Countries or Sovereign States.

Southeast Asia is mostly in the Northern Hemisphere but straddles the equator and stretches into the south.

India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal, Bangladesh etc. are not part of Southeast Asia. You can easily combine them with a Southeast Asia trip and you can find information on these countries elsewhere on this site, but this post only deals with Southeast Asia.

We haven’t been to all of the countries in South East Asia yet but on this website we always go back and add to posts like this, so once we’ve been to East Timor, our first hand experiences will be on this page.

For now I asked a few friends to help me with this project.

Pdf Printable List of Places and Attractions to Visit in South East Asia

I think this would be really useful for people planning a trip or tour of South East Asia, so we’re going to make one.

Time didn’t allow this week, but it’s coming soon and you’ll get it via the (almost) weekly newsletter.

Southeast Asia as Adults and With Kids, What’s Different?

Playgrounds for kids in South East Asia. Battambang Cambodia
Every country has kids. Every parent wants to keep their kids safe and happy. You will find playgrounds and kids’ facilities everywhere. This is Battambang, a small town in Cambodia, with a beautiful river-side playground and exercise area. There were loads of local kids and two western travelling families here on the evening we visited.

A lot of this depends on the age of your kids, obviously. Personally, I wouldn’t do long-term travel or backpacking in Southeast Asia with babies or toddlers, but plenty of people do.

I took my boys to Bali and Thailand from about 3-4 years old, but only for short 2-3 week holidays. We only started the long-term travel in Southeast Asia (budget backpacking to luxury, we do it all) when they were 6 and 8.

They are now 14 and 12 and love the region to bits. My elder son described it as a being “A bit like Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans, you never know what to expect.”

It will be hot, there will be mosquitos, you won’t be able to drink the water. There is unlikely to be much of a language barrier because tourists and English are common.

Standards of transportation and accommodation depend entirely on how much you want to pay and the people will generally be friendly and welcoming. Road and traffic safety may concern you.

Will your kids get sick? Well, we found that ours didn’t get sick more-so than anywhere else. But that needs to be a separate post.

What will you eat? Pretty much whatever you like, depending on budget. You can get pizza and fries just about anywhere these days if you have picky eaters.

Will you have to use squat toilets? Possibly not, they’re getting rarer and rarer. Will you transition from toilet paper to the ubiquitous bum squirter? I do hope so, it’s so much nicer, but you should manage OK if you keep a roll in your daypack.

Again, any questions, put them in the comments.

Some of these countries we’ve visited over 20 times, some we’ve lived in for up to 6 months. One or two we’ve never been to, I’ll explain why and call in a few friends to give their first-hand perspective.

I’ll try and include our thoughts on danger and safety in these Southeast Asian countries. What I want to do here is give an overview of the highlights you and your kids shouldn’t miss to help you with your planning and start building your excitement up to frenzy level.

Child Friendly Attractions and Facilities Through South East Asia

 things for kids to do in South East Asia 3D Art Museum
You bet there are heaps of things for kids to do in South East Asia. 3D art museums are big news in Asia, this one was in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

You will find plenty of Asian beaches, playgrounds, indoor play facilities, theme parks, child-themed tourist attractions and so on throughout Southeast Asia. These aren’t our primary concern here, we’re talking more about the unique features of each country. The things you can only experience in this part of the world.

I’ll mention special places that kids love, but I’m not going to list every aquarium, Kidzania and zoo, it’s just not practical. That needs another post!

Accommodation in South East Asia With Kids

Family room in a hotel in South East Asia
This family room in Sukhothai, Thailand, was a little more than we usually pay but came with a pool and breakfast and was absolutely beautiful. It was well under $100 per night. The lowest we’ve ever gone was $12 per night for 4 people, in Thailand and in Laos. Rooms are sometimes acceptable even at this sort of price.

Again, this is a topic for another post. Whether you choose hotels, villas, apartments, hostels, hotels, or guest houses is up to you. All can be good depending on your preferred travel style and how much money you choose to spend on this trip.

We already have a post highlighting some of our favourite places across the region. Most of these we’ve used multiple times. The hotel above is Thai Thai Resort in Sukhothai, Thailand and we highly recommend it.

If you’re new to big travel adventures maybe sign up for Airbnb and Couch Surfing right now, these could come in useful as you start organising your trip in detail.


Singapore South East Asia Supertrees
The Supertrees and whole Gardens by the Bay area are very impressive, as is the Marina Bay Sands and whole city skyline behind. I think Singapore most reminds me of Sydney. We enjoyed visiting last year but never included Singapore on our earlier backpacking trips in South East Asia .

Singapore is a city experience, rather like Kuala Lumpur, but with a higher price tag. It’s a stunning city and there is something special and unique about this country but it doesn’t have the same vibe as countries like Thailand or Vietnam.

Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing is down to your personal taste.

We have only visited Singapore once, last year, because honestly, we never had a burning urge to go there.

If you do include Singapore on your SE Asia trip, take plenty of cash and keep your visit short.

Your money will go further if you spend more time in the cheaper parts of Southeast Asia.

You can see Little India and check out the brightly painted Chinese shophouses and temples or you can marvel at the high rises and super trees of Gardens by the Bay. It’s undoubtedly impressive.

We loved taking our kids to Universal Studios, Singapore Night Zoo and SEA Aquarium along with exploring Gardens by The Bay beneath Marina Bay Sands (the “boat” on a building) and walking along the river from the bay to Clarke Quay.

Little India and Chinatown are nice but our favourite spot was Haw Park Villa because it was something different, something we hadn’t experienced before in South East Asia.

Sentosa is a pleasure park tourist island just off Singapore and reachable by causeway road or cable car. This is where you’ll find much of the tourist hotel and attraction scene.

Prices are sky high here and we stayed here for a few days over Christmas to visit all of the attractions.

You’ll find more affordable hostels. hotels and apartments in Singapore proper, we found a hostel with a good location for $80. Our full post on Singapore is here.


Malacca south east asia
Malacca’s historic old town blends Chinese, Indian and Malay cultures. It’s a fun, place for kids to explore and enjoy. There is a great, child friendly, museum on shipping and the spice trade in Malacca along with a birds’ nest ( for soup) making museum that kids would enjoy.

Malaysia’s big cities are in some ways similar to Singapore, particularly the gleaming high rises and malls of Kuala Lumpur but this much bigger country has more diversity to offer.

Kuala Lumpur is a bit of a favourite of ours and you’re extremely likely to spend time here because of AirAsia.  It’s nice to take a break in a city with aircon, Marks & Spencer and Gucci now and then and the Petronas Towers are very special, you should take a look.

Kuala Lumpur has a whole bunch of things to do with kids or for families. Around the Petronas Towers and KLCC there is an area of parks and water play along with a very good aquarium.

Batu Caves is a bus ride from Kuala Lumpur. Check out the malls and visit China Town, the Historic District and Little India. Full post on KL with kids here.

Penang , Langkawi , Ipoh Malaysia, and Malacca are also popular tourist draws in Peninsular Malaysia. Over the water you’ll find Malay Borneo or East Malaysia.

Sarawak in Malay Borneo blew us away, we loved being there and exploring the area. This part of Malaysia offers rainforest, wildlife, lovely Kuching and the village longhouses which we stayed in.

Mount Kinabalu is to be found at the other end of Malay Borneo, in Sabah, Eastern Malaysia. Unfortunately we had a horrible time in Sabah and wouldn’t recommend this part of Southeast Asia. It was very disappointing after Sarawak. The link above to Sabah will tell you why.


Favourite places in south east asia grand palace bangkok
One of my very favourite places in the world and it’s spectacular. The Grand Palace in Bangkok. This, to me, is one of the big must-sees in South East Asia, along with Angkor Wat.

Now we’re onto our favourite places. I won’t be happy until I’ve seen every inch of Thailand but for now, just a few recommendations.

Starting with Bangkok, possibly my favourite city in the world.

Don’t miss Thailand’s ancient cities of Ayutthaya and Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, the northern tourist hub, is popular for a reason, it has stunning ancient temples, history, and a wealth of things to do nearby.

Kanchanaburi is popular for its WW2 history, the famous bridge on the River Kwai is here. It’s also a peaceful riverside town with low prices. Perfect for long-term budget travellers to relax for a while.

Floating Markets are popular, we recommend Amphawa over Damnoen Sudawek.

What about Thailand’s famous hill tribes? This was my first ever taste of Thailand, a week trekking in the hills and staying in Hill Tribe villages, unforgettable and awe-inspiring. You really should try to find out something about these people.

We have a full post on Hill Tribes of Thailand here.

Did you know that Thailand has almost 300 species of mammals and getting on for 1000 types of bird? But where to see them?

We’ve seen a fair few in  northern Thailand, out towards Pai and Lod Caves or trekking in the jungle, but I think a very good place to go would be Khao Yai National Park, it’s only 4 hours from Bangkok and this will be the next part of Thailand that we visit!


Hoi An Vietnam Southeast Asia With Kids

Vietnam is long and thin and the standard tourist visa length of 1 month is the perfect amount of time to travel north to south or vice versa, hitting all of the highlights.

Vietnam has always been my husband’s favourite country, for the genuine warmth of the people and the amazing food. It’s now the kids’ favourite destination in South East Asia too and visiting Vietnam with kids, living there for months, was a joy.

We spent 6 months living in Vietnam (our second visit) in 2017-2018, so we have quite a lot of Vietnam content, mostly revolving around beautiful Hoi An in central Vietnam.

Hoi An’s UNESCO listed Old Town is a must-see but its relaxed charm also makes it one of those global hot spots for nomads and travellers putting down temporary roots.

Other highlights of Vietnam include those below. There are many more of course.


myanmar south east asia with kids
The stuff of dreams! I’m longing to go, for now, I have to call in a friend with 2 weeks in Myanmar with 3 kids under her belt.

When we first set off to travel the world in 2012, Myanmar was top of my list of countries to visit. In 2018 we still haven’t been!

I long to see this country for myself but it just never fitted with our travel plans and then the genocide last year stopped us visiting. I asked Nicky of Go Live Young about her experiences of Myanmar with 3 kids.

“Myanmar, previously Burma, is the largest but least known country in SE Asia. Having previously experienced tyrannical military leadership the country is changing fast as it opens up but the old Burma is still very much in evidence today.

This remains a land of a thousand gilded pagodas and ramshackle towns and villages populated by monks in red robes and locals dressed in sarong-like longyi, and where big named brands are still notably absent.

Most visitors begin their travels to Myanmar with Yangon where the Shwedagon Pagoda should not be missed. This gigantic gold stupa is 99 metres high and made from 22,000 gold bars!

Inle Lake is another highlight. Take a boat ride to see the Inle Lake fishermen who row with their feet, floating gardens, and stilted villages.

Bagan is the most famous tourist destination in Myanmar and for good reason, with its thousand of temples blanketing the landscape. Tour the temples by horse and cart, electric moped or bicycle.

Mandalay and its four previously royal capital cities is the perfect final destination in Myanmar.

Myanmar is a fascinating country with so much history and culture. This is a country to be visited now.”


Battambang Cambodia Southeast asia with kids
A blessing for the kids from a very friendly monk at a temple near Battambang, Cambodia. Battambang has heaps to do, including the famous bamboo railway.

Canbodia has Angkor Wat, of course, and every visitor to South East Asia should get there. A lot of tourists only spend 2-3 days here and this is the only place they visit in Cambodia.

During our first round the world trip we only spent a week in Cambodia. We crossed by boat and road from Vietnam, spent a couple of days in Phnom Penh then drove to Siem Reap for Angkor Wat before exiting by truck into Thailand.

It was a very bumpy ride! That road is better now but it’s still not an easy journey.

Cambodia is a very different country today and the tourist trail is much wider.

In Cambodia, consider visiting

  • Phnom Penh ( Palace, Silver Temple, Prison Museum etc)
  • The Killing Fields near Phnom Pen
  • Siem Reap for the Angkor complex.
  • Tonlé Sap Lake
  • Battambang
  • Kep
  • Kampot
  • Rabbit Island
  • Otres Beach and various beach islands off the Cambodian coast.

We think Cambodia is one of the harder countries to travel in Southeast Asia. You see poverty here and human suffering. The years of violence set this country back, its noticeable.

That said, it’s also a wonderful country to explore and Siem Reap today is incredibly modern in parts.

Think hard before taking small children to the Killing Fields and prison. We didn’t take our children, we adults had already been and thought it would be too much for them.


Laos Vientianne South East Asia With Kids
I took this photo inVientianne, Laos. We’ve been twice and spent over a week there with the kids when they were just 6 and 8, I’ve never posted about Laos’s Capital City. I should.

Laos’s 2 big tourist towns in Laos are Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng, but don’t skip Vientiane, and if you have time, there is much more to see in Laos.

  • In Luang Prabang visit Wat Xieng Thong, one of Laos most famous Buddhist monastries and climb Mount Phu Si which is reached via a 329 step staircase.   Outside Luang Prabang you will find waterfalls, caves and elephant attractions. Don’t miss the early morning monks’ alms walk, but show proper respect.
  • In Vientiane see Wat Si Saket, rumoured to be the oldest  Wat in Vientiane, see the ” Monster of Concrete” or Victory Monument and visit the COPE visitor centre.
  • The Plain of Jars is a huge area of plains with multiple mysterious huge jars scattered throughout.
  • Vang Vieng was the place for drunken tubing but the Laos government clamped down on this after a series of deaths. You can still go tubing, kayaking or caving but it’s more family friendly these days.


I asked Floss of Growing a Pair about her time in Philippines. Again we haven’t been. We’re not really beach lovers and the food doesn’t entice us there so we’ve never made it a priority to get there.

Floss, clearly, loves it and I think we should try and visit Philippines as part of our next round of travel in Southeast Asia.

The Philippines is an archipelago of over 7,000 different islands with a rich and mixed culture that is very different to anything you’ll find on the Southeast Asian mainland.  Stunning beaches and lagoons, breathtaking landscapes, world-class wreck diving, and friendly people make island hopping here just awesome.

Don’t hang around in Manila, unless you love busy and slightly scary cities with traffic congestion and shopping malls (this is the only place I’ve ever been asked to put my gun in a box at the front of a restaurant – it’s poor form to take your gun into a restaurant, obviously).

Get on a ferry or a plane to one of the beautiful islands.  Coron in Palawan is my favourite and one of the most beautiful places in the world. 

Hire a bike and cycle to saltwater hot springs, get in a kayak and paddle to your own personal private island (ok, so it’s not actually yours but you can pretend), snorkel on WWII wrecks, or experience the weird halocline in Barracuda Lake (where saltwater meets fresh water – trust me it’s weird). 

If you’re a qualified diver, Coron is one of the best scuba diving destinations for wreck diving too.

Bohol Island is another must-see with it’s unique Chocolate Hills, dome shaped mounds up to 50m high, scattered across the landscape.  Kids will love the Tarsier Monkey Sanctuary.  Massive eyes!  Possibly even bigger than their heads.  

For trekking and mountain scenery, head to the sleeping volcano, Mount Pinatubu, to hike to it’s incredible crater lake,  Puerto Galera for jungle walks or the Batad rice terraces for visiting villages and well, rice terraces. 

The more hard core trekkers can head to Mount Pulag for proper up-in-the-clouds adventures.  

So with it’s mix of beaches, mountains and unique culture, I’d definitely recommend trying out the Philippines on your next travel adventure. I might go back.

East Timor

East Timor is one half of an island at the southern tip of the Malay archipelago, the other half belongs to Indonesia. I only know of one travel blogger who has been to East Timor. He doesn’t have kids.

You’ll find his insights on travel in East Timor here. It’s not somewhere I’ve ever thought of taking the kids, but it’s fascinating to read about this troubled place. If we can, we’ll find a way to go.


We tried to get to Brunei and failed. We planned to cross from Sarawak to Sabah by bus and ferry via Brunei. You can do it, it’s not hard.

We bought the bus tickets and booked a hotel for a couple of nights in Brunei. Unfortunately, our mission ended at the border. It was our fault.

Visas are very complicated for Brunei and one of us was using his Australian passport, the rest of us, British. It’s totally normal for us to leave one country on one passport, enter on another, we do it all the time.

Unfortunately, Brunei didn’t let us, and the hefty visa fee for Australian passport holders had to be paid in Singapore dollars or Brunei currency. We had neither, and there was no cash machine.

We turned around and went back to the airport and got on a plane straight back to Kuala Lumpur.

Our interest isn’t strong enough to make us try again. We made it to Sabah but really didn’t enjoy this destination at all, so I doubt we’ll bother going back for Brunei.

A tiny country on the north coast of the island of Borneo. Brunei is bordered by Sabah and by Malay Sarawak.


Bali Indonesia South East Asia With Kids
Beautiful Bali. But Indonesia is huge and has so many more places to explore.

Indonesia has a lot to offer but Bali will be the most well-known destination, particularly for family travellers.

Bali is well worth visiting and picturesque Ubud is a firm traveller favourite with many nomads and expats making this mountain town their base for months or years.

If you can only make it to Bali, that’s fine, but also look into visiting the Gili Islands (Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air ) , Komodo Island or, as we did, try a private island resort, we stayed on Telunas Island, a short ferry hop from Singapore.

We have found the beach destinations in the south of Bali near the airport to be far too touristy and developed. We also tried the east coast and weren’t fans.

I hear the northern beaches of Bali are better, but we love Ubud, so we usually go there. You can easily tour the highlights of the whole island from Ubud, even take that manta ray trip to Nusa Penida, we did.

Other destinations in Indonesia include:

  • Borobodur Magelang
  • Mount Bromo
  • Munduk
  • Tanjung Puting
  • Yogyakarta

We have a post on things to do around Ubud with kids here.

southeast asia with kids where to go

Need More Information on South East Asia With Kids?

So there we have it. An overview of some of the incredible, amazing places you can share with your kids in South East Asia. We are making you a downloadable, printable pdf, so that if you are planning a family trip to South East Asia, you can circle and star your must-visit South East Asian Destinations. Knowing where you’d like to go and where you HAVE to go, is the first part of planning your trip.

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

81 thoughts on “Southeast Asia With Kids”

  1. Could you pleaae just help me plan my whole trip lol.. Only kinda kidding 😂 trying to plan this SE Asia trip with my 11y/o daughter. I get overwhelmed really easily when trying to plan things and i give up. Ive always been a get up and go and figure it out as we go kind of person but i cant do that going to the other side of the world with my child… So i keep getting stuck. I guess i dont really have a specific question just need help in general lol

    • Yes I can help. Shoot me an email with your plans so far and what you want to spend, see, and do. I can help a bit for free and I don’t mind one bit, but for a formal plan or Skype/Zoom calls for trip planning help we charge for our time. Hope to hear from you. Email address is on our contact page.

  2. Fantastic blog. Really interesting.. we are planning a trip to SE Asia for 9 weeks with our kids (8+10).

    We plan on packing in a lot in that time and to have a glimpse of a few countries rather than be immersed in one.

    We do Siem Reap for 4 nights. Any tips for best way to see it/good guides etc?

    Also interested to know why you didn’t enjoy Sabah (we have 9 nights in Borneo and plan a trip on the Kinabatangan River and a personal (kids and one adult will go to a nice beach hotel) climb up Kinabalu.

    Thank you.

    • Hi Ian, we have a whole post about the disaster that was Sabah, if you search. Siem Reap, find a tuktuk driver on arrival, and book him in for at least sunset, and then 1 full day. The ticket normally includes a sunset plus then, 1, 2, 3 full days depending on your interest level. Or – you book tours online using my affiliate links, but, in Siem Reap, I think it’s really important to put money in the pockets of the locals rather than a tour company in Germany or the US (and me), it’s a poor country still recovering from Pol Pot, do what you can to help the little guys. You’ll be mobbed by tuk tuk drivers wanting your trade and to book you in. I think we have a few posts about Siem Reap on here too if you look. Good luck! We had a blast touring Angkor with our driver, not a word of English, but such a sweet guy.

  3. Hi
    I am grateful for this blog. I have had an itch to travel the world for adventure for a long time. Was waiting until my children got older, but why wait. So im looking to start my travelling adventure with my daughters 14yrs & 6yrs next year, im not waiting any longer 🙂
    We want to travel around southeast Asia and start off in Thailand and Vietnam, for 1 month.
    What time of the year is best?
    I will be looking at airbnb accommodation etc
    Flying from london airport. Just seeking advice of where to start, whether we go to Thailand first for 2 weeks, then fly to Vietnam for the next 2 weeks. I really want to embrace culture, education for my children, food, life, communities. Or to get the most out of it, do we stay in 1 country for the whole month. As Im just getting started, once we have had a month travelling, then I want to eventually extend to 3 months, 6 months, a year etc


    • From London, your best flight is likely to be direct to Bangkok on Thai Air, which is a great airline, direct (we just flew that route a few weeks ago and got a real bargain). I doubt there are any direct flights to Vietnam. Peak season is about October November for Thailand, but that’s not the best time for parts of Vietnam, Hoi An floods about that time. Just go when you can and don’t worry about the weather. Just avoid burning season in North Thailand (UK summer). Don’t use Airbnb its just annoying, book hotels and guest houses, you won’t want to self cater in Southeast Asia (a good meal startes at $1), and you don’t need Airbnb cleaning fees etc, Just use Agoda or Booking dot com, and book somewhere with breakfast included if you like. We almost never use Airbnb. I do offer a trip planning service and Zoom calls (paid) or any quick Q’s feel free to shoot me an email or ask in the comments on the relevant page. Happy to help and best of luck! 1 month is a very short time though, it would be a real flying visit to do both Thailand and Vietnam. Unless you pick just a few places and really nail your transport between those places. You can do it (I’d fly between the two on this timescale) but it will be a whistlestop tour. Still fun though!

    • @Alyson for World Travel Family, thanks for your response.
      I think now, I’ll decide to spend the whole month in Thailand & make the most of it with my daughter’s.

      Thanks for the advice on using etc 🙂

      Yes, I’ll be in touch for further advice/planning as you mentioned. Once I decide on which part of Thailand we wish to visit and stay.

      Thanks again

      • No worries. There is actually a post called “planning a trip to Thailand” on this site, with a sort of Q&A free downloadable document that may be helpful for you. It’s new, I’m still ironing out kinks so feedback would be great.

  4. Hi Alyson, first off thank you for this blog, it is an amazing resource that I keep going back to!

    Next year we are planning a 6 months worldschooling trip with our 6 and 8 years old girls and the first 3 months will be in thailand and vietnam. I’m trying to figure out how to split our time in between a couple destinations in these countries. Visas are allowing us 60 days in thailand and 30 in vietnam.

    We were thinking of something like this:
    – 15 days in Bangkok early february
    – 15 days in chiang mai end february
    – 30 days in ko samui in march
    – 15 days in Hanoï region early april
    – 15 days in hoi an end april

    Does this make sense? We would prefer not too move too often (min 7-10 days in one place). With school and some remote work we will take it slowly.


    • Well, 30 days in Koh Samui is really too much. We left after 2 nights because we didn’t like it much, and accom was way more expensive than in the nicer parts of Thailand. Also flights to Samui are expensive because its a private airport. But there are plenty of bus / train / boat options. We just hopped on the ferry from Samui to Ko Phangan ( also more expensive and not much to do, but cheaper than Samui and we thought nicer). Anywhere the package tourists go will cost you more for rooms and food, also good food will be harder to find. If you want a full month somewhere I’d pick Chiang Mai, much more interesting, just avoid burning season. 15 days in BKK is quite a lot too. I’m there this week, 3 nights and done. But then I may have been there once or twice before 🙂 A lot of people don’t like Hanoi, so don’t fix in your mind (or book) 15 days in case you don’t. I do, but I’m well used to Asia. Hoi An is expensive for Vietnam, and touristy, but we love it. I think Ho Chi Minh is better than Hanoi. To see the whole of Vietnam, to travel the full length, takes a full 30 days. I don’t like sitting still, to me it feels like wasting days when I could be out seeing and doing, so I’m probably not the best to ask. But I hope the above was helpful. At the end of the day your itinerary has to suit you and your kids, the kids being the most important. Just because I take mine up Everest and hate Phuket, doesn’t mean you will or have to. But I’d keep it flexible and just go where you want to go and leave if you don’t like somewhere. Best of luck! And if you’re travelling between BKK and Vietnam it would be criminal to skip Angkor Wat. You can easily fly in or take the overland route (which is long and boring to Siem Reap, so this is one of the rare occasions I’ll tell you to fly). However, the overland journey from Siem Reap to Vietnam, the Mekong etc. can be pretty phenomenal, but with kids that young – not sure I would. Certainly not if they get car sick or are scared of small boats.

    • Thanks for your reply, it’s still really far in the future and much research has to be done haha.

      When you started traveling with kids I noticed they were the same age as ours when we will do this trip. How long were you taking in each place? Isn’t it hard to always be on the move with all the luggages with the kids? I’m thinking it probably gets really exhausting so that’s why I was thinking to stay longer in each place even though that’s not something we would do without kids.

      Will definitely reconsider stopping at Angkor Wat as it looks amazing and always wanted to go there. For some reason I keep going back to limiting the number of stops. Maybe our best bet is book shorter accommodations at the start and see from there how the girls react and how tired they get.

      • Yes, 6 and 8. We were bombing around like normal travellers. We had 2 big backpacks and 4 carry ons. I don’t recommend you get small kids their own bags, we ditched that idea pretty fast. I read all the hype about “slow travel” before we left and thought that was what we needed to do, but soon found we didn’t enjoy it so went back to normal backpacking. But we’re very high energy and I simply cannot waste a day by “relaxing”. Not my vibe at all. Funny, as a kid and young adult it was somehow inbuilt into my brain that “holidays” were all about relaxing and beaches. I soon found that that’s not what I enjoy at all and shook all that off. But everyone is different. My kids have zero interest in beaches so that part was easy. They like to keep active and doing new things.

  5. Hi

    We are thinking of going to Southeast Asia in the summer of 2023 for about three weeks. We are a large family group of 8 total comprises of 3 adults ,8year old , 2 teen boys & 2 young adults. We have been to Singapore before but this time we want to do multiple countries. Where do you recommend? We all like a mix of adventure luxury, foodies ( we not keen on open water activities but love beaches)
    Budget medium & some luxury ( we are not backpackers our teens are very delicate and would probably have a fit if they had to stay in a hostel 😊)


    • Hi, right, so first off, I hate beaches, so I’m not the best person to ask! But I do love travel for culture, history, food, etc. and Souteast Asia and South Asia are my first loves. The easy answer, is Thailand. It’s the best, easiest, nicest, country in Southeast Asia, possibly the cheapest, and neck and neck with Vietnam for food. If you’re in Banbgok you can fly anywhere for like $20. I’m guessing you won’t be keen to take the overland routes as you’re not backpackers, although they’re generally much more fun. Hostels are more expensive than guest houses by the way, guest houses are generally your best option in Asia. I don’t know what room configuration you need with such a big group. We never put our kids in a separate room to us for safety reasons, so we normally do a family room for 4 and if that’s not available, 2 rooms for 2, with 1 adult in each. So that’s something to think about. How will you all fit? In only 3 weeks you won’t see much. You could fly to Siem Reap, stay 2-4 nights and see Angkor Wat. It’s all very well set up for people on flying visits, but arrange everything in advance. Touring Angkor Wat takes time, it’s huge, read our posts about it. Then fly on to Saigon, lots to see there. Still no beaches? I don’t recommend Phuket, it’s nothing like the Thailand I love, overdeveloped, big hotels, not a nice vibe at all. To find a nice beach plce in Thailand you’d have to have more of a backpacker mentality and seek them out. The smaller islands, beyond Koh Samui are nice, but getting the ferries would eat into your time. I could write a novel on this topic, so really, an answer is beyond the scope of the comments section. Shoot me an email if you have more questions! As you don’t have much time to seek out the good local cuisine, I’d definitely take food tours or cooking classes in each destination, otherwise you may end up in places with bad food and take away the wrong idea entirely. We’re in Bangkok soon, our 30 something’th time, and going to a Michelin Star street food stall and taking yet another food tour. Can’t wait, Have fun! Also where are you flying from? We fly Australia – Bali -Bangkok so we have a few days in Indonesia and Thailand before flying to the Middle East and London. Look at your routes, which routes give you the best options, use our Skyscanner tips!

    • @Alyson for World Travel Family,

      First thank you for this you are amazing giving your time to help us newbie’s.
      We will be flying from London
      And I would love to pick your brain with a few more questions so I will drop you a line via email.

      Thank you

  6. Hello- We are newly looking into a trip to Southeast Asia. I have a 14 year old son and a 1 year old.

    We were thinking of traveling for one month but what is your suggestion?

    Also, will they need vaccines??

    • Hi Nata, For one month I’d fly into Bangkok and explore Thailand. You won’t come close to seeing most of Thailand in one month and there’s plenty to do for your teen, take him to see elephants etc. With a 1 year old and a teen you have a tough job on your hands. Catering to the needs of both is going to be hard. What does the teen like? Does he like beaches? Temples? Markets? Ancient cities? Know what he likes. My kids have no interest in beaches, so expecting them to amuse themselves on a beach all day would be a recipe for disaster. But they do enjoy snorkelling, and you can’t do that with a baby. Touring cities like Chiang Mai would be fine with both ages so long as your teen would enjoy that, there are loads of cool things to see. If you want a fast paced trip I’vd fly (not by road with a baby) to Saigon, your teen will likely enjoy the war museum and Cu Chi Tunnels and that would be possible with a baby, just about. I wouldn’t do Laos or Cabodia with a baby, the road journeys are too long. I’d consider Singapore and the theme parks / attractions there for your older son, but Singapore is expensive. Best of luck!

  7. Hi Alison, how amazing that you travel with your whole family 🙂
    We (a family of 4 – two boys ages 2 and 5) are also planning to visit Southeast Asia somewhere in Feb-May 2023 for 3 months.
    We are stuggling to choose out of all the beatiful countries.
    Thailand was very high on our list, but we have heard that in the last couple of years it’s gotten very touristy so its better to skip and go somewhere else – do you have a same experience with it being too crowded with tourist buses and such?
    With two small kids we are conscious to not plan too much so we thought 2 countries is enough and explore them well at our own pace.
    Any tips what to choose? We though maybe Vietnam/Cambodia or Thailand?

    Thank you very much!


    • High Adela, Thailand has not got more tourists recently. Thailand has had a booming tourist industry for decades. I’d presume that right now, still in the wake of the lockdowns, it will be quieter than ever. If you plan to visit places like Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui etc, yes, it will be touristy. But there are lovely places to see elsewhere and don’t restrict your travel in Thailand to just beaches. I’d head north, allow at least 1 month in Thailand. I’d skip these big resort destinations, they have little to offer. I’d still say that Thailand is the best, cheapest, easiest place to travel in Southeast Asia. Laos and Cambodia are undoubtedly more “off the beaten track” and more difficult to explore. But Siem Reap now has high rise tourist resorts. Laos is quieter, and harder to get around. I would not take those bus trips with a 2 year old. If you cross through Cambodia into Vietnam by road, that’s a nice trip. It will allow you to see Angkor Wat. But with such small children, I don’t think I’d do it. Flying would be easier. I hope I’ve been of some help. If you want more information on travel in Southeast Asia with small kids, shoot me an email. I’m glad you’re doing it!

  8. Thank you for this post! We are planning a trip to Southeast Asia for 3 weeks at the beginning of October. Honestly, I’m dying to go everywhere but would love your advice on how to narrow down the trip so it’s a good mix of sightseeing but still getting a feel for the countries that we visit and maybe a bit of relaxing thrown in there.

    • 3 weeks is very short. Where are you flying into, and flying out of, start building your itinerary around those 2 fixed points, and a list of your absolute must-sees, being aware that you may have to narrow it down to your absolute essentials. Best of luck and have fun!

  9. Stumbled to this website and I love how genuine and passionate you described the places. We are planning to visit Southeast Asia this December, notably, 4 days Singapore (visiting Friends) and 10 Days Vietnam (Hanoi and Saigon). What would you recommend for those 10 days?

    Love to hear your recommendations 🙂

    Best regards

    • I haven’t been to Hanoi in a lot of years David, because we prefer the south and central Vietnam. But in Hanoi most people take a Halong bay cruise and sleep at least one night out there. You could also see a water puppets show there, we saw one in a theatre near the lake, the lake is lovely, explore old Hanoi. Also the Lune shows, they’re on our website, if you enjoy performance, dance, and music, they’re very good. We caught them in Hoi An but I think they operate in both Hanoi and Saigon too. In Saigon my number 1 favourite thing is the Cu Chi Tunnels tour combined with the Cao Dai temple tour.(We have a full post about this 1 day tour) If you’re familiar with the book, “The girl in the picture”, this Cao Dai temple is near where she lived and you’ll pass the spot “the picture” was taken. The tunnels are fabulous, fun for the kids, and nothing too harrowing there, unlike the war museum in Saigon. If your kids are sensitive keep them out of certain areas, namely the photos on the top floor and the images of deformities caused by chemical usage. There are a lot of weapons and planes on display that my boys enjoyed, only my elder son saw the photos, I kept the sensitive younger one away. I just know him too well, he’s an empath. Also, eat all the food! Have a great trip!

  10. fantastic post! i’m bowled over your ability to keep going back year after year with your boys – they will have the best education you can’t get from school and will be become amazing well rounded, worldly individuals.

    after a little bit of advice – i’m planning on taking my girls (will be 6 and 4) travelling next summer for 6 weeks from mid july. so far, the girls have largely travelled within europe on either all inclusive holidays or self catering for a week or 10 days at most.

    im split in whether to hit europe again, travel from the uk (which is where we’re based) to france and maybe spain by car, travelling slow and taking in the relevant regions.

    one alternative is to take a bigger jump and go to thailand for the same duration. whilst me and my husband backpacked here years ago (as well as other countries), we havent been with the kids.

    other factors to consider are that my husband will probably only join us for the first 2 weeks as he’ll be back at work. if we stay in europe he could probably fly for weekends here and there.

    im torn because i love south east asia, know it will be cheaper, love the climate (although know the western side will be hit by the rains) but not sure whether its too risky for a first time single parent adventure? keen to hear your thoughts..:)

    • Hi Deena, I’ve never found Thailand risky, at all, other than the roads. But travel with such young children is quite full-on. Honestly, I find being with the kids always easier without my husband. They got my full attention. Plan it well, be organised, be hygienic and sensible, be very mindful of current health warnings. Shoot me an email if you need more help, I can’t write essays on here!

  11. Great post guys! So helpful and so comprehensive! We will spend more time checking out all the different links and your other posts that go more into detail.
    We are a Canadian family that is planning a slow travel trip for approx 1 year through Southeast Asia. There is a total of 6 of us. My wife and I, our two grown daughters (22,19), and our 12 yr old twins. We have a budget of about $75,000 give or take. We love beaches, culture (food), nature, jungles, exploring and adventure! We love trying new things and are not afraid of much.
    We were originally planning a trip to Central America but after a ton of research we feel a stronger pull to Southeast Asia. We may do Central America another time….if we don’t end up staying in Asia LOL.
    We don’t know where to start and the most economical/efficient route to take. We want to see as much as we can but also don’t want to rush. We are hoping to stay in a villa or accommodation for at least a month at a time. We love taking day trips and tours and don’t mind if we go somewhere a little further away from our ‘home base’ and have to stay a night or two away.
    Would love to get your advice on route options and places we MUST visit and how long to stay at each of those places.
    Thank you so much in advance!!!

    • Do you feel a Zoom call would help? We used to do that quite a lot for readers, we do charge of course. Otherwise, what jumps out at me is the month-long stays. You’re only going for 12 months. So you’re only going to see 12 places? Southeast Asia is big! I can give you 12 must-sees just in Thailand, I could give you 40! I think it’s best if you find our posts on the individual countries, cities and destinations, they’re all thousands of words long. But my personal must-sees of SouthEast Asia would be, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Sukhothai, Ayuthaya, Maeklong, Amphawa, Angkor Wat, Vang Vieng, Hoi An, Kuching, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore. Did you find our post on planning a family gap year too? You have older kids so you can be more active, that’s good. At 12 they should be able to do pretty much what an adult can do. Although there aren’t many mountains to climb in SE Asia. I’d try to get in some snorkelling, scuba diving, kayaking, cooking classes, plenty of fun activities. Best of luck!

  12. Hi, really nice post and quite comprehensive. Just had a practical question regarding kids and schooling. We are planning to do a year long trip (maybe staying 2 months at a time in 1 place), but we would like to keep some level of learning for our 8 year old. Any suggestions on what to do, look into local schools? any online platform? online tutoring? do yet ourselves (take some books/etc. with us)?

    • Hi David. There’s no way you could use local schools and see much of the world. 2 months at a time gives you 6 destinations. Also, I just think it’s a bad idea. Every school, every country, more than every school, has a different curriculum. Things aren’t standard across the world. Based on my own experience you’d do much better to let your child have a year off and enjoy it alongside us. Being out of school to 14 and 16 certainly didn’t hold my kids back academically. Best of luck.

  13. Hi Alison, my compliment for your blog and for all the nice travels you have done. I’m also a medical scientist and would love to change my life as you did!
    We have a 4 year old girl and we are planning to spend 3-4 weeks in southeast Asia during next November and December. This will be our first travel in the region and the longest we have ever done with our daughter. Our first idea was to go to Thailand and divide the time between cultural sites/cities and beaches. We are not for big resorts and a lot of social life, more for beautiful nature and sea and a taste of authentic local culture.
    Some of the friends that have already visited Thailand, told us that it’s too touristic nowadays and that is quite difficult to find quite and more authentic places. Therefore we started to consider also other destinations like Vietnam or Indonesia. What would you recommend us? Thank you very much!

    • I honestly don’t enjoy beaches at all, other than for looking at, maybe snorkelling. But I’ve never found good snorkelling off a beach anywhere. Places like Phuket, Krabi, Ko Samui, there’s very little ” Thai” left about them. Just tourist hot spots. Ko Phangan was pretty relaxed, but now, who knows. Almost everywhere we go the sea is full of plastics. Vietnam and Indonesia, what little we’ve done of both, same. With southern Bali being way worse. Inland / north Thailand is fabulous and that’s where you’ll normally find us. If I only had a short time I’d head north.

    • Hi Gianluca,

      My perfect holiday revolves around beaches/nature/mountains with a little bit of culture thrown in, so I might be able to help you with your question. It’s true that Thailand is very touristy these days, but it’s still an incredible country and very well set up for families as it has good travel infrastructure/hospitals/great food etc. I agree with above about avoiding Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi but there are definitely still pockets of Thailand which are quieter and less visited. Koh Pangyan is a bit of a party island (though there are quieter spots) so might not be ideal for your little one. For stunning beaches I’d recommend heading south. The Tarutao archipelago is a marine nature reserve so less developed and Koh Lipe is the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen. Have a look at the Trang archipelago in southern Thailand too- stunning beaches off the main tourist track. We took our kids (6 and 8) to Koh Lanta recently, and it was a perfect mix of beach, monkeys, bananas rotis, and snorkelling- I’d recommend going down to the south of the island (ie Kantiang Bay), as it’s prettier and less hectic. If you want some jungle time, then Khao Sok is great- the sound of the frogs and insects are deafening! Vietnam is a wonderful country too though, and definitely more of an adventure- I just prefer the beaches in Thailand 🙂 Good luck with your research, and have a great trip!

  14. Hi Alison, firstly thank you for sharing all of your valuable knowledge and experience. I’ve read your posts and comments and my Q is, what are you’re thoughts and recommendations on travelling with younger children 3 & 4?

    We’re in exciting planning mode now but it is a little overwhelming, trying to explore countries my hand and and I haven’t visited so we’re interested in – Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Philippines. Duration 6mths and estimate budget $25k. Safety and health (love swimming, clean water) with children is a priority. Any particular posts or advice you can share?

    • I’m no use on Philipines – never fancied it because the food isn’t good. We’re not beach people at all, so I’m not much good for that either. Singapore is just very, very modern and sanitised, no worries there, and a great kids water play area at Gardens by The Bay under the super trees. But Singapore is hugely expensive. Think Sydney. Limit your time there because of expense Cambodia and Laos will put you most outside your comfort zone, they’re the two poorest and most damaged by wars and are noticeably less developed than their neigbours, Vietnam and Thailand. With Thailand being no different to western countries lately. We’ve seen such huge changes in the 30 years we’ve been travelling, Asia is very, very modern now – a lot of it anyway. At 3 and 4 just keep fingers off grubby things and out of mouths, avoid dogs and monkeys, protect them from the sun and go easy on the walking.Watch out for them around roads and boats. Your budget gives you $138 per day. That’s loads. We estimate $100 a day now with two teens – who cost the same as adults and need their own beds. Littles will be way, way cheaper. But I guess as this is a short trip you’ll be cramming a lot in and admissions, tours and transport costs will be higher than average. But still, I think that will be plenty of money. ( Presuming that’s US $ ) We have many, many posts on all of those places except the Philippines. If you use our Destinations page – top menu – and click through to the countries you’ll find loads. You’ll be flying around pretty fast, so make a ist of your must-sees and have a plan. Best of luck!

  15. Hello,

    My 13 year old daughter and I have 3-4 weeks to travel this summer. Thailand is #1 on our list! We like to immerse ourselves in each countries culture. What are your recommendations for seeing 3-4 countries? We like nature, hiking, kayaking, beach and cities.
    Also is it best to fly one way (in and out coming from Denver) and then use bus, train, air in countries?
    We have lived in Europe and used RyanAir often.
    Appreciate any tips and advise you can provide.

    • You could easily get a tiny taste of Thailand, Cambodia and Laos in 3-4 weeks but it would be a flying visit with a lot of travel time. It’s better to take buses and trains, obviously, to reduce your carbon footprint, but with such a short trip I’d fly from Bangkok to Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat, from there to Luang Prabang to see a bit of Laos, then from there to Chiang Mai and back to Bangkok. I’d recommend spending your whole time in Thailand though and travelling overland, sleeper train to Chiang Mai. Bus to Ayutthaya and Sukhothai ( the ancient capitals) Maybe train to Kanchanaburi. If you want to add the outdoor activities and beaches you mention, I don’t think it’s really possible to do that and the cultural destinations. You’d have to make a choice, beaches or culture if you want to visit more than one country. If you just do Thailand you can fly to the southern beaches or bus or train. There’s not much Thai culture left in the big resort islands.

  16. Hello there, Excellent website, congrats!!

    This is a family of 5 with kids 9, 7 and 5 years old used to travel.

    Planning to spend aprox 18/20 days in SE Asia this Christmas.

    Flexible in dates and places. Getting a cheap flight combo taking into account flight duration for the kids is priority

    Indonesia and Thailand are first options + 1-2 cities (SIN, HKG, etc)

    Where would you go yes or yes?

    Many thanks!!!

  17. My husband and I are planning our first trip out of the US with our two children (13 and 9) next year. My husband and I have both traveled prior to having children and I’ve done a lot of traveling with the kids within the US. I tend to over plan. We are usually all exhausted with sore feet by the end of the trip. We only have 2 weeks. We are thinking of either going to Cambodia for the full two weeks or touring around Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam. We will have to go sometime during the summer. With our time limitation what is your suggestion? Also, if we only do one country, do you think Cambodia would be a good pick or would you recommend somewhere else? Honestly, our destination could be anywhere in the world. I just want to finally get my kids exploring the world.

    • I think, Lori, that you could spend maybe 4 days doing Siem Reap and Angkor and then hop over to either Thailand OR Vietnam and explore another small part of either country. OR you could really get quite in depth in Cambodia. Angkor is magic, but you need 2-3 days, plus travel time. Travel within Cambodia is time consuming, long bus rides. So fly in and out of Siem Reap might suit you best. I’m also going to drop in here that limiting your flying to reduce your footprint is a great idea, but, you only have 2 weeks and overland journeys into Vietnam or Cambodia will eat a day of your holiday. So… your call. But if you’re only going to SE Asia once, certainly see Angkor, it’s a massive highlight.

  18. Hello! We are planning a 3 week trip to SE Asian from December 8-31st this year (2019). My husband’s family is from Cambodia and this will be my first time there as well as my kids (14, 13, 8). WE want to spend most of the time in Cambodia seeing relatives (Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang), but want to do a nice, beautiful beach vacation the last 4 or 5 nights. Where do you suggest we go? We could stay in Cambodia or go to another neighboring country and then fly out of there. Any suggestions?

    • I’ve heard great things about some of the beaches in Cambodia. We’ve not been , we don’t really dig beaches, but I know some people rave about them. But some are horrible, do your research. I’m actually planning to get back to Cambodia soon there are now trains ! And we need to check out these beaches and islands too. Have a great trip!

  19. Hi!

    We are planning a 2 and half week trip to Thailand with our kids 3 and 6 years end of January. We are thinking to spend 5 days in Chiang Mai, 3 days BKK at the end of our trip, and 10 days somewhere on the beach. Initialy we thought to go to Ko Samui/Ko Phangan but I am not really sure because they are islands and I don’t know if there is good medical care (hope we don’t need it). Where would you advise us to go on the beach?

    My other concern is peanut allergy that my both kids have. Is there a way to easy avoid peanuts in Thai cuisine and is western food widely available?

    Any advice is appreciated.

    Thank you

    • You will find it very, very hard to avoid peanuts, there’s likely to be ground peanuts on every table and they often cook in peanut oil, there just everywhere. My husband had surgery when we were on Ko Phangan. There’s a medical centre which seemed good and they sent him to the private hospital on Ko Samui for the op. It was superb. He then recuperated back with us on Ko Phangan. Yes, you’ll find Mc Donalds, Starbucky, KFC all the usual. But not in quieter places like Kanchanaburi or Haad Salad on Ko Phangan. There is Tesco and 7-11 to buy kids yogurt and such like if they can’t eat Thai food.

  20. Hi Alyson,

    Thanks for all those tips, those a great! I ve been dreaming fir years to visit south east asia and i m considering a 2/3 weeks trip in february with my husband and son. My dream was always to visit myanmar, i even have a european friend living there that could show us around but i m worried that the infrastructure wont be adapted for a small child. My son will be 2years old by then, could you please tell me what you d recommend? I have a friend in singapore i d like to visit so a few days would be reserved for that but i m not sure where to head out afterwards.

    Many thanks in advance for your advice!


  21. Hi Alyson,

    I have loved reading your website and am getting started with planning our SE Asia trip. We have 10 weeks from November and are travelling with our 12 &14 year old boys. I have booked flights to KL, Sandakan and Kota Kinabalu but nothing after that, I’m thinking Penang, Phuket (we have an accommodation voucher) and Bangkok. From there maybe Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos but I am really wanting slow travel and day trips from a centre as I don’t want to burn us out. I am not sure if I go that way we will make it to Chiang Mai and I was keen to go there. No real question but any thoughts?? Phuket can be side stepped but we’ve had the voucher to use for a bit. I still have a lot of research to do!!

    Hope you and family are somewhere really interesting right now! Many thanks. Rebecca

    • Hi Rebecca,

      Thanks for reading. Glad you’ve got some valuable information from World Travel Family.
      Sounds like you’ve got a plan coming along. I know you have the voucher but unless it
      is for a lot of value I’d skip Phuket and head to Chiang Mai. We visited for Chef’s
      Ironman race but it isn’t particularly nice.

  22. I’m planning a trip with my 5 year old son (10 days). I want to see some beaches and animals… of course some cultural customs. I’ve been to Indonesia but not sure what country to choose our short trip. Any tips would be appreciated. I love your blog very much

    • Thailand and Vietnam stand out as the 2 easiest and cheapest countries in our opinion. So many choices!

  23. Hi Alyson,

    I have been reading your blogs for a little bit now and thank you for the wealth of information! So, my wife and I and two kids (ages 13 and 10) along with my in-laws (approx. 70 yrs) are looking to travel to SE Asia this June for 2 weeks. We’ve travelled much, but not to Asia.

    We’d like to make the most out of our 2-weeks and are open to focusing on just a few areas for now. I imagine my family and kids with make it back to Asia to continue exploring at some point but this may be my in-laws only Asia trip in their lifetime as they are aging and don’t travel as often.

    So, with 2-weeks, would you just focus on Thailand this first go around? Certainly Singapore is a draw for too, as I’m in the architecture field and their seems to be so much for us to explore. Maybe it’s just too far from Thailand on this trip – although we’re open to different incoming flights and outbound as we haven’t yet booked our tickets from Colorado.

    Any suggestions on your top choices for a group such as ours this first 2-week vacation to the area would be appreciated. Again, we could fly into any of the countries, and even transfer via plane while there to connect some of these destinations. Thanks so much for what you do! Cheers, Jonah

    • I would limit your flying as much as possible to cut your carbon footprint and just stick to Thailand. You can only scratch the surface in 2 weeks, and it may be hard on your older travellers, but try to take the bus or train out to at least one of the ancient cities and see everything Bangkok has to offer in terms of the palace, wats, water transport on the Cao Phraya, maybe a trip out to a floating market. You can transfer by bus to Siem Reap for Angkor Wat, but it’s a full day journey each way. If you had more time I’d recommend the bus through Malaysia to Singapore, it’s easy to do, but not in 2 weeks. I think Sukhothai is the most impressive of the ancient cities. If you can get down to the Samut Songkhran area, not far from Bangkok, you can check out Amphawa floating market and see more of Thailand’s rural way of life. Just the above woulf fill 2 weeks I think, but if you want to cram more in take the train up to Chiang Mai and schedule yourselves at least 2-3 days up there to fully appreciate the ancient town. Enjoy your trip!

  24. Hello Alyson! Glad to have found your site! So many great posts for me to read! We want to travel with our girls starting with an initial 6 week trip – July – September to see how we go. We have travelled for a few months in Cambodia, Singapore, Bali and Thailand pre kids, and just wondered if you had any ideas or advice where to start, and what we might fit in that time! We would be happy with just Thailand and Vietnam, or even just one. Would you just book a return ticket from the UK and travel internally when you got there? The girls will be 3 and 6 when we plan to go. Any advice appreciated. Thanks! Louise

    • Tou could very easily spend your whole 6 weeks in Thailand and have a good explore of the north. It would also be easy to take the land crossing into Loas or the bus into Cambodia. Of course you could also fly. I wouldn’t dp the land crossing through to Vietnam with a 3 year old, I’d fly. 6 weeks isn’t much time to really see 2 countries though. Flying down to KL and seeing a bit of Malaysia could also be a goppd idea, maybe just KL and Penang, the bus to Penang from KL is easy. You could maybe fly into Bangkok and book a return from KL, something like thay.

  25. Hi, we’ve been doing short trips (approx2/3 weeks) to SE Asia for the last couple of years from the uk, my husband visits Singapore every year for work so tag along and try to couple this with a trip to another country, so far we’ve seen a fair bit of Malaysia (KL, Penang, Langkawi, Borneo) which we absolutely loved but this year I’m looking for somewhere different as our 2nd country, do you have any suggestions? We love outdoor activities such as trekking, kayaking and walking round cities, but as we don’t have much time we need somewhere where it’s relatively quick to get between destinations. I’ve been following your blog for years but just feel spoilt for choice!

  26. Great info Alyson. Looking at a month to travel this coming July/August. Our kids will be 8 and 9. My wife and I spent a month in Thailand when we took a gap year and want to return and explore Vietnam and Cambodia with our boys. What would you recommend? Angkor Wat stands out but what about a Vietnam? Do you have any itineraries you could share? Any advice or guidance would be fantastic.

    Many thanks

    • Did you want to spend a month just in Vietnam Adam ? Or do you have a month total to see as much of SEA as possible ? If the latter- that’s a tough challenge. Tell me exactly what you mean and maybe I can come up with something.

  27. Hi,

    We are planning a 2/3 week trip to Southeast Asia. We plan to be there over Christmas this year, We are travelling from the UK. We will be travelling with two daughters ages 11 & 12yrs (eldest will be nearly 13yrs) by the time we go.

    Happy to stay in budget accommodation but also medium level places, but no need for any sort of palatial surroundings!!! 🙂

    Unsure on whether to focus 2 weeks on Thailand and then a week somewhere else or the whole 3 weeks there as there is so much to see and do? This all depends on getting holiday approved, if worst case scenario we can only do 2 weeks then we will obviously be in Thailand for the duration.

    Thankyou 🙂

    • If this is going to be a one off trip, ie. you won’t be returning to South East Asia again, they I’d try to at least squeeze in Angkor Wat. It’s a short trip but will probably take you 3 days with transport. Just fly from Bangkok to Siem Reap, the bus trip will take too much of your time. 3 weeks isn’t enough to even do Thailand justice so you’re going to have to really budget your time and pre-book those buses, trains and planes. No messing about ! Best of luck.

  28. We travelled around SE Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam) for a year before we had children, now we have a 7, 6 and 3 year old and would love to go there with them, it’s an incredibly special place to us, our first long trip together as a couple and we had so many amazing experiences. I think we would like to go around Easter time next year, I’d like my 3 year old to be a year older, I think it will make things a lot easier on a number of levels. We would like to stay for around 3 months, your blog is a great place to start, and I’m really interested in reading more about Indonesia, this wasn’t on our first trip, and I’d love to include it this time around

    • Parts of Indonesia are very high on my most loved list. Ubud Bali is wonderful, I could live there. Then there was the snorkelling with manta rays that we did a couple of weeks ago, that was off the scale amazing. We’ll be heading to Komodo island soon, hopefully, lots more to explore. You have a great trip!

  29. Thanks for this list! We’ve been traveling mostly around Europe this past year, but are planning to go to SE Asia next. We’ll be newbie parents soon though, so that will be an adventure in itself! Saving this post to help plan our family travels!

  30. Hi
    We are planning 5 months trip im se Asia with our two children who are 9 and 12 . We would like to do some voluntary work with them. Do you have places to recommend? And do you have places that are must see? We don’t want to go Thailand or Vietnam. Thanks

    • We don’t get involved in voluntourism sorry. It’s difficult to find legitimate places and I really can’t help unfortunately. Must see outside of Thailand and Vietnam, well obviously Angkor Wat. Laos is lovely but no one place would really be a ” must see”, Luang Prabang has the majority of the temples. Myanmar, we haven’t been because of the genocide situation currently. Malaysia, I like the Petronas Towers, Malacca is nice. Singapore it’s Gardens by the Bay, but Singapore is very expensive. Haven’t been to Philippines. Indonesia, you must see some of Bali, it’s lovely- in places. We highly recommend snorkeling with the manta rays off Bali, we did that last week. I want to go to Borobudur and Komodo Island, they’re coming up soon. All of my very favourite places are in Thailand and Vietnam. I think if you want to do just one thing to help, it’s not glamorous, just pick up plastic trash. Don’t create any, get it out of the ocean. It’s a problem. This is what we do. Have a great trip!

  31. We are currently planning a 3 week trip to SE Asia with what will be a 4 and 7 year old. Any tips on the must visit places?

    • The list above has a lot of highlights of SE Asia. Your kids are very young, so build in nap times and feed and water them regularly! Food solves a lot of grumpy kid issues, particularly ice cream. In just 3 weeks how many countries do you plan to visit? Which ones?

        • Well if it were me I think I’d just do Bangkok, including palace, wats and a floating market trip(…NOT Dammnoen Sudawak), Chiang Mai, one of the ancient cities of Thailand ( Sukhothai would be my choice but it’s harder to get to) , a beach or island and get over to Cambodia for Angkor Wat ( by air). That’s plenty in 3 weeks. You’d have some big, hot days, so it would take some stamina and organisation to do all that so fast. My son and I set out to do the Palace and Wat Po recently. After the palace we were so hot we went home. There are crowds, queues…you may be better to book a private tour by car than have to do battle with taxis and the queues for the water taxis near the big tourist sites. But make sure you do go on the river, just away from the Palace, Wat Po, Wat Arun scrum.

  32. Hi there Alyson, I just want to say a big heart felt thanks for your fantastic blog…. it is brilliant! My family and I (me, hubby and 3 boys-10,8 &5) have spent this year travelling Australia, however to finish our year trip ( & celebrate my 40th) I needed to get back to one of my favourite places- Thailand… that’s when I discovered your blog…. I’ve been reading my way through your post and everything has resonated with me and where my family is with life ATM, so again thanks , warmest Nimi and gang 🙂

  33. Hi thanks you for all the information on your website.

    We are planning a 6 month trip March to September 2020 to SE Asia.

    We would really like to get to know one place really well and use it as a base for any other trips and rent a house there for 5-6 months. Our kids will be 7 and 9 when we go.

    Is there any one place you would recommend as a base.

    Thank you


    • See our posts on Living in Chiang Mai or in Hoi An. Both are typical ( cheap) long term bases. But you’re massively limiting your explorations by doing it that way. We’ve done it, but only because we’ve been on the road for over 5 years, it was pretty boring being stuck in one place. Even if you only have just a few months you could see a lot more in this region.

  34. Hi, we’re currently planning a 6 month world adventure our our girls (7 and 10), which includes 2.5 months in SE Asia. Loving your website and all the helpful advice. We’ve never done anything like this before, so this article is very reassuring that we can do this! Our SE Asia tour will start from Japan, so looking at HK, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and then possibly Singapore. Which i hope is feasible within the time frame as dont want to be rushing. What do you think? From there we will head to the States/Canada for the last month. Its so difficult choosing as there are so many amazing countries to visit in SEA, but having read the above article it seems like a good route for us first-timers, which we may be able to travel overland or by boat for a lot of it. Looking forward to the pdf and planning our route. Thank you!

    • Hi, I think 6 months is cutting it a bit fine, but of course, it’s possible. You’ll be flying through pretty fast, but for places like Singapore you’ll only need a few days, Hong Kong too I guess ( I’ve not been).

      • It sounds like it’s a very ambitious plan then as we’ve only got 2.5 months in se Asia! We’ve be getting some travel advice on it but now going alone so will definitely cut it down and concentrate on the main places we would want to visit. Was only planning to stop over in HK for a few days. Thanks for your comments., will start planning our itinerary.

  35. We’re in the midst of planning a 3months trip to SE Asia with our kids (5 and 6 years old).
    Your website is a gem and we are using it to start planing our itinerary. Thanks for all this precious info!


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