Those of us who need to squeeze our family holiday in Asia into the two week Easter break have a few things to juggle! Finding somewhere which combines good April weather, child-friendly facilities and activities to suit all ages can take a bit of research. To save you the time, our Destination Specialists have plenty of experience helping to find the best family-friendly destinations in Asia with plenty of relaxation, culture, sunshine and smiles to bring home with you. Here’s our top pick of places that are just right for an Easter getaway...
April is a beautiful time to visit Japan. The warm spring weather makes getting out and about easy, and the iconic cherry-blossom trees are in full flower. Moving from the south to the north, the blossom season can last from January to May and peaks during April when there are frequent blossom parties in all the major cities and plenty of opportunities for gorgeous Instagram moments.
Though the landscape probably won’t still be under its blanket of snow by April, the Jigokudani Park in Nagano Prefecture is a wonderful place to get a taste of Japan’s great outdoors at any time of year. Kids will be delighted at a possible sighting of the park’s most famous residents – the snow monkeys – scampering over the rocky landscape or having a soak in a thermal pool.
It probably goes without saying that Tokyo has an enormous amount of family-centred activities. From samurai sword-fighting classes (popular with teens!) to the gloriously other-worldly Ghibli museum and the eye-popping phenomenon that is Tokyo Disney, there’s no shortage of full-on activities to occupy ever-energetic youngsters.
Homestays in Kyoto are a popular option for families as they give you that extra freedom to come and go as you please, which can be a blessing when travelling with children. Wander around Kyoto’s markets, see a selection of fascinating temples and treat older kids to a Taiko drumming lesson where they can let off some serious rhythmic steam.
For an experience that everyone in your family will be talking about for years, a couple of days interacting with rescued elephants at the famous Elephant Hills sanctuary resort makes an egg-cellent (sorry!) addition to any Easter itinerary!
Thailand is always a popular destination for families, and the north of the country is especially good in April when you can expect the best weather of the dry season. If you visit over April 13th-15th, however, you are likely to get pretty wet - due to the annual Songkran celebrations!
This public holiday finds Thailand’s streets filled with people spraying water at each other to mark the coming of the rainy season and the end of the harvest, and everyone is full of the holiday spirit. Disruption-wise, think of it like any New Year celebrations in a major city, and you’ll know what to expect!
The best Songkran destinations include Chiang Mai (whose celebrations have reached legendary status) and Phuket where, as you might imagine from a number-one destination on the backpacker trail, the parties can be quite wild. Stay at the hip Slate resort, where you can always be sure of a few quiet corners away from the revelry.
Although both of the above are great with older teenagers, they could be a bit much for younger kids, in which case you might prefer to stay close to Bangkok. Though there are areas where the festivities will be in full swing 24/7 (as you would expect in the country’s capital) you can always find somewhere a bit quieter to escape to. The Anantara Riverside Resort is a great choice for families in Bangkok as it has a kids club, children’s pool and plenty of dining options, as well as being close to the city centre.
Over the Easter holidays the weather throughout Vietnam will be at its most ideal, and flight prices can stay pretty reasonable even at peak times, as long as you don’t leave booking until the last minute.
Our Vietnam specialists suggest a multi-centre stay, making the most of a good selection of family-friendly accommodation and activities throughout the country. Start with a few days chilling out in a homestay-style apartment at the delightfully different Moon Garden Guesthouse, cooking traditional cuisine and exploring the countryside around Ky Son. Next, head for the higgledy-piggledy streets of Hanoi for vibrant cuisine, culture and immersion in down-to-earth Vietnamese life (plus some entertainingly bonkers traffic!). Staying in a duplex apartment at the surprisingly spacious La Siesta in the Old Quarter gives you plenty of flexibility and easy access to the sights, and older kids can join you for an evening Vespa tour whizzing through the unruly traffic for some tasty streetfood.
If you’re hankering after some beach-bound relaxation, add on a few days in Phu Quoc, where you can lay in the sun, play in the sand and snorkel over the reefs before trekking inland to do a little wildlife watching. A deluxe villa at the Chen Sea Resort gives families the option of splashing about in a private pool, as well as having instant access to the beach.
From the steamy rainforests of Kalimantan to the white sandy beaches of Bali, Java’s cultural richness to the idyllic marine reserve around Komodo & Flores, there is plenty in Indonesia to capture the interest of every member of the family. Though April falls at the end of the rainy season, the warmer weather will be starting to make more of an appearance as the month goes on. Visiting at Easter might mean getting caught in the odd shower, but you’ll also miss the busiest summer crowds.
Bali’s high tourism profile makes it a very smooth destination to travel to with children and many hotels, such as The Menjangan, go the extra mile of providing a tailored, family-friendly service. Try out surfing, cross paths with macaques in Monkey Forest, go snorkelling in West Bali National Park or just chill on the beach. Take a look at our Bali & Lombok With Ease itinerary for some ideas on taking a tour through Bali’s essential sights followed by a laid back visit to the contrasting island of Lombok for some snorkelling and relaxation.
One experience guaranteed to make little eyes open wide with excitement is an encounter with some of Indonesia’s most famous residents: the orangutans. Bukit Lawang is an area of stunning natural beauty in Sumatra’s Gunung Leuser National Park, and one of the last areas where you can see orangutans in their (now fiercely protected) natural habitat. Stay on-site and wake with the jungle chorus before heading out to the feeding platform to see the orangutans in action.
Explore Java’s Borobudur temple and stay at the Plataran so you can be there to experience sunrise among the Buddha statues; float down-river aboard a private klotok through the Kalimantan rainforest; sail the Flores sea in search of Komodo dragons. Whichever experiences you choose, you’re going to want to book another visit to Indonesia next Easter, to try the ones you couldn’t squeeze in this time...
Cambodia's tourism profile is growing rapidly and this is an amazing time to experience the culture, community and breath-taking landscapes of this charismatic country. As in much of South-East Asia, April is the last month of the dry season and therefore one of the optimum times to visit and get the best of the weather.
Hidden within Cambodia’s forested landscape are temple ruins, overgrown with jungle plants, where children can get up close to these real-life treasures and let their imaginations run wild. You can even spend the night in the shadow of one of these magnificent structures and be woken each morning by the sounds of the local birdlife (or your kids!) with the temples completely to yourselves.
The city of Siem Reap, apart from being the starting point for tours of the unmissable Angkor Wat, is enchanting in its own right. A fusion of Khmer traditions and Colonial influences gives it a unique and intriguing character. Stay in one of the 11 individually restored traditional Cambodian houses at Sala Lodges, where the kids can play in the spacious garden and you can explore the temples in your own time. For something a bit different, take a workshop with the Phare Circus and learn a few tricks before watching the professionals’ mind-boggling skills in action at the evening performance.
image credit Mum Pack Travel
Sri Lanka has an enduring reputation as an enigmatic country full of fragrant spices and exotic wildlife, and it is a great destination for families hoping to combine cultural education with fabulous food, animal encounters and some serious down-time. We would recommend booking a private villa, such as the charming Taru River Cottage on the south coast or, further north, the 6-bedroom eco Green House near Kandy, which can provide you with plenty of space to ensure everyone gets proper relaxation without treading on each others’ toes.
The South coast around Galle has a little of everything, so you can get a variety of experiences without spending too much time travelling. Visit Galle Fort to wander along the evocative ramparts and in and out of the market stalls and craft boutiques, look down into the recently rebuilt cricket stadium, go whale-watching from Mirissa, and take some time to soak up the sun.
Sri Lanka has an impressive collection of National Parks which go a long way to preserving the ecosystems and habitats of the country’s diverse endemic wildlife. A visit to any of these parks makes a memorable family outing, and if you’re feeling a bit more intrepid you can stay overnight in the wilderness at a tented camp. The possibility of a leopard sighting straight after breakfast might be enough to rouse even the sleepiest of teenagers!
Sri Lanka has many more family-friendly activities to offer, from turtle hatchery visits to train rides through the tea plantations, so chat with our Destination Specialists about creating the ideal blend of experiences to suit you.