12 months of holidays in Asia for families: When to go on a beach, cultural or skiing vacation

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If, like us, you have a travel bucket list for new and exciting destinations to tick off, then you will know first-hand what an easy-peasy gateway to exotic locations Singapore really is. We not only have the world’s best airport to make travelling with the kids that much easier from, but we are blessed to be just a hop, skip and a jump to heaps of fabulous vacay spots. There’s only one thing stopping us from travelling year-round: the weather! None of us wants to end up on a beach holiday in a monsoon, a skiing holiday with no snow, or a boat trip in the fog, so we’ve searched high and low around Asia for 30 destinations to try and we’ve worked out the best time of the year to visit them! We give you our HoneyKids’ 12 month guide for holidays in Asia…

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Get over your January blues with beautiful blue skies and oceans in the Maldives. Photo: Selina Altomonte


January: Maldives, Myanmar or Phuket
We start the New Year off fine with three picks guaranteed to get you over the post-Xmas blues with the pretty blue hues of warm oceans and amazing postcard perfect scenery. Pack up your buckets, spades and a kid or two (optional: it makes for an amazing romantic break sans kids too!) and head to the Maldives for the ultimate beach holiday, where the warm, sunny days stretch out for almost as long as the white sand at this time of year.

Culture vultures, however, should head to Myanmar for breathtaking scenery (hot air balloon experiences at sunrise over Bagan take some beating, we can tell you!), and a relatively unspoilt choice that the whole family will love.

If tried, tested and easy is what you are looking for as a quick January fix, then Phuket always serves up a great break with something for everyone. Plus the big beach hotels tend to have amaaazing kids’ clubs. Sounds good to us!

Monkeying around with the prayer flags is a common sight in Nepal! Photography by Selina Altomonte

Catching these guys monkeying around with the prayer flags is a common sight in Nepal! Photography: Selina Altomonte

February: Cambodia, Nepal or South Korea
Search your heart and Seoul for a Valentine’s vacay the whole family will fall in love with and head to South Korea where ski season will still be in full swing with plenty of snowfall for families fuelled by adrenalin.

If racing down slopes is not your thing, then try out a family adventure with a difference with a spot of trekking in Nepal! With the weather heading into Spring during February, the temperature is ideal for getting out and about for some exploring that will guarantee a frenzy on your Instagram feed!

And if you are looking for somewhere a little closer to home, but still jam-packed with family-friendly fun, Siem Reap in Cambodia makes an ideal destination that kids of all ages will love (we have been there ourselves complete with bubba in an Ergo!).

If ever there was a place to soak up some peace and quiet then it's on a tea trail in Sri Lanka...

Take a tea trail tour in Sri Lanka: the perfect place to soak up some peace and quiet (even with the kids in tow)

March: Sri Lanka, Japan or Taiwan
Put a spring in your step and blow away the winter cobwebs with a once in a lifetime chance to check out Japan during Cherry Blossom Season (it usually runs between March and May). Don’t forget to visit Disneyland Tokyo too!

Intrepid families should head to Sri Lanka for a holiday that will cover all bases: we’re talking sand and surf (head to the stunning beaches around Galle on the south coast), scenery (travel to tea plantation country which will bring out an inner peace in the rowdiest of kiddos when looking at all that quiet beauty!), and safari (explore Yala National Park and spot leopards, elephants, sloth bears and even crocodiles). And that’s just for starters!

Talking of starters, our mind turns to a foodie holiday and for that you can’t go wrong in Taiwan (home of Din Tai Fung!). March brings ideal climes for exploring the national parks and stunning scenery within a stone’s throw of the buzzy metropolis of Taipei. Refuel with dumplings.

Our kids loved living aboard this junk boat on Ha Long Bay: plank walking optional.

Our kids loved living aboard this junk boat on Ha Long Bay: plank walking optional. Photography: Tracy Tristram

April: Philippines, Vietnam or Chiang Mai
April usually brings with it the Easter break for schools, so it’s a popular time for families to hop away for a break. Jump over to Vietnam where kids will love the cooler than cool Ha Long Bay junk boat cruises (we tried it on your behalf: you’re welcome) before heading to the sunny beaches around Hoi An and Danang for some well earned r&r.

We’ve also had a cheeky family holiday (or two) on your behalf in Boracay over in the beautiful Philippines, and are happy to report that April is positively glorious when it comes to the weather. This is a beach and snorkeling holiday at its very best.

Beaches and sailing not floating your boat? How about heading to the hills, literally, and taking a trip to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, where you and the tribe will have a culturally fabulous time hanging out with indigenous people, meeting an elephant or ten, and trying a spot of bamboo rafting on the Mekong River.

May: Sarawak or Sabah, Borneo
May we suggest heading to Borneo for a short break where the sun will be shining while you visit the jungles, beaches and mountains of this beautiful Malaysian island? Head to Kuching in Sarawak, and combine a few days on the beach (we had a very happy holiday there ourselves, right next door to the unmissable Sarawak Cultural Village) and also make sure you find your way to Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre to hang out with the local wildlife – orangutans! For those of you with a bit more time to spare, consider making the 280km journey to Batang Ai National Park and check in to the traditional longtail house style hotel, Aiman Batang Ai Resort and Retreat, which makes an ideal base for exploring the area and meeting tribal communities and amazing wildlife.

If you would prefer a vacay on the Sabah side of the island, fly to Kota Kinabalu and conquer Mount Kinabalu for serious bragging rights!

June: Bali or Tioman Island
June = summertime! Which means school holidays! Yay! Head to perennial family fave Bali where the weather is hot, hot, hot and the activities for all ages are endless. Sign dad and the kiddos up for surfing and bodyboarding fun, while mum sneaks off for serious shopping splurges in Seminyak and heavenly massages at a day spa. We love Bali!

We also love throwing our luggage in the back of a car and being whisked across the border for the easy 160km journey to Tioman Island in Malaysia… (TIP: You’ll need to catch a ferry to Tioman from Mersing, so plan to go outside of monsoon season so your resort can do a direct pickup: this eliminates the waiting times around the public ferry, which can be tedious.)  Blue skies, clear seas and an all round family-friendly vibe make this a great pick for those who can’t bear the queues at the airport.

Perch yourself on a a sala while the kids build sandcastles in Koh Samui heaven.

Perch yourself on a sala while the kids build sandcastles in Koh Samui heaven.

July: Koh Samui or Gili Islands
Spend July swapping the island of Singapore for the island of Koh Samui in Thailand. With its gorgeous beaches and whopping list of family-friendly activities including water parks, an inflatable activity course in the sea, go-karting and sea-kayaking around the Ang Thong Marine National Park, this is a holiday that can be as relaxed or as adventurous as you want it to be.

Looking for a gentler pace of life? Leave the hustle and bustle behind and head over to the Gili Islands, near Lombok, where the family will love snorkelling around coral reefs, spotting sea turtles and building a billion sandcastles in pure white sand. For the diving fans amongst you, head to Gili Trawangan where a sunken ship lies at the bottom of the ocean at the aptly named Wreck Point.

A historical adventure playground for the kids? Head to Borobudur Temple in Java for cultural fun by the bucketload. Sunrise over Borobudur. Photo credit: Justine Hong on Flickr

An historical adventure playground for the kids? Head to Borobudur Temple in Java for cultural family fun. Photo credit: Justine Hong on Flickr

August: Lombok or Java
While most of us will have spent time in Bali, many of us are yet to discover its more laid-back neighbour, Lombok. Uncover the island’s amazing surf ops, relatively unspoilt beaches, and head in-land if you are feeling fit enough to explore the Mount Rinjani area which is chock full with weird and wonderful wildlife, fabulous waterfalls and hiking trails galore.

If you’ve ticked Siem Reap off your list and are looking for more ancient history type destinations then we say head to Java! It’s not all about coffee (although that is awesome!): This place is teeming with stunning relics of bygone days including the enormous Buddhist monument of Borobudur.

The Great Wall of China is a must for adventurous families up for a challenge!

The Great Wall of China is a must for adventurous families looking for a new challenge!

September: China or Bintan
September brings with it more school holidays (didn’t the sweethearts just finish their last break?) and with it more chances to travel. What better way to really get an idea of how well the kiddos are doing in their Mandarin lessons than by taking them to China? Discover the mind-blowing history around Beijing, visit the Giant Pandas at the rehabilitation centre in Chengdu, take a cruise on the Yangtze River in Shanghai, or head rural and grab a bike for some exploring around Guilin. The choices are almost as endless as the Great Wall of China!

But let’s not also forget the delights closer to home for an easy, sunny vacay: Yes, folks, we are talking about Bintan. Hop on a ferry and sail for just 50 minutes to this peaceful paradise sure to leave the whole family feeling tanned, happy and relaxed!

We sent our Honeycombers' girls off to Macao just so they would bring us back some famous Lord Stow egg tarts...

We sent our Honeycombers’ girls off to Macao just so they could bring us back some famous Lord Stow Portuguese egg tarts…

October: Laos, Goa or Macao
International schools usually get a week or two break from studying during October, so make the most of it by jetting off to Laos. Vientiane is a direct flight from Singapore so can be easily reached even with small people in tow, and with its beautiful scenery and super-friendly people, this is a small city big on charm. Need more persuading? Gourmet French food and amazing coffee on tap for very little cost. Sold!

For those of you who are not deterred by a more ambitious journey, how about heading to the beaches of Goa for beautiful beaches and culture by the ton? India is definitely one to have on that bucket list, and October is the perfect time to soak up the sunshine with a side order of to-die-for local food.

Not got time for more than a quick trip away? Our Honeycombers’ girls recently took a weekend vacay to Macao, where they assure us a family will love the history, culture and adventure activities (bungee jumping, people!), almost as much as they will love the egg tarts!

November: Hong Kong or Langkawi
Local schools break for year end in mid-November, so why not treat yourselves to a magical pre-Christmas trip to Disneyland Hong Kong? Temps hover around the 19-24 degrees mark in November: perfect for wandering around theme parks without ending up in a sweaty mess! We’ve got more tips for your Hong Kong family holiday in our guide to HK with kids. 

If luxe hotels, dazzling beaches and delicious local food (beef rendang: mmmm) are more your bag, then think about popping over to Langkawi for a sunny holiday set around the beach and pool. Cocktails at sunset while the small people are in a decent kids’ club? Yes, please!

Spend Christmas in a snowy wonderland in Hokkaido, Japan. Photo credit: Helen Hillier

Spend Christmas in a snowy wonderland in Hokkaido, Japan. Photo credit: Helen Hillier

December: Krabi, Penang or Hokkaido
By December we are turning our minds to getting away for the perfect Xmas destination. Head to Krabi in Thailand if spending Xmas with the sand between your toes is your idea of perfect Christmas heaven: the weather is positively glorious during December.

Penang also makes a great choice for families looking for a bit of beach combined with some cool sightseeing musts. Kids will love being ferried around Georgetown in a trishaw, and scrambling around historical Fort Cornwallis.

But if it is snowy adventure you are after then we have to mention Japan again: Head to Hokkaido (via Tokyo) where you will get tons of the powdery stuff for skiing and snowboarding adventures galore. Happy holidays!