Looking for a less obvious family travel destination that’s child-friendly, but not sure where’s suitable? Read on for these luxurious getaway suggestions from Lightfoot Travel that are beautiful, fun, safe and geared up for children.
Bring the tales of Arabian Nights to life with a trip to Oman’s sandcastle-shaped forts, craggy mountainous backdrops and idyllic beaches. Soak up the Arab market atmosphere in old Muscat, then head on a desert adventure in Wahiba Sands for a sunset camel safari, try traditional Omani fare by a campfire, and spend a night in a glamorous Bedouin-style tent. Complete your trip at Six Senses Zighy Bay where dramatic mountain vistas and a sandy beach provide the best backdrop for children to try snorkelling, hiking, canyoning and water skiing, and for you to check out the cocktail list and spa.
While it may be tricky for littlies to pronounce, Kyrgyzstan is an easy and breezy child-friendly destination for families. And ideal for those looking for a holiday that’s a little left of centre. The leafy capital of Bishkek buzzes with a Bohemian atmosphere and offers numerous museums, cool art and plenty of restaurants (so, no tantrums from fussy eaters). The Chon Kemin National Park is amazing for hiking, horse riding, fishing and rafting. For an authentic Kyrgyzstan experience, enjoy a nomadic barbecue of local specialties (a side of yak’s milk vodka, or kumis, is optional), then cosy up together in a yurt.
Fire up your family’s adventurous spirit with a trip to Mongolia. Located between China and Russia, it’s a country full of outdoor adventures: climbing giant sand dunes (and sand boarding back down!), shooting at archery targets, and galloping across open plains on horseback. Children will enjoy spending the night like nomads in a traditional ger. And will be instantly welcomed by their host family. Watch them get their hands dirty as they herd animals, milk cows, collect water from nearby rivers and make Mongolian dumplings. At night, dine on a traditional dinner of boodog (mutton). And swap an hour on the iPad for a traditional Mongolian singing performance.
Kenya is a fascinating and safe destination for families. Taking your little ones on safari gives them a peek into a whole new world, and tricks them into having an educational experience at the same time. Many lodges and camps have family rooms and specially trained child safari guides; time of year permitting, you can witness the Great Migration and hang out with some friendly Masai people. Post safari, head to Nairobi where Giraffe Manor Hotel might be the stay of dreams – this 1930s manor house is known for its cheeky Rothschild giraffes that like to stick their heads through the windows for naughty nibbles.
With the cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem being just an hour’s drive from one another, Israel is an easy place to explore without constant cries of “Are we there yet?” from the back seat. Teenage children will love Tel Aviv, roaming Crusader sites such as The Old City of Akko, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with ruins above and below ground, along with citadels, mosques and baths. Don’t miss the Ayalon Institute Museum that used to house a secret ammunition factory. In Jerusalem, you can float in the Dead Sea, take part in scavenger hunts, lose yourself in the hidden Kotel Tunnels, or head into the Negev for desert hiking and camel riding. The King David Hotel is a superb base, with spacious family rooms.
Cambodia may be famous for Angkor Wat and its centuries-old temples. But there’s a whole lot of kid-friendly activities alongside the history lesson. Eco-adventurous types can zip-line through jungle in the Angkor Archaeological Park. Siem Reap is home to thriving markets, also to Phare, a circus show that explains the Cambodian way of life while putting profits back into the community. Meanwhile, in the capital Phnom Penh, you can soak up the city from the back of a cyclo, visit Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre, the world’s largest sanctuary for sun bears, or enjoy a boat trip on the Tonle Sap Lake, home to overwater stilt villages.
Ecuador may not be the first destination that springs to mind for a child-friendly holiday. But it offers outdoor adventure and unique wildlife. Plus, it’s a breeze to get around by road. Go horse riding through the Andes, visit local communities, explore waterfalls and the Condor project, or try chocolate-making in Quito. Stay at stunning Mashpi Lodge, surrounded by rainforest, butterflies, birds and hiking trails. One highlight for all ages is canopy cycling above the Cloud Forest at Mashpi. For fans of creepy crawlies, things get even more exciting after dark when you can head on a night safari searching for insects, owls and bats.
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This article first appeared in the October/November 2019 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.