The New Fam­ily Get­away

Tired of Bangkok or Bali? Th­ese pre­vi­ously un­ex­plored places are on their way to be­com­ing top hol­i­day spots for fam­i­lies.

Simply Her (Singapore) - - Life Made Easy Travel - BY SASHA GON­ZA­LES

Thai­land

PAI This small town near the Chi­ang Mai bor­der is in a moun­tain val­ley, so it boasts scenic sur­round­ings. Among the at­trac­tions: Mo Paeng Wa­ter­fall; Mae Yen Wa­ter­fall, which is about 6.5km out of town; ele­phant camps that of­fer rides on the huge crea­tures; ponds where you can pay to fish; hot springs; Tham Lod cave; and moun­tains and rice fields you can ex­plore by bi­cy­cle. Pai is about a three­hour mini­van ride from Chi­ang Mai.

SU­RAT THANI This town in the south of Thai­land is a gate­way to Koh Sa­mui and Koh Phangan, so visi­tors rarely spend more than a cou­ple of days here. Yet, there is quite a lot to do, from re­lax­ing on palm-fringed beaches to tak­ing cruises or boat trips to nearby is­lands.

Su­rat Thani of­fers many cul­tural at­trac­tions, in­clud­ing monas­ter­ies, tem­ples and mu­se­ums. It also has na­tional parks, wa­ter­falls, caves and wildlife sanc­tu­ar­ies. Khao Sok Na­tional Park is home to en­dan­gered an­i­mals such as leop­ards, sun bears and wild ele­phants. You can rent a tent here or stay at a pri­vate bungalow. Other high­lights in Su­rat Thani: oys­ter farms (the town is fa­mous for oys­ter cul­ti­va­tion), and Ban Phum­ri­ang, a quaint hand­i­craft vil­lage.

WANG NAM KEAW Rolling hills and a cool cli­mate give this town the nick­name “Switzer­land of north­east Thai­land”. Go bird­watch­ing and trekking, or head out to the many wa­ter­falls (like Huay Yai, Huay Kamin and Suan Hom), which are es­pe­cially breath­tak­ing dur­ing the rainy sea­son. You may also like to spend a day vis­it­ing or­ganic farms, vine­yards and or­chards.

Viet­nam

NHA TRANG This city on the south-cen­tral coast of Viet­nam is home to Vin­pearl Land, the coun­try’s an­swer to Dis­ney­land. Its sprawl­ing five-star re­sort and en­ter­tain­ment com­plex has some­thing for all ages: a shop­ping mall, wa­ter park, amuse­ment park, aquar­ium and food vil­lage.

Some­times called the Riviera of the South China Sea, Nha Trang also has sev­eral good beaches of­fer­ing snorkelling and other wa­ter ac­tiv­i­ties. Ac­tive kids and adults can go on cy­cling tours, too.

BEN TRE You’ll find tem­ples, pago­das and hand­i­craft mar­kets, as well as nat­u­ral at­trac­tions the kids will like, at this south­ern prov­ince in the

Mekong Delta. Visit the Vam Ho Bird Sanc­tu­ary, a shel­ter for wildlife, or walk around bee­keep­ing vil­lages and fruit or­chards. With so many green ar­eas, camp­ing is be­com­ing a pop­u­lar ac­tiv­ity here.

HUE Once the cap­i­tal city of Viet­nam, Hue on the north-cen­tral coast is a Unesco World Her­itage Site. It will ap­peal to his­tory and cul­ture buffs – the city is full of mon­u­ments, em­per­ors’ tombs and pago­das that tell the story of its role as a re­li­gious, po­lit­i­cal and cul­tural cen­tre.

Hue boasts some beau­ti­ful beaches, such as Thuan An and Lang Co. It also has min­eral hot springs that you can re­lax in af­ter a long day.

Cambodia

KEP A coastal prov­ince over­look­ing the South China Sea, Kep has beau­ti­ful white-sand beaches – many of them empty. More bou­tique ho­tels are open­ing here, to cater to the grow­ing num­ber of trav­ellers. It’s the per­fect place to re­lax in, and if you love seafood, Kep has many good restau­rants serv­ing a fresh catch (pep­per crab is a spe­cial­ity in Kep). Some 20 min­utes’ drive away is Kam­pot, another old colo­nial town, which has water­front cafes, shops and gal­leries.

BAT­TAM­BANG This is Cambodia’s sec­ond-largest city, lo­cated in the north-west. Much like other cities in the coun­try, Bat­tam­bang fea­tures well-pre­served French colo­nial ar­chi­tec­ture and an­cient tem­ples like Barseat, Wat Ek and Ba­nan. It’s known for its rice pro­duc­tion, but is also an ex­cel­lent start­ing point for ex­plor­ing nearby cul­tural vil­lages.

Or­gan­ise an ox-cart ride through the rice fields and vil­lages, where 100-yearold houses on stilts still stand. Also check out Kamp­ing Puoy, a pop­u­lar pic­nic site.

In­done­sia

SE­MARANG On the north coast of Java is this city with sev­eral his­tor­i­cal mon­u­ments worth see­ing, like Tugu Muda, a land­mark com­mem­o­rat­ing the five days of bat­tle be­tween In­done­sian free­dom fight­ers and the Ja­panese dur­ing World War II, and Gereja Blen­duk Church, one of the old­est churches in Cen­tral Java, built by the Dutch.

For your kids, Tin­jo­moyo Zoo and Mangkang Zoo prom­ise to be a fun ex­pe­ri­ence. Many places also fea­ture tra­di­tional Ja­vanese dance and pup­pet shows, and you’ll en­joy mar­kets and malls like the Se­mawis Night Mar­ket in Chi­na­town, DP Mall and Mata­hari Plaza.

GILI IS­LANDS Three is­lands make up this re­mote ar­chi­pel­ago off Lom­bok – Gili Trawan­gan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. The is­lands are largely un­de­vel­oped and un­spoilt by mass tourism. Cars and other mo­torised ve­hi­cles are not al­lowed here. You will find a range of ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions, from bud­get to lux­ury, and a host of out­door ac­tiv­i­ties, like snorkelling with sea tur­tles, scuba div­ing, bik­ing, sea kayak­ing, fish­ing, and horse rid­ing along the beach.

BA­LIK­PA­PAN This is the sec­ond-largest city in Kal­i­man­tan and is a ma­jor cen­tre for oil, min­ing and tim­ber. In re­cent years, it has be­come a pop­u­lar desti­na­tion for trav­ellers from the re­gion. You can re­lax at great beaches (Mang­gar, La­maru and Ke­mala, for ex­am­ple), go on a river sa­fari, or visit orang utan and sun bear sanc­tu­ar­ies, as well as a croc­o­dile farm. SH

The small town of Pai in Thai­land. An artis­tic wall dis­play in Pai. A tra­di­tional bus stop be­side

a rice paddy in Pai.

The his­tor­i­cal city of Hue.

A view of the Bat­tam­bang coun­try­side.

A white-sand beach in

the Gili Is­lands.

A beach in Nha Trang.

Nha Trang

Grilled squid at a

mar­ket in Kep.

The Gili Is­lands

Crabs fried with green pep­per­corns

in Kam­pot.

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