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Junior's guide to the exotic Far East

Finding famous dragons, wandering around waterfalls, waving at wild elephants, a trip to the Far East will be an unforgettable family holiday

Posted: 15 August 2011
by Junior

Waterfall near Chiang Mai, northern Thailand

The great thing about the Far East is that it remains such an exotic culture despite our children becoming ever more world-savvy. When your children are up close to an enormous elephant in the Thai jungle or walking down a street in Bali where women are dressed in luminous colours with an elaborate offering of flowers and fruit piled high on their heads, it’s sure to make a lasting impression. 

The Far East is wonderful value for money. There are some truly amazing resorts and such great scope for adventure holidays, from exploring the Great Wall of China to visiting a Thai hill tribe.

Explore’s family programme includes China, Thailand and the 16-day Indonesian Volcanoes and Dragons Schooner Adventure, centred around nine nights aboard a traditional two-masted Pinisi Schooner. Once used as pirate boats, and later as merchant ships, by the Bugis people of South Sulawesi, the rigged boats are still hand-built by native craftsmen from tropical hardwoods. They steer between Indonesia’s tropical islands, with highlights including a search for the famous dragons on Komodo and for flying foxes on Lombok, clambers up volcanic craters, beach barbecues, visits to local villages and no end of snorkelling. Time is also spent at the beginning and end of the tour in Bali. Prices from £2,988 per person (ages 12 plus) and £2,813 per child (ages five to 11) including flights, all transport, nine nights’ full board on the schooner and
four nights’ B&B in Bali.

A wonderful family eco-adventure awaits amongst the jungles, mountains and waterfalls of Thailand. Tell Tale Travel offers Thai adventure holidays with plenty to delight children, such as monkey-spotting in the trees and learning how to care for elephants, as well as visiting a local primary school. The holiday finishes at the Khao Yai National Park – a Unesco World Heritage Site. This vast wildlife reserve is home to herds of wild elephants and clouded leopards, as well as a huge array of flora and fauna. Here, you’ll see over a million bats swarm out into the night, have the opportunity to trek through the jungle and drive around in an open-topped jeep. This 15-day holiday costs from £1,800 per adult (25 per cent discount for under-12s), and includes flights, accommodation, activities, transport and most meals.

If you want to give something back to your new Thai friends when you holiday, Hands Up Holidays offers trips to Thailand where families can help with gardening, teaching, and building work at an orphanage set up after the tsunami, about 45 minutes north of Phuket, as well as enjoy the fine beaches. A nine-day luxury trip costs from £2,200 per person, £1,495 for children under ten.

You can even acquire a new member of the family on your travels courtesy of a new Adopt An Orang-utan programme by Malaysia Experiences. Families journey through one of Malaysia’s most wildlife-rich provinces, Sabah in northern Borneo, ending in a visit to Sepilok Orang-utan Sanctuary to become the adoptive parent of an endangered species. Along the way you get to explore Kinabalu Park, visit the Gomantong Caves, spot rhinoceros and elephants near the Kinabatangan River and take a trip to Turtle Island before ending with five nights of luxury at the deluxe Shangri-La Rasi Ria hotel. The holiday costs from £1,989
per adult, £1,139 per child.

Faraway Holidays can arrange itineraries for families to destinations that include Bali, China and Malaysia. How about the Philippines for the February half term seeing caves, volcanoes and whalesharks? The six-day trip begins with a visit to Manila before an internal flight to Legazpi City to see Mount Mayon – an active volcano known for its picture-perfect, cone-shaped peak. Take a winding road to the viewing platform before the descent, which includes a tour of the Hoyop-hoyopon caves in Camilig with its stalactite and stalagmite formations. It’s then onto Donsol for the chance of a lifetime – a swim with Butandings, otherwise known as whalesharks. These gentle giants of the sea, regarded as the biggest fish in the world, converge off the waters here. The last two days are spent relaxing on the beach. Adults cost from £1,795 per person, children from £1,395, including flights, accommodation, transfers and all excursions.  

Look at our fantastic Travel section for more holiday suggestions.

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China, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Bali, children, family

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