Asia is a fantastic destination for families with babies and toddlers…
Asia is also huge and diverse covering Japan, Korea, China, Mongolia, Russia, Southeast Asian countries such as Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia, India and even includes the Middle East (although for the purposes of this guide we have included the Middle East in its own section) to name but a few.
Choosing a specific destination in Asia can be difficult. Some great family choices include Malaysia, Bali, Singapore, Thailand and Taiwan. Where you go will depend on the type of holiday you want. South East Asia offers some excellent luxury hotels at an excellent price. Thailand and Malaysia are very child friendly. The diversity of the region makes it difficult to offer travel advice that covers each country so please see our individual country information pages for more in depth information.
When to Go
Asia’s huge size is one of the reasons why it has regions of a wide variety of climates including some of the coldest, hottest, wettest most humid and some of the driest places on earth. These varied climates include the hot, dry desert environment of the centre and southwest and the hot, humid conditions of the tropical south. Japan and Korea experience all of the seasons including snow in winter, heat and humidity in summer and a lot of rain during monsoon season. Make sure to plan ahead to ensure you are not travelling at an excessively hot time or during the monsoon. The intense heat during the summer months in South East Asia can be dangerous for kids so if you are planning a trip here, consider booking in December or January.
Getting To Asia
Budget carriers and national airlines operate in and around Asia. In southeast Asia, Air Asia operates flights between all major holiday destinations in the region. Thai Airways also operates many flights within south east asia. If you are travelling around South East Asia, the best way to travel long distances with a baby or toddler is by plane.
Each country in Asia has its own infrastructure network. The train networks connecting major cities in Japan, Korea and China are excellent and you will generally be able to travel long distances quickly and easily on super comfortable high speed trains. With a few exceptions, trains that operate throughout Southeast Asia are poorly maintained, overcrowded, and slow making this an unappealing mode of transport in the region with a baby or toddler. Similarly, coach trips are not very comfortable with a baby or toddler in South East Asia for long trips and please bear in mind that the road safety in South East Asia is not good and accidents on the road are frequent.
There are plenty of boat trips around areas in Thailand and Malaysia which are worth doing. Renting a car is a good option in Southeast Asia, particularly if you want to explore one of the islands. Car rental is cheap but road accidents are high in frequency. Make sure that you pre book a car seat. The level of stroller accessibility on transport systems varies greatly from country to country so please see our destination guide for more information.
Health & Wellbeing
When travelling to Asia, make sure you talk to your GP before booking about vaccinations. It is best to avoid Malaria zones with babies and young children and the NHS has a malaria map which will show you where it is prevalent. There are sometimes outbreaks of Dengue fever in some tropical regions also so check this in advance too as Malaria and Dengue fever are very serious in infants and toddlers. Most countries in Asia will have good medical facilities. The hospitals in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are excellent and have paediatric units.
Baby & Toddler Essentials in Asia
Asia is very diverse and some countries will have water that is safe to drink. When travelling abroad it is always best to use bottled water to prepare bottles as tummy upsets can be caused where water is treated differently.
The type of powdered formula and food will vary from country to country however you generally will not be able to find the same powdered formula as you would at home. Some countries such as Japan, have international stores where you can buy formula from the USA and Britain but it is always best to bring your own.
Heinz baby food is widely available and you will have no problem buying fresh fruit and vegetables at most destinations. Many department stores will sell fruit puree (some selling Ella’s Organic) and cereals for babies and toddlers. If you are staying in a 4 or 5 star hotel (very cheap in Southeast Asia) you will be able to order food appropriate for your child. Most good hotels will offer a selection of western dishes such as eggs, porridge, potato and toddlers usually love noodles.
Please see our destination guides for more information on baby and toddler essentials.
Top Attractions for Families in Asia
Malaysia is home to Malay, Chinese, Indian, and British traditions where you can simultaneously visit a Chinese temple, hear the call to prayer from the mosque down the street, and smell the inviting aroma of Indian food from the cart on the corner. It really is like visiting multiple countries all at one time. In Kuala Lumpur you can head up to the Skybridge of the Petronas Towers, the tallest twin towers in the world or spend a day or two at LEGOLAND Malaysia, just across the border from Singapore. The water park, themed hotel, and amusement park rides will undoubtedly keep them entertained. There are also loads of beaches and island resorts with baby and toddler friendly hotels where little ones will be spoiled rotten. Langkawi is a stunning island paradise which lies just south of Thailand where little ones can play on the stunning sandy beaches or visit the local aquarium. Penang is another superb destination where you will find a UNESCO world heritage site filled with street art and delicious cuisines. There are beaches in Penang also, making it a great option for families.
Japan is one of the best Asian countries to visit with babies and toddlers not only because of all the fun, family friendly activities but also because its ultra modern, has a great public transport system, has all your baby and toddler essentials and it is safe and stroller accessible. Japan is a year-round destination with a beautiful, varied landscape. The Shinkansen or bullet train is a high speed train which can take you all over the country quickly and efficiently without having to deal with airports. Japan is a perfect blend of new and old; Tokyo offers the most innovative technologies and skyscrapers while Kyoto is old Japan at its finest with over 2,000 temples and shrines. It’s a country rich in history and culture and also has some of the most polite and helpful people you will ever meet. Japan has countless family-friendly attractions such as watching sumo wrestling tournaments, seeing Mt. Fuji, visiting a Hello Kitty park or jumping on the cat bus at the Studio Ghibli Museum. It also has many amusement parks including Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea, Universal Studios and Space World that can entertain families for days. YOu will also find many Western food options in the larger cities for picky eaters such as Italian restaurants and burger joints although in a Japanese restaurant you will be able to order rice, vegetables, chicken and other nibbles for toddlers.
Bali has so many wonderful qualities. From the perfect weather in every season, to the friendly Balinese who absolutely adore children. The price is cheap so you can have a luxurious vacation for a reasonable price and there are so many activities to do from water parks to monkey forests to shows.
Singapore is an ideal destination for parents with babies and toddlers. It is modern but also has a diverse range of cultures, cuisines and a unique and fascinating history. It is also very easy to get around. Singapore has a very multicultural vibe with a strong British influence. The common language is English and you will see this everywhere which makes things extra easy.The MRT train system is excellent and taxis are relatively cheap. There are loads of family friendly attractions such as the famous Singapore Zoo, Universal Studios and there are also water parks and the world’s largest aquarium. Eating and drinking can be quite expensive in some areas such as Clarkes Quay. There are other great options that won’t cost an arm and a let. Be sure to try some hawker markets, Little India, Little Arabia and China Town for a great mix of cuisines. Department stores will have some great eateries in their basements also (and baby changing facilities).
Another great option in Southeast Asia is Thailand which has a hugely diverse range of places to go and things to do for families. The islands to the south of the country are stunning and perfect for toddlers with their white sandy beaches and calm waters (be sure to check out whether there is Malaria and Dengue fever before you book). Bangkok is a bustling city with plenty of family friendly activities also (stay riverside to enjoy boat trips up and down the river rather than taking taxis or public transport). Another great option is Chiang Mai in northern Thailand which is the country’s second city. It is a rather small city and very walkable. It is surrounded by mountains with loads of fantastic activities which toddlers will love such as elephant sanctuaries, tiger parks and more. Chiang Mai also has a zoo and a 3D museum that toddlers will love.