Asia with Kids – what to expect?
Piret is a mum of 2 little travellers Saara (6) and Morgan (4) and our guest blogger. Her first blog post is an introduction to their family’s 4 weeks trip to Asia where they visited Singapore, Cambodia and Vietnam. This is her story about what to expect when visiting Asia with kids for the first time.
Text and photos: Piret Carson
Singapore is the best place to start introducing Asia to your kids. Our very European, although well travelled kids, that was. Asia could be quite a shock for the children even if you’ve done your best to prepare them. Here is what I learned from travelling with a 6 and a 4 year old.
Here are the things to consider and prepare the family for if you are also planning a trip to Asia with kids:
It will be hot. High temperatures in Southeast Asia in January and February could reach 30 degrees Celsius and around 35 degrees in March and April. And even though you’ve all been waiting for the sun and warmth it will be too hot to just “go for a walk” and after 2 blocks your kids will be begging for you to go back to the hotel.
What to do?
a – Choose a hotel with a pool.
b – Choose a time of the day when it’s a bit cooler – early in the morning or later in the afternoon.
c – Walk into shops and museums every now and again to take advantage of their air conditioning.
d – Buy your kids a fan and pack plenty of water.
The traffic in Asia is not only crazy compared to what we’re used to in Europe but might also be dangerous and frightening for little travellers. It was good start for our trip in Singapore as traffic there is relatively chill considering Asian standards in general. Nevertheless, the noise and the sheer volume of motorbikes and cars on the street can be quite intimidating at first. Luckily speeding is rare and everybody wears a helmet.
How to prepare?
Show kids videos of Asian traffic on YouTube and make into a fun game with tasks like “spot a red car” or “guess where that moped turns on that junction”. It helps the kids to prepare for the mayhem and adopt a fun, playful attitude when seeing it in real life. Not to mention those games are a lifesaver sometimes, especially if you visit other countries like Vietnam and Cambodia where the traffic is worse.
Typical Asian dishes are based on rice or noodles. So, as long as your kids like either of them you should be fine. Still, locals use many sauces and condiments which could be strange for children. And although I like Asian food, the kids are pickier and mine are not happy when different foods mix.
Start with plain rice or noodles (sometimes with vegetables) and offer a taste of different sauces and meats from your plate. Spring rolls are usually ok too and there is lots of fresh fruit your kids will love. Try to make a deal with children that they at least taste new things and then decide whether they would eat it or not.
Not a big problem in Singapore but everywhere else. Streets and public beaches are filled with litter. It almost seems that nobody is putting anything in the trash. I suppose it’s the culture of just the volume of people…?
Make it a lesson to learn from
I stuck to the rule that we don’t litter and put our waste into the trash. Kids could see how uncomfortable it made them feel and it was a great example to give on how much better it is to live where we live because we keep our city clean.
The most important travel tip you’ll need – COMPROMISE.
Compromising is the one thing I cannot stress enough when traveling with kids. To make children feel their wishes and wants are being taken seriously, both parties have to compromise.
Adults may have to give up on plans of wandering streets to explore it’s hidden treasures or spending hours at an art museum… Children may have to adjust their expectations of spending all day every day at the pool… But with simple rules, everybody can enjoy the trip. For example – every day has to include some things each family member wants to do and maybe an activity together. Otherwise the purpose of traveling becomes pointless. Taking turns and making deals is a big part of travelling with kids.
If you’re thinking about a family vacation in Asia you may also be interested in Sri Lanka with kids blog.