Top 10 Family-Friendly Holiday Destinations in Malaysia & Neighbouring Countries

Leishia Jason
By Leishia Jason May 14, 2016
Reading Time: 7 minutes

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We totally understand, planning a family holiday can be rather daunting. From the youngest to the oldest family member, you’d want to please them all, and then you’d want to be able to relax when you finally get to your destination too, while making sure the entire trip runs hiccup-free, and hopefully getting appreciated for your effort. Funnily enough, at the end of it, you’d usually need another holiday to recover from it!

Well, we can’t take your important place as the family-holiday organiser, but we can help you relieve some stress by identifying the top 10 family-friendly holiday destinations, hopefully making your life much easier and your holiday more enjoyable! Here we go!

1. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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A bustling city, Kuala Lumpur is an incredible city to visit with children. There is an array of kids-friendly and kids-centered activities to choose from, and the best part is, adults would enjoy them too!

For the nature lover in the family, places like the KL Bird Park, Butterfly Farm, and the Taman Tasik Titiwangsa make for an excellent choice to visit without having to travel to the outskirts as they are all located within the city center!

For the little explorers, be sure to spend a day in places like Petrosains Discovery Center (located within KLCC), Aquaria KLCC – an oceanarium that showcases over 5,000 different exhibits of aquatic and land-bound creatures; National Science Centre (Bukit Damansara), and Kidzania Kuala Lumpur (Mutiara Damansara), a mini version of kids’ city with all kinds of activities representing different careers for children to try their hands on and earn the local currency – Kidzos, and they can actually spend it! Fun!

2. Penang Island, Malaysia

 

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Situated up north, Penang Island is known for its food – Char Kuey Teow, Nasi Kandar Ganja, Penang Rojak, Penang White Curry Noodles, Apom Manis, Cendol – oh, the list is endless – food heaven for foodies, really. Planning for a food trail by car, hunting down yummy eats can be an exciting adventure especially when you have older kids, who can lend a hand in mapping the trail by researching online Penang Island’s must-eats.

Taking a ferry ride from Butterworth mainland to the capital of the island, George Town is a good idea to catch some refreshing sea breeze, definitely a nice experience both for the young and old. The fares are cheap too.

The Toy Museum and Heritage Garden at Teluk Bahang make for an interesting visit. It houses over 70,000 toys, dolls, and collectibles, such as dinosaurs, Barbie dolls, comic book characters, and action figures. This place will undeniably be a hit among the kids and toy enthusiasts!

3. Redang Island, Malaysia

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If you want a relaxing holiday without an itinerary to follow through, then we would think Redang Island is a brilliant choice. Located in Terengganu, Redang Island is one of the nine islands which form a marine park, with snorkeling and diving opportunities abound for adventurous tourists. The crystal clear water, the healthy coral reefs, and a variety of sea creatures such as baby sharks are the main reasons travelers and nature lovers come visiting tirelessly every year.

While the adults and older kids get on their water activities, little ones can enjoy the pool available in the hotel or resort, or hit the long stretches of sandy white beaches for some sand castle building fun, before getting into the sea for water play.

Round off your trip with the highlight of turtle watching at Chagar Hutang Turtle Sanctuary, where turtles come from as far as Indonesia and the Philippines, to mate and lay eggs. Visitors can also help out the volunteers at the turtle research center and learn more about this majestic sea creature. Learning for the kids while holidaying? We say, bring it on!

4. Johor Bahru, Malaysia

 

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Folks, if you have young kids, Johor Bahru will be your next favourite place to holiday in from now on. It is literally a cartoon dream come true for children of all ages (of course, including the young at hearts!).

Check out The Little Big Club where Barney & Friends, Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder, and Angelina Ballerina come to life! Three level of indoor play areas, rides, musical performances, meet-and-greets will definitely steal the fans’ heart and occupy them the entire day, so be ready to put aside one day for it.

The fun doesn’t just stop there, because your little girls are going to squeal in delight when they find out that the Hello Kitty Town is located right in the same building as The Little Big Club, taking up an entire floor in sweet pink fantasy! Step in the Hello Kitty’s House to meet with the famous mouthless cat, Hello Kitty, and enjoy dazzling musical performances.

Not forgetting the little boys – surprise them with 40 over rides and water park to bring down the Malaysian heat at Legoland Malaysia, one of the amusement park craze in Johor. We assure you, at the end of your holiday, you will be deemed the coolest parent ever!

5. Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

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Kota Kinabalu is an amazing holiday destination with lots of educational activities to be explored with your little ones. One of such activities is to visit an Orang Utan Sanctuary at The Rasa Ria Nature Reserve, an effort established by Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort and Spa in partnership with the State Wildlife Department of Sabah. It serves to provide a home for rescued endangered animals, such as orang utans, before sending them to the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Center where the cheeky animal is taught critical survival skills before being released back in the wild. The reserve spans across 64 acres of tropical greenery goodness.

Depending on the purpose of your holiday, whether you want to take things slow and easy, where you can take leisurely strolls and check out the market places, interact with friendly locals, and sample local cuisines; or you’re ready to take things up a notch by taking ferries out to its neighbouring islands to explore the bio-diverse offerings of flora and fauna, or steam train rides, even white water rafting, your choices are endless.

6. Bandung, Indonesia

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Bandung is a holiday destination that could hit all the right spots for you – budget-friendly, kids-friendly, a legit “overseas” trip but not too far, and a shopping heaven for the missus. Interestingly, besides the endless traffic and shopping crowds, Bandung boasts quite a few kids recreational spots that are worth checking out.  

Not to be missed is De’Ranch, a country style family resort with lots to keep the kids busy with. Choose between horse riding, Delman (horse cart) riding, gold mining, boating, fishing, a milder version of flying fox for kids, or play at the playground. The paid entrance fee can be exchanged for free milk. The cooling weather will make the trip enjoyable for all. Ready for your cowboy experience? Yee-haw!

Spare some time to check out Kawah Putih, or White Crater, about 50km south of Bandung. The phenomenal Kawah Putih lake is one of the two craters which make up Mount Patuha, one of the many volcanoes in Indonesia. It is a big, highly acidic lake, and it changes colours from the dreamy bluish tone to sparkling green, or even brown, all depending on the concentration of sulphur and oxidation state of the lake. The trip will serve as a wonderful educational tour for all.

7. Bali, Indonesia

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Known as a romantic destination for honeymooners, Bali definitely has more than romance to offer and you will not be short of children friendly activities to participate in. Breaking from the usual norm of theme parks, zoos, and animal sanctuaries, why not book a cooking class for your family? You will have a wonderful time bonding with your children while cooking up a storm!

Cooking is not your thing? Then perhaps chocolate making is a better option. Head over to Pod Chocolate Factory & Café to learn about the process of turning cacao pods into everybody’s favourite decadent chocolates. During the visit to the factory, you’ll get to taste the raw cacao fruit, watch how cacao beans are roasted and of course, customise and make your own to savour.

If your family loves the water and is up for some adventure, then sign up for surfing lessons! It will be great fun, plus, what a phenomenal way to instil the interest for a new, exciting hobby in the kids!

8. Singapore

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Singapore needs no introduction. Although a small country, it has never-ending attractions for the young and old. The Singapore Zoo is one of such family-friendly attractions. It offers entertaining animal shows, and visitors have a chance to get up close and personal with some of the zoo’s darling animals, such as the orang utan, python, and the colourful parrots. While you are at it, don’t miss out on the popular Night Safari, the world’s first nocturnal zoo. The Night Safari is home to over 2,500 animals representing over 130 species.

Another fun attraction is the infamous Sentosa Island and be ready to spend the entire day there, if not more, when you visit Sentosa Island as the Underwater World, Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom, MegaZip Adventure Park, and the 4D Adventureland (and more!) will surely be a hit among the kids, while parents would find solace on the well-maintained beaches.

Oh, for a slice of Hollywood on Asian turf, the Universal Studios Singapore, located within Resorts World Sentosa on Sentosa Island, is where you’d want to be. With theme parks, spas, hotels, and casinos, it promises infinite family fun and frozen memories that will be talked about many years later over family reunion dinners.

9. Phuket, Thailand

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Ah, the land of smiles, how can we skip recommending you this beautiful country? But instead of the busy and bustling city life of Bangkok, check out Phuket instead for the next school holidays. Phuket is a mountainous island found on the Andaman Sea and is home to some 30 over popular beaches such as the Karon Beach, Patong Beach and Kamala Beach. The best way to take in the beauty these beaches have to offer is through island hopping on a speedboat. Surely an exhilarating experience with the kids!

However, there is one particular place that is sure to be the kids’ favourite – it’s called Baan Teelanka – The Upside Down House. Every piece of furniture and décor pieces are nailed to the ceiling that give it a topsy-turvy illusion. Although a small place, it definitely is mind boggling and will be great fun with the kids!

10. Hanoi, Vietnam

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Hanoi, the capital of and the second largest city in Vietnam, is an interesting place where old meets new, and East meets West due to decades of war and colonisation. For a start, take a walk with the kids around the Old Quarter, and explore the narrow streets and sidewalk cafés, spend some time chatting with the street vendors and ask about their goods, and maybe a cyclo ride with the kids! A great way for a taste of life in Vietnam.

If you haven’t seen a water puppet show, then you must! The mastery of the puppeteers is magical and is sure to captivate the children’s attention. With lively music and animated puppet play, audience will be enthralled by the charming show.

To keep the kids busy while the adults take a breather, head over to Cong Vien Nghia Do Park, said to be the best park in Hanoi. It has a beautiful lake and walking trails, with a clean and fenced play area for the children, line with artificial grass and loaded with play equipment and a zipline for endless hours of healthy fun!

We hope you enjoyed the list that we have carefully curated and that you’re now inspired to go on a holiday with your family! So tell us, where will your next holiday destination be?