Think you’ve hit all the hotspots in Asia? Bespoke tour operator Lightfoot Travel have put together a list of offbeat destinations that you might not have been to just yet!
The least densely populated country on the planet, Mongolia is the ultimate destination for families looking to escape the city and take the kids on an experiential trip of a lifetime. Imagine digging for dinosaur bones; staying with a nomadic family and taking part in daily activities such as milking cows; hiking up sand dunes and camel riding through the Gobi; and teaching the kids Mongolia’s most well-loved sports – archery.
During the colder months, visit the western Altai mountains to live alongside the famed Kazakh eagle hunters. Learn about their unique way of life that has existed for centuries, and witness the annual eagle hunting festival that takes place in October.
With Mongolia, there is something about the scale of the landscape and timelessness of the culture. Especially for urban people, it’s a very powerful place, and even a very short time spent in country can allow you and your family to get back in touch with what life is all about.
Malaysian Borneo is so much more than just the beach resorts in Kota Kinabalu (lovely as they are!). Families can embark on a wonderful touring itinerary taking in the amazing wildlife that hide themselves away on this unique island.
Start by visiting the world’s largest organutan rehabilitation centre at Sepilok, followed by the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. Next, set off on an expedition down the magnificent Kinabatangan River in search of wildlife such as orangutans, Pygmy elephants and Proboscis monkeys. From here, journey into the thick virgin rainforest area of Danum Valley, one of the world’s most complex ecosystems. Trek along the 2.6km View Point Trail, for a picnic breakfast with spectacular views over an ocean of million-year-old jungle.
And finally, cap off your adventure with a few days of downtime at the beach – you deserve it!
If Bali is very much ‘been there, done that’, why not explore some of the lesser known areas of the country? Climb mountains, trek through the forest and cruise from one island to another on a family holiday the kids will never forget!
Start in Central Java, exploring picturesque villages where your family can meet and interact with local families, visiting their farms and plantations. Next, prepare for an early morning wake-up call to admire the stunning Borobudur temple by sunrise. Head to the Tanjung Putting National Park for a stay at an eco-lodge only accessible by boat as you trek into the jungle, work with the local rangers, spot orangutans in the wild, cruise the river in search of crocodiles and observe Proboscic monkeys along the riverbanks. Lastly, end this adventure of a lifetime with snorkeling and beach time as you sail through the islands of Komodo National Park. The highlight for the kids will no doubt be seeing the famed Komodo Dragons.
The picturesque state of Nagaland in northeast India is full of rolling hills and verdant rain forests. The Naga people, comprising 16 proud tribes, were once fearsome warriors and head hunters who have retained much of their traditional and cultural heritage (minus the head hunting part of course!). The 10-day Hornbill Festival is an annual mélange of cultural displays from all 16 tribes of Nagaland. Each day brings forth their vibrant performances, crafts, sports like archery and wrestling, food fairs, games and religious ceremonies.
Whilst attending the festival, your family will have the opportunity to stay at Kohima Camp in Nagaland, a unique concept that is only in operation for a certain time each year. Each of the lavish and individually designed canvas tents at Kohima Camp feature a four-poster bed, colonial style furnishings and a lovely verandah perfect for relaxing post exploration. Kids will love the camping element and parents will love bearing witness to one of the most unique and esoteric festivals on earth!
If you’re willing to brave the crowds of domestic tourists, Jiuzhaigou in northern Sichuan is one of China’s most spectacular natural sites. A short flight from the capital of Chengdu, it’s a magical land of mountains, trails and lakes with piercingly blue water. However, don’t let the crowds daunt you as Lightfoot guides can get you away from the frenzy and into the lesser visited areas where you can experience this almost mystical place in peace.
Upon arrival in Sichuan, spend a night or two in Chengdu to see the panda sanctuary located just outside the city. If kids are over 12 years old, they can take part in a volunteering course to clean the cages and help feed the animals. Sichuan cooking classes are also a fun way to spend a morning or afternoon. First, explore a local market and learning how to buy the freshest produce before going back to your chef’s home and preparing a meal of traditional Sichuan dishes. After you’ve had your fill of pandas and spicy food, escape the city and head north to Jiuzhaigou for a few days of exploration!