Inspiration

Where to Travel as a Family in 2020

Even time-honored family-travel mainstays can lose their shine—in which case, get inspired by these up-and-coming kid-friendly destinations.

By Veronica Inveen

Apr 3, 2020

NATURE

Cairns, Australia

As gateway both to the Great Barrier Reef and to the Wet Tropics unesco World Heritage Site, Cairns in Queensland has outdoorsy fun for all. In the rainforest, take canopy walks and learn about Aboriginal culture, with indigenous tours and a visit to Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. On the reef, there’s snorkeling and swimming with turtles and dolphins.

Climb a ropes course or cuddle a koala at the Cairns Zoom & Wildlife Dome. Visit Cairns Aquarium to learn about the natural wonders at your doorstep. Or splash around at the Esplanade lagoons, with shallow swim areas and playgrounds for tots. Families have plenty of hotel choices too, with the five-star openings of Riley, Bailey and Flynn (doubles from A$308, A$199 and A$269 respectively); the perennially popular Pacific Hotel Cairns (doubles from A$149); and the renovated Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort (A$356), with the city’s only swim-up bar.

— KATRINA HOLDEN

Coron, Philippines

Coron has just the right blend of comfort, culture and adventure for children. In a small town of bustling streets and friendly folks, kids will love riding the local tricycles to the market, the hotel and the shops. Offshore, roam an entire archipelago of islands blessed with powdery beaches, turquoise waters and hidden lagoons. Day-trip to Calauit Island, a nature reserve that hosts African and endemic Philippine animals—the giraffes and zebras are so tame, you can feed them from your jeepney window. At the new Bacau Bay Resort (doubles from P44,000) children 11 and under stay free, while the popular Club Paradise (villas from P16,560) has bungalows that sleep up to four.

— LESTER LEDESMA

BEACH

Koh Mak, Thailand

In the Gulf of Thailand near the Cambodian border, Koh Mak features quiet, blissful beaches in a compact and family-friendly package. On gently inclined, car-free routes, scooters— some with sidecars—cruise lazily from beach to restaurant and back. The vibe is local and laidback—the island’s singular ATM was installed only a year ago—with a light peppering of boutique resorts and bungalows along each strip of sand. The allure lies in the island’s calm, transparent waters, its charming, small-town feeling and its surprising diversity of good food, whether you want Thai street eats, vegan Buddha bowls or house-made German spätzle. Popular family resorts are the pier-side Makathanee (Family suites from Bt3,000) and Koh Mak Resort (Family Standard Beachfront bungalows from Bt3,300). Pro-tip: book early and don’t rely on OTAs for the best choice or rates on rooms; contacting properties directly often yields the best results.

— BEK VAN VLIET OWEN

Cam Ranh, Vietnam

This pristine white-sand beauty has so far flown under tourism radar, but not for long, so now is probably the best time to go. Clear and sunny skies from March to September are great for island hopping, visiting the Nui Chua National Park and enjoying the beach. New stays include the modern Mövenpick Resort Cam Ranh (doubles from VND2,680,000), which features a big ropes course, water-play areas and a nearby golf course, and Radisson Blu Cam Ranh (doubles from VND4,120,000), which has 36 private pool villas. Or stay at spa treatment–inclusive Fusion Resort Cam Ranh (VND4,650,000). Later in the year you’ll have even more choice with Alma Cam Ranh, which will have three-bedroom oceanfront pavilions and a 70-seat cinema for family movie nights.

— GRACE MA

CITY

Taipei, Taiwan

Thanks to its stroller-friendly sidewalks, a swish high-speed rail network, and plenty of green spaces, the sub-tropical island of Taiwan is an excellent destination to travel around with kids in tow. The fun starts in Maokong, a natural reserve just outside Taipei, where glass-floored gondolas glide high above mountains draped in jungle and tea plantations. At the top, there are colorful temples, tea parlors and walking trails to choose from, and you might just spot a wild monkey stealing fruit from the gardens dotting the hillside. If that doesn’t impress the little one, the pandas at the adjoining Taipei Zoo surely will. Offering a swanky stay is the new Kimpton Da An (doubles from NT$10,400), a smart design hotel by the Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT; parents with younger ones might prefer the Grand Hyatt Taipei (NT$6,270), which has cribs and sofa beds available on request, kids’ amenities and packages designed for family stays.

— CHRIS SCHALKX

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Inspiration

Where to Travel as a Family in 2020

Even time-honored family-travel mainstays can lose their shine—in which case, get inspired by these up-and-coming kid-friendly destinations.