We love Kuala Lumpur and adore discovering different parts of Malaysia. But, the fact that KLIA keeps us so well connected with international flights, means our time here has also allowed us to venture into some amazing cities in other countries, right here on our doorstep.
Flying long-haul isn’t for everyone which is why I’ve put together this little travel collection that will transport you to some beautiful vacation spots right here in Asia, all with a short, direct flight from KL.
So, got a spare 3 hours? Every destination here can be reached from KL in just about that! So what’s stopping you? I shall take great pleasure in adding Borneo and Vietnam to this collection once we make it there, but until then, I hope you feel inspired enough to take the time to travel, explore, discover….. Enjoy, S x
(Direct flights from KL to Bali: 2 hours 50)
Bali is quite simply an amazing island with such diversity that you won’t know where to start!
Having lived there for more than three years before moving to KL, I know the island like the back of my hand, and can say that if you’re up for veering away from the typical tourist areas of Seminyak and Kuta, then that’s when you get to see the real beauty of Bali. From the black sand beaches of the East coast, and the rice fields of Tegallalang, to the hidden beaches in the south around Nusa Dua and The Bukit, to the West Bali National Park, there is something for everyone. There are waterfalls, and beaches, and volcanoes and just a little bit of everything to enjoy.
With children check out:
Bali Bird Park
Bali Safari & Marine Park
Sundays Beach Club (with a fun ride down the cliff)
The quieter beaches (and stunning sunsets) of Jimbaran
Peekaboo play café with tots (for when you need a break from the sun)
Waterbom Waterpark with slightly older children
Family hangouts like The Joglo, The Living Room, and Watercress Café
A Sunday family brunch at one of the 5-star hotels in Nusa Dua.
(Direct flights from KL to Bali 3 hours)
While not as well known as the neighbouring island of Bali, Lombok should not be over-looked when planning a getaway. Lombok still has its beautiful beaches, stunning sunsets, waterfalls and mountains, but is far less crowded. Add to this the opportunity to combine it with a trip to the traffic-free Gili Islands and you can really be in for a memorable trip.
Go south to the coastal village of Kuta for deserted white-sand beaches, crystal blue waters, and a part of the island that is relatively untouched. The family-friendly Novotel Resort acts as a good base if you’re travelling with tots with multiple pools, kids club and kids menus. From Kuta, enjoy Monkey Mountain, surfing, snorkeling and diving, a visit to the traditional Sasak Village for a taste of true island life, and take in some of the most stunning views from the ‘Sunset Viewing Point’.
If you fancy a slightly more upbeat time with restaurants and bars, choose one of many villas or hotels in Tanjung. Still with easy beach access, surf posts and perfect for hopping on a boat taxi to the Gilis, Tanjung has a bit more nightlife and more choice for dining out.
Siem Reap, Cambodia,
(Direct flights from KL to Bali 2 hours)
Siem Reap would have to be high on the top of my list of favourite places we’ve visited. Instantly falling for the charm of the people and the beauty and sheer scale of the temples, this was a surprisingly easy place to navigate with children.
Needless to say, the must-see Angkor Wat needs to be on your itinerary, coupled with some of our favourites like Ta Prohm Temple (yes, Tomb Raider!) and Bayon Temple where ample space, rocks and trees will give children plenty of opportunities to run, hide and explore. Apart from these obvious historical stops, one of my highlights was a trip to Tonlé Sap Lake, which is definitely worth the hour trip from the main city. We visited the local school there and donated some supplies so if you want to go prepared, you can take along pencils and notebooks to give to the children on your visit.
In the evenings, wander the street markets, enjoy the hub of Pub Street or take in a show by talented young street artists as they perform in the Phare Circus with all proceedings going to charity.
Zipping around in tuk-tuks’ (remorks) was easy and fun and the children absolutely adored it. Look at getting a car and a driver from your hotel if you fancy making the trip up to the lake. It’s all very reasonably priced and well worth doing.
(Direct flights from KL to Yangon 2 hours 40)
This is one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ sort of trips and never did I think I’d get the chance to visit Myanmar. But the sights are something that need to be seen to be believed, with golden temples galore that, even 18 months on, my son still talks about. While less developed for tourists than some of the other places on this list, Myanmar is a gem that needs to be visited and can be done so with children. While we haven’t (yet) done Mandalay/Bagan, we can definitely say that Yangon is worth the visit.
Home to the iconic Schwedagon Pagoda, you may want to visit it twice; yes it’s that stunning! We did a trip in the day and a second visit later in the week to see it by night! The Sule Pagoda is an easy temple to visit right in the heart of the city, and also allows you to wander around the Colonial Quarter of downtown Yangon. Hangout in the Maha Bandula Garden with kids and let them run around, play in the park and take a moment to people-watch! Kandawgyi Park should also be on your list of things to see – we loved it here, so relaxing and quiet and the beautiful Golden Karaweik makes for a great backdrop for photos. Grab a taxi (which are relatively cheap) and do a combined visit to Chaukhtatgyi Buddha, a massive reclining Buddha statue and the Nga Htat Gyi Pagoda – both interesting stops while in the city.
We also chose to make the day trip to Bago and, if you have the time, please do the same!! It’s an amazing place with great attractions, almost on par with Yangon. The visit to the Kyaly Khat Wai Monastery is just an amazing experience so if you can start your day with this before heading on to places such as the shiny Kambazathadi Golden Palace, Shwemawdaw Paya , Kyaik Pun Pagoda and Mya Tha Lyaung Reclining Buddha, then you’ve seen some of the best of the best!
(Direct flights from KL to Phuket 1 hour 20)
Phuket is undoubtedly the popular option when it comes to a little escape with the family to Thailand. With endless resorts to choose from, long stretches of beaches for lazy days playing in the sand, tours readily available to take you off to nearby islands, and the destination suddenly has everything planned out for you!
We’ve stayed at Karon Beach a couple of times which is situated between Patong and Kata beaches and a quick tuk tuk ride will take you to these for a change of scenery. Packed with great restaurants with the amazing food you would expect in Thailand, we’ve always found the beaches to be clean and safe.
If you’re up for leaving your resort behind and exploring, take a look at:
A trip up to the Phuket Big Buddah (Chalong)
A boat trip to Phi Phi Islands (The beach!)
A boat trip to Khao Phing Kan (James Bond Island!)
Kayaking and other water sports
A visit to Wat Chalong (Chaithararam Temple)
Elephant jungle trekking
Koh Samui, Thailand
(Direct flights from KL to Koh Samui 1 hour 40)
To date, this is my favourite getaway in Thailand. A far cry from the busy tourist areas in Phuket, Samui offers the same stretches of beaches and delicious food, but without the crowds. Add to that the most stunning views and daily sunsets that melt into the ocean, and you have yourself a perfect holiday. Less developed than it’s Thai counterparts, the island still has some beautiful spots to enjoy nature including several different waterfalls and jungle treks. Neighbouring islands also make for some great day trips and of course the water sports are ideal for some fun on the beach.
While the destination may lend itself perfectly to honeymooners, we had an amazing time as a family and would suggest some of the following activities:
A boat trip to Ang Thong National Marine Park
Chaweng Beach (which was near deserted!)
Snorkelling and kayaking
A trip to the Secret Buddah Garden
Grabbing a taxi to Na Muang waterfall and feeding the elephants
Lazing around in hammocks
(Direct flights from KL to Bangkok 2 hours 10)
A trip to Bangkok is another possibility if you want something different from the coastal resorts and beaches. With affordable shopping and eateries it will give you a great taste of Thailand. The city can seem busy and crowded but there are some fab highlights to be seen if you only have a couple of days.
Kids will love the Children’s Discovery Museum, ‘Funarium’ (a giant indoor soft play centre which I know you guys all love so much!) Dinosaur Planet Theme Park, and then there’s the familiar KidZania, that we have here in KL.
To add a bit of culture to your trip check out the boat trips (I think we did the Chao Phraya Express Boat) to take in uninterrupted views of the city or you can venture further afield to witness the amazing floating market. A visit to Wat Pho, which houses the fabulous Reclining Buddah, is one of our favourites in the city and Wat Phra Kaew is another popular one amongst tourists where you can see the ‘changing of the guards’. The Grand Palace is another absolute must-see with beautiful gardens and lots of space for the little ones. Travel around by river taxi for a bit of fun, or take the MRT to zip around the city and you’ll avoid the worst of the traffic!
(Direct flights from KL to Singapore 1 hour 5)
For a bit of city-hopping you can always op over to our neighbour, Singapour! While it is in driving distance (although that wouldn’t be in my 3-hour time limit for this album!) with over 30 flights daily, you can get your timing right to make it over for a long weekend.
While shopping may not be as economical as we have it here in KL, malls offer great facilities when travelling with children and often have free access to a little play area when little ones need a run around.
Needless to say, the city has some top attractions to visit whether you be travelling with children or not, but you’ll certainly be entertained at places like Universal studios, Singapore Zoo (which has to be the best zoo in Asia), The Singapore flyer for stunning views of the city, Gardens by the Bay and numerous museums which keep little hands busy! Spending time on the infamous Sentosa will offer places such as the S.E.A. Aqarium, cable car rides, Adventure Cove Waterpark, and some down time at the beach!
If travelling on a budget, there are a few things that we have tried out that fit perfectly into a few days in Singapore. While the Singapore Botanic Gardens are lovely for a nice stroll and some escapism from the city, what we loved even more (with young children) was their ‘Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden’! Full of fun interactive things for the kiddies to do, this will give you a good couple of hours of free fun – water fountains, tree houses, slides and rope bridges, a little maze, stepping stones, and interactive stations to learn about nature means it’s an ideal stop.
I’d also like to mention that SCDF have an amazing programme whereby on Saturday mornings they open several of their Fire Stations to the public for children to go and learn about what they do. Such a great initiative and so much fun! Take a change of clothes for the little ones as they get a chance to spray the fire hoses and are unlikely to escape getting drenched in water at some stage! Hats off to the fire fighters who give the kids rides in engines, showed us their tricks on the fireman’s pole and were extremely welcoming to us all 😉