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If beaches and theme parks are all that comes to mind when you think about family summer holidays, think again. Take learning outside of the classroom for your children with our handy list of 20 unique activities from around the world.
From learning about the craft of water puppetry to visiting a life-sized Noah’s Ark and creating their own video games, your little ones are sure to have a fun and unforgettable summer break!
Learn about marine life such as the colour-changing cuttlefish or giant Japanese spider crabs at Shanghai Ocean Aquarium. This attraction is said to have the world’s longest underwater tunnel, which is 119m long and with 450 stunning species on display. It’s also the only aquarium in the world with a dedicated section to endangered Chinese marine life.
Find it in: Shanghai, China
Do something meaningful for your summer vacation. Check out International Volunteer HQ, which has programmes in more than 40 destinations across the globe. For instance, you could choose to volunteer as a family at Simeulue Island, Indonesia and play a part in nature conservation. From bird or marine surveys to turtle patrol, your kids will benefit from the fun and educational experience. Accessible via a flight from Jakarta, you could easily work in some city sightseeing as part of your trip.
Find it in: Simeulue Island, Indonesia and various destinations
Make learning fun again with a day camp for your kids. Enrol them in one of the summer programmes by iD Tech where they’ll get to learn about all things techie. From mobile app coding to creating their own video games, each of the innovative and guided courses are sure to inspire creativity. Each course is usually held over a week, and is suitable for kids aged seven to 19.
Find it in: Singapore, London, Hong Kong
Did you know that this summer will be your last chance to scale the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge? After operating for 20 years, the BridgeClimb Sydney is scheduled to wind down operations in September. For an experience unlike any other, book a scenic sunset walk on one of the city’s most striking structures. This is a great opportunity to challenge the kids, while taking in panoramic views of the city from a different vantage point. While you’re at it, remember to catch sight of the famous Sydney Opera House along the way!
Find it in: Sydney, Australia
Said to be the longest man-made structure in the world, the Great Wall of China is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s worth making a trip to as a family. Dating back to 221 BC, the wall was built by China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, as a means to keep out invaders from the northern part of China, making this not only a scenic but also a historically rich trail to embark on. For a path that is not too long or strenuous, pick the popular four-hour hiking route from Jiankou to the fully restored Mutianyu.
Find it in: Beijing, China
What makes the Scottish capital an outstanding place to visit for the summer is its sheer number of artsy festivals. From creative performances at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and photography workshops at the Edinburgh Art Festival, to storytelling at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, this is your chance to introduce arts and culture to your little ones in an entertaining way. Want more ideas? Check out this list on other things to do in Edinburgh.
Find it in: Edinburgh, Scotland
Watch life-like puppets glide smoothly over the water at Hanoi’s traditional water puppet shows. What’s amazing is the perfect execution of puppeteers while being partially submerged in water, a craft that is still kept a secret among the families in the business. Witness this exquisite art form in person and see how they bring each character to life with performances at Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre or Lotus Water Puppet.
Find it in: Hanoi, Vietnam
Head to Lake Geneva in Switzerland and pitch your tents for some outdoor fun in the wild. A great choice for active kids with an adventurous soul, your kids can learn the skills of camping out and bonfire building, while exploring the lake and beyond. As summer is a popular season for camping at Lake Geneva between Lausanne and Vevey, be sure to make your bookings at campsites such as Camping De Vidy-Lausanne in advance for the best view.
Find it in: Geneva, Switzerland
Children familiar with the story of Noah’s Ark will stand in awe of the world’s first full-sized replica of the biblical ship in Ma Wan, Hong Kong. The massive Noah’s Ark is a permanent attraction that has galleries filled with interactive activities as well as nature gardens for a leisurely family stroll. There are also exciting programmes such as the Firefighting Elite Brigade workshop and the Young Astronaut Training Program.
Find it in: Ma Wan, Hong Kong
Have a taste of Korea’s famous strawberries and discover how they are grown indoors in the controlled environment of greenhouses. Well known for their sweetness, pick some to bring home or try making strawberry jams of your own. A 30-minute subway ride from Seoul will take you to Yangpyeong, where you’ll find farms such as Young Farmer Strawberry Farm.
Find it in: Yangpyeong, South Korea
If you’re in Manila and looking for a kid-friendly summer activity, check out Tiny Kitchen Cooking School. Founded by Vicky Veloso-Barrera, this cooking school offers summer classes for as young as four-year-olds. Your kids will get to learn basic cooking techniques, how to make pasta sauces as well as prepare local dishes, desserts and more. You can also have the peace of mind knowing there’s no frying, chopping or sharp knives involved.
Find it in: Manila, Philippines
For an unusual excursion from Bangkok in Thailand, head to AlpacaHill for a petting zoo experience. Get some feeds from the farm and be ready to be approached by the many friendly alpacas in their compounds. But don’t worry, they won’t bite. In fact, they are really gentle. You and your kids will get plenty of photo opportunities with the cute animals! When you’re back in Bangkok, stay in any of our serviced apartments to explore the city’s myriad activities.
Find it in: Suan Phueng, Thailand
Disney fans will appreciate the Alcazar de Segovia. Rebuilt in the 13th and 14th centuries, scale the castle that inspired the design of Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle. Be sure to catch a glimpse of the unique ceiling, with its 392 pineapple-shaped ‘stalactites’ and the Sala de Reyes, where you’ll see 52 sculptures of kings who fought during the 15th century. Visit Segovia from Barcelona via a four-hour train ride or a 1.5-hour plane ride.
Find it in: Segovia, Spain
If you’re in Hanoi and intending to try out the earlier suggestion on our list, you could also consider veering off the city sidewalks and going back to the basics at Sapa, which is just a train or bus ride away. For an authentic and enriching experience, sign up with social enterprises such as the Sapa Sisters or ETHOS, which run tours in partnership with the local ethnic minorities. Your kids will get a hands-on experience as they learn about the techniques of rice planting from villagers and have the chance to come up-close with animals such as water buffalos.
Find it in: Sapa, Vietnam
The recent royal wedding has cast the spotlight on the British royal family again, and what better way to make a history lesson come alive by visiting top royal attractions in London. Start off your itinerary at Buckingham Palace, which became the official royal residence in 1837 during the reign of the first monarch, Queen Victoria. While you’re there, do pay a visit to the Royal Mews as well, as the kids are bound to be fascinated by the carriage horses that serve the queen at various important functions.
Find it in: London, UK
It’s always good to start them early. Have your kids roleplay among at KidZania’s many professions such as firemen, pilots and dentists. Children will get to work and play in this make-believe town where they’ll get a chance to be an adult for once with kidZos (currency). So, sit back, have a laugh and watch them have some good ol’ fun! You’ll find the theme park in 19 different locations around the world, 10 of which you’ll find our properties as well.
Find it in: New Delhi, Tokyo, Jakarta, Seoul, Manila, Singapore, Bangkok, Dubai, London, Kuala Lumpur
At the Children’s Festival at National Gallery Singapore, families will find interactive installations by Singaporean artist Lee Wen as well as works by international artists such as We Make Carpets (the Netherlands), teamLab (Japan) and Mark Justiniani (Philippines). Family art workshops, art packs and guided tours are also part of the festival. Running from now until 9 September, this is a rare opportunity for kids to run wild and engage in active play in a museum.
Find it in: Singapore
A short boat ride away from Perth is Rottnest Island, where you’ll find the happiest animal on Earth – the quokka! Native to the Rottnest Island, quokkas are actually marsupials and one of the smallest wallaby species, so don’t mistake them for rodents. Their almost furless tail and short hind legs make them distinctively different and unique from other wallabies. Some 12,000 quokkas call the island home, and you’ll be charmed by their friendly smiles. Quokkas are trusting by nature so plan your selfies and let them come to you.
Find it in: Rottnest Island, Australia
Ride the Flying Hanuman for an adventure like no other. Located near Phuket’s Kathu waterfall and situated within a thick tropical forest, this treetop adventure course in Phuket has up to 15 ziplines, two sky bridges, two abseils and a skyrail, enough to keep you and your family occupied for the entire day.
Find it in: Phuket, Thailand
There’s no doubt that Potterheads will enjoy the alluring world of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan. Pick your magic wand, roam the classrooms at the Hogwarts Castle, have a taste of the famous Butterbeer at Three Broomsticks or visit the Black Lake (exclusive to the theme park), which is built to look just like how it is described in the books. The excitement begins right from the start as you enter via the Stonehenge-like Stone Circle, which was also featured in the films. While you’re here, spend a few more nights in Osaka and take the chance to check out its other family-friendly attractions.
Find it in: Osaka, Japan
Getting a case of holiday envy as you scroll through your social feed? Now there’s more than one reason to get out and try any of these destinations for your summer holidays. Booked your trip yet?