Overall wrap up of our 7 weeks in SE Asia
We ended up going to 5 countries and stayed in 14 different towns/cities… omg!! When I read that, I am quite impressed that we did all that with a toddler and a baby. However, the reality is that it really wasn’t that hard or anything to be impressed about. It wasn’t really that much different to normal life in many ways, we just got to live normal life in awesome places doing far more awesome things than normal.
Enjoying dinner in Boracay, Philippines on Z’s first birthday
Our favourite destination?
Such a hard question to answer!! Our favourite destination of this trip would be Boracay, closely followed by Taipei and Kuala Lumpur.
The only places we didn’t like were Ayutthaya (good for a day trip, but I wouldn’t stay over) and Manila.
Our overall impressions of the countries we visited
I actually loved visiting all the countries we went to. I guess it shows that all my hours/days/weeks/months of research paid off! Malaysia was very kid friendly, easy, modern and with lots of great attractions. I could say exactly the same thing about Singapore.
The night market in Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur
We love Thailand, and it has been one of our favourite countries previously, but I didn’t enjoy it as much with kids. There was difficulties getting around where we went, that I feel limited us a bit. It was still great, and I recommend it, but it’s frustrating being somewhere that we can’t really use a pram, and in Bangkok, this frustration was compounded by all the traffic and how long it took to get anywhere in a taxi.
We loved the Philippines, mainly because it was somewhere quite different to the rest, that we haven’t visited previously. It was fun, surprisingly straight forward to travel around with all 4 of us, and a lot of people spoke English. It is a great place to go for beach resorts/breaks. It also was not somewhere pram friendly, but it was so cheap and easy to get around in taxis that this didn’t bother us, although we really didn’t have that much we wanted to do but sit back, relax and soak in the country, so that made things easy.
This is getting repetitive but we also loved Taiwan. I think the thing that will always stand out for me about Taipei is the food – omg just so so good. It really was delicious, and I can’t think about Taiwan without my mouth watering. I would love to see more of this place sometime, I will just pick a better time of year and wait until the kids are a bit older as these two things were negatives for us with our time here. Otherwise, it is a very modern, easy to get around, country to visit.
Most kid friendly destination?
Overall, I would say Malaysia or Singapore. Singapore would win as long as you have a big budget to go with it. Otherwise, Malaysia was great with kids and also very wallet friendly.
Both places had the baby gear we needed, we could get around with the kids fine, and they have a lot of attractions for families. We also received lots of compliments about our kids in Malaysia, and people were all eager to entertain them. Foreigners are much much more common in Singapore, so special attention was rare. It was nice to feel a bit more anonymous for awhile.
Thais were also wonderful to our kids. There are some great family attractions here too, although they weren’t all our thing. The main problem here was just that we struggled a bit to get around with the four of us, as it wasn’t pram friendly and taxis were painfully slow in Bangkok. I felt it kind of limited what we were able to do, as leaving our immediate area meant dealing with a lot of pain from the kids. They had an ok range of baby items, but we weren’t able to find nappies big enough for a big toddler.
Enjoying the beach on Boracay for Z’s first birthday
Our kids were also loved in the Philippines – perhaps too much!! The massive amount of attention that S’s red hair got did get a bit overwhelming at times. The main problem here would also be the accessibility issues. We basically didn’t even bother trying to use our pram here. We also had issues with big baby products here.
Taiwan is very kid friendly in some aspects – I love how disabled bathrooms are also set up for parents with babies and toddlers, there are many “nursing stations” and prams are not a problem. It is just a shame that we feel like our kids basically acting their age was not well tolerated, although it was no worse than how things are in Australia (except people probably wouldn’t laugh openly at your tantruming toddler!!).
What would we do different?
I actually can’t think of anything… which seems weird! Apart from go for longer, but that really wasn’t a viable option, so I guess I wouldn’t change that either! I would probably recommend Singapore for the beginning of a trip to these countries, rather than the end, as then it probably wouldn’t have seemed so pricey. Taiwan is probably better at the end of the trip as it ruined us for food everywhere else!!
It was actually a really great length of time to go away for. It wasn’t so long that we got sick of it or got over sight seeing (like I have felt on longer trips in the past). However, I was feeling tired by the end of it, and if we had planned to go away for longer, at that point I definitely would have headed somewhere and rented an apartment where we could have lived a more “normal” life for a few weeks.
My two top challenges would be food for Z, and toilet for S. We couldn’t always feed Z how we would like, and it was frustrating having him eat off table tops (as he wouldn’t use a bowl or plate, although this did improve as the trip progressed). Apart from the fact that big nappies were hard to find, it would have been far easier if S hadn’t been toilet trained yet, as she still wasn’t perfect and we couldn’t get her to proactively go to the toilet, so this could be stressful.
Eating outside helped to minimise the mess to clean up!
It is hard to say as soooo many places I want to go. We can’t make any firm plans until J gets a job, but we are hoping for another trip at the end of this year. For the time being, I have to finish my teaching diploma, and J needs to get us some more money! Now that flying with the kids doesn’t bother us, we are hoping it might be further afield (like Europe or our beloved Argentina), but Asia is just so cheap, easy and wonderful, that it may be back there again. What I do know, is that there will definitely be a next time in the not too distant future and the only thing that will hold us back now is money.
Added later – we ended up heading to the USA and Caribbean for 10 weeks at the end of the year!
A special thank you
Before I finish writing about this trip, I have to acknowledge two very important women in my life who made this trip possible: my grandma and my mum.
My grandma and her partner, Harold, who also passed away in 2011, at our wedding in 2009
My grandma passed away suddenly in October 2011, when I was pregnant with Z. I miss her a lot, and we even named Z’s middle name after my grandmother (Lucas, it was her surname).
My grandma was all about living life. She travelled often, and her and grandpa are no doubt where I get my travel gene from. She spent her money on experiences rather than things, so when my mum kindly passed on the small amount of money that grandma had left behind to me and my siblings, it seemed perfect that we used our share on a trip. A week or so later, a big Air Asia sale came out and that is when we bought our tickets to Kuala Lumpur. It is sad that it took this horrible event to make this trip happen, but I am also glad that something good came out of it, and I’d like to think she is somewhere looking down on us, taking pride that she was able to make this happen for us. I miss you, grandma.
Now to deal with getting back to “normal” life. Except it still isn’t that normal as J doesn’t have a job, and I’m about to have to spend two weeks on school placement for my teaching course, so it’s all a bit stressful at the moment. I look forward to life returning to normal in a few weeks time when hopefully J has a job, and I’ve survived my latest experience of teaching teenagers!!
You may also like:
- How much did our trip to Asia cost?
- The painful journey to the Philippines (thanks to a silly stuff up)
- Our Guide to Things to do in Johor Bahru for an Awesome Vacation
- Top Things to do in Boracay with Kids
- Top 10 Things to do in Southeast Asia with Kids