Visiting national parks is perhaps the best way for parents to make sure that their children possess a love and respect for nature, and few places in the world can rival Southeast Asia for either the quantity or quality of its national parks.
Starting with Vietnam, Ba Be National Park is a favourite and highlight for many visitors. Old and young alike will marvel at the amazing mountain scenery and beautiful lake views. The park also features several beautiful waterfalls to trek to, as well as a few caves to explore, including recently discovered Lo Mo, sure to inspire the kids and make them feel like Indiana Jones as they delve into the unknown depths.
Trekking with the whole family in Ba Be National Park.
However, nothing beats Phong Nha for caves. The largest cave in the world is located here, but is expensive and very difficult to get a permit for. Though you need not fear, as there are several other spectacular caves to visit, like Phong Nha Cave, Paradise Cave and Tien Son Cave. Dark Cave will be especially popular with kids who aren’t scared of the dark, as you get to play around in a shallow mud pool within the darkness of the cave.
While caves are always popular with children, so are animals. Cat Tien is perhaps the Vietnamese National Park most rich in fauna, and the cacophony of mammal and bird sounds every morning hammers this point home. Families will enjoy getting up early to observe a family of gibbons e enjoy their breakfast, or make the trip to the primate and bear rescue centres to watch and learn about the animals being rehabilitated there.
Amazing old-growth forest in Cat Tien.
Climbing trees and imagining that you’re Tarzan, King of the Jungle, is something most of us remember fondly from childhood. In Bokeo Nature Reserve in Laos, parents have the chance to take this memory to the next level for their kids, at the famous Gibbon Experience. Here they can stay for up to a week in a tree house, only accessible via zip-line. As long as the younger members aren’t scared of heights, it’s sure to be one of the most memorable experiences from their childhood.
Pretend to be Tarzan at the Gibbon Experience.
Meanwhile, Preah Monivong National Park, located just outside Kampot in Cambodia, is another great option for families. The park itself is gorgeous of course, but what really makes it stand out amongst its peers is the easily accessible luxury resort located right on the edge of the park, ideal for families looking to experience the nature, but still reside in luxury.
Phnom Kulen National Park, located north of Siem Reap, offers excellent opportunities for swimming in the pools of its many amazing waterfalls.
The gorgeous Erawan Waterfall.
While most of the national parks in Northern Thailand focus on treks and hikes that might be a bit too much for families with young children, Kanchanaburi to the east of Bangkok offers a lovely alternative. Erawan National Park is probably the most popular choice, due to Erawan Waterfall, which flows over seven tiers and is considered the most beautiful waterfall in all of Thailand.
Given it’s rich natural scenery, there are of course dozens if not hundreds more fantastic National Parks that you can include in your itinerary for Southeast Asia, but the above list consists of the ones that offer the most family-friendly and memorable experiences for travellers of all ages.