Traveling internationally together has created many special moments and memories for me and my three kids, 18, 16 and 14 years old. So, when we had the chance to go to Southeast Asia, we wanted to experience as much of this far away, mysterious region as we could.
We started our journey in Siem Reap, Cambodia. We stayed at Jaya House River Park, which was a small, beautiful boutique property. It felt like an oasis in the middle of a developing country.
Our first day there we got out on the water to visit one of the less visited floating villages in the area. It was fascinating to see how people navigate day-to-day when their homes are literally rising above the water level. After a great lunch at a local’s house, we visited several of the iconic temples, including Ta Prohm, Ta Keo, Thommanon and ChauSay Thevoda temples.
The next day we continued on to the renown Angkor Wat temple (the largest in the world) and its massive surrounding area of temples and monuments. We chose to do this day as a full-day cycling tour. It was a great way to do it as a family with teenage kids – it kept us active and gave us things to see and do in between all the temples.
After our time in Siem Reap, we flew to Bangkok, Thailand. It’s an interesting place indeed, where centuries old palaces and towering Buddha statues sit amidst a bustling, metropolitan city. We marveled at some of the must-see sights, including the Grand Palace (home of the Emerald Buddha) and Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha).
Our second day in Bangkok took us out to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. It was truly a step back in time. Merchants paddle around canals in wooden canoes filled with fresh fruit, vegetables and more. That night was a highlight as we did a midnight food tour by tuk tuk. We cruised along Bangkok’s streets stopping at various street foods where we sampled Pad Thai, Khao Mun Gai and much more. It was a really fun, unique experience for all of us.
After a couple days in Bangkok we headed north to Chiang Mai. Our first activity together? A Thai Cooking Class. This has now become a tradition for us when we travel. Even the kids love learning about different foods, the fresh ingredients and how to prepare them.
The highest of highlights for all of us definitely came during our day at the Mahout Training Program at Maesa Elephant Camp. This camp, unlike some others, has dedicated their knowledge and expertise to help increase the number of elephants throughout Thailand. As part of the educational part of our day, we went through the training program (which included bathing them), road them to lunch and a visit to a small village, and then enjoyed them performing and interacting with visitors. The kids played the elephants in darts and we took home several painted masterpieces – original works of art by our elephant friends.
Before heading home, we ended our time in Thailand with some peaceful beach time. We stayed at a stunning property right on the water (Kanda Residence Samui). We relished the time to recoup, relax and spend time doing water activities – the kids loved the jetpack experience.
To help break up the flight home, we stopped in Dubai for a couple nights just to see what the hype is with this notorious city. We loved it. There’s no doubt it’s a bit over-the-top and opulent, but the experiences we had there were unique and memorable. We visited the Old Town, Gold, Silver and Spice Markets, did the indoor skiing experience and even did a desert safari where we saw antelope, birds and a falconry show. We rode camels to dinner one night and soaked in all the variety this buzz-worthy region has to offer.
I feel like we covered a lot of ground during our 17-day Southeast Asia adventure, but there’s so much to do and see. And, we could have done more!
I relish the time traveling with my kids. Exposing them to other cultures, people and landscapes is a gift I can give them. Spending time together is a gift they’re giving me!
Interested in exploring travel to Southeast Asia? Email LindaB@PiqueTravel.com.