The following article was written by Tom Mcloughlin. Read more about Tom in the author’s bio at the bottom of this post.
There are literally thousands of wonderful locations for a family holiday, but these are three of the more off-beat ones. They may not be as well-known or popular as some countries, however New Zealand, Thailand and Portugal are three of the most picturesque and intriguing destinations for a family getaway.
New Zealand is divided into two islands, known as the North Island and South Island and features 9,000 miles of coastline. The most popular cities to visit are Hamilton, Christchurch, Auckland and the capital of Wellington. The nation is also home to numerous smaller islands such as the Chatham Islands, Sewart Island/Rakiura, the Cook Islands, and Niue.
New Zealand itself is located about 1200 miles to the southeast of Australia and there’s a lot of British influence in the country of just over four million people as it was tied politically to the UK until gaining independence in 1947. The climate is mild and temperate; meaning it rarely falls below freezing and doesn’t get much hotter than about 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
New Zealand has a varied and dramatic landscape that makes it popular with visitors who are looking for intriguing scenery. The best way to explore this amazing country is to hire a camper van out of Auckland (I recommend checking out SpaceShipRentals.co.nz), or Christchurch and explore at your own leisure. The snow-capped Southern Alps contain 18 peaks that are over 9,800 feet in height.
The South Island also features forests in the Kahurangi and several national parks, while Fiordland is a region of high mountains and steep fjords. The North Island isn’t as mountainous, but is home to the Taupo volcanic zone as well as the Lake Taupo, the country’s largest lake.
New Zealand has also been influenced culturally by Polynesia, America, Asia, and Australia, and is home to the world’s largest Polynesian festival named Pasifika. The Maori culture is strong with its architecture as well as traditional arts such as song and dance, weaving, carving, and outrigger canoe racing. Extreme sports and adventure tourism are also quite popular, especially with mountain climbers.
Thailand’s popularity as a holiday destination is ever-increasing; this is mainly due to its weather, food, culture, history, shopping, scenery, beaches and people. For family holidays, Thailand is also gaining a great reputation.
There are however parts of Thailand that are just as hospitable as the touristy cities but have remained relatively untouched and unspoiled. If you’d like to relax on the beach or a tropical island, there are plenty of them to choose from such as Phuket, Ko Mak, Surin National Park, the Ko Tarutao National Marine Park, in the Andaman Sea and the Ko Chang National Marine Park which sits near the Cambodian border.
These islands feature sandy beaches, lush green rain forests, fascinating animal life, mountain peaks, coral reefs, and waterfalls. You’ll be able to enjoy activities such as snorkeling, diving, game fishing, and hiking while avoiding the tourist traps. These are fine spots for those who enjoy tranquility while relaxing and enjoying natural beauty.
Another popular location is Chiang Mai where you’ll be able to ride and bathe elephants at the Elephant Nature Park if you’re looking for something a little different.
And of course, no trip to Thailand would be complete without a visit to the capital city of Bangkok where you’ll be able to soak in the local culture and learn about the nation’s storied history. There are plenty of temples and shrines to keep you busy as well as local markets and scenic Chap Phraya River.
There are hundreds of beautiful family friendly locations to visit in sunny Portugal including cosmopolitan cities, Atlantic seaside resorts and quaint fishing villages. Try searching babyfriendlyboltholes.co.uk for the best child friendly destinations in the country.
Some of the most scenic destinations include the capital city of Lisbon, Oporto, Obidos, and the Algarve region in the south where you’ll find some gorgeous spots such as Praia da Rocha, Sagres, Faro, and Portimao.
Portugal is a haven for visitors who hope to take in some spectacular scenery, enjoy a rich and historic culture and perhaps get a few rounds of golf in at one of the many world-class courses. Portugal is certainly one of the world’s most picturesque spots and many visitors prefer to spend as much time outdoors as they possibly can.
This makes activities such as hiking, camping, boating, biking, swimming and surfing quite popular and visitors will find approximately 200 supervised campgrounds to choose from.
Of course, you can also travel in style and bed down at one of the country’s numerous old castles. Other must-see locations include Sintra, and the lush Douro Valley and a visit wouldn’t be the same without tasting the local delicacies and famous Port wine.
Tom Mcloughlin is the blogger behind Backpackerboy.com which chronicles his travels around the world, along with tips and advice on how to travel on a budget. You can follow him on Twitter for his latest updates and recommendations.