This is the second part of a three-part feature. For part 1 (cities), click here.
Trekking and Hiking in Myanmar
Suitable for: Ages 8+
Flight duration: Six hours to Bangkok, followed by a 40-minute domestic flight to Myanmar’s Heho Airport
Visa information: Tourist visas required in advance or on arrival; e-visas are available for certain nationalities (check www.evisa.moip.gov.mm for details).
Recommended vaccinations: Malaria, hepatitis A and B, Japanese encephalitis, and typhoid
Myanmar’s turbulent history means that the country has only started opening up to tourism in the past few years. Virtually untouched by modern-day excesses, the country’s allure lies in its unspoiled landscapes, colorful festivals, and breathtaking temples. The most famous attraction is Bagan, but nature lovers will also enjoy Golden Rock, Ngapali Beach, Mandalay, Yangon, and Shan State.
In particular, the areas around the towns of Kalaw and Pindaya in Shan State are famed for their trekking and hiking. A popular route goes from Kalaw to Inle Lake, taking three days and two nights; the journey is suitable for active older kids. There are pit stops at nearly eight villages, affording beautiful views of the Shan Hills.
Accommodation is mainly at monasteries or local homes with very basic facilities. The two major communities that travelers will encounter are the Palaung – thought to be earliest inhabitants of Myanmar – and the Intha, who live by Inle Lake. A guide is highly recommended; if the kids are too tired to walk, transportation can be promptly arranged by motorcycle or truck.
Be sure to try the country’s famed tea salad, which contains shredded tea leaves, fresh beans, crunchy dried beans, garlic, and tomatoes in a peanut-based dressing. Mohinga, the unofficial national dish of Myanmar, consists of round rice noodles in a hearty, herbal fish-and-shallot-based broth, with additional toppings.
Skiing in South Korea
Suitable for: Ages 6+
Flight duration: Two hours
Visa information: Most nationalities can stay visa-free for 30 to 180 days (see www.mofa.go.kr/eng for details).
Recommended vaccinations: Hepatitis A and typhoid
Future host of the 2018 Winter Olympics, three quarters of South Korea is covered by mountains. Its close proximity to Beijing makes it an ideal destination for skiing enthusiasts over the short Spring Festival holiday. There are numerous ski resorts in the town of Pyeongchang that offer both real and artificial snow.
The biggest and most famous ski resort, Yongpyong, is located 200km east of Seoul (about three hours’ drive) and rises from 700m to 1,458m above sea level. Yongpyong experiences an average of 250cm of snow annually, providing ample cushion for any falls. The resort has 31 slopes (including two half-pipes), 14 lifts (including a 3.7km cable car), rental shops with over 3,000 sets of skis and snowboards, a 15km cross-country trail, and overnight accommodations.
Yongpyong has three world-standard ski slopes for advanced skiers. For beginners and children, there are plenty of gentler slopes. The resort is home to South Korea’s largest ski house, Dragon Plaza. Other facilities include a children’s playroom, bowling alley, games room, karaoke rooms, and an indoor driving range.
As for food, be sure to try galbi, often mistakenly referred to as “Korean barbecue.” The latter is beef or pork short ribs marinated in ganjang (Korean soy sauce), and can be enjoyed with or without spice.
Cycling in Cambodia
Suitable for: Ages 10+
Flight duration: No direct flights from Beijing. It’s six hours to
Bangkok, then another 45-minute flight to Siem Reap.
Visa information: Visas in advance on arrival required, e-visas available for select countries (see www.evisa.gov.kh for details).
Recommended vaccinations: Malaria, hepatitis A and B, Japanese Encephalitis, and typhoid
Though its history is marked by decades of civil unrest, modern-day Cambodia boasts a booming tourism industry buoyed by its stunning landscapes and rich culture. Built over 600 years ago, the world-famous Angkor Wat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the world’s largest religious structure, and is still in use today.
Cycling is one of the best ways to see the Siem Reap region, where the terrain is relatively flat. You can also rent a vehicle for longer distances.
Divide your visit to Siem Reap into two days. On the first day, start at the east gate and tour Banteay Samré, East Baray, and Srah Sang. On the second day, start at the west gate and head to Bayon Temple and its “face towers,” Ta Nei, Takeo, and Ta Phrom’s silk-cotton trees. This itinerary totals around 25km by bike, plus another five hours for exploring the sites.
One of the world’s oldest cuisines, Khmer cooking is characterized by its simplicity, freshness and mild spiciness. Fans of Thai food will find familiar curry dishes with less of a kick, such as Khmer red curry with beef, chicken or fish, eggplant, green beans, potatoes, fresh coconut milk, lemongrass and kroeung (a type of curry paste). A common breakfast dish, bai sach chrouk (“pork and rice”) consists of slow-grilled pork slices often marinated in coconut milk, accompanied by sides such as pickled cucumbers, daikon radish with ginger, and chicken broth with fried onions.
This article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of beijingkids. To view it online for free, click here. To find out how you can obtain your own copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos: Courtesy of Kyle Taylor, Eddy, Mark Fischer (Flickr), WIKIMEDIA COMMONS