We hate when we read travel websites that do nothing but rave about how wonderful every destination is. It’s misleading. We want to be honest about our experiences, and we honestly don’t recommend families visit Macau. It is a nice enough place, super new and super clean, and one of the only places in China you can gamble. Unlike Las Vegas, however, it just doesn’t have the same energy and things to do with kids. Unless you want to visit to gamble and play games in the casinos, which are nice and super expensive (more expensive than Las Vegas!), it’s just not on our list of cities to visit with kids.
This is EXCLUSIVE content from our book, How To Travel With Kids (Without Losing Your Mind)
After traveling the world as a family of three for 9 months straight, we had to cover three daily meals and snacks, all on the road. Eating out can get pretty costly, and it can be difficult to stay on budget, especially when visiting different countries. We found ways to keep our food costs in check, that you can use for a vacation of any length.
We cannot rave enough about Shanghai! Actually, we rank Shanghai one of our top five cities in the world. After visiting the more traditional and old-school Beijing, Shanghai was such a change of scenery. The city is very cosmopolitan, like New York City, Mumbai or Tokyo, and incredibly organized. This is a city that wants to be the financial capital of modern Asia and that goal is pretty evident in everything they do.
With a desire to be an international business city comes people from all around the world and from all over China. This means the food in Shanghai is to die for, coming from all the regions of China, as well as around the world! We had some of the best foods we have ever eaten while here. From its beautiful harbor, the energy of the city and its people, the illuminated skyscrapers and, again, the food (we seriously cannot say enough about it), Shanghai should be on everyone’s travel list. This is a city you do not want to miss. Go, now. We mean it!
It’s historical, a culture all its own, and, oh yes, the food is off the charts! Beijing is where the Ming and Qing Dynasties thrived with imperial families ruling for centuries. You’ll find palaces, temples, gorgeous parks, and, of course, various entries to the Great Wall of China. Not only is Beijing’s culture unique in how the country celebrates its spiritual beliefs — they once considered themselves between Heaven and Earth — it is also the center of communism in China and provides travelers with another unique perspective on the world.
Yes, although the language can be a barrier, we also found the people of Beijing to be extremely friendly to families, going out of their way to take care of children. It really is a magical city that everyone should visit.
As one of our top three places in the world, we find China to be one most unique cultural experiences we’ve had as well as an incredible food experience. The Chinese love children and are extremely family-friendly, and at every turn, you will be surrounded by ancient history. We just cannot stress enough that your family should visit China.
But before you visit, you will need to prepare. While China is technologically advanced, it can feel as if you are in a time warp — very few people speak English, you cannot just call a taxi, and all the social media tools, apps and email you typically use, including Uber, are not available to you in China.
From the basics you’ll need to enter the country, which has stricter visa requirements, to some things may be unusual for your family to encounter, here’s how you can prepare for your trip to China.
Dubai is AJ’s hometown; he grew up here! He’s watched the city grow from a sleepy town where there were only a few skyscrapers, and today, it’s astounding how big Dubai is. The mixture of old and new is astounding. You can still see parts of what Dubai had been, combined with this amazing city coming out of nowhere with humongous skyscrapers and the best international cuisine all in one place. (This is one of our top places to eat in the world.) Dubai just wows you! While other cities such as Florencehave a history you can see, Dubai is creating history, and you can be a part of this new city as it thrives and grows.
There is something so magical about Budapest, which is the capital of Hungary. Natasha knew she wanted to visit the Danube River, but she never thought the city would be as beautiful as this. Although Hungary is a part of Europe, it was occupied by the Mongols in the 13th century, which translates into country’s look and culture being slightly separate from the rest of Europe. Resting on the Danube River, the city was actually two separate cities: Buda and Pest. When they united, they became the full city you can explore today, and the tourism folks like to say you have one city with two personalities.
When people think of visiting a Croatian city, they often think of picturesque Dubrovnik, where “Game of Thrones” was filmed. We decided to visit the capital city of Zagreb instead, and it is such a cool, energetic city that we would go back in a heartbeat. Although the country is old, its democracy is young, and the people of Zagreb have such an excited and hopeful energy – you can feel it as you walk around. It reminds of our hometown of Charlotte because it’s filled with new businesses, restaurants and growth. It’s also very family-friendly and children are everywhere.
Why The 2 Idiots recommend driving from Zagreb to Budapest?
Less than four hours apart, there is a lot to see between the quaint and historic Croatian Zagreb and Hungary’s capital of Budapest. Oftentimes, train or plane travel will have you missing some of a country’s most beautiful sites, and with such a short drive, we found spending a full day exploring gave us a chance to check out the ancient city of Varazdin and sampled a traditional Hungarian thermal spa in Heviz, Hungary. Both aren’t on-the-radar spots of Americans, and we would have missed them if we didn’t take the driving route.
Why The 2 Idiots recommend visiting Slovenia’s Postojna Caves?
We discovered the Postojna Caves simply because we were visiting Croatia and rented a car to drive between PorecandZagreb, Croatia. There are two paths to get there: one that drove through Croatia and the other that took a little longer but went through Slovenia. We took that path because we wanted to visit another country. We had no idea what was out there and luckily discovered these cool caves in the town of Postojna, Slovenia.