One of the brilliant things about living in Shanghai is the ease of last-minute weekends away just outside the city
and affordable travel to destinations like Taiwan
. Having a family in tow might mean a little less of the same 'grab a weekend bag and off we go' ethos you might have lived by as your younger self, but it's still important to take a break from first-tier Chinese city life.
The beach paradise country of Thailand is an obvious choice. Romantic hideaways for proposals and weddings as well as cheap huts for backpackers abound. But de-stressing by doing absolutely nothing on an isolated strip of doesn't have the same appeal to an eight year old as it does to a 38 year old, oddly enough.
One long weekend holiday destination for your parents-and-kids radar is beach town Pattaya. About two hours outside of Bangkok's city centre, connections from Suvarnabhumi International Airport via private car or bus are also available and take about one-and-a-half hours. The city of Pattaya has had a bit of a seedy reputation (as foreigner-trafficked destinations in Thailand can have) but if you're going for a full-on getaway, you won't encounter any of that on its sunny and pristine beaches.
Photograph: courtesy Centara Hotels and Resorts
There are plenty of beachside resorts along the coastline here, but for families, Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort Pattaya isn't a bad choice for a long weekend escape. You can let the kids run wild for four or five days throughout the Lost World themed grounds. Spend some time together careening down the waterslides or floating down the lazy river in the on-site water park that the resort is built around, and then let them go at it alone while you slip off to the hotel's Cenvaree spa for a massage and sauna.
Photograph: Cat Nelson
The resort was named the number one family hotel in Thailand and the number four family hotel in Asia in TripAdvisor's 2018 Travelers’ Choice Awards and after a couple of days at the property it makes sense. Kid-focused amenities suit a range of ages, with waterpark entertainment for tots to teens as well as a 'family club' space with a small cinema and playroom. If you want to pack kids off for a couple hours and spend some uninterrupted time on the beach, there's a retro simulator room with video arcade games.
The other guests are largely families, meaning that the kids can run amuck freely, and you can kick back without any of the usual anxiety from anticipating the withering looks of strangers. In fact, family runs through the whole vibe of the place. Family suites at Centara Grand Mirage come with bunk beds in the kid's room, which is a nice playful touch, and there are seven restaurants at the resort meaning that small-sized picky eaters will find something they love to survive on and more adventurous ones can expand their Thai palates.
There's a lot of destinations in the region to check off, but finding good family destinations isn't always the easiest and this one's got all the trappings for a brilliant weekend away,