Ask an expert: Family adventure in Southeast Asia

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Each week, Flight Centre's team of experts answers your travel questions

I just started scuba diving. What's the best Pacific Island country for that? Budget is key. - Chris

Taahia Hurihanganui, from Flight Centre Panama St, Wellington has travelled to the Cook Islands many times. She shares her recommendations for travelling there.

Rarotonga is my favourite Pacific Island, with its relaxed holiday atmosphere, beautiful beaches, affordable accommodation and a range of things to do - it ticks all of the boxes.

Only a few hours' flight time from New Zealand, Rarotonga is a popular destination for all types of travellers. There are self-contained bungalows, such as the Puaikura Reef Lodges, accommodation for the budget-conscious traveller, like the Puaikura Reef Lodges, adult-only villas and resorts, such as the Crown Beach Resort and Spa, and plenty of family-friendly hotels.

I recommend making the most of the warm temperatures and clear waters by kayaking around the lagoons and snorkelling.

There are also a number of dive operators on the island, all catering for experienced and beginner divers.

There are about 35 dive sites around the island so if you're lucky enough you'll get to see moray eels, reef sharks, turtles, rays, shipwrecks, and even whales if you're there at the right time of year. It really is a diver's heaven.

If you want to keep to a budget while holidaying, make a trip to the Punanga Nui markets, where you can browse around the stalls and taste the local food, while being among the friendly locals.

Make sure you try the local beer, matutu. The makers use a traditional technique for their mai (lager) and kiva (pale ale), with each bottle and brew made to order and free tastings galore.

I also recommend feeding the fish from the deck at the Rarotongan Beach Resort, watching a coconut husking demonstration, and going to a cultural evening at one of the island nights - my picks are Highland Paradise or Te Vara Nui.


I've been thinking of taking my children, aged 8, 5 and 4, to Southeast Asia. They love swimming and seeing exotic animals. Can you recommend a family-friendly trip of seven to 10 days? - D Hawkes

Jim Cato-Symonds, from Flight Centre Ponsonby, shares his recommendations for travelling to Southeast Asia with your family.

Southeast Asia is a perfect destination for a family holiday, with plenty of sunshine and culture on offer.

Thailand is a great choice and there are options to suit all budgets. In particular I would recommend travelling to southern Thailand and the areas of Koh Samui, Phuket and Pattaya.

Koh Samui is a great spot just off the southeast coast and is the perfect destination if you're looking for a combination of activities and beautiful beaches.

There is a range of excellent snorkelling spots, jungle walks with plenty of bird life and a tiger zoo which is bound to keep the kids entertained.

Phuket and Pattaya are also very popular choices, with plenty of child-friendly activities. A personal favourite of mine is the elephant sanctuary.

Thailand is also popular with families because many of the main resorts have fantastic kids' clubs on offer. This is a perfect solution for parents who want some rest and relaxation on their holiday while not having to worry about the kids being entertained. There is a range to choose from so make sure you talk to you an expert to find the perfect option for your family.

I would also recommend combining a family tour into your holiday. There is a range of fantastic tours designed specifically for families and they can include everything from charity visits to homestays, combined with all the main attractions that Thailand has to offer.

Intrepid has some great options that will keep the whole family entertained, while removing some of the stress of planning your itinerary.

No matter where you decide to spend your holiday you're guaranteed to have a great time in Thailand.


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Flight Centre has return airfares from Auckland to Rarotonga and six nights' accommodation with late checkout, wireless internet and return airport transfers from $799 each, twin-share. Valid for sales until September 22, unless sold out earlier. Travel from February 4 to April 14 and May 10 to June 14.

Flight Centre has Bangkok holidays, including return airfares and four nights' four-star accommodation with buffet breakfasts from $1609 each, twin-share, from Auckland and $1789 from Wellington and Christchurch. Valid for sales until September 23, unless sold out. Travel from October 18 to 28.

- NZ Herald

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