Apr 18, 2012

7 Must-Visit Playgrounds in Southeast Asia

A rare sight sometimes in SEA

Aside from the typical list of things to see in Asia, if you are traveling (or thinking about traveling) with children under 10 years of age, chances are at some point you’ll be desperate for a great outdoor playground.  This was a major theme during our travels with our 2 pre-schoolers in tow as we travelled through 9 countries in SEA last year.   Visits to ancient temples, breath-taking beaches, bustling markets, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, not to mention the countless hours spent on buses, trains, and planes were no match for the pleasure that swings and monkey bars could offer our kids!   But sadly the notion of play is not as readily indulged in developing countries where poverty and survival are the over-riding themes for children and their families.  While fun, well-maintained purpose-built outdoor play spaces were rare luxuries, we did come across a few gems that we’d highly recommend for a visit if you happen to find yourselves in the area—the kiddies would be happy!

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Tucked in a pocket of the KLCC Park located at rear of the Suria KLCC Centre which includes the world-famous Petronas Towers, you will find this large free purpose-built play ground, complete with well-maintained powder coated equipment and numerous sets of swings.  There’s also an adjoining water park for the kiddies only, which is also free.  This is probably our favourite park in SEA—it’s terrific!  

As you exit the shopping centre, follow the fountain around to the left hand side, past the bridge.  The water park is closed on Mondays.  Be sure to stay off the grassy areas though, or you risk being 'whistled' at by the security!

Bangkok, Thailand

Amidst the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, Lumpini Park is a real haven.  And within its more than 500,000 square metres of green space, exists a terrific playground area for the kids.  There’s even a clean set of restrooms nearby as well as a water fountain too.

A nice respite from the hustle and bustle.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Between its poverty and the near annihilation of its people by the Khmer Rouge, finding a proper playground in Cambodia was near unheard of.  That is, until we came to Phnom Penh.  Located at the base of Wat Phnom Park near the Riverfront, this well appointed play ground gets busy in the late afternoon when the kids finish from their day at school.

One of the few playgrounds we found in Cambodia--and it was a good one too!

Candikuning (Bali), Indonesia

Despite the wonderful tropical scenery, the lush flora and fauna, the plentiful beaches and the historic temples and architecture, finding a good ol’playground was near impossible during our time in Bali.  Then unexpectedly as we were driving along on the south eastern side of the island outside of Candikuning, we came across it.  The equipment was not as well maintained as it should have been, but it was still a great place for a much needed play, complete with giant swing and a trampoline.  

Candikuning is located approximately 90minute drive from Kuta.  This park was located on the main highway just past the market before you descend towards the lake.

Hong Kong, China

Surprisingly (or maybe not so much given its massive urbanisation) we found lots of really good playgrounds throughout the residential areas of Hong Kong, particularly in the mid-levels of Kowloon and even on The Peak.  Most of them serve as the neighbourhood play space for the children of the surrounding high rise apartments.  But the fairly new playground set in the Kowloon City Park was the primo of the bunch, complete with commercial quality ‘Little Tikes’ equipment from the USA. 

Manila, Philippines

The Children’s Playground located within the historic Rizal Park in central Manila was a welcome sight for our children and not to be missed!  It was recently renovated with the help of the architectural students of the university and clearly strives to stimulate the imagination of all who enter.  Giant dinosaurs, cubby houses within huge shoes, slides in a kaleidoscope of colours and swings a plenty can all be found, together with a snack bar, cafĂ© tables and restrooms, behind a secure perimeter fence which shields the young ones from the nearby traffic and from running off.  

There is a nominal entrance fee to enter this park, and there is only 1 entrance point.

The newly renovated Children's Park at Rizal Park.

Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is another country struggling with both rebuilding after their recent war, as well as with their poverty level.  Not surprisingly, playgrounds are hard to come by.  The Children’s Park in Nuwara Eliya was one of the few that we came across during our 30 days in the country.  While the equipment was poorly maintained, it was still nice for the kids to be able to run about freely on grass.  The botanical gardens within which the playground is locate is well worth a visit too.    

There is a nominal entrance fee for the botanical gardens.

About as good as you are going to get in Sri Lanka for a playground.

And if you happen to be in India...
Margo, (Goa) India
In the 3 months that we spent traveling throughout southern India, we only came across a handful of playgrounds.  Sadly in most cases, they were barely functional, with broken swings and slides.  The best one worth a mention is the one located in the Municipal Park in the transport hub city of Margo in the state of Goa.  Luckily there are many amusement parks to be found in India, to the delight of the children (more on this in a later post).

Note that this playground is only open after 5pm.

These are our top picks for each of these countries, although there were runners-up in a few cases too, while in others, it was literally the only playground we found in our entire time in the country!

Unfortunately we never came across any 'traditional' playgrounds (ie not amusement parks) in Vietnam that were worth a mention, although there were lots of other activities for young children available.

Do you have any favourite playgrounds in SEA that you'd like to share?  Give us the details in the comments section!


  1. Great post! We went to the KLCC one thanks to your guidance last year. Yesterday the kids were in a pkayground on the .European side of the Bosphorus overlooking the Asia. Pretty cool! The only decent playground I know in southern India is in Kottayam. Its the only one there so I'm nit sure of the name. But you are right, there us a severe lack of them in India.

    1. Ahh--Turkey is a place that we'd love to return to someday soon (hopefully the kids won't be too old for playgrounds by then!)!

      We did find lots of amusement parks in southern India and usually there were playgrounds within them, but we didn't include them I didn't feel it fit with the spirit of this post--that is, being free or almost free playgrounds!

      Overall, the KLCC one was probably the best that we found--thanks to friends at Our Travel Lifestyle for their recommendation on it (although it did take us 2 tries before we eventually found it!).

  2. Hey great recommendations guys - such a useful post! We are all over a playground if we find one when travelling with our three-year-old.

    1. Hi
      Yes, I think sooner or later all families traveling with young kids look forward to a good playground. Trouble is, in SEA, the good ones are few and far between!

      Thanks for stopping by, Natasha.

  3. Hi there,
    I found your blog when searching for Sri Lanka information last year. We went there for 2 weeks with our kids, 6, 4 and 1. I was born and raised in south India but live in California now with my English husband. I've really enjoyed all of your travel posts and your numbers posts in the end. So thank you so much for inspiring families with young kids to take the plunge and travel!!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read us and to leave a comment :)

  4. What a great selection of parks. I especially like the Rizwal one. My son would love it!

    1. Thanks Spencer! The Rizal Park Children's Playground was very unique and fun indeed--they've done a wonderful job with it.

  5. Your writings are very good.Very interesting and informative article. Thanks for sharing.I like to read more article like this.Petter Joe

    1. Thanks for your feedback! I'll have a similar post coming soon about our picks for family beach destinations--stay tuned :)

    2. Really? That will be great!!!

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