Where You May Want To Go Instead Of A Museum On Your Next Trip

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Dream World amusement park in Bangkok, Thailand.
Playing cards outside the “Haunted Mansion” at Dream World, Bangkok’s version of Disneyland.

Local Amusement Parks Provide A Local Experience

I wrote the other day about our visit to a couple of amusement parks in Colombia where we found two old converted Boeing 727 aircraft which had been converted into attractions. The truth is, I am a firm believer of visiting amusement parks and other local places of recreation when traveling as a family.

Perhaps the first places you think about when hearing that statement are Disney & Universal. I assure you that I am not talking about parks like those at all. Instead, I am talking about the small local parks that can be found just about everywhere in the world.

Here are some of the major reasons you should visit local amusement parks based on our experiences.

Get Away From The Tourists

Happy Valley Shenzhen China.
Two local girls at Happy Valley in Shenzhen, China were happy to practice their English with us!

The single greatest reason to visit amusement parks while traveling is that most of the time you won’t find other tourists. Sure places like Disney or other large parks might draw a few foreigners, but get outside of those places and you will find yourself amongst the locals!

Most of us travel to see different cultures and experience what they have to offer. Unfortunately with globalization, this is becoming increasingly difficult. Want to go to that popular tourist destination? So do a million other people. That means the locals stay home. They do visit their local amusement park though.

We have had some amazing experiences at small parks in places like Vietnam and China where people treated us wonderfully despite no one speaking English.

Children Need A Break

Local amusement park in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam.
Feeding crocodiles at Dam Sen Park in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Sure visiting old war monuments and the Reunification Palace in Saigon is fun for adults, but children just don’t see it quite the same way. Break up those sites with a ride on a roller coaster or feeding crocodiles in the city’s main amusement park. (See photo above!)

The fact is children don’t enjoy the same things that we do. They can only take so many museums before they lose their patience. The actual truth is that you are probably the same way. I guarantee a trip to a local amusement or water park will be just the break that you need.

It Is Fun

Jardin d'Acclimatation amusement park in Paris, France.
Taking a break from the Louvre and other fantastic museums of Paris to have some fun at Jardin d’Acclimatation.

Travel is all about fun. Breaking up a trip with a day of pure fun can make or break it. Sure you can sit by a fancy hotel pool isolated from the locals, but is that why you go on an airplane to fly halfway around the world? Instead of isolating, venture out to the places that the locals go for recreation. It will be a lot of fun and I guarantee you won’t regret it.

Ok so perhaps you aren’t a big fan of rides or amusement parks in general. At the very least the people watching will be worth it. Remember in some places you will be as much of an attraction as the rides. This causes funny things to happen. Sit back and enjoy, since the locals don’t often see foreigners visiting their parks and their reactions will be fascinating.

Safety

Fantasilandia amusement park Santiago, Chile.
Having fun with the safety signs at Fantasilandia in Santiago, Chile.

I know many people may have concerns about safety of rides in other countries. All I can say to this fear is to use common sense. Most countries have the same oversights that we have in the United States. We have visited parks in well over 30 countries and have never felt unsafe with the exception of one place in China. If it doesn’t look or feel safe, then don’t ride. I guarantee you won’t run into that problem often though.

Remember that the locals want to be safe as much as you do. For that reason, they usually won’t frequent a place that is unsafe. Just like when choosing where to eat while traveling, if I see that a place is abandoned, then I may think twice about visiting. On the flip side, if it is frequented by the locals, then it is a good sign that things are probably pretty safe and a lot of FUN!

Conclusion

I talk to traveling parents all of the time and they are always looking for ways to occupy their kids. Break up museums and other historical sites with local amusements or other recreational activities and I guarantee both you and the kids will be happy!


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