“Lord of the Rings” movie sets, ninjas, and forbidden cities…the family tours we’ve sprinkled on this page make me want to pack my bags, grab my daughters and husband, and jump on a plane to far-off lands.
swain destinations’ middle earth and beyond
“The Lord of the Rings” comes alive in Swain Destinations’ 10-night tour of New Zealand that takes in both North and South islands, with one night in Auckland, two nights in Rotorua, two nights in Wellington, three nights in Queenstown, and two nights in Christchurch. The tour starts off with a visit to a sheep farm, but it won’t be shepherds your clients will be looking out for, as the farm is home to myriad structures created for “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” films. Other highlights movie fans will be able to brag about when they get back home? A Middle Earth in Wellington Experience, a Lord of the Rings Edoras Tour, and a Safari of the Scenes tour featuring movie scenery, which actually has guests hopping on safari-equipped 4WD vehicles for an off-road adventure. One of the most thrilling experiences on the tour, however, is the Dart River Wilderness Safari, a 90-minute jet boat tour that journeys along the Dart River, with snow-covered peaks, hidden valleys and waterfalls guiding the way. Of course, it’s not all about the “Lord of the Rings,” as clients also have many opportunities to immerse themselves in New Zealand’s inimitable culture and stare dumbfounded at its dramatic landscapes. This cinematic-focused journey is priced from $5,650 through December.
family fun in china with asian vistas
China lures U.S. families looking to explore a unique destination that is far removed from their everyday life. Asian Vistas, under the IsramWorld umbrella, delivers a truly immersive 12-day Family Fun China itinerary that rolls out the red carpet from Beijing to Xian, Chengdu, Guilin, and Shanghai (clients can add a 3-day extension to Hong Kong). In Beijing, kids will get a thrill while ascending the cable car, viewing the Great Wall, and riding in an old-fashioned rickshaw through the narrow streets of Hutong. They’ll love staring menacingly at the Terra Cotta Army and hanging out with locals in a tea house in Xian. In Chengdu, there are adorable pandas and ancient Buddha statues to admire, while in Guilin, there are caves to explore, as well as time for sailing on the Li River. Rounding up the itinerary is the dizzying frenzy known as Shanghai, where acrobatic shows, and palace and garden visits are some of the treats families will enjoy. From Nov. 24 to Feb. 19, 2016, adult rates on the Silver Plan are $2,565; child rate for one child is $2,085, for two children it’s $1,885 each.
trafalgar’s samurai discovery
Palaces, temples, volcanoes, movie sets and ninjas—Trafalgar’s 8-day Samurai Discovery, available for departures Oct. 4 and Dec. 20, 2015, with rates of $3,575 pp, offers a taste of Japanese culture in a way that makes it fascinating for kids no matter their age. Families land in Tokyo, where they’ll get to stomp through what was once Edo Castle, in its heyday the largest fortress in the world. The Imperial Palace, which now occupies this once-mighty fortress, is one of the many attractions your clients visit during their time in Tokyo. Other highlights? A hands-on sushi-making class in the city’s famous Ginza district, which your clients have free time to explore; hopping on a roller-coaster at the indoor SEGA Joypolis amusement park; drumming lessons; and visiting the colorful Sensoji Temple, Tokyo’s oldest temple site. Families leave surreal Tokyo behind to venture off into a land of hot springs, bubbling pools and stunning scenery—it’s where Mt. Fuji reigns supreme. Here, families get a bird’s-eye view of the Fuji Five Lakes area, visit the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, travel by aerial ropeway to visit Owakudani, and feast on the area’s famous black eggs (mom and dad, listen up, because according to legend those eggs add seven years to one’s life). Kyoto is the last stop on the trip and here a treasure trove of delights for kids is on the menu: a calligraphy lesson; a train ride in a traditional wooden Trokko train; a live ninja performance; and “getting lost” in labyrinths and fortresses.