Years ago when I posted about a trip with my mom, I received a nasty message from another traveler shaming me for being a “grown man traveling with mom.” Whatever for him. It’s not something to be ashamed of.
I remember our first trip together, which was also her first trip abroad. In the middle of our cable car ride in Hong Kong, my mom shed tears. She tried to hide it, but she was obviously crying. When asked, she said she just never expected she would be able to travel overseas.
You see, my mom grew up in a dirt poor family. She only finished 6th Grade because there were seven children in the family and my grandparents couldn’t afford to send all of them to high school. Someone needed to stay at home and help them work. Unfortunately for my mom, it was her. She’s always valued education, but there was nothing she could do. When she started building a family, she promised herself one thing: that she would do everything to make sure all her children get a college degree.
I am the youngest. Me graduating from college meant finally fulfilling a promise she made to herself a long time ago. She had never traveled very far, so I promised myself that when I started earning well, I would take her somewhere she had never been before every year. That Hong Kong trip when she cried onboard a cable car was our first. We had been to other places since.
My mom is a senior citizen. Traveling with a senior parent is completely different. Their physical condition calls for a plan that is different from when I’m traveling alone or with friends. My mom, for example, although still in good shape doesn’t have that much stamina required for walking long hours or climbing several flights of stairs. Their convenience and comfort become of utmost importance.
We asked the members of our Facebook Group what they think are the best Asian destinations for senior citizens, and these 10 emerged as the top picks!
(Please note that this isn’t based on any official study, just opinions and personal experiences of the members of our FB Group. We don’t necessarily agree with the order. Members are mostly from the Philippines and other ASEAN nations.)
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
Many of Singapore’s tourist spots lie close to each other: Gardens by the Bay is just next to Marina Bay Sands, the Merlion stands just across the Esplanade area. And even if you must take public transportation, Singapore’s taxi, train, and bus systems are all efficient and comfortable, that commuting isn’t going to be stressful most of the time.
My mom loves theme parks because she never had a chance to enjoy them when she was a kid, and Singapore has more than its share of these parks. Universal Studios Singapore alone can take up an entire day of your itinerary.
Security is also not a problem. Although you still have to be careful (anywhere), you don’t need to be extra-paranoid about safety or your belongings in SG unlike in other destinations in Asia.
📖 READ: SINGAPORE TRAVEL GUIDE
🛏 WHERE TO STAY: SINGAPORE HOTELS!
📸 THINGS TO DO: SINGAPORE TOURS!
2. Osaka, Japan
Seniors make up a big fraction of the Japanese population, so naturally its major cities are senior-friendly. The elderly are always given priority. Getting around isn’t difficult. You’ll find elevators at every train station, dedicated seats on every train car, wheelchair ramps at most establishments, and attractions that cater specifically to them. And Osaka is a great primer for the country. It offers many things that the Japanese culture is known for without the insanity of Tokyo. It’s less crowded, less complicated, less crazy.
Osaka’s strategic location enables easy access to Kyoto and Nara too, which means they don’t need to endure long hours to explore tourist favorites in other cities.
Safety is not an issue. Locals are friendly that someone will be lending a helping hand if something happens. And if your senior loved ones have spent most of their lives in the tropics, Osaka will provide a refreshing change in atmosphere that they will surely remember. Think of spring’s cherry blossoms or autumn’s fiery colors!
📖 READ: OSAKA TRAVEL GUIDE
🛏 WHERE TO STAY: OSAKA HOTELS!
📸 THINGS TO DO: OSAKA TOURS!
3. Hong Kong
There’s a reason I chose Hong Kong as my first choice for my first overseas trip with my mom — convenience. Flights to HK are cheap, comfortable accommodations are plenty, the climate is pleasant, and its major tourist sites are all easily accessible. Seniors also enjoy discounts on a lot of things like octopus card and admission fees for attractions.
Around half of the buses in Hong Kong are equipped with wheelchair lifts. The trains are also comfortable, with dedicated seats for the elderly. Most attractions are also family-friendly, from Disneyland Hong Kong to Ngong Ping 360 to Victoria Peak.
📖 READ: HONG KONG TRAVEL GUIDE
🛏 WHERE TO STAY: HONG KONG HOTELS!
📸 THINGS TO DO: HONG KONG TOURS!
4. Taipei, Taiwan
Taiwan has been gaining popularity over the past few years as an excellent tourist destination, and one of the questions we get the most is: Is it senior-friendly?
Yes, it is. In fact, Taiwan is committed to being more age-friendly and consciously moving to becoming the best destination for the elderly (and retirees), with the government investing almost NT$2 billion in the medical equipment industry alone.
Taipei’s railway system isn’t as crowded as its counterparts in other East Asian countries. Most of its attractions like its shrines, museums, and parks take little effort to be enjoyed. Elephant Mountain may not be appropriate, but they can climb to the viewing deck of Taipei 101 itself to get a wonderful view.
📖 READ: TAIPEI TRAVEL GUIDE
🛏 WHERE TO STAY: TAIPEI HOTELS!
📸 THINGS TO DO: TAIPEI TOURS
5. Seoul, South Korea
Seoul is one of the most age-friendly cities in the world. According to the World Health Organization, the city government started their 2020 Master Plan for the Aged Society in 2012 and joined the Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities (GNAFCC) in 2013.
Every subway station in Seoul is equipped with elevators and escalators and a map where they are specifically located so you may choose exactly which section of the train to enter. And its extensive and expansive network means there’s a train station nearby almost wherever you are in the city. If not, you can count on the bus, which is also very pleasant and comfortable. Exploring the city’s historic core isn’t an uphill battle either.
Seoul’s winter can be a bit too harsh, which may be a problem to some, but there are a lot of indoor attractions too. Just make sure they’re adequately covered and minimize the time outside.
📖 READ: SEOUL TRAVEL GUIDE
🛏 WHERE TO STAY: SEOUL HOTELS!
📸 THINGS TO DO: SEOUL TOURS!
6. Boracay, Philippines
Boracay is small. The island’s key attractions and other points of interest are just a short walk or a short ride away. And because it’s heavily commercialized, you’ll find almost anything you’ll ever need without leaving the island. Its wide selection of hotels means it’s easy to find something that would fit your needs. It’s also pretty accessible. If you’re flying straight to Caticlan, it only takes a 10-minute boat ride to reach Boracay.
📖 READ: BORACAY TRAVEL GUIDE
🛏 WHERE TO STAY: BORACAY HOTELS!
📸 THINGS TO DO: BORACAY TOURS!
7. Tokyo, Japan
As of 2010, Tokyo is home to over 13 million residents and over 2.6 million of those (20%) belong to the aged population (65 years old and up). This means it is now close to becoming a “super-aged society.” No wonder why Tokyo is one of the most age-friendly destinations in the world!
Just like in Seoul and Osaka, train stations have elevators, escalators, and wheelchair ramps. All trains have seats specially for the elderly. There are also attractions that cater specifically to them. For example, Sugamo, a shopping street, is known as the Harajuku for the elderly.
📖 READ: TOKYO TRAVEL GUIDE
🛏 WHERE TO STAY: TOKYO HOTELS!
📸 THINGS TO DO: TOKYO TOURS!
Macau has a lot of things going for it. Many of its key tourist spots are within walking distance of each other. The Ruins of St. Paul’s stand beside the Monte Fort, which is just a stroll from Senado Square. Hotel attractions are mostly indoors and these hotels are clustered together! The Venetian is across the City of Dreams, Wynn is next to Grand Lisboa. Macau’s map is also dotted and shaded by several picturesque parks where the local elderly population spend a few of their hours to relax.
📖 READ: MACAU TRAVEL GUIDE
🛏 WHERE TO STAY: MACAU HOTELS!
📸 THINGS TO DO: MACAU TOURS!
9. Palawan, Philippines
Palawan’s top three destinations — El Nido, Coron, and Puerto Princesa — are great for the adventurous and the physically fit. But they can also be easily enjoyed by seniors. In El Nido, most beaches (Seven Commando, Helicopter Island, Simizu, etc) can be reached via a boat ride and don’t require trekking. In Coron, Calauit Safari Park and Maquinit Hot Springs can offer comfortable, unforgettable moments. The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River is also relatively sweat-free.
🛏 WHERE TO STAY: PALAWAN HOTELS!
📸 THINGS TO DO: PALAWAN TOURS!
📖 READ: PUERTO PRINCESA TRAVEL GUIDE
📖 READ: CORON TRAVEL GUIDE
📖 READ: EL NIDO TRAVEL GUIDE
10. Bohol, Philippines
Bohol’s usual Countryside Tour is an unhurried hop-on-hop-off activity, meaning all you need is just hop off of your rented van and voila, you’re already at the site. Although it can still get a bit tiring, it isn’t that physical. The Baclayon Church, Man-made Forest, and Loboc River Cruise can all be done effortlessly. The Chocolate Hills demands a bit more effort, but it’s still nowhere near grueling. Even the island-hopping tours from Panglao are also very comfortable.
📖 READ: BOHOL TRAVEL GUIDE
🛏 WHERE TO STAY: BOHOL HOTELS!
📸 THINGS TO DO: BOHOL TOURS!
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Hello, interesting read.We have travelled everywhere in Asia some countries multiple times Thailand, Bali, South Korea, Sri Lanka, India etc.we are based in Manila and of course have travelled extensively throughout the Philippines. we are both aged 71 years but don’t have any particular ” special needs”. we use whatever transport is available and only occasionally book ahead.We prefer to use my wife’s uncanny ability to find budget accommodation upon arrival.Middle of the night being the exception.We don’t sit still,it works for us.Go Seniors!!
That’s awesome! Sounds like you’re having a great time!
Thanks for sharing… Got an inspiration from this article. We are currently travelling in the Philippines pa lang. But planning next trip abroad… Will just need to apply for my Mom’s passport. ..
Great post! I’m in my 30s and still love traveling with my parents. And yes, I totally pity the person who sent you that nasty post. Perhaps the person has not been fortunate enough to experience the joy of having a family and feeling loved. Or may be the person is an imbecile who thinks it’s cool to say such insensitive stuff.
Loved this post. I was searching for something like this. Even I’m planning of taking my mother (57; who also cannot walk for long hours) on a trip in India or neighboring country that won’t burn a hole in my pocket (I have started earning recently). Would you like to suggest something other than this?
A very good read. It made me remember my first trip alone with my dad who was 61 at that time. Last October we went to HongKong as well and had a ride with the cable car too. He really cherished the scenery during the ride. I just wished I have spent time preparing him for this travel. He wasn’t able to go around the 2nd and last day due to gout. :( So guys make sure to bring medicine. I hope I can relive those moments with him. That was our last trip na pala :(
Thanks for the advice re medicine. We’ll add that to the post. Thanks for sharing, Nikho!
Hello! This post is very helpful. I can relate with the story. I also dream of traveling with my mom who is already in her 60s and my dad, a PWD.
1. Between Hongkong and Singapore, which is better? Considering convenience AND budget.
2. Any suggestions for PWD-friendly areas? Overseas or Kahit dito muna sa Pinas sana. First time ni Daddy sumakay sa plane if ever.
Hi Steph! Thanks for your comment!
1. My mom loves HK more only because of the weather. Naiinitan kasi sya sa SG, haha. Budget-wise, HK is a lot cheaper. But SG is easier to explore.
2. For PWDs, the best destinations are in Japan. Japanese cities like Tokyo and Osaka are very considerate sa mga PWDs. Elevators at every station and yung culture dun really respects and gives way to PWD. Ang mahal lang talaga ng Japan kasi. Sa Pinas, ang top of mind ko ay Puerto Princesa. Madali lang kasi i-tour ang Puerto princesa and super organized ng mga tours dun so hindi mahihirapan. :)
Very interesting post ( and sensitive to the older generation)
We are both in our 60s and although we wont be traveling with our children as their own are too young I would be grateful if you could offer any advice to us on where is the most suitable place for our age group. We are both fit and able and dont have any special needs but are looking for a relaxing trip in the Philippines with tours available in relatively close areas
Hi James, Boracay and El Nido are great places to consider. The beaches are usually very near the drop off points (land or boat in El Nido’s case)
Hi! This is a nice post.
Just like you, I love to take my mother with me on travel as long as I can afford it.
I hope you’d also be able to suggest a list of local places suitable for the “young at heart” a.k.a SCs.
Hi Astrid, great idea! We’ll do that!
Kudos for bringing ur mom overseas. There’s absolutely wrong with bringing an elderly especially when she was the one who have sacrificed so much for us!
p/s I just came back from a Japan trip with my mom and am googling which elderly-friendly destination to bring her to next. :)
Thanks, Lee! Korea next!!!
I wanted to ask about the requirements (aside from roundtrip tickets, hotel accommodation, etc.) when you brought your mom abroad. Did you prepare docs like authenticated affidavit of support & undertaking? What’s the immigration process like? I’m planning to take my Mom on a vacation in Taipei. It’s gonna be here first international trip as well. Hope you could share some tips/guidance. Thank you.
Hi Mics, my mom isn’t retired yet and meron syang tindahan sa palengke, so nung first time, I asked her to bring yung business registration niya. Pero di hinanap or tiningnan.
Nung third time, mas mahigpit yung Immigration Officer, talagang tinatanong sya kung ano trabaho niya etc. Pero my mom answered naman confidently. Di na rin tiningnan yung mga dala naming papers.
If your mom is unemployed now or retired, I’d still suggest na dala ka ng affidavit of support to be sure. Better have it but not need it than need it but not have it.
My parents are with me anywhere I go, We traveled together, yes, its a challenge to travel for they are not able to walk as much, as they want. We fly and I drove them (rent a car). The first time my parents fly International, my mother told me, she pinch herself if she was dreaming or not. Now that my father has medical issue, its not easy anymore to travel long distance. But I am checking a cruise that is Dialysis on a Sea Cruise, where medical team are on board to take care of some patients on dialysis who are traveling. I am also on my early senior like my parents, I still want to travel and some parts of Asia. Youngster and seniors, great to travel and start from our country, if international is a problem specially if visa is a concern. Travel light too.:). By the way, your website is very informative. Thank you.
Thanks for sharing, Teresita! :)
Thank you for sharing :)
The happiness of parents are every child wish for.
This post will help me choose holiday destination for our family trip.
Thanks a lot ^^
Yay! Thanks for visiting our blog. :)
You’re very sweet to take your mom with you and the guy who commented about it was just plain nasty.
Planning to take my mom as well and this has been helpful, thank you.
Hi thank you sa blog mo. It is very helpful sa amin ng mother ko. We will be travelling soon and i am so excited kasi first niya to travel international. isa ito sa mga time na makabonding since i am working abroad and minsanan ko lng makasama mother ko. I am so inspired sa mga travel stories mo with your mom.
Yehey! Excited ako for you and your mother! Yung first trip abroad ay laging super memorable. :D
Saan ang byahe nyo? :)
Which country is your mom’s favorite? My mom already went to HK last year and been thinking to go on a trip again with her this year.
I think she enjoyed Australia the most. :)