Crystal Kung Minkoff has one rule when she travels with her family: "I tend to take my kids somewhere new," she tells Town & Country. "I don't love to keep going to the same places. There's enough of the world to see."
Earlier this summer, though, the Real Coco coconut water mogul-turned-Real Housewife of Beverly Hills made an exception and planned an epic, once-in-a-life-time trip to Singapore, Thailand, and Cambodia with husband Rob and their two children, Max and Zoe. "Rob and I have been to majority of these places [years ago]," Crystal, a 76th generational descendant of Confucius, says. "But since our kids have not, it felt like a new trip. I knew it would have been much more developed today than it was then."
Over the course of a few weeks, Crystal and Rob took their little ones to Singapore, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Siem Reap, and Bangkok, where they visited breathtaking sites, historic landmarks, and her family's coconut farm—and of course ate (and sometimes even cooked!) the local delights. "That's probably the primary reason why I took them to Southeast Asia," says Crystal. "The food is really special to my and my family. It's my favorite, and I wanted the kids to really explore and not be so precious about food."
Ahead, Crystal shares more about her milestone return back to South East Asia.
"I went to college for a year in China and a lot of my friends are from Singapore so getting to visit them and see my kids explore with their kids was really fun. It was a great first stop for them because it's so cosmopolitan and very developed.
But visiting post-Crazy Rich Asians was wild because when I was on the flight, the people in front of me were all watching the movie. It's put Singapore on the map for people in the West who didn't really think about visiting. Now it's the gateway to Asia for people to travel to."
Here, Crystal and Rob in front of Gardens by the Bay.
"I knew this trip would push the kids out of their comfort zone a little bit. At one point, I remember when we were in Bangkok, they were like, 'How many temples did we have to see?!' I mean, we were running around temple after temple in 100 degree heat. I try to sprinkle the trip with things that they like to do, but my kids are very good travelers."
Here, Crystall with her family in front of Wat Arun.
"We want to Damnoen Saduak, a floating market two hours out of Bangkok. You take these boats and the vendors on their own boats in these canals. You can buy food, clothes, and groceries. It's a true working market and people live on these stilt homes and they sell things outside their homes. And so, if you see something you want float by, they'll grab a stick and pull you in to buy something. Sometimes they're also frying food on these tiny little boats. It's very cool."
"One of my favorite parts of visiting Thailand was bringing my kids our coconut farms. All they see is bottled coconut water but for them to see where comes from and meet our farmers was really special for sure."
"We did a cooking class in Cambodia, and that was such a great cooking class at the Park Hyatt. We started with their version of a papaya salad—but if you ask me the name of it, I would never know how to say it in Cambodian!"
"We also made a stir-fry beef dish there. Cambodian flavors are very nuanced—similar to Thai food, but they still very much have their own cuisine."
"The best part was a dessert that we made. We actually went to a local market and we had them shave coconut and then they created milk from it. So we used that product to make these rice-based coconut balls. We used rice flour and we baked that. The kids loved that. I mean, they crushed it."
"We did a bike tour through Siem Reap, the old town in Cambodia. When you're on foot, it's quite hot there. It's too big to be on foot to really explore the city. You could take a tuk-tuk, which is really fun. The kids loved being in an open kind-of motorcycle and were like, 'We can't do it that America!' A bike ride is so fantastic because you can just stop, you can eat whatever you want, you can do a little shopping, but we had a guide to take us around the entire old city."
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