2nd March 2018
The Thai capital is a bustling hub of city life, with all the family-friendly activities that you’d expect in a metropolis. Here’s how to experience Bangkok with kids, from the best places to eat to our favourite child-friendly days out.
Perfect for kids aged 2-10, Dream World offers a great mix of fantasy lands and gentle rides for little ones to explore as well as adrenaline-pumping rollercoasters for older kids and adults. Popular with locals for a fun day out, Dream World has the sweet charm of Disney without the crowds. There are plenty of food stalls and restaurants with reasonably priced treats and even a cable car to carry tired little ones from one end of the park to the other.
One of the classic Thai events that comes to mind when thinking about Bangkok, the floating markets have been in existence since before history started to be documented. Guided by an English-speaking local you will see the market vendors paddling along the river to sell their wares from narrow wooden boats. Hop on board your own boat to navigate the canals and taste freshly-cooked Thai food, and pick up handmade crafts or beautiful flower arrangements.
If convincing your kids to visit an art gallery is usually like pulling teeth, try this interactive museum on the top floor of Esplanade Shopping Mall. Children and adults alike will love posing with the illusionary works, pretending to be submerged in the underwater city of Atlantis or balancing on a real surfboard while catching a giant 3D wave. Contemporary and classically inspired pieces are included in the exhibition, making Art in Paradise a fantastic childhood introduction to the world of art.
A great day out for those who are handy in the kitchen (or wish they were!) Budding chefs will get to create four delicious recipes, heading firstly to the local market by tuk-tuk to select the freshest ingredients. After that, it’s time to go to the kitchen, where your lead chef will demonstrate how to prepare each dish in the traditional Thai way – then it’s your turn! Each four-hour session includes two breaks to enjoy the fruits of your labour, and a certificate of attendance.
A dazzling show for those who fancy seeing Muay Thai in a more artistic setting, “The Legend Lives” performance incorporates displays of the traditional Thai martial art along with sword fighting and stunning acrobatics. The 90-minute show provides lots of light-hearted laughs and incredible choreography and is a great way to experience Muay Thai in a family-friendly way.
See the best of Bangkok from the most authentic and exhilarating mode of Thai transport. Whizz along the main roads and nip through the narrow back-streets with the breeze in your hair as you head to city highlights such as the reclining Buddha at Wat Po and the majestic Phra Sumeru Fortress. Then visit the Amulet market to see traditional craftsmanship and take in the sights, smells and tastes of Little India before climbing the Golden Mount for a picturesque view of the city.
Take on the Thai jungle on this treetop adventure. Soar along three kilometres of zipline track in the forest canopy, stopping at 24 platforms to admire the view along the way. Sky rangers will accompany you on your journey, offering guided talks about the environment around you and the efforts being made to conserve the natural beauty. A delicious organic Thai lunch will be waiting for you after your three hour adventure, and entry to the Khao Kheow Open Safari is included in your ticket.
Budget option: The Blue Jasmine Hostel is a great choice for families looking for clean, simple accommodation that won’t break the bank. Family rooms with a private bathroom are available on a B&B basis for around £30 per night. A communal room offers a computer and television for guests’ use, and there are complimentary hot drinks available 24/7. The hostel will happily arrange taxis, laundry and take-away for guests.
Mid-range option: Rambuttri Village Hotel has contemporary rooms from £40 a night, with two double beds to cater for families. High-speed WiFi is available throughout the hotel and a rooftop pool offers a refreshing break from the Bangkok heat. Each morning guests can enjoy an extensive buffet breakfast with hot and cold options and both local and international cuisine.
Luxury option: The Grand President Bangkok has furnished studios from £80 per night, including a well equipped kitchenette for convenience while travelling with families. The location is perfect for families who want great shopping and restaurants on their doorstep, and the nearest train station is five minutes’ walk away. Breakfast and an international buffet are served in the hotel, and a fitness centre and pool are also available.
For parents who want to try some more adventurous Thai dishes while the kids stick with familiar favourites. The hot Pad Thai and spicy Tom Yum soups are not to be missed, while those wanting home comforts can tuck into spaghetti, garlic bread and crispy salads.
Those with a sweet tooth will want to check on Boonsap Thai Desserts, a confectioner and bakery that has been open since before WWII and still makes sweet treats for the Thai royal family. Freshly baked cookies and cakes are made on-site daily, and the mango and sticky rice is said to be the best in Bangkok. Get here early as the desserts sell out fast!
This is a cold-pressed juice bar and ethical restaurant, ideal for getting all your vitamins in the busy city! Food options include everything from hearty burgers and fries to fresh salads and local Thai dishes. Pick up fresh fruit and vegetable juices to balance out the holiday indulgence.
Fajitas, enchiladas, burritos or nachos… all washed down with fresh juices and margaritas. The ‘American Favourites’ menu and the dessert selection including home-baked pecan pie and carrot cake ensures that even the fussiest of eaters will find something to enjoy.
From sweet mango and sticky coconut rice to wok-fried noodles, take your taste buds on a tour of the street food stalls in Bangkok that offer memorable and delicious dishes. Avoid those that have food sitting warm in glass cabinets and opt for fresh fruit, delicious smoothies and dishes that are cooked to order. Khao San Road is famous for its Pad Thai stalls and the night markets are also great places to sample lots of local snacks.
For tourists looking for a typical market experience, Chatuchak offers a huge range of stalls selling a variety of delights, from paper flowers to handmade clothes. It is the world’s largest weekend market (there are over 15,000 stalls divided into 27 sections) so give yourself at least half a day to take in all that is has to offer. Take an umbrella and water as it can get very hot and crowded; December is the best time to come for those who like it a little cooler.
This air-conditioned mall offers both local and branded goods in 2000 shops over eight floors. You’ll be able to find almost anything you need, from suitcases to baby dolls here, and haggling is all part of the experience. There is also a food court and a supermarket for those wanting to grab a bite to eat in between shops.
Located next to the Siam Skytrain station, Siam Paragon is a luxury mall with plenty to offer families. High-end designer shops, a huge food court to treat yourselves to iced Korean desserts or artisan Japanese truffles, and even Maserati and Aston Martin showrooms call Siam Paragon home. Not forgetting the 16-screen Cineplex to catch the latest release during wet season.
If you want to combine a spot of shopping with sightseeing and a great photo opportunity, Maeklong Railway Market is one not to be missed. A traditional Thai market selling tropical fruits, herbs and spices as well as the usual clothing and crafts. The coolest thing about this market is that a train runs right through the middle of it, six times a day, making the vendors pull back their awnings and shift their fruit baskets off the track in the blink of an eye.
How to get there: Fly from London to Bangkok from £300 return with Norwegian Air. A taxi from the airport to the centre of the city will cost around £20.
When to go: November to March is peak season, as in April things start to heat up (to the mid-30s). If you do come in April you will catch the Songkran (Thai New Year) festival, where giant water fights fill the streets!
How to book hotels: Search via Booking for a wide selection and great deals.
How to book tours and day trips: Book via GetYourGuide for all-inclusive tours and English-speaking guides.