For those of us who have travelled through Thailand sans kids, and to Bangkok in particular, it’s easy to scoff at the idea that Bangkok is a child-friendly destination: wrong! Bangkok with kids is not only an easy peasy weekend away from Singapore, but it’s jam-packed with seriously cool things for kids to do and amazing sights to see. Think awesome theme parks, shark pools and water playgrounds, fried scorpions for dinner and a side order of phenomenal history and culture to boot. And, of course, Thailand’s fun, famous mode of travel: tuk tuks! Dive in for our kid-approved picks on what to do and where to eat in this bustling city, and take note of the cheap to chic shopping ops and family-friendly places to stay for your own mini-adventure to the Land of Smiles…
THINGS TO DO WITH THE KIDS
SEA LIFE Bangkok Ocean World
Head over to Siam Paragon Shopping Centre (perfect excuse for some designer shopping) and dive into SEA LIFE Bangkok where you’ll find aquatic creatures of all sizes, shapes and colours. Our kids especially loved the glass-bottom boat on the shark pool!
SEA LIFE, 991 Rama 1 Road Khwaeng Pathum Wan, Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330, Thailand; www.sealifebangkok.com/en
Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the real Bangkok streets, and head into a mini city complete with air con and zero traffic in KidZania Bangkok. Kids age four years and up can try their hand at future careers including everything from a pilot to a firefighter, barber to sushi chef! Hot tip: KidZania is in the same building as SEA LIFE: make a day of it by visiting both!
KidZania, 991 Rama Road, Khwaeng Pathum Wan, Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330, Thailand; www.bangkok.kidzania.com/en-us
No matter where you travel in the world, and no matter how many decadent temples you want to see, the fact is kiddos are never happier than when they are bouncing off the walls of an indoor play centre! Funarium is a cool space featuring ball pools, an indoor soccer field, rock climbing wall, slides, arts ‘n’ craft, a basketball court and even an indoor bicycle track! This place makes the perfect bribe for when the little ones agree to trailing round another Wat. Hot tip: Take socks for everyone so you don’t need to buy them when you get there!
Funarium, 111/1 Sukhumvit 26 Wattana Bangkok 10120, Thailand; www.funarium.co.th
Khao San Road
Hang on a minute: Khao San Road for kids? It’s not just for hipsters and backpackers, and so long as you go during the daytime it’s actually a cool place to be. Fearless kids and curious foodie parents can try fried insects and even scorpions, plus there is a great market and tons of cheap eats (if bugs aren’t your thing do try the street vendors for delish food cooked to order – the satay and pad thai is fab). Hot tip: Explore the streets running parallel and either end of Khao San for some great little cafes and outdoor reflexology spots.
The Grand Palace
Once you’re done pretending your are from The Beach on Khao San Road, head to the Royal family’s official residence, The Grand Palace which is nearby. It’s one of the busiest spots in Bangkok for tourists, so prepare for crowds! As well as the amazing architecture, relics, art and history to see, with its endless courtyards and gardens there’s also plenty of space for the kids to run off some energy. It’s open everyday from 8.30am to 3.30pm so DON’T let taxi and tuk tuk drivers tell you it’s ‘closed today’ – this happens a lot to try and persuade you to go somewhere else where they might get a commission! Hot tip: Make sure either wear long pants and have your shoulders covered, or take something to cover up with whilst there. You can borrow these items on site, but the queues are always HUGE.
The Grand Palace, Na Phra Lan Rd, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok, 10200, Thailand; www.tourismthailand.org
Cool off after a busy morning exploring with a trip to a small but fun-packed water park on top of the Mall Bangkae where kids will love the water slides, lazy river and water play areas. It’s relatively unknown so a great pick for avoiding crowds.
Fantasia Lagoon, 275 หมู่ 1 Phet Kasem Rd, Khwaeng Bang Khae Nuea, Phasi Charoen, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10600, Thailand; www.themall.co.th
Dream World Bangkok
Bangkok’s equivalent to Universal Studios Singapore, Dream World Bangkok is a theme park suitable for kids of all ages. Thrill seekers will love the roller coaster and scream-inducing bigger rides, while little ones (and less brave souls) will be kept happy with an animal petting corner, water playground, smaller rides, bumper cars and a snowy wonderland. Hot tip: Factor a whole day here to see and do everything on offer – plus it’s around 45 minutes from town (depending on traffic) via taxi.
Dream World Bangkok, Pathum Thani 12130, Thailand; www.dreamworld.co.th
Playgrounds, wide open green spaces, an outdoor gym, paddle boats, endless pathways to explore and row boats are what you can expect to find at the beautifully green Lumpini Park.
Lumpini Park, 139/4 Thanon Witthayu, Khwaeng Lumphini, Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330, Thailand; www.office.bangkok.go.th/publicpark/park01.asp
Jim Thompson House
If mystery and intrigue are your thing, then having a sticky beak around missing American expat, famous textile entrepreneur and former architect, Jim Thompson’s, home is worth putting on your itinerary. The house has become a legend in Thailand due to its art collection, jungly green surrounds, opulent interior and, of course, the mystery surrounding its former owner.
Jim Thompson House, Rama Road, Khwaeng Wang Mai, Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330, Thailand; www.jimthompsonhouse.com
Wat Pho is the perfect pick for a fun history and culture lesson for the kiddos: this beautiful temple is number one on a list of six temples around Thailand given the honour of being a first-class royal temple. Check out the enormous reclining golden buddha where you’ll also find 108 bronze ‘wishing bowls’ – purchase a bowl of pennies to throw a ‘wish’ into each bowl – the kids will love the noise and the chance to wish for a tuk tuk of their own to bring home! They’ll also have fun checking out the grounds filled with huge stone characters and creatures, plus hanging out with the super cute resident cats and puppies. Hot tip: The on-site massage and reflexology centre is, simply, sublime. Take half an hour out of your visit to sit back and unwind in a massage chair.
Wat Pho, 2 Sanamchai Road, Grand Palace Subdistrict, Pranakorn District, Bangkok 10200, Thailand; www.watpho.com
CHIC, CHEAP AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN: SHOPPING OPS
Amphawa Floating Market
You haven’t been to Bangkok at all unless you’ve visited one of the famous floating markets scattered near and far from the city. One of the most popular is a 90km journey to Amphawa Floating Market, which is well worth the trip for a huge taste of market authenticity. Your Insta will go into overdrive with the quaint wooden houses, longtail boats, canal scenes and shrines vying for your photographic attention. Hot tip: Go early to avoid the huge crowds – the best time to arrive is around 9am. Go after midday at your peril! Get your shopping done in the morning and then have an early seafood lunch along the river banks.
Amphoe Amphawa, Chang Wat Samut Songkhram 75110, Thailand
Taling Chan Floating Market
If you just can’t face the journey to Amphawa, then Taling Chan Floating Market makes a decent alternative and is only 12km from downtown Bangkok. It’s open all day and although it’s quite small, there is a larger market (on land) nearby too.
Taling Chan Floating Market, near to Taling Chan District Office, 333 Chak Phra 19 – Chim Phli, Khwaeng Khlong Chak Phra, Khet Taling Chan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10170, Thailand
Living in Asia, it’s safe to say that we’ve all visited many a market in our time, but Chatuchak is in a different league! With around 15,000 stalls selling everything from souvenirs to puppies, cheap threads to street art, this is not only the biggest market in Thailand, but one of the largest in the world! Hot tip: Go early before the crowds get too huge and pinpoint a meeting place in case any of you get lost!
Chatuchak Market, 587/10 Kamphaeng Phet 2 Rd, Khwaeng Chatuchak, Khet Chatuchak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10900, Thailand; www.chatuchakmarket.org/
Patpong Night Market
Not for the fainthearted, and definitely not for the kids, but if you can get a babysitter for the night Patpong is frankly, mind-boggling. Not only will you pick up plenty of tacky T-shirts and essential souvenirs, this is also the red light district! Prepare to be both mesmerised and appalled at some of the more ‘colourful’ sights! Hot tip: Hang on to your handbags tightly and make sure they are securely fastened. This area is notorious for pickpockets (amongst other things…)
Patpong Night Market, Phat Pong 2 Alley, Khwaeng Suriya Wong, Khet Bang Rak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10500, Thailand
MBK Center, also known as Mahboonkrong, is where you’ll find around 2,000 small shops spread over eight floors of shopping heaven. Bartering is encouraged in most stores, and you’ll pick up all kinds of bargains from leather bags to kids’ clothing, cheesy souvenirs to glitzy knick knacks.
MBK Center, Phayathai Rd, Pathum Wan, Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330, Thailand; www.mbk-center.co.th
If the real deal is what you are after and you have a bit of market fatigue, Siam Paragon is where you should be heading to give your credit cards a good bashing. It’s luxe all the way with designer brands including Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Burberry: it’s futile to try and resist! Hot tip: This also happens to be the same mall that SEA LIFE and KidZania are located in: buy yourself some shopping time and send dad off to one of the family-friendly fun picks.
Siam Paragon, 991 Rama 1 Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok, Thailand; 991 Rama Road, Khwaeng Pathum Wan, Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330, Thailand; www.siamparagon.co.th
Steps With Theera
We are well on board with teaching our kids about inclusivity, so love this coffee shop, cafe and vocational training centre run by young adults with special educational needs. Extra brownie points for its health-conscious but delish menu: there are plenty of soy-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and veggie picks among tasty dishes. Hot tip: Try its tasty pumpkin lasagne and moreish peanut butter smoothie.
Steps With Theera, 29/8 charonmit, ekamai soi 10, sukhumvit 63, Klongtan nua, Bangkok, 10110, Thailand; www.stepswiththeera.com
Lucky Bunny Cafe
We are huge fans of Singapore’s pet cafes, so news of a cafe full of bunnies has us hopping with excitement! Rabbits and guinea pigs roam free: pet, pat and cuddle the warm and fuzzy residents while you chow down on baked goods and coffee. A guaranteed hit with your own little bunnies.
Lucky Bunny Cafe 88/6 Moo 10, Wat Umong Lane 4, Suthep Sub-district, Mueang District, Chiang Mai Province, Thailand; www.facebook.com/luckybunnycafe
Magazines, books, games and a small kid’s play area are the perfect way to keep the little people busy while you kick back and enjoy a great latte and cheap as chips brunch. Eggs Benedict all the way, please!
Brainwake Cafe, 27 Sukhumvit 33 Alley, Khwaeng Khlong Tan Nuea, Khet Watthana, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10110, Thailand; www.facebook.com/brainwakecafe/
Hajime Robot Restaurant
This Japanese-inspired barbecue restaurant is sure to please the kiddos: Hajime the Samurai Robot will bring your food to your table for you to cook yourselves. There aren’t many restaurants where you’ll find a robot dancing to pop songs. Hot tip: Come hungry! This is an eat-all-you-can deal and delish picks include typical yakiniku dishes galore.
Hajime Robot Restaurant, Monopoly Park, Rama3 Road between Soi61 and Soi 63, Bangkok; www.hajimerobot.com
Hard Rock Cafe
Sometimes you just have to have a burger, and Hard Rock Cafe definitely delivers the goods. Its classic American menu mixed with local faves is sure to appeal to even the pickiest of eaters, and the portion sizes are perfect for hungry teens who are all out of fuel after conquering the sights and sounds of Bangkok. Check out the cool rock memorabilia on display before ordering a huge ice cream sundae to share.
Hard Rock Cafe, 424/3-6 Siam Square SOI 11 Siam Square 7 Alley Pathum Wan Bangkok 10330, Thailand; www.hardrock.com/cafes/bangkok/
WHERE TO STAY
Anantara Baan Rajprasong Bangkok Serviced Suites
Everyone loves a bit of space on holiday, so we love this serviced suite a short stroll from Lumpini Park. Suites come in one or two-bedroom options and all have a fully equipped kitchenette and living room area. There’s a pool, and the whole family can brush up on their culinary skills by joining one of the regular Thai cooking classes.
Anantara Baan Rajprasong Bangkok Serviced Suites, 3 Soi Mahardlekluang 3, Rajdamri Road, Lumpini,, Pathumwan, 10330 Bangkok, Thailand; www.rajprasong-bangkok.anantara.com
ibis Styles Bangkok Khaosan Viengtai
This bright and colourful ibis is in a great location, just around the corner from the buzzy Khao San Road area, and has a pool to throw the kids into after a long day of exploring. Family rooms are reasonably priced and spacious, and breakfast at on-site Streats Cafe will usually be included in your deal.
ibis Styles Bangkok Khaosan Viengtai, 42 Tanee Road, Banglampu, 10200 Bangkok, Thailand; www.accorhotels.com
We made this place our home for our own happy adventure to Bangkok with kids. The good-sized apartments, small infinity pool, amazing views and great location – it’s right next to plenty of shopping malls and the Skytrain – made this the perfect option as a family-friendly base.
Sivatel Bangkok, 53 Wittayu Road, Lumpini, Patumwan, Pathumwan, 10330 Bangkok, Thailand; www.sivatelbangkok.com
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