Thailand with kids is easier than you think; in fact, this global tourist favorite is one of Southeast Asia’s most family-friendly vacation destinations! For families, Thailand is relatively affordable and easy to travel around, with excellent infrastructure, resorts and facilities, blessed with constant warm temperatures. There’s countless fun things to do that kids of all ages will love, from the beach life and theme parks to interactive cultural attractions.
Additionally, Thai people are super-friendly and adore children, warmly welcomed everywhere. Some destinations are more family-orientated than others; major tourist hotspots Bangkok, Chiang Mai and southern islands like Phuket and Koh Samui, are especially recommended. Here are some suggestions for memorable Thai experiences!
Vibrant Bangkok is your first point of entry in Thailand and although may be a bit of a cultural shock to start with, the capital makes a fantastic introduction to Thai family travels. Bangkok is a dynamic, fascinating and great value city to enjoy as a family, with heaps of things to see and do – many of which will be new exciting experiences.
Spend memorable family day-outs at amazing attractions, such as Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World, Southeast Asia’s largest Aquarium, conveniently located in the basement of iconic Siam Paragon mall, theme parks that include Dream World, water parks as detailed below and interactive ‘edutainment’ venues, like The Children’s Discovery Museum. When you need some respite from the city streets, head to Lumpini Park, a sprawling green space with plenty of play facilities, or take a guided boat tour, exploring the canals off Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River, or out-of-city floating markets.
Water parks are an ideal way to cool down in Thailand’s tropical climes and make a fantastic treat after sightseeing. Fortunately, Thailand boasts several international standard water parks, many located in tourist hotspots. In the Bangkok metropolis, long-established Siam Amazing Park, not only features a vast water park zone, but additionally, a separate amusement park suitable for children of all ages.
Located on the rooftop of The Mall Bangkae, budget-friendly Fantasia Lagoon boasts decent-sized pools and sliders, with a games and entertainment zone housed below. Out on the islands, Pink Elephant Samui Water Park, on Koh Samui, features high-quality rides and facilities mainly catering for young children, while Phuket’s Splash Jungle Water Park, unrivalled in southern Thailand, is famed for its numerous waterslides, 1099-foot ‘Lazy River’, ‘Boomerango’ rides and spectacular wave pool.
After munching your way through some of the world’s tastiest cuisine, learn how to cook your favorite Thai recipes while on vacation, recreating them back home. This is the perfect activity for the family to participate in together, keeping kids enthralled for hours! Thailand has hundreds of well-run cookery classes and schools instructed by English-speaking Thai chefs, in all the main tourist destinations.
Besides mastering traditional Thai techniques and recipes, many commence with a guided tour of a local market, where kids can discover all manner of exotic, fresh produce and herbs and end with a relaxed sit-down lunch to sample the dishes. Some cooking schools are more than happy to accommodate kids, or run family-orientated classes, with small group, half-day sessions and recipe menus designed with less spicy dishes and simplified instructions. In Bangkok, try two establishments set in a welcoming, home-style environment: the acclaimed Sompong Thai Cooking School, or philanthropic Courageous Kitchen, the latter will adjust activities according to children’s ages.
Thailand boasts many outstanding national parks, perfect for kids to let off steam, encounter Asian wildlife and participate in supervised outdoor nature activities such as jungle hikes and canoe trips. Located north of Phuket, Khao Sok National Park is home to some of the planet’s oldest rainforests and guided activities covering spotting bears and tigers, bird watching and boat tours on scenic Cheow Larn Lake. If you have the time, book a multi-day jungle safari.
North of Bangkok, Khao Yai National Park makes an amazing family day out, although camping overnight is also possible. This World Heritage Site is home to one of Asia’s largest intact monsoon rainforests, mountains, waterfalls and lakes. Fantastic activities cover guided hiking or mountain biking along miles of trails, with great opportunities to spot hundreds of wildlife, bird and plant species, including some of the park’s large population of wild Asian elephants, as well as farm tours and visits to a wild-west theme park; book a private wildlife tour, which can include a night safari!
In the southern Andaman Sea, Thailand’s largest and busiest island, Phuket, is a firm favorite for family vacations, a naturally beautiful island supplying stacks of things to do and activities for children of all ages, along with first-class facilities. Many of the 30 or so beaches (some lively, some quiet, so choose wisely) come fronted with excellent family-oriented resorts with pools. Here, little ones can splash in shallow waters and play on soft sand, older children can sample all the watersports and the entire family can head out on boat trips to spectacular surrounding islands.
Should boredom or rain set in, Phuket additionally provides an extensive tally of alternative things to do away from the beach. Besides the aforementioned Splash Jungle Water Park, try the Kathu Hanuman World Zipline Adventure, soaring through the trees on ziplines or abseiling down to the jungle, or cultural theme park, Fantasea Phuket. Other distractions extend to go-karting, mini-golf, fun photo opportunities at Trickeye Museum and Baan Teelanka Upside Down House and Phuket’s excellent Bird Park and Aquarium.
In Thailand, elephants are a revered national symbol and an encounter with these majestic yet gentle creatures is a must-do on any Thai family vacation. Fortunately, this wish is easily realized for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Thailand has a good amount of ethically-run elephant sanctuaries and camps, where families can interact with elephants in a low-key, responsible manner.
These include Elephant’s World, north of Kanchanaburi and in the Phuket area, Elephant Jungle Sanctuary and a private camp within Khao Sok National Park. Some of the most popular and pioneering sanctuaries however are found in Thailand’s mountainous northern regions. Nestled in a verdant valley outside Chiang Mai, for decades, Elephant Nature Park has rescued and cared for elephants previously mistreated.
Here, families get a unique opportunity to walk with the elephants, plus hand-feed and bathe them –overnight stays are also available. Also outside Chiang Mai, immersed in a densely forested region, Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is effectively a peaceful retirement home for working elephants, and offers similar amazing up-close encounters.
Thailand boasts a dazzling array of world-renowned tropical islands, mainly located in the south of the kingdom. Here, pristine white sand beaches are lapped by crystal clear waters with bath-like temperatures that teem with multi-colored tropical fish and corals. All of which makes a fantastic natural playground for snorkeling and sea kayaking, which kids will love.
Stunningly beautiful areas, with reassuringly calm, safe and protected waters as well as hidden caves and grottoes, can be found in major tourist areas such as Koh Phi Phi and Phang Nga Bay in the Andaman Sea and Koh Samui and Koh Kood in the Gulf of Thailand. Equipment is easily supplied by resorts, or on guided boat tours.
Thailand boasts world-class family-friendly resorts – especially the beachfront varieties – suitable for kids of all ages, supplying excellent facilities like kid’s clubs and pools, family-focused activities and services extending to babysitting, all at great value. Here are a few recommendations:
Alongside Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River, five-star Anantara offers waterfront luxury amid expansive tropical gardens and with accommodations housed in low-rise buildings, a more traditional Siamese feel compared to the generic high-rises. The resort-style shaded pool is one of Bangkok’s largest and the kids club brims with diverse activities. Families will appreciate the daily Thai dances and torch-lighting ceremony at dusk and complimentary luxury shuttle boats to major downtown areas. Family Suites come thoughtfully designed for family holidays.
Located beside a beautiful private beach, Mai Khao, on Phuket, this ultimate five-star, family-friendly resort boasts four pools (including a fantastic kids pool), award-winning spa, dedicated Children’s and Teen Zone, kids club and family activities that range from batik painting to Thai dancing. Book the Deluxe Family Suites or spacious Family Pool Villas.
Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai
Five-star Shangri-La offers a family-friendly urban resort, conveniently located in central Chiang Mai, near the Old City, surrounded by misty mountains. Shangri-La offers special deals designed for parents traveling with kids and complimentary ‘amenities’ for children, from newborns to teenagers. There’s a kids club and playground, plus supervised activities covering parasol painting and fun eco-tours. The pool is the largest in Chiang Mai, with a kiddies section, unique splash zone and giant waterslide.
Secluded on palm-fringed Laem Yai Bay on Koh Samui’s quieter northwest tip, this luxurious boutique resort greets children with thoughtful touches you’d expect from the Four Seasons, like complimentary welcome kits. Their Kids For All Seasons club provides a complimentary program of activities that extends to crab hunting on the pristine beach and mini-versions of popular adult activities – like Muay Thai boxing. Book the Family Pool Villas with separate sleeping areas for young children, or palatial Residence Villas, accommodating larger families with kitchenettes, al fresco dining pavilions and live-in butler.
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