Have you travelled Thailand with kids?
Thailand is easily one of our favourite family travel destinations. It was one of the first adventures we had with the boys when they were just 1 and 2 years old. We then returned with them a year later, and are planning a return very soon. Hubby and I also travelled Thailand numerous times, pre-kids. Whether it’s the incredible beaches, the bustling cities, the ornate temples, or the mouthwateringly-delicious food… oh my, THE FOOD!… we are drawn back to Thailand time and time again.
Thailand does have somewhat of a seedy reputation, and over-tourism has taken it’s toll in recent years. But if you know where to go, and keep an open mind, it really is a fantastic destination for families.
Here are our 12 reasons why we love travelling Thailand with kids:
1. Your tourist dollar goes a long way
Budget is a concern for most parents when it comes to travelling with kids. Keeping the whole family fed and watered, plus entry fees to attractions, then having to pay for family rooms, or sometimes two adjoining rooms… it all adds up.
Admittedly, you may have to pay out for a long haul flight. BUT, once you’re there, your tourist dollar really does go much much further than it would in say Europe. You can get a 3* family room at a beach location for GBP20 per night. A meal for a family of four with a few beers for parents and drinks for the kids costs about GBP15. Most accommodations include breakfast, so we generally do two meals per day (breakfast and dinner), with street snacks throughout the day.
2. Family friendly beaches
No trip to Thailand is complete without a few days playing in the sand and splashing in the turquoise waters of it’s incredible beaches. However, there is quite an eclectic mix of beaches on offer – from raving party beaches to undisturbed secret coves and everything in between. Last thing you want to do (I presume!) is check into a quaint beach bungalow only to be woken at 11pm with booming house music shaking the walls!
Klong Dao Beach, Ko Lanta, has to be one of the the most kid-friendly beaches we’ve ever visited. The gentle gradient is perfect for paddling. But it’s actually the string of kid-friendly bars and restaurants along the beach that set it apart. Many of them have toys for young kids to play with, and some of them even have slides and hoppers. We loved our stay at Banana Beach Resort, which is right on the beach and where rooms have bunk beds for kids. There is also a pool with a separate kids’ swimming pool (including slide!)
3. Healthy snacks available everywhere
Round every corner, there always seems to be a street vendor selling mango on a stick, made to order pad thai, or a fresh coconut. It means you don’t have to worry too much about loading up your day bag, and you’ll never be too far away from a snack to keep the kids going.
4. Laid back dining
Plastic chairs pulled up on sidewalks, cushions on the beach… eating out in Thailand is a relaxed affair, and we find it very easy to find suitable restaurants to dine with the boys. Much more than we do for example on our European city breaks.
Menus offer a range of Thai and Western dishes (my boys are rather obsessed with banana pancakes), and service is generally quick. There’s often high chairs available, and no one batters an eye if food gets dropped on the floor.
At beach locations, restaurants spill on to the sand, so your kids can dig and build castles whilst you wait for food, or enjoy a Chang after dinner.
5. Getting around is easy
My boys absolutely love riding the tuk-tuks. If their little legs ever get tired from walking, we can always flag down a tuk-tuk to wherever we want to go (just ensure your haggling skills are well tuned).
View this post on Instagram
Hands up if you love riding in a tuk-tuk 🙌 . . Aren't they the BEST of fun?!! . . We ride them every day in Bangalore, but here in Bangkok they have a bit more leg space and are much more colourful, making it extra special! They don't have meters here, so you need to haggle hard. But in all honesty, if you want to travel cheaper, flag down a taxi. With the tuk-tuks you're paying a bit more for that awesome fun factor (especially at night with the flashing lights)👌😁 . . Riding a tuk-tuk is a must for all kids (big or small) visiting Bangkok 🙌 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #bangkokstreet #bangkokmoments #amazingthailand #visitthailand #thaiandstopmenow #tuktuk #tuktukride #tripofalifetime #ukftb #uktravelblogger #ftb100 #trips100 #adventurekids #adventureparenting #worldschooling #familytravelblogger #familytravel #travelmama #travelkids #familyjaunts #familyadventures #holidayswithkids #livetotravel #lppathfinders #gofurther #kidslovetravel #loveyourtimetogether #lovetotravel #exploringtheworld #showthemtheworld
Ask your accommodation to book your travel to your next destination in Thailand; whether it’s bus or train tickets, or hiring a group minibus. Do check around for prices, but we generally find that the accommodations we’ve stayed at quote the best price.
6. Milk and nappies available everywhere
You’ll see 7-Eleven stores all over Thailand and from here you can purchase milk and nappies. It can be tricky to find larger sized nappies.
Elephants in Thailand have had it tough. Most have been used for logging, circus acts and more recently, improper riding for tourists. Their spirits have been broken through cruel torturous means and many are disciplined with a painful bull-hook. Plus, due to logging and farming, there is barely any land left for them to roam wild and free like they do in Africa. Then above all this, there is the devastating problem of poaching.
But the outlook for these gentle giants is not all bleak, thanks to a small handful of ethical sanctuaries. Two places that are well recommended are Elephant Nature Park, just North of Chang Mai, and Elephant Hills, in the Panom District. These places have taken in rescued elephants and tourist are invited to assist with the healing process.
On previous visits to Thailand pre-kids, we enjoyed wandering around and marvelling the ornate temples dotted all over Thailand. However, we always felt like outsiders looking in, and dare I say it…. ‘tourists’.
The first temple we ever took the boys to was Wat Arun in Bangkok (a good alternative to the busy and very touristy Grand Palace). We took a walk around the side, after exploring the central prang (Khmer-style tower), encrusted with colourful porcelain, and passed some monks. They immediately smiled, and came over to the boys to say hello. We were then guided through a door and into another temple, and invited to join other monks and children sharing food.
This wasn’t the only time we’ve been welcomed as a family into temples. It’s happened on many occasions since, and transforms the temple viewing into a more involved experience for the boys; certainly more rewarding for us parents.
9. Lots of outdoor activities in Thailand for kids
There’s more to Thailand than lazing on the beach and visiting the odd temple. From hiking or zipling through the jungle, to kayaking and rafting the rivers. There’s so much to do in Thailand for kids!
But one of our boys’ favourite activities is snorkelling. We took the 4 Island snorkel Tour from Koh Lanta, where kids under 4 are free. Life jackets are provided, although I recommend taking children’s swimming goggles with you.
10. People to do your clothes washing
There are laundry shops all over Thailand, and if you can’t find one, just ask your accommodation. For a small fee (30 or 40 Baht per kilogram – that’s 50p-70p!) your bag of smelly clothes will be washed, perfectly folded, and returned to you 24 hours later. I wouldn’t hand over anything too delicate or expensive as everything gets ironed at the same temperature (hot!) But for most t-shirts, blouses, shirts and trousers, this is a fantastic service.
11. No visa required
Visitors from most countries (including UK, Australia, US) arriving by air or land can enter Thailand for 30 days without a visa. Easy.
12. Thai people love kids!
I know I say this about most places we travel, but this is even more so for Thailand. Knowing that your kids are welcome everywhere, really does make travelling easier. We’ve been in bars along Th Khao San at night, and transgender waiters have been happily playing pool with our boys, or making beer-mat towers. And as mentioned above, monks at temples want to pop over and chat to the boys.
However, in some parts, away from the main tourist destinations, if you are a fair-skinned family, you will get selfie-requests. If you’re not comfortable with this, decline with a smile. Thais are very respectful and unlikely to push it.
► Are there any downsides?
The ONLY downside to visiting Thailand as a family holiday destination is that if you’re flying from Europe, Australia or the US, it’s a long-haul flight. Check out our tips for flying long-haul with kids, and for surviving jet lag with kids.
►When to visit Thailand with kids
Try and avoid travel between March and May, as it can be unbearably hot. The cool season, between November and February, is the best time to visit. Although don’t be put off by the wet season (roughly May to October) as accommodation prices drop and rains are generally short, sharp downpours. This is only a rough guide though as with a varied landscape, there are variations in climate.
► Our top tips for travelling Thailand with kids:
- Book accommodation that has air con and a swimming pool. You will need these treats to retire to after a day adventuring in the heat.
- Don’t worry about packing too many clothes. On our last trip, I didn’t pack any t-shirts at all for the boys and we picked up items from the markets along Th Khao San in Bangkok. The clothes are cheap and the boys really enjoyed shopping in the markets.
- Pack a water purification bottle. It is advised not to drink tap water.
- Get out early in the morning to beat the heat and the crowds.
- Use your accommodation to book trains and busses.
- Collect small notes. The tuk-tuk drivers never seem to have change.
Have you visited Thailand with kids? I’d love to know what you thought of it!