For one reason or another, we are drawn to the bright lights of Bangkok time and time again. We love the energy, the ornate temples, the colourful markets, the polite people and the food… oh my THE FOOD! Bangkok is very accessible for young families and it’s most definitely worth stopping over for a day or so to take in the sights, stock up on new clothes from the markets, taste a roasted scorpion or sit back and soak in the vibe.
Here’s our suggested one day itinerary…
07:00 – 08:00
Get an early start and head downstairs for breakfast. Most hotels in Bangkok include breakfast in the room rate and it tends to be child-friendly: our two usually have fruit juice, milk (hot or cold), toast, jam, fresh fruit and scrambled eggs. Basically what we do at home, minus the negotiations and washing up. Head back to the room, get changed, pack your day bag, load up the baby back-carrier and prepare to head into the city!
08:00 – 10:00
The clock is ticking so now is the time to get out and explore the city before the heat kicks in. Ask your hotel to call you a taxi (and get them to write the destination in Thai) and head over to Wat Arun on the banks of the Chao Phraya river. It might lack the size and prestige of the Grand Palace but it more than makes up for it in peace, accessibility and low-key temple time perfect for little ones. Gently stroll around the gardens, sit and relax in one of the many temples and receive a blessing from a monk. All without the crowds and hassle of the Grand Palace.
10:00 – 11:00
After the temple, walk the short distance to the river and catch a cheap (THB4), regular (every 15mins) ferry across the Chao Praya River. From there, catch one of the tourist ferries towards Phra Arthit pier which will leave you a fifteen minute walk from the lunchtime stops in either Soi Rambuttri or Khao San Rd. The ferry is a brilliant activity for children, it won’t be busy at this time and it gives them (and you) a brief lull to sit down and catch their breath. It’s fascinating to see the city float past and the river lets you see parts of it that you’d miss sat in a traffic jam. Just remember that the ferries aren’t especially health and safety orientated so do keep hold of your little ones.
11:00 – 12:00
We’re approaching nap (or chill) time but first there is time for some lunch. Two areas stand out in this part of town – Soi Rambuttri and Khao San Rd. You’ll have probably heard of the latter (you may even have spent a few drunken hours here in a previous life #nojudgement) but all of the partying and excess happens much later in the evening – around lunchtime it’s actually quite a chilled out place to spend an hour, with lots of street food and child friendly (think high-chair!) restaurants. Our choice would be the Soi Rambuttri – fifteen minute walk from the river, super-chilled restaurants, less traffic and beautiful little shops to look around. Pick a comfy seat, ask for a high-chair and order whatever the kids want – they (and you) have earned it. Go on, have a beer 😉
12:00 – 14:30
Walk, taxi or tuk-tuk back to the hotel, put on the AC, draw the curtains, put the kids in bed and… chill. A busy morning but an what an amazing one.
14:30 – 16:30
Beat the early afternoon traffic jams and jump into a tuk-tuk; you can easily fit a family of four in one and it’s a brilliant way to travel. The kids will love it but make sure they (and you) hold on tight. Ask to be taken to Lumpini Park, in the centre of the city. Prepare for a change of pace, it’s here that Bangkok comes to breathe, one of the few places in the city which reverberates to the sound of nature not traffic. The kids will love the freedom to run around and explore the greenery, plus they can play on the paddleboats, go wild in the playground or eat some tasty street-food. Find a quiet patch of grass and watch them go.
16:30 – 17:00
You’ll be so relaxed at the park that you might not want to leave but now is the time to jump on the Metro at either Silom or Lumpini and head to Hua Lamphong railway station. The metro is easy to navigate, not too hectic and fun for the kids. It’ll drop you off near:
17:00 – 19:00
Chinatown. Prepare yourself, it’s going to get busy. But you’ll look back on it during quieter moments in years to come and be so pleased you made the effort to come here. The brief walk from the Metro will lead you into the quieter side streets, allowing you to get your bearings and look around some of the shops which line the tightly packed alleyways. There is something for everyone here and the kids will love looking around and saying hello to the shopkeepers. Bangkok is a very friendly city but Chinatown locals seem particularly happy to see you. Venture further into the crowds and try to find a suitable looking restaurant; the high-chair might be harder to find here but the trade-off is amazing food for the whole family. If no restaurant takes your fancy, grab some street food and join the locals eating on the move.
19:00 – 20:00
It’s almost time for bed but before you go, stop off at the Democracy Monument in the centre of town. Over the years it’s been the site of protests and celebrations, uprisings and moments of national solidarity, but it’s likely you’ll catch it in a quieter, more reflective mood. The sun will have set by now and most of the heat gone from the sky so spend a few minutes with the kids watching the mopeds buzz around, let them try one last snack and remind yourself that in a few weeks time, you’ll wish you were here but it’ll all feel a million miles away. Head back to the hotel, quick hose-down for the kids, bedtime routine for everyone and let your head hit the pillow.
Our favourite stay is Ratchadamnoen Residence a few steps away from the Democracy Monument. Even though it was very central, the hotel is located down a quiet side street so it feels nice and relaxing with the children (we were there when the King passed away so there were a lot of people nearby but it still felt like we were tucked away). The well-equipped family apartment (two bedrooms, kitchenette, bathroom) was £34 per night which included the excellent breakfast mentioned above. Great location and walking distance to Khao San Rd and Soi Rambuttri. Highly recommended.
You may also want to consider the Rambuttri Village Plaza (in Soi Rambuttri) which has great family rooms for about the same price as above in a very good location. Alternatively, we most recently stayed at The Bang Khun Phrom Suites. There are no family rooms, but the bed is large enough for a young family to share, it’s in a quieter location and the walk to Khao San passes lots of lovely low-key restaurants.
Where would we be without our trusted Lonely Planet?