Bangkok with children travel guide

Think of Bangkok and you probably picture a sprawling Asian mega city that’s more suited to backpackers and partygoers than families and kids. But it’s a hugely engaging and surprisingly family-friendly city. And with plenty of modes of transport and the centre of a nation that adores children, Bangkok represents an ideal stopover destination for families.

One of the main reasons that we like Bangkok so much is that it effortlessly allows us to blend a relaxing family break with a more adventurous and cultured experience. If you pick a hotel with a pool, you can spend half a day exploring the city and the other half lapping up the sunshine while your kids splash about.

With average annual temperatures of 28 degrees C (84F) and average daily sunshine topping out at 7 hours, it’s a consistent destination, which rewards the inquisitive.  Here, we take a look at some of the more child-friendly attractions for families.

Quick Tips

  • Bangkok is hot and humid, so make sure you travel everywhere with bottles of water handy
  • Boats and trains in Bangkok are so simple to use, however don’t forget about Uber. Incredibly cheap and reliable, you can get from one side of the city to the other for $5. Traffic allowing of course
  • Buying tickets online or booking through your hotel can often get you discounts
  • May to October is rainy season with September generally Bangkok’s wettest month

Child-friendly things to do in Bangkok

Siam Ocean World

Located in the basement of the Siam Paragon shopping mall, this is Bangkok’s Sea Life Centre, the largest of its kind in Asia and a great half day visit for your family. This is a really slick attraction, with large glass tanks and glass walk-through tunnels featuring sharks, rays, turtles and of course, Nemo and Dory. It’s air conditioned and you can venture through the different zones at your own pace.

Thankfully, it doesn’t get too crowded and while you may have to wait your turn to press your nose up against one of the tanks, you’ll never feel too claustrophobic. As it’s located in a shopping mall, you’ve got a good opportunity to get food and refreshments before or after your visit.

  • Cost: Children under the age of three are free. Children 3-11 are 350 Baht, adults are 390 Baht
  • Tickets: You can purchase tickets on the door, or if you book 24-hours in advance online here you can get as much as a 30% discount
  • How to get there: To get to Siam Paragon shopping mall, get the BTS SkyTrain to Siam Station and use exit 5 to take you to Siam Ocean World
  • More information: www.sealifebangkok.com

Chao Phraya River and Canal Boat rides

The River of Kings isn’t the prettiest or cleanest but its intrigue and access to major tourist spots in Bangkok make it a must for families. Plenty of boats travel up and down the Chao Phraya with regular hop-on, hop-off tourist boats available that don’t cost much for a day ticket.

You can also book private tours on smaller boats, which take you along the canal networks behind the main river, allowing you to see how the locals live.

  • Cost: 150 Baht for an all day travel ticket on the tourist boat. Private hire costs vary, expect to pay in the region of 500-800 Baht for a two hour trip
  • Tickets: Purchase them at the piers or on the boat, make sure you have change handy. Book private boats at piers or from your hotel.
  • How to get there: The tourist boat stops at 8 different piers. 
  • More information: Visit the Tourist Boat website.

Tuk-Tuks

Zooming in and out of traffic around the backstreets of Bangkok make Tuk-Tuks one of the quickest form of transport in the city. They’re also hands down the most fun. Our three year old boy absolutely loved zipping around one of these. Be prepared to haggle with the driver and note that their English isn’t always as good as cab drivers, so it always helps to have your destination written down.

Tuk-Tuk ride in Bangkok
Tuk-Tuk ride in Bangkok

Jim Thompson House

Perhaps not an obvious choice, as Jim Thompson and his silk doesn’t scream child-friendly. He was an American living in Thailand and who helped to reinvigorate the Thai silk industry in the 1950s and 1960s. However his house is a tranquil oasis in a city of noise, cars and sky-rise buildings.

Jim Thompson house
Jim Thompson house

The house is a wonderfully preserved collection of six wooden buildings, built in traditional Thai style and with all of the original antiques and art on display. Your entry ticket gives you a timed guided tour of the house and grounds, which takes about 45 minutes and then you’re free to wander about.

If the tour of the house starts doesn’t interest your little ones, then the demonstrations on how silk is made will. You can witness skilled craftsmen using silkworm cocoons to spin out thread – and if your child is lucky enough, they’re given a cocoon to take home with them.

One final note is that the hosts and guides are excellent with children. Before our timed tour, our son was in awe of their origami making skills and was delighted when he was given a number of these as gifts. If the older kids are lucky enough, they’re given quick lessons to fold their own paper art.

 

  • Cost: 150 Baht for adults, 100 Baht if you’re under 22
  • Tickets: You can buy these on the door, no need to book in advance
  • How to get there: Located in central Bangkok and not far from Siam Ocean World (see above). Closest stop on the BTS is National Stadium
  • More information: www.jimthompsonhouse.com

Floating Markets

There are a number of floating markets around Bangkok although note that in some cases the definition of ‘floating’ is relatively loose; some are better and busier than others.

Ranging from 30 minutes to an almost two hour drive away from Bangkok, these represent half or full day trips. If you book a private tour, expect a trip in a canal boat to arrive at the market in style, which is a lot of fun if your kids are the right age.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that these markets have been around for centuries as some are actually quite new, however that doesn’t necessarily make them any less authentic. As an example, Khlong Lat Mayom is one of the newest floating markets, located quite close to the centre of Bangkok, but rarely visited by tourists. Its canal is very narrow, meaning only a few boats can pull up to sell their goods so most of the market stalls are on dry land.

Despite this, the market is bustling and with things you might actually want to buy. Fresh fruit and vegetable stands as well as snacks and street food reign over touristy gifts.

At the other end of the scale is Damnoen Saduak, perhaps the most well known and therefore busiest of the floating markets. It’s probably a bit too busy if you’re going with kids and therefore perhaps a little daunting, so one to avoid.

 

  • Cost: Variable, depending if you book a private tour or go it alone. Expect to pay anywhere between 250 – 750 Baht for an organised trip
  • Tickets: Widely available and can be booked in most hotels
  • How to get there: Some can be reached by cab, however most private tours use minibuses

Lumphini Park

In the heart of Bangkok sits Lumphini Park, a peaceful green space built in the 1920s on what was Royal property. Escaping the noise, traffic and relentlessness of the city can be difficult, so Lumphini is a welcome destination for locals and travellers.

Dogs aren’t allowed in the park and the open spaces, artificial lake with boating and monitor lizards make this a great place to visit with children.

 

  • Cost: It’s free to enter, although you have to pay for boats and access to the exercise yard
  • Tickets: n/a
  • How to get there: Silom or Lumphini MRT Stations will take you direct to the park

Asiatique

This is a relatively new attraction in Bangkok, situated right on the Chao Phraya river and just south of the Saphan Taksin BTS station. Opening at 5pm, Asiatique offers shopping, restaurants, entertainment and big wheel, with views across the city.

The shopping here is focused on fashion and gadgets although offers a range of souvenirs and the usual delights that Thai markets have to offer. Many of the small boutiques are run by young locals selling independent collections of art, clothes, jewellery and gifts.

There’s a mix of street food-style vendors and larger restaurants with AirCon, many of which are child-friendly with a good selection of food from kid’s menus.

The big wheel is a big attraction and at the base are other rides and opportunities for older kids to have fun. With a free shuttle boat operating from Thaksin Pier, Asiatique is an ideal evening out for families.

Big wheel at AsiatiqueBig wheel at Asiatique

The things we pack for a plane journey with our child

When we go out for the day with our child, my wife brings along a backpack that contains a solution to every eventuality. It weighs more than our four year old boy. But she likes to be prepared and she takes no chances, even though I can’t remember the last time we opened it.

We have the same levels of obsessive planning when we fly, although the bag is lighter and it gets used more often. Here’s what we pack in the bag every time we fly.

The practical stuff

The Bag

We think that it’s important that the bag we pack for our boy is one that he can take ownership of and identify as his own. This means that the bag we pack with his stuff in, is his bag and for him to own it, he has to love it. In our case, we’ve got him a Trunki.

If you don’t know of these, you’ve probably seen one wheeled through an airport. They’re a true genius invention and one that we take on every trip. If you’ve not heard of a Trunki, they’re a mini suitcase with four wheels, that kids can sit on and which parents can drag along behind them. Their size complies with carry-on baggage rules, so no need to check them in.

c/o Trunki website

You can also purchase an accompanying insert ‘purse’, which we take out and use as our go-to bag when we’ve sat down on the plane, avoiding having to get the Trunki down from the overhead compartment.

Toys – that he chooses

We get our son involved in packing his bag, and in preparation for the holiday, he can choose some small toys to take. He generally chooses a random collection, and this gives him some familiarity when he’s in new environments.

A change of clothes

We always carry a spare change of clothes, and not always because of an accident or in preparation for lost luggage. If we’re travelling on a night flight, we will take his pyjamas with us, in order to settle him in to his night time routine.

Empty collapsible water bottle

Something like this is a brilliant bottle to take away as when it’s empty (like, before you go through security) it takes up no space at all. When you’re on the plane, just ask the cabin crew to fill it up with fresh water and they’ll be more than happy to oblige.

c/o Amazon / Delong

Wipes

Where would we be without that flexible little packet of wipes? Before eating, after eating, cleaning up spillages etc. We take loads of these away with us.

Snacks

While most airlines provide excellent food options, having familiar snacks available for those times in between meals is a good idea. We tend to bring dried fruit bars, raisins, and other longer-life snacks that don’t take up too much room.

Entertainment

Although our kids are growing up in a digital generation, an iPad or in-flight entertainment system won’t hold their attention for the duration of a plane journey. Certainly not ours anyway. And with new rules preventing large devices being taken on board certain flights into the UK and US, parents have to get creative. So what do we do?

Prizes

We wrap and pack some prizes for the plane, to reward the little man for good behaviour. These are an incredibly manipulative but hugely successful method for managing children on long journeys!

Read about our Reward System idea in our Top Tips for Stress-free travelling here.

Headphones

Okay so it’s inevitable that they’ll want to watch something on a screen, so instead of using the in-flight earphones, which aren’t always suitable for little ears, we’ve bought our own. The first time we used these Batman headphones, we surprised him on the plane with them and he was delighted. Make sure that you also get some earphone adapters for the seat sockets too.

c/o Amazon

Playdough (or Play-doh for our non British friends)

They’re cheap, they come in transportable little pots, and kids can spend hours mashing around with these on a flight.

Good old fashioned pens and paper

When we’re on the way home, we get our little boy to draw pictures of his favourite memories from the holiday; making his own postcards for Grandma.