What to do with your family on a vacation to Thailand? Well, there’s a myriad of activities to choose from – your problem will be trying to fit them all in.
Thailand has some of the world’s most glorious beaches. From collecting seashells on the seashore to going for long walks on the beach, to snorkeling and riding the ocean waves, there’s no shortage of beach activities to partake in. The more crowded beaches have banana boats, jet skis and parasailing. On the quieter ones, you can leave your footprints in the sand and hike to terrific vantage points to catch Thailand’s well-renowned sunsets.
By Scott Murray
Rent a sailboat—bareboat or with skipper and crew—and discover southern Thailand’s glorious anchorages and cruising spots.
Travel third-class to train to Lopburi and witness the smells and sights of Thailand’s central plains as the railway trestles cut through the pastoral rice-fields. Vendors move up and down the aisles of the train cars selling everything from chicken and sticky rice to beer and Pepsi. Once in Lopburi, experience the three packs of monkeys that run rampant over the city center. And take a historical walking tour to see the remains of King Narai’s palace as well as the home of Constantine Phaulkon, Narai’s acting minister of finance and foreign affairs, the only foreigner to hold such exalted posts in the history of Thailand.
Another interesting train trip starts across the river in Thonburi and travels through Kanchanaburi up to Nam Tok, a short distance from Hellfire Pass, home of the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum, which details all the horror, history and hardship of the Death Railway. The railway cutting, was carved out by Allied POWs with the most basic tools. The moniker Hellfire Pass came from the image of emaciated prisoners labouring at night by torchlight, resembling something out of Dante’s Inferno.
Aside from its historic significance, Hellfire Pass is a great place to trek for the whole family as there is a 4km walking trail. Stop off in Kanchanaburi on the way home, it helps if your kids have an interest in history because there’s just so much there. From the POW cemeteries to the actual Bridge over the River Kwai and the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre, a museum & research center privately funded and run by Australian Rod Beattie. “Living history” and a great way to explore the western part of Thailand. The seven-tiered Erawan Falls in Erawan National Park with their turquoise pools are also well worth a visit if you are in the area. In fact, most of Thailand’s national parks are worth a visit if you have the means to get to them. Just remember, that unfortunately, they do practice a two-tiered pricing system whereby Thais are charged a much lower entrance fee than foreigners. www.thainationalparks.com is a great site for learning more information about all the country’s wondrous parks.
Many tour companies in northern Thailand combine an elephant trek with a bamboo rafting trip. If you have time, rent a car and driver and discover some of the charming hilltribe villages in the area. A great driving loop is to start off in Chiang Mai head south hitting Doi Inthanon (Thailand’s largest peak), then passing through Mai Sariang, before heading up to Mae Hong Son and Pai before returning to Chiang Mai.
Siam Ocean World in the Siam Paragon Mall and Safari World are both worth a trip if you are spending any time in Bangkok. And make sure you save time for a klong, or canal trip, using the Khlong Saen Saep Boat Service. The smells may be a little tough at times, but the sights and sounds along the journey make it a fascinating trip for children.
All the major shopping malls have comfortable state-of-the-art cineplexes (some even have IMAX screens), and since Thais have long been big fans of cartoons, you can be guaranteed there will be some animated features showing during your visits. The malls usually have game rooms where your kids can spend time gaming as well. And the Mall shopping centre chain has amusement parks on the roofs of the majority of their malls featuring water slides, swimming pools – great ways to beat Thailand’s midday heat.
Other child-friendly destinations in Bangkok include: Snow Town Bangkok, an indoor themed village and play area with 40 cm of artificial snow located in the Gateway Ekkamai shopping mall. Flight Experience Bangkok, a flight simulator, is also located in the same mall. The Holiday Inn Sukhumvit is home to Lazgam Bangkok, a laser tag game set amidst a maze of walls and partitions. Bounce Inc. Bangkok is an action-packed trampoline park and climbing centre., located on the 5th Floor of The Street Ratchada (Formerly Robinsons Department Store). And Kidzania, on the 5th floor of Siam Paragon, allows kids to try out a range of activities in a model city. Popular ‘jobs’ include firefighting, policing, playing doctor at the miniature hospital, and learning how to make sushi like a master chef. There’s also wakeboarding at Tac Lake, out Bang-na way.
Every major resort has a kid’s center where childcare workers will look after your children if you want some down time, or just a little time to yourself. These same resorts usually have a spa service offering a wondrous array of massages. So, while the kids are being watched over you can pamper yourself with a luxurious aromatic rub down.
And if you do happen to visit Thailand during Songkran (the Thai Buddhist New Year), you will experience the world’s biggest water fight, whereby you and your kids are sure to get wet and have a good time—just make sure to waterproof your mobile phone and other valuables. The tradition, held during the height of dry season, was designed originally as a way of showing respect to your elders, but these days, even the elders get wet when the water guns come out. And everyone gets into act, across the country, so unless you stay inside you are going to get wet everywhere you go.
Thais love children, and annually celebrate Wan Dek (Children’s Day), Thais make the best babysitters in the world – so don’t worry, you children will be well cared for and looked after.
More info coming, we will continue to update our list to share with you.