The vibrant city of Bangkok offers exotic sights, sounds and smells and can be a real wonderland for children. However, the city can also be a bit overwhelming for first time visitors who have yet to find their feet.
Luckily, Bangkok is an easy city to explore and it’s well-established tourist infrastructure means that families who are travelling with children of all ages will find plenty of things to see and do here.
Thai people are generally kind and loving, and tend to be entranced by foreign babies. Those who are travelling with babies or young children are often treated as celebrities, although don’t be surprised if your child gets far more attention than you do!
Young mothers may be alarmed at first when Thai people approach asking to hold their babies. However, incidents of kidnapping and violent crime are extremely low in Bangkok; most people are simply being friendly. In fact, these people can really come in handy, providing an extra pair of eyes or hands while you complete complicated tasks.
Fun everyday activities for kids in Bangkok
Sightseeing: Many of Bangkok’s most impressive attractions are popular with children as they are exotic and entertaining.
Some of the biggest hits with children in Bangkok include the Grand Palace temple complex, the giant reclining Buddha of Wat Pho, Dusit Zoo, the Children’s Discovery Museum, Siam Ocean World, and the Ancient City historic themed park in Samut Prakarn. See our attractions list for more details.
Go skating: The Sub Zero Ice Skate Club is the perfect place to beat the heat and have fun. Located at the Esplanade, just a short walk from the Thailand Cultural Centre MRT Station, the rink offers even those who are new to ice skating the chance to join in the fun, with lessons provided by professionals.
Video games: Take your computer game-loving kids to Pantip Plaza, which is located just a short distance from the Pratunam shopping district. This large technology super mall stocks thousands of games for all platforms, plus DVD movies are also for sale here, both in their original form and pirated copies that go for peanuts. There are also plenty of shops with Sony Playstations available for use here.
Boat rides: Most kids love a bit of adventure and a trip along the city’s extensive canal network on a longtail boat is an exciting experience. Longtail boats can be hired from the Tha Chang Pier and Phra Athit Pier on the Chao Phraya River and taken along the klongs of Thonburi. Trips often include a guide who can provide information on sights along the way. Kids will enjoy feeding the large catfish that gather near canal-side temples as well as seeing locals having fun while cooling off on the riverbanks.
Malls: Bangkok’s malls are air-conditioned, ultra-modern and often feature large areas of fun for kids, including playgrounds specially designed for toddlers. Older kids will also find entertainment in these malls in the form of huge video game arcades, cinemas and private karaoke booths. While the songs in these booths are mainly in Thai, the words are spelt out phonetically in Western script and you can have a good time trying to sing along to popular Thai ballads.
Nearly all of Bangkok’s malls also feature outlets of fast food franchises that are popular with kids, such as McDonald’s and KFC, while the Mall Bangkapi offers one of the largest and best children’s playgrounds in the whole of Bangkok.
Amusement parks: Bangkok offers a large number of exciting amusement parks to choose from, and although some are located on the outskirts of the city and are a little tricky to get to, others can be found in shopping mall complexes.
Travelling with children in Bangkok
Although travelling in an unfamiliar place can be rather daunting, even at the best of times, exploring Bangkok is simple and relatively cheap. What’s more, most Thai people adore children and are more likely to be found cooing over your baby and offering to look after them while you work out the travel details rather than complaining about them.
While travelling in Bangkok and the rest of Thailand is generally safe, there are a few points for parents to bear in mind. Bangkok’s stray dogs will probably not have been vaccinated against disease and children shouldn’t touch them, no matter how cute they may look. Mosquitoes can be relentless in this part of the world and can carry dengue fever, so children should be kept indoors at dusk and wear insect repellent. Fortunately, there is no risk of malaria infection in Bangkok.
Make sure that the little ones wear both sunscreen and hats, and drink plenty of water at regular intervals to avoid dehydration. Bangkok’s hospitals are world class and you shouldn’t hesitate to see a doctor if your child gets sick. Diarrhoea does occur fairly frequently here among tourists, and is usually due to visitors’ lower tolerance to spicy dishes or market food that may not have been prepared to Western hygiene standards. However, dysentery is rare and most visitors suffer from little more than an upset stomach for a few hours.
Childcare: Many of the city’s largest hotels offer a babysitting service, and most shopping malls also have a reliable childcare centre. Hiring a child carer or arranging for a baby sitter is fairly easy, although visitors will have to depend on word of mouth. The good news is that child carers are very affordable as they run to around 100 baht an hour.
The IPC Kindergarten & Nursery is located on Sukhumvit Soi 31 and is a community centre for families that offers morning, afternoon and Saturday activities for newborns to children aged 11 years old and also adults. Parents can leave their children here for an activity-filled day.
Some points to keep in mind
Here are a few issues to consider before you bring your kids to Bangkok for a holiday. Keeping these in mind will help ensure that both you and your children get the most out of your time in Thailand’s bustling capital city.
Remember the heat: temperatures in Bangkok can rise to extremely high levels, especially during the hot season, and it is important to exercise caution when exposing a child to this kind of heat. Hats are advisable throughout the year as well as a type of strong sun block.
Bring essentials with you: tracking down baby food and other essential items can be rather tricky in Bangkok, especially for those who run out at the last moment. While things such as diapers are widely available, finding jars of Western-style baby food can be a bit of a challenge.
Reconsider taking that stroller: Bangkok’s pavements are often full of cracks and holes and tend to be blocked at regular intervals by obstacles such as street stalls and utility poles. Negotiating these pavements with a stroller can be an extremely difficult and frustrating experience, and visitors would be better off either carrying their babies in a type of sling or on their backs in a special carry chair.
Adult-oriented areas: although Bangkok has a rich culture and a long tradition of hospitality, part of that is undeniably wrapped up with the city’s sex industry. Evidence of this is quite obvious in some areas, especially in the foreigner-heavy neighbourhoods of Sukhumvit and Silom. The popular Patpong tourist market is in the midst of one of Bangkok’s legendary red-light districts, and pole dancing is clearly visible from many of the open windows, plus sex workers and pimps aggressively plying their trades here. Parents of teenagers should exercise caution when letting their children out to ‘explore’ the city at night, as it is all too easy for impressionable teens to find their way to these areas.