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We already knew a lot about Thailand, having previously lived in Bangkok teaching English and visiting multiple times on holidays.
That was pre-kids, but we still thought we still knew what to expect and felt prepared to travel to Thailand with kids.
Before we left on our most recent trip we shared our thoughts on planning a trip to Thailand with kids, which is a helpful guide to anyone taking on this adventure.
However, we also discovered there are some things about travelling in Thailand with kids we weren’t prepared for.
1. Get a direct flight to Thailand. We flew from Sydney via Kuala Lumpur (4 hour wait) and it was too long a journey for the girls and an unnecessary extra leg of travel each way. Sorry Air Asia, but I think our “long haul” relationship with you is over. Yes, you were cheaper, BUT next time we will fly direct and pay the little bit extra.
2. Try and time it so you arrive at your children’s bed time or before. We FINALLY checked in to our hotel in Bangkok at 2am (Australian time). This was a little too much for the girls to handle.
3. Make your first day after arrival a relaxing day. Going to the crowded Grand Palace the morning after an extremely long day of travel and tiring flight was the recipe for a meltdown in the most important temple in Bangkok.
4. If you can, save visiting Bangkok until the end of your trip when the kids have adjusted to Thai culture. Bangkok can be a little too crazy for a young, fresh-to-the-country mind to absorb first up. Plus, you won’t have to carry all your “shopping purchases” around with you.
5. Allow for several days before your children adjust to the change in time, temperature and culture.
6. Only do one big activity a day and make it in the morning while they are fresh. Relax more in the afternoon.
7. If you have a toddler, take an umbrella stroller. They will be lighter and easier to move around the crazy, uneven streets.
8. If flying with Air Asia which operates out of the old Don Mueang airport, save money for a taxi to and from the airport in Bangkok into Siam (approx 500 – 600 baht). It is worth the spend.
Having to get the shuttle bus from the airport to Chit Lom sky train station, and then into the city can be a hassle. Not all sky train stations have escalators, and it can be hot, or raining, and tiring with your kiddies and all your luggage climbing stairs. For the rest of your time in Bangkok, the Skytrain (BTS) is awesome!
9. For toddlers, make sure you check your hotel room has baby cots unless you co-sleep. It is not common and you don’t want to be chasing a toddler around the room at 4 am. (read tips for travelling with toddlers)
10. For short-term visits to Thailand, plan to go to just one or two places. Moving around a lot is too taxing for your children and you.
11. Most baby essentials are easy to find across the country, but if you or your child is fussy to a certain brand then pack enough supplies.
12. It’s rare to find a seat belt, let alone a baby car seat in Thailand. Be prepared to wrestle your toddler the whole trip, or bring your own car seat if you are that concerned (not sure how you will go hooking it up though!). If you are travelling in a van or a bus, you may be lucky enough to have enough space to pop in your pram with your baby strapped inside (what we did).
13. You’ll be able to find Western food easily enough, but if you want your child’s taste buds to explore then we recommend Pad Thai or Pad See Ew as an easy way to start. Other foods might be a little too spicy for your child’s stomach. You can ask for a dish to be not too spicy (nid noi) which means little bit in Thai.
14. Keep your children hydrated with plenty of water. 7/11 stores are EVERYWHERE and you can buy bottled water for cheap. Fresh coconuts, if they like the flavour, is great for hydration (and cheap too compared to here in Australia). (Read more: Tips for travelling with kids in the heat)
15. Duck into shopping malls, 7/11 stores or even Starbucks for a little A/C cool down. This can really help your child readjust to the heat and give them a break. Hot children can turn into cranky ones fast.
16. If you are staying in a hotel, they often have babysitting and kids club services. And the Thai’s are GREAT with kids. Use it once or twice for a break.
17. Have lazy beach or pool days or mornings / afternoons so they can relax and have fun.
18. Involve your children in activities they will enjoy. There are plenty of fun things for kids to do. Kalyra loved doing the
Kalyra loved doing the Thai cooking class with me and she was fascinated learning about preparing coconut and rice, and of course drinking Thai condensed milk tea and coconut milk sweets. She also loved getting her hair braided.
19. Be prepared for your children to be adored by the Thai people. i.e. picked up, cuddled, photos taken of them, and playing games with them to allow you a moment to breathe!
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