Thailand is surprisingly family-friendly with a range of activities and outings guaranteed to delight parents and children alike. For those with infants, the Thais’ innate adoration of children will usually guarantee that they stay entertained and are given special treatment.
Tailor-made for Children
The city of Bangkok is great fun for kids with its theme parks, play areas and river cruises. The shopping options at the many malls are sure to appeal to the tweens and teens. A popular destination on the northern outskirts of Bangkok is Safari World, which recreates a faux savannah replete with wandering prides of lion and loping herds of giraffe. Equally popular is Dream World, Thailand’s homegrown Disneyland lookalike, with plenty of rides for children of all ages, water parks, and even a freezing –3°C Snow Town where you can play with real snow.
At Phuket, the nature-minded (and also those who like to walk on the edge) might enjoy the Flight of the Gibbon, Thailand’s canopy adventure, strung out over 100m of zipline connecting platforms high above the lush rainforest. Under the supervision of expert instructors, you can challenge yourself with suspended bridges, spider nets, Tarzan jumps, flying swings and other opportunities for derring-do, while getting glimpses of giant squirrels, barking deer, macaques (monkeys) and gibbons.
Safe Seaside Fun
Of the many destinations in Thailand, children will especially enjoy the beaches: most have shallow bays with gentle waves and are good for novice swimmers. The further south you go, the clearer the water becomes, and where there is a proximity to reefs, all kinds of colourful and curious fish swim by, providing moments of enjoyment. Many of the beach destinations like Phuket and Ko Chang, also have wildlife encounters, waterfall spotting and organised watersports ideal for older children.
Top Choice: Regions for family travel
• Ko Chang (Pattaya & the Eastern Seaboard) Families with children of all ages flock to Ko Chang. Shallow seas are kind to young swimmers and the low evening tides make for good beachcombing. Older children will like the interior jungle, elephant camp and mangrove kayaking. The neighbouring islands of Ko Wai and Ko Kut have looking-glass clear water.
• Hua Hin (Upper Gulf Coast, Bangkok Getaways) Hua Hin attracts an international crowd and has a long sandy coastline for mini marathons. Phetchaburi’s cave temples often deliver a bat sighting. And the beach stops of Ban Krut and Bang Saphan Yai are so casual that you can wake up and play in the waves before you brush your teeth.
• Ko Samui & Gulf Coast Older children can strap on a mask and snorkel without worry. Ko Samui, especially the northern beaches, are a hit with toddlers, while Chaweng appeals to older kids.
• Phuket & Andaman Coast In addition to the beach activites, Phuket has amusements galore; just steer clear of the party scene of Patong. There are at least a dozen islands along this coast where families can frolic in the sea.
• Bangkok With its above ground Skytrain and shopping malls complete with escalators (a preschool favourite), Bangkok is an eternal favourite with kids. Theme parks, cultural shows and museums are among the many attractions.
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