Travel has taken a beating lately. It used to be you could count on a quick road trip to rejuvenate the soul. But throw in a pandemic, and getting away is something you only dream about experiencing.
Yet things are changing. Here are some incredible must-see places, attractions, and activities with children post-pandemic in Thailand when travel is common again. If going far away isn't your thing, check out this perfect California road trip for the whole family.
Sun-kissed beaches. Lumbering elephants. Frothy coconut drinks. These are some of the images that come to mind when dreaming about travel to Thailand.
What else comes to mind? Well, where will I take my kids? And how will I entertain them? Any trip needs to be momma and kid-friendly.
The good news is that Thailand is surprisingly family-friendly and plenty of brave parents and tots travel throughout the country. Transportation is easy, plenty of accommodations to choose from, and the food is delicious.
If your kids prefer burgers and fries instead of pad thai, you'll have tons of options for western cuisine. Depending on how long you have, most travelers go north to Chiang Mai or south to Phuket and Krabi. Bangkok usually gets explored as well.
No matter where you're headed in Thailand, landing in Bangkok is a normal part of the tour. Bangkok, even for the most seasoned travelers, can be overwhelming. The sea of traffic and smells make for an instant adventure.
But hidden beneath the swarming tuk-tuks and maze-like streets is a vibrant city with sumptuous food, ancient culture, and Thai hospitality.
Places to Visit
The Grand Palace: A visit to Bangkok wouldn't be complete without seeing The Grand Palace and the Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The beauty of the palace is timeless.
Wat Pho: The kids will love gazing at the giant reclining Buddha. It's an easy 10-minute walk from the palace.
Chatuchak Weekend Market: It isn't a trip to Bangkok without visiting the Chatuchak Weekend Market. You can buy local Thai products and tasty Thai cuisine.
Boat trips: Entertain the kiddos with a boat trip along Bangkok's many canals.
Siam Naramit: Dazzle the family with a Broadway envy performance of singing, dancing, and extravagant costumes.
Lumpini Park: If you need a playground, a green zone, and a place to enjoy a Thai picnic, head to Lumpini Park.
Thai Markets: One of the best experiences to have in Bangkok is exploring one or more of the many day, night, and weekend markets with the kiddos.
Siam Paragon: For luxury shopping and a food court that can't be missed, Siam Paragon fits the bill. Plus, stepping into some AC cools down even the rowdiest kids.
Thai Street Food: Some of the best nibbles in Bangkok come in the most surprising places. Street food is an art in Bangkok and a way to explore the cuisine without breaking the bank. For picky kids, fried rice is always a safe choice. Or mango with sticky rice.
Choosing where to land in Bangkok can be difficult because of the sheer size. It will depend on how long you're staying and what you want to pay. Backpackers usually head to Khao San Road, where cheap hostels and nightlife flourishes. But for families, it may not be the best choice.
Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort - a pricier choice for the family, but the pool is fantastic. With a shuttle to and from the airport, you can arrive with ease. Plus, add in a kid's club and activities. You'll be happy you splurged.
Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel - is another upscale choice. Still, it's located in the center of Bangkok and comes with a family-friendly vibe that makes travel seem like home.
Riva Surya Bangkok - For a more budget-conscious choice, the Riva Surya Bangkok offers kid-friendly amenities at a more agreeable price tag.
If you want to binge on beach fun, southern Thailand will suffice. The calm mint waters and ocean breezes make for heady getaways. But the fun doesn't end at the beach. When you head south from Bangkok, you can explore national parks, bustling cities, and island getaways.
Places to Visit
It's hard to select only a few spots down south to explore. One jumping-off point is Krabi. It's a little-big town on the west coast of southern Thailand. Most people only stopover in Krabi before taking off for some breathtaking destinations. Check out the ones below for places to experience in the region.
- Koh Phi Phi
- Koh Lanta
- Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park
- Ko Pha Ngan
- Koh Sak National Park
- Ko Toh
- Phang Nga Bay
- Ko Lipe
Southern Thailand has accommodations for every kind of budget. You can stay in a beach-front pool retreat in Kamala or a budget hotel off the beaten track.
Since the hotel and Airbnb choices abound, we asked a mom traveling and living in Asia for some Southern Thailand recommendations.
Sabai Corner Bungalows on Koh Yao Noi Island offer affordable magical treehouse cabanas with glistening views and lovely food. For the price, you can't go wrong staying a few days here.
JW Marriot Phuket Resort & Spa in Phuket - for an upscale choice with three swimming pools and a kid's club, you'll sink into pampered heaven with children in tow.
Crown Lanta Resort & Spa in Koh Lanta - offers upscale villas close to the water with gorgeous sunsets and privacy. The family-friendly vibe makes for a fun-filled getaway you won't forget.
Phi Phi Relax Beach Resort in Koh Phi Phi - a down-to-earth resort steps away from world-class snorkeling.
If the beaches or national parks aren't a big enough draw for your kiddos, then you have a few options for entertainment.
Splash Jungle Water Park - a water park in Phuket that entertains both kids and adults.
Phuket Bird Park - Bring your binoculars when you explore the bird paradise on 23 acres of land.
Phuket Aquarium - Why swim with the fishes when you can experience them right in front of you?
Things to Consider Before Traveling
As a mom traveling with kids, the prospect of exploring Thailand can seem daunting at best. What you pack depends on the ages of your kids and lifestyle. Here are a few things to think about when traveling to Southeast Asia with children.
Everyone should be up on their vaccinations. While vaccination has become controversial over the years, it's always best to follow the country's guidelines.
Before visiting, you may need a Thai visa. This depends on nationality, and sometimes visas can take a few days or weeks. You also need to make sure you have enough pages left in your passport and that it doesn't expire soon.
If you have any medications you need, buy them ahead of time. However, medicine is readily available and usually easy to find if needed.
Crossing time zones results in some gnarly jet lag for the whole family. Plan for this and, upon arrival, perhaps stay in a nice hotel with two rooms to recover. Adults have a hard time managing jet lag, but little ones may need some extra support.
The weather in South East Asia is hot, humid, and sweaty. But there is a dry and wet season. Most people travel there during the dry season to avoid the daily downpours.
But the wet season is fine as well. Yes, the weather can mess with a beach day, but there is usually enough sun for a fun day, and the off-season makes for a cheaper holiday.
Traveling with kids is a non-stop, action-packed adventure. Yet, there may be a time you want to experience culture and cocktails alone. Many hotels and resorts offer babysitting services or kid clubs.
You drop the kids off for a cooking class, and you enjoy a meal in peace. There's nothing wrong with getting away. If you're going for an extended trip, you can try booking a nanny or babysitter.
If your child still requires a car seat, this is something to consider ahead of time. You can buy one there or go like some of the locals and not use one. One excellent car seat that's cheap and easy to lug around an airport and beyond is the Cosco Scenera NEXT Convertible Car Seat.
The car seat is the same one you rent at most car rental companies in the States for almost the same price. It's lightweight, straps to anything, and you won't be heartbroken if you lose the seat.
Travel Fun Bags
While packing as little as possible is evergreen advice, thinking about entertainment on the international flight is wise. Check out the ultimate packing list for traveling with toddlers.
Packing for Southeast Asia
Oh, the joys of packing for a trip with kids. The lists you'll make! The things you think you need. My suggestion is to cut up the list and only bring the essentials. You can always buy what you need along the way.
What you need is a good suitcase like the new Sea & Grass roller bag or a Rainbow backpack for the kiddos. And remember, depending on their age, your kids lug their own bags.
Shoes for bigger feet can be hard to find in Thailand. While a pair of flip-flops will suffice, you may need some trekking shoes for hiking. I'd buy those ahead of time.
Also, mosquitos are plentiful in Thailand. It will feel as if a swarm of mosquitoes is waiting only for you each day. While the locals may suggest eating spicy food, I'd add a good repellant or two in your bag.
Another consideration is bringing along a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt or jacket when visiting the temples or other Buddhist sights. Women need to cover their shoulders when visiting religious places.
Traveling post-pandemic may not be the same carefree adventure it once was without masks and social distancing. But exploring the Land of Smiles with your kids will not only make unforgettable Instagram moments but a trip of a lifetime. Travel safe!
If you want to explore national parks, check out this must-see California parks.