Bangkok City Guide: The Best Things To Do In Bangkok With Kids

Family travel blogger Rene Young of Together We Roam shares her top tips for a stopover in Bangkok with kids.

Gilded palaces share Bangkok’s skyline with mega malls, the traditional collides with the ultra-modern in a most frenetic pace. The wonderfully diverse capital offers myriad ways to choose your own family adventure.

Explore the magnificent Grand Palace

Allow at least half a day to explore the Grand Palace’s enormous 21-hectare grounds and stroller friendly pathways. Divided into an outer, middle and inner court there are countless temples, pavilions and royal buildings to admire. The intricately decorated pediments and statues, manicured gardens and golden spired rooftops around the grounds a marvel in its own right.

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Drop lucky coins at Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)

Wat Pho stands as one of the city’s oldest temples, just to the south of the Grand Palace complex, and is home to a impressive 45-metre long golden Reclining Buddha featuring intricate mother of pearl inlay and Buddhist Sanskrit.

Let kids run the world at KidZania Bangkok

KidZania is a unique Disneyeque concept where kids work and earn Kidzos (KidZania currency) to buy experiences. It’s capitalism for kids done in a super cute way. Kids get to ‘work’ in a variety of occupations, they can; solve crime as a police officer, hose down a smoking hotel as a fire fighter, attend to the sick and wounded at the hospital, become a flight attendant at AirAsia or attend university which entitles graduates further discounts.

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Get hands on at Museum Siam, Bangkok

A short walk from Wat Pho is the Museum Siam, one of the best museums for children in Bangkok. What once was a building for the Ministry of Commerce has been transformed into a modern, bright and beautiful museum that boasts a huge range of super fun and interactive exhibits to help visitors with kids discover Thailand’s history.

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Cruise along the Chao Phraya River

Snaking its way through Bangkok, the Chao Phraya River is the lifeblood of the city and taking in the views from the water is a lot of fun with the family.

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Explore the canals and discover Bangkok’s best floating markets

Floating markets are a nod to the days where the river and canals (klongs) were used as main thoroughfares and connected Bangkok’s communities for trade. Long tail boats loaded with fresh produce and wares from silk art, piles of bright marigolds to fresh river caught fish were transported to central markets and sold fresh from the boat. Three of the best:

  • Taling Chan floating market
  • Amphawa Floating Market
  • Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Watch as trains rattle through the Maeklong Railway Market (Day Trip Idea)

The Mae Klong Railway Market is most adored in our family, while it is quite spectacle witnessing a fresh seafood market positioned right on the train tracks. It’s discovering the authentic and unfiltered ‘Thainess’ that appeals. It’s as close as we got to the real Thai way of life with warm smiles from stall owners who weren’t out to sell you knock of sunglasses.

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Let off some steam at BOUNCE inc Thailand

Travelling with kids does involve some give and take, swap temples and markets and let the kids loose with over 80 interconnected trampolines at BOUNCE INC Bangkok.

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Shop ‘til you drop

There’s no doubt about it – Thai’s love to shop! An abundant neon-lit malls beckon. Enjoy Thai’s favourite past time and get your shopping on! There are many a clean air-conditioned corridor to stroll and shiny gravity defying escalator to ride that lead to floor upon floor of retail heaven.

Escape the city chaos at Lumpini Park – Bangkok’s oldest

Get a glimpse into Bangkok life, where your kids have a chance to play with the local kids. Partake in a tai chi or ballroom dancing lessons or check out the great big monitor lizards that amble around.

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Cool off at the Pororo AquaPark (Day Trip Idea)

Newly opened in March 2018 the Pororo Aqua Park located on the 6th floor of Central Plaza Bangna is the best way to escape the heat in Bangkok with kids. A short 20-30 minute drive from central Bangkok and kids can be splashing in fountains, zipping down slides, swimming in a variety of pools or floating down a lazy river(my kids fav!)

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Take in the sights, sounds and smells of Chinatown

Chinatown is one of Bangkok’s most fascinating districts, packed with restaurants, shops and cultural sights that make it a must to explore.

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Cuddle kitty’s at Caturday Cat Cafe

The Caturday Cat Cafe is home to around 40 gorgeous felines which are more than happy to be cuddled and stroked while you enjoy a coffee or afternoon tea. Pay a little extra for a cat snack and watch them pounce all over you for a little cat snack.

Embrace your inner rainbow unicorn at Bangkok’s Unicorn Café

If you prefer rainbow unicorns over kittens then Bangkok’s Unicorn Café is not to be missed. Located on a corner of a nondescript side street, the Unicorn Café is fast becoming Bangkok’s Instagram institution.

Escape to SEA LIFE Bangkok Ocean World

SEA LIFE Bangkok Open Hours: daily at 10.00 AM and closes at 9.00 PM. Last entry is at 8pm.

When the kids are completely over Bangkok’s temples, can’t stand another shopping mall and can’t bear the look of another Pad Thai in the heat then SEA LIFE Bangkok Ocean World, conveniently located in the Siam Paragon Mall – is a easy, central, indoor entertainment option especially for kids.

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For an incredibly comprehensive guide to Bangkok with Kids, including maps, opening times and detailed instructions on how to reach each of these attractions, plus a guide to the best shopping centres and places to eat for kids, visit the full Bangkok guide on Rene Young’s blog: Together we Roam.

Koh Kood’s Soneva Kiri, what luxury – and sustainability – looks like now

Travel writer Ian Lloyd Neubauer visits Koh Kood to try out Soneva Kiri’s luxury accommodation offering and examine the hotel’s eco-credentials.

On arrival, two things strike me about Soneva Kiri. First, it’s massive: 400 hectares. But the grounds are not covered in water-greedy gardens or golf links. Instead, they’re jungle, as nature intended.

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The second thing to stand out are the 36 villas: they, too, are massive. I stayed in the smallest: a Bayview Pool Villa Suite with 464 square metres of living space – eight times the size of my two-bedroom unit in Sydney. Soneva Kiri’s largest villas, eight six-bedroom clifftop residences, each covers 2000 square metres.

Constructed from local timber, driftwood and bamboo, my villa looks a bit Robinson Crusoe-esque, but on a Macquarie Bank budget.

In the main bedroom, a leather trunk at the foot of the four-poster bed conceals a flat-screen TV that pops up with a touch. Window walls open onto sprawling decks and a wraparound oasis swimming pool and a walking track behind my pool leads to a private beach and calm harbour.

Every villa comes with a pair of mountain bikes and an electric buggy. The bikes are obviously greener but hooning around the resort in the buggies is plain fun. So is catching a ride on a slick leather-trimmed speedboat to Soneva’s private beach club in a neighbouring cove, catching a flick at the moonlight cinema and visiting the chocolate room: a refrigerated glass chamber crammed with the finest handmade chocolates, macarons and 60 bespoke ice-cream flavours.

Soneva Kiri Moonlight cinema credit Paul Raeside

How is this air conditioned luxury environmentally friendly? According to Soneva’s sustainability report, the company emits 34 tonnes of carbon a year. Of that, 70 per cent is attributed to guests’ air travel, which cannot be mitigated. Of the remainder, two-thirds is power use, which is drawn from the grid and roughly the same at Soneva Kiri as any other property of similar size and capacity.

The last 10 per cent of Soneva’s carbon footprint comes from food, ground travel and freight. Soneva Kiri certainly scores high here, growing its own vegetables and making biofuel.

But even if emissions in these categories are cut by 50 per cent (a big call), Soneva hotels would be only 5 per cent more sustainable than their competition.

When I pose this conundrum to Soneva Kiri environment officer Eline Postma, she takes me to a clearing in the jungle not far from my vila. There I see ponds covered in lily pads, with birds, flowers, butterflies and fish.

“You want proof of our green credentials, well you’re standing on it,” Ms Postma said. “Look around you. This may look like a healthy wetland but it’s our sewage treatment plant. We dig these holes, pump our sewage in and utilise biological agents like fish, birds, insects and plants to recycle it for gardening.

“I’ve been to so many resorts where I see sewerage pipes going right into the sea. We could do the same, no one would know,” she adds, “but as a marine biologist, I’ve seen the effects of nutrification on coral ecosystems when it comes into contact with untreated sewage, and I know the coral in our bay is healthy.”

On my last night at Soneva Kiri, I meet general manager Francisca Antunes at The View, a cantilevered bar that hangs over the edge of a cliff with breathtaking views of the Gulf of Thailand.

“Many luxury resorts today talk about sustainability but few actually do anything about it on a day-to-day basis,” she said, “but we do. Look at the way we build our villas and public areas. Not a drop of varnish. All this wood would last twice as long if it were treated, but that would mean thousands of litres of paint ending up in the soil and water.

“Maybe we are not 100 per cent sustainable or self-sufficient. But we try 99 per cent harder than the rest.”

Accommodation at Soneva Kiri starts from about $1500 per room per night.

This review was first published in The New Daily. Read the full article here.

Tourism Authority of Thailand announce famil plans for the 2018 Australian Society of Travel Writers Conference.

In August this year, The Tourism Authority of Thailand, Australia (TAT) will host the Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW)’s Annual General Meeting in Bangkok.

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TAT is delighted to report that the conference will be attended by 115 members, and over 80 members will attend pre- or post-convention famil programs.

Delegates have been offered a wide range of famil options and TAT is happy to report that most have been able to attend their first choice. There are seven famils on the AGM program, with the most popular choices being Kanchanaburi and Trat, with 15 attending, followed by Krabi (14).

The range of famils aims to show case the wide range of experiences – ‘Open to the New Shades’ – to be found in Thailand.

Delegates on the Kanchanaburi tour will travel the infamous Death Railway from River Kwai Bridge, visit Hellfire Pass, visit an elephant sanctuary and go on a firefly night cruise in Samut Songkhram , while those on the Krabi tour will visit the charming Muslim enclave of Koh Klang, learn to fish with the locals and go island hopping.

In Trat, an unknown gem in the Gulf of Thailand near the Cambodian border, delegates will learn how to make Ya Na crackers, weave ‘Ngop’ (farmer’s hats) with palm leaves and cruise to small islands within Mu Koh Chang National Park. While in Chiang Rai, delegates will visit the White Temple to marvel at its wild murals and travel through beautiful mountain scenery in Doi Mae Salong.

ASTW members have been advised of their assigned famils this week, and are encouraged to book flights as soon as possible. Flight bookings close on 30 June 2018.

Sunset on beach at Trat
One of Trat’s beautiful sunsets.

Thailand’s National Park system starts annual seasonal closures

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) has started its annual seasonal closure of several Thailand’s National Parks nationwide.

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Several attractions are closed every year for a certain period, depending on weather and park conditions. The closure is often due to extreme weather, especially during the rainy season, that may create unsafe conditions and allows for some ecological recovery time.

Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor, said: “Natural rejuvenation is a key to preserving the biodiversity and pristine quality of Thailand’s amazing nature and natural resources. I believe that closing off several attractions for certain months during the rainy season demonstrates Thailand’s commitment to ensure sustainable environmental management of the country’s valuable nature heritage.”

Thailand currently has a total of 147 national parks, covering an area in excess of  70,000 square kilometres or 13.64 per cent of the land area of the country. Of the total, there are 59 national parks in the North, 43 in the South, 25 in the Northeast, and 20 in the Central, Western and Eastern Regions.

This year, the DNP will close attractions in 66 national parks nationwide, including in 24 in the North, 28 in the South, nine in the Northeast, and five in the Central, Western and Eastern Regions.

In the North, access to many of the region’s scenic waterfalls will be closed, and in the south, popular scuba-diving destinations including the Similan and Surin Islands will be closed.

A full list of the parks affected can be found on the TAT Newsroom.

For more information:
Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation
Click here for the digital manual of Thailand’s National Parks.

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Variety and bargains at Thailand Shopping & Dining Paradise 2018

The Thailand Shopping & Dining Paradise campaign is on again this year, from 1 June to 31 August, showcasing Thailand’s wide-ranging shopping experiences, from night markets and traditional handicrafts to fashion and luxury goods.

Now in its 20th year, the re-named Thailand Shopping & Dining Paradise is bigger than ever, reflecting the huge popularity of Thailand as a destination for people who love great shopping, delicious food and unbeatable bargains.

A new website has recently been launched to provide tourists with a guide to shopping in Thailand, with a Top 10 guide to tourist shopping in Thailand, from art and antiques to gems and jewellery, home décor, spa products, silk and cotton products as well as traditional Thai food and snacks.

Also highlighted on the website are the Top 5 shopping venues in Bangkok as well as guides to Premium Shopping, Outlet Shopping, Chic and Art Shopping and Fashion Shopping.

Cicada Night Market

This year there is a focus on the processed goods that Thailand is famous for as well as a comprehensive guide to where to buy them. The guide shows tourists where to find processed foods such as BBQ Pork Jerky, Pork Floss & Fried Pork Jerky, Chinese airdried sausages, steamed pork rolls and salted eggs both in Bangkok and in the provinces.

Of course, the Thailand shopping experience wouldn’t be complete without exploring a few night markets. More and more night markets are springing up around Bangkok and throughout Kingdom. They’re fun to explore and usually offer delectable local street food, great people watching and live entertainment.

For more information and a list of participating businesses in the campaign visit: thailandshoppingparadise.com

Maya Beach will be open to tourists this winter

Maya Beach

Despite recent reports that Southern Thailand’s famous Maya Beach will close for three months this year, in fact no decision to this effect has been made by Thai authorities.

Phi Phi National Park Office confirmed yesterday to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) that the park will remain open.

As Thailand grows in popularity with international visitors, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation is constantly looking at ways to improve management of the Kingdom’s natural resources.

Measures have been made in some areas to limit the number of boats permitted to visit popular islands such as Koh Phi Phi, and the Similan and Surin Islands, and it is something that continues to be monitored.

Discussions were held mid-2017 regarding the management of Koh Phi Phi Lei, and it is understood the option to close the beach to tourists was discussed; however no decision to that effect has been made.

The Thai Government is committed to promoting sustainable tourism development, with a focus on quality over quantity.

According to TAT Oceania Director, Rujiras Chatchalermkit; “With a continued marketing focus on immersive experiences such as wellness retreats, culinary experiences, eco-tourism and agro-tourism, TAT aims to move away from the nation’s previous appeal as a budget destination for young full moon party-goers, to now focussing on the increasing global demand for high-end quality tourism product. This focus on quality tourism has seen a move from simply counting visitor numbers to measuring tourism revenue.”

Koh Phra Thong, a hidden eco-treasure in the Andaman Sea

The island of Koh Phra Thong is an idyllic unspoilt wilderness just north of Khao Lak on Thailand’s Andaman coast. A place where you can truly escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

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No noise except the gentle waves lapping the empty beach and early morning birdsong, no crowds, no shops, just you, a hut on the beach, a hammock, with crystal clear water and pristine coral reefs just a short snorkel away.

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Koh Phra Thong is 120km north of Phuket and while it’s only 43km from bustling Khao Lak, it takes a bus, boat and 4WD transfer to get here, so by the time you get here you feel very remote. The island is relatively flat, with thick mangroves facing a meandering lagoon system on one side and white sandy beaches on the other.

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Back in the 90s there were a few emerging resorts here, but most were destroyed by the 2004 tsunami, along with several nearby villages, and it’s taken a long time to rebuild. 10 years later a few new resorts have opened their doors, and visitors to the island now will find an island almost frozen in time, a snapshot of coastal village life in Thailand many years ago.

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If you get bored of lazing in a hammock or strolling along the pristine beach, there are several options available for nature lovers. Birdwatchers will love a sunrise 4WD tour of the island’s savannah, an expansive golden grassland where you can watch the sunrise over mountains in distant Khao Sok National Park while the birds awaken all around you.

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You can also grab a kayak and explore Koh Pra Thong and the fringing reefs of two nearby small islands Koh Pling Lek and Koh Pling Yai, or go further afield by long tail boat to Kho Khai to snorkel through coral gardens full of colourful sea fans.

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Trips to the local fishing village and turtle sanctuary are also on offer, as well as night fishing excursions on the squid fishing boats or to the nearby Pling Islands.

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At the southern end of the beach at the Golden Buddha Retreat, you can attend yoga and meditation classes,, and at the northern end, grab a fantastic Thai meal at Moken Eco Village.

Where to stay

Moken Eco Village is a boutique resort with a handful of bungalows, each powered by solar panels on the roof. There’s no air conditioning, but the bungalows are cooled naturally, being raised on stilts, with louvre windows and two ceiling fans.

Your four-poster bed has a mosquito net, and there are fly screens on all windows so you won’t be bothered by insects while you sleep. The huts all have a raised veranda for lounging on, and there are hammocks dotted throughout the gardens.

There are 12 bungalows, with a few different configurations. Some that suit couples, and one large duplex for families or larger groups.

Getting Here

The resort will organise longtail boat transfers from Khura Buri, the nearest port. Khura Buri is about an hour’s journey by bus or taxi from Khao Lak. Transfers via overnight coach are also available from Bangkok. More information

 

Experience Bangkok’s Most Prestigious Outdoor Flower & Garden Art Fair

Experience Bangkok’s most prestigious outdoor flower & garden art fair
at Nai Lert Flower & Garden Art Fair, February 2nd – 4th, 2018

As part of the “Amazing Thailand” tourism initiatives, Nai Lert Flower & Garden Art Fair is an official calendar event for Thailand where the 2018 event is held from 2nd to 4th February 2018, 09.00 – 20.00 hrs. daily.

For fantastic floral experience, the 3-day event is filled with unique “X Factors” which have been specially curated for those who visit. The 2018 Nai Lert Flower & Garden Art Fair will be an extraordinary attraction for families, group tours, or individuals who enjoy gardening and flower, art and crafts or simply appreciate fresh outdoor air. Tickets can be purchased at Nai Lert Group Website or at the event.

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Flower x Art Experience Bangkok’s most prestigious outdoor Flower & Garden Art Fair where sculptures from renowned local artists namely Pongsatat Uaiklang, Prajak Supantee and many more will be on display, together with flower sculptures designed by leading florists such as Sakchai Guy, Sakul Intakul, and Chayaporn Tometh. The event becomes the platform for talented young artists portraying their skills and creativity, thus visitors will witness 3 themed competitions during the event – Flower Sculpture Competition “Legacy of Thai Flowers” – Garden Design Competition “Celebration of the Seasons” – Wedding Showcase Competition “Love In Bloom” The 1st prize of all three competitions comprises of a trip to London to visit the world renowned Chelsea Flower Show as well as a noble trophy and cash reward. The jewel in Park of Nai Lert’s crown is the Heritage Home, which not only is a timeless legacy in itself but also displays evolution of flowers from traditional craftsmanship through modern day innovation. Not to be missed is the highlight feature of the event, the 450 sqm floral carpet-believed to be one of the largest floral carpet ever created in Asia.

Flower x Fashion Most celebrated Thai fashion and beauty brands were invited to create limited edition range exclusive for this year’s event. Those who seek one of a kind pieces will find tote bags by Asava, and kaftans by Vatanika. The Art Market unveils rare items, where emerging and established artists gather under one roof.

Flower x Taste Food plays an important part in Thai culture, bringing the family as well as the community together. At Nai Lert Flower & Garden Art Fair, all 20 food vendors from across Thailand were handpicked offering only the best of the best to the visitors. In-house culinary team of experts have created special floral recipes exclusively for the 3-day event from refreshing cocktails to sumptuous edible flowers dishes.

Flower x Play A variety of workshops for all ages from floral cooking class, floral fragrance concoction, flower colour painting, and flower arrangement class by Sakul Intakul, world renowned local floral expert, to name but a few.

About the event, see http://flowerandgardenfair.nailertgroup.com/

About Nai Lert Park Heritage Home, see http://www.nailertparkheritagehome.com/index.php/nai-lert-house


About the Tourism Authority of Thailand

The Tourism Authority of Thailand, Sydney office has been in operation for over 20 years and is funded by the Government of Thailand. TAT Sydney operates as a marketing, public relations and administration branch of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Head Office in Bangkok.

The Sydney office is responsible for the regional area of Australia and New Zealand. The main objective of the Tourism Authority of Thailand is to promote the country of Thailand as a holiday destination.

Tourism Authority of Thailand Level 20, 56 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Email: info@thailand.net.au

Website: tourismthailand.org/au

Announcing the 3rd Annual TAT Newsroom Thailand Blogger competition!

TAT Blog comp

The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) new communication message of ‘Open to the New Shades’ is the focus of the third annual TAT Newsroom Thailand Blogger competition, which is open to entries now.

Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor said: “Bloggers can share their experiences in Thailand with a real sense of passion and thus inspire their audiences to visit the kingdom. This is a trend we very much support, in the way it can show the world’s travellers there is so much to see and do in ‘Amazing Thailand’ either for the first time or from a new perspective.”

Bloggers entering the 3rd TAT Newsroom Thailand Blogger competition will find plenty of inspiration in the ‘Open to the New Shades’ concept, in preparing their submissions.

Your entry could be in the area of Gastronomy, for example, exploring the endless array of experiences from delicious street food to fine-dining restaurants to cooking classes to intriguing food tours.

Arts and Crafts is another element of the new communication campaign, with local wisdom, fascinating festivals and world-class artisans to be found throughout Thailand.

In terms of Nature and Beaches, Thailand has stunning landscapes to discover from the North to the South and West to East. The beaches of the South are renowned as being among the most beautiful in Asia.

Culture is another fascinating facet that bloggers can explore, whether in the area of religion, sports or the arts for example, or to build on memorable experiences enjoyed on earlier visits.

Way of Life is another element of the ‘Open to the New Shades’ campaign, unique Thai local experiences, whether that’s the warmth and hospitality of a farm tour or homestay or a mind-boggling exploration of a bustling street market.

Bloggers can submit entries to TAT Newsroom Thailand blogger competition between 1 January and 15 February, 2018. The voting period is from 1 January to 15 March, 2018, with the winners’ announcement to be made in the last week of March.

As in previous years, the winners will be treated to a return airfare and an all-expenses-paid trip in Thailand. This time around, the trip routing will be highlighting the ‘Colours of the East’, combining the capital Bangkok with the cultural charms and natural wonders of Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat, and take place in May 2018.

More information on the 3rd TAT Newsroom Blogger Thailand competition, including rules and requirements for submitting entries, can be found here.