Thailand is one of the most family-friendly destinations in the world so picking a Top 7 for kids is a hard call. Travel writer Deborah Dickson-Smith shares her favourites.
1. Elephant Hills, Khao Sok
About two hours’ drive from Phuket, at this safari-style luxury camping resort, you’ll learn how to feed and bathe elephants, as well as learn all about their connection with Thai people and the environmental challenges they face. As well as this, kids get to explore the great outdoors, with a raft ride down river, and at the nearby Floating Rainforest Camp, jump off your floating accommodation for a swim in the lake, take a guided trek through the jungle and look out for gibbons and hornbills in the tree tops.
2. Flying Gibbon Zipline, Chiang Mai
One of the original tree tops course in Thailand, this mega-Zipline takes about three hours to complete as you make your way through a combination of Ziplines, abseiling, sky bridges and forest walks suspended high up above the valley floor. There are now also Flying Gibbons at Pattaya, Koh Pha Ngan and Siem Rep.
3. Bai Pai Cooking School, Bangkok
There are cooking classes all over Thailand of course, in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Krabi. Bai Pai Cooking Class takes you first to the markets to show you how to choose your ingredients and then it’s back to school how to cook them. Teaching kids how to cooks is a great way to get them to try new foods. My daughter has kept her Bai Pai cook book for a few years now, and every time we have a barbecue, she insists on making ‘her’ satay chicken with peanut sauce.
4. Bangkok’s Markets
Best visited after dark, the colourful and fragrant Bangkok Flower Markets is actually my favourite, but all of Bangkok’s markets are great fun to explore with kids. The sights and sounds, smells and tastes area festival for the senses. Take a trip to the outskirts of the city to visit the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and nearby Maeklong Railway Market – with market stalls set within centimetres of the passing trains.
5. Tree Top Adventure Park, Krabi
Located in Krabi, Koh Chang, Pattaya and Kanchanaburi, these high ropes courses are a bit out of the ordinary, with obstacle to master that include a ‘flying’ broomstick and a push bike you have to navigate across a rope bridge. I know I’ve already mentioned a treetops course above (Flying Gibbon) but this one is a completely different experience – challenging coordination as well as fear of heights! Also my kids never ever tire of tree tops course – the more the merrier. Nearby the park there are also some great walking trails though the rainforest and mangroves.
6. Sample village life in a Home Stay
There are plenty of home stays dotted around Thailand, usually in the more undiscovered regions, or, like the one pictured above, actually quite close to bustling tourist hubs such as Phuket. The quiet island of Koh Lao is only a 30-minute boat ride from Phuket, but it’s like stepping into a completely different world – simple village life, where you can eat sleep and play with your host family. They’re a great way to meet the locals and learn a bit more about Thai culture – or ‘Discover Thainess’ as they call it.
7. Explore Bangkok’s Waterways and Canals.
Visit one of Thailand’s colourful floating markets (Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is not far from Bangkok) or take a combination canal and bike tour of the city’s waterways where you can explore the rivers and canals that have connected this city for hundreds of years, on two wheels and long-tail boat.