Caroline Dolby-Bingham is a mum of two (kids aged 9 and 12) and a Thailand travel expert for family adventure specialists, Stubborn Mule Travel. She’s just back from another trip and has picked her top 9 (a lucky number in Thai culture) activities in Thailand to suit families with children of all ages. Over to you Caroline.
Aaaahh, Thailand! With its picture-postcard white, sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, pristine jungle teeming with wildlife, amazing archaeological sites and welcoming people, there’s good reason that it’s called the Land of Smiles.
For adventurous families, the good news doesn’t stop there. Thailand has been welcoming tourists for decades and because of this, unlike other ‘adventurous’ global destinations, the country’s infrastructure is well set up for hosting families. Thailand enjoys the advantage of accommodation for every budget, and transport and activities the whole family can enjoy. Here are my top family-friendly activities in Thailand.
Bangkok by tuk-tuk, long-tail boat and more
Is this the most buzzing capital in South-East Asia? I think so! One thing that enchants children of all ages, is the different ways to get around. Hop on a river taxi to check out the many floating markets (don’t miss the flower market at Pak Klong Talat) and take a cycle rickshaw to some of the temples. Wat Pho (famous for its reclining golden Buddha) is always a big hit with kids, hop on a tuk-tuk to visit the Grand Palace or glide down the Chao Phraya River on a longtail boat.
Night markets for tasty treats, deep-fried grasshoppers, crickets and more!
A trip to Thailand is a great chance for kids to try new foods. In my experience they will either be thrilled or horrified by some of the tasty treats on offer in a typical Thai night market such as my favourite in Chiang Mai. While there’s an abundance of delicious, traditional fare on offer, such as pad Thai, som tam and spring rolls, it’s the deep-fried insect delicacies that will earn the most playground bragging rights. They’re also a great source of protein and surprisingly tasty!
Caring for elephants at an ethical conservation sanctuary
My kids absolutely adored getting up close and personal with the thirty domestic elephants in the phenomenal sanctuary, Elephants World, in Kanchanaburi province. You can spend a day (or more, if you want to and have time) here, helping to wash them, care for them and be educated about these gorgeous creatures in a really fun and rewarding way. You’ll create unforgettable memories visiting here and, as with my family, be inspired to help future efforts in elephant conservation.
Visit an ethical elephant sanctuary in Thailand
Learn to cook in Kanchanaburi
Nothing helps kids to engage with food more than having a go at making their own, and in Kanchanaburi there are some great family-friendly cooking classes available. Whilst this riverside town may be synonymous with the Bridge over the River Kwai, it’s also the place to learn how to make some of Thailand’s most famous and delicious dishes. Even better, the kids will be able to serve you up tom yum, green curry or som tam when you get home too!
Go monkey mad in Khao Sok National Park
Wildlife has always been a huge part of our family holidays and children will be wowed by how much wildlife they’ll see in the Khao Sok National Park, a place that could have come straight out of the pages of The Jungle Book. Khao Sok covers a vast area and is southern Thailand’s most famous national park boasting not just 5% of the world’s species but also one of the planet’s oldest evergreen forests. Families can get up close and personal with langur monkeys, gibbons, macaques, butterflies and hornbills on a visit to the jewel in Thailand’s wildlife crown.
A traditional homestay with the tribes of Northern Thailand
I recommend the north of Thailand, which is famed for its indigenous tribes such as the Karen people who have made the surrounding mountainous countryside their homes. Trekking between villages with the kids might not be an obvious choice, but for older children it’s a great chance to find out even more about these amazing people whose customs have endured for centuries. Staying in a traditional homestay you’ll be treated to local dishes and drinks and learn about family life before going to sleep in bamboo huts built on stilts. Accommodation is basic, but it’s an experience you and your family will never forget.
Explore the ancient capital of Siam on two wheels
Why walk when you can wheel? Cycling is most children’s favoured method of transport and a great way to explore at your own speed, particularly large sites such as the stunning ruins in Ayutthaya, the former Thai capital (1350 to 1767). Travelling by bike also means that little legs can go further and take in the old summer palace at Bang Pa In, or take a well-earned rest and hop on board a long-tail boat to reach Phananchoeng Temple.
Swimming in cascading pools and under waterfalls
It’s the iconic ‘paradise image’ — standing under a waterfall surrounded by jungle. Families can make that dream a reality by visiting the waterfalls in Erawan National Park in Kanchanaburi where you can swim in the seven turquoise pools that form a chain between the cascading waters.
Kick back and relax on Southern Thailand’s best beaches
After all that exploring, the white, sandy, palm-fringed beaches of southern Thailand’s coast and islands are the places to relax and something all my family enjoy at the end of an active holiday. While parents may be content with swinging in a hammock sipping coconut cocktails, there are still more adventures to be had; snorkelling, swimming, kayaking, taking a private boat trip to deserted beaches . . . paradise found!
Inspired? Family holiday specialists, Stubborn Mule Travel, can help you plan the perfect family holiday to Thailand.
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