Bangkok offers the most amazing array of activities for the whole family, but as we all know, sometimes, what the kids like and what we adults like can differ hugely! While our Bangkok with kids list is nowhere near complete, it is what we have done and enjoyed in Bangkok with our kids. I hope you enjoy the read.
All the recommendations for transport are from the Bangkok city location of Sukhumvit.
Another market with the kids? No, really this is a must. Having seen many Southeast Asian markets, I have to say, Chatuchak market is spectacular. You’ll find anything from authentic antique furniture to knock off Nikes and much more in between.
While a lot of the market is undercover, with clean, yet narrow alleyways, some parts have indoor air-conditioning. But for the most, it is a hot and sweaty shopping experience, so go early, around 8.30 – 9.00 am before the heat of the day and the crowds descend. Do it for the sake of the kids as well as your own.
Insofar as facilities there are plenty of toilets and there are loads of great food options, even a spectacular Paella with a chef who does magic tricks. That is, if you have had enough of Thai food (is that possible?). You’ll find something for the whole family. Oh, and a top pick, there is a great ‘teeny-tiny’ section. Wonderfully crafted small Thai traditional foods, tables, chairs, really anything you would need for a dolls house decked out in a traditional Thai style.
The range of handcrafted and artisan products made locally in Thailand is incredible. Shipping is no problem, you will find freight companies like DHL dotted throughout. So go and shop with an open mind.
Top tip: take the MRT over the BTS, if possible. For the MRT be sure to get off at Kamphaeng Phet Station to avoid the crowds. It is the stop before Chatuchak, but lands you right in the market itself and right beside a toilet. However, if you do end up at Chatuchak station, there is a lovely park and it is only a short stroll to the market.
How to get there: BTS Mo Chit or MRT Kamphaeng Phet Station
Riding the khlong boats: Khlong Saen Saep boat service
While traveling, different types of transport have always been a highlight with my kids and one of the amazing aspects of Bangkok is the myriad transport options. By far the river- or khlong boats are one of the most beautiful and exciting. While it can be busy at peak hour, with standing room only, during off peak times you can whizz along the khlongs of Bangkok, getting a sneak peek into daily lives and it is great fun for kids who like a bit of adventure.
There are two lines: the Golden Mount Line and the NIDA line. While you can amble the waterways just for the thrill of it, it’s also a good way to get the kids out and about and heading to interesting destinations – as some of the destinations may just not be their thing. A khlong boat ride from the city will get you close to the Chaya Praya river, China town and some of the interesting old streets and of course the temples. You may need a tuk-tuk to reach your destination, but as the saying goes: ‘life is in the journey, not the destination’.
Just be mindful getting on and off the khlong boats: they come in fast and leave fast, which means that you are getting on and off in a throng of people, with a wake rippling underneath the boat. Hold on tight to little ones.
For times, prices and trip information, click here.
How to get there: from Sukhumvit Rd take a tuk-tuk, a Grab or walk. The stations are marked on any comprehensive map of Bangkok and are found on the side of the odd number Soi’s off Sukhumvit.
Bounce Thailand and X-Park at EmQuartier
You have seen the temples and visited the markets and the kids have been quite patient, so now it’s the kids turn, or is it that you need a carrot on a stick to get the kids to one last cultural site? Whatever it is, then look no further than Bounce Thailand at EmQuartier. Not only is it easy to get to and nice and central if you are staying in the city, but it is also in a pretty fancy mall with lots of really good food options. You also have the chance to peek at the high-end stores while you are there.
Bounce is just a smallish trampoline park, with all the bells and whistles, but it has the added bonus of X-Park, which my kids love. X-Park is an adventure challenge course, with all manner of apparatus from monkey bars to parkour style obstacles. There is a minimum height requirement of 125 cm for X-Park. Head to the website for more safety info.
EmQuartier also features a cinema with a little-kids cinema, to boot. CineArt can be found on the 4th floor of the Waterfall Quartier, not too far from Bounce. So if you have little ones or bigger ones who want a ball pit while at the movies, this might be just the spot for you – great for an easy option with the kids and a brief reprieve for you. Just remember if you are at the cinema and the national anthem comes on, you must all stand up for the anthem.
Top tip: if you are walking in any of the public parks in Bangkok, the anthem will play at 8 am. Here again, you need to stop what you are doing and stand for the duration of the anthem.
How to get there: Prong Pong stop on the BTS
Cooking with Poo
‘Cooking with Poo’ is a cooking school established in the Klong Toey slum by Khun Poo herself, with some outside help. All money goes back into the business & local community and she only employs local people. Classes are set up for tourists and neighbours alike and can be found down the back alleys of Klong Toey.
Classes are much better suited for the teens and tweens – the ingredients are all prepared, so it’s more a case of putting the meal together rather than preparing and cooking. You work in groups, which was fine for us. The space is very small, but that adds to the reality of the location. Classes are just long enough to hold the kids attention and, possibly, just spicy enough for the kids to try a bite, before – in true dramatic teen fashion – their heads explode.
The bonus of this course is that you are guided around the market at Klong Toey. It is the biggest wet-market in the city and where most of the city’s produce is procured. This is your chance to see everything, from insects to something that looked like rats on a skewer, but don’t be deterred by the squeamish. The tours are well guided for both information and entertainment.
FYI – Poo (or her staff) gives you the whole back story of how ‘Cooking with Poo’ came about. It is more than just a cooking class; it is a look into the daily life and struggles of the people of Klong Toey. What completed this morning was the chance we had to chat with the staff, fellow cooks and the neighbours who dropped in for a chat. For more click here.
How to get there: transport is organised by the cooking classes.
Temples of Bangkok
Oh my, where to begin. There are so many – big, small, busy, quiet, free, expensive. This is our top 3 with kids. You will note that nowhere have I mentioned the Emerald Buddha or the Grand Palace and I won’t, because it is so, so, so busy that I almost lost my kids when we went. On top of that, we all came away a little disappointed because the queues were so long that the only thing we were sure of seeing were tourists. But don’t dispair, because Bangkok has so many beautiful temples to offer.
Wat Phra Chetuphon (Wat Pho) – for massage and the reclining Buddha
A favourite of the children and of ours. Why? Because it is a bit more interactive, especially at Songkran (Thai New Year). Wat Po is where you will find the reclining Buddha and the wonderful Thai massage school. Go early, because it is a popular destination with tourists and Thai alike, but it is worth a visit.
Inside the room that houses the reclining Buddha, there are the 108 coin pots. For a small fee you can buy the 108 coins and give them to the kids to drop into each pot as they walk along – apparently this is for good luck and if you want to add a challenge to the kids, tell them they can’t miss a pot. One of mine was totally perplexed when she had coins left over at the end, she had concentrated super hard to get a coin in every pot – some coin stacks you purchase have one or two more coins, or not quite enough.
There are small temples to visit within the grounds and for those who have children who will let you linger, there is a brief introduction at the entrance. There are few shady trees to rest under and artifacts from China to add to the depth of history of the temple. After all of that, if you head right to the back of the temple grounds, you will come across the school devoted to the ‘preservations of traditional Thai massage’. For a fee you can experience true Thai massage at the hands of those learning the art. Again, go early as there is often a queue, but anything from foot and head massage to full body massage is available and it is amazing massage. Entrance is free.
How to get there: MRT from Sukhumvit to Sanam Chai station then a short walk.
Wat Arun Ratchavararam Temple of Dawn – for sunrise or sunset
Ok, I’ll admit, the kids sped through this at great rates of knots as they had seen quite a few temples throughout Southeast Asia and were kinda done. But for a spectacular view of sunrise or sunset head to Wat Arun. There are a couple of very scary looking warriors at the entrance that may, or may not interest the children. Entrance is free.
How to get there: MRT from Sukhumvit to Sanam Chai station then either change lines to Itsaraphap station and take a short walk, or take the ferry across the Chao Phraya river from the pier close to Wat Pho.
Wat Ratchanatdaram Woravihara (the Metal Temple) – for peace and tranquility
This is a hidden gem. If you have sensitive kids who hate the hustle and bustle of the temples, I would strongly recommend this as your temple visit. You can climb the stairways to the top of the temple and look out over the city in all four directions. Each floor has inscriptions from the teachings of The Lord Buddha and the Buddhist religion.
The grounds, while small and humble, are peaceful amid the hum of the city. If you fancy a coffee or even a roti, there is a small outdoor café that makes a very good latté and a snack for the kids. This temple means the kids can amble up and down to the roof top without hordes of tourist; they can hop, skip and jump around the outside of the temple plus get soaring views of the city – while you soak up the tranquility, architecture and gain a better understanding of Buddhism. Entrance fee is by donation.
How to get there: there may be a quicker way, but we took the Khlong Boats. From Sukhumvit take the boat to Pratunam and then change to the boat Panfa Leelard. From there it is a short walk, you might need your GPS or flag down a tuk-tuk.
Roof top bar with kids – Eleven Hotel
Many of the roof top bars no longer allow children on them. It is a bit of a dolly mixture as to which bars will or won’t, but we did find one at Eleven Hotel where kids can enter until about 9 pm. Eleven Hotel offers restaurant dinning, so while not cheap, you could have posh nosh while you all enjoy the Bangkok cityscape.
How to get there: Nana BTS. Right in town at 11 Soi Sukhumvit 11, so walk or take a tuk-tuk from the station.
Grasshopper Adventures cycling tour
Much to my surprise, there are loads of options for cycling in Bangkok with kids. While the roads are a mess of cars and scooters, the traffic seems to work relatively well. Having said that, a guided tour would be a far better option to taking to Bangkok streets than taking them on without prior experience.
What’s especially great about a guided cycle tour, is you get to see parts of the city you may never have uncovered on your own, and you get to cover a lot more ground than if you are walking. It’s again great for the tweens and teens as it is a little crazy with Bangkok traffic and there was only one guide, but Grasshopper offers family tours, so there should be something for all ages of family.
This tour covered both sides of the river and took us into back alleys and residential areas. For morning tea we stopped in the Portuguese quarter and learnt the tradition of the bakery and the Portuguese in Bangkok. We had plenty of stops along the way and were introduced to the history of the city, Thai traditions and of course food. After we stopped for lunch. Part of the return journey was via boat with the last leg a short cycle.
Informative friendly staff, good quality bikes and helmets and plenty of water are provided. To read more information, click here.
For more on Thailand with kids, click here.