Planning an itinerary for a family holiday in Thailand

If you’re thinking of taking a family holiday in Thailand with your children then you’ll be happy to hear that there are lots of options to satisfy different age groups and interests – from sight-seeing and soaking up Thailand’s unique culture, to lounging on a gorgeous beach, or trekking in the jungle.

Remember: children are welcomed in Thailand, which makes a family holiday even easier! The larger resorts and hotels offer kid-friendly programmes and clubs, as well as family- friendly group activities. It’s well worth doing your research as hotels will often offer special deals for families with young children, and some even allow children under 12 to share their parents’ room for free. A good place to start looking at accommodation is the Go Thailand website.

You can choose to get a tour operator to book everything for you, or you may wish to take a more independent approach and handle all the details yourselves. Either way, we thought we’d pull together some ideas on how to make the most of your time together as a family in Thailand.

Image of family fun in Thailand. ©Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Find your feet in Bangkok

Most people will enter and leave Thailand via the country’s vibrant capital city, Bangkok. We’d recommend that you spend a few days in Bangkok to orientate yourselves – take in the sights, sounds and smells of this bustling, fun, cosmopolitan city.

There is so much to do and see in Bangkok that it’s best to pace yourselves and allow plenty of  ‘downtime’ so all of you can relax between bursts of activity.

The BTS Skytrain, is a great (and cheap) way to get around the bustling city. Photo credit: © Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Getting around Bangkok is fairly cheap and easy by public transport. Chose from buses, the metro, BTS Sky Train, taxi or boat (Chao Phraya Express). You can find out more at the Transit Bangkok website.  Whatever the age of your children you’re sure to find something that suits – and don’t forget to have at least one ride in one of Bangkok’s famous tuktuks!

We have some suggested 2-3 day itineraries on our ’72 hours in …Amazing Thailand’ website, including a selection of Bangkok highlights here. Why not mix fascinating cultural sight-seeing (The Grand Palace, The Temple of the Emerald Buddha) with fun activities for the kids – theme parks, floating markets, and trips on the river?

As well as its beautiful palaces and temples, Bangkok is famous for its fantastic street food, and shopping – from markets to state-of-the-art air-conditioned shopping malls such as MBK and Central World. It’s advisable to do all your sight-seeing in the cooler morning hours and then retreat to the air-conditioned coolness of one of Bangkok’s many shopping malls to escape the heat of the afternoon.

Some of Bangkok’s shopping malls are more than just for shopping too – for instance, the Siam Paragon shopping mall contains one of the top tourist attractions in the city – Siam Ocean World, a huge aquarium which has a 270-degree glass tunnel from which you can view a huge range of sea creatures.

This photo of Siam Ocean World is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Another shopping centre that the kids will love is Terminal 21, which is designed to resemble an airport terminal but each floor offers an experience based on one of the world’s major cities, including London, Tokyo, Rome, San Fransisco and Paris.

If the kids get really hot and bothered and want to let off steam, then Bangkok has some water and theme parks that will fit the bill. We’ve written about these in a previous blog post here – including Siam Park City, which has one of the largest wave pools in the world!

Head for the hills

From Bangkok it’s easy to head out to the north of the country where you’ll find rainforests, national parks, hill tribes and elephant sanctuaries.

Northern Thailand’s major city, Chiang Mai, is easily reached via an internal flight from Bangkok and makes a good base for further travelling. There is plenty to see and do in Chiang Mai itself – including more than 300 temples and a great night market. Take your little monkeys to one of Thailand’s adventure tree top parks such as Jungle Flight or Flight of the Gibbon. Check out our 72 hours in Amazing Thailand Chiang Mai website to find out more and browse some suggested itineraries.

Check out our Family Fun video for some other ideas:

You’ll find some excellent advice on Chiang Mai, as well as travelling in Thailand generally, on Roy Cavanagh’s blog, Thaizer Thailand. His blog features useful info on where to stay and suggestions on what to do and see, plus Roy includes some ‘insider’ suggestions (as a resident of Chiang Mai, he knows the city and surrounding areas very well).

A trek to stay with one of Thailand’s hill tribes might appeal to families interested in experiencing the authentic side of Thailand’s unique culture. The best way to do this is with a reputable tour guide such as Thailand Hill Tribe Holidays – check out their website here.

Chill on the beach

Beautiful beach at Khao Lak, Thailand. ©Tourism Authority of Thailand

After all that activity you will all be ready for some serious R&R on one of Thailand’s glorious beaches. Thailand has a variety of beach experiences to offer – from those on the mainland (such as Pattaya, Hua Hin, Krabi) to secluded beaches on one of its many islands (Koh Samui, Koh Lanta, Phi Phi Island etc).

Depending on the ages of your children, you’ll want to make your decision on beach destinations based on availability of kids clubs, safe swimming, sporting activities, cultural family tours etc. See the ‘Useful blogs’ section below for advice on choosing beaches for family holidays in Thailand, you’ll be spoiled for choice – but it’s often useful to read someone’s first-hand experience of travelling long haul as a family as they may well answer some of your specific questions.

Sample itineraries

A few ideas to get you thinking:

The Triangle Trip of Thailand itinerary – a 6-day trip which includes Bangkok, Chiang Mai and the island of Phuket.

Hill Tribes Experiences – a 10-day adventure featuring Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai city sights and natural splendour, including authentic hill tribe villages, as well as Bangkok’s top shopping and cultural highlights, such as the Jim Thompson House, Grand Palace, and Muay Thai boxing.

Amazing Thailand in 14 Days – using Bangkok as a base & visiting Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, Sukhothai, Krabi & Kanchanaburi. This is the ultimate Thailand itinerary to see and experience everything the country has to offer.

Useful ‘Travelling with kids’ blogs to read

Thailand With Kids is an excellent online travel guide packed with useful advice on just about every aspect of travelling around Thailand with children, including detailed recommendations for Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hua Hin, Krabi and Koh Samui. We especially like their guide to the best beaches in Thailand.

The Travelling With Kids Travel Blog is worth checking out too as this family has travelled many times to Thailand with young children. We like their blog post about a holiday with kids on the beautiful island of Koh Lipe in the Andaman Sea for something really different and off the beaten track.

The yTravel blog is another great online resource. Written by Australians Caz and Gary Makepeace who have travelled the globe with their young kids. Check out their post about planning a trip to Thailand with kids for some great tips and advice on what to think about before you go.

The Travel Savvy Mom blog is a mine of useful information written by Jamie Pearson and Kayt Sukel. They have travelled widely in Thailand with young kids and their blog has some good posts about travelling with children in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. They also cover a  number of activities, including staying on River Kwai Jungle Rafts in Kanchanaburi.

So… some food for thought. Whatever you end up doing on your trip to Thailand we hope the whole family has an amazing time!

Already been to Thailand with your family? We’d love to hear about it. Share your travel stories at Thailand Reunited to help other families plan their holiday too.