05 Aug Bangkok for Kids – Our 5 Day Child-Friendly Itinerary to the City
Bangkok for kids – this vibrant city has never been more than a name on a flight ticket to me. And now I am planning on going there with my young children? Sounds crazy?
Well, I guess nobody would necessarily think of Bangkok as a perfect city to explore with small kids. And you’re right. With its crowded streets, crazy drivers, smog, delicious (but not really children-compatible) food and dirt, it’s simply not. Did you know that Bangkok welcomes more visitors each year than every other city in the world?
We know that not all the beautiful places in the world are as beautiful from a child’s view. But since we were planning on traveling South East Asia for the next couple of months anyway and both children had loved the island of Koh Chang, we decided we could as well give it a try.
It does take some preparation though. In order to get the kids into the right mood for the city, we purchased this wonderful ‘travel guide for kids‘. Many pictures and just the right amount of information for younger kids. So we booked a really nice looking hotel in the middle of the city and off we went.
Discover Bangkok for kids in five days!
This is our itinerary, we tried to find a happy medium between sightseeing and child-friendly activities.
Bangkok for Kids Day 1: KidZania
Our first day was a rainy day. So we decided to pay our visit to this latest addition to the “edutainment” world of Bangkok. When I first heard about Kidzania, located at the Siam Paragon Mall, I thought this must be the exact perfect thing to do in Bangkok with kids on a cloudy day.
Basically, it’s a role play to teach children from the age of four about real life. It’s a miniature city made just for them, including tons of different things you can be: police officer, fireman, journalist, veterinarian, dancer, car mechanic, pilot, tv speaker and many more.
Children learn how to make their own coke or prepare their own piece of sushi. They wear the corresponding clothes and have the complete equipment. They even drive around in a miniature fire engine and fight a hotel fire with real water. When the job is done, they get money which they can either spend on another activity or open up a bank account at the KidZania bank.
So, the kids were as excited about it as I was, latest when we came to the entrance area with the big plane sticking out of the wall. Pricing meets European standards, but it’s worth it. It really is a great place, very well thought through, very realistic, offering loads of possibilities in a great atmosphere.
What basically happens is you line up in a queue, enter the “factory” or “police station”, get your equipment, sit through a presentation in Thai and then, for example, start producing your very own ketchup or your very own McDonald’s burger (in case you’re wondering: yes, it’s all sponsored).
Unfortunately, due to the fact that everything happens in Thai, it’s actually a little dark on KidZania’s streets, it was very crowded and adults are not allowed into the little houses, both of our children were too intimidated to really engange into the fun. I’m sure they would have loved it.
We ended up leaving the place after lining up two or three times for some 20 minutes just to have the kids pull back at the last second. So, if your kids are a little reserved or shy, I would skip this experience until they are older. At three or four, they are too young for some of the activities anyways.
Nevertheless I have to say I love the idea and KidZania did a great job in putting it into practice.
Thank goodness there are many other things a family can do at Siam Paragon Mall. Besides window shopping, check out Siam Ocean World (South East Asia’s largest Aquarium – it’s as amazing as it is expensive), the movies and the Food Court – always a lot of fun for kids.
Bangkok for Kids Day 2: Organized day-tour of temples
A tour to Bangkok’s temples was on the itinerary primarily for us parents. But to my surprise, the children loved exploring the ancient surroundings and they admired the exotic statues. Their eyes were filled with amazement when they learned about Buddhas way to Nirvana and that the King of Thailand stood in the same place as they were standing just the day before.
Of course, we had to drag them down from one or the other statue they weren’t supposed to be climbing on. Finding a toilet in the huge area of the Grand Palace wasn’t that much fun either.
But altogether, I was so happy we took the challenge. It was stunning that the kids were somewhat able to appreciate the sacred places.
Read more about our visit to the Grand Palace, the Golden Buddha and the Reclining Buddha temples.
Bangkok for Kids Day 3: Visit to a Floating and a Railway Market
Contrary to my assumption, the best-known floating-markets do not take place in the city itself, on Chao Phraya river, but are located outside of the city borders.
There are mainly three of them: The most famous definitely is Damnoen Saduak floating market. Then there are Amphawa and Tha Kah floating markets. All of them are easy to reach either by an organized day-tour or by taxi (cost about THB 600 one way). The drive to either place takes about one and a half to two hours.
Just to set the record straight: all of them are 100% tourist attractions involving all the negative aspects of this. Overexpensive is just one. And don’t think the trading takes place on the water. That’s only an exeption to the rule. The stalls and shops are located on the shores. There are only the tourist boats and a couple of boats providing food on the water.
Definitely the most touristic of Bangkok’s floating markets is Damnoen Saduak. We heard about problems getting a longtail boat (make sure you do not hop onto one of those overexpensive, noisy and dirty tourist motorboats), about the shops that sell only souvenirs, about vendors pulling your boat to their stalls, and more.
Amphawa Floating Market
That’s why we chose Amphawa floating market at the Mae Klong river. It’s a weekend market (from Friday to Sunday) and somewhat the middle between the three: less overcrowded and a little bit more authentic than Damnoen Saduak, but more lively than Tha Kah.
Very little about this market is actually floating. If you choose one of the expensive tourist boats, they simply take you along mostly boring and dirty canals past a couple of traders seated at the water’s edge. Depending on what you are willing to pay, the boat trip takes one to two hours. The stores line up for only about one kilometre on each side of the canal, but you don’t have an option to take a look inside from the water. The owners will hand down their goods to you, which is nothing else than commercial crap.
We liked the market more after dusk because it looked better with the many lights and sounds of music coming out of the restaurants at the shores. We all enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere at nighttime more than the floating market itself, since there was not much to it at all.
My conclusion: it’s a tourist scam. Don’t bother to go there if you have already been to a floating market. If you haven’t, you might as well give it a try, but consider the long way there and back from Bangkok.
Maeklong Railway Market
If you get the chance, combine Amphawa floating market with Maeklong Railway market just 10 km away. The market itself, like a „normal“ Thai market, is everywhere. Between narrow house walls, the tracks meandering through the jungle. There is even space for tiny food stalls.
But when you hear the whistle of the approaching train, the vendors get busy and within a few seconds, where fresh goods have just been offered, everything is cleared away. Then comes the train, which is very impressive and kind of scary when it passes only a few inches away from the stalls.
The trains are supposed to run across the market 8 times a day (always late, of course), starting from 6:20 a.m. with the last train leaving at around 5:40 p.m. From Bangkok, take the train in direction of Maha Chai, Samut Sakhon, which will take you right to the market.
Bangkok for Kids Day 4: Chatuchak Weekend Market
It’s overcrowded, it’s hot, it’s smelly, it’s unorganized, it’s dirty – and I totally loved it! To my knowledge, it’s the biggest weekend market in all of Thailand and it’s pumping. You will meet all kinds of people, find all kinds of food. Acceptable toilets.
And even more: whatever you might have been looking for to buy, you can definitely find it here. Well, at least you can be sure it exists somewhere in one of those narrow corridors – but actually finding it might turn out to be a nightmare. Signs to guide you as well as a map do exist, but we got lost and confused several times anyway. Not sure whose fault this was.
Fortunately, we were just strolling around, not really looking for anything. We couldn’t get enough of watching the different colorful stalls, the toys, the food and the people. We grabbed some street food for lunch at the food court, but couldn’t find a seat, so we just sat on the curb, eating coconut ice-cream with sticky rice, now watching the cars go by.
The children were okay with the experience, but mainly because we bought them smoothies and ice-cream and because we stayed in the kids-compatible corridors (toys, animal supplies, books) for most of the time.
Of course, all those impressions must have been kind of overwhelming – but they did very well and we left the market after little more than two hours filled up with the exotic experience.
Right across the street you will find Chatuchak Park, where the Children’s Discovery Museum is located. It’s a huge green area with a large, widespread playground where all of you can recreate after a fun, but exhausting shopping tour. Nice place, although some of the monkey bars and swings were rusty or broken. Room for improvement here.
Enjoy a Tuk-Tuk ride
Chatuchak market is one of the few places where you can easily find a Tuk-Tuk to take a ride on these days. Those traditional means of transport are more and more disappearing from Bangkoks streets in favour of more comfortable vehicles. So take the chance and hop on, the kids will thank you!
Bangkok for Kids Day 5: Lumphini Park
Young children will need breaks during a city trip. And especially on a city trip through hot and humid, loud and exotic Bangkok. So we planned in a day off at Bangkok’s famous Lumphini Park.
It’s called Bangkok’s “green lung” and is the best-known recreation park in the city. Rather small, it offers some possibilities for kids. You can rent a pedalo for the small pond or watch the lizards and turtles wander around. There is a playground as well as a café and an open-air gym. The park is also much loved by joggers – one lap is about 2.5 km long.
It’s usually referred to as being large, but you’ve crossed it in no-time. For me, Lumphini Park is an average urban park. It is somewhat dirty, and here as well as in Chatuchak Park, structures of the playground are broken. It does have some beautiful old trees though and is a nice place to find some rest in the middle of the city. But that’s it.
So it was a good place to spend our last day in Bangkok for kids before returning to the hotel pool for a couple of hours.
Far away from being complete, I hope we put together a nice mixture of activities for a visit to Bangkok with kids. In a city of that size, there are endless options to choose from for you and your family. We wanted to do so much, but just didn’t have enough time. Exploring Asiatique Night Market, Siam Niramit, Khao San Road (supposed to be kid-friendly during the day), a boat trip on Chao Phraya river. Next time.
You can’t have it all. 5 days in Bangkok for kids is just too little time to get to know the city. But I think we got a good impression of its vibe and will hopefully be back for another stopover soon.
How to Get Around Bangkok with Kids
Getting places in Bangkok with kids takes time and it’s complicated to decide what kind of transportation to use, especially when you are a first-timer. Maybe this short list will help you see a little clearer.
There are basically three ways to get from one place to another: either by taxi, by Bangkok Sky Train (BTS), by underground (MRT) or by boat.
The colorful taxis are incredibly cheap. If it weren’t for the constant traffic jam, hopping on a taxi would be the easiest way to get around in Bangkok for kids. Getting one with a taximeter is not a problem nowadays. You just might have to ask the driver to switch it on every once in a while.
There were some taxi problems popping up on us though, since getting a taxi that will take you where you want to go is not that easy. Especially when it’s raining. We sometimes stood on the sidewalk waving like crazy. Nevertheless at least 20 (empty) taxis went by without even giving us a sign. When one stopped for us finally, it happened more than once that the driver turned us down. Probably because we wanted to go somewhere further away which would have cost him too much time. Which is understandable, but brought us into challenging situations.
Tipping: a small amout (up to the next THB 5 or 10) is nice, but not required. Keep in mind that drivers often pretend not to have any change. Either take small amounts of money with you or pay by credit card, which is possible almost everywhere in Bangkok.
Bangkok Skytrain (BTS)
The BTS is probably the fastest way to get around in Bangkok for kids and very comfy as soon as you are on the train. Getting up and down the stairs can be challenging with small children though. All the major attractions are reachable by Skytrain, even the riverside. There are two lines: Silom line runs west to south, while the Sukhumvit line takes you from north to east. A day-pass for adults costs you THB 120. Try to avoid the BTS/MRT during rush hours (seven to nine a.m. and four to seven p.m.) since it’s going to be really jam-packed! If you still get stuck, have a couple of stories or learning apps prepared to keep the kids entertained.
Bangkok Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)
The MRT underground is fast and connects with the BTS at certain stations. It runs from north to south in a horseshoe shape and leaves every 5-7 minutes. Thus it is also a very comfortable way to get around Bangkok with kids.
Bangkok by Boat
Last but not least, there are the waterways. Perfect to explore Bangkok for kids. But, as beautiful as they might be, be warned. There is an extensive and impenetrable jungle of boats and ferries. Three different main waterways, six different types of boats and five different types of express boat river taxis. Depending on the type of taxi, they are marked with colored flags. Truly complicated!
I have the feeling that it might be impossible for a first-timer to understand what’s going on with the boats in Bangkok. For me it was! Nevertheless, exploring Bangkok by boat must be a wonderful experience!
During all our adventures in Bangkok with kids we would have been in a fix without Google Maps. Even the taxi drivers sometimes had no clue where to find a certain location. And if you want to be able to use Google Maps anytime, you have to have a stable internet connection. Check out this article if you want to know how we stay online on the road.
How about you? Have you been to Bangkok with the family or is the city on your bucket list? Do you have a different favorite city in Thailand? Let us know down below!