While many families happily take their children on holiday to many tropical destinations throughout the world without a second’s hesitation (The Caribbean, Hawaii, and the Canary Islands all come to mind), there is a momentary pause that occurs when one gets the impulse to plan a similar holiday to Thailand.
Parents may remember the best beaches in the world, amazing cheap food and friendly smiles fondly, but they also recall nights filled with too much Sangsom, crazy backpacker antics, and a certain show that, erm … we can’t talk about on this blog (this is a family travel site, after all!) Is it possible to take your kids on an enjoyable, wholesome holiday to Thailand without corrupting their impressionable, innocent minds?
The short answer is … yes. You certainly can.
It is simply a matter of avoiding some haunts that you went to without question when you were a young traveler, and adapting your routines to keep your little ones entertained and happy. With this in mind, here are some tips that will make your upcoming family trip to Thailand a resounding success!
In Bangkok: Steer clear of Patpong and Khao San Road at night and you will be fine
This isn’t to suggest that Patpong (or anywhere in Thailand for that matter) presents a danger to you or your families’ physical safety. However, with the adult night market in full swing at the Lumpini end of Silom Road after the sun sets, pushy touts set to work carpet bombing passerbys with fliers advertising the lurid services of their paymasters.
This trade is in a much lower gear or non-existent during broad daylight, making visitations to this end of town possible without having an awkward conversation with your kids afterwards.
As far as Khao San Road goes, going during the daylight hours will allow you to experience its many G to PG delights (shopping, delicious and cheap Pad Thai, etc) without having to witness the out of control drinking antics that backpackers get up to the second the sun goes to bed. No matter what you do, make sure you’re eating lots of Thai food when you’re in Bangkok, you’ll be glad you did and open your kids eyes to one of the finest cuisines in the world.
About the Tiger Temple … don’t. Just … don’t … do it.
We know. Given your kids love of animals, it’s hard to resist the impulse of taking your kids to a place where they can treat tigers that are normally quite dangerous like an occupant of a petting zoo. However, the evidence is overwhelming that the tiger’s are subued chemically to make them docile, and some reports suggest that they have been treated and raised improperly.
Despite this, they remain inherently wild, and surprise maulings have occurred at these places. Above all else though, don’t teach your kids that treating animals in this manner is acceptable by taking them to these parks. In the most enthusiastic terms possible: give it a miss!
The part you’ve waiting for: awesome places in Thailand for kids!
The first thing you’re likely craving if you’re headed to Thailand are the beaches. While there are places more suited to the backpacking set (Koh Phangan) or the package tourist (Phuket), you’ll want a quiet place that still has the services to keep you and your happy while enjoying the warm waters and soft sands.
Two places we like for these purposes are Koh Chang in the east, and Koh Lanta in the south. Both isles lie outside the main stream of mass tourism that make many places in this country stressful these days, but both are big enough to provide western and quality Thai restaurants, convenience stores with all the supplies you’ll want, and resorts that will supply the level of comfort you are seeking. And both places have plenty of palms, azure waters, and plenty of mangoes and coconuts!
For culture, Chiang Mai and the mountain town of Pai to its north will fir the bill perfectly for your troop. The former has temples aplenty, activities like cooking classes, and all the expats services you could ever need, and the latter is high in a mountain valley along a babbling brook, with waterfalls, ethnic Chinese villages, and natural hot springs that will make for an atmospheric start to your morning!