One of Expique’s latest projects is the Young Explorers Club Thailand (full website coming in March). While we are only in soft launch stage we will be running weekly kids tours in February. These tours are designed for kids and parents together to discover some of the amazing culture Bangkok has to offer. For latest information visit our Facebook Page.
However, beyond what we are developing for the Young Explorers Club, Bangkok is blessed with plenty of spots for you to head to keep your little ones entertained. Before the terrors ruin your break, here are our top things to do with the kids in the Thai capital.
Museum Siam is just how every museum should be – packed with hands-on exhibitions to make a trip through Thai history fun for kids with even the shortest attention span. Better still, children under 15 go free! On public holidays it’s worth checking out whether Museum Siam are running their frequent free-entry-for-all promotion – it’s one of many things you can do in Bangkok without spending a penny. Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-6pm; adults, 200 baht (100 baht for Thai nationals and residents), students over 15 years old, 50 baht; Sanamchai Road (Tha Tien boat pier); www.museumsiam.org.
What child doesn’t dream of jumping into the cockpit and taking charge as the pilot of their own flight? Bangkok’s Flight Experience simulator lets them (or you!) do just that, with 30-90 minute packages that put you at the helm of an airliner, albeit in the capable hands of an instructor with pilot license. You’ll get to try taking off and landing from any of over 20,000 airports – whether that’s Bangkok, or somewhere closer to home – fly between cities, and even set yourself the challenge of flying in bad weather, dealing with an in-flight emergency or diverting to another airport. Radioing in to air traffic control during your flight only adds to the realism – if your kids love to fly, this could be the highlight of their trip. 30-minute packages start from 4,550 baht, up to 9,550 baht for 90 minutes. Convent Road, Silom (BTS Sala Daeng/MRT Si Lom); www.flightexperiencethailand.com. Thai Airways also offers time in the simulator used by its own pilots, in exchange for 12,500 frequent flyer miles; www.bit.ly/thaisimulator.
Siam Paragon’s Kidzania is an educational play centre, offering children the chance to try out numerous real-life jobs – everything from being a dentist to flying a plane and producing a TV show. Your kids have to get on with it alone while you wait outside (perfect for a breather, and some grown-up time!) and they earn ‘money’ for their tasks, which they can spend on rewards inside the centre or deposit into a make-believe bank account and withdraw in exchange for souvenirs on the way out. Monday-Friday, 10am-5pm, weekends and public holidays, 10.30am-8.30pm; 4-14-year-olds 850 baht on weekdays and 1,000 baht at the weekend, 2-3 year olds and those over 15 cost less; fifth floor, Siam Paragon (BTS Siam); www.bangkok.kidzania.com.
Both Koh Kret, just inside Nonthaburi province to the north of Bangkok, and Bang Krachao, to the east in Samut Prakan, are artificial islands on the Chaophraya river that offer pockets of green (almost) within the capital. They are great for active families to cycle around, and each offers a weekend market – the Bang Nampheung floating market on Bang Krachao, and a food and souvenir market on Koh Kret with plenty of pottery made by the local ethnic Mon community. Koh Kret also has an abundance of traditional Thai sweets that kids will love. To get to Bang Krachao, take the BTS to Bang Na and then a taxi to Sanphawut pier (ask for thaa-rua, or pier; or just take a taxi the whole way), and then a 4-baht cross-river ferry to the island. For Koh Kret, take the orange-flagged Chaopraya Express boat from Saphan Taksin to Nonthaburi for 15 baht, and then a taxi (around 35-40 baht) or minivan (10 baht) to Pak Kret (during peak hours, the green-flagged boat from Saphan Taksin runs all the way to Pak Kret); finally, a 2-baht cross-river ferry will get you to the island. Inexpensive day hire of bicycles is available on arrival at the piers on both Koh Kret and Bang Krachao.
While the infamously huge Chatuchak (or JJ) Market is some adults’ idea of hell – and we certainly don’t recommend you even try covering the whole lot in one day, with or without kids – little ones will love the endless selection of treasures, along with plenty to eat and drink, including our favourite frozen popsicles made from the likes of cola, sprite and red soda (around 5 baht per piece), which you can watch being churned in vats of ice right in front of you. Keep an eye out for pulled tea vendors, too, who impressively pour hot tea between jugs at great heights in order to create the delicious foaminess the drink is known for. Saturdays and Sundays, 9am-6pm (with a smaller selection also on Fridays, 6pm-midnight); BTS Mo Chit, MRT Kampaeng Phet or MRT Chatuchak Park; www.chatuchak.org.
Bangkok’s famous Neilson Hays Library, apart from being a charmingly preserved colonial building to admire, puts on themed storytelling and craft activities for the kids on Saturdays at 10.30am – meaning you can have a browse of the library’s impressive collection (including a well stocked range of children’s books) while they remain thoroughly occupied. Keep an eye out, too, for Neilson Hays’ cheap-as-chips second-hand weekend book sale that takes place several times a year. Tuesday-Sunday, 9.30am-5pm; non-members welcome to kids’ activities on Saturdays for a 50-baht donation per child; Surawong Road (BTS Sala Daeng, BTS Chong Nonsi or MRT Si Lom); www.neilsonhayslibrary.com.
Though Bangkok is known as a sprawling urban metropolis, the city in fact has plenty of green spaces within easy reach of the downtown area by public transport. Among the public parks – all of which are free to enter, but have varying opening hours – are Benjasiri (BTS Phrom Phong), Benjakitti (BTS Asok or MRT Sukhumvit), Lumpini (BTS Sala Daeng, MRT Si Lom or MRT Lumpini) and Rot Fai (BTS Mo Chit or MRT Chatuchak Park). Many of the parks are filled with lakes, walking tracks, picnic tables, children’s play areas, and toilets; there’s also almost guaranteed to be a few harmless monitor lizards roaming around, too. Suan Rot Fai park contains a pleasant butterfly house and insectarium that are worth a look, while Benjasiri park has a pool that you can use for a nominal fee after taking out a very inexpensive membership.
The expansive Ancient Siam is a replica of the various regions of Thailand – including statues and monuments that are a mix of replicas and the real thing, deconstructed and shipped in. It’s a long way to walk, so opt for a bike or a golf buggy to make a day’s wandering more pleasant. Like Museum Siam, Ancient Siam also offers free admission around certain public holidays. Daily, 9am-7pm; adults, 700 baht, children 350 baht (half price for Thai nationals and residents, and a further 50% reduction after 4pm); free shuttle bus from BTS Bearing on selected days; www.ancientcitygroup.net.
Thonburi’s Wat Prayoon, just across Memorial Bridge and which we visit on our Bangkok Night Lights tuk-tuk tour for a glimpse at its stunning white chedi against the dark sky, is also home to a large population of turtles and fish in a murky pond, which you can feed with bread and other items on sale. Daily, 9am-6pm; free admission;Prachathipok Road; www.watprayoon.org.
Climb the 318 steps to the top of the Golden Mount at Wat Saket temple in Phra Nakhon, for impressive views from 260 feet across Bangkok’s old town and further into the city. If you’re visiting in October or November then check for dates of the temple’s annual fair, when a candlelight procession sees a long red ceremonial cloth paraded through the streets and up the mount, and wrapped around Wat Saket’s distinctive white chedi – scarily, by locals precariously up on the structure without harnesses or other safety equipment. The temple itself contains relics of the Buddha said to have come from India and Sri Lanka. Daily, 8am-5.30pm; temple admission free, with a 20-baht charge for the final stretch up the Golden Mount (free for Thai nationals); Lan Luang Road (Phan Fa pier on the Saen Saeb canal boat route).
At this spin-off of the original Art in Paradise in Pattaya, kids and grown-ups alike can pose for selfies in front of unique 3D art that creates some pretty amazing optical illusions. Daily, 10am-10pm; adults, 300 baht, children, 200 baht; Esplanade Shopping Mall, Ratchada Road (MRT Thailand Cultural Centre); www.artinparadise.co.
Have you been to any of these attractions? Which are your favourite places in Bangkok to explore with the kids? Let us know in the comments!
All photos by Chris Wotton.