Thailand offers lots of ways for the whole family to have fun. Children and adults alike can enjoy learning about a new culture, viewing the varied landscapes, and visiting attractions that provide something for everyone. Whilst some areas are more child-friendly than others, mainly due to the wide variety of accommodation options, restaurants that serve a mixture of Thai and international cuisine, good transportation facilities, numerous tours, and availability of English-speaking assistance, you will still find many terrific family-friendly options in other parts of the country too.
There are many specific destinations and attractions that will appeal to kids, whereas some activities can be enjoyed in several parts of the country.
Try some of these activities and attractions when visiting Thailand with children and create many long-lasting happy memories:
1. Take a ride in a novel tuk tuk
Sometimes, transportation can be part of the overall fun for kids. Make the journey part of the day’s activities and ride in a tuk tuk. A three-wheeled vehicle with covered seating in the back, the open back and sides mean that you can all zip along the streets whilst soaking up the activity all around. They are similar to motorized rickshaws. Most major towns and cities have tuk tuks.
A ride can be more expensive than taking a taxi, as tuk tuks do not have meters. Make sure that you agree the price first. Some tuk tuks are accessed from the side, with seats facing forward and backward. You must clamber in at the back of others, with a row of seats along each side. Make sure you sit kids away from the opening in each type.
A top tip is to enjoy your tuk tuk experience outside of Bangkok, as the busy roads and exhaust fumes can be too much at times for little ones.
2. Enjoy Thailand’s beautiful beaches
Thailand is known for its abundance of beaches and islands. The seaside offers many opportunities for children of all ages to have fun … build a sandcastle together, fly a kite, join in with a friendly game of beach volleyball, collect shells and go hunting in rock pools, paddle in the sparkling ocean, and have fun in the water with inflatable toys. There really are so many options! Older kids might like to have a go at various water sports, such as snorkelling or bouncing off the waves on a banana boat.
Many beaches do not have lifeguards. It is, therefore, imperative, that you keep a close eye on your children when on the beach. For added security and safety you might want to relax on beaches that are privately operated by hotels and resorts, as these generally do have lifeguards on duty throughout the day. Many of the busier beaches have parasols available to rent, perfect for keeping your kids out of the blazing sunshine. Be aware that on quieter beaches it may be more difficult to find shaded spots.
Check for the presence of warning flags and pay heed. Swimming may not be safe at some times due to rip tides and strong undercurrents. This can be problematic for example, on the island of Koh Chang. Check for any local warnings too. Box jellyfish have been encountered in the warm waters around some of the islands in the Gulf of Thailand, including the popular Koh Samui.
Some popular child-friendly beaches around Thailand include Kata Beach in Phuket, Choeng Mon on Koh Samui, Jomtien in Chonburi (close to Pattaya), Khlong Dao on Koh Lanta, Hua Hin Beach, and Ao Wong Duen on Koh Samet (sometimes also spelt as Koh Samed).
3. Explore national parks and go nature spotting
Thailand boasts many glorious national parks. Filled with interesting wildlife, offering amazing views, and usually home to other natural attractions, such as caves or waterfalls, have heaps of family-fun outdoors. Whether you want to hire a vehicle and explore independently or join a specialist tour that caters for families, some of Thailand’s national parks might be more accessible than you may think. There are many other places where you can see wild animals; you don’t always have to venture into the jungles!
Numerous operators in Chiang Mai and Phuket can organise private guided jungle treks for families, tailoring trips to the age of your children and experience levels of the whole family. Trips may also include other activities, such as rafting and elephant riding, depending on your interests.
From Hua Hin you can take a trip to Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, where you can feed monkeys on the beach, explore a fairly easy cave, and take boat trips around small islands and mangroves.
Khao Yai National Park, in Nakhon Ratchasima Province, boasts several stunning waterfalls and lots of wildlife. You can rent a car and drive your family around the well-maintained and well-signposted roads or arrange a tour from Pak Chong, Bangkok, or several other towns and cities around Central Thailand and Isan. Admission to the park costs 400 THB (approximately 11 USD) for adults and 200 THB (approximately 5.50 USD) for children, and there is an additional vehicle fee of 50 THB (approximately 1.40 USD) if you do decide to drive yourself.
Wild monkeys roam the streets of towns like Lopburi and Petchaburi.
4. Go wild at animal attractions
Thailand has numerous zoos and attractions geared around animals, from places where your kids can touch a tiger and ride a mighty elephant to crocodile farms, snake farms, aquariums, and lush open zoos.
Keep in mind, however, that the care and treatment of animals may not be what you are used to back at home. Seeing animals in tiny cages can be quite distressing for some children, not to mention supporting industries that thrive on mistreating animals.
Chiang Mai Zoo is popular with kids, and animal welfare is generally a high priority. It is home to many animals including adorable giant pandas, cute koalas, lumbering hippos, majestic elephants, and fearsome lions and tigers. Admission costs 150 THB (approximately 4 USD) for adults and 70 THB (approximately 2 USD) for children. Additional charges apply for the Panda House, 100 THB (approximately 2.70 USD) for adults and 50 THB (approximately 1.40 USD) for children, and the aquarium, 520 THB (approximately 14.40 USD) for adults and 390 THB (approximately 10.80 USD) for children.
Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Chonburi Province is another great place for families. Animals live in large open areas that are more akin to what you may expect from a safari park rather than a zoo. The zoo promotes conservation and education. Admission is 300 THB (approximately 8.30 USD) for adults and 150 THB (approximately 4 USD) for children.
If you want to get up close and personal with beautiful elephants, Chiang Mai’s Elephant Nature Park is a great option. Working with rescued elephants and carrying out extensive rehabilitation work, welfare of the animals is at the heart of how they operate. Whilst you won’t find tourists riding around on the back of these incredible creatures, your kids can learn more about elephants and their important role through Thai history, and help with feeding and bathing the mighty beasts. There are plenty of hands-on activities available that treat the elephants with respect and dignity. The park is also home to a variety of other rescue animals, including buffaloes, cats, dogs, and birds. A basic day ticket costs 2,500 THB (approximately 69 USD) for adults and 1,250 THB (approximately 34.50 USD) for children, although various packages are available.
Bangkok’s Dusit Zoo is home to many animals, although they are kept in small and sometimes dirty cages. Samut Prakarn Crocodile Farm is another popular animal attraction within easy reach of the capital. Crocodiles are used in shows, but it may be quite upsetting to watch how they are dragged around by their tails etc. If seeing chimps dressed in clothes, stroking tigers, watching birds perform tricks, and seeing animals in small cages is appealing, you may like Samut Prakan Crocodile Farm. Admission costs 300 THB (approximately 8.30) for adults and 200 THB (approximately 5.50 USD) for children.
The extensive aquarium at Bueng Chawak in Suphanburi is lovely. Home to an array of fascinating aquatic life, the entrance fees are really reasonable too, at 200 THB (approximately 5.50 USD) for adults and 100 THB (approximately 2.70 USD) for children.
There are many farm attractions around Thailand where your children can learn more about agriculture and see an array of farming animals. Chokchai Farm in Nakhon Ratchasima is a favourite. Explore rolling landscapes, bump along on a tractor ride, watch cows being milked, tuck into a tasty picnic or sample one of the farm’s popular steaks or burgers, see deer frolicking in the trees, and more! The entrance fee is 300 THB (approximately 8.30 USD) for adults and 150 THB (approximately 4 USD) for children.
There are so many animal attractions around Thailand where the whole family can have lots of fun. Just do your homework first to make sure that you are supporting an establishment that actually cares about its animals.
5. Explore bustling markets
Wander around lively markets and watch as your children’s eyes light up on seeing the colourful sights all around. You could also take the family to an unusual floating market for something completely different.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market attracts many visitors, including families. Whilst you probably won’t have the feeling of being at an authentic Thai floating market, you can all have fun with a boat trip along the waterways and seeing a wide assortment of goods and food for sale from other boats and from along the edges of the water. You can choose between motorised boats or ones that you row yourself. The costs vary widely. Watch as tasty Thai meals and snacks are cooked right in front of you, and perhaps sample some local cuisine. Pad Thai (fried noodles) is often a good option for kids as it doesn’t contain huge amounts of chilli and is really tasty!
Many, many more ways for kids to have fun in the Land of Smiles
Thailand has many gleaming temples that kids might enjoy, and there are numerous cultural attractions with a focus on families. Visiting Hill Tribes in northern Thailand, for example, is a great way for kids and adults to see how different people live. Just make sure that you book with an ethical operator that passes on profits to the community. Thailand Hilltribe Holidays could be a good starting point, but there are numerous other agencies online as well as in stores in the heart of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Mae Hong Son.
There is an abundance of spectacular waterfalls in Thailand, some where your family can enjoy swimming in shimmering pools underneath the cascades. A few popular waterfalls include the Erawan Falls and Huay Mae Khamin in Kanchanaburi, Namuang Waterfall on Koh Samui, Mor Paeng in Pai, Mae Sa Waterfalls in Chiang Mai, and Phuket’s Bang Pae Waterfall.
Book your family holiday to Thailand – there really are so many ways for children to have fun!