The land of the smile!
Our first trip with our children to another continent. What better country to start with than Thailand?! It is easy to travel around in, it is safe, and the Thai are very friendly to children! They speak to them, they love to show them things, and some Thai even stop, in the middle of the street and ask to be photographed with your children. They absolutely love them and they want them to enjoy their country. Our children had excellent conversations with tuk tuk drivers, with restaurant personnel, they made the massage ladies laugh, the tour guides teach them how to count in Thai language, and they played a ball game with Thai children in the northern part of Thailand. If you ask our children, the holiday to Thailand is about the best thing they ever did. And they learned a lot… From the culture shock between a city like Bangkok and our hometown of Geneva, to the tribes in the mountains in the Northern part of Thailand. From Buddhism in the North to Islam in the southern part, it is amazing how much their brains must have absorbed in two weeks of time… Let me tell you about Thailand with children… and the places that they want to return to… someday…
Our holiday in Thailand was in European winter season. From Geneva we flew Etihad and this was perfect, since it was a stop half way. It really isn’t a big deal to take a long-haul flight with children. You prepare them, you talk about it, and they know what to expect.
Arriving in Bangkok, after the immigration lines, our journey starts. The first smells, that are so different, approaching the city, our children were excited of course. We finally have arrived!
The next morning we start to discover the city. Already, everybody speaks to them. They can just about do anything and they will make people laugh and look at them. I think Thailand is not only an excellent place to be as an adult, but even more so as a child.
The lying Buddha of 46 meters is on our list. We have limited our sightseeing list, since we are travelling with children. If they are cool, you will have a good time. So, we choose. And maybe we see less, because we adapt to their rhythm, but perhaps we see more because children are very observant travelers. They ask you questions you may not have expected. They see things you hadn’t seen if they weren’t there, and they make you wonder, and look around you in a different way!
We start with a tuk tuk ride. The children love the tuk tuk ride! The driver takes us to a boat and we have our own private boat tour on the river of Bangkok. Beautiful!
The lying Buddha… We had talked to our children about this before the trip, but nothing prepared us to the actual magic of being there. It is absolutely impressive, and feels like a reward after the long- distance flight to finally stand there, in front of the image we had looked at while preparing the trip.
Behind the Buddha you will pass a corridor where you can buy coins that you are supposed to put in a range of baskets as an offering while you pass by. Children of course take this very seriously and every family member has to have their coins.
On the second day of our trip we went to Ayutthaya, a short drive from Bangkok (about an hour and a half) and for some of us, this was immediately one of the highlights of the trip. We had arranged for a driver with a van through the hotel as we figured we still might be a bit tired to wander around the city looking for busses to get there.
Ayutthaya is strikingly beautiful. Very old ruins and Buddha statues in a park. On another location, the same sort of ruins in a park but also the head of a Buddha in the roots of an old tree. An emblematic image of Thailand. We made the children search for it and they were happily checking out all the spots to find it.
While staying in Bangkok we took a slightly more expensive hotel than we usually do, because of the jetlag, the children and the change of seasons to get used to (from minus 5 to 35 degrees). We chose a hotel with some extras for children. They received a gift when they got there, their towels were nicely folded in an elephant shape, and they were treated themselves as important guests from the moment we arrived. To see the hotel we stayed in, click here.
After Bangkok, we took a domestic flight to Chiang Mai in the North. You can not go to Thailand and not visit Chiang Mai. We took the flight with AirAsia, which compares a bit to Easyjet in Europe. We had planned in advance what we wanted to do in Chiang Mai. We wanted to take care of elephants in a place where they treat them nicely in order to make it a good educational visit for the kids, and we wanted to visit the hilltribes in the North! All of this required some searching on the internet beforehand.
We were finally very happy with what we found!
There are two elephant parks I can recommend in Chiang Mai that do not let you ride the elephant (not good for their back) and at the one we visited they were very friendly to the animals. When it was bathing time, and the elephant did not want to go into the river, they did not oblige them.
We went to Elephant Jungle Sanctuary: https://www.elephantjunglesanctuary.com/
But Elephant Nature Park also looked very good: https://www.elephantnaturepark.org/
The next day we took our Hilltribe trip with Thailand Hilltribe Holidays, and this was one of the best experiences ever! In total respect for the Hilltribes, with a lot of explanations on the people and the way of life we visited a local town where almost no tourists came. They explained about us to the local population to make sure they were not scared of us and asked permission for us to see their house. Some children were playing in this village and they allowed our children to play a bit with them. As our children were no good in the game they did not know, this made the local children laugh a lot and enjoy the experience as well! A part from the village, we also visited the beautiful Doi Sutep Temple up on a hill and ate local food. If we ever go back we will surely also book the option of sleeping with the local inhabitants!
Website of Thailand Hilltribe Holidays: http://www.thailandhilltribeholidays.com/
In the evening in Chiang Mai we took the kids to an Asiatic robot restaurant. A giant Robot serves the dishes while dancing. Quite a fun experience! A bit of a out of the centre location though, in a big shopping mall in Chiang Mai. http://hajimerobot.com/
We were very happy with our hotel in Chiang Mai. Less luxurious than the hotel in Bankok but definitely good as well. It was in walking distance of nice streets, the centre, restaurants and massage places, was quiet, and had a small pool for the kids to enjoy. To look at the hotel we recommend, click here.
We took a flight from Chiang Mai to Krabi to see some of Thailand’s beautiful beaches. We didn’t want to stay on Koh Pi Pi for instance, so we chose Koh Lanta and that was a good choice. Our hotel was close to a nice beach with a lot of restaurants and exactly as you would imagine Thailand with in the evening all the coloured lights at the beach bars and decoration. We had dinner on the beach as the children played in the sand and created some excellent souvenirs here!
We took a day trip to Koh Rok by speedboat and did some nice snorkeling to see all the coloured fish. The sand on Koh Rok Island is the whitest and softest I have ever seen, or felt. Postcard worthy!
We had an excellent hotel in Koh Lanta. Walking distance to the beach, nice swimming pool, friendly people. To see where we stayed, click here.
Ao Nang is the starting point for excursions to magical places. Coincidentally we met a French speaking tour guide while eating in a restaurant at night and he took us on a private Thai boat trip the next day. Chicken Island, lonely beach strips, amazing views, and beautiful snorkeling spots. The children loved it and the tour guide and his girlfriend were very nice to the children.
Our hotel in Ao Nang was nice, with swimming pool, and right in front of a nice restaurant, which comes in handy when the children are tired after a day trip! To see the hotel, click here.
Back to Bangkok
We decided to finish our Thailand trip with a bit more time to explore Bangkok. We did our last shopping, visited Chinatown and went for dinner and foot massage on the famous Koh San Road (or actually the street next to it which was a bit less crowded, but just as much fun).
We didn’t want to leave Thailand, but we definitely hope to come back one day!
Preparations for the trip
How do you prepare children for a far away trip? We talked about it a lot in advance and had a lot of fun doing so. Weeks before the trip we started to cook Thai. Talk about fruits that grow there and we looked up basic Thai sentences on internet before we went. So, our children were prepared, and could say ‘hello’ and ‘have a nice day’ in Thai before they went and this made them very happy and comfortable to do so.
While in the country they kept their travel journey where they wrote, drew and glued what they did that day and sometimes they still look at it and talk about Thailand!
See our video to get an idea