Thailand Family Holidays - travel tips for parents
Updated: Aug 31
Updated August 2020
A Thailand family holiday is a hugely popular travel choice for good reason with so much natural beauty and lots of stimulating places to visit. It is such an easy family holiday destination which caters well for kids of all ages and the best part is that Thai people LOVE kids so you will always feel welcome and safe.
We have been to Thailand many times, and love it so much that we had our wedding there in 2007. Thailand with kids is a wonderful and exciting place to take kids and there are so many places to visit in Thailand as well. Of course the friendly Thai people will do their absolute best on every visit to make every day memorable for little ones.
Places to Visit in Thailand - Thailand Family Holidays
Thailand has a plethora of unique and beautiful places to visit and offers the opportunity to blend culture, beach resorts and mountains in one visit. Here is a rough guide on the best places to visit in Thailand including the four most selected regions - Phuket, Chiang Mai, Bangkok and Koh Samui.
Phuket is the most popular and largest island in Thailand and is a fabulous resort holiday for families. Explore tropical islands that are breathtakingly beautiful and find adventures in the forested mountains or simply relax and indulge in the many high end resorts.
Chiang Mai is vibrant, busy and exciting with bustling markets on every night of the week and a diverse range of activities and experiences on offer. There are some beautiful resorts in Chiang Mai however most travellers come here to experience the mystical mountains surrounding the city.
A visit to the original Elephant Nature Park is a must when in Chiang Mai as is getting a traditional thai massage and enjoying authentic thai cooking classes.
Great place to stay in Chiang Mai for families: Hyde Park Chiang Mai
The capital of Thailand, Bangkok is a heaving metropolis that is a place you must visit at least once. For family entertainment in Bangkok focus on the bustling markets and take your kids to see the floating markets for a different perspective on life.
Admire the impressively detailed buildings, of most note the Grand Palace and Wat Prakeaw or take things slow with a boat tour along the Chao Phraya River.
Great place to stay in Bangkok for families: Bangkok Marriott The Surawongse
Koh Samui is another perfect beach destination with warm weather and idyllic scenery. Phuket and Koh Samui have opposite wet seasons so is great thing to consider if you want to travel at a particular time of year but want to avoid the monsoons. Koh Samui also has an amazing array of private holiday villas with private pools and complete privacy and serenity.
Immerse yourself in the Ang Thong National Park for superb jungles and white sand beaches or visit temples and fishermen's villages. The choice is yours.
Great place to stay in Koh Samui for families: Paradise Villa
So now you have an understanding of some of the major places to visit in Thailand let me explain why Thailand is such an amazing destination for families...
Thailand is a budget friendly destination for family travel
Accommodation, food and activities in Thailand are super friendly on the bank account which is exactly what you need when travelling as a family.
A delicious restaurant meal for a family of four will only set you back approximately $30-40 AUD or possibly even less, if you eat at local restaurants, and the quality of food is generally pretty amazing. If you choose to eat at resort restaurants you will pay a fair bit more than locally however you can enjoy some really beautiful evenings with calming views over the ocean in the beach hot spots.
Activities in Thailand are very affordable and transport is cheap and cheerful. Even with the added cost of international flights Thailand is still a very cheap option for family travel due to the great value of the Australian dollar and the cheap on ground costs.
Friendly, Accommodating People
Thai people love and accept families and children into all facets of life. You can take your kids anywhere in Thailand and not feel nervous about what people are thinking, or feel on edge that people don't want your children around. You can also strike up a conversation with almost any Thai person and they will be happy and friendly to chat with you and your kids.
On our last trip to Thailand the lovely lady who was cleaning our room each morning would fold the towels into animal shapes and interact and play with our kids whenever we saw her. They really are just extremely genuine and nice towards families.
Stunning Natural Beauty
Who doesn't love lush amazing greenery and gardens, sparkling turquoise beaches, and jungles to get the imagination running. Depending on what part of Thailand you visit you can expect a huge variety in scenery and experiences which is why this country is such a mecca for family travel. There are some gorgeous places to visit and things to do in Thailand from the jungles of northern Thailand to the crystal waters of Phi Phi and Krabi.
Wildlife in Thailand
Kids will love the interactions with friendly elephants, beautiful birdlife and cheeky monkeys. Just be a little mindful of the ethical considerations with some of the animal attractions. The consideration for the welfare of animals in Thailand is rapidly improving but in the past has been questionable. If you are keen to read about responsible animal experiences throughout the world check out these suggestions!
Food glorious food
Super delicious, yummy food everywhere you turn. Thai food is one of the biggest draw cards for travelling to Thailand - it keeps everyone's tummy happy with authentic dishes and the freshest of tropical fruits.
Sometimes the most difficult part of travelling overseas with kids is finding food that they will eat. Well there is no need to worry in Thailand. The fresh tropical fruits are delicious but kids will also love the rice and noodle dishes for main meals, fresh fish is plentiful, spring rolls are a favourite for my kids, and there are plenty of fresh baked goods.
If you stay in any decent standard resort in Thailand you can expect a huge variety of food options so there is also plenty of western food to select from if your family needs.
Excellent Resorts and Accommodation in Thailand
Thailand hotels are of the highest quality and can be very luxurious at a family friendly price. It is easy to find great value Thailand packages as well including your flight and accommodation.
Many Thai resorts have amazing pools, beautiful gardens, high quality restaurants, kids clubs and full calendars of activities to keep even the most energetic kids busy. Keep an eye on my other Thailand articles for some good suggestions for hotels.
The great thing about Thailand accommodation is that it can suit absolutely any budget. You can opt for cheap and cheerful or spoil your family with a private plunge pool villa - the choice is all yours!
Cheap, direct flights
Being such a popular destination means there are lots of airlines and deals constantly available to get you there.
For Australians, if you don't mind travelling no-frills then Jetstar direct to Phuket is a fantastic way of getting to your beach destination with the minimal of fuss. Flying low cost holiday airlines such as Jetstar usually means lots of other families with kids so for those of you nervous about flying with kids you can just blend into the noise and excitement.
Asian holidays are a simple way to combine a city and beach holiday. Enjoy a few days shopping and visiting the cultural highlights of Bangkok or Singapore before chilling on the beach in Phuket or Koh Samui.
Tips for Parents when Travelling to Thailand with Kids
I have covered this already but worth mentioning how you can cope with travelling with babies and toddlers. Thailand supermarkets do sell baby foods and toddler snacks however you wont find the range that you would find in other western countries and it is generally restricted to the glass jar baby food.
Depending how fussy your toddler is you will probably find it easier to pack some snack foods that you would regularly give your baby/toddler at home.
No need to go overboard though as most restaurants in the resorts will help you out with special orders for some cooked vegies that you can mash up with a fork and you can rely on a reliable source of fresh fruits to puree yourself.
Generally speaking we have never had too many problems with any sort of gastro or illness in Thailand. The only time this has happened was from a five star resort restaurant so go figure. To keep your kids happy and healthy just pack some wet wipes and some hand sanitiser for those times you don't have soap and you should be fine.
Can you Drink Tap Water in Thailand
You will need to buy bottled water for your stay in Thailand both for drinking and brushing teeth. This isn't a biggie as you can literally buy water everywhere but if you want to save some cash head to a local supermarket to buy water as the resort convenience stores will charge five times the price.
For sterilising bottles or other baby items we would use the tap water as it gets treated by the sterilising tablet. This leads to the next tip - the simplest and lightweight option for sterilisation is the basic dissolvable tablets that can be purchased from chemists and supermarkets in your home country. Take a basic tupperware container for the items to soak for the appropriate time and you are all sorted.
Transport options in Thailand
Tuk tuks light up the roads in Thailand and can be a bunch of fun for kids. Often lit up with disco lights and entertaining drivers it is something you have to try when in Thailand.
If you want a safer and faster ride, particularly good for the longer drives then you can use taxis or a private driver. Kam from Kids on Board is absolutely fantastic for a private driver in Phuket. He has looked after us on a number of visits with the kids and drives safely, has a good car and high quality child restraints.
If you are catching taxis please bear in mind that many taxis in Thailand may not have working seatbelts and definitely will not have child restraints.
Another option can be to use the hotel shuttle service that many of the larger resorts offer. Usually in a mini van with seat belts but no child restraints.
Be prepared to see some weird and wonderful things on the road in Thailand... it puts a whole new perspective on the question of over-protecting our children.
Depending on the age of your child and where you are staying you can get away without travelling with many additional baby items.
Most decent resorts and hotels will provide you with complimentary baby cots and other useful items such as high chairs and toys. We have always found restaurants in Thailand more than ready to seat families with high chairs and special cutlery and bowls etc so don't stress about taking too much from home.
Some particularly good resorts will have fully stocked kids playrooms and will even provide a play corner in your room which is great for saving some luggage space for you.
I would recommend taking your own pram as it can be really helpful to allow you to spend the day outside enjoying your holiday while your child can nap somewhere comfortable and safe. There is nothing worse than feeling locked in a hotel room constantly while you let your kids sleep.
Bear in mind that once you head outside of resort areas the footpaths can be poorly maintained or non existent so a pram that can handle some uneven terrain is helpful.
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