If you really want to give your kids a unique cultural experience then a visit to Bangkok should be top of your family bucket list. Thailands capital city is a colourful, vibrant, cultural delight that has a little bit of something for all ages and personalities. But it can be a bit daunting to plan a Bangkok family trip, especially if it’s your first time. Having visited Bangkok with my daughter many times since she was just two years old I’ve put together this ultimate guide to visiting Bangkok with kids to hopefully make your planning a bit easier.
There’s a lot of information in this post so feel free to jump to the specific information you’re after from the table of contents below.
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List of Contents
- 1 How to plan a family trip to Bangkok
- 2 Best Areas to stay in Bangkok with kids
- 3 Things to do in Bangkok for families
- 4 Toilets in Bangkok
- 5 How to get around Bangkok with kids
- 6 Where to eat in Bangkok with family
- 7 Is Bangkok safe for families
- 8 Shopping for kids in Bangkok
- 9 Packing for your family trip to Bangkok.
- 10 Preparing kids for your Bangkok family trip
- 11 Thai words to learn before your visit
- 12 Emergency numbers to memorise.
- 13 The best time to visit Bangkok
- 14 How to travel to Bangkok with kids
- 15 Movies and TV shows to watch before your trip to Bangkok
- 16 Books to read before your trip to Bangkok
How to plan a family trip to Bangkok
First up you’ll need to work out how long you’ll stay in Bangkok for. You’re probably visiting Bangkok as part of a family trip to Thailand and are likely to fly into and depart from Bangkok at the start and end of your adventure. Whilst it can be tempting to fly off to the pristine beaches and jungle covered islands straight away, make sure you give yourselves at least three days in Bangkok to explore and get over your jet lag. We like to fly into Bangkok, spend a few days there then have a couple of weeks exploring before flying home from somewhere like Phuket or Chiang Mai.
The good news is that you probably wont need to organise a visa to travel to Thailand. UK passport holders can stay in Thailand for up to 45 days without the need for a visa and US passport holders for 30 days as both countries are part of the Thai visa exemption scheme. For more information have a look at the Thai Embassy website or the check out the UK Governments Thailand travel advice. You will obviously need your passport, accommodation details, travel insurance and return flight itinerary.
Always visit your doctor several months before you travel, they will be able to advise you on any additional vaccinations you will need before you visit.
Make sure you get excellent travel insurance as soon as you book. If anything happens to stop you’re family trip to Bangkok being possible or if anything happens when you’re there you’ll need it.
Before you leave take copies of passports, travel insurance, international drivers license (if you’re hiring a car) and a credit card. Leave one with family or friends and home and keep one in your luggage just incase you need these details or loose anything.
Then you can get on with planning the fun part of your Bangkok family trip – the activities and accommodation.
If you don’t have time to read this now pin this guide to Bangkok with kids and come back to it later.
Best Areas to stay in Bangkok with kids
Bangkok is huge. There are so many different areas to stay, each with their own very unique vibe. A lot of the attractions are fairly spread out so it’s not a case of staying in just one neighbourhood and being able to pack everything in. I’ve covered my favourite areas below but what I would say is wherever you choose – make sure it has a pool. It’s the only way to cool off at the end of a busy day exploring or help ease the jet lag on arrival.
This is probably the best area to choose for first timers. It’s super easy to get around with plenty of BTS Stations and has loads of Western style restaurants and huge shopping Malls like Terminal 21. This doesn’t make it boring or lacking in authentic Bangkok experiences. The Soi Cowboy is located in Sukhumvit but this is probably not somewhere you’ll want to visit with kids. Sukhumvit is probably the worst part of Bangkok for its traffic.
Family friendly hotel in Sukhumvit: Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit
Riverside is where you’ll find the sprawling resort style hotels which make great places to escape to if the hustle and bustle of the city gets too much. Although Riverside isn’t close to the BTS stations, it’s very easy to hop on and hop of the river boats to get around the city. It feels like an exciting part of the visit, not just a way to get around. Have a look at my review of my favourite Riverside hotel Bangkok.
Family friendly hotel in Riverside: The Ramada Plaza Wyndham Menam Riverside
Sathorn is an area wedged between the back of Riverside and the edge of Lumphini. It’s home to a couple of BTS stations making it very easy to get around the city. It’s also very close to the epic shopping malls in Siam. Whilst there are several gorgeous rooftop bars in Sathorn, there’s not a hugely bustling nightlife scene so good for families looking for a peaceful nights sleep. Kids will also love a visit to neighbouring Lumphini Park to play in the splash pools and spot the monitor lizards.
Recommended hotel in Sathorn for families: The luxurious Banyan Tree.
Siam is a great option if you enjoy shopping. It’s home to some epic malls like Siam Paragon (designer goods), MBK (market style, great value) and Central World (pretty much everything) which are also have plenty of family friendly activities inside.
Family friendly hotel near Siam Paragon: The Siam Kempinski
Khao San Road
This needs a bit of a caveat. It’s busy, it’s backpackery and it’s noisy. If you’re a seasoned travel family and used to the slightly grimier side of South East Asia, then go for it. It’s super cheap and easy to get to many of the best sights of the city. But you wont find the lovely luxury hotels or quiet spacious retreats that often make a city break a bit more bearable with kids.
Recommended Hotel near Khao San Road: The Chillax Resort
Near the airports
If you really can only squeeze in one night at the start of your trip or have a very early flight the next morning then staying close to the airport is always a good idea. There’s the Suvarnabhumi night market if you want a nearby Thai experience before you flight from Suvarnabhumi airport. Or there’s Mega Bangna shopping mall which has a great kids water play area and other activities. For stays near the Don Mueng airport there’s the Royal Thai Air Museum and the Central Lad Phrao shopping centre.
Recommended hotel near Suvarnabhumi Airport: Amaranth Suvarnabhumi
Recommended hotel near Don Mueng Airport: Amari Don Mueng
Things to do in Bangkok for families
There are so many amazing things to do I’ve written a whole separate post on Things to do with kids in Bangkok. Trust me, you will not get bored. We love getting deep into a cities culture so whenever we visit Bangkok we tend to visit the temples, palaces and street markets. But if that’s not going to entertain the kids then you’ll find plenty of waterparks, play areas, shopping centres and indoor activities.
If you’re tight on time I recommend spending time exploring the area around the Grand Palace, here it’s easy to pop in to Wat Pho to see the reclining Buddha, visit Museum Siam and cross the river to explore Wat Arun. Make sure you spend some time shopping along the Khao San Road and head to Siam for some street food and a trip to MBK Mall. Try to squeeze in a leg massage at one of the walk in parlours. It’s great value, fabulous for jet lag and feels amazing. One of my top tips for visiting Bangkok for the first time with kids is a visit to Bangkok Asiatique Riverfront, it’s an open air market with a carousel, ferris wheel and loads of great restaurants. It’s a fresh, clean Bangkok attraction with a very Western feel.
If you have more time in the city, there are loads of fascinating tours available just a few hours drive from the city.
Toilets in Bangkok
Yes, this may seem like a slightly strange one to have a whole section on but it’s definitely worth adding to ensure you’re prepared. First up toilets in hotels, high end restaurants and luxury malls will be just like at home so if you get caught out, just pop into one of those.
Make sure you always have small packs of tissues and hand sanitiser with you. Toilet roll and soap is not always guaranteed in Thai public toilets. Most will have a water spray to use which can take some getting used to. Dry yourself with a tissue and pop it in the bin, not down the drain. Most toilets will be normal sit down types but you may come across some squat style toilets. It’s probably worth practicing your squats before you visit to build up some muscles. Some places may charge to use the toilet so always make sure you have some low value coins on you.
How to get around Bangkok with kids
Traffic is a way of life in Bangkok, it can feel never ending. If you want to get somewhere in a taxi, double the time you think it will take to get there so you’re not disappointed. We’ve hired a car in Bangkok once and I would never do it again. Driving is erratic and the traffic is so bad that for us it just wasn’t worth it. Walking can also be a bit tricky with uneven pavements and scooters using walkways to dodge traffic. Plus it’s super hot – the kids won’t want to walk too far.
I highly recommend getting a Thai sim card at the airport or before you arrive online. That way you can follow your maps as you get move around the city and also check public transport routes on the go.
Public transport in Bangkok
A far better way to get around Bangok is to use the exceptional MRT and BTS public transport systems. The BTS is a skytrain which crosses Bangkok from North to South East. MRT is a subway. The whole network is still in development so you wont be able to get round the whole city but it covers most areas. Using it is super easy and cost efficient. If you think you’ll use it a lot you can buy a day pass from the ticket machines in all the stations. Kids under 90 cm can travel for free and those 14 and under and under 120 cm are half price. Just ask at one of the ticket booths although we’ve just bought full price tickets as the machines as so cheap and convenient.
The Chao Phraya River Ferry
River ferries are another fantastic way to get across the city. The express ferries stop all along the river with piers outside many of the popular tourist attractions like The Grand Palace and Wat Arun. You can also link up with the skytrain at Central Pier so access downtown Bangkok. Find out more about the Chao Phraya Express boats and it’s various routes and costs here.
You can also get a day pass for the Chao Phraya tourist boat. It’s a bit more expensive but really not much. We found is so easy being able to jump on and off where ever we saw somewhere we wanted to stop. The guides at all of the piers will be able to tell you which boats your tickets are valid for and which way along the river they are headed. You’ll also receive a little guidebook and map with your ticket which is really useful.
Getting around Bangkok by car
As soon as you arrive I recommend you download the Grab App – it’s Thailands equivalent of Uber. I’ve always found it far cheaper than taxis and you input exactly where you want to go so nothing gets lost in translation. You’ll also see how much your ride will cost and having your card details stored on the App means you don’t need to carry too much cash. Taxis in Bangkok are notoriously unregulated and I’ve heard so many horror stories of drivers refusing to turn on their meter or taking you somewhere completely different to where you want to go. Grab takes away all the risk but unfortunately not the traffic. Bolt is another similar app you can try.
Tuk Tuks in Bangkok
And of course – try a tuk tuk trip at least once. They’re not the cheapest way to get around and can be uncomfortable over long distances but if your in Bangkok with kids they’ll absolutely love it. Bonus points if you use one after dark, they’re lit up with fairly lights. As ever, agree a price for your trip up front.
Where to eat in Bangkok with family
One thing is for sure – you won’t go hungry in Bangkok. There is literally a restaurant to suit every taste. You’ll find all the usual western fast food options dotted around the international malls but most of the restaurants will have a few western dishes if the kids are picky. Piper spent years pretty much only eating spaghetti bolognaise on our travels. We never had trouble finding it in Bangkok restaurants.
When we’re in Bangkok we don’t tend to visit traditional restaurants, we start the day with a huge hotel breakfast then street food our way around the city. We eat when we get hungry, following our noses (easy to do in Bangkok!) and stopping at stalls that look clean and busy. This is incredibly cheap and fairly healthy and means the kids can try lots of different flavours without breaking the bank. Do not worry about stopping at smaller local restaurants if you want to sit down to eat, again food and hygiene standards seem high. It’s a great way to try some traditional Thai dishes very cheaply.
Is Bangkok safe for families
We have never had a problem with crime in Bangkok. There is rarely trouble in the city and most Thais absolutely adore children so will go out of their way to ensure they are safe. Pickpocketing and bag snatching is always something to be aware of in any big city so keep your valuables safe and wear a money belt or something similar.
Scams are also something to be aware of. I’ve heard many stories of families getting in taxis or tuk tuks and being taken somewhere completely different to where they wanted, then having the fare doubled to go a different way. You may request to go to the Grand Palace and your driver will pull up to te back entrance telling you it is shut. Then they’ll take you somewhere else randomly and expect more money. ALWAYS agree a fare upfront or just use public transport or Grab. If someone tells you they will take you to an amazing gem shop or something similar for free, they are probably trying to get you to buy something – just don’t go.
I think the traffic is one of the most dangerous parts of Bangkok. Crossing the road is terrifying and pedestrian crossings seem more of a suggestion than a rule. Keep your wits about you and only cross when you are sure its safe. Do not let the kids wander anywhere near a road and use the over road pedestrian walkways whenever possible.
Staying healthy in Bangkok
It’s important to look after everybody’s health in Bangkok, tropical climates can be tough on kids. Make sure you all drink more water than you thought possible and consistently remind the kids. Don’t drink the tap water, we also avoid using tap water to clean our teeth, using bottled to rinse instead. Ice is generally safe in drinks but if you are nervous about this just avoid it. Always ensure cooked food is piping hot when you eat it and that any meat is cooked through. Pick the busiest street food stalls and ones where you can see they have running water – this means properly washed plates and essentials. Use hand sanitiser often, before eating and after using public transport.
Apply suncream often even on cloudy days. The rays are strong and sunburn or worse can ruin a holiday. It’s a good idea to wear long, loose clothes which will give you an extra layer of protection. And a large sun hat to protect faces and scalps.
Shopping for kids in Bangkok
You can find everything you need for the kids in Bangkok. It really is a shoppers paradise. Whether you’re looking for cheap and cheerful or high end designer there will be a shop to suit you in Bangkok.
Shopping for deals in Bangkok
My preferred way to shop for kids in Bangkok is at the street markets. If you’re low on time the Khao San Road is a good bet as you can tick off one of Bangkoks tourist sites while you’re there. Chatuchack weekend market is another good one and you can visit the park next door after your visit. For unique, artisan finds then the Plane market in Thonburi is your best bet.
High End shopping in Bangkok
For high end designer stores then Siam Paragon Mall has all the high end international brands you can think of and is home to Bangkoks Sea life Aquarium. Central World is another good place for designer shops and is absolutely huge as is the stunning Iconsiam Mall which is located right next to the river.
Everyday finds in Bangkok
For something between the two I recommend trying the MBK mall which has a distinctly market like feel with small independent stalls with owners who don’t mind a bit of a haggle. They sell clothing, accessories, bags and luggage to furniture, mobile phones and electrical appliances, cameras and toys. Theres also a pretty decent food court if you’re peckish.
Shopping for essentials in Bangkok
For everyday essentials there’s a 7 Eleven on pretty much every corner. Here you can get toiletries and a limited range of make up, over the counter medicines such as painkillers and plasters. It’s my go to for picking up snacks like crisps and sweets, some of their freshly baked goods are amazing and cans of beer and soda to take back to the hotel. Always buy bottle of water when you stop at a 7 Eleven, you cannot drink the tap water in Bangkok and it is so important to keep you and the kids hydrated. You’ll also see plenty of Boots pharmacies which are great for a bigger range of medicine including for young kids and they all seem to have English speaking assistants.
Shopping for a baby in Bangkok
If you’re in Bangkok with a baby then you will be able to get nappies and formula from 7 Elevens or Tesco Lotus. Western brands are pretty expensive or unavailable. The nappies are fine but you might want to bring formula just incase.
Read my full guide to shopping for kids in Bangkok.
Packing for your family trip to Bangkok.
As I’ve mentioned you can buy pretty much everything you need in Bangkok so there really is no need to overpack. In addition to your favourite vacation outfits there are a few things I recommend bringing in your suitcase that you may struggle to find in Thailand.
And remember another reason not to over pack – there are super cheap laundry places everywhere. Drop your clothes off and they’ll be freshly washed, ironed and folded for you within 24 hours. Don’t feel you have to use the laundry service in your hotel, it’s always way more expensive and you’ll be giving small local people your business.
Essentials to bring from home
I always bring a really good mosquito spray and branded suncream. My daughter is allergic to most brands so I can’t risk being caught out when we arrive. Suncream should be 30 SPF at a very minimum, ideally SPF 50. This is the same for any other branded toiletries or make up you’re particularly fond of – there’s no guarantee you’ll find it in Thailand. Although if you do run out or forget – head to Siam Paragon and they’ll probably have something similar.
Feminine hygiene products are again something I throw in the case. Thailand brands are different. I also pack period swimwear for my teenage daughter.
If you have a spare mobile phone at home it’s a great idea to bring one. You can very cheaply pick up a Thai sim card when you arrive at Bangkok airport. We got ours at the baggage collection area but you’ll also find them in the arrivals hall past customs. If you miss this you can easily buy them from one of the many 7 elevens dotted around the city. Being connected was so useful to help navigate around the city, check routes on the go, make sure we had hotel and tour confirmation to hand and even for my daughter to hot spot to it and check in on her socials when we were out and about.
Two weeks of unlimited data cost us just over £20 which was great value and we had coverage all over Thailand. Some of the booths are cash only so make sure you have easy access to cash when you arrive.
Any prescription medicine will also need to be bought from home. Make sure you bring the original prescription with you as well. We also bring a bottle of Calpol and Piriton, brands we recognise and know work from home. We carry electrolyte sachets in our travel medicine kit to help with dehydration and imodium tablets for dodgy tummies. Most of these can be picked up from Thai pharmacies but you might not recognise the brand names.
Bring portable Power banks so you can charge phones and devices on the go and a multi socket plug to avoid arguments over the chargers back at the hotel.
Packing for babies
For a baby, formula, bottles, steriliser and swim nappies. If your baby sleeps in a grow bag bring one from home. You’ll also want to bring your car seat if you plan on getting taxis or hiring a car. I always got nervous renting one of these overseas. As Piper got older we used a Bubble bum. Baby friendly mosquito repellent and a mosquito net are a good idea. UV protective clothing and swimwear with long sleeves and legs will provide an additional layer of protection over baby friendly sun block. A cute hat is an absolute must.
Preparing kids for your Bangkok family trip
There are a few things you might want to pre warn your kids about before arriving on your family holiday in Bangkok.
There’s nothing quite like the smell of the Bangkok streets. I don’t even know how to begin to describe it. It’s sewers, food, fumes and goodness knows what else. It’s not everywhere in the city and will creep up on you without warning. Trust me, after a few days you won’t even notice but a dab of tiger balm under the nose definitely helps.
Bangkok is not an easy city to walk, many roads will have no pavements at all and some will have pavements that look like they’ve been exploded. It’s easy to get around the city without walking but when you do, watch your footing and always wear closed toe shoes. Stubbed toes can lead to epic meltdowns. This will make life easier in the toilets too!
The friendliness of strangers
The people of Thailand are super friendly, it is nicknamed the land of smiles after all! And Thai people absolutely love kids. They will sometimes ask to touch little ones – they sometimes wont even ask. Or they may try to take photos. It’s pretty much always completely innocent but can feel quite disconcerting, especially for young kids. A firm “no” and head shake will stop it, just remind the kids to stay close. There also isn’t much personal space and rarely a queueing system – just stand your ground.
Traffic in Bangkok is horrendous. You’ll see traffic jams snake all around the city with tuk tuks and mopeds nipping in and out of spaces. There seems to be no rules and a lot of beeping. It can take hours to get from one part of the city to another. I recommend using the BTS and MRT whenever you can.
The heat in Bangkok feels inescapable. Sometimes dry, sometimes humid but also hot. High end Malls, restaurants and hotels will always have air conditioned which make for good places to cool down. Just take it very slow with kids, they will need more breaks than usual and plenty of water.
This is a tropical climate – you may see some cockroaches and we even saw a couple of rats. Just breathe and look away, they wont be in your hotel.
Thai words to learn before your visit
Thai is the language spoken in Bangkok. Although all children are also taught English at school so most people have a general grasp. It puts us Westerners to shame! Most of the road signs and information sign will be in both Thai and English. It’s still a good idea to learn a few Thai words before you arrive. The locals you meet will really appreciate it.
Basically females end sentences with the word ka/kap and males with Khrup/krap. You (and the kids) will be met with delight, even if you get it a bit wrong.
HELLO – Sa Wat Dee ka/khrup – pronounced sa-wat-dee ka/khrup. Teach the kids this one and you’ll be met with nothing but smiles!
THANK YOU – Kawp Koon ka/khrup – pronounced kop-koon ka/khrup. Accompany this with the “Wai” which is small bow.
NO – Mai Chai – pronounced my-chai. This is a good one to know for any hagglers in the markets or over enthusiastic taxi drivers.
TOO EXPENSIVE – Phaeng Mark Pai – pronounced feng-mak-pie. Definitely one you’ll need for market days.
Emergency numbers to memorise.
Whilst you’re unlikely to need them and your hotel will of course help you with problems that arise it’s a good idea to memorise the following numbers:
Tourist Police – 1155
Emergency Police – 191
Ambulance – 1554
British Embassy – 02 305 8333
USA Embassy – 02 205 4000
The best time to visit Bangkok
For me the best time to visit Bangkok is absolutely anytime you can. It’s always pretty hot, and often fairly grey. It can rain at anytime and will always be pretty busy. If you’re heading somewhere else in Thailand before or after your visit to Bangkok I would pick the best times for those. For instance Chiang Mai and the North is best avoided in the early months of the year. And rainy season starts on the southern islands in May/June until October.
Thailand is a great choice for the school summer holidays. But my favourite time to visit is during the Easter break and ideally over Songkran, Thailands New Year celebration (although this can be expensive and is when it is hottest). Bangkoks coolest season is November – February. Although by cool I still mean up to 30 degrees so it’s a great place for winter sun.
How to travel to Bangkok with kids
Bangkok has two airports Don Mueng to the North of the city and Suvarnabhumi to the East. With the usual Bangkok traffic and depending on where you’re staying in the city it will take you between forty minutes add an hour to get to your hotel from each airport in a taxi. If you’re arriving internationally you’ll likely land at Suvarnabhumi or domestically into either one. A taxi or Grab from the airport will cost around 400 Baht.
An easier way to get into the city from Suvarnabhumi is to take the airport link. Just follow the signs after arrivals. You’ll want to exit the train at Phaya Thai Station then transfer to the BTS line and find the station nearest your hotel. This way you beat the Bangkok traffic but it might not be easiest with little kids and lots of luggage. There is no easy public transport link from Don Mueng so a grab or taxi is still your best bet.
Movies and TV shows to watch before your trip to Bangkok
Most movies and shows I’ve found based in Bangkok are not particularly family friendly. You could check out the Hangover Part II, The Beach and the rather excellent The Serpent. all suitable for older teens. James Bond epic The Man with the Golden Gun is mainly based in Phuket but it does have some scenes filmed in Bangkok and is suitable for most kids. Jack Whitehall did an episode of Travels with my father in Bangkok. Yup, it’s a bit slim pickings when it comes to things to watch about Bangkok.
Books to read before your trip to Bangkok
There are plenty of books to read before your trip to Bangkok, some to read along with younger kids and some for older tweens and teens. Aya & Bobby Discover Thailand is a great picture book to help prepare younger kids for their visit to Bangkok. B is for Bangkok follows a day in the life of a Thai Child. For older readers have a look at Bangkok Wakes to Rain or try The Glass Kingdom which is set in the city. If you’re after some non-fiction informational guides then you can’t go wrong with Lonely Planets guide to Bangkok.
I hope you’ve found this guide to Bangkok with kids helpful for planning your Bangkok family trip. It really is one of the best cities in the world to experience with children. The whole of Thailand is incredibly family friendly so don’t restrict yourselves to Bangkok. Chiang Mai in the North is a fabulous culture filled typical Thai city or head further south to the gorgeous islands of Phuket or Koh Samui.
Read Next: Ultimate guide to Koh Samui with kids.