In many ways, Thailand is more child-friendly than many Western nations.
Thai kids are always underfoot, so people tend to watch for them.
Thailand is a wonderful place for a family vacation, and a good place for parents to introduce their children to the joy of understanding and appreciating another culture. Whether you have infants, primary school-age children, or adolescents, you'll find Thailand to be relatively easy in terms of amenities.
Transportation, food, clothing, medical, and baby-sitting options are all accessible to parents traveling with children, with a bit of easy adventure thrown in for the mix.
Thai children are used to using public transportation by themselves in safety, unheard of in many western nations.
Western children in particular love Bangkok’s Skytrain, which they see as an extension of a theme park, with great views outside, and with interesting people to watch inside.
There is no graffiti on any form of Thai transport, and generally, all forms of transportation are spotlessly clean.
Chao Phraya river taxis are a wonderful experience for children of all ages, particularly those having never seen a bustling waterfront area; just be sure to use caution and hold the hands of little ones when entering and exiting the taxis.
For surface travel, we recommend air-conditioned metered taxis.
Intercity air-con buses and trains are easy to use, and there are English-speaking info counters at all stations.
From a safety perspective, tuk-tuks and motorcycle taxis are best left to veteran travelers.
Skateboards and roller skates are best left at home, due to the patchwork quilt of surfaces on Thai sidewalks.
What to bring: Strollers and car seats for infants are not as varied as at home, so the preference is to bring your own.
Anchor points for car seats are not to be found in the majority of Thai autos.
If this is an issue, ask for clarification from your rental agency if you intend to rent an auto.
Reinforce cautions against jaywalking, before you leave for Thailand.
When here, always take your children by the hand, and ensure that you and your children look both ways before crossing any road, as Western crosswalk etiquette is not always honored in Asia.
In Thailand, forward traffic occupies the left lane, so visitors coming from countries standardized on autos with left-hand steering should be especially careful crossing streets.
Overhead crosswalks are always best, when available, and they abound in Bangkok (Skytrain stations serve this purpose as well).
You'll want your children to wear shoes with good traction, as Bangkok sidewalks are often home to a fascinating puzzle of objects in different shapes, sizes, and colors.
Thailand's a food-lover's paradise, with interesting options available everywhere.
If you're trying to wean the kids off junk food and soda pop, you'll love the fruit and fruit juice vendors at numerous sidewalk spots in the city.
Fruit is fresh, and juices are real, and freshly-squeezed.
If you're looking for standard Western fare, shopping malls everywhere have the same chain restaurants you're used to in your own country.
Thai food is spicy, so we'd recommend taking your children to Thai restaurants in your own country, and introducing them to Thai food there first.
Order your food “mai pet” (not spicy), for best results for first-timers.
Supermarkets are everywhere, so if you are staying at a hotel and want to make sandwiches and other foods you'd find at a store, ask the hotel prior to booking if there is a supermarket catering to Westerners within two blocks.
The Sukhumvit area has several, Foodland and Villa Market being just two.
Tesco-Lotus supermarkets are another great source for food and household items.
Family-style restaurants are usually found in shopping malls in major cities.
Ask your hotel for the nearest mall with a food court, or with restaurants catering to families with children.
What to bring: Baby formula and foods are generally available, although the sugar content is higher than in most Western countries.
If you're a stickler, bring your favorites from home.
Organic baby food is difficult to find, at best.
Bangkok has the best hospitals in southeast Asia.
They're inexpensive, generally extremely modern, and many doctors are educated in the West.
In our experience, care is at least as good as in your own country, waiting times are less, and cost of care cheaper.
Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket, and Ko Samui have many of the same options as Bangkok.
Upcountry, or in outlying areas, care is available, but limited, depending on the locality.
If your child is on medication, chances are you can find it in Thai pharmacies, in both name and generic brands.
Bringing less is best.
You can buy good, inexpensive clothing everywhere in Thailand, and it’s generally cheapest in outdoor markets and sidewalk stalls.
The same goes for travel bags, easy to find, and inexpensive.
What to bring: Diapers may be more expensive than in your own country, and variety is less.
Same goes for disposable wipes, so we recommend bringing your favorites from your own country.
For sea and beach, inexpensive polarized sunglasses are not all that easy to find in Thailand, although designer-brand high-end glasses are ubiquitous.
UV-blocking bathing suits are pricey, when you can find them, so bring your own.
All families are different, but one activity all children enjoy is a visit to the Crocodile Farm and Zoo, 30 km outside of Bangkok, along the Sukhumvit highway.
Here is a variety of animals, including gibbons, tigers, elephants, snakes, and over 60,000 crocs, with several shows daily.
Tel: (02) 703-4891.
There are elephant, snake, and croc farms all over Thailand, all with shows and activities.
You'll see lots of elephants in Thailand, and even in Bangkok, you can still buy bananas from the occasional mahout, and have fun feeding them to a friendly elephant.
In Bangkok, children will enjoy the Dusit Zoo, with animal exhibits, a play area, and a fast-food restaurant.
The best way to get there is to take the Skytrain to Victory Monument, then a taxi to the zoo.
Open 9-6 daily, but crowded on weekends.
Thailand has a plethora of activities that children love, and much of the fun is interacting with Thai children of their own age.
Your hotel will have information on wonderful children’s activities close to you.
Thais adore children, and it’s not difficult to secure baby sitting services at virtually all major hotels and shopping malls.
Hotels will typically use their housekeeping staff, who either have children of their own, or are used to taking care of siblings.
Prices vary, but there is typically a 2 hour minimum charge, at 200 baht per hour for one baby, 250 baht per hour for two babies.
It’s helpful to give the hotel one day’s notice, so they can properly allocate personnel.
Baby sitting at shopping malls is of the drop-in variety.
Malls will have a concierge-reception desk, generally near the front entrance, where English-speaking staff will direct you.
Kids’ Home & Family Services, tel: (02) 717-6013, on Sukhumvit Soi 2, will baby sit your children there for 500 baht per day, or 600 baht per half day. Their prices double if they baby sit at your hotel or house. They also have monthly rates, starting at around 8000 baht.
Their friendly staff speaks English on the telephone.