Unique Thai Maps, Cards and Gifts
Traveling with Children?
 

Oh, what fun! There are few countries as welcoming to families as Thailand. The most common complaint we hear from those with younger children is that every other person on the street, in restaurants and in hotels wants to play with them. Those with older children need only fear losing them in shopping malls and arcades where the distractions are so varied. Below, our tips and leads to things to do and other resources. Scroll down or click on one of the below to jump ahead. Enjoy!

 

Top Ten Things to Do in Thailand,

Recommended Reading for Children

Special Feature: Aden and Liam’s Chiang Mai Travel Tips

Other Resources and Links for Families Visiting Thailand


Top Ten Things to do in Thailand 
 

We’ve polled friends and family who have visited Thailand with children to put together this top ten list of things to keep the kids interested and entertained during your travels. As on our Travel Tips page, we’ve left out the obvious (such as riding elephants) and tried to include only things you might not otherwise think of, all of which can be done in almost any city you visit in Thailand or even before you visit. If you have bought our maps, check the indexes for listings of sightseeing and shopping attractions ‘For The Children’ as well. And do let us know if you have any suggestions to add!

 

1. Try Some Local Sweets

You’ll find several ‘khanom’ stands in every market, complete with everything from coconut and cream crepes (khanom buang) to colorful little gelatin-like squares of flour and sugar (khanom chan) and fruit-shaped glazed sweets made of mangosteen and yellow bean (louk jup). Wandering the streets, stop if you spot traditional vendors squeezing sugar cane juice or selling bowls of crushed ice with a selection of flavorings. In the country, keep an eye out for vendors selling sticky rice in bamboo (khao lahm). Mixed with beans, coconut milk and palm sugar, then baked over hot coals, this kind of gooey, caramelized sticky rice is great fun to dig into, but messy too! For the less adventurous, look out for modern ice cream shops with a range of cool Thai flavors, such as lychee and durian ice cream. Dare the kids to taste test at least three things and get pictures of them taking up the dare for show-and-tell back home! (Note: It is up to you to judge the sanitation where you eat!)

 

2. Play in the Park

With everything from tai chi and aerobics to open air karaoke and paddle boating, Thai parks are no bastions of peace and tranquility, but beehives of activity. If you have teenagers, send them over at dusk to join the Thai teens playing takraw or embarrass them by insisting the whole family participate in the 5 or 6pm public aerobics session. If you have younger children, keep an eye out for public playgrounds in the park. Thais love making new friends and seeing foreigners join in the fun, so don’t worry about joining in!

 

3. Play Like the Thais

Have the children make a rubber band jump rope on the flight over and take it with you to the park or other public place, and you’ll soon have a throng of new friends showing off their jump roping skills and teaching you some new tricks. Another game using rubber bands is popular with Thai boys: Each player has one rubber band. They are laid on the ground in front of each player. In turn, each player blows on his rubber band, trying to move towards and eventually on top of another player’s rubber band. The winner is the last rubber band to land on top of the last other player’s rubber band. If you are visiting the beach, or anywhere with banana trees, younger children might be interested in playing with banana leaf horses , easy to make from a single palm frond (click on the link for directions). Hopscotch and jacks are also popular with Thai children.

 

4. Learn Some Thai Songs

There are some great fun children’s songs that every Thai knows, complete with movements and games that go along with them. Our favorites include the Elephant Song (click on the link to find its lyrics and other popular easy to learn fun songs). Among particularly popular children’s songs that accompany games are the Snake-Eat-Tail (Ngu Kin Hang) song (click on the link to read how it is played but you’ll have to ask someone to teach the song to you!). For those really interested, we found a book/CD combo of Thai Children’s Songs, Games and Customs online. For teenagers, there are some really good Thai bands now. Send them to www.top10thaimusic.com to get to know a few before they come.

 

5. Make Merit One Morning

If your children are relatively well behaved and interested, ask your hotel or guesthouse to arrange for you to join them in the alms offering to monks (Bindabat) one morning. Your Thai hosts will arrange some packages of rice and food and explain the etiquette involved, especially for women and girls who are not allowed to touch monks. You will have to wake up early and wait quietly with your offerings by the roadside. Giving food to monks is an act of merit making and carried out quite solemnly. Consider it a different way to start the day, hopefully an eye-opening one for the children too.

 

6. Do Something You Would Do At Home

What are your children into back home? If it is music, find a local school supply store and get them a small Thai drum or flute to learn to play. If it is football, ask around to find out where football is played after school and go watch a game or join in (most schools have football fields open to the public after classes and impromptu games are also played on the beaches at dusk). If it is video games, go to a Thai video arcade (there’s one in every mall). Do go see a movie too (read our Travel Tips page) but keep in mind previews shown before PG-13 films are not always PG-13!

 

7. Visit a Fortune Teller

There’s at least one temple in each city that offers fortune telling services. Just ask around and find out if any speak some English or if you need to arrange for a translator. Make sure you know the exact time and date your children were born for a more ‘accurate’ reading. You may also want to ask the fortune teller before you begin to not share anything bad. (Some can really scare an adult, let alone a child!)

 

8. Do Something Trendy

The current craze in university areas is nail painting. On the beach, it is Henna painting. In the malls, we’ve seen a lot of jewelry making supply shops and classes lately. If your children are interested, give it a go!

 

9. Visit a Local School or Orphanage

Most orphanages have visiting hours and many welcome volunteers to come play with the children there, lead an English class or otherwise entertain. See our map indexes for Volunteer Opportunities listings in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, which also include animal care centers. Do call ahead to make sure you are welcome and if there is anything you can bring when you come!

 

10. Send a Card Home Each Day

Have your children buy one postcard (or greeting card) each day and mail it back home to family, friends, teachers or even themselves! As we say, email has its time and place, but there is nothing like getting a personal card in the mail! (It’s also fun to select stamps they like at the post office!)


Recommended Reading for Children 
 

There are very few children’s books about Thailand, with most of the below released only in the last few years . All are available at www.asiabooks.com unless otherwise stated.

 
For Younger Children.

The Juk’s Adventures series of books about Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket take children on a colorful, multilingual journey to the top sights and spots in each city. Can You Guess? Animals of Thailand by Janice Santikarn is worth peeking at. We also recently found a paper doll sticker book entitled Tida From Thailand by Yuko Green on www.amazon.com , featuring 8 different hill tribe and other Thai outfits.

 

For Children Ages 6-10

Jane Puranananda’s The Mystery of Bangkok’s Golden Treasure and her latest children’s book

The Mystery of the Vanishing Vase at Jim Thompson’s House are both written for children who can read and enjoy a bit of a mystery. Both are education and good previews of the sights and sounds of travel in Thailand.
 

For Older Children and Teenagers

See recommended reading on our Travel Tips page. There are as yet no real young adult titles specifically about Thailand, but we’ll start pushing a few friends of ours who write to consider working on the concept!

 

Destination Guides for Families

Both of these titles are written primarily for families moving to Thailand but may be worth browsing by families with a week or more in each city:

Sue Adams’ Kids in Bangkok features 52 tried and tested things to do with the children in Thailand’s capital. Illustrated by Nancy Chandler, it is available on this website (click on the link above). For those going to Phuket, keep an eye out for Phuket for Kids by Donna Stephens (available on Asia Books’ website too).
 

For Would-be-Artists

We stumbled upon this book online at www.amazon.com

and are waiting for our own copy to arrive! How to Draw Thailand’s Sights and Symbols (A Kid’s Guide) by Betsy Dru Tecco is reportedly educational as well as creative, teaching children about a country as they learn to draw its main sights and symbols.


 
 
"A fun Thai culture
resource for children"

Thai Adoption Newsletter



Nancy Chandler's Thailand Coloring Book

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We've also just released a new
Thai Animals Coloring Book

"Each page is not merely an activity to while away a few hours - it's a lesson in Thai arts and culture "

Metro Magazine



Nancy Chandler's Thailand Activity Book
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Special Feature: Aden and Liam's Favorite Things to do in Chiang Mai!

The Sargeant boys (pictured above at Wat Doi Suthep) visited Chiang Mai in January 2007 and loved it SO much that we asked them to send us their Top Things to Do in Chiang Mai. Here they are:


By Aden (age 9):


Riding on the elephants at Mae Taman.
The show at the elephant camp was fantastic. I especially liked seeing the elephants kick soccer balls and score goals, and the way they painted real pictures of flowers, trees and other elephants! But the best part was actually riding them through the jungle. Swaying from side to side, we traveled up steep paths, down hillsides and through rivers. The driver even asked me to hop on the elephant’s head and drive myself!


Riding in tuk tuks at top speed!
Hang on! There are no seat belts and it feels like you might fall out at any second. It’s great fun and you get to where you need to go for not very much. With four of us in the back, it’s a tight fit.


Looking at stalls in the Night Bazaar.
There’s lots of cool stuff in the markets and it’s cheaper than shops back home. You can find just about any DVD, CD or Game Boy Advance game, as well as later pointers, binoculars and all kinds of wooden games.


Trying new foods at the Kalare Food Court and other cool places!
My favorite food was the Chinese style spring rolls (they’re flat!) and Penang Chicken. It’s great to taste new foods that you wouldn’t get back home. Just make sure the food is freshly cooked, otherwise it might have been sitting there for a while. Sometimes things are a bit too weird though. We saw a dessert that was ice cream with creamed corn all over it. (Yuck!)


By Liam (age 6)


Eating Pad Thai and Spring Rolls.
My favorite food in Chiang Mai! Pad Thai is a big tasty meal and I love the crunch of the spring rolls. I tried some new things but I loved these the best and had them in lots of places.


Playing with the monkeys at the Monkey School.
We fed the monkeys and it was really fun because they caught it. One baby monkey climbed on my dad’s shoulder and he was a bit nervous. At the school, they teach monkeys to get coconuts off trees so they did this in a show for us.


Riding the huge elephants.
Mummy and I rode on one with my brother and dad on another. We wondered who would win the race! We fed the elephants with sugar cane and bananas that you bought along the ride. It was very bumpy, up and donw hills and we walked through a river! It was ace!


Riding down the Mae Ping River on a boat.
We went on a river cruise. We had to jump onto the boat but it was safe, really. We traveled down the river, waving at the people fishing and visited a farm where lots of rice and bananas and herbs and things were growing. We tasted some nice fruit but there were a few mosquitoes.


Going for dinner at the Antique House restaurant.
We sat on mats on the floor with cushions and a low table. I loved the watermelon juice. It’s my new favorite drink! The house has lots of old things that Mum and Dad liked looking at but I just love the food. My parents found Antique House on the Nancy Chandler Chiang Mai map ten years ago and loved it so we had to come back.

Other Resources

 

Thailand4Kids

This website promoting the author’s guide for family holidays in Thailand also offers some insightful, well-researched free advice for single parents, food for children, and printable Thai phrase cards for the whole family.

 

For more advice and tips on traveling with children in Thailand, try these website pages:

Discovery Thailand Tips

Circle of Asia Tips

Thai Focus Tips

Amari Tips

 

Baby World Article

This article by Alison Perrett is a great preview of what to expect (and what to take with you), especially if planning a beach holiday with a baby!

 

BAMBI

If you are moving to Bangkok with a baby or young children, do consider joining the supportive Bangkok Mothers & Babies International (BAMBI).

 

Let’s Share

Thailand’s first online market place for second hand books, toys, clothing and furniture for children. Based in Bangkok.

 

Travel For Kids

This interesting website has yet to add Thailand to its list of destinations, but still provides a wealth of tips for those traveling with children to neighboring countries...


Travelling with Children

We had to add this UK-based website we stumbled upon as it sells all sorts of cool child-related travel gear that had us giggling away in the office, such as chic baby Ray-Ban sunglasses with UV lenses and cute little toilet seat covers!


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