25 Places You Must Take Your Kids to in Bangkok!
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|   Apr 11, 2016
25 Places You Must Take Your Kids to in Bangkok!

We moved to Bangkok almost a year ago with our eight-year-old son and four-year-old daughter – one who expected that he would be saying farewell to everything urban and the other who couldn’t wait to live in Hello Kitty land! Needless to say, neither was right. The fortunate result has been a mix of the urban with the traditional, the culture with the pop culture, and a city where you’re frankly spoiled for choice when it comes to entertainment for kids. The downsides are the heat and the traffic so getting from one point to the other can be tiring. Fortunately, Bangkok has a range of transportation options both cheap and clean, from taxis to the ubiquitous Uber cars, from the MRT subway to the BTS (Skytrain), the loveable tuk-tuks to the intrepid motorcycle taxis, and even the exciting long-tail boats. My daughter loves zigzagging through traffic in the three-wheeled tuk-tuk and with its open-to-the-elements structure, it will give you far more of the sounds and smells of the city than other modes of travel on the road.

Wat Arun along the Chao Phraya river at dusk

Our family is in love with Bangkok but as we are still in our exploratory stage, I also polled my local Thai friends to come up with this list of fun things you must do with your children while in Thailand’s capital city. The places are not ranked using any criteria other than their relative proximity to each other within different areas in Bangkok.

1. Dinosaur Planet

I begin with an attraction that has just opened to the public and given the hype and excitement that it has already garnered, it will soon be the most popular spot for kids downtown. Bangkok’s newest theme park promises to take visitors back to the age of the dinosaurs to see 200 life-size versions of the historic creatures and even ride some of them; fight velociraptors in an obstacle-based interactive environment; excavate fossils and see eggs hatch in the Dino Lab.

Located in the Em Sphere grounds means that you’re next door to the high-end sister malls of Emporium and EmQuartier where the shopping and eating are remarkable. Check out local favourite for brunch Roast or the circular dining hub that winds through EmQuartier’s 6th through 9th floors. My kids love to cool down with ice cream from the Harrod’s Café and Ice Cream Parlor on the first floor of EmQuartier, the first of the brand outside London.

2. Imaginia Playland

On the third floor of the Emporium mall is a ‘learning through playing’ concept 1400 sqm. indoor playground geared to ignite your children’s imagination with activities that incorporate music, technology, literature, and strategy. Mine never want to leave as they slip, slide, crawl and climb through tunnels, nets, and mountains, make silly faces for the cameras, and send their creative work to my email. Best visited over the week to avoid crowds and bring your own socks so you don’t have to pay for pairs there.

Later parents can catch a well-deserved break at Another Hound or the TWG Tea cafés.

For more details, please click here.

3. Benjasiri and Benjakiti Parks – Next door to the Emporium shopping center is Benjasiri Park and if your children are craving some outdoor time, then this is a manageable stop with two play areas, one for toddlers and another for kids over 4 years old.

One BTS Skytrain stop away is a very pretty park – Benjakiti – with its picturesque lake and fountains, cycling paths, and boat rides from which to watch the sun set and escape the bustle of the city.

4. Flow House – Surf’s up! Beat the heat at the beach club on Sukhumvit Soi 26 where kids and adults alike can try their hand at surfing and body boarding on the simulated wave machine. This is not for younger children (starting age is 5 years old; min height 107 cm). My son loved it but was pretty winded after his first attempt. It’s fun for the whole family as the space is intimate, the food is pretty good, and the vibe is chilled out so you feel motivated to try a new sport without the fear of actual open waters. If you’ve got younger kids in tow, you can split time with the next entry on the list - Funarium.

For more details, please click here.

5. Funarium – Guaranteed to keep your little ones entertained for hours, Funarium is a 2000 sqm. indoor area that is dominated by a large climbing structure replete with secret passageways, tunnels, swinging ropes, a trampoline, and a four lane slide, among other things. Bring socks and don’t be surprised if you follow your kid into this jungle gym and have fun! For a bit of reprieve from the non-stop activity, there’s a café as well as a well-stocked art room upstairs.

For more details, please click here.

If you happen to be here over a weekend, do stop by K-Village, the open-air mall that is connected by the parking lot to Funarium. They have a farmer’s market every second weekend of the month, which makes for pleasant browsing through lovely booths that sell interesting clothes, organic produce, and yummy snacks. All things Japanese have a big following in Bangkok so the neighboring Nihonmachi mall is also a good stop to grab a bite if you’re looking for yakitori grills, izakaya restaurants, or sukiyaki shops. Nagiya, an import from Japan, is a favorite.  

6. Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World – A marine aquarium in the basement of a shopping mall doesn’t sound like it would be any good but Ocean World defies expectations. Covering 10,000 sqm, it offers shock and awe at every turn with hundreds of varieties of marine life including giant spider crabs and stealthy tiger sharks. They also have some unique experiences on offer where you can dive with the sharks or join the feeding boat and get up close to the animals. Check out their website for more details: www.sealifebangkok.com/en/

Bangkokians are foodies to the core and even their malls do not disappoint on the dining front. Siam Paragon, the mall that houses Ocean World has some excellent restaurants -Four Seasons with its traditional Chinese menu and a Kalpapruek outpost, which offers great Thai food at reasonable prices, are highlights for me. If you want to go further afield, check out Som Tam Nua, a tiny bistro hidden in an alleyway of trendy Siam Square across the street for mouth-watering som tam (papaya salad) and other sweet and spicy Isaan dishes. Get there before noon to avoid the long lines of hipster teens that descend daily.  

7. KidZania

While at Siam Paragon, you can also head upstairs to visit the innovative global franchise of KidZania. It is an amazingly realistic cityscape miniaturized for kids. The concept is that the children choose jobs whether it is being a firefighter, a shopkeeper, a doctor, among others and they earn currency, which they can use to pay for things within KidZania. It’s role-play with authenticity and the children love trying jobs that are part of their daily experiences. However, younger kids (below 5 years) will be limited in what they can do within the community.

For more details, please click here.

8. Jim Thompson House

Ten minutes away from Siam Paragon is a wonderful respite from the city’s chaos – the well-preserved residence of the “Silk King” American trader, Jim Thompson. Thompson’s disappearance in the 1960s is one of the most famous mysteries of Southeast Asia. Combine history with legend as you walk through his traditional Thai house set in a verdant landscape along a khlong (canal) that recalls Siam of yesteryear. The house showcases the stunning antiques that he collected and includes curios of interest to the kids, like the rat game boxes in the bedroom. The restaurant within the compound serves good food and the trademark silk in the store makes for great gifts.

For more details, please click here.

9. Ice Skating

A favourite pastime for the local kids to escape Bangkok’s heat and humidity is to head to the city’s many ice rinks, some of them conveniently located within malls to let parents get in their shopping too. Central World mall’s The Rink is one such venue. Even toddlers (beginning at 2 years old) can make like penguins and try their hand at balancing on ice with props.

10. Lumpini Park

Founded in 1925 and commissioned by King Rama VI, Bangkok’s largest and oldest park is a centrally located, must-visit with its ponds, shady paths, children’s playgrounds, jogging and biking paths. Look out for the massive monitor lizards that roam here; they can be intimidating but I’ve been told that being used to people, they’re harmless. A paddle ride in a swan-shaped boat around the beautiful lake can be a tranquil way to enjoy the scenery. 

11.  Snake Farm

Because your kids love creepy-crawlies. Because it’s Thailand, home to over 200 species. Because they are actually beautiful creatures and this is a humane space in which to view them. The reasons may vary but a visit to the Snake Farm will be unforgettable. Established in 1923 to develop antidotes for venomous bites, the institute offers a fascinating study of various indigenous snakes, their habitats, and their valuable role within the ecosystem. The most exciting part for kids is the live venom extraction and snake show after which they can handle the reptiles themselves if they so dare. 

For more details, please click here.

12.  Catch a movie

This may seem like a waste of time on vacation but Bangkok’s cinema theatres with their plush chairs, pillows and blankets with admission make it a luxury experience. The tickets at Embassy Diplomat Screens within the upscale Central Embassy mall don’t come cheap at 900 Baht per person but include a concierge service, spacious lounge and bar, seats that recline into beds, and welcome snacks from New York’s gourmet grocery store, Dean and Deluca.

Central Embassy is also a well-designed shopping complex that hosts some fantastic food options like Somboon; the elegant Water Library Brasserie; the Eathai food court in the mall’s basement with diverse cuisine from nearly every region; and the popular Taiwanese chain eatery, Din Tai Fung.

13. Neilson Hays Library

An example of neo-classical architecture, the Neilson Hays library is a historic landmark, a mecca for book lovers, and certainly my favourite place in the city. The building has a cosy children’s section where the little ones can take their shoes off, crash on beanbags, and read to their heart’s content. On Saturdays, the library runs story-time at 10:30 am followed by arts and crafts (100 Baht per child for non-members). Membership is required to borrow books.

For more details, please click here.

The coffee shop within the library grounds is a good place to grab a bite or The Pavilion Café of the British Club next door serves up delightful club fare with a decent kid’s menu. For a truly exceptional experience, head to internationally renowned chef Ian Kittichai’s Issaya Siamese Club for lunch or dinner and at the end of the meal, treat the kids to the kanomtungtaekor “broken bucket” dessert – the presentation alone is sure to be a memorable delight!

14.  A boat ride on the Chao Phraya River

Living on the other side of town, we don’t often make it to the river but when we do, it feels like tapping into the rich heart of this ancient city. Bangkok was the ‘Venice of the East’ and the majestic Chao Phraya reminds one that many of the roads upon which today’s traffic jams abound were once canals stemming from or leading to it. And while the city has been transformed with skyscrapers and modern towers, the river still holds its cultural heritage in the numerous gems that line its banks. The Chao Phraya Tourist Boat is a good way to get most of it in. The large boat has a tour guide on board giving you brief details about the sights and makes stops at 8 piers with prominent tourist attractions. You can buy an unlimited day pass or purchase cheaper single trip tickets at the Central Pier near the Saphon Taksin BTS station.

15. Wat Pho

What guide to the city would be complete without the mention of Bangkok’s famous temples and the oldest and most beautiful one, Wat Pho? Children, like their parents, usually find the 46m-long gilded statue of the Reclining Buddha a marvel and even my four-year-old enjoyed following her brother and dropping coins for good luck into the long row of pots lining the wall.

 

Enjoy lunch at Err, a charming rustic joint that is the brainchild of Bangkok’s celebrity chef couple, Bo Songvisava and Dylan Jones.

16. Wat Arun

 

The landmark Temple of the Dawn is best viewed at sunrise or dusk but even during the day, its Khmer-style stupa makes for an arresting vision along the river.Catch the sun set over this magnificent temple along with some delicious seafood at The Deck by the River, the restaurant at the chic boutique hotel, Arun Residence.

On the same side of the river as the temple is located the funky industrial-chic art space and restaurant, The Jam Factory.

17. The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew

The dazzling residence of kings of Siam since 1782 sits within a large complex that also houses the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, one of the most sacred Buddhist temples in Thailand. This Buddha image, said to have originated in India, is revered as the protector of the country. Visiting Bangkok as a kid, I remember being fascinated by the large-scale murals and statues depicting stories and characters from the Ramayana, the first time that I had seen Hindu mythology celebrated so grandly outside India.

Indulge yourself with the classic afternoon tea experience at the Mandarin Oriental. If you’re here over a weekend, book ahead and don’t miss the fantastic Sunday brunch for the family at the Anantara Riverside restaurant. Relax with a cocktail, listen to the live band, and let the children colour or play video games with newfound friends.

18. Asiatique The Riverfront

Popular with tourists is this sprawling outdoor night market with over 1,500 boutiques and 40 restaurants along the water’s edge. There is also plenty to keep the kids amused with a giant Ferris wheel that gives you great views of Bangkok by night, and other games. The Baan Khanitha restaurant is a local favourite serving authentic Thai cuisine along the pier.

For more details, please click here.

19. Museum Siam

History meets cutting-edge technology in this well-designed museum housed in a colonial mansion and dedicated to the evolution of Thai culture and traditions. The aim is to appeal to a younger audience with fun interactive displays that allow them to fire a fake cannon in a historical battle scene game, explore traditional toys, and even get behind the counter of a mod café. 

For more details, please click here.

20. The Commons

Thonglor is one of Bangkok’s trendiest neighbourhoods and for parents who like to be in the midst of it all, this newly opened, family-friendly, community mall is a fun spot to hang out with your offspring. Some of the best restaurants in town – Peppina, Bao & Buns, Maison Jean Phillippe – have opened smaller outposts here and you can sample excellent food seated in the open-plan ground floor space or venture upstairs to buy artisanal produce and let your kids run around in the play area.

21. A Little Something

Also nearby is a gem of a cooking school for kids with classes for the whole family. Kids can get messy and creative in the kitchen while learning about health and hygiene in fun ways. Classes are taught in English and are divided into two age groups – three to five year olds, and six to 12 year olds. The kids get to take home leftovers and the recipes they learn in class.

For more details, please click here.

22. Molly Fantasy or Kidzoona

Immensely popular with my daughter and her friends is this Japanese-based large play area for kids under 10 with inflatable slides and hamster wheels, a ball pit, and imitation shops where you can pretend to be a grocer, a café owner, a restaurateur or a florist. Kidzoona is the arcade area with a carousel and a variety of video games and rides. The main location is at Gateway Mall in Ekkamai and there is a smaller branch at Mega Bangna mall. 

Also at Gateway mall is Snow Town, a play area with artificial snow where children can make snowmen, sled, or throw snowballs. Winter gear is available for rent and it makes for another fun way to cool off on a sweltering afternoon.

23. Rockin’ Jump

Bangkok is the only global location of this American trampoline park chain and it’s great fun for the entire family as you bounce, jump, and dodge your way through the four areas of play within. Prices start at 400 Baht for half hour. They frequently run discounts.

For more details, please click here.

24. Children’s Discovery Museum

I add this to the list because most visitors have the Chatuchak Weekend market on their itinerary. If your kids tire of the shopping, then across the street from the market is a free children’s museum that could keep them entertained for a few hours. The many sections include a splash area, an archeological dinosaur dig, as well as indoor activities like an arts and crafts corner and a Lego building site. Most directions are in Thai but the games are fairly self-explanatory. I wouldn’t make a special trip out just to visit the museum but mention it as a good spot for children near the weekend market.

25. Bang Krachao

This is one of Bangkok’s best kept secrets – a marked departure from the hustle and bustle of the city yet surprisingly not too far from downtown (a short boat ride from the Klong Toey pier). Think lush green jungle, little villages, and a deliberate planning code that prohibits high-rises and celebrates nature. You can picnic at the park, bike around, or sample local food at the charming floating market.

Also there are bound to be events popping up around the time you visit and a good website to check for current information is here. A fun read is Bangkok Guide for Kids by Kids by Andrea and Ines Dumont. A colorful and comprehensive map is Nancy Chandler’s Map of Bangkok and it can be bought at any of the city’s bookshops, Kinokuniya and Asia Books being the larger ones.

This article was written by Rianka Mohan.

She is a writer, former banker, nomad. Mom of two kids who makes guest appearances in their homemade tales as a crime fighter or a fire-breathing dragon. Sweet-toothed Muay Thai enthusiast. Currently questing for fab on the culture beat for a local magazine in Bangkok.

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