Top 10 Things to Do in Bangkok, with Kids
Bangkok is a large, culturally-rich, bustling city with an endless number of things to see and do, many of them kid friendly. The following is our list of activities for the whole family.
#1 Ride the Chao Phraya Express River Boat and See the Sights
The best way to see Bangkok is by its river. Almost everything is accessible from the Chao Phraya River: popular tourist attractions, ornate buddhist temples, sprawling markets, modern shopping malls, fancy hotels, elegant skyscrapers, and even the BTS Skytrain. And with all the colorful long-tail boats, hotel express boats, colored-flag commuter boats, and so many others, all zipping by, this river sees a lot of action!
Take the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat, which is the Blue Flag boat, for the best way to explore the river and see the sights. This boat stops at the most popular piers along the route. Our favorites:
Tha Tien Pier No.8, to explore Wat Pho, home of the reclining Buddha.
Phra Arthit Pier No.13, to walk over to popular Khao San Road and get a bite to eat, or shop at the open stands.
Ratchawongse Pier No.5 to explore the massive Chinatown and Indian Market. They sell everything!
For a map and description of all the tourist sights to see at each pier at which the Blue Flag (Tourist) boat stops, see this link.
The cost is 40 Baht (U.S. $1.10) per ride, or 150 Baht (U.S. $4.15) for a day pass (unlimited rides). Kids ride free! I recommend getting a day pass and picking two stops to explore. You can buy tickets at either the Central (Sathorn) Pier or at the Phra Arthit Pier No.13. The Central Pier is accessible via the BTS Skytrain station, Saphan Taksin. You can also purchase ride-only tickets (not day passes) on board the boat.
A day pass also allows you to ride the Orange Flag boats, which stop at all the piers. You can also choose to skip the Blue Flag (Tourist) boat and just take the Orange Flag ones to your destinations. The cost is 14 Baht (U.S. 40 cents) per ride, payable either at the pier or on the boat. For a map of all the piers for the Orange Boat, see this link.
#2 Ride through the Thonburi Canals
Get another perspective on Bangkok and authentic Thai life by riding through its many narrow canals (called khlongs). We loved this! You will see buddhist temples, old teak houses, monitor lizards, and more. At the Sathorn (Central) Pier, accessible from the Saphan Taksin BTS Skytrain station, you can find long-tail boats offering such tours. A hotel or agency can also set you up. For us, a local, expat friend put us in touch with his friend, who gives private tours of up to 10 people on a comfortable, wooden river boat for 3,000 Baht (U.S. $85) for two hours. Although there were only five of us, the cost was well worth it. At one point, the boat driver dropped us off and let us walk past shops, cafes, and an art store to the next pier for pickup. (If interested in our tour, contact Captain Kao at Bangkokriverboat@gmail.com. Note: We have no affiliation with him, other than his being a friend of a friend.)
#3 Visit Fantasia Lagoon Waterpark
This place is fantastic! Located on the top floor of a mall, this large, sprawling waterpark satisfies kids of all ages, including teens and adults. There are three of them in Bangkok; we visited the one atop Bang Kapi Mall. My nine-year-old son especially loved the long waterslides that twist themselves throughout the property. (I didn’t think them steep enough, though, as I had to push myself down in certain parts.)
There are play areas for younger kids with shorter, faster waterslides, and a fun, shallow area specifically for toddlers. There’s even a long “lazy river” that winds around the grounds and a deep pool with lanes for lap swimmers (like me!).
Cost was $15 U.S. for the four of us, for the day. A bargain! We came early, at 11 a.m. on a weekday, to avoid crowds, and had the place practically to ourselves. There are extra fees to rent a cap (required of anyone getting into the water) and a locker, but they are minimal. The bathroom and changing rooms are large and clean, and refreshments are available, although it’s mostly Thai fast food (frozen, microwavable).
Getting there: Half the fun is in how you get somewhere in Bangkok. We took a metered taxi to the waterpark for about 120 Baht ($3.50 U.S.), but because Bang Kapi Mall is only 100 meters from the canal, we took the Khlong commuter boat from there to the Nana BTS Skytrain station.
#4 Shop at the Chatuchak Weekend Market
This huge, diverse market, that is only open on weekends, is not to be missed. Not only can you find a huge selection of clothes as well as ceramics, antiques, souvenirs, shoes, art/paintings, and more, but there are also a variety of sit-down food stalls, both fancy and basic, hidden in the depths of the place. One place on the main strip plays upbeat D.J. music and serves paella and cocktails for when you’ve had enough of shopping. For a map, see this link. Note: The Chatuchak Park with a playground and the Children’s Museum are both right next door, in case you want to send one parent off with the kids.
Getting there: Take the BTS Skytrain to the end of the line, at the Mo Chit stop.
#5 Experience a Floating Market
Floating markets are something beautiful and unique to experience in Thailand, even if most have become touristy. You can ask your hotel or an agency to hook you up with a tour, or venture out to one yourself. For a great list of floating markets, see this link.
#6 Take the Khlong Boat to Wat Saket
Yes, back on the water again. It really is the best way to see Bangkok. Taking one of the fast-paced, commuter khlong boats is an adventure in itself. You have to be fit to grab the boat’s rope, climb on the boat’s edge, then squeeze in next to the locals, if crowded, in the short seconds that the boat pulls up to a pier. Leave the stroller at home, and anything extra, behind. The ride is even better if you have a destination in mind.
Wat Saket, the Temple of the Golden Mount, is far less busy than other tourist sights, yet boasts a gorgeous view of Bangkok from its manmade hill, and is a beautiful temple in its own right. Plus, there’s ice cream for the kids near the top. A great reward for climbing all those stairs!
Getting there: We took the BTS Skytrain to the Nana station, walked the short distance to the canal and took the Khlong boat to Panfa Leelard Pier. Wat Saket is a short walk southeast from there.
#7 Visit the Children’s Discovery Museum
This hands-on museum is especially great for younger kids, although my nine-year-old had a blast there too. Like museums of its type in the U.S., the idea is that the kids learn about science as they touch and play with exhibits. Some of the equipment is definitely old, but functioned fine, and the staff was helpful in showing us how to use it. Julien’s favorite had to be the stationery bike that generated enough power to move a miniature vehicle in a circle around a cable. Both kids loved the top floor where they could build houses out of giant sized legos. If you have a toddler under three, there is a fantastic, all-cushioned space just for them.
Conveniently located near Chatuchak Park and the weekend market, this museum is FREE! Lots of uniformed Thai school kids were there when we were, but that didn’t impact our experience.
Getting there: Take the BTS Skytrain to Mo Chit, and walk about a block there. For more information and a map, see this link.
#8 Play in Chatuchak and Lumpini Parks
Bangkok has a number of wonderful green spaces that give relief from the congestion of the city and offer kids a great place to run and play. Two of the largest and best parks for kids are Chatuchak Park and Lumpini Park.
Centrally located in Bangkok, Lumpini Park is larger and more diverse. It has a number of large, modern playgrounds; swan boats to take out on the lakes; picnic tables; a number of bridges and pathways; and open, grassy spaces. There is also a designated bike path here, through roads in the park, and you may even spot some monitor lizards, lurking at the water’s edge. At its main entrance, you can find a vendor selling water and snacks. (Food and drinks are usually located outside of parks here, not in them.) Keep 5 Baht handy in case you need to use the restroom.
Getting there: Take the BTS Skytrain to Phloen Chit, then walk (or run) south on Witthayu Road to the park’s northeast entrance. (You may have to turn right on Sarasin Alley to reach an opening in the gate.)
Chatuchak Park is located right next to the famous weekend market of the same name. It is also a large park with lots of pathways, bridges, and swan boat rentals. It has one playground, although the equipment is slightly dated (my kids didn’t notice). This park is also conveniently close to the Children’s Discovery Museum.
Getting there: Take the BTS Skytrain to Mo Chit (end of the line), and you will see as soon as you exit.
#9 Enjoy the Play Areas at the Malls
The Thais love kids, and they provide for their entertainment seemingly everywhere. Many of the major shopping malls have a kids play center, usually located on the top floor, and there are a lot of malls in Bangkok, one at almost every BTS Skytrain stop. We found a great play area on the fifth floor of the Gateway Mall at the Ekkamai BTS Skytrain stop.
The Tesco-Lotus superstore chain, which is mostly a huge grocery store, but, like Target in the U.S., also sells clothes, appliances, toys, and home goods, includes smaller boutique stores on its property and has an extensive food court that almost always includes a “Skippy Wonderland”. Skippy Wonderland has an extensive array of video games for older kids, and for the younger ones, a “Soft Play Area.” What we love about the gated off Soft Play Area: for 40 Baht ($1.15), you can leave your child there for 50 minutes while you shop or eat. Our four-year-old loves it. Because they don’t really care about your child’s age, our nine-year-old even slipped in once, but admitted he was too old for it (“too boring” for him).
Getting there: The Tesco-Lotus we visited and know for certain there’s a play area there is at the On Nut BTS Skytrain stop. Ekkamai Mall is at the Ekkamai BTS Skytrain stop.
MORE! For a huge list of great Play Centers throughout Bangkok, see this fabulous, huge list from BKK Kids.
#10 Visit Siam Park City Theme Park
This is both a waterpark and amusement park located on the outskirts of Bangkok. We didn’t make it here ourselves, but for the sake of our nine-year-old, I really wish we had! It looks amazing! With rollercoasters, thrill rides, a waterpark, and a section just for those under 130 cm., I’m sure both kids would have been in heaven. Those under 100 cm. are free!
For prices, information, and directions, see this link. Best to take a cab there.
#11 Bonus: Go to the W District
Located at the Phra Khanong BTS Skytrain stop, the W District includes a night market that is an outdoor food court with a fun, exciting vibe. You’ll find all kinds of foods here, including Thai, Indian, Italian, steak and fries, pizza, and much more. Our son loved the pizza here! They also have a full bar with flashing lights. If you can swing a baby sitter, also check out the Cielo Sky Bar for outstanding views with your cocktails.
Enjoy Bangkok! And follow our adventures at www.mylittlevagabonds.com!
In addition to writing about travel, Cindy Bailey is co-author of the Amazon top-selling book, The Fertile Kitchen® Cookbook: Simple Recipes for Optimizing Your Fertility (www.fertilekitchen.com), and her fertility story has been nationally televised on NBC and CBS. Cindy is also a former newspaper reporter, freelance writer, and award-winning owner of Bailey Communications, a corporate writing consultancy.