We haven’t lived in Bangkok very long—it’s been around nine months since we moved. Somehow, this city immediately embraces you and makes you feel at home. Don’t be fooled by the obvious nightlife the city is infamous for. It has a little something for everyone, from heritage sites to scrumptious street food and sky bars to green parks and a lot of fun family activities. There is a good range of indoor and outdoor activities for both the wet and hot months, depending on when you visit. I have a 14-month-old who is easy to entertain, but I have also hosted a 6-year-old nephew and an 8-year-old niece who can be pretty picky with their itinerary.
I am listing my top 10 favorite spots that are must-dos in Bangkok, in no order of preference.
1. Art in Paradise 3D Museum
This is a two-story interactive gallery and the largest art illusion museum in the world, located on the outskirts of Bangkok. The kids can take a picture with the flying carpet, be part of the Emperor’s coronation, get a glimpse of Italy and enjoy a gondola ride or goof around with Pinocchio. You can spend a good two-three hours depending on how much your face muscles hurt after all the posing.
2. Bangkok Sea Life Ocean World
Located centrally, this world-class aquarium will bedazzle your little one. If Nemo is one of your child’s favorite animated characters, he will be begging you to stay longer. This aquatic wonderland has more than 30,000 marine creatures from across the globe. This can comfortably become your child’s first deep sea adventure. The petting pond allows you to get up close and personal with sharks and stingrays. You can even dive in with the sharks—this is a brag-worthy activity for the elders. The penguin show is a big hit with toddlers. You can combine this with a Madame Tussauds visit and enjoy the savings.
3. Safari World
It has two parts to it: Safari Park—the open-air, drive-through park—and Marine Park with the typical animal shows and souvenir shops. Safari Park has a range of animals from tigers, giraffes and zebras to Himalayan brown bears and ostriches. This wilderness experience is one your child will never forget, as this is as close they can get to the animals. Just be sure not to step out of your vehicle as you travel through the park.
4. Theme-Based Restaurants
Mr. Jones’ Orphanage Cake Shop is probably one of the most welcoming and colorful orphanages in the world. The eatery houses a library for those under 5-feet tall. This whimsical cake shop has a carousel filled with fruit and wooden horses. While they do serve savory snacks, I’d say stick to the sweetmeats and down a bottle of Mr. Jones flavored milk.
There’s also Teddy House. Can there be a better combination than pancakes and teddy bears? It’s a child’s fantasy come true. Once their tummies are full, they can also participate in a build-a-bear workshop and customize their own furry creation.
5. Lumpini Park
Located in the heart of the city and surrounded by skyscrapers on most sides, this park is literally your breath of fresh air. On the weekend, you can organize a family picnic and enjoy a paddleboat ride with your little one, but keep a close watch for the resident monitor lizards.
A family edutainment center more suitable for kids ages 6 and above. The kids love to participate in real-life jobs and earn kidZos money. They even get to open their own little bank account. They can choose from up to 80 different jobs, and they even get to wear a uniform costume depending on the job they pick. It is adorable to see the little firefighters filled with excitement as they try to extinguish a fake fire with real water.
7. Siam Park City
This is a complete amusement park with entertainment zones for all ages. You can spend all day here and still not complete all the rides and activities. It has a huge water park with the world’s largest wave pool. X-Zone is the latest addition to the park with nerve-thrilling, gravitationally challenging rides. Small World caters especially to younger kids who are not yet ready for roller coaster rides.
8. Floating Market
Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market is close to the city and not crowded with tourists like the Amphawa market. It is primarily visited by locals. The waterway is quite narrow, and you might be lucky to see five or six boats at a time. However, it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Visit the market with an empty stomach so you can gorge on the local food served in traditional Thai style. The kids will love the mango and the famous Thai sticky rice dessert. Unlike the city shopping malls, the floating markets are light on the pocket, so the kids can go crazy choosing souvenirs for their friends.
9. Temple Tour
You can’t visit Thailand and not see the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. It would be like visiting New York and not going to Times Square—although I must add that this visit will probably interest children in the 10–14 age group. It is the perfect combination of history and architectural beauty. There is a strict dress code and shorts are a complete no-no.
10. Asiatique The Riverfront
An open-air mall along the banks of the Chao Phraya River, the heart line of Bangkok. It is the newest night market in the city. Don’t forget to visit the Joe Louis Puppet Theatre. It’s a perfect combination of traditional Thai puppetry with modern choreography. With more than 40 eating houses to choose from, the kids will be spoiled for choice. End the night with a ferris wheel ride and watch the city’s well-lit skyline.
As you more spend time in Bangkok, you will find even more surprises. This list, however, will keep you busy for quite some time!