Bold, busy and boisterous, Bangkok is famed for gleaming temples, mesmerizing markets, incendiary cuisine and hedonistic nightlife, but is Thailand’s biggest city really suitable for families? We say yes!
So long as you plan ahead and try not to be too ambitious in what you see and do each day, Bangkok serves up adventures big and small that will keep small travelers talking for years. Even the simple act of getting across the city can make for family fun if you travel by túk-túk or river boat.
The golden rule for getting the best out of Bangkok as a family is to stay somewhere with a pool, so you can retreat for some calmer, cooler entertainment when the tropical sun starts to melt the asphalt. Whether your tastes run to gilded temples, theme parks or museums, here's our guide to the best things to do in Bangkok with kids in tow.
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Is Bangkok good for kids?
Bangkok's historic sights are laid out in an alluring array of colors, with supersized statues and twinkling fairy lights that make every day feel a bit like the Christmas holidays. Kid-friendly museums and theme parks dot the cityscape, and túk-túks, river ferries and river taxis make getting from A to B a fun-filled family adventure.
There are several indoor playgrounds for kids to run riot in too. Family discount cards, however, are practically non-existent, though Madame Tussauds and the SEA LIFE Bangkok Ocean World do offer a combined ticket which gives you around 35% off the usual entry price if bought online in advance.
Bangkok also has plenty of international-style supermarkets, so finding diapers, formula milk and familiar flavors from home is rarely an issue. The city offers plenty – and we mean plenty – of shopping opportunities too, should you need spare clothes or kit of any kind.
To escape the heat, air-conditioned malls abound – Central Chidlom on Th Phloen Chit has an entire floor devoted to kids. Mall loos also have toilet paper, soap for washing hands and baby-changing areas.
The best things to do in Bangkok with kids
By making use of air-conditioned malls and hotel pools, it’s easy to escape the tropical heat in Bangkok, and there are some fantastic water parks for when temperatures soar too. As well as the parks in town, consider a day trip to Ramayana Water Park, accessible via a two-hour bus ride to Pattaya, which also brings a day at the beach within reach.
For maximum water fun, the Buddhist festival of Songkran sees a giant city-wide water fight spill into the streets all over Bangkok – it takes place every year on April 13th and can be a great cultural introduction to Thailand for little ones.
Here are some of the top attractions in Bangkok for families.
See mythical giants at Wat Arun
Of Bangkok's many wonderful wat (monasteries), Wat Arun stands out for families thanks to its cool riverside setting, its statue-filled gardens, its towering prang (spires) and the giant statues of guardian demons flanking its gateways.
Adding to the fun, the shrine is easily approached by river, via the Chao Phraya Express Boat and the small shuttle ferry that buzzes across from Tha Tien pier.
Marvel at the giant reclining Buddha inside Wat Pho
Bangkok's most famous temple – actually a busy teaching monastery and the spiritual home of Thai massage – is a fairytale collection of mosaic-covered stupas, prayer halls, Buddha statues and giant effigies of deities and early European visitors to Bangkok.
Kids will enjoy the massive reclining Buddha – one of the world's largest – and the chance to make offerings of small change and gold leaf at statues of the Buddha.
Ride the Chao Phraya Express Boat
When the heat starts to build, head for the river. The jump-on, jump-off Chao Phraya Express Boat does a whistle-stop tour along the riverbank, passing close to Banglamphu, Wat Arun, Wat Phra Kaew and Chinatown, where pint-sized Marco Polos can get maximum bang for their baht by shopping for colorful Confucian charms and battery-powered beckoning cats. Just be careful boarding and disembarking, as ferries only make fleeting stops at piers.
Other rewarding trips by water include the klorng boats that run along Bangkok's canals – for example, from Banglamphu to Siam Square and Th Sukhumvit – and river tours by long-tail boat (though these can be pricey).
Dig up dinos at the Children's Discovery Museum
Learning is intelligently disguised as fun at this engaging museum where the interactive exhibits cover everything from construction to culture. Most kids will be drawn to the Dino Detective Zone, where little ones can dig in the sand to find and reassemble dinosaur bones.
See all of Thailand in one spot at the Ancient City (Muang Boran)
Just outside of the city, a 10-minute taxi ride from the Kheha BTS station on the Sukhumvit Line, this open-air museum recreates Thailand’s most famous monuments.
They’re linked by bicycle paths through peaceful, uncrowded grounds, and were built to be explored and clambered on. Though the Ancient City is quite a hike from the center, kids will love it as a day trip.
Learn more about Thai culture at the Museum of Siam
Youngsters will love this informative and interactive introduction to the origins of the Thai people and their culture.
The museum's collection employs a variety of media, including an Ayutthaya-era battle game, a room full of traditional Thai toys and a street vending cart where you can be photographed pretending to whip up a pan of pad thai (fried noodles). It usually keeps kids interested for at least an hour, and adults for longer.
Catch your breath at Lumphini Park
Central Bangkok’s largest and most popular park was originally a royal reserve, but Rama VI (King Vajiravudh) declared it open to the public in 1925. Today, you'll find an artificial lake surrounded by broad, well-tended lawns, wooded areas, walking paths and startlingly large resident monitor lizards.
For younger kids, there are paddleboats and playgrounds. Cold drinks are available at park entrances and street-food vendors set up tables outside the park’s northwest corner from about 5pm.
Encounter some Thai (and world) heroes at Madame Tussauds
The Siam Discovery shopping center has a branch of this famous international wax museum, which includes nearly 100 selfie-ready celebrities for your kids to pose for photos with. Stars of Hollywood and Bollywood, pop stars and sports legends dominate, alongside world leaders and other (immobile) movers and shakers.
Ride and splash at Siam Amazing Park
Boasting more than 30 rides, Siam Amazing Park (also known as Siam Park City), is the best amusement park to thrill the socks off your children.
As well as fast-paced rides, it features Bangkok’s premier water park and has one of the largest wave pools in the world, so it’s the place to take your kids when the mercury climbs. The park is around 20 minutes from Suvarnabhumi Airport, on the eastern outskirts – plan to spend a whole day here.
Maximize the fun at Dream World
Snow? In Bangkok? Only at Dream World. This expansive amusement park north of the city is home to all manner of brightly-colored thrill rides, haunted mansions, castles, space exploration experiences, and, yes, a snow room with sledding. It’s as good for parents as it is for kids. It's out on the northern city limits so consider it a day trip.
Fly a kite in Sanam Luang Park
If you’re in Bangkok for the kite-flying season (mid-February to April), head over to Sanam Luang Park with the kids and buy a kite to flutter over the temple tops.
It’s also a fab place to see kite-flying contests which are held between teams flying either a "male" or "female" kite in a particular territory; points are scored if they can force a competitor to enter their zone.
Haggle for any and everything at Chatuchak Weekend Market
With more than 9000 stalls selling everything from chopsticks to fake flowers, Chatuchak Weekend Market is an amazing experience for kids and adults alike.
Essential stops for children include the fish and pet section and the stalls selling miniature ceramic models of food, used as offerings in home shrines and spirit houses. However, don’t overdo it; the crowds in Bangkok’s biggest bazaar are likely to fray the temper of even the most resilient five-year-old.
Cool down at CentralWorld ice rink
Spanning eight floors, more than 500 shops and 100 restaurants, CentralWorld is one of Southeast Asia’s largest shopping centers. Enough room, then, for an indoor ice rink.
On hot days, this is where you'll find kids – and let’s face it, whole families – trying to cool down, and there are plenty of places to dine and snack nearby.
Dive into the backpacker fun on Khao San Road
A wander through the bustle of Th Khao San (Khao San Road) to check out the market stalls is almost mandatory for travelers to Bangkok, no matter what age.
For kids, it can be a good place to spend a little pocket money on nifty souvenirs and pick up some satay skewers or a paper plate of pad thai to munch on the move.
Enjoy a lot of history for not many baht at the National Museum
Kids go free at the National Museum, which has plenty to keep mini-explorers amused if they’re over ten years old.
Weapons, decorative arts, masks, traditional musical instruments and the ornate funeral chariots of past royalty are generally what piques their interest – but don’t count on keeping them entertained here for a whole day. The cafe on the grounds serves inexpensive Thai snacks and meals.
Enter a tiny world at the Bangkok Doll Factory & Museum
This somewhat hard-to-find museum houses a colorful selection of traditional Thai dolls, both new and antique. New dolls are being added to the collection all the time, and it can be a fun diversion for kids on rainy days, but you'll need to get your cab driver to call for directions.
Haggle for Buddhist objects at the Amulet Market
The amulet market on Th Phra Chan is a great place for kids to barter for inexpensive mini-Buddhas and charms that they can take home as souvenirs.
Locals take the amulet trading business seriously, and you'll see enthusiasts browsing the stalls with reference books looking for particularly valuable objects.
Meet the sharks at SEA LIFE Bangkok Ocean World
More than 400 species of fish, crustaceans and even penguins populate this vast underground aquarium in the Siam Paragon shopping center. Highlights include a see-through tunnel where sharks and schools of fish swim slowly past gawking children and a glass-sided penguin tank.
Feed the fish at Thewet Pier
For a fun, low-cost animal encounter, kids can join the novice monks and Thai children at Thewet Pier as they throw food (bought on the pier) to thousands of flapping fish. Time it right and the water will be a living mass of writhing scales and tails.
Where should I stay in Bangkok with kids?
For accommodation, you can’t beat Ratanakosin and the surrounding area. Khao San Road in Banglamphu is backpacker central, and a bit too noisy for most families.
There are good hotels and guesthouses on nearby lanes, and along the riverside, that will plonk you within walking distance of most of the sights, plus the river is on hand for boat and river taxi trips.
Areas such as Silom and Th Sukhumvit have plenty of comfortable mid-range hotels, but both are built up and urban, and you may face a slow taxi ride to reach the historic old quarter. Banglamphu and the riverside are much more casual and pedestrian-friendly places to stay.
Where possible, choose somewhere with a pool and restaurant on-site, with decent air-conditioning, so you aren’t compelled to leave the hotel to cool down. Top recommendations include Chakrabongse Villas near the Grand Palace, Lamphu Tree House near the Democracy Monument in Banglamphu, and the charmingly boutique Praya Palazzo on the river's west bank at Bang Yi Khan.
Getting around Bangkok with kids
Getting around Bangkok with babies or toddlers can be a bit tricky as steps are commonplace and pavements are crowded and uneven. There are elevators at all BTS (Skytrain) stations and at most major MRT (Metro) stations with room for pushchairs.
The city’s inexpensive taxis have blissfully icy air-conditioning, but with the snarling traffic, stick to short rides to avoid endless repeats of “Are we there yet?” Taxis are unable to provide car seats, so bring your own.
Every child will love a ride on a túk-túk (autorickshaw), but the open sides offer no protection from traffic fumes, so stick to short rides in the early morning or late afternoon, when there are fewer vehicles on the roads. The Chao Phraya Express Boat is a great way to explore the river, and longtail river taxis can get you (expensively) to many parts of the city.
With searing sunshine through much of the year, walking any great distance isn't advised, particularly with children in tow. If you do walk, bring an umbrella as a sunshade and carry battery-operated mini-fans. With the condition of Bangkok pavements, a sling for carrying very young ones may be preferable to a buggy.
What to eat with kids in Bangkok
Bangkok is a surprisingly easy place to feed children, once you get a handle on the local cuisine. Not every dish is spicy, and even the glorious street food sold city-wide needn’t be off-limits if you avoid uncooked ingredients and stick to busy stalls where you can see food being freshly prepared in front of you.
Fried rice, mild-flavored Thai-Chinese soups, Chinese bao buns, congee (rice porridge), pad thai (fried noodles) and freshly grilled skewers of chicken satay and moo ping (pork with coconut milk) are all good options. Bangkok’s fabulous array of tropical fruit will keep children amazed and amused for hours (the first encounter with a rambutan is guaranteed to be memorable).
Western-style fast food is easy to find in the big shopping districts, and most of the big malls have Asian and international food outlets (usually with high chairs) where you can ease the little ones into the local cuisine in a calm environment.