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Bangkok for kids: 35 things to do with your children
This city might be better known for wild nights than family fun, but it's full of kid-friendly offerings
Bangkok has a reputation for being an after-dark playground for adults. And we wouldn’t want it any other way.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not a family-friendly city. There are dozens of activities, classes and shows that cater specifically to the young ones.
Here are 35 things to do with your kids in and around Bangkok. Many are worth checking out even if you don’t have children.
1. Siam Ocean World
An impressive aquarium in the basement of the posh Siam Paragon Shopping center, Siam Ocean World has everything from penguins to sharks.
There are live feeding displays, a kids’ play area, rain forest, reefs and giant tubs you can stick your feet in and watch fish nibble away at your dead skin.
1-B2 Floor, Siam Paragon, 991 Rama 1 Road. Open daily, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. +66 (0)2 687 2000
2. Dusit Zoo
Bangkok’s Dusit Zoo -- known as Khao Din to the locals -- has been around since the 1930s but recently underwent some renovations that include a lakeside promenade and a 'sky walk' that gives visitors an elevated view of some of the exhibitions.
Located next to the grand Amphorn Satharn Throne Hall, it has a decent selection of animals, including the usual elephants, tigers, snakes and crocodiles.
There are also a few small rides and a huge lake you can paddle around in a pedal boat as your kids -- or you -- cower at the sight of wild monitor lizards swimming by.
71 Rama V Road, Chitrlada district, Bangkok. +66 (0)2 281 2000. Open daily, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
3. Safari World
Safari World is basically a two-park attraction. There’s a drive-through open zoo where you can check out lions, tigers and rhinos from the safety of your car. The park also offers bus rides through the zoo for visitors without vehicles.
Next door is Marine Park, which is a bit misleading as there’s a lot more than just aquatic-related stuff, such as animal exhibitions and live shows.
99 Panyaintra Road. +66 (0)2 914 4100-. Open daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
4. Siam Park City
Siam Park City is a huge theme park with thrill rides, kiddie rides, a massive water park, dinosaur museum -- stay away if you have dust allergies -- and a learning zone.
The aging park certainly could use a few coats of paint but it's still a great place for a day out. Most impressive of all is Siam Park City’s wave pool, which at 13,600 square meters is the largest in the world, according to Guinness.
Siam Park Avenue (Serithai soi 75), Waterpark open daily, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Amusement park, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. +66 (0)2 919 7200
5. Ancient City
The only way to tour Thailand’s most significant historical sites in a day. About a 45-minute drive from the city, this Samut Prakan attraction features replicas of dozens major Thai landmarks, from the Grand Palace in Bangkok to the contested Preah Vihear temple on the border with Cambodia.
Given Ancient City's size, walking isn’t recommended. Rent a golf cart or a bike to cruise around the park instead.
296/1 Sukhumvit Road, Bangpoo, Samut Prakan. Open daily, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Bangkok expats love this giant air-conditioned venue. The majority of the space is taken up by an enormous playground complete with climbing walls, ball pools, super-slides, trampolines, tubing and rope swings.
There’s also a cycling circuit (complete with bikes, trikes and helmets), a basketball court, outdoor sandpit, paddling pool and a well-designed babies' and toddlers' area for tots under five.
A café caters to adults and kids, and upstairs there’s an arts and crafts room and party spaces for hire. Best of all, there's a separate parents’ area complete with 1970s style lounge furnishings and those priceless attributes -- peace and quiet.
Sukumvit 26 (behind Carrefour, Rama IV Road). +66 (0)2 665 6555 Open daily, 8:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.
For kids who love being yanked across the water on a board there are three great wakeboarding venues in Bangkok.
Two of them are cable-ski facilities -- Lake Taco and Thai Wake Park -- which means the rope is attached to a big overhead cable attached in turn to metal towers that pull you around the lake instead of a boat.
Thai Wake n' Ski offers boats with drivers, which you can book for 15-minute sessions.
8. Cooking school
Bangkok has a few cooking classes geared towards kids and teens. At the high end of the price range is the Mandarin Oriental, though they only accept kids 15 and older.
A Little Something is popular among the locals, with classes available for kids as young as three and running right up to adults.
9. Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall
Dragging your kids around a museum to learn about Thai history might not seem like a fun afternoon. But trust us, this place is cool. And they might even learning something.
Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall is actually a high-tech interactive museum that recaps two centuries of Bangkok history in one large space.
Sophisticated multimedia displays and touch-screen booths shows off content that mainly focuses on the rich past of the Rattanakosin period, highlighting royal culture, Thai architecture, traditional performances and ceremonies.
Open Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. 100 Ratchadamnoen Klang Road. +66 (0)2 621 0044.
10. Khlong tour
Show the kids that not everyone lives over dry land, and hire a long-tail boat from any Chao Phraya Ferry pier and take an hour’s rip through the city’s canals (khlongs).
Always an eye-opening experience, even if you've lived here your whole life.
11. Mansion 7
For Bangkok's quirkiest shopping experience, hit Mansion 7. Designed to look like a dark old mansion, the entrance to this boutique mall welcomes shoppers in with a great, frightening “claw.”
In addition to shops and restaurants, there's giant spooky moon and a haunted house you can tour, with various creepy installations set up here and there.
Open Sunday to Thursday, noon-midnight. Friday/Saturday, noon-2 a.m. 244/7 Ratchadaphisek Road, MRT: Huay Kwang. +66 (0)2 692 6311
12. Museum Siam
A modern, interactive museum in the heart of the Old City, Museum Siam gives grown-up visitors a refresher course in the definition of Thai-ness, while youngsters spend time sorting through the dirt in the mock archeology site or shooting old-fashioned weapons.
Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sanam Chai Road. +66 (0)2 622 2599
13. Play in the park
Contrary to appearances, Bangkok is a very green city with plenty of wide open spaces. Among the city's top parks are Lumpini Park, Chatuchak Park, Rama IX Park and Queen Sirikit Park. All are lush, spacious and great for a few hours of relaxation.
Our favorite is Rot Fai Park, where you can rent a bike and cruise around the grounds. There are also a few modern playgrounds for the kids and a free butterfly museum that isn’t exactly swarming with the pretty fliers but worth a walk through nonetheless.
Nearby is a lake where you can rent sail boats and row boats, as well as some old trains on display. To get there, take the MRT to Chatuchak Park station and walk.
If you come from a cold country where kids learn to skate right after they've taken their first steps, give your children a confidence boost by letting them spin circles around the locals.
15. Dream World
In spite of some fairly obvious similarities, Disney it ain’t.
But this Thai amusement park in Bangkok's Rangsit district is good for a full day of fun. Dream World has attractions for young and old kids including roller coasters, a sky tram, snow world, live shows, nice gardens and a daily parade.
Note: While Dream World was among several Thailand attractions affected by the recent floods and is now closed for repairs, it is due to reopen in January of 2012.
62 Moo 1 Rangsit Nakornnayok Road, Km 7 Thanyaburi, Patumthani. +66 (0)2 533 1152
16. Samut Prakan Crocodile Farm
Filled with crocodiles, other reptiles and a few elephants, the Samut Prakan Crocodile Farm claims to be the largest croc farm in the world. There are also elephants, hippos and other animals on display.
But it's the wrestling show that is the real attraction. Watch a man put his head inside a crocodile's mouth and walk away unscathed. That alone is worth a visit.
Open daily, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. 555 M.7, Taiban District, Amphoe Muang, Samut Prakan
17. Neilson Hays Library
This historic library near Silom Road has a great selection of books for all ages.
First founded in 1869 by the Ladies' Bazaar Association to serve the reading needs of the English-speaking public, the Neilson Hays Library has a few art galleries onsite as well.
There’s also a great children’s program that includes a massive book collection and Saturday afternoon story-telling sessions. Entrance is only 50 baht to access the facilities for a day.
195 Surawong Road, Bangkok. BTS: Saladaeng. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
There are modern, hi-tech bowling alleys all over the city, pretty much in every major shopping mall. They’ve got food and beer (for the parents, of course) and play the latest top 40 hits.
Siam Paragon's Blu 'O' Rhythm (BTS: Siam) is one of the larger facilities, with 38 lanes and several karaoke booths.
19. Dine with robots
At this Japanese restaurant, the robots not only bring your food but they also perform dance routines as they cruise up and down a strange enclosed runway, much to the delight of the customers.
You order the dishes on computerized screen at the table. Older kids will enjoy cooking their own meals at the table as diners have to decide between hotpot or barbecue. There are also some tasty side dishes, like sushi and gyoza.
Hajime Robot Restaurant, 59/27 3/F, Monopoly Park Rama 3, Bangkok. +66 (0) 2 683 1670
20. See a movie
Bangkok's movie theaters are generally an impressive bunch, many offering VIP seats and recliner chairs in addition to regular seats that still manage to cost less than what you'd pay to catch a flick in many cinemas overseas.
The most impressive of the lot is Paragon Cineplex, which hosts 14 movie theaters and a 600-seat Krungsri IMAX theatre.
For a really VIP experience, watch a film on one of the Nokia Ultra Screens. Tickets include free popcorn and drinks and you get to watch the movie on leather recliners while cuddled in blankets.
5/F, Siam Paragon, BTS: Siam. +66 (0)2 129 4635
21. Snake Farm
Want to see a cobra being milked of its venom? Neither do we. But your kids probably do.
Head to the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, which has its very own onsite snake farm that offers daily demonstrations on snake handling and venom extraction every day at 11 a.m. (Closed on holidays.)
1871 Rama IV Road, Bangkok. +66 (0)2 252 0161. MRT: Lumpini
22. Bike tour
Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you send your kids out into the streets of Bangkok on a bicycle.
But there are several organized tours that are completely safe and take you to some out-of-the-way places that will give you a new insight into Bangkok that tourists and even most locals don’t see.
For a full list of companies offering tours, check out this CNNGo article on cycling in Bangkok.
23. Tuk-tuk ride
Every kid who comes to Bangkok is going to ask to ride a tuk-tuk. Even kids who live here get a kick out of cruising in one from time to time.
Just be sure to set the price/destination before you go or you could be taking the kiddies on a tour of some gem and suit shops.
Bangkok's RCA strip is most famous for its nightlife but there's also a popular indoor go-kart track open to anyone over seven years old.
EasyKART is a high quality facility equipped with a night light system, computerized time systems and a panoramic bar and restaurant.
Kids from 7-12 years of age can ride the 100-cc karts, while those over 13 have the option of getting behind the wheels of the 160- or 270-cc vehicles.
Open daily, 1 p.m.-midnight. RCA Plaza, Royal City Avenue. +66 (0)2 203 0621
25. Bangkok Dolls Museum
The Bangkok Dolls Museum showcases antique dolls created by Khunying Thongkorn Chanthawimol, a Thai who trained at Tokyo's Ozawa Doll School.
Most of the pieces highlight Thailand's culture and arts but there's a section featuring dolls in national costumes from around the world. There are two sections in the museum: dolls for sale and dolls that aren't.
Open Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. 85 Soi Yaek Ratchata Phan (also known as Soi Mor Leng), off Rajapraprop Road. +66 (0)2 245 3008
26. Muay Thai
If dolls aren't thrilling enough your kids, there's always muay Thai. Watch the fights or sign up for lessons.
More on CNNGo: Teen muay Thai fighters share tales of life in the ring
27. Koh Kred
Combine a boat trip with a walking tour around this little island down the Chao Phraya River inhabited by Mon decendents and famed for its delicious food and pottery.
Kids will love the dessert factory. Though many foreigners complain Thai sweets are just too, well, sweet, it's a complaint rarely uttered by a child.
The Chao Phraya Express Boat -- take the boat with the green flag -- makes regular trips to Koh Kred during peak hours. From the Pak Kred pier, take another ferry across to the island.
28. Chatuchak Weekend Market
Weekend markets aren’t usually all that great for kids, what with the crowds and the heat. But this one is the exception.
There are toy areas, clothes, electronics and all those other items kids want to buy. Best of all is the pet section, filled with impressive varities of fish, dogs, cats, rodents and even poultry. One warning: you could stumble onto a cock fight.
Open on weekends, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. BTS: Mor Chit. MRT: Chatuchak Park
29. Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
A relatively new addition to Bangkok's tourist scene, the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum features renderings of all the usual dead and alive suspects like Michael Jackson, Princess Diana, George Clooney and Madonna.
There are quite a few regional figures too, including Mitr Banchana, Teresa Teng and Aung San Suu Kyi.
Open daily, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. 6/F, Siam Discovery, Bangkok. BTS: Siam. +66 (0)2 658 0068
30. Planetarium and Science Museum
If all the contraptions and models inside the Bangkok Planetarium and Science Museum seem dated, it's because they are. But there's some learning to be done here.
The Planetarium and Science Museum is filled with numerous gadgets and gizmos from the 1980s designed to teach physics lessons and help pass the time between shows in the planetarium.
Outside in the courtyard there are life-sized models of various spacecraft and planes.
Open Tuesday-Sunday, 9 a.m.- 5p.m. 928 Sukhumvit Road. +66 (0)2 392 0508 Take the BTS to Ekamai station. The museum is directly opposite the Major Ekamai cinema.
31. Golden Mount
Tire out the whole family with a hike up the winding stairs at Bangkok's famed Golden Mount, known in Thai as Phu Khao Thong. The views of the city are incredible and kids will love ringing the long string of bells for good luck.
Open daily, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Wat Saket, Bangkok. The best way to get there is by taxi. Ask the driver to take you to Phu Khao Thong.
32. TK Park
Located on the eighth floor of CentralWorld, TK Park is massive multimedia space geared towards children and young adults.
There's a learning auditorium, virtual reality center, mini theatres, IT workshops, coffee bar, music and IT libraries, a quiet room, a children's room and a reading park, to name a few.
Open daily, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. 8/F CentralWorld. BTS: Chidlom
33. Siam Niramit
A massive stage production featuring over 100 performers, Siam Niramit crams seven centuries of Thai culture into a fantastic 80-minute show that's heavy on the special effects.
Shows start daily at 8 p.m. and there's an onsite restaurant offering a mediocre Thai buffet dinner from 5:30 p.m. After the show, families can check out the onsite attractions like elephant rides, a recreation of a traditional Thai village and other cultural displays.
Getting there: Siam Niramit operates a free shuttle service from Exit 1 of the Thailand Cultural Centre MRT station
34. Art lessons
There are art schools all over the city offering drop-in classes, many in Bangkok's shopping malls.
One of the best is Attic Studios, which features drop-in classes and workshops for kids led by international professionals including portfolio development sessions for kids over 12 and creative classes for kids from six-13.
45/4 Sukhumvit Soi 31. +66 (0)2 662 0224
35. Go fishing
Bangkok is full of fishing parks but the top one has to be Bungsamran, a tin quarry turned 16-hectare fishing lake on the outskirts of the city stocked with 50 species of enormous fish.
Species heavyweights can weigh as much as 250 kilograms, so half the fun is watching guys struggle to reel them in.
21/596 Soi Nawamin, 42 Nawamin Road, Bangkok. +66 (0)2 734 9272
Do you have a favorite place you like to take your kids in Bangkok that isn't on this list? Tell us about it below.