If you thought Bangkok’s potential for foodie family adventures was limited to bingeing on bugs or playing tummy-bug roulette with street snacks, think again. Families in Bangkok only need to scratch beneath the surface to find a whole world of yummy surprises, from fairytale-esque cafes strewn with fragrant blossoms, to hidden gardens where peacocks keep diners company as they nibble dainty cakes.
There’s no denying the kid-pleasing appeal of Bangkok’s famous animal cafes (visitors can hangout with raccoons by a mock-up swimming pool at Pooltime Cafe, or cuddle giant canines at the aptly-named Big Dog Cafe, but these places are packed with tourists and locals all clamouring for their dose of furry cuteness. Similarly, while it’s well worth a visit to Rot Fai Market, Khaosan Road or Chinatown for a chance to get a bug-shaped protein fix, you’ll be jostling for elbow room with the backpacker brigade. If you’re looking for something a little more under-the-radar, check out these family friendly spots that haven’t yet been hit up by hordes.
No, that’s not a typo, there really is a stray apostrophe hanging over that final S, and it’s far from the most mysterious thing about this gorgeously whimsical cafe. The real mystery is just how this super-sweet spot remains under-the-radar. Loosely themed around Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland, you half expect to see Alice herself strolling by with the white rabbit among the cute kid-sized tables and chairs in a space be-decked with fancy floral arrangements. The attention to detail is incredible – from the decor to the sweetly designed cakes and pastries, and there’s a colourful little cubby hole where kids can read books and play with toys. The cafe holds regular tea parties and cake-decorating workshops, but it’s worth popping in any time for the Insta-worthy chocolate-filled top hats, ‘bunny egg’ cheesecake (140 Baht), and the house speciality – a particularly rich ‘Rabbit Hole’ chocolate cake (190 Baht). Finding the cafe is a bit of an adventure in itself – the entrance is hidden off the main drag, around 10 minutes’ walk from Ekkamai BTS station, Exit 1.
If your brood are more about slugs and snails and puppy dogs’ tails than sugary sweet confections, then you need to visit this cafe-bar in the hipster haven that is Thonglor. The decor is part Medieval dungeon, part Dungeons and Dragons fantasy land, and the menu consists of items with names such as Dragons’ Fire Breath and Inferno Mountain (the latter being a gobsmacking creation in which a chocolate tower is set ablaze to reveal balls of molten ice cream beneath the surface, 380 Baht,, but enough to feed a family); and unlike many kid-friendly cafes, there are savory dishes too, a welcome relief from all the sugar rushes. Expect bowls of fake eyeballs, creepy-looking coats of armour and other objects of interest to not-so-sweet imaginations. You’ll find Mocking Tales at Thonglor 10110, Bangkok. As a relative newcomer on the Thonglor strip, it’s not yet overrun with cool kids, although the bar does a roaring trade after dark.
♣ Box out: Animal antics
Animal Cafes are very much a thing in South East Asia, and Bangkok has embraced the trend with gusto. If your kids can’t bear (pun intended) to leave without sharing a dining experience with a furry friend, they can choose from cats Caturday Cat Cafe, Dogs (Big Dog Cafe) or even meerkats and other exotic animals at Little Zoo Cafe (although the animals are well treated, this last one might not sit well with those who aren’t keen on animals in captivity, it’s your call)
Another Thonglor high point, this ultra-classy spot feels like a real escape from the heat and buzz of central Bangkok. A formal restaurant and more kiddie-friendly cafe are set out in the picture-perfect grounds of a genuine Thai Princess’s palace, and the white swans gliding over pretty ponds compete for attention with a couple of parading white peacocks. Dress up for a visit here, and don’t expect budget offerings,but for a family meal to remember it’s worth splashing out (just keep an eye on toddlers if you’ve been enjoying the house cocktails, you don’t want them literally making a splash in those enticing ponds…). Brunch pancakes certainly won’t break the bank, at under 300 baht for a plate of buttermilk pancakes with fresh fruit and whipped cream. Dinners and afternoon teas are fancier affairs. The cafe, restaurant and gardens are at 1217/2 between Sukhumvit Soi 59 and 61, Klongtan-Nue, Wattana 10110
Culinarily curious kids are unlikely to let you leave Bangkok without chowing down on at least one good big bug. But if you’ve yet to be convinced of the merits of eating insects, this 2017 opening might be the place to try creepy crawlies for the first time. Possibly the world’s first fine-dining insect restaurant (yes, that’s right), this smart space highlights the ‘superfood’ status of bugs (high protein, low fat, high calcium,sustainable…) and the menu (mains from 300 baht) aims to prove they can taste good, too. Salads come piled high with water beetles, seared scallops have a caterpillar garnish, and even the tiramisu is jazzed up with cocoa-dusted silk worms. The range of classic cocktails might help dubious diners find a little Dutch courage. Insects in the Backyard is at Chang Chui, 460/8 Sirindhorn Road.
♥ Tip: Set aside a few hours for your trip here- Insects in the Backyard is located inside the fascinating Changchui Market – a creative hub stuffed with fascinating sculptures, street art, stalls and assorted artsy offerings, such as a hipster barbers and a cute bookstore. There’s even a cinema showing suitably arsty titles.
Got bookworms in the family? Yearning for some quiet time? This cute hideaway from Bangkok’s smoggy streets has books galore, some of the best coffee, cakes (a bargain at around 100 baht) and milkshakes in town, and a particularly good gyoza soup. Kids who are a little young to curl up with a book can make new friends in the cafe’s play area, and there’s free wifi (bring headphones) – upstairs ups the serenity factor (you’ll need to remove your shoes), but for a quiet break and a coffee where you can hear yourself think, this is a real treat. Li-Bra-Ry is at 2 Soi Sukhumvit 24, Yak Soi Metheenives, Sukhumvit Road,
Kraton Flying Chicken
Sedate and serene, this is not. If you’re looking for a Bangkok food adventure that will go down in family history, take the kids to this unique spot, where roast chicken (choose ‘Fly Chicken, from the menu, at under 200 Baht it’s a bargain, considering the spectacle involved…) is literally catapulted through the air along a purpose built run way onto the spike-helmeted head of a man riding a unicycle. Yes, only in Bangkok…don’t expect Michelin stars,but do expect a lot of fun, and perfectly palatable Thai noodle dishes and other kid-friendly staples. Making occasional appearances on ‘World’s Weirdest Restaurants’ lists, it’s a truly surreal experience, which is enhanced by the on-site Karaoke rooms. It’s a bit of a walk to find the place (but you’ll know it by the chicken-throwing scene painted on the external sign) – from the BTS Sky Train station, take Exit 1, and walk some 500 meters north along Sukhumvit Road before crossing the walkway. (Or get a cab from the station)
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