Bangkok might not win any beauty contests, but it competes at the highest level when it comes to shopping. Families in Bangkok can while away entire days browsing malls dedicated to toys and collectibles; beautiful handmade clothes for kids and grownups come in at surprisingly affordable prices, cute wooden toys can be found in abundance, and there’s no end of opportunity to haggle over the price of electronic goods.

With more malls, shopping quarters and markets than you can shake a stick at, it can be hard to know where to begin getting that retail therapy fix in Bangkok, which is why we’ve cherry-picked the very best spots for you and your brood to shop in this big, bright and sometimes bewildering city.

Zombie Books

Books, booze and zombies. That’s pretty much every kid and adult taste catered for, so there shouldn’t be any problem in enticing the family to this uber-cool bookstore in the middle of Royal City Avenue (RCA, known as Bangkok’s party quarter). The carefully-curated collection of over 10,0000 titles includes vintage kids books in English on the first floor, and there are nooks and crannies galore for flicking through the pages post-purchase. A co-working space and gallery caters to an artsy crowd, and the brightly-decorated third floor bar (yes! a bookstore with a bar!) serves up fruity concoctions with zombie/monster-inspired names that are sure to be a hit with the kids while parents sip their grown-up mixed drinks. Vintage sci-fi and horror prints on the wall It’s open until midnight and attracts a hipster crowd after dark, but families with littlies won’t feel out of place here during daylight hours.


Thais loves their collectibles, and GachaBox is one of the best spots in town to shop for them. It’s hard to know who’s going to love this place more – grown-up nerds or their kids, but what’s certain is that it’s possible to spend entire hours here playing ‘name that character’ while browsing the seemingly endless shelves of cute replica superheroes, cartoon characters and collectible ranges such as Fluffy House and Be@rBrick. It’s located on Siam Square – a known cool kid hangout home to any number of hip boutiques and street stands – so grownups can convince themselves that they’re hip young things as they drool over ultra-rare Star Wars figures. Gachabox has a handily central location on Siam Square (opposite the super-ritzy Rolex store).

♣ Fun fact: Giving the kids spending money? Tell them to check out what’s on the back of their Bahts. Each Thai coin is emblazoned with the image of a Thai temple, and all of them are in Bangkok. See if they can recognize, for example, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (1 Baht coin); the Marble Temple (5 Baht coin) or, if you’re feeling generous, the Temple of Dawn (10 Baht coin).

Check out some of the lesser known attractions for families in Bangkok

Plan Toys

There’s a simple joy to the wooden toy, and the Thais have never fallen out of love with these retro-style creations. One Thai brand that has built up a great reputation internationally is Plan Toys, which has impeccable sustainability credentials (the imagination-firing toys and games are made from natural rubber wood trees, with no fertilizer used in the soil for three years before harvest, and the wood is dried using a chemical-free kiln-drying process). Covering all age ranges, the colorful toys range from tiny pull-along animals to entire magic kingdoms, and the focus is on encouraging imaginative play involving the whole family. Plan Toys ships internationally, but families in Bangkok shouldn’t miss a trip to the flagship store at Sathorn 10, Bangkrak.

Hallo Heidi

This cute and colorful clothing store ticks a whole lot of boxes for trend-obsessed kids and their long-suffering parents. Made in durable, breathable fabrics with stitching that’s made to last, the girls’ and boys’ lines include floaty cotton dresses and fun jumpsuits as well as cartoon-stamped tees and hard-wearing shorts, all of which help kids and their responsible adults keep their cool in the Bangkok swelter. Their sneakers and sandals look as good as they feel, so you won’t be shoehorning your five-year-old fashionistas into ‘dull but practical’ footwear. You’ll find Hallo Heidi at 5 Phetchaburi Rd, Thanon Phetchaburi, Ratchathewi.

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♥ BOXOUT: If the kids are flagging in the Bangkok heat, a day at a mall may be in order. It’s more exciting than it sounds – as well as that blessed air conditioning, sparkling clean bathroom facilities and surprisingly impressive range of offerings in the food court, you’ll find family-friendly treats such as a giant aquarium (at Siam Paragon); a rooftop water park (The Mall); ice-skating, and even Thailand’s own Madame Tussaud’s (Siam Discovery).


For a real treat, kit yourself and the littlies out in handmade silk creations from this renowned Bangkok brand. Almeta ship to luxury stores across the world – including Bloomingdales – but there’s unparalleled range  (and better prices) at the plush Bangkok store (the company motto is ‘cocoon yourself in luxury’). Manufacturing top-quality silk goods since 1992, the firm offers made-to-measure clothing and ready to wear pieces in more than 1,000 different silks, taking in every color of the rainbow and myriad subtle shades in between. And if you think silk sounds like too much hard work for dressing messy kids, seek out the range of ‘lazy silk’ machine washable items. For extra jazz and pizzazz, some ready-to-wear clothing is accessorised with feathers, seashells and other natural trinkets. You’ll find the Almeta showroom in Sukhumvit, opposite the Grand Millennium Hotel.

Papaya Vintage

Prepare to spend a fair few hours digging for treasures in this gigantic warehouse close to the more famous Chatuchak Market (in itself well worth a visit for kids’ toys and gifts, including traditional toys made with banana leaves, and some fun and funky clothes), which is jam-packed with old-school toys, comics, and collectibles of every kind. Vintage film posters, giant Star Wars figures and all manner of crazy costumes add to the fun, and Instagrammers will have a whale of a time snapping away. You might even come home with some valuable vinyl or an abstract art vase, who knows?

It’s a little out of town, at Soi Lat Pharo 55/2, Lat Pharo Road, so well worth combining with a weekend visit to Chatuchak Market.

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Nature-loving families can look forward to the trip of a lifetime in Thailand. Spectacular beaches, under-the-radar islands, vast natural parks inhabited by elephants and monkeys, crashing waterfalls and some of the most dramatic scenery on the planet combine to make a trip here rich with opportunity for family adventures–whether the kids are old enough for white-knuckle thrills and spills or small enough for gentle splashing in crystal clear waters.

Families heading to Thailand to check out the natural attractions should factor in plenty of rest days to ensure there’s ample opportunity to appreciate the natural beauty rather than making a mad dash from one attraction to the other. Our 30 day itinerary for nature-loving families in Thailand allows plenty of time to check out everything from big ticket attractions to off-the-beaten track treats, but be warned – once is unlikely to be enough, and you may well find yourselves planning your next family trip to Thailand as soon as the first one has ended.

Day 1-7 Bangkok and Hua Hin

You’ll be touching down in one of the world’s most hectic cities, so plan to spend at least a day recovering from the trip and take in some of the city’s rivers and green spaces, before introducing the brood to the slithering inhabitants of the city’s Snake Farm (entrance around $6 for adults, $2 for kids). Set in the scenic gardens of the Red Cross hospital at Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, the working snake farm features daily handling shows, and will generate squeals of fear and delight in equal measure.

After a couple of days in Bangkok, head to nearby Hua Hin, a scenic 3-hour bus ride away. Hua Hin is a perfect destination for outdoorsy families, with unspoilt beaches, jungle-covered mountains dotted with elaborate temples, and animal attractions that include the aptly-named Elephant Village, as well as ‘Monkey Mountain’ at Khao Takiab.

For an evening with a difference, make the trek (around an hour from the city center by car or via BST train followed by taxi) out to the intriguingly bizarre Alpaca View (Lad Prao Wanghin Rd, Lat Phrao, Bangkok 10230, entrance around $5).

At this kitsch hangout, dining, karaoke and miniature world landmarks (hello, Eiffel Tower, fancy seeing you here!) come together in one peculiar space. Visitors to the farm-restaurant-theme park-karaoke joint can feed the alpaca and other animals, tuck into Thai cuisine and round the evening off with a spot of singing along to the classics.

? Boxout: Monkeying Around: A short tuktuk ride takes visitors to the temple at Khao Takiab mountain, where huge gangs of cheeky monkeys gather. Visitors can pay the equivalent of a few cents for a bag of monkey treats, but be cautious – they’re not shy. If the monkeys get a little too close for comfort, caretakers armed with long sticks are on hand to give them a gentle prod and remind them who’s boss.

Day 8-13 Krabi

No nature-loving family should come to Thailand without visiting the legendary island beaches of the south. Take the bus (or a private hire car, if you’re in a hurry) back to Bangkok, with an optional overnight stay before catching a flight to Krabi, on the ridiculously picturesque Andaman Coast. Operators such as Bangkok Airways, Thai Airways and Nok Air ply this 90-minute route, and with prices from around $60, this is an affordable alternative to a long haul bus ride (there’s no direct train from Bangkok).

There are any number of cute family-friendly resorts here, ranging from no-frills to plenty-of-frills, and kids can rampage around the beaches, embark on guided nature treks through the jungle, snorkel in the clear water or hop on island tours that take in beauty spots such as Tub Island, Chicken Island and–most famous of all–Phra Nang beach.

Be sure to take a day trip to Than Bok Khorani National Park, where nature-loving families visiting Krabi with kids can plunge into bright green waterfalls, and kayak along mangrove rivers to caves where 3,000-year-old cave paintings have stood the test of time.

? Box Out: Koh Hong: Of all the islands surrounding Krabi, those of Koh Hong may be the most incredible. Under the auspices of the National Marine Park, the four islands are home to gibbons, giant lizards and soaring eagles, as well as a stunning emerald green lagoon. It’s a 25-minute speedboat ride to the islands from Koh Hong, and the Instagram opportunities are unlimited.

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Day 15-22 Phuket and Phang Nga Bay

A couple of hours’ bus ride or drive from Krabi is Phang Nga Bay, connected by a bridge to Phuket, the largest of Thailand’s islands. This absurdly scenic bay is chock full of opportunities to kayak around caves, grottoes and limestone islands. For extra parent points, take film loving kids to the sea stack island of Ko Ping Kan, known as ‘James Bond Island’ thanks to its starring role in the 007 movie The Man With the Golden Gun. The bay is connected to the famous island of Phuket by a footbridge and car bridge, but speed boats are the most popular way to travel between the mainland and Phuket. On the island itself, nature-loving families can enjoy magical beaches, take treks through the jungle, kayak and raft along rushing rivers, and even take nocturnal trips into sea caves where bioluminescent plankton sets the water aglow in the pitch dark.

Day 23-29 Chiang Mai and Surrounds

Thailand is a country of contrasts, and after the coastal beauty of the south, it’s time to head to the mystical north, famed for its mist-swathed temples and jungle-covered hills. Several airlines ply the two-hour route between Phuket and Chiang Mai, making air travel the most family-friendly option for the the 700-plus mile trip. Families visiting Chiang Mai will find the city itself makes a good base for adventures – there are hotels and guest houses here in every price bracket, and the vibe is enormously more relaxed than that of Bangkok.

? Box Out: The Elephant Nature Park at Chiang Mai is a guaranteed kiddie-pleaser (and also guaranteed cruelty-free–it’s a rescue and rehabilitation center) and can be visited as a day trip or overnight stay (from $70 per person, including meals) where families in Chiang Mai can splash around in the water with the gentle giants, and help out with elephant meal times.

Nature-loving families in Chiang Mai should also set aside time to visit Doi Inthanon National Park. Perched on Thailand’s highest mountain, this stunning nature reserve some 35 miles from the city is a paradise for bird watchers, with some 330 species flitting around. There are well-marked trails through the park, and visitors can camp out in tents or log cabins – bring plenty of layers though, at 2,565m above sea level, things get chilly here after dark.

Off the Beaten Track: The Thai Grand Canyon
One of Chiang Mai’s most under-the-radar attractions is its Grand Canyon (Yes, Chaing Mai has a Grand Canyon, who knew?). Even locals are sketchy on details about this place, which can be reached by scooter from the city (map co-ordinates 18.697053, 98.893398.. It’s actually an abandoned quarry, where astonishingly deep turquoise waters have accumulated to create a stunning natural attraction, and where strong swimmers (pay heed to the safety warnings) can take a dive or a dip.

Day 30-Bangkok

Bustling Chiang Mai and its scenic surrounds will keep nature loving families in Thailand occupied for at least a week, and the international airport here has connections to other South East Asian destinations. For those flying from Bangkok, the obvious way to reach the airport is to take the plane, (70 minutes, flights from around $60), but those with the patience to make the 12-15-hour rail journey will be richly rewarded with stunning views as it rolls through Thailand’s hills, past rice paddies and villages. There are several trains a day (including night trains) with first class tickets costing around $45 per person.

Are you interested in Thai food as well? check out our special family friendly route for food loving families.

Thailand offers bountiful beaches, rolling jungle, spiny mountain ranges…there’s so much to see, do (and eat) here, that families can find it hard to know where to start.

Eating is a large part of the fun, but it can appear challenging at first, as so much of the food is spicy. Note the phrase ‘mai phed’ (no spice) for eats without the heat. While adventurous older kids might be excited to chow down on deep fried bugs, there are gentler options too, such as mango with sticky rice (served as a dessert or light lunch), noodles, and super-crispy spring rolls filled with meat and/or fresh crispy vegetables. Children are warmly welcomed at Thai restaurants, making dining out relatively stress free. Follow our itinerary for eating your way around Thailand with kids  but be warned, you’ll probably want to come back and visit all the places you missed the first time.

Day 1-3: Bangkok

Crazy, colorful and chaotic, Bangkok is perhaps better known as a destination for thrill-seeking adults than for its child-friendly activities, but family trips to Bangkok can be surprisingly rewarding. There are theme parks, oceanariums and playgrounds galore, so set aside at least three days to fit in a couple of big ticket attractions. All that noise can be a little draining, however, and street food can be hard on delicate little tums, so take the stress out of mealtimes by visiting an ‘all under one roof’ spot such as Helix – the ultra-modern food hall at EmQuartier mall. There are some 50 restaurants here, serving everything from spring rolls to American-style burgers, and it’s easy to push a stroller from one spot to another.

For something a little more ‘local’ grownups shouldn’t shy away from sampling the street food that is available across the city. Check out the Old Town (or Banglamphu) for Khao gang (curry rice), which is popular fuel at breakfast and lunch, and sees a variety of veggie and meaty curries piled onto a plate of rice, and typically costs the equivalent of under $1.

Tip: Foodie visitors in Bangkok  should also be sure to check out the famous Chinatown (Yaowarat). There’s a Chinese flavor to much of Bangkok’s dishes, and this vast Chinatown is said to have kickstrted the famous street food scene.

Day 3-7  Chiang Mai

All aboard the sleeper train! The overnight rail journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is a fun one, and kids tend to enjoy being tucked into comfy bunks for the trip (book first class rooms to up the comfort level if the budget will stretch).  There’s a whole host of activities on offer for foodie families in Chiang Mai, and kid-friendly food is both easy to come by and highly affordable. As is so often the case in Thailand, food courts cater to every taste, and families should also check out the handful of cafes with play areas, such as the German-run Nic’s, which has trampolines for the kids and gin cocktails for mom and Dad. At Cooking Love in the center of town, kids can watch the dishes being prepared in front of their eyes, and it costs less than $4 for a family to tuck into child-friendly mild chicken and mango curries, washed down with coconut water.

Tip: Families in Chaing Mai can learn to whip up traditional Thai dishes such as Pad Thai, with kid-friendly classes organised by Asia Scenic, close to the center of town.

Day 8-11: Pai

It’s a bumpy-yet-fun 3.5 hour mini-bus ride along mountain roads to the welcoming ‘hippy’ community of Pai.  There’s a big vegan community here, so travelers in Pai with kids can recharge the batteries with super-fresh dishes whipped up with the abundant local fruit and vegetables – kids will enjoy the juices that are available for well under a dollar, and there are several informal cooking schools here too. By night, Pai’s famous ‘Walking Street’  fill up with vendors, and it’s fun and safe to stroll around, checking out the various treats: try the sugary grilled bananas as a kid-friendly alternative to the meat and seafood on a stick.

Day 12-16: Golden Triangle

Head back to Chiang Mae and either overnight or take the 4-hour minibus ride (or an organised tour if budget allows) up to Chiang Rai, the river city at the edge of the Golden Triangle – so called because it is the point at which Thailand, Myanmar and Laos  meet. It’s known  for its breathtaking scenery, elephant sanctuaries and endless rice paddies, and visitors to the Golden Triangle with kids can fuel cycling or hiking adventures with treats such as dim sum, grilled chicken, fresh smoothies or  miang kham tea leaves stuffed with shredded coconut, peanuts and ginger.

? Box out: The Saturday and Sunday Walking Street Markets are popular with locals and visitors alike, and see vendors selling everything from backpacker-chic clothing to snacks (yes, there are crispy bugs to try, should you fancy it).

Day 17-20 Ayutthaya

Back down to Chiang Mai, then board an overnight train to Ayutthaya – sleepers are available for less than $20 p/p, VIP cabins slightly more, but turn up early as tickets sell out. Kids can rampage around the ruins of this ancient city, see temples galore, and for around $10 families in Ayutthaya with kids can feast on absolutely delicious freshwater prawns, sprinkled with salt and cooked over hot coals and enjoyed on the deck of floating restaurants. There are a handful of good hotels and guest houses here, and it’s well worth spending a few days to get a feel for the history of the place.

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Day 21-22 Bangkok

It’s around 90 minutes’ bus ride back to the capital, where families in Thailand might want to overnight before heading in the direction of Thailand’s magnificent island beaches. Check out food malls for easy eats that won’t upset the stomach before the journey.

Day 23-29 Phuket

After all that exploring, foodie families will likely be ready for some time chilling on Thailand’s famous island beaches. Phuket is one of the best spots for families, and is easily reached by plane – several operators ply the 80-minute route from Bangkok, with flights costing as little as $50. Treat this as a vacation in itself, and settle in for a week of swimming, snorkeling, theme parks, water parks, and an abundance of playgrounds both natural (all that jungle) and manmade (this is a very kid-friendly spot). Many hotels here offer international dishes, and burgers, pasta and pizza are all easy to come by, but for a real taste of Phuket that will linger long in the taste buds, try the sizzling wares cooked up by the street food vendors. As well as Thai dishes, you’ll find Malaysian, Chinese and Indian dishes on offer.

? Box out: 

Going Bananas: Bananas grow in abundance in Phuket, and they make their way into many a street treat. Banana pancakes are cooked on a hot plate, drizzled with condensed milk and cut into stacked wedges; deep fried banana on sticks is a sweet delight, and it’s whizzed into smoothies.


Day 30: Back to Bangkok and it’s bye bye Thailand – for now!