Family Travel in Thailand with Babies, Toddlers and Small Kids
It may not be the first place that springs to mind when it comes to picking a family holiday destination but rest assured, if you plan your trip well then Thailand can be the ideal place for young kids. Thai people love children and will be fascinated by your little one; in fact, you will find yourself striking up conversations with loads of people simply because you are travelling with a child.
When to Go
November to March is the high season in Thailand and the best time to visit. Christmas and New Year’s is a busy time and according to the Lonely Planet, tourism increases by 50% at this time of year, especially on the beaches. If you are thinking of travelling to Thailand with a baby this is the best time of year to go as temperatures are more comfortable however you would need to book well in advance and be prepared for higher prices.
Low season is from July to October when the monsoons can cause heavy downpours and flooding. From March to May temperatures can get very hot and this is not a good time to travel there with a baby or a toddler. Northern Thailand is cooler all year round than the lower lying beach areas. It still gets extremely hot there from April to June and if you are bringing a baby during this time it is important to take extra precautions to guard against the heat. For average monthly temperature charts please click here.
Baby & Toddler Essentials
In major cities and tourist towns you will be able to find all of your baby and toddler essentials and heinz baby food is available in many larger supermarkets. The fresh fruit and vegetables are delicious however, make sure you use sealed bottled water only for your child and don’t let them drink the bathwater! Talk to your GP about vaccinations also. Malaria and dengue fever are prevalent in some parts of the country so check the NHS’s ‘Fit For Travel’ website before booking and remember not to let your child touch any animals no matter how cute they look as rabies is also present.
Where to Go
Thailand’s capital, Bangkok is a vibrant and exciting city filled with temples, shopping centres and a fantastic riverside area which has some great options for boat trips, saving you from using taxis and tuk tuks. Thailand’s second city in Chiang Mai in the North is a fantastic spot to take babies and toddlers. There are loads of child friendly hotels and restaurants and in the mountains outside Chiang Mai where you can find endless amounts of activities that younger children will enjoy.
One of Thailand’s biggest draws are its beaches. There are plenty of family friendly hotel options on the beach also but be aware that there can be outbreaks of malaria and dengue on the coast so precautions should be taken. Precautions should also be taken against sun burn and heat stroke/ exhaustion and dehydration throughout Thailand as the country is warm to hot all year round.
Flying to Thailand
Most airlines will fly into Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. Thai Airways, Malaysian Airways, Etihad, Emirates and British Airways all provide flights to Bangkok from the UK and Ireland. Most of these airlines will require you to change flights and if you feel your baby could use a break from flying you could opt to fly with Etihad which stops in Abu Dhabi for example. A night flight might be easier with a small baby as they can sleep in the cot however make sure that you tell the airline that you will require this when booking. Remember to pack enough food, milk, water and snacks for your baby in case of delays.
If you are catching a connecting flight to Chiang Mai or one of the islands you will be able to connect with your flight at Suvarnabhumi Airport, but only if you book with Thai Airways. If you are flying with AirAsia you will need to travel to Don Mueang Airport which is approximately 30 minutes away (longer during rush hour). You can catch a connecting bus from the second floor of the passenger terminal, gate 3.
If you are staying in Bangkok you might be able to arrange for a hotel shuttle bus to pick you up or you can get a taxi from level one. Make sure that you agree on a fare prior to starting your journey. It takes about 30 minutes to get to the CBD area of the city. If you want to book a car with a car seat you can pre arrange this from operators such as Oriental Escapes (they also operate in Chiang Mai). On arrival at the airport your stroller might be sent to the oversized baggage area so be sure to check there if it does not come out on the carousel.
Thailand is 6 hours ahead of the UK and Ireland in the summer and 7 hours in winter. Night flights make jet lag easier to cope with as it minimises sleep disruption. Try to get onto local time as quickly as possible as this will encourage your baby to adjust. For further information on handling jet lag click here.
If you are travelling around Thailand, flying is the best way to go as there are considerable distances between Bangkok and the islands and Chiang Mai and the islands or Bangkok. Airways and Airasia run internal flights to most of Thailand’s most popular destinations and there are also buses and trains servicing major routes.
Passengers can travel by train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok to the Laos or Malaysia borders and many places in between. Trains are safer than buses and are generally more comfortable. Thai trains won’t have baby changing facilities but first class tickets offer a private cabin with twin beds, which will provide more privacy. Popular train routes include Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Bangkok to Surat Thani, the launching point for boats to Koh Samui.
Most taxis have seatbelts however there are those which do not. It is possible to hire a taxi with a car seat for babies in larger cities however make sure you book these in advance. Bringing a car seat with you to Thailand can be cumbersome particularly if you plan on moving around however, most airlines will offer to carry 2 pieces of baby equipment free of charge. If you are bringing your stroller, your car seat could be your second piece of equipment. For further information on travel safety click here.
Thai food is delicious. Much of it is coconut based and there is plenty of fresh fish and vegetables to choose from. You are unlikely to find many restaurants with high chairs in Thailand so bring a fold away high chair if you can.
Hygiene is generally good in Thailand although shell fish can cause stomach upsets. Pick a restaurant with plenty of people as it will most likely be clean and the food safe. Hotels are also a safe bet. If you are eating out in a night market, the food is generally safe. Choose food which has been cooked at high temperatures when feeding little ones.
You will be able to take your own food to feed your baby or toddler to Thai restaurants. If your child is very young bring your own spoons and cutlery. Make sure you also have a pack of antibacterial wipes on hand. For toddlers, grilled chicken and sticky rice is a good option as is fried rice or noodles with vegetables and chicken. Don’t be afraid to ask for less spice in kids dishes as they may not like this if they are not used to it. Even a small amount of spice can be harsh on young pallets.
Most good hotels will also serve Western type foods such as bread, eggs, potato, soup and cereals. There are also a number of Western restaurants in towns popular with tourists and cities such as pizza and fast food chains.