Top 10: Thailand

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]Thailand is one of the most family-friendly destinations in Asia. From islands to highlands, from temples to theme parks, from ancient to modern, it’s a fantastic, easy place to travel with children.

Here’s ten great activities for kids to enjoy in Thailand.

1: Watch Elephants Painting
The multi-talented elephants of Maesa camp paint pictures, play football and enjoy harmonicas. You can ride them, feed them and get a shower from them. Or learn to be a mahout at Baan Kwan Chang. Both camps are outside Chiang Mai.
elephant painting at an easel

2: Kayak Around an Island
The shallow, calm waters off Thailand’s many islands make them perfect for a sea kayaking expedition. Take a kayak around a bay, around a headland, or out to islets just off shore. Koh Chang, Phuket, Ko Phi Phi and Ko Tao are all wonderful bases for exploring.
Little boy's legs and feet in water with fish nibbling at dead skin.

3: Let Fish Eat Your Feet
Cleaner fish, or doctor fish, are tiny little creatures that eat dead skin cells. Put your feet in a tank full of them for an all-natural pedicure. It’s gross. Ticklish. Hilarious. Effective. And something kids will love. Fish pedicures are available in most tourist towns and cities, not to mention the aquarium Bangkok.

4: Go to a Theme Park
You wouldn’t think it. But Thai theme parks are up there with European parks. Go midweek, outside the Thai school holidays and you’ll have the place pretty much to yourself. Dreamworld offers rollercoasters, ghost trains and countless rides: Siam Park City includes a waterpark, too. Both are on the outskirts of Bangkok.

Riding the Sky Coaster at Dreamworld, Bangkok. Photographed from below.

5: Ride the Skytrain
No visit to Bangkok is complete without a ride on the Skytrain, the metro which soars five storeys above the city’s streets. Vehicle-minded kids will love the canal taxis and river buses, too.

Divers hand-feeding sharks in tank at Siam Ocean World aquarium, Bangkok.6: Go Backstage at an Aquarium
Bangkok’s Siam Ocean World is the largest aquarium in South-East Asia, running the gamut of watery creatures from penguins and beavers through to giant catfish and sharks. Tons of sharks. Children can dive with the sharks, feed the fish, go backstage and explore in a glass-bottomed boat, and enjoy a 4D movie to cap it all off.

7: Meet Some Monks
Both Bangkok and Chiang Mai are packed with gaudy, colourful temples. To add some depth to the experience, spend time with the monks. Wat Suan Dok, in Chiang Mai, offers the chance to meet and chat with multilingual monks on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 5-7pm, and meditation retreats too.

8: Try Extreme Sports
Ever rolled down the hill in a giant, inflatable ball? Bungee jumped? Paintballed? Gone go-karting, or raced down a zipwire? For young thrill-seekers, Thailand makes an affordable, safe place to start. Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai have bungee jumps; there are kart tracks in Pattaya and Chiang Mai, plus Asia’s biggest indoor track in Bangkok; or try zorbing plus all of the above, at X-Centre, Chiang Mai.

Sunset over the islands around Koh Chang, Thailand.9: Pet Wild Animals
Thailand is one of the few places in the world where children and adults can spend time with tigers in captivity (snakes and monkeys, too). Children can pet, hold and sometimes feed baby tigers at the Tiger Temple, near Kanchanaburi, or Tiger Kingdom, outside Chiang Mai. But be aware the adult animals suffer for your pleasure.

10: And Finally… Don’t Forget the Beach
White sand… Shallow, sloping, sheltered inclines with minimal surf… Tropical fish and rich coral reef to snorkel through… Palm trees to climb… Water almost as warm as bath water… For families with young children, Thailand’s islands are beach heaven, plain and simple.

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