Whether you are seeking cultural experiences, fun outdoor adventures, or a little bit of everything, Thailand offers something to suit every family. Recent research by Tourism Authority of Thailand has uncovered the most popular activities for Australian families in our favourite Thai destinations –Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Koh Samui and Krabi. Here they are.
1. LOCAL EXPERIENCES
Want to experience Thailand from a local perspective? Begin by exploring Bangkok’s old city on a tuk tuk tour before soaking up the views across the city from the Golden Mount. Offering insights into Thai religion and culture, this fun-filled experience also supports local flower market vendors and monks who will share their knowledge with you.
Alternatively, you can take to the water on the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat, a hop-on/hop-off service that connects some of Bangkok’s biggest sights. If you don’t have time to explore all corners of Thailand, you can get a feel for the country’s diversity at Sooksiam – ICONSIAM. This atmospheric attraction allows you to experience the arts, foods and traditions of all 77 provinces within the one space.
2. BEACH ACTIVITIES
Magnificent beaches are the hallmark of Thailand’s south, with water-loving families spoiled for choice both on and off the mainland. In Krabi, you can go swimming, snorkelling and kayaking on an island hopping boat trip, including visits to the legendary sands of Ao Nang and the island paradise of Ko Poda.
You can also explore the beautiful beaches of northeast Koh Samui during a stand-up paddle-boarding lesson with iSUP Samui while taking advantage of the region’s protected waters to build your confidence. If you’ve ever dreamt of riding a horse on the beach, then you can make it a reality at the Phuket International Horse Club, which has a variety of horses and ponies to suit both experienced riders and nervous beginners.
3. THAI COOKING CLASS
No trip to Thailand is complete without learning the secrets of the country’s legendary cuisine. In Bangkok, you can book into a class at the Amita Thai Cooking School, where you can pick fresh ingredients from their herb garden, or Silom Thai Cooking School, with the latter including a trip to the local market to buy ingredients.
The Phuket Thai Cooking Class by VJ receives rave reviews for its knowledgeable chefs and friendly environment, while Ya’s Cookery School in Krabi offers private classes and special seafood programs drawing on the bounty of Phang Nga Bay. Since opening in 2000, the school has built a strong reputation and has taught students from around the world, including UK celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.
If you’re exploring northern Thailand, family-friendly classes are also held at the Smile Organic Farm Cooking School, which is set within a beautiful organic garden where fresh herbs and vegetables are grown, or Thai Farm Cooking School.
4. OUTDOOR ADVENTURES
With its enviable tropical climate, Thailand is a destination for embracing the great outdoors, with a range of active adventures offered. You can fly through the forest (just as the monkey god would have done) at Phuket’s Hanuman World, or head to the Blue Tree waterpark to shoot down thrilling water slides and laze in its idyllic lagoon. Another waterpark not to miss is the Grand Canyon in Chiang Mai, which is notable for its floating obstacle course and unique jumping water kangaroos!
Nature loving families should head to Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park, a tropical paradise that can easily be visited as a day trip from Koh Samui. Encompassing more than 40 islands in the Gulf of Thailand, it has stunning beaches and fascinating caves that can be explored while hiking, kayaking and snorkelling.
Budding rock climbers will love the Real Rocks Climbing School, which is based amidst the craggy limestone cliffs of Krabi. They offer small group, low impact adventures that are ideal for families with kids aged five years and over, with stunning views across the islands and beaches of southwest Thailand guaranteed.
5. INDOOR ADVENTURES
If it’s a hot, muggy day or downpours are forecast, head indoors to experience Thailand’s cultural side. Top of the list in Phuket is TRIBHUM: The Mystical Three Worlds, which incorporates Thai mythology with spectacular visual effects in what is the world’s first 3D walk-through adventure park.
In Bangkok, don’t miss a visit to KidZania, where your young globetrotters can try their hand at role-playing a variety of careers. It’s designed like a miniature city, with the opportunity to fight fires, practice dentistry and even fly a Boeing 737!
Chiang Mai’s Art in Paradise is another family favourite, with this illusory art museum offering a surreal take on the gallery experience. Kids will love stepping into the artworks and (unlike some galleries) photography is most definitely encouraged!
“I love exploring the beaches and markets, the delicious food and talking to all the beautiful Thai people” – Kelly Aitken
THAI COOKING CLASS
“Had an awesome day doing this in Chiang Mai with the beautiful May. We cooked khao soi, green chicken curry and blue sticky rice. All were delicious but more importantly it was great fun” – Barry Gunner