Thailand with Kids – The Travel Guide

Essentials

Hotels in Thailand for Families

If you’re visiting in the high season (December to February) or summer (July and August) booking hotels in advance is highly recommended. The rest of the year pre-booking isn’t absolutely necessary – but you’ll still find the best deals by booking online.

The 10 Best Resorts for Families in Thailand

The 6 Best Destinations in Thailand for Kids

A trip through Thailand with children will undoubtedly differ from the typical Thailand tour — or the trip you had to Thailand before you had kids.

But there are so many great towns, cities, islands and fantastic beaches. So much warmth and friendliness from the locals (Thai people adore children). And so many great tourist attractions, that with a bit of planning and the right attitude Thailand makes an awesome destination for a family holiday.

1. Chiang Mai

Family-friendly fun: Elephant riding in Chiang Mai
The big city with a small town feel, Chiang Mai seems to combine the best of Bangkok with the appeal and accessibility of a small village. It makes a great base for exploring the wonders of Northern Thailand and will be an especially appealing destination for adventurous families that love to mix outdoor activity, urban culture and great food. Attractions run from elephant rides to water rafting, hillside treks to a day at the zoo.

Best months to visit Chiang Mai: November thru February.

Things To Do in Chiang Mai with Kids

  • Cooking courses (Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School) — Cooking courses are popular in Chiang Mai and as long as your kids are older than 7 they will likely enjoy shopping for, preparing and eating their own food. Homestays can also be arranged through the school.
  • Riding elephants (Maesa Elephant Camp) — A favorite for kids and families. A 30 minute or 1 hour ride through the forest can sound short but is usually enough for most children. The baby elephants are, uhm, cute. There are also elephants shows that are tastefully done and the animals are well treated. There can be long lines for elephant rides so get here early (rides start at 7:00am.)
  • Chiang Mai Zoo — Tigers, giraffes, and giant pandas are the highlights here and should keep the kids happy and engaged. A Twilight Zone tour at night allows visitors to take in the zoo during the cooler — and often more active — evening.
  • Chiang Mai Aquarium – Part of the zoo – not worth a separate trip but if you’re already at the zoo then take a look. There are zoo and aquarium combo tickets if you visit on the same day. The aquarium is on the opposite side of the zoo entrance so hop on a zoo bus (20 baht, unlimited on and off) to get you around the grounds.
  • Chiang Mai Night Safari — Not to be confused with the Zoo’s Twilight Zone, this evening parkland-tour by bus takes in tigers, lions, crocodiles, rhinos and much more.
  • Mountain biking (Mountain Biking Chiang Mai), river cruises (Mae Ping River Cruise), hot-air balloons (Balloon Adventure Thai Company) and horse riding (Chiang Mai Horse Riding) are all great ways to get around and see the city and surrounding area.
  • Rock climbing (Chiang Mai Rock Climbing Adventures) is very popular in the Chiang Mai area and sure to be a hit with kids over 8.
  • Waterfalls – The Mae Sa park and waterfalls are about 30 minutes north of the Chiang Mai. A series of pools are great for cooling off.

Chiang Mai Hotels for Families

Luxury Hotels in Chiang Mai

  • Anantara Chiang Mai Resort & Spa — Chiang Mai’s most acclaimed hotel — and with good reason. Fantastic is the most descriptive word here. The service, the staff, the food and the rooms are all great. The Anantara (formerly The Chedi) is a 5-star hotel in almost every detail.
  • Yaang Come Village – More relaxed than the Chedi and not as luxurious but still wonderful. A huge pool, great location near the night market, and friendly staff. There’s a huge family suite here that can fit a family of 5. Breakfast included.

Moderate Hotels in Chiang Mai

  • Rimping Village Hotel – Good family rooms, a nice pool, great breakfasts and incredibly friendly staff earn the Rimping raves from travelers.

Budget Hotels in Chiang Mai

  • SK 2 Hotel — Great budget hotel with a good location, friendly staff, and nice pool.

Getting to Chiang Mai by Train

Sleeper trains take between 12 and 14 hours from Bangkok’s Hualamphong train station and make for Thailand’s best overnight train ride. Kids often love the mix of freedom and adventure that overnight trains afford and this route is long enough to get a real overnight trip without extending much into the 2nd day. Book as early as possible as the trains between Bangkok and Chiang Mai can fill weeks in advance. (Update: The trains between Bangkok and Chiang Mai won’t be running until at least November 1, 2013. Closed to do repairs related to multiple derailments. Update #2: They should be running now (January 2014) – but a derailment occurred soon after reopening so check before making plans dependent on the trains to the north.)

Getting to Chiang Mai by Airplane

The following low cost and major airlines serve Chaing Mai:

  • Air Asia — flights to Chiang Mai from Bangkok, Phuket and Kuala Lumpur.
  • Thai Airways — flights to Chiang Mai from Bangkok, Phuket, Mae Hong Son and Kunming, China.
  • Orient Thai Airlines — flights to Chiang Mai from Bangkok and Pai.
  • Bangkok Airways — flights to Chiang Mai from Bangkok and Samui.
  • Nokair — flights to Chiang Mai from Bangkok, Mae Hong Son, Pai, Chiang Rai, Nan and Udon Thani.
  • Silk Air — flights to Chiang Mai from Singapore.
  • Lao Airlines — flights to Chiang Mai from Vientiane and Luang Prabang, Laos.
  • Air Mandalay — flights to Chiang Mai from Rangoon, Burma.

Further Reading:

2. Hua Hin

Kid-friendly beaches in Hua Hin
This beach resort just a few hours from Bangkok by road or rail is very popular with Thais but has somehow missed the onslaught of foregin visitors that descend on the other coastal locals. It’s low key, easy to get to, and makes a great stop for people with just a few days to escape Bangkok or travelers on there way farther south.

Best Months to Visit Hua Hin: A great year-round destination, though the most rain comes from August to October.

Things To Do around Hua Hin

  • Beaches: The stretch of beach in front of the Sofitel Hotel is the best around Hua Hin. Cha Am — 10 miles north of Hua Hin — also has a beautiful beach, though it can be very busy on weekends.
  • Kids will probaby enjoy a visit to Monkey Mountain, 6 km south of Hua Hin (take a tuk tuk), where they can feed bananas to the resident population of monkeys. Great views and a popular temple are also there for the adults.
  • Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park located 40km south of Hua Hin, makes a great day trip. The reserve features towering limestone cliffs, caves, beaches and an abundance of wildlife. This is one of those places where splurging on a car and driver is probably wise as the park is difficult to reach with public transportation.

Hua Hin Hotels for Families

Luxury Hotels in Hua Hin

  • Anantara Resort & Spa — A stunningly beautiful resort with super friendly staff, good food, and an incredible atmosphere of kid-friendly rest and relaxation.

Moderate Hotels in Hua Hin

  • Dolphin Bay Resort — A good choice for families with young kids. A great family friendly vive pervades, with helpful staff, 2 and 3-bedroom suites, and a nice swimming pool (with a water slide.)

Budget Hotels in Hua Hin

  • Jed Pee Nong — Friendly staff, a small swimming pool, and good location in town make this hotel a good budget choice for families.

Getting to Hua Hin by Train and Bus

Hua Hin doesn’t have any regular flights from Bangkok but the train makes a pleasant 4 hour trip down the coast from Bangkok’s Hualamphong Station (reservations usually required). The bus is a bit quicker at 3.5 hours but not nearly as enjoyable (though you can usually always find a bus that’s departing within a few hours).

Further Reading:

3. Phuket

Beaches and boats provide family fun in Phuket.
Some dismiss Phuket as too commercial and touristy, but the island is so beautiful and there is so much to do that it can make a perfect vacation for many families. This is one destination where planning (when to visit, where to stay, what beach to hang out at) can make a big difference as to whether your trip is a fun and enjoyable one.

Best Time to Vist Phuket: It gets very busy on the island in December and January but the weather can make for a soggy vacation in the rainy season from May to October (though July and August can be fine months to visit as long as you’re prepared for a little rain which is usually quickly followed by sunny skies). The best months to visit Phuket are December through April.

Things To Do in Phuket with Kids

  • Beaches: Kata, Karon and Patong are the 5 star beaches for most on Phuket. But many travelers have other favorites and if these are too busy it’s easy to find a secluded stretch of sand around the island. Note that during the rainy season from May to October the west side of Phuket can have very dangerous surf so ask the locals where to swim and pay attention to the red flags that mark a beach as unsafe to swim.
  • Snorkel in the Andaman Sea. — The best spots for snorkeling are out a bit out from the mainland and require a boat to get to. December through March is the best time for the clear calm seas necessary for snorkeling with kids. Dive Supply or Coral Seekers will be able to get you set up with equipment and day trips.
  • Play some mini-golf (Dino Park Mini Golf) — Located near Karon beach, this might be the coolest mini-golf course around. Kids love this place and the Flinstones theme only adds to the fun.
  • Visit a water parkSplash Jungle Water Park is great for all ages (but 40KM from the main beaches around Patong so get a full day out of it)
  • Go to an theme parkPhuket FantaSea is very touristy but a lot of fun for kids. The elephant show is the highlight. Lots of games too.

Phuket Hotels for Families

Luxury Hotels in Phuket

  • Holiday Inn Resort Phuket — Great location in Patong for shopping (Jungceylon Shopping Center is a short walk away) and hitting the beach. Patong has its less desirable side but also has a ton to do – so there’s a tradeoff. Great pool and kids club.

Moderate Hotels in Phuket

  • Centara Grand West Sands Resort & Villas Phuket – Directly connected to the Splash Jungle (Thailand’s biggest water park). The resort is a little isolated but if you’re looking for a treat for the kids then 2 or 3 nights here is a great choice. Huge and very clean 2-bedroom suites.
  • Kata Beach Resort and Spa — The beach is the big draw here and the resort’s spot right on the sand gets raves. Families like to wander along the seaside looking for a beach shack for dinner. The hotel itself has a very kid friendly atmosphere and a great swimming pool.

Budget Hotels in Phuket

Getting To Phuket by Airlplane

The following low cost and major airlines serve Phuket:

  • Air Asia — flights to Phuket from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Udon Thani, Hong Kong, Singapore, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur.
  • Thai Airways — flights to Phuket from Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
  • Orient Thai Airlines — flights to Phuket from Bangkok.
  • Bangkok Airways — flights to Phuket from Bangkok, Koh Samui, Pattaya and Siem Reap, Cambodia.
  • Nokair — flights to Phuket from Bangkok.
  • Silk Air — flights to Phuket from Singapore.
  • Tiger Airways — flights to Phuket from Singapore.
  • Firefly — flights to Phuket from Penang, Malaysia.
  • JetStar — flights to Phuket from Singapore and Sydney, Australia.
  • Condor — flights to Phuket from many European cities including Berlin, Munich, Amsterdam, Paris, London, Madrid, Barcelona and Rome.

Further Reading:

4. Railay Beach, Krabi

The best kid-friendly beaches in Thailand are in Railay.
Quiet and secluded (you can only reach it by longtail boat from Ao Nang) Railay is an incredible destination for families. The kind of spot that makes you drop your bags and relax for a week or two. There are no cars on this little island-like outcrop of land, so once you’re here it’s all about the beaches, the sea, the kayaks and the climbing. Enjoy!

Best Time to Visit Railay: Much like Phuket the sea here can get rough and the weather rainy in the monsoon months from May to October. Try to visit from November to April.

Things To Do around Railay with Kids

  • Beaches: There are 3 beaches on Railay: Hat Rai Leh West, Hat Rai Leh East and Hat Phra Nang beach. Rai Leh West is where most of the hotels are located and is an incredible stretch of beach. Rai Leh East is muddy and shallow and not suitable for swimming. The accommodation here tends to be a little cheaper and it’s just a short 5 minute walk to the west beach. Phra Nang is a 10 minute walk from the hotel area, along a shaded path bordered by caves and rock cliffs. It’s considered one of Thailand’s best beaches and could easily be the highlight of any trip to the Krabi Area.
  • Rock Climbing options abound for older kids and adults. Climbing is a big business here and staff and guides are usually very helpful and well informed.
  • Kayaking and snorkeling. — Kayaks can be rented along the beach and day trips can be arranged through most resorts and hotels for snorkeling around nearby islands.

Railay Hotels for Families

There isn’t a large price difference between the high and low end in Railay so these are listed from most expensive to least, but all fall somewhere in the moderate category. Most hotels in Railay offer large discounts during the low season and usually a free night for stays of longer than 3 nights.

  • Sunrise Tropical Resort — Situated on the east side of Railay (the non-swimming beach) but this is made up for by it’s great swimming pool and large roomy cottages with open air showers. The “good beach” is only a 3 minute walk away.
  • Railay Bay Resort and Spa — Rights smack in the best section of beach on Railay West. A good restaurant, great decor, and friendly service keep guests returning for more.
  • Railay Princess Resort & Spa — Great staff, a nice pool and clean well kept rooms are what you’ll find at the Railay Princess. Located in-between west and east Railay this hotel feels a bit removed from the beach scene.

Getting To Krabi by Airplane

The following low cost and major airlines serve Krabi (Railay’s nearest airport):

Further Reading

5. Koh Samui

A family day trip to Ang Thong Marine National Park
This beautiful island on Thailand’s east coast is a good compromise between Phuket and Railay. Outside of Chaweng it’s not nearly as developed as Phuket. At the same time it’s a big island and if you’re the type that might feel a little isolated in Railay, Samui offers lots of activities and there are many towns and beach centers to explore around its coasts. Samui has gone upscale over the last 20 years and is no longer the backpacker destination it was back when I first visited.

Best Time to Visit Koh Samui: The east coast is more forgiving with off-season travel than the west coast making the choice of when to visit not so vital. But if you’re forced to pick the best months they’re probably December to April. December and January are peak months so book hotels early.

Things To Do on Koh Samui with Kids

  • Beaches: The 4 best are Mae Nam, Bohput, Choeng Mon and Chaweng. Mae Nam is the cheapest with a subtle backpacker feel and many long-term travelers rent houses here. Bophut has the most character, with an upmarket boutique feel and a “village” of restaurrants, shops, and bars, but very family-friendly all the same. Choeng Mon has a string of restaurants and hotels along a beautiful beach. Chaweng is the hustle and bustle hub of the island, complete with chain restaurants (McDonald’s and Starbucks), happy hours, night clubs, and breakfast cafes.
  • Take a day trip to Ang Thon National Marine Park. — A picturesque setting of limestone cliffs and pristine beaches sprinkled around 40 lush green islands. Book a tour with your hotel or a nearby travel agent. The package should include pick-up from your hotel.
  • Elephant rides can be enjoyed at the Na Muang Elephant Camp. This can be done independently or as a part of a tour to the Na Muang Waterfalls. If you’re going to Chiang Mai then don’t bother with these rides as they’re a pale imitation.
  • Sea kayaking and snorkelling are, of course, very popular in Samui. Most dive shops arrange day trips to Koh Tao for dives (and snorkellers can tag along for a reduced fee) but families will probably be happy staying closer to Samui.

Koh Samui Hotels for Families

Chaweng and Lamai both feature a long string of hotels that differ little from each other (within each price range). I’ve listed 3 hotels here outside of these 2 popular centers.

Luxury Hotels in Koh Samui

  • Anantara Bophut Resort & Spa — A family friendly hotel with everything you’d expect from a 5 star resort: great food, friendly staff, immaculate grounds and garden, and a stunning swimming pool. A good kids’ club too.

Moderate Hotels in Koh Samui

  • World Resort, Bophut — A very friendly mid-range hotel right on the beach, with a nice pool and fantastic buffet breakfasts (included with the room).

Budget Hotels in Koh Samui

  • Maenam Buri Resort — A great place located steps from the beach. A very friendly staff and owner make guests feel at home. A nice restaurant is onsite and several good eateries are a short walk down the sand.

Getting To Koh Samui by Airplane

The following low cost and major airlines serve Koh Samui:

  • Air Asia — flights to Surat Thani from Bangkok (then ferry to Koh Samui).
  • Thai Airways — flights to Samui from Bangkok.
  • Bangkok Airways — flights to Krabi from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi, Pattaya, Siem Reap, Cambodia and Hong Kong.
  • Firefly — flights to Samui from Subang (near Kuala Lumpur), Malaysia.

Further Reading:

6. Bangkok

Bangkok day trip with kids: Visiting a floating market.

Bangkok can be a great destination for travelers — with or without children.(And even if you don’t like Bangkok you’ll probably end up spending a few nights in the capital as most international flights to Thailand arrive here.)

Things to Do in Bangkok with Kids

  • The Siam Museum, Major Bowl in the (Central World Shopping Mall), Siam Ocean World, and the Krungsri Imax Theater are all great ways to avoid Bangkok’s heat.
  • Dusit Zoo — Not nearly as enchanting as Chiang Mai’s fantastic zoo but still worth a visit, especially if you’d like to stretch your legs after a long international flight.
  • Siam Park is the biggest water park near Bangkok.
  • Tour Bangkok’s backwater canals on a longtail boat (ask your hotel the nearest place to get a boat). Or simply take the Chao Phraya Express boat that runs up and down Bangkok’s main river, making numerous and colorful stops along the way. The best place to catch it is often at the Tha Sathon pier near the Saphan Taksin skytrain station and steps from the Shangra-La Hotel.

Bangkok Hotels for Families

I really like the Amari Watergate Hotel for its central location near the shopping malls and markets, great restaurants, and a bakery. There’s a nice swimming pool with a view of the city, and big discounts off the regular room rate if you book online.

The Viengtai Hotel in Khao San is a budget hotel with a large pool and great location a block from Khao San Road. There’s one large family suite (family of 5 or 6) and several others that will easily fit a family of 4.

Getting To and From Bangkok International Airport

The new Bangkok airport, Suvarnabhumi International Airport, handles the majority of flights in and out of Bangkok. The fastest way to get from Suvarnabhumi to Bangkok is by the using the airport rail link, opened in August of 2010. The Express Line takes about 15 minutes to get to the stations Phaya Thai (transfer to SkyTrain) and Makkasan (transfer to Bangkok blue line) in central Bangkok and costs 100 baht. The City Line, or local, takes about 30 minutes and stops at Phaya Thai, Ratchaprarop, Makkasan, Ramkhamhaeng, Hua Mak, Thab Chang and Lat Krabang along the way into the city.

Even though a taxi is a little slower than the train it’s much easier and relieves travelers of the need to change money, purchase tickets, and board the train. There’s a taxi queue one level below the arrivals floor. Taxis will usually get into the city in 40 or 45 minutes but this trip can easily take over an hour in the heavy Bangkok traffic. Taxis are small and will just barely fit a family of 4 with moderate luggage. Larger families or travelers with large suitcases will need a mini-van. These can be hired through the same queue. Follow the “TAXI” signs in the airport and you won’t have a problem.

The popular A2 bus that went from the airport to Khao San Road no longer runs. To get to Khao San from the airport you have to do some combination of bus, SkyTrain, and rail link. Or take a taxi.

The old Bangkok airport, Don Muang Airport, is still used by the budget airlines Air Asia, Nok Air, and Orient Thai Airlines (formerly One To Go Air). Taxis are usually the easiest way into the city. There is also a train station, accessed via an elevated walkway. Trains take about an hour into the city and travel to Bangkok’s Hualamphong train station. Convenient if you’re catching a train out of the city shortly after arrival.

See Also

photo credits

250 questions and comments

  1. K.L in Denver

    Any advice for getting to Samui by train? We’re having trouble finding cheap airline tickets down there on the dates we need them.

    Thx, K.L.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Getting to Samui by train can be a fun trip. It’s best to do an overnight train to Surat Thani. You can buy a combo ticket at pretty much any travel agent in Bangkok that will include the train ticket south and the bus and ferry over to Samui.

      You’ll arrive at Surat Thani in the morning and there will be a bus waiting for you to take you to the ferry terminal. That will take an hour or 2, you’ll have a short wait for the ferry and then the trip across the water will be about 90 minutes. It can all add up to a long trip but it’s usually not too painful.

      Not sure if you’ve looked for flights to Surat Thani or not. That’s another option. Only a few airlines fly to Samui but a flight to Surat Thani will work almost as well. From there it’s much like the train ride, with a bus and ferry over to the island, but of course you won’t have had the potentially tiring overnight train to contend with.

      That said, I find the trip to the airport, going through security, waiting for the flight and the flight itself, just as tiring – perhaps more so – than a fairly relaxing overnight train trip.

      Let me know if you have any more questions.

      Good luck.

      Reply
  2. Damon Baker

    Having worked in Bangkok for a numbers of years we decided to take our two little Aussie girls back there nearly two years ago to see friends. We have access a large bungalow in a complex in Cha-Am which is about 20km north of Hua Hin. Cha-Am has yet been discovered by farang tourists and offers a tranquil, laid-back lifestyle with beaches and plenty of seafood restaurants. The wet market is great to take the little ones around to be mesmerism by everything from live crabs to pig’s heads. Families can rent modern and clean bungalows (like the one we use) cheaply. These complexes will have pools and, of course, as you are staying in a house, you have all the mod cons.

    Another tip for Bangkok – a lot of the department stores have play centers on their toy floors (like Central at Chit Lom and Emporium). For a few dollars you can have the little dears play in these large play areas (with slide, ball rooms, etc, etc) which are supervised by an army of child minders. Just keep some kid’s socks in the day pack in case they require them before entry.

    Reply
    1. Vitania

      Damon, I am going to be visiting Bangkok for the first time this July. I would love to check out the bungalows you mentioned. Do you still have that contact information by chance. If so can you please post it. Thank you!

      Reply
      1. Damon Baker

        Hi Vitania. The bungalows (as well as the apartment-style condos) are at http://www.baantalaysamran.com/ Self-contained and good for flop and drop.

        They are mostly privately-owned but obviously people tend to lease them for short stays are they are mostly holiday homes. The website has an on-line reservation system. They are about 5km from the main town of Cha-Am and a 15 minute walk to a nearby village. A small shop and restaurant sits just outside the complex (can arrange transport, etc).

        Reply
  3. Gary from Chicago

    We did Thailand with the kids. Had big plans to go everywhere then my wife and I got bad colds (colds the kids had before we left home) on first days there. Got to Chiang Mai but then didn’t feel like taking our flight south to Phuket thinking we’d rebook for another flight in a day or two, but nothing was available. Spent just about our entire trip up in Chiang Mai and Loved IT! Don’t know what would have happened down south but I suspect it would have been typical beach stuff. As it was, we really got to know the Chiang Mai area and did everything. I mean everything. Fantastic little city and region. Good review there mate.

    Cheers.

    Reply
  4. Laura

    Hua Hin is cool spot if you’re looking for a spot with fewer Western tourists. We really enjoyed our 2 weeks there and appreciated the quietude. Phuket is too busy for our tastes.

    Reply
  5. coachhire

    Hi

    Thank for sharing such informative information
    The second most visited place in Thailand is Chiang Mai, a large city in northern Thailand. Only an hour by plane from Bangkok, Chiang Mai is also the home of many western expats who wanted something a little less crazy than Bangkok. Chiang Mai is nestled in a valley between mountains and is one of Thailand’s most beautiful cities. Partly surrounded by an ancient moat and old city walls, Chiang Mai offers world-class restaurants, tiny street stalls serving unbelievable food, five star hotels to no-star guest houses, two of the country’s largest night markets selling traditional Thai products, Doi Suthep temple – one of Thailand’s holiest places – cafes, art galleries, and shopping malls. Chiang Mai is often a little cooler than Bangkok and the air is cleaner. People are also even friendlier and it’s a much slower pace of life. Chiang Mai is my favorite place in Thailand and is hopefully the place …
    Thanks

    Reply
  6. limohire

    Hi

    Stuff To Do in Phuket

    Beaches: There are several popular beaches in Phuket which are really crowded. But it is not very difficult to find a quiet stretch of sand around the region. Snorkeling – Snorkeling is a very famous outdoor activity in Phuket. There are several companies that will set you up with equipment and trips. Dino Park Mini Golf – It is very trendy mini golf course, which is love by kids and young adults.

    Thanks

    Reply
  7. Michael

    Siam Spa provides a large number of services from their own luxurious spa inside Chiang Mai. Their beauty therapies is going to take away the years rejuvenate the soul, and their masseuses supply probably the most relaxing Thai massage in Chiang Mai. For those of you thinking about establishing a spa business, Siam Spa furthermore welcomes you to come and speak to a spa specialist concerning the very best routes for success. In addition to this, their range of spa products and solutions allows visitors to continue being healthy and beautiful at home. http://www.chiangmai-spa.com

    Thai cooking Class inside Chiang mai as well as Tubtim as well as Tuk will definitely learn anyone, the best way to make the classic Thai taste and will welcome you in his familys residential, to teach you all the particular Secrets of the Thai Cookingbook. The best cookery school in Chiang mai and the most advantageous Thai cooking classes in Chiang Mai. Here you will learn secrets and techniques passed down from one generation to another
    http://www.chiangmaicookery.com

    Hostel Chiang Mai – Youth hotel Chiang Mai http://www.chiangmailearning.com

    Reply
  8. Shawn

    We will be in Thailand (Ko Samui maybe but not exactly sure where we want to go)for a week in December and have been looking at hotels. I have been having difficulties finding a hotel that would accomodate 2 adults and 2 children (8yo and 9yo) without having to book 2 rooms. Is this what you have found as well?? Perhaps I am doing something wrong in my search.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Shawn. It wasn’t a problem for us (mind you, our kids were a little younger.)

      World Resort in Bophut definitely has larger family rooms – and it’s very inexpensive. (And has the best breakfasts I had in all my time in Thailand.)

      Use this link for the best rates: World Resort on Koh Samui

      Good luck.

      Reply
  9. Abby

    I am going to Bangkok with family 5yo and 7yo and of course my wife, in July not sure where to go from there since its Monsoon there, Also i have a short trip planned so want to have the most of it.
    Phuket is one i think but worried about monsoon, where else,
    Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      July is not the best month for weather in Thailand but with some luck most days will have some sunshine. It could certainly go either way. 5 days at the beach could easily see 3 or 4 days of rain, or 5 days of sunshine. I would recommend the east coast — probably Ko Samui as it has an airport and a flight from Bangkok would be a lot better than a train or bus when you’re tight on time. Definitely avoid Koh Chang as it gets hit hard by the monsoon (but is tempting as it’s so close to Bangkok.) Check out this page for info on weather in Thailand in July: http://www.travelfish.org/weather/thailand/july

      Good luck.

      Reply
  10. Greg, UK

    We’re heading out to Thailand in November and wondering what destinations would be best accomodating and interesting for us and our 12 month old? Thoughts and ideas welcome, cheers!

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I’d do Railay on the west coast. It’s easy to get to from Krabi as long (as you’re ok doing a 20 minute ride on a long tail boat from Ao Nang). It’s also very compact and easy to get around for a family with a 1 year old.

      Reply
    2. Damon Baker

      I agree that Railay is a good place and ideal for the flop and drop. Just make sure you take all the required toddler necessities (like nappies) that you would be lugging around with you anyway to last the stay.

      Reply
      1. Greg, UK

        Thanks for recommendations,

        Railay sounds like a great recommendation from the quick overview reading. A 20 min long tail boat ride is absolutely fine – I’m sure junior will enjoy that :)

        Dave, Damon – I’m guessing you guys have visited Railay before, right? Any recommendations for family-friendly places to stay? Any particular activities that aren’t already listed on the tourism sites?

        Also, any other distinations still welcome…

        Reply
  11. Danielle

    Hi David. Thanks for all your great info – on the back of your expertise I am diving in and arranging a two week trip to Thailand with my eight year old son for Easter, 2013. Ideally would like to spend first night in Bangkok, then travel by overnight train to Chaing Mai for five nights doing lots of activities and sight seeing. Then spend remainder of the holiday on an island chilling / kayaking / snorkelling. I’m undecided as to which island to spend the latter part of the holiday in. I fancy Railay in Krabi but am conscious that with all the travelling I may be over-stretching my son. What would you recommend?

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      It’s not that bad getting to Railay. Hard enough to keep the package tourists away but not so bad as to deter you and your son. If you book early you should be able to get a cheap flight to Krabi from Bangkok on Air Asia. From there it’s about an hour to Ao Nang and then a half-hour boat ride across to the little town. It’s actually much easier than going to Samui through the cheaper Surat Thani airport. (Though, of course, flying directly to Samui is easy, but flight prices are often pricey to the island.) Hua Hin is about a half-day train ride from Bangkok and is another good option. Good luck.

      Reply
  12. Claudia From Denmark

    My husband and I are planning our vacation to Thailand, we have 3 kids, 2 1/2, 6 and 8. We would like to have some time in the beach, and my kids would realy love to try the elephant rides, but we dont want to be moving inside Thailand to much, would you recomend us where to go? our trip can be anytime between October and February…
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Phuket, Koh Samui, and Hua Hin are all good places to ride elephants – and all have great beaches.

      Reply
  13. Thristhan

    I’ve only been to Bangkok and Pattaya to date. Will surely consider this list and visit the other interesting parts of Thailand. Thanks for sharing David.

    Reply
  14. manisha

    hi
    me and my husband is planning a trip to thailand in feb 2013 and we planning for 12 days tour which will start from Bangkok then Pataya and then Krabi. Kindly suggest the best and cheap way to travel from each one of the places and good beaches in and around Krabi .

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Manisha. There are no direct flights between Pattaya and Krabi, but you can fly from Pattaya to Phuket or Pattaya to Koh Samui. From Phuket you could take a boat to Koh Phi Phi and then onto Krabi, charter a boat direct to Krabi, or take the bus. The best beaches in the Krabi region are at Railay which is about 30 minutes from the airport and then a 30 minute boat ride from there. There are many direct flights from Krabi to Bangkok. The best way from Bangkok to Pattaya is either bus or taxi. Don’t bother taking a flight from Bangkok to Pattaya as the airport in Pattaya is far out of town, so you would need to pay for a taxi to the Bangkok airport, buy the airline ticket to Pattaya, then pay for a taxi ride into town from the Pattaya airport. It’s much cheaper and easier to just get a taxi (or bus) directly to Pattaya from Bangkok. Good luck.

      Reply
  15. GotPassport

    Good list complied for Chiang Mai. We live here and the only place we would recommend is the Elephant Nature Park where elephants are rescued and nurtured rather than put to work to perform for an audience. http://www.facebook.com/TheElephantNaturePark They also accept volunteers.

    If anyone is looking for long-term volunteer jobs in Chiang Mai, please contact us and we will do our best to connect you to the organizations.

    Thanks for including our post on The Cost of Living in Chiang Mai.

    Cheers!

    Reply
  16. Anja

    Hi David, thanks for all that great info. We are travelling with our 3 kids ages 9 , 7 and 3 in November till early January to Thailand, we wanted to backpack through it. Is there an itinerary you could recommend for those 8 weeks? Do we have to book anywhere already in advance? I have never been there, although I travelled and backpacked a lot, before having kids. What would you recommend as a round tour, which is a combination of travelling and relaxing, where there is enough time for the kids as well to play etc not to overwhelm them. With gratitude, Anja

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Anja. 8 weeks in Thailand. Awesome. Sounds like fun.

      I imagine you’ll start your trip in Bangkok so spend a week there as you’ll find lots to do in the city: the zoo, the palaces, boat trips on the rivers and canals, floating markets, and a couple other very kid-friendly attractions. Do side trips for 2 or 3 days each to Hua Hin and Kanchanaburi. (Ayuthaya can also be done as a day trip from Bangkok.) You’ve got to do an overnight train trip while in Thailand (the kids will love it) so take the overnight train (with a sleeping compartment) from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Plan to spend a week or 10 days in the area doing some hikes, ride some elephants, and get out to some of the smaller villages for a night or 2. Then fly direct from Chiang Mai to either Koh Samui (Bangkok Airways), Phuket (Air Asia), or Krabi (you’ll probably have to go back through Bangkok). Spend 2 or 3 weeks on each coast being sure to visit Railay and Koh Lanta on the west coast and Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan on the east coast (Koh Tao if you want to do some scuba diving). Then take the train or fly back to Bangkok. (If you still have some time and wanted to visit an island closer to Bangkok then check out Koh Samet.) It’s amazing, but even with a good chunk of time like you have there are still whole sections of the country you’ll have to skip and visit on your next trip – so it goes. Good luck.

      Reply
  17. manisha

    hi david,
    As i will be leaving for thailand in mid feb for my honeymoon, can u suggest some the best places or beaches to visit for couples in bangkok, krabi and pataya

    Reply
  18. Vineet

    Hi David,

    We are planning a trip to thialand from 2-8 Dec’11 with our 2 kids 5 & 8yr.

    Would be grateful if you could suggest places to visit and must do things.

    Brgds

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Time will of course be an issue you for you. I would spend 2 days in Bangkok as there’s lots to see there and then take flight to either Krabi or Koh Samui. Both should have good weather in December so base your decision primarily on the availability and cost of flights. If you don’t want to fly then take the train to Hua Hin or the bus and ferry to Koh Samet. Good luck.

      Reply
  19. Tom Star

    Hi David,

    There is so much informaition to take in, which makes it harder to decide on where to go in Thailand.
    My wife, myself and 2 sons (5yr and 2 yr old) are planning a visit to Thailand either end of this year or beginning of 2013 (Jan) as we have to be back before Feb 2013 as our 5yr old starts school.
    So my question is…..Where do we go within Thailand to enjoy the great scenery, swimming, elephant rides/treks, great thai food, good accomodation, avoid the busy hussle bussle of big touristy spots, although have access to great markets and shopping ?
    Our objective is to come back to Australia and say “We had an awsome time and experienced the best of thailand !! ”
    We are happy to split the trip into 2 segments as we’d like to do a 7 day trip as minimum and hopefully fit in a kickboxing match as myself and my eldest son are into martial arts. We realise it’s hard to relax and enjoy a holiday ‘doing nothing’ when you have children, so we’d like to try and sort of relax for 1 day at a resort and then do some of the above mentioned for the remainder of the time we will be there.
    Appreciate your feedback !

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Tom. I’d spend a few days in Bangkok (lots to see there), take the overnight train to Chiang Mai and spend 5 days up there doing elephant rides, and hikes, and seeing small villages. Then fly to Krabi (you might have to go through Phuket) and relax on the fantastic beaches of Railay. If Chiang Mai is too much and too far then Kanchanaburi is a good substitute and just a few hours by train from Bangkok. Good luck.

      Reply
  20. arash

    Hi David, thanks for all that great info. Could you tell me which cities are the best for October ,we are three single boys and we are looking to have fun.
    thanks a lot

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Arash. Depends what you’re looking for of course, Bangkok and Chiang Mai are usually great this time of year, but right now the floods are making things difficult to get around the country. I’d probably head south to Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, Koh Lanta, or Krabi. Good luck.

      Reply
  21. Megan

    Hi David
    We are heading to Phuket in February for 4 nights (2 families both with a young child each) and are considering Karon or Kata beach as would like to do some day trips but also have some quiet swimming/napping times etc.Can you suggest any family friendly hotels in the $150 AUD or under price range that are minimal walk to beach & convenient to basic restaurants etc.Our travel agent has quoted on Centara Karon Beach Resort or Horizon Resort.

    Reply
  22. Anna Salameh

    I was planning to go to Chiang Mai in November, but unfortunately had to cancel. The only time I can go again with my children is around April 6th for 10 days. Am so worried about the weather in April as when I search Chiang Mai in April, all advise is not to go because too hot to bare. I live in Beirut and it does get hot here, but is the heat in Thailand unbearable in April??? I want to stay at Anantara Golden Triangle. In April, what part of Thailand has the best weather? Do you think it’s ok to go beginning of April? Thanks in advance for your advice…
    Anna

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Yes, it will be hot in Chiang Mai in April. Both coasts should have great weather (though hot too) in April so I would head south.

      Reply
  23. Mark – ramblecrunch

    David, I agree with you… Chiang Mai is a great place to bring your kids. The Thai people love children. We took our daughter there when she was 5. Now she’s a fanatical eater of kao phat gui and other Thai delicacies. Chiang Mai is one of our favorite places. I could live there full-time. Only my daughter did fall asleep on the elephant ride.

    Reply
  24. Diana Beauty

    Hi David,

    Thank you for the information you have shared.
    Me and my family are about to visit Thailand in this coming Chinese New Year (January 2013).
    But I’m a little confused about where to go; whether it’s Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Phuket.
    My dad is 55 years old and mom’s 48. They’re not really the adventure type.
    However, me and my sister are the exact opposite of my parents.
    Can you please kindly recommend me which place to go that could probably suit us?
    Thank you so much David.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I think any of those places would be good for someone that wanted to relax and not do terribly adventurous things, and for someone looking to be more active. Phuket is the most westernized of the 3. Chiang Mai offers the most outdoor activities. Bangkok is a big bustling city that can keep you very busy for a week or more. I know that’s not much of an answer, but I’d be surprised if you didn’t have a great time. Good luck.

      Reply
  25. Cesar

    Dave.

    Excellent tips. We followed many of them and spent two wonderful weeks in Thailand with my two kids (5 and 3 years old) and my wife. We went to Koh Samui, Chiang Mai and Bangkok.

    In Bangkok, we stayed at the Anantara Riverside (old Marriot) which is not a good value for money, it is far from downtown and is somehow old style. Reclining Buddah temple was great for the kids, is a quick visit and they enjoy it. One tip for Bangkok is the aquarium at the Siam Paragon shopping mall. It is quite expensive ($100 for the 4 of us) but really worths the money.

    Chiang Mai was fabolous. We stayed at the Chedi, as you recommended. Wonderful stay, we found great deal on the room with Sawadee, again following your recommendation. One additional tip is the Tiger Kingdom, where kids can actually play with baby tigers and the conditions of the animals are great. We did not go to Maesa Elephant camp, we went to Maetman, which was terrific as well. The plan include Oax cart riding and going through the river in bamboo rafting, great experience for kids.

    Samui was very good, while we did not explore the island too much, the hotel we found (Melati) was a great deal for the money. Family pool villa for US$80 a night with private beach and good family infrastructure. It is a bit away from Chaweng, but we did not need to leave the hotel much.

    Thanks for keeping this great blog alive…. it really makes a difference!!

    Reply
  26. Claire

    Hi David
    We have just confirmed flights to Bangkok from 11th Aug for 2 weeks (unfortunately very restricted to Aug school holidays!) traveling myself husband and 3 children 16,13 & 7. My plan was to stay in BKK for 3 nts and then fly down to Krabi £35 PP oneway (bargain!) then 8nts there. Although I am now concerned about the weather and if this is the best place to stay. We wanted to go over to Maya bay (obviously due to the film “the Beach”) but again wondering if there will be enough in Krabi to keep us occupied for 8 days. We definitely want to do an overnight 2nd class train trip back up to Bkk and stay for another 2nts before returning home. Can you reassure me about the different areas regarding the weather and places to go/stay with teenagers.
    Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Claire. Not sure what part of Krabi you’ll be staying – is it Krabi town or out in one of the resorts, or Ko Lanta or Ko Phi Phi? I think you’ll find lots to do if you’re so inclined, if you’re staying on an island, or say, in Railay or Ao Nang. If your kids are like my kids, as long as they have a pool they should have fun. The weather is definitely an uncertainty in August (good overview on Krabi weather here: http://www.1stopkrabi.com/about_krabi/weather_seasons) – it can be nice in August, it can be rainy – you’ll probably get a bit of both. In all my trips there though, the weather has never been so bad as to not have fun. Rain one day, sun the next – you’ll usually always get some of both this time of year. So I guess the best advice is just be prepared. Be ready to have some rainy days, and don’t let an overcast morning make you feel like your trip’s ruined. The weather can often change quickly and most days will see at least a little sun. Not sure if that helps at all but that’s my advice. Good luck.

      Reply
  27. Leighan

    Hi There and thanks for the wonderful info. I have two questions. We are travelling to Kho Samui in Feb with our 13 month old daugther. Regarding driving and car seats – will we be able to hire a car seat with the car hire? If not and we travel by taxi, is it ok to travel with the baby in a sling in the taxi? Are there any laws we need to be aware of with toddlers and hiring cars? (i am guessing there aren’t?)

    Also, we are looking at perhaps a day trip to one of the islands, I am a bit concerned about travelling on a boat with my toddler…should I be? Do the boats carry toddler life jackets etc? Or is there another, safer way of getting to the islands? Is there an island you recommend visiting or any boat companies u can recomend? we like snorkeling…

    Thanks, Leighan

    Thanks for your help.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      For car seats and the like, no, there are no laws (or none enforced anyways) so it’s just what you feel comfortable with. Finding a car with a working seat belt can sometimes be an issue. Often back seats won’t have seat belts at all. I would not expect to find a boat that had toddler life jackets. Perhaps in the most touristy areas and with boats that deal solely with travelers (say, a charter tour company) it might happen. When the monsoon hits the seas can get very rough and boats do go over, but in February you should get calm seas where ever you are. I hope that helps.

      Reply
  28. Beatrix

    David
    This is a great website and is making me look forward to our 4 week trip to Thailand. We are a family of 6 (2 parents, 2 boys aged 4,5 and 2,5 and twins aged 4 months). At present we plan to fly in to Phuket and take it from there. Any thoughts on travelling with so many young kids? Can you recommend a hotel in Phuket, preferably on Naithon beach? We are not keen on everything being extremely touristy so would like to stay away from the masses if possible in Phuket.
    We would really Like to head to Railay from Phuket but it appears to be a fairly long trip…Once in Railay do you have any recommendations for moderate to budget hotels?
    And what about Koh Lanta? I figure visiting Phuket, Railay and Koh Lanta is sufficient travelling round for our kids but at the same time will enable us to see a bit of the south of Thailand. Thank you very much for any helpful hints.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      That sounds like a fair bit of moving for a family of 6 in just 4 weeks, but the ferry from Phuket to Koh Lanta to Krabi would work well for you. Railay’s a bit of a trip from Krabi and another boat ride so you might want to skip that. These are good links for hotels, reviews and pictures: Nai Thon and Railay. Good luck.

      Reply
  29. Karen

    Hi David,

    We are planing a trip to Thailand maybe february or march for 1 week. We have two kids (4 and 2 years old) but we don’t know where to go, it’s Phuket or Krabi. Which one do you recommend?? We want to do the elephant rides, I’ve heard about the baby tigers. Maybe take a boat to Phi Phi island. But still don’t know where and which hotels. Do you have any suggestions?

    Thanks,
    Karen

    Reply
  30. Aj

    we are thinking of taking a trip to thailand with our kids (4,9). we are planning to go during Apr-May timeframe. is it going to be too warm? . what part of thailand we should go where we can enjoy beaches and some outdoor activities without worrying about weather?

    -thanks in advance

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Bangkok will be very warm that time of year but either coast should be great for swimming. Samui, Krabi, or Phuket should be perfect. Good luck.

      Reply
  31. Magicbelly

    What a great forum. I am confused with my decision on where to go in Thailand with my 6yo and husband from 20 march 2013. We need to do a visa run from bali to Bangkok (takes 3 days but will allow 5 days just in case). I was thinking I would want to relax on an island ?Phuket after being in the city but having read these reviews Chang Mai and Railay sound like a great trip too. We have maximum 2 weeks and would prefer to fly back to bali from the last destination. We like swimming, want somewhere big enough that we can explore but can also relax and eat great food. We have a budget but enjoy a little spoiling as well. Could you please help me with my final decision. . Bali > Bangkok 4-5days >? Overnight train Chang Mai >? Island or coast > bali. Thank you so much in advance as I am getting very confused.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I’d start in Bangkok then over night train to Chiang Mai (stay at The Chedi) then fly Air Asia to Phuket and Air Asia again from Phuket to Bali. That’s what I’d do. Good luck.

      Reply
  32. Janette

    Love this forum and it is so informative. We are travelling to Bangkok in early July and have just over 2 weeks. We have 2 kids aged 8 & 10. The plan was to spend a few nights in Bangkok, a few nights in Kanchanaburi then the remainder in Hua Hin. Recent reports I have read however describe the beach at Hua Hin as muddy and dirty. I was there 5 years ago (stayed at grand central hua hin) and found the beach to be fantastic so just wondering if it has changed?

    Any suggestions on an alternative itinerary would be welcome.

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Janette. I can’t speak to what it’s like right now but beaches in Thailand can change a lot depending on the season. For example, the beaches on the west coast of Koh Pha Ngan can turn to mad flats in May and June when the tide is really low. So if you talked to someone who visited then, you’d get reports of the beaches being terrible. So, if possible, take a look at what time of year those travelers visited Hua Hin and see if there’s a pattern to when the “muddy-reports” appear. Good luck.

      Reply
  33. Zoe

    Hi David, I have just stumbled upon your blog after googling Thailands best 5 bests. My family and I are planning a 3 week holiday in mid September to Thailand, we are travelling from Australia. My thoughts are 6 nights in Chiang Mai, 3 nights in Bangkok and then 8-10 in Hua Hin, at the Six Senses (the beach doesn’t look that great though), after reading your info I realise September is the rainy season. Does it rain all day? Is there anywhere that there is less rain? I am looking for adventure and opening my daughters (7 & 9) eyes to another culture and then sitting on a gorgeous beach and relaxing. It is my big 40 so I would like the beach sitting to be gorgeous and the resort heavenly. I have googled Phuket (it looks quite built up), Krabi, Khoa Lak, Koh Kham, Koh Samet, and Koh Chang and I am kohfused I mean confused. I would love some advice, I am open to all suggestions. Thank you so much for your time and your excellent advice. Zoe

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      HI Zoe, the weather on the east coast will likely be better than the Phuket side of Thailand. Personally, I would fly down to Samui with your girls. The beaches are nicer and there’s more to do there. If it rains, there are hotels where you could take a family cooking course for 1 to 5 days. They’d probably love it. It usually involves tours to the local markets where you buy all the ingredients for the dishes you’ll make that day. (Just an idea.) Good luck.

      Reply
  34. magicbelly

    Any recommendations on a hotel to stay in March in Chang Mai (2 adults and 6yo). We would like a nice hotel, great pool etc. I am confused on the best area to stay.
    THANKS

    Reply
  35. NS

    My wife and me are planning to be in Thailand in the last week of October for a week. We will have our kids (10 yrs and 7 years) with us. Please suggest the places we should visit given the weather and that kids too should enjoy. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      That’s a tough time to find good weather in Thailand. But even when it rains it’s usually not a full day event and the sun will come out later. The east coast (Koh Samui) will usually have better weather at this time of year than the west coast. Good luck.

      Reply
  36. Helen

    Hi, We were considering a trip to Thailand in late June with our 2 children (3 years and 7 months). We were thinking of Bangkok and then on to Koh Samui. Any suggestions with having such little ones? Also a little concerned about the weather at that time, would you suggest delaying?

    Reply
  37. Julie

    Hi David
    We are traveling to Phuket early July 10 days with 3 kids ages 15,13,10. Not sure where to stay because of the wet season. Thinking of splitting between Phuket and khao lak , but heard khao lak is very quiet during this time with many restaurants closed. Not sure now and tossing up koh samui as well. Really unsure of best place to go during this season. I want to mix up the holiday between sightseeing and relaxing. I hear that you can’t really snorkel , or swim during these months.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I usually err on the side of going to the east coast during the summer and autumn months. But you can have a fine trip on either side. You’re right though, Khao Lak will likely be quiet. Koh Samui will be much much busier so if you’re looking for some fellow travelers that’s the place to head.

      Reply
  38. Tania

    Hi David. We’re planning trip to southern Thailand with my mum who has weak knees (so in wheelchair). Are ferry trips to Railey, Kolanta, Phi Phi or Ko Samui suitable for a person in wheelchair? Our other option is to stay in Aonang.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      The ferries to Koh Lanta, Phi Phi, and Koh Samui should be doable. Require a little effort but doable. The boat to Railay is a long tail boat (basically a really big canoe) and is not suitable at all. I hope that helps.

      Reply
      1. Steve Davidson

        Hi dave have been reading you reviews, myself and my wife intend to take a holiday in thailand for 2 weeks, in november,(2nd week in november) not sure which would be the best area to go for a beach holiday, looked at samui, but would this be the rainy season, we wants lots of sun, hope you can help

        Reply
        1. David Post author

          Samui would have better weather than the west coast but still might get some rain and cloud cover. Koh Samet has the best weather during rainy season of pretty much any island.

          Reply
  39. Caro

    Hi there. We are travelling to Thailand in april with our 5 year old son. We are there for 12 days and plan 1 night bangkok, last 6 nights Koh Lanta staying at Pimalai. Wanted somewhere in between the two that was less resorty and thought about Ko Tao. But am now thinking (having read your blog) Railay…. ??? What would you do? All advice gratefully received

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I love Railay so would whole-heartedly recommend that. Koh Tao is very touristy so would be reluctant to suggest that based on what you’re looking for.

      Reply
  40. Zoe

    Hi David, thank you for your earlier reply to my question. I have been doing some research and there is more rain in September on all the charts it peaks. I was wondering if you can confirm the rain and how bad it is, we are thinking of travelling to Chiang Mai, Yao Noi a little island beyong Phuket and then as you suggested Koh Samui. People keep suggesting Bali, have you been there? Thank you for your time. kind regards Zoe

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      The rains on the islands never “seem” as bad as in the cities and in the hills where flooding is more typical and more of a deterrent to traveling about.

      Yes, Bali is great and a wonderful island to visit. The beaches aren’t quite as nice as in Thailand but the culture and feel of the island is an incredible experience.

      Reply
  41. jay

    Hi David

    Myself and a few friends would like to visit thailand for the first time in December. Where would you suggest to go as we would like to do a lot of activities and enjoy the the night life, not too touristy?

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I would probably recommend Koh Pha Ngan. It’s “touristy” but not resort-touristy. Lots to do. You could also do a day trip to Koh Tao to do some scuba diving.

      Reply
  42. Chrissy

    this blog is exactly what we needed! we’re not planning our thailand trip until winter 2013 when our kids are out of diapers….this is all so informative though. thanks!

    Reply
  43. Ganesh Sharma

    Hey David,
    Thanks for all the information. Your write-up has some of the best information on the web about Thailand.
    I am traveling with wife and 2 toddlers this July to Thailand. Short trip 6-7 days. I was told that it would be ok, but now the weather is intimidating me. We were thinking Bangkok (for us) and Phuket (for the kids, they love the beach), but am having 2nd doubts. What would you suggest?
    Two things that i can think of
    Phuket – Make sure to stay on the west.
    Ko Samui – ?? But, may be deserted in July.

    Thanks,
    Ganesh

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Ganesh. I would go for Ko Samui over Phuket in July because of the weather. I’ve been in July and it can be rainy and overcast for a few days and then beautiful sun shine for a few days. I’d just go and it should work out as long as you’re prepared for less-than-perfect weather. Good luck.

      Reply
  44. Michelle

    Hi David,

    Wonderful and very informative blog you have here. Thank you for creating it! I’m visiting Bangkok this May with my husband and 4 and 7 year old children. Wonder how you would break up a week there? I’m trying to decide if we stay in Bangkok the entire week or if we try to do a trip to Chaing Mai in the middle of the week?

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      There’s enough to do in Bangkok to keep you busy for a week. Chiang Mai would be a nice diversion though. And the overnight train up there is fun. However both Chiang Mai and Bangkok will be very hot in May so be prepared. If you’re looking for an island Koh Samet is a half day’s journey away and has good year-round weather.

      Reply
  45. ames

    hi david! we plan on visiting Siam Park City (the amusement + water park) and was wondering if you know of any westerners that have gone there. i’m particularly worried about getting sick from the water, as i have gone to asia and drank same water as the locals and gotten sick while they were fine (apparently, there are bacterias that locals are immune to that westerners may not be immuned to). Any stories you know of from people that have gone to the water park? thanks!!

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I haven’t been to Siam Park City but have done many water parks all over South East Asia and Mexico and never (seemed) to have any problems with sickness. Remind the kids to keep their mouth closed. The ones I’ve visited have been very well run and clean. They tend to attract the wealthiest of the locals so they really sell themselves as a being a high end attraction.

      Reply
  46. Daniela

    Hi David!
    We are thinking to go to Thailand on January, to celebrate our 10th anniversary with our almost 4 years old, we are really into beaches and nice hotels, what could you suggest?
    3 days in Bangkok, 8 in Phuket and Krabi?
    or 8 in Ko Samui?
    I have never been there and I do like shopping but I rather be in a very authentic type of place, with fun too? and a good kid club for our daughter, and animals to visit too:)
    Thanks!
    Daniela.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Phuket, Krabi, and Samui are all great. Phuket is more touristy. Krabi the most beautiful. Samui the most laid-back. The weather should be great in January at all 3 so you needn’t worry about that.

      Reply
  47. Melissa

    My husband and I are planning a 3 week trip to Thailand with our two children ages 8 and 3 1/2. We have never traveled outside of the United States and are trying to decide how to break up our trip. We were thinking one week in each of Phuket, Bangkok, and Chiang Mai but wanted to make sure we would be able to easily travel throughout the country with our children. Does this seem doable? Do you have any recommendations for first time travelers?

    Reply
  48. Shabaz

    What a brilliant website !!
    Going to do Thailand for 10nights, last week of May. Wife & 3 kids, girls aged 11 and 8, and boy aged 6.
    We want the focus to be the kids, and don’t want to be n Bangkok.
    What is the best combination of tolerable weather and Kids interests, be that beach or activity, i’m not too fussed, i would put the premium on the best weather for the time, and value for money in a 4star environment.
    Can you please advise David ?

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I think Koh Samui or Phuket would probably be your best bets. Phuket has the most kid-friendly attractions (in a touristy sense) of any beach destination. Good luck.

      Reply
  49. Cheyenne

    Hey David,

    Great site thanks for taking the time. I’ve been to Pa tong with a mate and partied like it was 1999, but now I’m heading back for 10 days with my 3 girls 11,13 and 16 and don’t think I want to take them to Pa tong. I have faith in your experiences so were you recommend we will go. Thanks heaps…

    Reply
    1. Lenny

      Kata Beach is good for kids. If you prefer something even more quiet than Mai Khao or Nai Harn/Rawai Beaches are all very nice!

      Reply
  50. jessa

    Hi David! Thank you so much for your site! I’m doing research for my friend who is taking her 8-year-old son to Thailand in June. They want to avoid the super touristy areas when possible.

    1) I had many days and activities and ideas for them in Chiang Mai but if the air quality gets too bad where would be a good familly-friendly alternative that has culture and isn’t as hectic as bangkok?

    2) I also need help choosing a beach area where they can spend several days where the beach swimming isn’t too dangerous in June (and again, not super touristy).

    Thank you for your help!

    Best, Jessa

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      The air quality should be better by June in Chiang Mai. An alternative could be Kanchanaburi which is 3 or 4 hours by train west of Bangkok. It doesn’t have the same cultural/urban feel as Chiang Mai but there is lots of active outdoors attractions. For beaches I’d recommend something on Koh Samui (which has a direct flight from Bangkok). Either Mae Nam or Bophut would be good quiet choices for a family. The swimming should be fine in June.

      Reply
  51. jules

    Wow! This is a great blog. We are planning to travel from Beijing to Thailand Dec.22 – 30. We have 3 children (4,6,8). We’re looking for lots of beach time with a little activity here and there. Is Ko Lanta too much traveling time for us? Maybe Railay instead?

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Railay is definitely easier to get to than Koh Lanta. It has fantastic beaches and there’s lots to do there so you certainly won’t get bored. Getting to Koh Lanta isn’t a deal breaker though but it will take a day of travel, give or take.

      Reply
  52. Carly

    We are looking at moving to Thailand with two kids(7&1) for 6 months . Any recommendations. We would like amenities,, but beach town feel.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I would consider Mae Nam in Koh Samui (very laid back) or one of the beach towns in Phuket (if you’re looking for a bit more infrastructure and things to do).

      Reply
  53. Angie Hussein

    Hi David
    I am trying to find a suitable holiday at the end of october 2013 to suit 2 x 50yr olds and 2 sons 1 is 21 and the other 16, we will be flying from London. Thailand sounds fantastic but is totally new to me. We would need a good mix of beach and activity (the beach for me…) and good night life (for us all….). Any guidance you could give would be greatly appreciated as this is a very special ‘one off’ holiday.
    Many thanks & kind regards.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Phuket and Koh Samui would both be good choices. The other islands will likely be too quiet for any significant night life. Samui will probably have a little nicer weather at this time of year – though both can still see plenty of rain. The seas around Phuket can be rough and not safe for diving during the rainy season. Hope that helps.

      Reply
      1. Angie Hussein

        Thank you David for your reply. Would going in February give us better weather and more options resort wise?
        Kind Regards.

        Reply
        1. David Post author

          The weather will definitely be better in February, boats run everywhere, diving is good on both coasts. But it’s also a lot busier. The off season is a great time to get huge discounts on resorts and hotels.

          Search here for Phuket hotels in the off-season and you’ll see what I mean. There are some phenomenally good deals.

          So it’s just what you’re looking for.

          Reply
  54. nadine

    Hi David
    Me and my husband have just decided to take our boys (7and4) to thailand in july for 2 weeks,darn it I could take them for longer as I work in a school but my hubby doesnt and can only get 2weeks off! we went travelling around the world in 02 before we had kids and we really want to take the boys..what we need is sun sea and pool! that’ll keep the boys happy and we can fit everything else around that! if you have any advice of where to go in july thatll be fab! we dont mind train trips/boat trips etc as that adds to the adventure :o)

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I recommend this hotel in Bophut to everyone but it’s a great little place with a nice pool and lovely beach. You can get to Koh Samui by plane or by taking the train to Surat Thani and then bus and ferry over from there. Lots of great things to do on Samui if you choose and it has pretty good weather in July as compared to the west coast.

      Good luck.

      Reply
  55. nadine

    hi David thanks for your reply..
    our dates have changed and its looking like the middle of august we’ll be going as its the cheapest flights.
    we’ll be flying into bangkok as a workmate has a condo there so we’ll catch up on sleep there for a night..now is august a lot worse weather wise than july?! we went for june and july all those years ago and it was fine probably 5 days of rainy days! we want to take the boys to kanchanaburi to see the waterfalls we visited before then head off to islands…is koh samui still the best option for us for sun out of everywhere? we are planning to backpack as we’ve done it before so any cheap old place will do as its only to sleep in we dont mind about that! we’ve been to some very basic places in our travels!

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Out of the islands down south, yes, Koh Samui should have the best weather (or neighboring Koh Pha Ngan). August and July are pretty much the same for weather. For the cheapest hotels it’s best to look after you arrive in a location. So maybe book your first night in Samui and then wander around in person and find a little place you like. Mui Ne and North Chaweng have the best collection of cheap accommodations.

      Good luck.

      Reply
  56. Denise

    HI David. My husband and I will be travelling to Thailand in December/January 2013 with our twin boys aged 13. We are thinking of splitting our trip between Chiang Mai and Phuket with stop overs in Bangkok. I am a little concerned about the boys being suitably entertained as one of our children has a medical condition that prevents large amounts of physical activity. Do you believe there is enough for our son to do in Chiang Mai that doesn’t require massive amounts of walking??

    I have heard that we may be able to hire scooters/motorbikes – is this true and if so are the boys old enough to ride a bike on their own??

    Any advise or assistance you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance
    Regards
    Denise :)

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I think Chiang Mai will provide lots for you guys to keep busy (that doesn’t require a ton of physical activity) – whether it’s a night market in the city or an elephant ride out in the countryside. Unless they had had a lot of motorbike experience and were very good riders I wouldn’t recommend for a 13 year old to ride a scooter or motorbike in Thailand. Drivers are fast and aggressive and the rules of the road are very different than in a western country.

      I hope that helps. Good luck.

      Reply
  57. mark27

    Hi David

    Thanks for providing us a great source of info.

    I am in a big dilemma at the moment on deciding where to go Thailand. I am visiting Thailand on the way to India in mid Nov for 7 days. We want to relax and have a holiday before going to India to visit family and friends (this will be pretty full on tiring and busy). We (me and my wife) are traveling with our son who will be 23 months in nov.

    Initially we were planing to stay all 7 days at Bangkok and stay at Amari (according to you recommendation) and visit places around, day trips , shopping and relax. I want to keep the holiday very simple cruisey.

    Now we are thinking of skipping Bangkok and go straight to some other places like Chiang mai, or one of the island and spend all 7 days.

    I am a little bit reluctant to travel between two states or places in Thailand since that will take time and packing and carrying around our luggages even if we fly every time. I have not done a lot of overseas trip before and this being a first one with a son i am a little confused what to do.

    What are your recommendations David.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      There are pros and cons to each approach. If “easy” is the priority I would probably recommend staying put at the Amari, enjoying their great swimming pool, and doing small day outings around the city. However, Bangkok is very busy and crowded. Every time you walk out the door it’s a pretty full-on experience. That could get tiring after a week of hailing taxis and crossing busy roads.

      An island would have a much quieter and relaxing vibe, but you’re right, when factoring in packing your bags, getting to the airport, and through security – it’s another day of travel that you could avoid.

      If you do choose an island then Koh Samui is the best choice. There are short direct flights there from Bangkok and beaches like Choeng Mon or Bophut are just minutes from the airport.

      I hope that helps. Good luck.

      Reply
      1. mark27

        Thanks for the reply David,

        If compared to staying all 7 days at Chiang Mai or Bangkok or Koh Samui what would you recommend.

        I think there are enough activities to do around Bangkok but was wondering it is same in Chiang maii or kohsamui too to keep is engaged for at least 3-4 days days. mind you we have have almost 2 year old son.

        I am more tending towards chiang mai since its slightly cooler than Bangkok and quieter i guess.Another reason is beach holiday is not very rare for us since we live in Melbourne, Australia and beach is only 20-30 min away.

        Reply
        1. David Post author

          All 3 places are quite different. Bangkok has the most “attractions” so it’s easy to find something that’s only a taxi ride away. In Chiang Mai you somewhat have to make your activity. Find a place or tour or hike that you want to do and seek it out. In Samui, of course, you always have the beach – and some low-key but fun touristy things to do.

          Reply
          1. mark27

            Thanks Again for the reply David.

            We decided to fly straight to Chiang mai and spend all 7 days there. We are staying at rimping village Hotel they seem to have very good reviews. Now i am searching for little day trips i can do in chiangmai. I hope to find some nice small walks and good scenic lookouts around the area which will be easy accessible and suitable for us.

  58. Daniella

    HI David,
    I am planning our first trip back to Thailand in 16 years. We will be travelling as a family of 4 (2 kids 6yo + 9yo). We have 3 weeks, and plan to arrive mid December.
    i was hoping to do a few days in Bangkok, some time in Chang Mai, and the balance of the time on an island.
    i feel like 3 weeks is not much time to cover all these locations, so was hoping for your advice as to how much time to spend in Bkk and Chang Mai. i would also consider taking some flights to save on travel time.
    The part of the trip that i am finding most confusing to arrange is the Island location. What i loved most about my backpacking travels 16 years ago, was the beach shacks we stayed in on various islands around the country. Clearly things are no longer as they were. But i would love to find a part of thailand, where we can still feel the essence of what we loved so much many years ago. Ideally would love a bungalow on the beach. Does not need to be fancy (but would prefer the little extra that we went without last time just for the kids sakes – electricity, private toilet, etc). if you have any suggestions that may suit – please let me know. i was think Koh pangan or Phi Phi == but i would not know which beach to head to for that sense of peace and tranquility. also for the kids sake do not want to be completely isolated.
    Any suggestions or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Yes, Koh Pha Ngan still has many beaches with this low key style of accommodations. The beaches along the northwest, north, and northeast coasts are where you want to look. If you went to Koh Samui then Mae Nam has a couple places that would fit the bill. On the east coast Koh Lanta will have what you’re looking for.

      I would spend 3 nights in Bangkok, do an overnight train ride to Chiang Mai, 3 nights there, and then fly directly to the south (Koh Samui, Surat Thani, Krabi, or Phuket airport).

      Reply
      1. Daniella

        Hi David. Thank you for you help. I think we have decided on Koh Pha Ngan. Do you have any specific beach bungalows you could recommend? Any specific beaches better for the kids but still peaceful and low key?
        Also suggestions for quickest way to get from Chang Mai to Koh Pha Nan?
        Your help is greatly appreciated!!

        Reply
        1. David Post author

          The quickest way from Chiang Mai to Koh Pha Ngan is to fly to Koh Samui. Then grab a boat across from either Mae Nam, Big Buddha, or Bophut to KPN. If you book early enough you can get the direct flight on Bangkok Airlines – if not you’ll have to go through Bangkok which adds 2 hours to the trip, but there are 10 or 12 flights a day.

          For beaches, Haad Salad or Haad Yao on KPN’s northwest coast are great. Bottle Beach on the north coast if you’re looking for something very quiet.

          Salad Beach Resort Koh Phangan (on Haad Salad) is a good choice for a kid-friendly resort.

          Hope that helps. Good luck.

          Reply
  59. Soo Beng

    Hi There David,
    Great write up about Hua Hin! Besides taking a bus or the train another option would be to take a minivan from Victory Monument in Bangkok, which costs THB 180+ per person though I wouldn’t recommend to take it at night.

    Reply
  60. Warood

    Hi I also need advice for Thailand trip with my husband and 3 girls 9,5 and 2 yrs old in July August for 10 to 12 days. Can u plz tell me is that a good time to go and which places r good for kids. We want some relaxing vacation with shopping.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      You might see some rain in July and August (you might even see a lot of rain) but you might have nothing but sunny skies. I’d guess, in 10 days, you’d see something like one day of full-on rain, 4 days with an afternoon or morning shower, and 5 days that were sunny from start to finish. Just a guess, but that’s the kind of thing I’d have in mind. Choeng Mon, Bophut, Silver Beach (in between Chaweng and Lamai) are all great beaches for kids. Chaweng is nice too but is busy and crowded. Chaweng is definitely the place to shop.

      Reply
  61. Shirley Singer

    Hi David,
    My husband and I are planning a trip to the Thailand beaches for 2.5 weeks in August. We have a 3 year old boy and a 4 months old baby girl. What are the best beaches and islands to visit in August? Can you recommend a family friendly resort? Thanks.

    Reply
  62. Joyce

    Hi. My son and I are planning to travel in Thailand in Feb 2013. Can you please give me some ideas about some interesting places to visit for my son?He’s 12 years old. We might be visiting Laos, Hong Kong and Singapore as well. He’s not into swimming so perhaps some adventures. Thanks

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      That’s a great time of year to travel north to Chiang Mai and nearby towns. You can do all sorts of (safe) adventure activities up there from hikes to overnight treks, elephant rides to kayaking and mountain bikes.

      Reply
  63. Emma

    Hi David

    As the ‘man in the know’, can you make some suggestions please for a 3 week itinerary, starting and ending in Bangkok. We arrive at the end of July. We’re in our 30s. I’m totally baffled by so much info and options!

    Thank you so much

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      There are so many options it’s hard to sum up. Chiang Mai and the north will be seeing their first rains in July – most would say not the best time to visit up there but you could still see nice weather even in the rainy season. Down south the east coast (Koh Samui) will have nicer weather than the west coast (Phuket). Koh Samet is a good option if you’re worried about the weather but want some beach time (though it does get busy with escapees from Bangkok, especially on weekends).

      Reply
  64. Louise

    Hi, I was wondering how safe it is to travel on a train to Chiangmai
    By myself as a single mum with an 8 year old boy. I was originally going to go straight to Phuket but your posts have made me think about other possibilities. Is karin beach good? Does it have traditional markets and shopping or is it too touristy? I was hoping to do the usual touristy things with my son like elephant rides, fantasea phi phi etc but would love to experience more tradition Thai elements such as markets, local Thai cooking classes, quirky Thai restaurants, dinner on the beach. What would you recommend keeping in mind that I will be traveling by myself with my 8 year old from australia. Thanks heaps :-)

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I consider the train very safe. You can get single compartments with their own sink and a door you can lock when you go to sleep. They’ll have 2 beds in them. Here’s a collection of pictures showing what train travel is like in Thailand.

      Karon beach is great and one of the nicest in Phuket for kids. (As long as you’re visiting between November and May, otherwise it’s not safe to swim there.) It does have the Karon Bazaar which is great for shopping – though, obviously, oriented towards tourists, but still some great stuff. Cooking classes are available in Phuket and Chiang Mai too.

      Reply
  65. Mark McDowell

    Hi David, my wife, I and our 20 month old girl will be spending 5 days/4 nights in Thailand at the beginning of October, we’d like a mix of beach with good weather, cultural experiences and animal attractions, where do you recommend we go ? cheers

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      October is a tricky time to visit. The rainy season is just ending on the west coast and the stormy weather is hitting it’s peak on the east coast. I’d probably go with a east coast island like Koh Samui or Koh Pha Ngan but be prepared for some rain. There’s lots to do on Samui if the weather is nice and you may luck out and get 5 days of sun. For nicer weather but less to do there’s Koh Samet or Hua Hin closer to Bangkok.

      Reply
  66. David R

    Great Blog – I am fearful of reading so much I am scared to book anything for getting it wrong!

    Is this a realistic itinery for 14 days more or less to emcompass (in this order) the sites of Bangkok, then slightly calmer atmosphere to enjoy beach and nightlife and then to completely unwind in what I consider to be the postcard picture of Thailand;

    3 nights in Bangkok
    5 nights in Karon Beach (Phuket) and lastly
    6 nights in Krabi – Railay Beach

    Is transport from Karon to Railay an easy option?

    Thoughts most appreciated! thank you David

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      That sounds like a great itinerary. Getting from Karon beach to Railay is easy if you charter a speed boat. Otherwise you’ll have to catch the ferry to Phi Phi and then a different one to Ao Nang. And then a long tail boat from Ao Nang to Railay. It would all take about 5 hours. Speed boat is much faster (about 3 hours). But don’t take a speed boat during the rainy season (roughly June to October) as it could be very rough – even the larger ferries can often be canceled due to rough seas. You could also take a bus from Phuket to Krabi which would take about 4 to 5 hours. Catch a minibus or public bus from Phuket Town.

      Reply
  67. Kylie

    Hi David,
    I love all the information you have given. My husband and I are thinking of taking our 4 children (13, 10, 6, 3) to Thailand in July next year after reading all the blogs I’m thinking maybe we should change it to April????
    Our budget will be tight and we are thinking of going for 10 -14 days. We would like to have a beach holiday where it isnt crazy busy and isnt too quiet. We would like to stay somewhere were the kids get to experience the Thai culture and we would prefer to be able to walk to village for meals, I have read that in Koh Sumi you need a car, is this true?? Due to our limited time we would need to stay either in the one spot or two but without too much time travelling. Are we dreaming or is this a possible holiday in Thailand

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Kylie. You do not need a car on Koh Samui. There are Sawngthaews (which are pickup trucks with seats in the back) that take tourists around the island. They’re fairly cheap, though taxis aren’t much more for a family.

      The World Resort Koh Samui is one of my favorite mid-range hotels on Samui. Very nice pool and a short walk from Fisherman’s Village which is a lot of fun – lots of restaurants and places to shop.

      Harrys Bungalows And Restaurant is in Mae Nam which has more budget accommodations than Bophut. Nice beach and lots of places to eat along the beach.

      Both are great options.

      Good luck.

      Reply
  68. Tanva

    Hi David,
    I am Thai and have not been back in a while and plan on taking my husband and my 2yr old and 5 yr old for their first time. The only month we can go is June because my son will be on summer break and I was concerned about weather. I wanted to visit Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket but not sure if it would be safe with the kids. How worried should I be? Do you think they are too young? (weather, mosquitos, food, transporation) Also, I am very concerned about getting around with kids and the car seat issue. Do I just let go and travel with out them? Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I think they’ll be just fine. You do have to let go a bit and accept that things are different there. The car seat problem, in particular, is a tough adjustment. If you’re very committed and take your own car seat you should always be able to find a car (with rear seat belts) that will accomodate it. It does require patience and perseverance however. I hope that helps.

      Reply
  69. Gen

    Hi,
    Wow…Thank you for this site. My husband and I are travelling with our 3 kids ages 12, 7 & 6 in December for about 6 weeks. This will be our first trip with all 3 kids. Our plan is to stay one night in Bangkok and then leave for Chang Mai. I’m not sure how long we should stay/allocate. From here, I was looking at heading to Koh Lanta. What kind of info can you share about Koh Lanta and area. We are booked at the Seaflower resort on Koh Panang from the 21st to the 4th of January. From here, we’re thinking of heading to Vietnam for approx 2 two weeks. Any advice/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Here is an excellent overview of Koh Lanta. You can fly to either Krabi or Hat Yai to get to Koh Lanta. You should be able to find direct flights from Chiang Mai to both cities.

      To get to Vietnam you’ll have to go through Bangkok as I don’t think there are any direct flights from Krabi to Vietnam. I’d highly recommend flying into Ho Chi Minh and departing from Hanoi. That way you can take the train northbound, see many of the country’s highlights (with a few sidetrips) and won’t have to retrace your steps back to HCM. AirAsia has direct flights from both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh to Bangkok.

      Good luck.

      Reply
  70. Shirley Singer

    Hi David,
    We fly to Thailand tomorrow, straight to Koh Samui. Booked 4 nights in Koh Samui, and 4 nights in Ko Phangan. We heard good things about Railay Beach and Koh Lanta, so we may go toKrabi if the weather forecast ‘s good (not too rainy) . What’s the best way to get from Koh Samui to Krabi? I saw there’s 1 flght a day in Bangkok Airways. Are there any boats or buses? How long does it take?
    Thanks for your help,
    Shirley

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Yes, there are flights from Samui to Krabi – though they fill up early so not sure if you’ll be able to book one now. The bus from Koh Samui to Krabi will take about 5 hours. You can buy ferry and bus combo tickets from any travel agent in Samui. Try to get a pickup/dropoff at the ferry pier included in your ticket price so you won’t have to pay for a taxi. You board the ferry in Nathon and it takes you to Don Sak port on the mainland. Buses will be waiting for you there. The ride to the Krabi bus station takes between 2 and 3 hours.

      Reply
  71. kerry

    Hi there,

    I am travelling to Thailand next April – myself and my two girls aged 8 and 10. We are planning on arriving in Bankok and looking around for a few days, catching the sleeper train to Chiang Mai ( a friends brother is a Thai national and will book in advance for us),up to Chaing Rai and then somehow getting down to Phuket to meet up with a friend and her son. Kind of a roughing it trip until the beach hotel at the end. Any tips for single parent travel? and whats the best way to get from Chaing Mai to Phuket?

    Thanks in advance,
    Kerry

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Kerry. When I travel with the kids on my own I think it helps if I have a plan for the day. If I wander out the front door of the hotel without any idea what we’re going to do I find it leads to difficulties. But if I have a plan (where are we going, where do we catch the bus, what’s our plan for lunch?) it’s all easy. You want to remain flexible too, and willing to change on a dime, but at least have an initial plan.

      AirAsia has 2 flights per day from Chiang Mai to Phuket. If you book early enough you can secure some seats and not have to take the longer route via Bangkok.

      Good luck.

      Reply
  72. faye lu

    i just discovered your blog while googling *thailand beaches* – what an enjoyable read. i am in my late-20s and while kids are not on the agenda any time soon … it’s nice to know the adventures don’t stop – in your case, they only get better with kids =)

    Reply
  73. Rosa Tate

    Hello!
    I’m wondering if you can help me out whilst I try and book a family holiday! We live in NZ and are going back to the UK for Xmas – on the way we are taking 8 nights in Thailand! There is my husband and I and our 2 daughters – 4 and 6 years. Our 6 year old has special needs, but is able to walk! We arrive 1am on the 9th Dec and leave 9.30am on the 16th Dec. We were thinking straight to Hua Hin via car transfer and then 1 night at the end in BKK? Or do you think 1 night in BKK on arrival as well? We have looked in Dolphin Bay – but there are so many properties it is hard to know which one to pick? A friend recommended a private pool villa after a week in Koh Samui – this might be an idea as evenings would be more enjoyable once the kids have gone to bed with a private pool area? But we really have no idea and would love your thoughts on this?

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      If you can manage it then try to hire a car directly from the airport to Hua Hin. One night on your way back would be a nice break – especially if you can arrive early enough to see an attraction or two.

      In Hua Hin the Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas is very family friendly (and very luxurious).

      Good luck.

      Reply
  74. N Sachar

    Hello David

    We intend to visit Thailand in mid Oct . While Chaing Mai weather looks to be very good,there no beaches. Koh Samui is another choice but the it may be too rainy . Would you have any recommendations here ? Ideal if we can get some get a combination of good weather & beaches not to mention night life & shopping.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Koh Samet is close to Bangkok and has good year round weather and nice beaches. Maybe that might work for you.

      Reply
  75. Al

    Hi David, thanks for all the useful info that you’ve given as replies to other people.

    I am going to Thailand with my wife and 2 year-old daughter for the month of September. We know that it’s not the best period, but it’s the only time of the year that we can make it.

    More than the rain that might keep us indoors sometimes, we are concerned about the humidity. We had an experience in a hot & humid place with our daughter last year and she suffered from a skin rash and fell ill often. In your experience, do the kids in rainy Thailand suffer from similar/other problems?

    We would like to spend the time on a island where there are nice beaches, the possibility to rent a house & ideally some things to do with small people when it’s raining. From what we’ve understood already Ko Samui, Ko Phangan or Ko Tao might be our best bet. Any recommendations?

    Much appreciated,
    Al

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I’ve never had any experience with skin rashes from the humidity so can’t say. It tends to feel hotter in April and May before the rains arrive so maybe it won’t be as bad as you fear.

      The good news is that visiting during September will make renting a house or villa very easy and cheap. Samui probably has the most choice and selection. You’ll get the best deal doing it in person. Ask around at cafes and restaurants on where to rent. Mae Nam in particular has many rentals for longer-term visitors. Good luck.

      Reply
  76. N Sachar

    Hello David

    I come back to you again.

    For a visit in Oct between Koh Samui and Chiang Mai, which is better from the perspective of Rains ? Having a 10 year old son, Koh Samui looks exciting because of the beaches but then wondering if it is too much rain….pls let me know your point of view ?

    Reply
  77. Magali Robilliard

    We are Peruvians and are planing a trip to Thailand for Jan 2013, for my 40th bday. We have a 12yo son and a 10yo daughter. We’ll start in Siam Reap, then Bangkok, Khao Yai, Chiang Mai and then a beach. The agency we are working with recommended going to Ko Phi Phi, but we have heard it is very commercial and crowded, we are looking for a relax beach not so commercial, very simple, a comfortable, but not necessary luxury hotel. Can you please give us a hint?
    thanks a Lot.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Yes, Koh Phi Phi is very touristy and commercial. Railay is a great mix of beautiful beaches without being too crowded. It’s very low key so no big parties. Koh Pha Ngan is another great choice (as long as you avoid Haad Rin where the big full moon party takes place).

      For hotels, Santhiya Resort And Spa Koh Phangan is great. A luxury hotel that offers great value for the money. It has a huge pool (and kids’ pool).

      In Railay, Railay Bay Resort & Spa is very nice, has a nice pool, and is right on a great beach.

      Good luck.

      Reply
  78. M B

    Hi David,

    Thank you for the useful info.

    We are planning to go to thailand in January next week with our 3 months old daughter (she will be 7 months by then). We would like to go Phuket, Phi Phi and Koh Lipe and was wondering whether Koh Lipe is safe for children. Would you be able to give us any advice?

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Koh Lipe is definitely kid friendly. It’s not nearly as developed as Phuket or Phi Phi (and wouldn’t have the medical facilities that Phuket has) but other than that concern it shouldn’t be a problem.

      Reply
  79. Emma

    Hi David,
    We are 2 families travelling to Thailand for abit short of 2 weeks first half of March 2013. We have in all 7 kids (3-7-8-11-15). We were thinking Bangkok and an island south (avoiding Phuket). Do you have any recommendation on which Island best to go at that time of year where we could combine beach, snorkelling. I am sure the kids would love to see elephants without mass tourism.
    We thought we would not have time to go to Chang Mai, but reading the reviews and from what I have heard, it seems a great place to go. Touring with so many kids, do you think it is too much of a rush to add a stay in Chang Mai?
    Is it easy to find cars to carry so many of us? We dont want to drive ourselves.
    All your recommandations and advice will be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks, Emma

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Koh Samui is your best bet for what you’re looking for. Some parts are touristy but others (like Bophut and Choeng Mon) are quiet and laid back. I think you could include Chiang Mai in your plans but I’d recommend having your train and plane tickets (to travel within the country) booked before arrival. http://www.thailandtrainticket.com is good for pre-booking train tickets. Cars won’t be a problem to hire though you’ll need to get several I’m sure. Good luck.

      Reply
  80. Ian Morris

    Hi David

    Great site you have here, and so kind of you to share your knowledge and advice with so many people. Me an my wife are thinking of going to Thailand for a post Christmas/New Year holiday with our son, who will be 6-7 months at the point. It’s either Thailand or Cuba, but we’re tending towards Thailand. It’s a long flight, but sure he’ll be ok and will be worth it. We definitely want a few days in Bangkok, and are then thinking of a beach holiday for the rest of the time. Chiang Mai does also sound nice, however. We’ve been the backpacking type, but are thinking an all-inclusive holiday might not be a bad idea with such a little one. We have seen all-inclsuives in Cuba where you spent some time in Havana, and then the rest of the time at a beachside location, and are thinking we will try and get the same for Thailand. We’re not a fan of the all-inclusive concept, but just seems as though it will be so much cheaper.

    Is there any particular place or places you’d suggest for the beach location? I suppose a bit of an island-hopping excursion would be a nice thing if that helps narrow it down?

    Also, if you have any suggestions for all-inclusive holidays, or if you have any experience that suggests we should avoid them, then would be great to hear.

    Many thanks in advance,

    Ian

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Ian. There are very few all-inclusive resorts in Thailand. The Club Med in Kata is one of the few I know of. Many places include breakfast but a large part of the appeal of Thailand is eating out so few hotels offer such a package. It wouldn’t make sense for the majority of visitors.

      Hope that helps.

      Reply
  81. Jen

    Hello! I am starting to plan our trip to Thailand and was feeling overwhelmed, but finding your site I am starting to feel like it will be doable :)

    I would love your advice for our best options for our travels. My husband and I would like to spend 2 weeks in Thailand from approximately Dec 14-28. We have 2 children aged 2y & 6mth. From reading your blog we are thinking Bangkok, train to Chiang Mai, then fly to Railey. We would like to combine adventure but end with a relaxing beach atmosphere. Could you recommend timelines for these 3 areas, activities and transport between the 3 and accomodation? Your help is greatly appreciated.

    Thank you

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I’d do 3 nights in Bangkok, the overnight train to Chiang Mai, 3 nights in Chiang Mai, and then fly to Krabi (you’ll probably have to go through Bangkok). From Krabi you get a taxi to Ao Nang and from there take the boat to Railay (which takes about 30 minutes).

      There is a boat from Ao Nang to Phuket if you wanted to go there for a few nights and then fly from Phuket to Bangkok.

      For family-friendly hotels:

      http://samkip.com/Bangkok
      http://samkip.com/ChiangMai
      http://samkip.com/Phuket

      Good luck.

      Reply
  82. Jen

    Hello! What a great site :)

    Just wondering if you think Railay Beach for 1 week would be ok with a 6 mth old and a 2 yr old? Just concerned about it being only accessible by boat if medical attention was needed? Also, enough to keep a 2 year old happy for a week? Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      There are simple medical clinics in Ao Nang and a hospital in Krabi. Really serious stuff and you’d have to get to either Phuket or Bangkok.

      There isn’t a lot in Railay besides the beach and the pool but if they’re like my kids that should be lots. We loved our time there.

      Reply
  83. SK

    Hi David,

    Great blog with lot of information. I wonder you can help us out in planning 7 nights in Thailand. We are looking for family holiday where there is good activity for kids but at the same time we can relax as well.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Phuket and Koh Samui have the most family-friendly activities. One way to get a good combination of fun for the kids and relaxation for the parents is to go to a resort that has a kids club.

      For example, the Four Seasons on Koh Samui has a top notch Kids’ Club that would keep the kids entertained through most of the day.

      Reply
  84. Su

    Hi David,

    Can I say how wonderful it was to stumble across your webpage! I have a 2 yr old and a 4 yr old and. We took the kids to India back in January, our first travelling experience with them and had such fun over there. Everything you say in your blog is so true and some of the moments were truly rewarding! We are planning our next few trips which I would appreciate some advice on.

    This December my husband and I are planning to take the kids to Thailand. We will be splitting our stay between Phuket & Bangkok. We have not booked our flights into the country yet and do not mind which place we visit first. We are also thinking about travelling to Cambodia from Thailand. Do you have any recommendations on where to go in Cambodia with kids and advice on how best to travel there from Thailand?

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      You can fly one-way from Bangkok to Phnom Penh on Air Asia, then a 4 or 5 hour boat trip to Siem Reap. From Siem Reap you can hire a car or take a bus to the border (3 hours), then train back to Bangkok (4 hours) – or fly Siem Reap to Bangkok on Bangkok Air (which I believe is the only direct flight). It’s a nice loop, with lots to see, and not too painful.

      Reply
  85. Kevin

    Hi David,

    My 12 year old son and I have 11 days over Christmas with a start and end out of BKK. Chiang Mai seemingly a must-see and would like to spend a few days at family-friendly beach, avoiding Phuket and party atmosphere. Also considered Angkor Wat since I teach history. Any thoughts on the best itinerary? Thanks for your kind help!

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      There are direct flights on Bangkok Air to Siem Reap from Bangkok. You could also fly to Phnom Penh, boat to Siem Reap, then bus and train back to Bangkok. Do the overnight train at least one-way between Chiang Mai and Bangkok.

      Reply
  86. Dylan Brake

    Hi David,

    Great reading here thanks for all the info. I am trying to plan a trip with my fiance and two children (7 and 3) The main purpose of the trip is to find a location for our weeding in early 2014. We were wanting to go to Vietnam and Thailand and compare the two to see which we prefer. We don’t want to waste the trip though and were hoping to do 10 days total whilst entertaing our kids in the process. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance – Dylan Brisbane Australia

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Bophut or Railay both come to mind as great places for a wedding. In both cases, very nice hotels on a beautiful beach. If you’re looking for something quieter and more secluded then try northwest and north coast of Koh Pha Ngan.

      Reply
  87. Jamie Mayoh-Bauche

    Hi David,

    My husband and I are heading to Thailand this March with our 18 month old for 3.5 weeks. Our itinerary is not confirmed but right now we are thinking of spending a bit of time in Bangkok, a few days in Ayuthaya and then heading to Ko Mak for a bit. We then want to head to Khao Sok National Park by train from Bangkok and finish up at Railay Beach.

    My biggest concern right now is travel in locations such as Bangkok. I have read that many taxis don’t have seatbelts so there is no point in bringing a car seat. Also in many smaller places travel by bike is recommended but I am guessing it is difficult or impossible to rent bikes with child seats. We obviously want to be as safe as possible but don’t want to drag around a lot of extra gear if it will not be helpful. What would you recommend in terms of getting around within a city or island.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Yeah, you’re right. Many taxis (even the nicer looking ones) don’t have seatbelts in the back. Some do however, so if you look around and ask your hotel for help you’ll eventually find something that works. Many people will do this for the longer trips, say if you’re hiring a car for the trip from Bangkok to Hua Hin, but for local stuff they just do it the Thai-way.

      Good luck.

      Reply
  88. Sharon

    Hi David, I am taking my 2 teens, 16 & 14 to Thailand this Jan. The kids wish list is Tigers, Monkeys & Elephants. As we live in Queensland, we have had several holidays on the Great Barrier Reef, and I plan to take spend some time in Bangkok and head north. My daughter really wants a beach holiday, so I was thinking Railay or Samui after reading your posts. Is there beaches up north with as dramatic coastlines and available snorkeling or do you think it best to catch a few days south or would Hua Hin be a good alternative. At this stage I think we will only have 2 1/2 weeks holiday. So thinking a few days in Bangkok, overnight train to Chiang Mai, overnight village stay, and ….. what would you recommend? Also, should I try and book accommodation now online for best deals as well as trains / flights or is it better to do once in Thailand?

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      The train is definitely “easier” to book in Thailand but since it sounds like you’ll be on a tight schedule I’d get it done in advance (and delivered to your hotel). Good info here on how to buy tickets online: How to buy train tickets from outside Thailand.

      Buy your plane tickets in advance too – and do this first before you book hotels or train as it has the least flexibility.

      You can get away with not booking hotels in advance but once again as you don’t have too much time no sense wasting your time hunting for hotels. January is also high season so you’ll do best having something booked.

      Samui or Railay are the way to go especially if you can get direct flights from Chiang Mai down to either Samui or Krabi airports. Semi-direct flights that go through Bangkok are nearly as good and will save you a big chunk of time from taking the train from the north to the south. Book soon as the cheapest tickets get snapped up early. Check http://flyorientthai.com, http://www.nokair.com, http://www.bangkokair.com, and http://www.airasia.com.

      Hua Hin is nice but takes just as much time and hassle to get to as flying to somewhere farther south. Good luck.

      Reply
      1. Sharon

        Thanks for the info David. we are back and had a great time. I got train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, but couldn’t get sleeper back so took VIP bus over night which was 6 hours faster and very comfortable having bigger seats and more leg room. I found public transport and taxis fabulous and easy in Bangkok, but in Chiang Mai I ended up renting the red cabs (?) for the day which was an excellent way to see everything at our own pace and very cheap. I think for parents worried about safety of child seats, forget the tuk tuks and go cabs or red cars. Koh Samui was much more expensive for public transport. Hiring bikes was off the table with my kids (too young for driving themselves and too old to get on back of me). Bikes were 200 baht and cars 1500 baht for the day. Both much cheaper than taxis, but I didn’t want the worry of driving, so opted for tours which were quite cheap. I was very impressed with how safe we all felt and the padlocks for the suitcases and money belts were unnecessary. Overall a very family friendly country :)

        Reply
  89. Francesca

    Hi dave, We’re going with 2 children (7,11) to thailand over christmas holiday for 3 weeks. We wanted to spend 2 weeks in the north/east and then go to the beaches for one week. We don’t like very much the “resort lifestyle”. Can you suggest an island or spot where we can spend time by the see but still keep contact with the inhabitants life, going to markets, etc..not stay only in a place with tourists? Is it still exhisting in thai a place with simple bungalow by the sea, in a village? Can you suggest the best place? Thank’s a lot

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I’d suggest Mae Nam on Koh Samui. It’s still touristy, for sure, but it feels more like a little Thai town than most places. It has two markets that are fun to visit (one is in the morning and starts at about 4am). Nathon is the main town on the island, has some great markets, and feels the most Thai – but it doesn’t have any good beaches to speak of. And that pretty much sums up the trade-off: if you want to be by a nice beach you’ll need to be around other tourists. If you want to be around the locals you’ll need to forego the beaches.

      Reply
  90. Helen

    Hi
    What an amazingly informative website, thank you so much.
    My husband and I are hoping to fly into Bangkok towards the end of July 2013 for 3 weeks (we realise this isn’t the best time of year but we are tied to summer holidays).
    We will be travelling with our 3 children (12, 9 and 2 years old). We want to stay in Bangkok for a couple of days to recover from the journey and see the sites and then we want to head south to Koh Sammet, for 10 days, as we have been advised this is a great destination. We then don’t really know what to do for a week before heading back to Bangkok. Do you have any ideas?
    We are wanting to try an overnight train somewhere as we have read from your site how fun it is for families (although I’m happy to save that for another trip to Thailand if necessary) and we also would like to do elephant rides. Apart from this we are clueless!
    Any help or advice would be much appreciated. Many thanks.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I’d do the overnight train ride to Chiang Mai. It’s the best place in Thailand to ride and see elephants and also a great way to see “the real Thailand” as there are many non-touristy towns and villages that you can visit from CM.

      Good luck.

      Reply
  91. Brad

    Hi David. Your blog has been very helpful. We will be in Thailand with some Thai friends over the holidays and wanted to visit Koh Samet right after New Year’s. Any recommendations for hotels? We have an 11 year old boy and would like to do some snorkeling. Thanks!

    Reply
  92. Julie

    Hi there, we are looking to travel to Thailand with our 2 boys age 2 and 4 years. We will probably have around 2 weeks. We thought we would try and head to one beach place and one other, limiting travel as much as we can within Thailand. We’ve been to Koh samui pre kids so we thought we’d give that a miss. We’d add in Ko Sok for a few days if we can without too much of a detour. Where would you recommend, trying to keep internal travel to a minimum?

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      There are so many places. The Krabi area has some great options and the airport has direct flights to Bangkok which saves a lot of time and effort. Railay makes a great base for seeing the area.

      Reply
  93. Francesca

    Hi David,
    I would like to go to koh Phayam, near Ranong. I am in Chang Mai and I don’t know how to plan the trip down with our 2 children. There is only one flight going from chang Mai to Puket. But there it is pretty far from the island. What do you suggest for traveling down there?
    Thanks
    Francesca

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      There is a ferry twice a day from Phayam pier to Koh Phayam (9:30 and 14:00). If those times don’t work for you, you can take a speed boat that will leave at pretty much any time but costs twice as much.

      Reply
  94. Ian Morris

    Hi David

    My wife and I are looking at around a 3 week holiday in Thailand after Christmas/New Year, spending a few days in Bangkok, and then the remaining bulk of the holiday in a beach location (Phuket or Ko Samui).

    We are considering booking flights and hotels seperately, rather than as a package, and wondered if you knew of, perhaps, a website where you can get deals on hotels if you’re staying for several days?

    Ian

    Reply
  95. Catherine

    Hi David, I am going to Thailand in July with my husband, a 4 and 6 year old and my 75 year old Mother. We have 5 days booked in both Bangkok and Phuket. We we hoping to add five or so days in another place, and were considering somewhere like Chiang Mai. My Mum’s asthma has recently flared up and I am now concerned it might be too polluted in CM. Any other suggestions for a non- beach stop? Thanks so much, Catherine

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Yes, the air in Chiang Mai can get bad but the worst months for air pollution are February and March. The rains arrive in May which brings humidity but clears the air a bit (and the farmers can no longer burn their fires which causes the smoke in the first place).

      Kanchanaburi is a good alternative to Chiang Mai. A beautiful area with national parks, elephant rides, waterfalls. And much closer to Bangkok than Chiang Mai.

      Good luck.

      Reply
  96. Sapna

    Hey there, you’ve got a wonderfully informative blog. My husband and I plan to take our two kids, aged 6, to Thailand in early June for about 10-12 days. I gather from your blog that the Andaman coast will have major rainfall during June and hence, going to, say, KohSamui, would be better than Phuket. We were thinking of 3-4 days in Bangkok, about 4 days in Koh Samui. Is it possible to take a train from Bangkok to Koh Samui? Is there another place we can visit, apart from these two? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Yes, there is a train from Bangkok to Surat Thani. It’s best if you can do an overnight train. Book in advance or immediately after you arrive (at the train station). 3 days in advance will usually be enough to secure sleeper tickets – but no guarantees. From Surat Thani you take a bus to the ferry terminal (about an hour) and then a ferry to Koh Samui (about an hour+ as well). Buy a combination ticket when you buy your train which will include the train, bus, and ferry tickets so you needn’t worry about separate tickets. (More info here on the train to Samui.) Koh Pha Ngan is a great island just north of Samui. You can take a ferry there from Samui that will take about 30 minutes. It’s less developed than Samui and a nice change of pace.

      Good luck.

      Reply
  97. Ly

    Hi David,

    We are planning to go to Thailand in Feb. with our 6 yrs old daughter and was wondering if we all need to take any vacinnes shot for precaution?

    Thanks…

    Reply
  98. Dean

    Hi there david im glad i found this site just a couple of questions to ask ..i am a single father of 2 young girls whom i see each fortnight and have them for the holidays ..im looking too take them too thailand or bali this yr not sure when but sometime around mid yr my kids are 5 and 6 yrs of age do you know of any good resorts that are catering for this age group and are farely resonabley priced bareing in mind im a single father on a budget..plus some good site seeing and places we would enjoy i also love golf and would like to play golf there aswell are baby sitters a concern within trust and safety of your child ..regards dean

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      You usually have to stay at a luxury hotel to find kids clubs. World Resort Koh Samui in Bophut is a great mid-range hotel with a nice pool and located right on the beach. Most hotels will be able to hook you up with a babysitter.

      Hope that helps. Cheers.

      Reply
  99. Maria

    Hello David, this site is so fantastic & just what I was looking for.

    Im planning a holiday to Thailand for 3weeks in mid December. Travelling from Paris with my husband and two children who will be aged 3 & 15months. Looking to head to chaing Mai (I’m convinced this is what we should do after reading this site). Where should we stay there given the ages of the kids? Planning to stay for 4-5 days max then I’m looking for a relaxed, beautiful, island beach. Those picture post card places that I’ve never been to. I’d like to do a bit of exploring on the island. Where would you recommend? Really struggling with this decision – it has to be ‘right’ and it has to be workable with the kids. Plus staying there for Xmas & new year & I want it to be special. Not asking for much then!!! :-) any help would be massively appreciated. Maria

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I would fly from Chiang Mai to Koh Samui (book early so you get a direct flight without stopping in Bangkok). Easy with kids as the airport on Koh Samui is minutes from some of the island’s best beaches. For New Years, I’m guessing that either Bophut or Choeng Mon would have a great family-friendly vibe.

      For hotels check these pages:
      http://samkip.com/chiangmai
      http://samkip.com/kohsamui

      Good luck.

      Reply
  100. Naima S

    Hello there…

    I’m planning for my first Thailand trip this June ’13 with my husband and a 2 yrs 8 months old hyper active son…. it will be a short trip of 5 n / 6 d so I need your help to plan it in such a way that we all enjoy our vacation without spending too much time in travelling from here and there…

    Reading through the comment above, I’m thinking of a combination of Bangkok and Chian Mei instead of the typical Bangkok and Phuket / Pataya. Will this be a good idea considering the duration and weather in particular at this time of the year?

    Also I’m very concerned about my son’s meals during the day as he’s not much exposed to restaurant foods and can’t handle hot and spicy food… will this add any limitations in my tour plan? Pls suggest…

    Also suggest me of some cheap but good hotels / serviced apartments (with refrigerator, microwave, bowls etc) in each of these cities.

    Regards…

    Reply
  101. Karin

    Hi David

    My husband and I are travelling with our 2 boys, ages 7 and 9, to Asia for 2 weeks in late December early January. We will have 15 days total, approx 7 of which will be spent in Hong Kong visiting Canadian relatives. The remaining 7 or 8 days we are going to Thailand, and are trying to decide between spending it in/around Chiang Mai, or in the south, likely Koh Samui. We’d love to do both the north and south, but are concerned we will be too short on time. We are looking for adventure and Thai culture, but the kids also love the beach. I realize due to time we probably can’t get too far off the beaten path. We are coming from Toronto, Canada, and will likely not be back that way for a while, so want to make sure we maximize our time, and that the kids have a really fun, interesting and unique experience.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I would do an overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai (the kids will love it) and then fly direct from Chiang Mai to Koh Samui (book early). You’ll have 3 full days in each place which isn’t a lot but is enough.

      Reply
  102. Jackie

    Hi David: Our family will travel to Thailand this July. We are really liking the sound of places like Railay and the islands on that side of the island. Are we really taking a risk with weather and things being open because it is low season? We don’t need a lot of touristy things but definitely will want to snorkel and enjoy the beaches and hike. Are there any islands that you would recommend as better during the low season? Otherwise if we stick to the east coast – what beach would you rank as most beautiful with good snorkeling? Thanks for any info! Love your blog.
    Jackie

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Yes, I guess I would say you are taking some risk with the weather. But you can also get a stretch of great weather in July too. The east coast (Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan) will usually get better weather in July than the west coast. Resorts in the north gulf coast (e.g. Hua Hin and Koh Samet) often have great weather all year round so they’re your best bet if you really want dry weather.

      Snorkeling and scuba diving are not great during the west coast rainy season so even if the weather is ok I would have modest expectations with clear high-visibility water.

      Hope that helps.

      Reply
  103. Nigel

    Hi David, Great site! My wife and I are coming to Thailand with our four and one year old boys. Two weeks from Dec 21st to Jan 5th. My wife’s sister has just moved to Khon Kaen with her Japanese husband. Wanting to spend a few days there and then travel with their family (2 girls aged 5 and 2) somewhere. Ideally would like some local village, elephants, national park sort of stuff for a few days (I’ve been to Chiang Mai years ago and would like somewhere different) and then a week or so on a beach (I’ve been to Koh Samui three times)..ideally nothing too tourist resorty, but nice-ish huts on a great beach (not in the old Charlie’s Huts style on Chaweng but the equivalent now I’m 38 and have kids!!) and then a day or so in Bangkok before flying out. Have read your other suggestions above and can’t quite make my mind up. Also what is Ko Chang like? Many thanks.!

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I’d visit Kanchanaburi (about 3 hours by bus or train from Bangkok). Lots of outdoor activities for kids and adults. There’s swimming in waterfalls, the Tiger Temple, elephant camps, and some of Thailand’s best national parks. It might be just what you’re looking for.

      Reply
  104. Andrea

    Love your site and wish I had found it earlier. We (my husband, myself, and 11 year old son) will be traveling through Thailand from June 22- July 22. We have nothing booked after our 3 nights in Bangkok, but our rough itinerary is night train to Chiang Mai, 5-7 days there. Get a rental car and travel south, stop at Sukothai, and on to Hua Hin. Drop the car and bus ferry to Koh Phangnan, 5 days on Bottle Beach. Go (how?) to Khoa Sok Park for three days and then to Phuket where we have a return flight home. First question do you think Bottle Beach will be good for swimming in July? The second question is do you have suggestions for sights/stops between Chiang Mai and Hua Hin if we drive? Third question do you think we are being too ambitious with distances, etc? We’re all experienced travelers, but have never been to Thailand. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Bottle Beach will be fine in July. As for driving and distances, driving in Thailand (and from CM to the south) is challenging but doable. That is a good distance. Personally, unless you had a week or more I would fly or take the train. Stops along the way would include Lampang, Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi (a bit out of the way), and Prachuap Khiri Khan. Both Avis and Budget have car rentals in CM and Hua Hin so either would work. Hope that helps.

      Reply
  105. andy

    Hi David,

    My wife and i are hoping to spend up to a month in thailand with our kids who will be 4.5 and 2 looking for recommendations on maybe a 2/3 stop stay – thinking maybe a few days in bangkok, then up north somewhere and then to an island. I have travelled thailand on my own before and spent a long time in chaing mai – is chaig rai or pai which i never went to child friendly ?

    cheers.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Both Pai and Chiang Rai have a family-friendly vibe. If you want a place to hang out and spend a few days relaxing they’re great. Just don’t be expecting kid-oriented attractions like in Bangkok or Chiang Mai. Lots of interesting and fun day trips from both if that’s what you’re looking for. Pai is much smaller than Chiang Rai but has a nearby waterfall and hot spring that kids will like.

      Reply
  106. David Viers

    Hi David,
    Going to Thailand with my two kids, ages 4 and 10, can’t wait. I was wondering if in the bigger ruins and temples that require biking around, is it ever possible to have a child seat in the back? Would you recommend Sukhothai with children?
    Thanks so much you’re site is so very helpful!

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I’ve never heard (or seen) a child seat on a bike. Some places do have bike carts (or bike taxis) that will seat multiple people. Sukhothai has a park-like setting and would be good if the kids are into sightseeing.

      Reply
  107. Emma

    Hi David,

    I leave for bangkok first week of August and going to Thailand for 3 weeks I’ve booked 5 nights in Bangkok and there are lots of things I want to do and see. I was planning to take the night train and go to Phuket and koh Lanta but I’ve just realised its rainy season. As I haven’t booked that part of my trip is it worth changing it to the other side, I want a mixed of fun activities , elephant trekking, cooking, water activities, site seeing and also pampering with maybe a bit of yoga or something to relax on before heading back.

    I’m also traveling alone as a female so any advice would be great.

    Money isn’t too much of a bother I’ve budget £1k for 3 weeks not including the flights and hotel in Bangkok I’ve already paid. So Hotel suggestions would be great.

    Thanks

    Emma

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Emma. It’s rainy season on both coasts. Considering your interests I think Phuket and Koh Lanta would be more in line. Perhaps fly one-way, Bangkok to Phuket, and then plan on the train north from Surat Thani to Bangkok (the train doesn’t go directly to Phuket so the closest stop is a 3 hour drive away). If the weather is lousy in Phuket you could stop in Hua Hin (which is on the train line to Bangkok) on the way north as it usually has better weather than the islands farther south. Just an idea. Hope that helps. Good luck.

      Reply
  108. Prachi

    Hi David,
    your web site is very helpful, lot of information.
    but i am still confused in deciding what place to visit so that i get a complete feel of Thailand.
    I will be traveling with Kid (4 yrs old) n my husband. I am interested in Bangkok and Pattaya but I am not able to decide between Koh Samui/Chiang Mai/ Hua Hin. which will be the best to visit. Oh Totally confused.. all sound same in terms of beaches. please help me in “selecting one” as i have budgetary constrains too.

    I am planning to visit in December end.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      In December both Koh Samui and Chiang Mai should have good weather (though there can still be rain until mid-December on K.S.). So I’d recommend those.

      Reply
  109. Kirsty

    Hi David, Great site.
    I am planning to travel to Thailand with husband and 4 kids (5-11) around March 2014. Dont have a timeframe yet, but a couple of months at least, could be longer depending on how much we spend! Do you know of any sites I could find some longer term cheap family accomodation, thought we may want to hang out at a beach or in the hills for a few weeks at a time. Also not too keen to do much plane travel, do you think we could train around the whole country easily/cheaply or do you think its worth booking some fights? Thanks

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Kirsty.

      For long-term accommodation look at AirBnb.com/Thailand.

      Getting around the country by train is cheap and easy – but some flights are so cheap and save so much time (e.g. getting from Chiang Mai to Krabi) that they make good sense. Book flights early and you’ll get the cheapest fare.

      Reply
  110. AD

    THANK YOU so much for putting all of this together. We’ll be travelling in December. This information is extremely helpful. I’ve been a little overwhelmed about where to go and what to do, as it’s our first time there, but now feel so much better.

    Excellent information :)

    Reply
  111. Kathryn Read

    Dave,

    I’m struggling to find accommodation on Chaweng beach for my family of 5. 2 adults 3 kids (11, 9 & 5)

    Any suggestions?

    Kathryn

    Reply
  112. Jamie

    Hi, Have found your site very informative, however am still trying to decide where to go. We (myself, husband and 2 children ages 8 and 6) will be going to Si sa ket to visit extended family for 4 days then Bangkok, Kanchanburi (don’t know whether to stay for 1 or 2 nights) then not sure whether to go to Koh Samui or ??. Ideally, I’d like to stay somewhere where the beach is breathtaking, but don’t want it too touristy. We will be going late Dec and only for 2 weeks.
    Thanks in advance :)

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Yes, Koh Samui would be great. Easy connections by air. But lots of choices. Koh Phangan and Krabi area would also be great.

      Reply
  113. Kdown29@googlemail.com

    Hi David,me an my partner an 4yr old daughter are planning to come to Thailand in December an we enjoy family day trips,markets,shopping where would you recommend to go/stay where we could do a bit if both?.

    Reply
  114. Ash

    Hi David,

    Very nice site and very pertinent information. Me, Wife & my 13 year old daughter are planning to go to Thailand in April End. I will spend 2 full days in Bangkok showing them around. Then I want to head to the beach for 4-5 nights. Can you please recommend an island & resort which suits our requirement. I want to chill and enjoy for 2 days like get massage, soak the sun on the beach and read a book, walk around, swim, drink, eat etc. Other 2 days we would like to do some activity like a day trip to some attraction, snorkelling or things that will interest a 13 year old girl.

    You help will be appreciated.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Koh Samui sounds perfect for you. Either Bophut or Choeng Mon for chilling out, or Chaweng for a bit more activity. Samui has direct flights from Bangkok which makes it great for a short trip. Good luck.

      Reply
  115. How to break things up?

    Hi David,
    Thank you so much for this site. This is the best discussion I have found on the web about Thailand.

    I am planning to visit Thailand June 28-July 12 (2 weeks) with my 10 year old daughter (I am a single mom).

    I have already decided that we’ll visit Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and the Koh Samui area. But I’m trying to decide whether to spend more time in Bangkok (4 days instead of 3 and do a day trip to Ayuthaya), or more time in Chiang Mai (and do day trips to the villages, as you suggest, or the caves, which sound interesting), or just do a 3/3/6 split and get at least 6 days on the coast.

    Assuming the weather will be just ok in July, what will be our better bet? Will Ayuthaya (potentially in the rain) be worth losing a day on the coast? Ditto for the villages around Chiang Mai?

    Thanks,
    Monika

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      We enjoyed Ayuthaya but it’s not a must see. If you’re going to Chiang Mai then you can easily skip Ayuthaya. (On the other hand you can visit Ayuthaya for a day then hop on the night train as it’s coming through from Bangkok and take it to Chiang Mai.) And just to make your decision harder still, the coast can get very nice weather in July. Just make a decision and go with it. No regrets right?

      Reply
  116. Travelling to Thailand in October first week with 4.5 month old baby

    Hello David,

    At the outset thanks for taking efforts in providing such insightful information.

    I had visited Bankgok Phuket and Phi-Phi in Aug 2008 and thought of revisiting our sweet memories, of course with expanded family of 2 boys accompanying us. My elder son is 5 years and younger one will be turning 4.5 months in October and was thinking whether it will be safe to travel to Thailand in October with lil one..especially considering the rains..Plan to cover Krabi / Bangkok.

    There have been some other blogs which do claim it is safe, nevertheless reading your posts – I was tempted to ask you this lingering question.

    I have had some prior experience travelling with my elder boy who was 5 months when we travelled to South Africa (that was more of a long term stay and not island hopping as this one would be).

    Will appreciate your response and do look forward to visit Thailand (If not this time – hopefully few years down the line!!)

    Many thanks in advance

    Yash

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      I consider Thailand a very safe country. Like pretty much everywhere the biggest risk is driving and being on the road – the single biggest thing you can do is try to only hire cars that have working seat belts in front and back (easier said than done and we’re far from perfect on this one). It will be rainy season so sea can be rough and unsafe at times but just use common sense and watch for the red flags which indicate dangerous swimming conditions.

      Reply
  117. Gairat

    Other than Samui, what do you advise close to Bangkok within an hour or so distance. We’ll be flying more than 6 hours from Tashkent and taking another plane with kids wouldn’t be enjoyable.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Pattaya (1.5 hours from Bangkok by car) and Hua Hin (2.5 hours from Bangkok) are both nice beach resorts. Pattaya has more to do but also has a seedier side. Hua Hin is quieter and more family-friendly.

      Reply
  118. Weather in October in Thailand

    Hi David, My husband and I are travelling with our 2 boys aged 10 & 8 and are planning a week in Thailand half way through October. We want to do some snorkelling and elephant rides and general beach relaxing. Where is the best place at this time of the year for the beach? What would be the best way to combine a few days in Chiang Mai with a good beach as well. Thanks heaps for your time.

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Chiang Mai in October is over the heavy rains and should be good for elephant rides and exploring. Unfortunately southern Thailand is getting hit with a lot of rain in October and good beach destinations are hard to find. Koh Samet in eastern Thailand is known for its drier climate so it might be a good choice but even there you can still see a lot of rain. I’d probably go for an island in western Thailand but it’s really just a flip of coin for that time of year.

      Reply
  119. Rikke

    Dear David
    I’m from Denmark – just overlooking your site with pleasure:-)
    We are a family of 2 adults and 4 kids (age-12-14) planning to go to Pran Buri 2 weeks during Christmas and new year time – 2014.
    We would love to make some special things with our teen kids. For instance elephant riding, cooking lessions – how to make the thaifood, visiting an International/or Thai school, visiting a reservat for baby animals (monkeys/elephants etc.) …. or just some of it, depends on possibilities. We think the best way will be to find a local guide to coordinate and make agreement for us to come and visit… Do you have any idea to help us…?
    We have planned this area because we also would like to play 3-4 rounds of golf during our time there, and this area are wonderful to golf.
    A second question… I have a little doubt whether we have choosen the wrong area… could it be better to choose Chiang Mai to full fill our whiches for the kids?? It is possible with golf in Chiang Mai area as well??
    Hope to receive your kind help.
    Thanks a lot.
    My best
    Rikke:-)

    Reply
  120. Jomtien Beach

    Pattaya has its seedier side but like anywhere it’s only there if you look for it. The number of activities that are available for young people and children is unrivaled anywhere else in Thailand.

    Reply
  121. Calm Beaches for Kids

    Hi David
    Lots of great advice on your site, thank you. My daughter (5) and I are spending a month in Thailand this Nov-Dec and I am in need of a bit of direction :o) Since I am travelling as a solo parent it’s important that we stay/go places where we will meet other people. I’m a seasoned backpacker…
    My daughter wants to start with the elephants (Chiang Mai and the nature park). Then I am contemplating a lake house “safari” on Khao Laem Lake. And then I want to hit the beaches for the remainder of our time. Just two, kids don’t like to move too much. But which ones???
    I’ve looked at Koh Pha Ngan (fond memories) – my no. 1 priority is a kid-friendly quiet beach with shallow water and a bungalow on the beach. I checked out Koh Samui too but I reckon I get more value for money in Koh Pha Ngan… And then there’s the West Coast… I’m drowning! I’m looking at 1500-2000 baht per night.
    I would love your input :o) Thank you!
    /tina

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Sounds like a great trip. For beaches I’d recommend Choeng Mon and Bophut on Koh Samui – quieter calm beaches that are still close to Chaweng if you want more shopping, restaurants, energy. Koh Phangan is great but if you’re wanting to limit travel and moving about maybe not the best choice. It’s another boat ride from Koh Samui and then a longish drive from the port up to the quieter beaches. All very doable and not too taxing but Koh Samui is definitely much easier. The airport is right there just 10 minutes from the beaches.

      Reply

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