Bangkok is one of our favourite cities in Asia, and we’ve been there a few times before, including when Sophie was 16 months old and she took her first tuk tuk ride. There’s plenty to do there with kids, the trouble is finding time to fit it all in! We had a week staying in this fabulous city and enjoyed many of the sights and things to do.
However, it was April and the hottest time of the year to be in Bangkok – we knew this in advance – and to top this off a heat wave was rolling into the city. Try 39 degrees with high humidity meaning it felt like around 43 degrees celcius!
The extreme heat meant that we had to be a little careful about the level of “exploring” we put the kids through, so we didn’t end up doing some of the activities we’d planned, plus we were a bit travel weary after 3 weeks of fast paced travel around Sri Lanka so needed some downtime. The good news is though that there are so many indoor activities you can do in air-conditioned comfort.
One of the upsides to visiting Bangkok at this time of year is that it’s the Thai New Year Festival called Songkran. It’s basically a 3 day long giant nationwide waterfight, where people good naturedly splash one another with water, get dressed up in gaudy floral shirts and generally have a good time. Songkran is an important date on the Buddhist calendar, where traditionally it’s a time of renewal and to wash your sins away – hence the water everywhere.
We got our first taste of Songkran when we arrived early morning to our apartment then ventured out to get something to eat. About 100 metres down the road we walked passed a group of friendly looking locals with massive water guns and buckets of water who then proceeded to shoot and pour water over us until we were soaked through.
Apparently there were calls from the Government this year to hold back on water usage as the country was experiencing a drought, though we didn’t see too much evidence of restraint. There were waterpistol stalls everywhere and thousands of locals and tourists walking around shooting water at everyone. A whole lot of fun, though Jack was very disappointed when we told him we didn’t have the room for a 3 foot waterpistol in his backpack….
We had spent a day at Kidzania in Kuala Lumpur earlier in our trip and the kids had really enjoyed it, so we’d had a return trip booked in for Bangkok for a while (the lure of these types of excursions are very handy when you’re looking for your kids to behave – “if you don’t behave you won’t get to go to Kidzania…” etc).
Kidzania Bangkok is located on the 6th floor of the Royal Paragon mall and we arrived pretty close to opening time at 9.30am to make the most of he day. We managed to get a 50% discount on the entrance fees when we presented boarding passes for one of the many Air Asia flights we have taken in the last few months (Air Asia are one of the principal sponsors / advertisers at Kidzania).
Surprisingly, we found the Bangkok Kidzania to be a lot less crowded than the KL version. We’re not sure whether this was due to the New Year holidays, but no matter what he reason, it meant that we spent a lot less time queuing up, which was nice!
As in KL, the idea of Kidzania is that the kids earn money by doing “jobs” – anything from being a fireman to being doctor. Amongst other things, Sophie and Jack participated in a theatre production of Peter Pan (Jack was Peter and Soph was Tinkerbell):
Making a McDonalds hamburger:
Worked in a vet clinic:
Worked in a gas station:
Did some colouring:
Made some iced tea:
Put out a fire (again):
Designed a car and then sold one at the Honda dealership:
Shopped at the store and worked behind the checkout:
Took part in a dance show:
And here’s a little video of them taking part in the show (Sophie is in the gold jacket and Jack in the black jacket and hat):
Soph also managed to spend a little bit of her hard earned “kiddos” on a manicure!
They had a great time, and were completely stuffed at the end of a hard day’s work!
Ice skating at CentralWorld
Next to Royal Paragon mall is CentralWorld mall, which is the sixth largest shopping mall in the world. On the second floor there’s an ice skating rink which you can go to for an hour long session.
Kylie, Soph and Jack got an hour pass, hired a penguin stabiliser for Jack to sit on and hit the ice (not literally, thankfully). I was a little out of practice so offered to take the photos…
Going to the movies
The movie theatres at Royal Paragon mall were awesome, and there are a variety of different screens and level of comfort you can choose from including 4D, IMAX and a cinema that has real-life effects like moving seats, smoke and water splashes at appropriate times!
We saw The Jungle Book which was a touch scary for Jack in one or two spots, but he was adamant he thoroughly enjoyed it. We all enjoyed the chandeliers in the foyer and comfy seats. It wasn’t as cheap as going to the movies in KL, but still way cheaper than back home in New Zealand.
Rangnam Road was about 300 metres down from our apartment, and it’s known as a good place to eat Thai style street food.
We became very familiar with the lady selling mango and sticky rice off the side of the road and also had some delicious soup and noodles from a stall down the eastern end of the street for under US$1 each.
I also found a restaurant selling amazing chicken wings, though it didn’t have an English sign out the front so I have no idea what it was called (it was always full of locals so I knew it must be good). They also do a delicious chicken, vegetable and rice dish.
Half way down the road there’s also a good little park with a playground for the kids, and plenty of room to sit and have a picnic if you get some food to takeaway.
Chatuchuk Weekend Markets
We headed out on Saturday morning to the Chatuchuk Weekend Markets, the largest markets in Bangkok, situated close to the last stop on the BTS (Mo Chit station).
Pretty blossoms next to Chatachuk Market, taken from Mo Chit station.
The markets had everything from shoes to jewellery to antiques to health food. It was very hot when we were there, so we only lasted 2 hours, including a couple of drink stops (and a surprisingly clean toilet stop for Jack when he had an “I need to do a poo” emergency).
Soph trying to cool off at Chatachuk markets
We could have definitely stayed longer if it was cooler, and we could have definitely purchased a lot more if we had either the budget or the room in our two backpacks to carry it! As it was we got a couple of pairs of elephant trousers (famous all over Asia) for about US$3 each! Well worth a visit though.
MBK food court
Yes we love Thai food! On the 4th floor of the MBK mall there’s a great street food style food court selling all sorts of great food from all around Asia. You need to buy a card on the way in to the food court – we put about US$15/NZ$20 on our card and that was perfect for a big meal for the four of us. Each stall just debits the cost of the food or drink as you buy.
We had delicious curries and noodles and the kids were perfectly happy with a plate of gyoza each followed by sticky rice and mango. It was a perfect way to sample some great street food without the hygiene nervousness!
Fragrant fishball soup
Where we stayed
In Bangkok we stayed in another great apartment we found on AirBNB, about 10 minutes drive up the road from the Royal Paragon and MBK malls, and walking distance to Rangnam Street where there were a whole host of great restaurants.
The apartment had 2 small bedrooms and a fold out sofa couch, plus a kitchen with light cooking facilities so we could do our breakfasts and the odd dinner (it was actually cheaper to eat out than do our own cooking.) It had excellent WiFi, cable and DVD/BluRay player.
The kitchen and bedroom one
The master bedroom
There was a great pool in the condo complex for cooling off in the extreme heat, a gym and and excellent DIY laundry facilities, high on our priority list!
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