This last year Chris had an opportunity to attend a conference in Bangkok. Obviously this was not something I was going to miss out on, so I recruited my Mom and we set off for the other side of the world!
The kids were 30 months and 14 months when we went, so here are my tips for making the most of your trip with toddlers!
#1 Come prepared for a long flight!
- Bring a cooler with ice, Asian airlines do not carry milk so make sure you bring your own. Our cooler did not stay cold the whole 24 hours, but if we’d had more time in Beijing I was planning to load up on ice from a restaurant.
- Pack whole apples, lollipops, beef jerky, and/or gum for the pressure changes. Anything that gets their jaws moving will help, and if your child still uses a pacifier or a bottle, capitalize on that!
- Try to stick with healthy snacks with one of two treats for emergencies. For a long flight you don’t want to deal with the sugar highs and crashes.
A sweet couple entertaining K on the flight from Beijing to Bangkok.
#2 Splurge on a nicer hotel.
- We chose The Centara Grand since Chris’s conference was there. It was only $120/night (expensive for Bangkok, totally reasonable for the US!) so it’s not that much of a splurge. I would even go further and recommend this specific hotel because we had such a great experience.
- The time change means you are going to spend a lot of time in the room. We had a sitting area with a view of the city and a sleeping area. This really came in handy when the kids were up at 1 am and my Mom and I were trading off sleeping and playing with them.
- Get access to a pool. Bangkok is hot and a quick dip with the kids feels awesome after a day of sightseeing.
- Make sure there is 24/7 room service! In the US I would never order room service, especially not for my children, but the time change means you’ll be up all hours of the night and those kids will be hungry!
- In lines with the above, make sure you have a fridge in the room. When the kids woke up for the day at 1 am they weren’t looking to wait for their morning milk!
The best way to end a day in Bangkok!
#3 Embrace public transportation.
- We took the SkyTrain and the Ferries and had great experiences on both. The SkyTrain was so clean and it was amazing to see so many people lined up neatly and politely to let people exit before filing on. We took a taxi in the city one time and regretted it the entire ride. It is just not worth sitting in traffic!
- We brought our own life vests for the children and wore them on all the ferries and also in the floating market. It was a pain to lug them around, but the peace of mind was worth it. Googling “Ferry accident Bangkok” should be enough to convince anyone in your party who doesn’t want to bother with this step.
Waving to Bangkok in her properly fitting PFD.
#4 Embrace the Thai love of children.
- We found the Thai people in Bangkok delightful when it came to our kids. They were loving and doting but still maintained what we thought were acceptable boundaries.
- Caveat: Tourists in Thailand are a different story. The day we spent on the beach in Koh Larn was entirely spent warding off tourists who wanted to harass the children to tears.
A sweet Thai woman helping HJ see the turtles.
A crowd of tourists clambering to hold and take pictures of the kids.
#5 Leave the strollers at home.
The streets are old and uneven and it will end up being more trouble than it’s worth. We brought our Tula carrier and Toddler Tula carrier and relied heavily on them. It was hot carrying them around, but I still think it was the best way to get around. If I have another baby I’ll probably invest in the more breathable Tula Coast carrier.
- If you travel with your carriers a lot I would invest in a bag that can be worn under or over the baby. We have a Slingyroo and get a lot of use out of it.
Babywearing in the flower market. You can also see that our life vests were hooked to our carriers.
#6 Plan on resting a lot.
- Whether this means hopping on a Tuk Tuk or stopping at every air conditioned restaurant, don’t overdo it. The kids will be tired and hot and the more frequently you rest the happier everyone will be.
Resting and reading the entry tickets.
#7 Dress for success!
- Long sleeved but very light weight apparel.
- Sun hats. (We use Sun Day Afternoons for the kids since they are breathable and cover the neck.)
- Wear sneakers. With the heat it can be tempting to wear sandals, but the streets are dirty and you’ll be walking a lot, so just wear sneakers and thank me later!
- Get as close to full coverage as possible while swimming.
- For babies, we love Stingray full body suits. After I put a hat on them I only have to do a little sunscreen on the backs of their hands and their nose.
- For toddlers we use SwimZip, but any long sleeved suit with leg protection will work. I have yet to find a swimsuit with long pants for toddlers and kids, any suggestions?
- Come prepared for mosquitos. We didn’t even see any during our March trip, but we came prepared with mosquito repellent bracelets. We put them on arms and legs and, who knows, maybe they were the reason we didn’t have problems!
And my number one tip for taking on Bangkok with toddlers?
#8 Do it!
- Wow, it was an amazing trip and I’m so glad we went. There were definitely difficult moments with the little ones, but we have those at home too! Vive la Aventura!