I already wrote a post with general tips for taking on Bangkok with toddlers, but this is a more specific look at exactly where we went and what we did during our 5 days in Bangkok.
- Wat Pho
- The reclining Buddha is the largest Buddha in Thailand and the main reason tourists visit Wat Pho. We had been prepared to pop in and out quickly, but ended up spending the entire morning exploring the complex. In addition to the reclining Buddha, Wat Pho houses over 1000 other Buddha images! That’s more then any other temple in Thailand.
- Wat Pho is home to the first school of traditional Thai massage. It still houses a massage school and you can sign up for a 30 minute massage for a little less then $7.50 USD. We didn’t take advantage of that but I would be interested in checking it out if I ever make it back sans-children. The massages take place in an open pavilion and are supposed to be a social experience. (Also, supposed to be very painful, we skipped the Thai massage and opted for Swedish ones in the hotel spa. Shame on us.)
- Once you leave the temple with the reclining Buddha and the immediate area, the crowd thins significantly and in some spots we were able to meander about in almost privacy.
Those white washed walls with those ceramic flowers make me swoon.
Incredible details on the buildings and Buddha’s pillow.
All the Buddhas! See how rosy my little squirts were? Bring lots of water!
- The Jim Thompson House
- Wow we loved this spot! I feel almost embarrassed to admit that touring the house of an American was one of the highlights of our trip, but it was the perfect combination of beauty, architecture, eccentricity, and mystery. Definitely do not miss this!
- Walking in off the street we felt as though we had stepped out of the city and into a secluded jungle village. The trees were clearly designed for acoustics and it’s easy to forget you’re in the middle of Bangkok! The grounds are beautiful and there is a little restaurant that we enjoyed very much. We had a Mint-Lychee smoothie that was worth dying for. Prices are steep for Thailand but in-line with American restaurants.
- If you have kids, this is a great spot to play for a bit before your tour. My kids loved playing with the little rocks in the gravel area, looking at the turtles and fish, and exploring the garden.
- We weren’t familiar with the clothing/fabric brand, but we fell in love with it. This made the gift shop dangerous, since it’s prices are only slightly discounted to what you would see for the same stuff in America.
She fell asleep during the tour and finished her nap at the cafe.
- Jim Thompson Outlet
- As I mentioned below the Jim Thompson brand turned out to be dangerous. We ended up buying things at the museum, the outlet, and the store at the mall. The outlet can be worth the trip if you love fabric, clothing, purses, or just want another shot at that Mint-Lychee smoothie.
Here we are waiting for the SkyTrain with all our Jim Thompson outlet bags!
- The Grand Palace
- This had to be #1 on our list of places to go in Bangkok and we’d done some research so we knew to expect crowds, but we were utterly unprepared for the sheer number of people visiting with us. The temperature in the complex had to be an additional 10 degrees outdoors with everyone crushed together as we were. If not for this, it was an amazing complex, but with the crowds we preferred Wat Pho.
That arch represents the turning point in the line, but past that point it was almost equidistant and more crowded to get into the complex.
Taking a break from the crowds!
- The Flower Market
- I love flower markets and was really excited for this one. It was a little bit confusing to walk to so I would recommend taking a TukTuk, but it’s worth the visit! Not much to elaborate on, just lots and lots of flowers!
K was not impressed.
HJ was more impressed once we had her properly ornamented!
- Koh Lorn
- This one is not in Bangkok, but is a doable taxi + ferry ride away. We arranged for a taxi through the hotel and then had our taxi driver negotiate with a private speedboat. It was significantly more expensive then the ferry, but since we had no idea where to find the ferry we ended up taking the easier route.
- If you take a private speedboat it will stop at a platform halfway to Koh Lorn and you will be given the option of parasailing for some ridiculously cheap price (I’m remembering about $15 USD). Do it! Their operation is crazy and I’m sure it would never fly in the US, but it was a great experience. My Mom and I took turns watching the kids and being thrust into harnesses at the speed of light. They had two boats going, each ride lasted roughly a minute and I would estimate that each harness was not in the air for a maximum of 30 seconds. That’s how quickly they were getting through people. The view of Pattaya is incredible and they will give you the option of getting dunked mid-flight. Do it! My dunking was only waist high but my Mom went in over her head.
- Koh Lorn was beautiful and packed. The sand was white and the water was clear, but the other tourists were all around and very eager to hold, take pictures with, hug, etc. my children. HJ was accommodating for the first couple pictures and then started screaming like a banshee when ever someone approached her.
- Koh Lorn was the only place we visited that I wouldn’t recommend. It took a lot of time to get there and the crowds really detracted from the pristine beach experience. I’d love to go further south to some of Thailand’s more remote beaches!
- Floating Market of Pattaya
- If at all possible you want to visit one of the weekend floating markets. This wasn’t an option for us since we were only in town Monday-Friday, but we could definitely tell that the weekends were when things really happened. Even with that, it’s still worth the trip, even if we were slightly disappointed.
- I would recommend skipping the animal show that is offered as part of the package. The kids loved it but Mom and I were pretty uneasy about the way the monkeys were treated and that took away any enjoyment it otherwise might have brought.
- We took advantage of the fish spa and that was a cool experience. Even HJ got in on it and found it hilarious.
- Also, not in Bangkok but worth making a day trip. This was the original capital of Thailand that was burned in the 18th century by the Burmese army. We took a car arranged by our hotel and allowed our driver to set the itinerary which included several ruins and temples.
- Wat Lokayasutharam was my favorite and should not be missed. This hardly qualifies as a ruin since it is mostly intact and still contains an active temple and school. I am a big fan of the clothed Buddhas, such a statement.
- We each took an elephant ride around the city. Hindsight being 20-20, I would not recommend doing this with a child under 2. My son squirmed the entire time which made me, the driver, and the elephant very nervous. My daughter sat perfectly still and transfixed the entire time, so just evaluate your child’s temperament and attention span.
- If you’re not inclined towards elephant riding, feeding them is just as fun! For 50 baht we received 2 baskets of food and the kids had a ball passing corn and zucchini to each elephant. It was very sweet to see my daughter carefully make sure each got an equal share. The elephants are not particularly well contained though, and one got out of his pen to circle around us to try for the food from the back. It was not aggressive at all, but as you can imagine, I was very uncomfortable with this.
- The Malls of Bangkok!
- I was very skeptical when I heard and read multiple recommendation that we should eat at the malls in Bangkok. We are flying halfway around the world! We want an authentic cultural experience! Still true, and I don’t recommend spending all your time in malls, but they are worth a visit. Especially if your hotel is attached to one, like ours was! The food options are extensive, and some malls even have food courts featuring Bangkok street food specialties!
- If you come to shop, expect the same prices as back home. We price compared some Coach purses and they were exactly what you would find in the US.
- If you don’t want to take a dedicated trip to the mall, cut through any you come across as you walk to your destination. Some of them take up several city blocks and they are all air conditioned.
- Red Sky Rooftop Bar and Restaurant
- This was easy for us because it was in our hotel, but it’s a destination spot for tourists all over Bangkok. We sat in the open air on the 55th floor and enjoyed our drinks and dessert while taking in the incredible Bangkok skyline. The musical entertainment was quite good too. Just don’t expect Bangkok’s signature low prices here!
So that’s what we did during our 5 days in Bangkok. I fell in love with Thailand and am anxious to get back. Especially since my husband didn’t experience any of this and just worked the whole time!
My husband and I both picked up magnets in Bangkok and I struggle to decide what to do about that. We should only have one, one must go! I can’t get rid of this, it came from Bangkok! In the meantime, the one I’ve share here is the one Chris picked out.