Bangkok with kids, yes or no? At the beginning of your journey or at the end of your Thailand adventure? Choose accommodation in the historic part or rather in the modern metropolis? Bangkok is definitely a ‘yes’ with children. We planned it in the middle of our trip, between quiet Chiang Mai in the north and tropical Khao Sok in the south. A success, as it turned out. This metropolis is absolutely not to be missed in your trip with teenagers. Board our journey to this fascinating metropolis. The highlights of Bangkok in 2 days.
From Damnoen Saduak and Maeklong Railway Market to Bangkok
We headed to Bangkok returning from Kanchanaburi. Ideal to visit some of Bangkok’s well-known markets before our arrival in downtown Bangkok.
We start early in the morning at the floating market of Damnoen Saduak, often pictured in travel guides. Popular and busy, very busy. We expected a lot of traditional floating boats with vendors on the water, selling their goods to tourists and locals. Instead, we only see a few and crowds of tourists with fluorescent life jackets in motorboats instead. And along the waterfront hundreds of souvenir shops, all more or less selling the same stuff. Not our cup of tea.
We take a few photos, leave the market for what it is and drive to another spectacular market, the Maeklong Railway Market. This market is one of a kind and definitely worth a visit. It’s a traditional Thai market with fresh vegetables, fruits, fish and meat and the occasional souvenir… on a railway. As soon as the train arrives, all the market stalls are pulled ‘inside’ and the goods are removed from the railway until the train has passed. The effect is spectacular. The train passes at barely 20 centimetres …
Golden splendour and exquisite Buddhas
On day 2 we visit the main touristic sights in Bangkok. We start the day with a good breakfast in a local restaurant, right in front of the hotel. We are not really fond of the international breakfast buffet the hotel serves …
After breakfast, we head towards the Grand Palace in the old, historic center, a walk for about 20 minutes. During our walk, we enjoy the bustle of Bangkok: busy roads full of cars and tuk tuks, large, overcrowded crossings, special electrical boxes and food stalls along the way. And everywhere, really everywhere: images of the king, decorated with gold and yellow. Getting to the palace is an adventure itself! The royal domain is impressive. Inside it’s very crowded and there are more than 100 buildings on the palace grounds, we are happy with the included map.
We enter the main gates and marvel at all the splendour, because that’s it. Exquisite wall paintings, elaborated in the finest, golden details. Between the buildings perfectly cut bonsai trees, stone figurines, golden chedis. And gold leaf. Lots of gold leaf.
Impressive, beautiful gatekeepers protect ‘the Wat Phra Kaew’ or ‘the Temple of the Emerald Buddha’ and keep the evil spirits away. This temple is the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand. The exterior is absolutely gorgeous. The walls and pillars are covered with thousands of small mosaics and gemstones in different colors which, together with the omnipresent gold leaf, provide a magical view.
Luckily, we are wearing the proper clothes for visiting: long trousers, covered shoulders and a bag to take out our shoes. In the temple the Buddha statue, barely 66 cm high and made of Jade and thus not of Emerald, is displayed on a golden altar. Here again beautiful wall paintings in gold, depicting the life of the Buddha. In front of the Buddha, at a distance, believers kneel down. It’s forbidden to come close, that honor is only reserved for the king or crown prince, who is also allowed to change the robes of the Buddha three times a year. During our visit, the Buddha wears a crown and jewelry,
After visiting this impressive temple, we wander around the huge domain, about 95 hectares. Our next stop is the actual Royal Palace, nowadays only used on special occasions. It is an imposing white building with golden roofs and real gatekeepers. In front you can see the impressive golden throne.
We also stop for a while at a small temporary Batik exhibition, where the two youngest try out stamps and patterns. A breath of fresh air in the busy palace.
In the afternoon we visit another temple, the Wat Pho, the largest and oldest temple in Bangkok and known for its ‘Reclining Buddha’ which is 46 meters long and 15 meters high. The Buddha is simply impressive, the children are amazed. The enormous, gilded sculpture has been worked out in detail and the soles of the feet are special: each sole is decorated with 108 mother-of-pearl characters, which express prosperity. We admire the temple complex itself, which is splendid: guards at both entrances and exits and exquisitely decorated stupas in the surrounding gardens.
Enough temples for one day. After Wat Pho, we head for the water.
A few 100 meters from Wat Pho, at Tha Tien pier, we take a real Thai ferry across the Chao Phraya River to Wat Arun, the ‘Temple of Dawn’, another famous Bangkok temple. Together with the locals, we queue through the Tha Tien Market for a ticket for 4 (!) Bath per person. An ideal way to explore Bangkok’s ‘waterfront’, albeit briefly, and see modern Bangkok rise in the distance. We no longer have the energy to visit the temple itself, but the view alone is worth the trip.
Khao San Road
Not to miss in Bangkok: an evening on Khao San Road, one of the most famous street food streets in the city. Our hotel, Nuovo City, is located right in the old quarter of Bangkok and within walking distance. It is a pleasant pedestrian street with lots of souvenir shops and food stalls, ranging from smoothies to noodles, papaya salad, rice, mango white sticky rice, satays and even scorpions and beetles, all stir-fried, fried or grilled in front of you. It’s overwhelming. Tasty, easy and cheap. We find a cozy restaurant where we order some typical Thai dishes. And try a Thai ‘pancake with Nutella’ at one of the food stands and some freshly squeezed smoothies afterwards.
Bangkok is busy, very busy but definitely worth a visit. There is a lot to do, also for children.
Our top 3 Bangkok
- Grand Palace
- Khao San Road
- A boat trip on the Chao Phraya rivier
- You can easily spend a week in Bangkok, there is so much to see and do. However, two days are sufficient to see the main highlights in the old center and experience the unique Bangkok atmosphere. The Royal Palace is a must see, combined with one or more temples. You then even have enough time to enjoy the typical ‘street foods’ – Khao San Road is a must – and take a boat trip on the Chao Phraya River.
- Book your accommodation in the historic center. This saves a lot of travel time and you can enjoy Bangkok on foot.
- We planned our visit to Bangkok in the middle of our trip and found this ideal: a nice transition between the quiet north and the tropical south. You are also used to the Thai culture and you find your way more easily.
- There’s really no need to carry food into Bangkok. Literally everywhere you find ‘street food’, ‘food stalls’ with good quality food at a low price. Be sure to taste the delicious desserts and don’t forget the smoothies!
- On Khao San Road you can do great souvenir shopping in the evening. Bidding is the message.
- You can buy water everywhere, often chilled, even in the temple complexes. Sometimes you can even refill your drinking bottle, but always check whether the water is a drinkable.
- Prepare yourself for a temple visit. Always wear appropriate clothing. We find it easier to put on long pants or a T-shirt in the morning, rather than carry heavy backpacks.
- There are several ways to take a boat trip. A simple ferry at the Tha Tien pier is already worth the effort and can easily be combined with the Wat Pho. Moreover, you walk right through the Tha Tien market, ideal for souvenir shopping.
We stayed at the ‘Nouvo City Hotel’, a modern boutique hotel in the Khao San area. It is a comfortable hotel at a reasonable price. We paid 12,920 THB for 2 nights and 2 Grand Deluxe triples. We only booked the overnight stay. The international breakfast buffet did not appeal to us and we had breakfast in a local restaurant, just in front of the hotel. There are plenty of restaurants nearby.
Khao San Road is only a ten minute walk away and the Royal Palace is about 20 minutes away. A plus for the kids is the lovely rooftop pool, with free sun loungers and towels and a small bar. From the roof you have a beautiful view of Bangkok.
Bangkok is as expensive as you choose. An idea of some costs:
- Accommodation (hotel with swimming pool in the historic center: 12 920 THB (ongeveer 360 €, 2 nachten en 2 Grand Deluxe triples)
- Grand Palace: 500 THB (14 € per adult and children bigger dan 120 cm)
- Wat Pho: 100 THB (2,8 €)
- Ferry Tha Thien Pier: 4 THB per person (0,11 €)