Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Bangkok for Kids

This travel post is written by May and she blogs at A Million Little Echoes. She spent 4 days in Bangkok over the May Day weekend with her petite travellers Ewan (3 years) and Faye (1 year). Be warned that this is a kids-centric trip and every day was filled with activities only for Ewan and Faye's pleasure. It was a VERY TIRING trip (for the parents) but your children will thank you for it.

First off, allow me to share our experience on the accommodation we had chosen for this trip. We spent 3 nights in a 5-star (self-acclaimed luxury) business hotel and it fits the bill to Centrally-Located, Family Friendly and Affordable Rates!

GRANDE CENTRE POINT RATCHADAMRI is indeed a business hotel but ironically, houses children entertainment that surpasses all that we've experienced in the aforementioned international brands. Ours was a Grand Deluxe, their basic category, which is fully equipped with a mini kitchen and dining room. We were provided with a full-sized refrigerator, microwave, stove, pots and pans, utensils, washer/dryer and water boiler. Basically, we are ready to cook up three meals for little Faye who is a fussy eater!


On level F (the facilities floor), I call it the FUN floor, you will find a swimming pool surrounded by lush greens and timber decks, a playroom fully equipped with toys, a 85sqm indoor playground with a foosball table, a beautifully-maintained reading room which has an array of children's books, a movie room fully blacked-out and sound-proofed for the whole family to watch Baymax in and a gaming room with computers and headphones for the older kids. Did I mention that there is a resident lounge on the same floor for us parents to enjoy a freshly brewed cup of coffee while the children play to their hearts' content? Best of all, you need not pay anything extra than your room rate to enjoy these facilities. Not only were the children on cloud nine, the parents were too!



HAVING FUN WITH KIDS IN BANGKOK

ONE: FANTASIA LAGOON WATERPARK is located on the rooftop of a heartland mall. It took us 30 minutes to travel to The Mall BangKae with a metered taxi at 5pm. As it is away from the city, be warned that hardly anyone speaks English but hey, you still get to enjoy Uniqlo there.

The park was packed! When my husband saw the amount of people in there, he went, "Holy Cow!" Well, to be fair, it was a Saturday plus a long weekend and this is an affordable, fun-filled playground for the Thai locals. Putting the crowd aside, I felt that it was designed perfectly for children of all ages! There were shallow pools just for splash and play toddler-suitable pools that allow them to play safely amidst slides, (adult) waist-high pools for the whole family and a Slider Tower for the bold. For a birds-eye view of the city below, be sure to head up to the Tower if you have a chance.



The toilets. Well, on a crowded weekend, it is truly not for the faint-hearted. They were flooded and dirty. However, there is always an aunty on-site trying her best to provide you a drier and cleaner toilet. The showers are heated but all you get is a shower head and a hook for your towel in each cubicle.

Tip: Go on a weekday where there is no crowd to enjoy clean toilets! Otherwise, wear your slippers into the shower. Oh, and be careful on the slides as they are pretty slippery!

Address: 275 Moo 1, Petchkasem Rd. Phasicharoen Bangkok 10600 
Opening hours: 11am - 10pm
Where: Rooftop of The Mall Bangkae

TWO: AMUSEMENT PARK at The Mall Bangkae is situated just beneath Fantasia Lagoon! After all the water fun, we settled our dinner at a Japanese restaurant (which was an meal ordering disaster because the staff cannot speak English!) and spent our night away sitting kiddy rides and playing games. Ewan was so high from play, he almost refused to budge. It spans across the whole of Level 4 from end to end with eateries and a cinema in the middle. The cartoon town has fun looking houses, a painted sky, a carousal and even a tree with moving eyes. Oh the tree looks friendly but it frightened the children to the extent, Ewan wouldn't take the escalator next to it.



Did I mention about the indoor playground, arcade, fun-fare and suspended pirate ships (see picture below) that you can ride on? I would say go early for a day trip and take your time to enjoy the mall with shopping and play. It will be an exhausting trip but I bet you the children will absolutely love it!

Address: 275 Moo 1, Petchkasem Rd. Phasicharoen Bangkok 10600 
Opening hours: 10.30am - 10pm
Where: Level 4 of The Mall Bangkae

THREE: SAFARI WORLD is 40 minutes away from our hotel. We hired a metered taxi to bring us from the hotel to Safari World. The ride including the driving tour inside the park, cost us 425 Baht (S$17). Well, that is only the price we had to pay on the meter. If you cannot get a metered taxi, the usual full-day hire would be 1500 baht. Your driver will wait for you to be done with the Safari and Marine Park before sending you back.


We found it to be an eye-opening experience. Not only for the children but for us as well. We had a good laugh when we arrived and was told that we will be touring the safari in our taxi! I had expected to be dropped off at the entrance and be whisked off into a safari jeep or bus of some sort. But no, we went on a safari tour in our yellow cab while some other visitors came in SUVs and convertibles. Of course the convertibles weren't allowed to ride through the park without covering up.

The animals were free to roam about and we had close proximity to them from our windows! Even the tigers weren't caged up but warning signs were erected to remind you to keep your windows closed. Until today, 3 weeks after the trip, Ewan vividly recounts his experience at the Safari.

Tip: If you'd like to feed the giraffes, you will need tickets to the Marine Park, which is a traditional zoo with many interesting shows, river rides and photography opportunities with tiger cubs.

Address: 99 Panyaintra road, Samwatawantok, Klongsamwa

Opening hours:
Safari Park: 9am - 5pm
Marine Park: 9am - 6pm

For more details, visit the Safari World website.

FOUR: KIDZANIA BANGKOK was CRAZY FUN! I was so impressed with the setup that I wished I could be part of the excitement as well. This is a city made for children, allowing them to do everything they've never been able to outside these doors. They can hit the dance floor in a Discotheque, work in a Coca Cola factory or even scale the wall of a building as a secret agent on a mission! It is a world built entirely out of imagination and is truly engaging! They say we learn from experience. KidZania is just the place for our children to learn about occupations and discipline first-hand through role-play. 


This city belongs to the children so naturally, adults are prohibited. We were allowed to enter the city but we had to wait outside the courtroom while they play judge or police station as they go through a roll call to nab a thief! Ewan, who is almost 3 years old, was underaged for majority of the experiences. We would thus recommend Kidzania for children above the age of 4.

TIP 1: Avoid weekends and public holidays because the queue at each experience is going to take you at least 30 minutes.

TIP 2: Work for McDonald's close to lunch hour so that your child can make his own hamburger for lunch!

Address: Siam Paragon Shopping Centre, Level 5 
Opening hours:
Weekdays: 10am - 5pm
Weekends: 10.30am - 8.30pm


FIVE: SEA LIFE OCEAN WORLD is in the same shopping mall as KidZania. So, if you have time for it in a day's trip or residing just a stone's throw away, do pay a visit! Regretfully we missed this one because we ran out of time, having spent a tad too long at KidZania (it was too fun to leave early for an afternoon nap).

Based on rave reviews, this underground aquarium seems too good to be missed. There are activities for the whole family to enjoy like no other aquariums I've known. You can take a ride on a glass-bottom boat in the aquarium (180 baht), tour the back of the house to check out the "Aquatic Quarantine and Nursery Centre" (250 baht), go for an underwater walk amongst astounding sea creatures in a dive suit and 180 degree helmet (2000 baht), have a chance to dive amongst sharks and sting rays (5300 baht to 6600 baht depending on diving experience) and experience a 25-minute 5D virtual reality adventure (250 baht).


We also read that children can enjoy a feet massage therapy by little fish at the Happy Feet Pool, be educated at the Rocky Shore and Diver Underwater Talks, witness first-hand the feeding of sharks, otters and penguins and get the opportunity to feed freshwater fish from the Feeding Pier in the Rainforest. How exciting!

Address: Siam Paragon Shopping Centre, Basement

Opening hours: 10am - 9pm 


SIX: TUK TUK is a motorised rickshaw which used to be everyone's favourite mode of transportation before taxis and the BTS. Today, it becomes a popular (though cut-throat) tourist ride which I fall foolishly into paying exorbitant prices in exchange for the experience. They charge a rate of 150 baht for a short distance which would have cost us only 50 baht if we took a metered taxi. Oh yes, that's 3 times the price but then again, 150 baht is only S$6. A small sum to pay to make Ewan absolutely high from the ride. Tuk Tuk drivers are known to be reckless, whisking in and out of traffic at high speed. The wind in your hair and sharp manoeuvring around the bends were the highlights of the drive for Ewan. *haha* So, hold on real tight to the children and make sure you don't get thrown out! There is no harm giving it a go.


Tip: Avoid taking a tuk tuk during peak hours (0700 to 0900 hours and 1600 to 1900 hours). You don't want to be stuck in traffic for hours at end!
As you can see, a trip to Bangkok can be fun for all but if you'd like to accomplish every activity stated here PLUS shopping and eating, do plan for a week's stay. There is much more to do in Bangkok than these 6 activities I've shared; you can visit the Trick Eye Museum, Madame Tussauds, or even fly a Boeing 737!

If you have been longing for a trip to the land of smiles but shelved it because it just seems impossible to lug the kids, you've every reason to convince the husband now. ;)
 
For more on Bangkok:
10 Nov 14: Bangkok Cafe-Hop

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