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Visiting Thailand

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Thinking of travel to Chiang Mai with teen

Feb 2006

My son (15) and I want to take Thai language lessons in Thailand. Has anyone ever done this? Can you recommend a school? We're more interested in places outside Bangkok than in the city. We're thinking of Chiang Mai. What will the weather be like in northern Thailand in August, which is the only time we can go. Thanks for any information. Linda


When we were in Thailand in late July/early August, it was pretty hot everywhere we went, including Chiang Mai. Generally I found Thailand hot and humid, and well worth any discomfort. We got used to having a rest from the heat (in our hotel) after lunch--did our exploring in the morning and later afternoon/evening. It rained part of the time, too, but it wasn't cold. We loved Chiang Mai--I found it much more appealing than Bangkok, which is interesting but can be overwhelming. (Didn't take any language lessons.) Lisa

Thailand with teens

April 2005

We're thinking of travelling to Thailand this summer with 2 18- year-olds. Is this a good idea? They'd like the beach, we'd like some history/culture. We're not excited about staying in a big resort -- bungalows on the beach is more our style, but we don't speak the language, so it needs to cater to tourists. Where would be a good location for us? Does anyone have recommendations for actual places to stay? The website has listings for children, but we're not that little. Thanks for any advice.


Hi, I've been to Thailand several times, first as a teenager myself, then as a parent with teen kids in tow. Thailand is generally an easy country for non-Thai speakers to get around in, as tourism is a major industry. Depending on what your teens like to do, there is plenty to keep them occupied. Thailand is a beautiful country with so much to offer - the Lonely Planet guide to Thailand is a good starting point. My teens liked swimming at the beach and shopping in the city, so I will give some recs about those topics... I have bad memories as a teen of the beach resorts closer to Bangkok (such as Pattaya), as an Asian girl I got some unwelcome attention from non-Thai males who mistook me for a prostitute! The beaches are nice enough I suppose. And things may well have changed since the 80s! Still, the prevalence of the sex industry in certain neighborhoods can be a shocker and you would probably want to steer your teens away from that whole scene, although it is certainly sadly educational. Also, maybe you're aware that Thailand has become a bit of a venue for the drug/rave/party scene among young people fom all over the world, and 18 year olds from most other affluent countries have grown up without American restrictions on full-on partying (English kids drink from age 16 for example)... your kids will probably love meeting other young peple, though. For a quieter beach resort, you could try the island of Koh Pha Ngan, there is a wonderful collection of bungalows integrated into the rock walls of a cove called ''The Sanctuary'' (http://www.thesanctuary- kpg.com/ that is run by a Buddhist Englishwoman and a Thai family, great food and away from the party scene at Had Rin. If your kids like more activity it is a short boat ride to Had Rin and all the activities there. All the islands take a while to get to, but you will get to see the country somewhat.

If your kids don't like temples and museums, they could easily spend days at the mall watching movies, ice-skating (!) just like in California! Bangkok has endless upscale and funkier shopping options for mall-minded teens as well (the Mahboonkrong Center has a lot of teen-budget boutiques and Kao Sarn Road sells designer knock-offs and hippie/beach wear - similar to Telegraph Ave, but tropical). Places to stay in Bangkok - you can check online for discount hotel rooms, such as at www.discount-bangkok-hotels.net, you might be surprised how reasonable even luxury rooms are if you book online. Otherwise Lonely Planet has the contact details of a number of budget-priced accommodations. Have a wonderful trip! Hisae


Ahh Thailand. You'll have a great time. Thai people are so friendly. And it is super easy to travel around- you don't need to know Thai. At first Bangkok will seem polluted and crazy, but there's so much to do. I especially liked Wat Pho- the temple of the healing arts, riding the river boats on the main river Chayo Praya, and the weekend market- it's huge. Buy all your souvenirs there. They have EVERYTHING...clothes, fabric, handicrafts, animals, bugs to eat, food, plants, pottery.. The rest of your trip will be determined by how much time you have. If you have only a week to spare, you'll want to go to an island close to Bangkok- like Koh Chang. (Koh means island) Or if you have more time to explore, head south. You can go to the Gulf of Thailand or to the Adaman sea. My favorite islands are Koh Phangnan and Ko Lipe. You can easily find a bungalow on any of these islands. Khao Sok national park is also amazing if you are advenerous. Be prepared for leeches and other Thai wildlife. It's great. I wish I were you! katja
A Thai friend of mine, Kanyarat coordinates trips designed specifically for you - whether you like trekking into the jungles of the national forests or lounging on pristine beaches and snorkeling in brilliant blue waters - or both. Having traveled extensively in the area, she knows the secret spots in the jungle with the deep emerald pools and where to hire a boat to take you to explore the islands. Whether you have teenagers or toddlers, she will find out what would make your trip perfect for you. She can work within your budget: recommending posh resorts (some of which she even helped design) or finding beachfront bungalows for $10 a night. She sent me a photo album from a trip she organized for another friend of mine, and the sites just make you stop and stare in awe. The nature reserves where they went snorkeling have the bluest water and the most beautiful sandy beaches. She is a wonderful resource who loves to share her native land. She is working on helping Thailand rebuild after the Tsunami, and hopes to help rebuild their tourism industry by working with people directly. Those who have traveled her itineraries return knowing why Thailand is the Land of Smiles. We are also working with Kan to plan a trip this fall. Feel free to contact her at footprint.krabi[at]gmail.com. Anna

Travel to Thailand with my mother and my 4-year-old

August 2004

I'm thinking about going to Thailand with my mother and almost 4 yo daughter. I've read the achives about traveling there with a baby, but there aren't many specific places mentioned. Does anyone have any ideas for places to visit and specifc things to do? Traveler


I read over the posts that are currently on the website (Aug 25) and thought there were good family recomendations, places like Pai, Chang Mai, and the islands (not imo Samui and Phuket). I spent about 6 weeks in Thailand a couple of years ago hiking, boating/beaching/swimming/diving,temple wandering and sight-seeing, and lots of long range traveling throughout the country-- N-S-E-W (sans child). We have friends that went there last year and stayed in Bangkok for a 10 day vacation at a nice hotel with a pool, shopping and site seeing. Their choices were so different then ours, but Thailand is so diverse that it accomodates all, so your options will depend on what you want to do/see and what your toddler will like/tolerate. I spent some time on a remote island in a grass hut (common lodging), and became friends with a Canadian couple who had brought their 1.5 year old daughter to stay two weeks on this beach. She was thrilled, they were happy and they had no qualms about ''roughing it'' with the baby. But Thailand is large and appeals to many different crowds, so I would get a Lonely Planet or other guidebook that jives with your travel style and leaf through their recommendations, find things that interest you as well recommendations for your travel choices and transport. Also Lonely Planet (and I'm sure others) have a great warnings/dangers section that I found useful (in retrospect) to alerting me to current scams. I say in 'retrospect' because when I read these warnings I think--who would possibly fall for that? However I met traveler after traveler who did--probably because they hadn't been alerted to the possibity of say taking a ride with a driver who offers to take you shopping...for a suit...to get gas vouchers for himself... I would definetely get the recommended immunizations incl. hep. and tetanus at least. Hydration is impt. as others mentioned, and I was very sensitive to the pollution in Bangkok which affected me if I was out walking all day (you probably won't be). That said Thailand is a modern, very safe country with all the ammenities you need, great food, and wonderful places to explore. Have fun! anon

Visiting Thailand with a one-year-old

June 2004

My husband and I lived and worked in Thailand for a year in '96 and part of '97. We have been yearning to go back ever since we returned, but one thing after another happened and we haven't made it yet. This Christmas we will have about 2 and a half weeks off and really want to take advantage of the opportunity and just pick up and go back to Thailand during that time. The problem is this: Our 5 month old son will be almost a year (in fact he will turn 1 during that time) and we are concerned about a variety of issues. Having been to Thailand, we know that there are few, if any, seatbelts in cabs, busses etc. We could rent a car, but they drive on the left and traffic (especially in Bangkok) is horrendous, so we don't really want to drive around ourselves (but we would if that turns out to be the only viable option). The other major concern is that my husband and I both have back problems, so one of those backpack carrriers is not really an option for us. That leaves us with only a stroller as a way to transport our son around, which seems like a pain to deal with. I also dread a 17 hour flight with a mobile 1 year old. We don't want to leave him with his grandparents (who would be ecstatic to have him) because we want to be with him for his first Christmas and birthday. Are we crazy for even thinking about this? Just writing this has made me think that the cons outweigh the pros. Has anyone attempted something like this?


Earlier this year we traveled to Thailand with our new baby (2 months old at the time) and a toddler who was born when we lived in Bangkok. Your concerns about seatbelts and transportation are valid, but if you're willing to take a bit of a risk you can have a great time there with children. You can easliy find safe food, disposable diapers and other supplies in major cities, good affordable medical care is available, and families with kids (especially foreign kids) tend to be welcomed with incredible warmth in hotels and restaurants.

We risked taxi rides without seatbelts to get around the city, keeping a sharp eye on the drivers and asking them to take it easy whenever we got an overagressive fellow behind the wheel. Alternatively you can hire a car and driver, either from a local tour operator or a car rental agency like Hertz -- much more expensive than taxis, but not exhorbitantly so. Just make it very clear to the rental agency that you will require seatbelts in front AND back. For airport transfer you can use the limousine services that have desks in the arrivals hall at the airport -- virtually all have seatbelts.

In my view, your back troubles present more of a problem. Thai cityscapes are not at all stroller-friendly. You'll encounter frequent impediments -- uneven surfaces and high curbs, parked cars and motorcycles blocking the sidewalk, roads that can only be crossed by climbing stairs to pedestrian overpasses, commuter train stations without escalators ... you'll frequentlyo find yourself in situations where you have to lift your son over these obstacles. If you're really not up to the lifting, you'll just have to avoid places the stroller won't go. If you spend some time away from Bangkok at a beach resort, you can relax in a relatively stroller-friendly environment.

In Bangkok we rented a serviced apartment, which offered many of the amenities of a hotel, but with a decent kitchen and plenty of space for our toddler to play (several locations listed at www.centrepoint.com).
Morris


A friend of mine who has lived in Thailand for her entire life excepting her few years at Berkeley suggests checking out: www.bambi-bangkok.org, which may give you some help planning your trip to Thailand with a young 'un. Seventeen hours is a long time on the plane, but your tike will probably sleep through half of it AND there are plenty of aisle ways to walk him up and down. He'll be fine.

Though, as a Mom of a 15-month old, I would jump a the chance to take a few weeks alone without the baby. At five-months, I may have been thinking along the same lines as you, but once I emerged from new-baby fog, I realized that while baby's first holidays are exciting, they can actually be celebrated on days different from the real ones and the baby will be none the wiser (Christmas was celebrated 12 December, because I didn't want to lug the presents with me on our family vacation over the holidays and her birthday was celebrated a week early due to Daddy being out of town on the actual birthday). Just make sure that you take lots of pictures, but don't time/date stamp them. :-) -planning a similar trip, too


We travelled 27 hours from Zimababwe to Ko Samui in 1999 with our six week old and our 16 month old. We found Thailand to be very very family friendly and people went out of their way to play with, hold and help our kids and us. The plane ride was very dificult with our 16 month old refusing to sleep the entire way. I recommend you request (in advance) front row seats which have the bassinets which attach to the front wall. Consider taking some calming remedies (herbs/homeo., whatever works for you and them).

I was generally worried about how safe we would be but found it instantly not to be a problem. We took a sturdy stroller that reclined fully and had a visor that pulled down fully over the seat. Our daughter who sometimes felt overwhelmed with attention would simply retreat when necessary. Everyone wanted to touch and hold the kids. At resturants our kids would be carried away by friendly staff to be returned later happy and usually with a big piece of fruit. The first time this happened I was really panicked as I had vowed not to let them out of my sight, later I relaxed as I saw my daughter playing in the back with thai kids. In retrospect I am glad we were fairly close to a clinic - which we did not plan for or use. But we met a Swedish family who had a scary dehydration episode with their baby and felt grateful for the experience of the local clinic doctor who insisted on a drip (when they felt their kid would be fine in the morning). While we were careful, we all had short bouts of tummy illnesses -- these can get serious quickly for babies and children, so I would not wait 24 hours in the case of severe diahrrea or vomiting. Go and have a great time. aiko


Travel to Thailand with 14 mo. old

July 2003

My husband has been invited to speak at a conference this December at the Botannical Gardens in Chaing Mai, Thailand. Our daughter will be 14 mo. old at that time. We are thinking of going and making a 2-3 week trip out of it. But we are concerned about her comfort and health. We are wondering if anyone has been there who might have advice about how well a 14 mo. old might tolerate the changes in food, water, and general accomodations. We are excited to go but only if our daughter is not going to have to suffer beyond the normal changes that come with travel. Thanks for any input! Joanna


Hi- I first took my daughter with me to Thailand when she was 18 months old. We had a wonderful time and have been back three times! That first trip was such a positive experience for us that we haven't stopped traveling since! We've stayed in all kinds of accommodations from the 5star Oriental Hotel to very rustic remote island bungalows and we've never had any problems. Thai culture is generally VERY child and baby friendly. (I found Spain to be much less accommodating.)

That said Just a couple suggestions:

  • Avoid Pattaya, Phuket and Samui. Unfortunately Pattaya is frequented by countless arrogant western men looking for (and temporarily coupled up with) Thai girls- Prostitution is everywhere and painfully blatant. Phuket and Samui are looking these days like Waikiki Beach in Hawaii. Very unThai-
  • Spend your first couple of nights in an upscale hotel while you recover from the flight(s).
  • Watch out for common tourist traps... 'Tuk-Tuk' drivers and other 'tour guides' are notorious for taking people on overpriced 'tours' (in the blazing heat) to shops where they get a commission on your purchases.
  • Hire a car (and driver) from almost any hotel - just specify no shopping - and you'll be taken to the most amazing places!
  • Take a canal tour in Bangkok and be sure to visit Ayutthaya... Chaing Mai is stunning! Be prepared to climb many many stairs on your way to 'the temple'- Bring a sling or a baby backpack so that you can keep your hands free to grip the rails.
  • Carry bottled water with you everywhere.
    Have a great time!
    Tamara
    Your child will be loved and accomodated in Thailand and she/he will provide the opportunity to get to know even more Thais. Re: safety, health, and food- Thai children are well fed and cared for, you will find food for yours, too- so much fanciful fruit, rice porridge, tofu, carrots, boiled chicken, etc- so much. ''Mai pen rai''= no worries, it's all good! (more or less!) Cheers- Chris
    We recently spent 4.5 years living in Thailand, and our son (now 2) was born in Bangkok. While we were there, some friends from Marin and their 16-month-old daughter visited us for a couple of weeks. We were in Bangkok, but also went to Chiang Mai, Pai (little village), and Koh Samui. She did just fine w/ the food; ate a lot of rice and noodles, stir-fried vegetables, grilled or stir-fried meat and fish. We often asked the restaurant staff to prepare a separate dish without spices for the toddler. Water and other beverages were fine -- just be careful about your child ingesting water at bath time. UHT milk is readily available in boxes, which is super convenient.

    We found that Thai staff in restaurants and hotels are incredibly gentle with children. They'll often entertain little ones so the parents can eat in peace! Many restaurants do not have highchairs, so if you have a lightweight clip-on chair, that might be useful -- we used ours all the time.
    Lyn


    I went to Thailand about a year and a half ago - before my daughter was born. I can't commment on what it would be like to travel to Thailand with a 14 month old, but I can comment on the ease of getting around Thailand. I would take my daughter there in a heartbeat - especially Chaing Mai. The city is so clean, there are so many ex-pats there, and the people are wonderful. The weather is beautiful in December, especially up north. I would make travel around the country easy, though, by using Thai Air to get around the country if you plan to go from north to south to Bangkok. They do drive on the left side of the road there - so if you end up renting a car to get around - that's a factor! Also, I'm a very picky eater and I had no problems eating there. Healthwise - Thailand is not a 3rd world country, you don't need any immunizations to go there. Again - there are so many freakin' tourists there in December that you shouldn't have any problems getting around. I remember being on Ao Nang Beach near Krabi in the south (after spending a week in Chaing Mai) and seeing a beach full of white faces. I wondered for a moment what country I was in! Gretchen

    Beach places in Thailand with 2-year-old?

    January 2003

    Any recommendations on lodging/places to visit OR NOT visit to Thailand witha 2 year old? We are especially interested in beach, possibly Krabi/Ao Nang Beach area. Any recommendatons? Pauline


    I highly recommend the Laem Set Inn on Ko Samui in southern Thailand. They have a great set up -- especially for families. We stayed in the thatched roof/beachfront bungalows and enjoyed the beach, pools, paddle boats, bicylces and kayaks they provide. The food is AMAZING, and they have a great playground for kids including a small ferris wheel.

    We traveled there in the off season (October) and the rates were quite low.

    As a side note, to get there it's a fun and cheap ($8) overnight train ride from Bangkok down the peninsula and then a short (1 hour?) ferry ride out to Ko Samui. Holler if you have any questions.

    www.laemset.com/

    - Candace


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