Thailand family holidays
Many travellers fall head over heels for Thailand while backpacking, and then dream of bringing their own kids back to discover the country’s magic. It’s a remarkable place to revisit, some of the SA team have been upwards of half a dozen times and none would lay claim to having 'done Thailand'. Each time we return we find something new and there is no question that it's an ideal fit for families.
Whether you’re cycling around Chiang Mai, kayaking along Bangkok’s klongs, or getting hands-on with ethical wildlife conservation, your holiday can be designed to spark your whole family’s imaginations.
Balance the high-adrenalin of a Bangkok Muay Thai workshop with chilled out time on Thai island beaches, and watch your children make memories that will fuel a lifetime of love for travel...
Highlights of a Thailand family holiday
- Walk beside rescued elephants at inspirational conservation projects
- Pedal and paddle around Thailand’s lush northern landscape
- Scoff delicious pad thai on a Chiang Mai streetfood tour
- Imagine yourselves as castaways on remote island beaches
- Go treasure-hunting through Bangkok’s neon landscape
Our Destination Specialists have both lived and travelled extensively in Thailand and across Asia, researching the best hotels, sights and activities - read all about it in our Thailand travel guides.
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Thailand with your kids - what to expect
Thailand is one of Asia’s best-loved destinations, and makes a wonderful ‘first stop’ for families starting out on their travel adventures. There are direct flights from the UK, and kids are always made a fuss of throughout the country!
Thailand’s idyllic islands are as incredible in real life as they appear in glossy photos. Koh Samui balances true Treasure Island vibes with first-rate facilities. Go island hopping around the Angthong Marine National Park, and settle into villa life at the Belmond Napasai, where keen kids can get involved with everything from art classes to tennis and Thai boxing.
As well as lazing on Phuket’s fantastic sands, families can paddle board out in the bay, splash around at a waterpark, and go zorbing, ziplining or trapezing across the island. Keep all ages entertained posing for mind-bending pictures in the optical illusion Trickeye museum, and meet rescued elephants at the island’s pioneering sanctuary.
If elephants are top of your kids’ wish list, head straight for Elephant Hills in Khao Sok National Park, or further north to Anantara, to get them involved with inspirational elephant care and conservation.
In chilled-out Chiang Mai, inquisitive youngsters will love taking the tuk-tuk between fascinating temples and bustling markets. Go trekking, kayaking and cycling in the surrounding jungle, and get a glimpse of rural family life with a stay at the Khum Lanna farming retreat.
When in Bangkok, take some time out from the bright lights with a boat trip down the canals. Fill up on mango and sticky rice from a street market, get active with a Muay Thai class, and embark on a treasure hunt through the streets. Deciphering clues set by a trained Treasure Hunt Master is a great way to see the city’s top sights, and a few hidden gems, with kid-friendly flair.
Things you’ll all love in Thailand
What to do in Thailand: Discover more with our hand-picked experiences & highlights
The whole family will love getting hands-on in this cookery class in a Thai family home, where you'll gain a better understanding of everyday life in Northern Thailand, and enjoy an opportunity to spend time with a local family, learn about traditional basket-weaving and the architecture of traditional Thai homes, before strolling around the local market to gather fresh ingredients for your cooking extravaganza.
We are often questioned over Bangkok's suitability for families - surely a traffic congested city is best avoided? The decision is always a personal one of course, but we love the great public transport links, both by skytrain and boat, world-beating food and an energy like few other cities. Highlights to consider are Asiatique with its nightly, family-friendly streetfood and market shopping, the Chang Chui Creative Park featuring the shell of a Lockheed L-1011 Tristar among slides, treehouses and swings.
Hill trekking experiences are commonplace in Northern Thailand, but Khum Lanna stands out from the crowd. Surrounded by rice paddy fields, equidistant between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, this quaint lodge is more than a comfortable trekking base. More akin to a country retreat, it brings the northern region to life through excellent cooking classes, tribal village visits and scenic cycle rides.
Heading deep into the Thai tropical forest for a unique safari experience, you’ll meander down the Sok River in a canoe piloted by your own guide, drinking in the beauty of the distant limestone mountains and rainforest that surrounds you for as far as the eye can see. The highlight of the trip, however, has to be the time you’ll spend feeding and hosing down Elephant Hill’s approachable community of Asian elephants.
Of all South-East Asia’s wildlife, elephants have had an especially hard time, but well-run rescue facilities like the Anantara’s Elephant Camp are turning the situation around, letting you interact respectfully with the elephants and contribute to their future wellbeing. The Anantara itself provides spotless luxury surrounded by jungle, attentive staff and excellent restaurants.
Where to rest your head..
Three of our favourite family-friendly hotels in Thailand
Our Thailand Specialists' top tips for families
With quite a few parents among our well-travelled Destination Specialists, we know how important it is to get the finer details sorted before travelling with kids, and we always go the extra mile to make sure they are. We want everyone to enjoy each moment without sweating the small stuff.
If you have any questions, or want to have a chat about planning your family holiday to Thailand, we'd love to have a chat. In the meantime, here are a few FAQs to help you get started…
- It's OK to go off-piste
Whether you’re a seasoned Thailand traveller or a first-timer, don’t be afraid to include a few unusual experiences alongside the beach days and wildlife watching. Thailand’s strong infrastructure makes going a little ‘off piste’ much more feasible, and you’ll be able to have an experienced guide by your side whenever you wish.
- Don't skip on the downtime
On the flip-side, although it’s tempting to cram in as many mind-boggling experiences as you can, we’ll make sure you include some proper downtime too. It helps reset everyone’s energy levels, and means you can enjoy those extra-special experiences even more. All those beautiful beaches are just waiting to be relaxed on, after all!
- Family-only hotels?
Thailand is a popular destination for honeymooners too, but don’t worry unnecessarily about choosing hotels specifically for families, or avoiding couples. It’s not as much of an issue as it sometimes seems, for either party! On the ground, there’s usually plenty of room for everyone, and travellers of all sorts sit happily side-by-side.
- When is the best time of year for a family holiday to Thailand?
Much of Thailand has a typical tropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons, while the southern peninsular is more monsoony. You might have to juggle your plans a bit to get the best of the weather, but these differences mean you can usually find sun on a beach somewhere! High season is between November and March, so Christmas breaks to Thailand are very popular. If you’re planning on spending the festive season building sand castles on a Phuket beach, make sure you book early!
- Do the guides stay with us all the time, or will we have time to explore independently?
Having an experienced, knowledgeable and welcoming local guide on hand during your trip is absolutely invaluable. They’ll be able to meet you upon arrival, act as translator, transfer you between locations, and generally make everything go as smoothly as possible. They’ll leave you to your own devices as much or as little as you wish, and your Destination Specialist will discuss this with you while planning your trip. Find out more about our brilliant guides here
- Is Thailand safe for families?
Thailand remains one of Asia’s most popular destinations for family holidays, and there’s far more to the country than its stunning beaches! It combines a warm welcome with an efficient infrastructure which makes for smooth travel, and is a great starting point for families who want to begin venturing a bit further afield. Thailand is a safe, supportive and reassuring destination and, like much of Asia, kids will be fussed over constantly! You’re likely to find some things different from what you’re used to, and if you’re unsure of anything at any time, our fantastic guides are always on hand to help.
- What vaccinations do I need for Thailand?
When planning a trip to Asia, it’s always important to consider the possible requirement for vaccinations and immunisations. Most importantly, we stress that you should contact your doctor or medical practitioner well before you depart to get their advice on any vaccinations and medication you may need for your trip. If you’ve travelled recently and believe that you are already up-to-date, it is still worth checking as vaccinations have a varying life span. Most of Vietnam has been declared low to no risk for malaria on the NHS Fit for Travel map, and NHS Travel Vaccinations site has lots of up-to-date information on vaccinations and general travel health.
- What’s the best currency to take to Thailand?
ATM machines are widely available throughout Thailand, including at most airports, so there’s no need to obtain baht in advance of your arrival, although it is possible to do so. ATMs usually offer good, if not better, rates of exchange than currency exchange bureaus and hotels. In most shops and restaurants, only baht cash and card payments are accepted.
- Do I need a visa to go to Thailand?
Sometimes. Citizens of the UK, Australia, New Zealand, most EU countries, Canada and the United States do not require a visa to visit Thailand for up to 30 days. If entering Thailand by land border then they will usually only be granted a visa valid 15 days. EU citizens and other worldwide nationals not listed above should check with the Thai Embassy in their country of residence for the most up-to-date information. In the event of a visa being required, arrangements should be made with the Thai Embassy in advance of your departure to Thailand. It’s usually a single entry visa that allows you to travel in the country for 60 days. Many embassies offer an express service as well as a multiple entry visa, both at additional cost.
- What should I pack for a trip to Thailand?
Though you can pick up many items once you’re there, we’d recommend taking supplies of any essentials, such as favourite nappies, formula etc., as well as your preferred brand of sunscreen and a good insect repellent. Light, long sleeved shirts, a light scarf or two, and long trousers or skirts will mean that you’re prepared for any eventuality, including modest dress codes at sites of religious significance. They’ll also help provide valuable protection against strong sunlight and mosquitoes. If you’re travelling with tinies, consider taking a really good baby carrier, as push-chairs might be difficult to get around with.