A family holiday to Thailand with kids
Walking the streets where the pungent smell of spices fill the air. Gazing at serene Buddhas, eating endless bowls of noodles and dunking spring rolls in to sweet, sticky sauces. Meeting the nicest of people every single day. Our family holiday to Thailand with kids was filled with beautiful sights and the most memorable of experiences. It’s one none of us will ever forget.
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Traveling to Thailand
We headed out of London to Bangkok on Etihad Airways. The journey became the start of the adventure as we feasted on delicious food, stretched out on the lay-flat beds and watched films throughout.
It was the perfect start to our travels.
Arriving in to Bangkok – our family holiday to Thailand
We arrived into Bangkok and were suddenly immersed in a colorful, pungent landscape. Taking our suitcases on the airport train we immediately found ourselves passing by rice fields and apartment blocks.
We gazed out of the windows. Jet-lagged and bewildered but so happy to have been transported to the Thai capital so smoothly.
Hotels in Bangkok
We made our way to our first hotel, the Montien Surawong Hotel Bangkok. Through the roads that were alive with street sellers and stalls heaving with sweet fruits and skewered meats.
The calm of the Montien enveloped us and we sank in to its soft interiors. It was the perfect base while we were in the city with a tranquil rooftop pool to enjoy on our times away from sightseeing.
Bangkok charmed us on this visit like it hadn’t been done before. We revelled in its energy, enjoyed the chaos, and sought out the tranquillity.
Seeing the Bangkok sights – our family holiday to Thailand
Wat Pho with its reclining Buddhas was always going to be a highlight. Seeing the beautiful Buddha, so serene and peaceful, its patterned feet decorated as if with swirls of henna, was wonderful.
Wandering through the temples, it was the perfect antidote to the crazy traffic of Bangkok.
We also enjoyed the Royal Palace which gleamed full of golden opulence. And browsed through the amulet market for trinkets and icons.
Jim Thompson’s house was filled with all the intrigue and attraction it had the first time I visited Bangkok before kids. This leafy historic compound was such a pause on the fast-paced city.
We loved tiptoeing through the polished wooden hallways and peering over at this American’s collected treasures. That he disappeared in the 1960s, having revitalized the Thai silk industry single-handedly, makes his story even more tantalising.
We ate in beautiful restaurants in Bangkok. From the vegetarian hidden down the quietest backstreet from Chinatown. To the street snacks we shared in the backs of tuks tuks as they bumped through the streets.
Rainy season meant that sudden, somewhat violent downpours were almost a daily occurrence. Rather than lament these we loved them.
Huge raindrops would fall and clean the ground, allowing its earthy sweetness to rise along with the gradual return to the heat. It was exciting and cooling and fun.
Chiang Mai sits 700 kilometers north of Bangkok but feels entirely different. Once the capital of the Lanna Empire today it oozes character and community.
Houses in the historic center cozy up together, side by side, lights glowing and welcoming within. There’s a confident bustle to the city which is very different from the frantic pace of Bangkok.
We loved wandering the streets here. The stalls for the market snaked through the middle and were the perfect place to pick up some souvenirs.
Hotels in Chiang Mai
We stayed at the picturesque Siripanna Villa Resort which was an ideal retreat. Afternoons spent lounging by their beautiful pools and a chance to try out rice planting in their fields were particular highlights.
One of our favorite activities, of the whole trip to Thailand, was hiring a Songthaew – an adorable fire-truck red little taxi. It’s the way everyone gets around in the city.
We had it for the day to wind our way up twisting country roads to temples that sat on the hilltops.
Seeing the Chiang Mai sights – our family trip to Thailand
The most famous of these was Wat Phra That Doi Suthep which sits high up on the mountain it’s named after. You walk the beautifully decorated snake stairs to the golden domes at the peak.
We loved this temple where Buddhist monks blessed us and wrapped our wrists in cotton bracelets. Everywhere the sweet tingling of bells hung in the air as they caught on the wind.
But our collective favorite temple has to be Wat Pha Lat which peeked out, half hidden amongst the jungle-like undergrowth. Here we wandered through the statues and took in the tranquillity with the softly bubbling stream accompanying us.
Chiang Mai was a delight, in every sense. As we tucked in to a vegetarian version of Khao Soi, the famous noodle dish from this region, we all knew this was somewhere we wanted to return to.
Thani Surat’s letter
After a few days in Chiang Mai it was time to fly south to the Thai islands. On our family holiday to Thailand with kids we wanted to ensure we mixed up the culture with beach time and pools.
We flew from Chiang Mai to Surat Thani, a transport hub in the center of the region. It wasn’t somewhere to linger and we checked in to the Lee Hotel for our short visit.
Getting to Koh Samui – on a family holiday to Thailand with kids
The following morning we stopped for supermarket snacks (fizzy drinks, tomato ketchup flavored crisps and passion fruit biscuits) before dragging our cases to one of the numerous tour operator desks.
We joined with the backpackers and young travelers and piled on to a small minibus, bound for the port. This felt like such a glimpse in to another world and I felt small pangs of envy at their extended travels.
At the port we picked up hot coffee and made our way to the ferry heading to Koh Samui (while the backpackers peeled off and boarded the Ko Pha Ngan bound boat).
It was a quiet ferry and the journey was incredibly smooth. We browsed the little onboard shop and reclined our chairs to relax.
My favorite time was climbing the stairs to the rusty deck and staring across the azure sea to the islands which were hazy on the horizon. It felt like Thailand at its most beautiful.
As Koh Samui came into view I knew this was going to be a special part of our family holiday to Thailand. There was no sign of the over-commercialization I feared.
The beach looked peaceful and postcard perfect and the island revealed a tumbling green canopy.
As we drove through the backstreets it was wonderful to see an island that still retained its soul.
We were staying at the Prana Resort Nandana Samui which was the perfect place for us to all kick back a little and relax.
We enjoyed our time by the beach and pool. Taking in the Thai spa and even a cookery class at the resort.
We did make it out to the Big Buddha which was majestic and had beautiful views all around.
Our time on Koh Samui was wonderful and we enjoyed the downtime.
A family holiday to Thailand – Koh Samui to Phuket
When it came time to leave we took the fast catamaran across from Koh Samui to the mainland. And from there we boarded the cross-country bus.
This five hour journey saw changing landscapes and an interesting craggy middle to the country.
We loved stopping in the service center where fresh curries were served beside bags of dried fruits and interesting snacks. It was a great insight.
Phuket was our last stop in Thailand. This was somewhere to relax and while a little more culture would have been nice the children loved this location.
We didn’t look too intently for the off-the-beaten track experiences in Phuket but they didn’t seem readily available.
We stayed at the lovely Sunwing Kamala Beach which the children adored. They splashed about in the pools, whizzed down the water slides and we all walked barefoot along the beach.
We did venture out a little and bought roadside coconuts and pandan-filled donuts. But for the most part this was a time for the children to have fun.
Leaving Thailand was not without its problems
When it was time to leave Thailand none of us wanted the adventure to be over.
We headed to Phuket Airport for our flight with Air Asia to Bangkok to meet our international Etihad connection.
It was here we found our flight delayed because of bad weather in Bangkok. It was so stressful.
The time ticked by.
We became convinced we were going to miss our Etihad flight.
Air Asia (who we weren’t working with) were amazing. They had our bags labeled and moved to be the first taken off at landing.
They relocated us to the front of the plane so we would be the first passengers to disembark. And finally the flight took off.
At Bangkok Airport, Air Asia staff rushed us off the plane, onto a mini bus and to the baggage hall. They raced us to the Etihad desk where the staff there were waiting for us.
We were checked in and then a member of Etihad ran with us through the airport and onto our flight. It was the most incredibly stressful, but heartwarming delay ever.
We are so grateful to all the staff who helped us that day.
Stop-over in Abu Dhabi on the way home from our family holiday to Thailand
As we were flying with Etihad we had the option of adding a stop over in Abu Dhabi on the way home, which we did. I would so recommend this as it was the perfect end to the trip.
We spent four days in Abu Dhabi at the incredible Warner Bros. Hotel which we all adored.
We visited the theme parks of Yas Island, shopped in the mall for baklava and sweets and swam in the rooftop pool as the sun beat down.
It really was a wonderful way to finish our travels.
Conclusions on our family holiday to Thailand
We loved our trip to Thailand. It was full of evocative sights, different tastes, wonderful people and experiences we will all remember forever.
If you’re considering a trip I can’t recommend it highly enough. It didn’t feel daunting or overwhelming and the children haven’t stopped talking about it.
Thailand is a special country and we can’t wait to return to explore more.
See our video of our family trip to Thailand here
Partners who made it all possible
We are so grateful for working with some very special businesses and organizations on this trip.
Top of the list has to be the amazing Etihad who were the perfect partner. We loved everything about flying with them and the journey really did become part of the adventure.
Holiday Extras were ideal for parking our car using their Meet & Greet service at Heathrow. This is such a great way to travel, especially if you are taking a trip with kids.
Your holiday check list
- ️ Find great flights with Opodo
- Get the travel insurance we use at CoverForYou
- ️ Book your airport parking at a fantastic rate here with Holiday Extras
- Get a Currensea Card to easily pay for purchases when you’re abroad
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