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The 10 Most Family-Friendly Destinations in Thailand

There are many ways for kids to enjoy Thailand
There are many ways for kids to enjoy Thailand | © Phuket@photographer.net / Flickr
Thailand is a great destination for a family holiday, with beautiful beaches, stunning nature and heaps of kid-friendly activities.

Travelling with little ones can be tricky – it can take a lot of planning to get the balance just right so the whole family is happy. Thailand has all the right ingredients for an ideal family trip: gorgeous beaches, nature and wildlife galore, exciting attractions, friendly locals and easy transportation. However, it’s important to bear in mind that some destinations are more suitable for families than others. Here are Culture Trip’s top ten recommendations for your next family holiday in Thailand.

Phuket

As Thailand’s largest island, Phuket has an abundance of things for families, including beautiful beaches where little ones can splash in the sea and play on soft sands. Cool down and have watery fun without sand getting in your clothes at Splash Jungle Water Park. Older kids may enjoy karting, wakeboarding and wildlife-spotting, while Phuket Bird Park and Phuket Aquarium are great for all ages.

Phuket Trickeye Museum and Baan Teelanka Upside House provide many opportunities for fun photos for the family album. Captivating shows like Siam Niramit and Phuket FantaSea offer exciting cultural experiences. There are plenty of family-friendly hotels and resorts, many of which have kids’ clubs and babysitting services (perfect for parents who need a breather).

Playing on Phuket's beaches © Dennis Wong / Flickr

Krabi

With beautiful mainland beaches and stunning islands, Krabi is a great choice for families who love seaside holidays. Take boat trips to visit islands like Koh Lanta and Koh Phi Phi, or unwind on the sandy shores of Railay and Ao Nang Beaches. Ao Nam Mao Outdoor Aquarium is a terrific place to learn more about the underwater world.

Spend active days in nature at the wildlife-rich Khao Phanom Bencha National Park and Thung Teo Forest Natural Park, where you can hike up to waterfalls and soak in hot springs. The prehistoric landscapes at Susan Hoi are sure to capture young imaginations and beautiful temples add a cultural side to your trip. Older children can try their hand at various activities, including rock climbing and sea kayaking.

Prachuap Khiri Khan

Located between Southern Thailand and Bangkok, Prachuap Khiri Khan is perhaps most famous for the seaside town of Hua Hin. There are many accommodations and dining options in the town and it’s a great base for exploring the wider area. Old and young alike can have heaps of laughter at Vana Nava Hua Hin Water Jungle and Black Mountain Water Park.

The provincial capital of Prachuap Khiri Khan boasts Ao Manao, a tranquil beach favoured by locals, and kids can get up close and personal with cute dusky leaf monkeys at Khao Lommuak. Unlike their macaque cousins at the nearby temple of Wat Thammikaram Worawihan, the lovely dusky leaf monkeys will gently take food from the palm of your hand. Plus, their babies are bright yellow! Take a boat ride to Khao Sam Roi Yod National Park and peer inside the atmospheric cave and join an elephant-spotting safari at Kui Buri National Park. With an almost 99% chance of seeing wild elephants, it’s sure to be an exciting experience for children and adults alike.

Dusky leaf monkeys at Prachuap Khiri Khan © Sarah Williams

Bangkok

There are so many fantastic things for children to enjoy in bustling Bangkok. Spend fun days at places like Dream World, Safari World and SEA LIFE Ocean World Bangkok, and escape the busy city streets at the large Lumpini Park. Many hotels have pools and there are several fabulous water parks to make up for the lack of beaches nearby.

See a different side of the city with a ride on a long-tail boat along the khlongs (canals) of Thonburi. Pass gleaming temples and palaces, which inspire both big and little kids alike and catch the smells of sizzling street food wafting from the city’s bustling markets. Kids can get hands-on at places like the Children’s Discovery Museum and the Museum of Siam, while younger children can have heaps of fun playing at being grown-ups at Kidzania and Imaginia Playground.

Giant fruit and veg at Dreamworld, Bangkok © neajjean / Flickr

Chiang Mai

Often referred to as the Northern Thai capital, Chiang Mai offers a much more laid-back family holiday than Bangkok. Ideal for families who love spending time in the great outdoors, several operators arrange jungle trekking experiences suitable for people of all ages. See a range of flora and fauna, soak up incredible views and swim at the bottom of beautiful waterfalls. Adventurous families can bond over activities such as rafting, kayaking and ziplining, and you’ll find many cool activities at Chiang Mai X Centre.

There are ethical elephant camps where your little ones can come face to face with Thailand’s majestic national animal. Seeing the pandas at Chiang Mai Zoo is often a highlight for kids, while Siam Insect Zoo and Chiang Mai Night Safari offer even more animal fun. Step back in time at gleaming temples and with a walk around the Old City, visit ethnic hill tribes and pick up souvenirs at Chiang Mai Night Bazaar.

Panda at Chiang Mai Zoo © xiquinhosilva / Flickr

Chiang Rai

Often overshadowed by its more famous neighbour, Chiang Rai is perfect for families who like adventure and stepping somewhat off the beaten track. There are plentiful opportunities for jungle trekking and meeting hill-tribe groups, with trips that are tailored for kids. Visit the Golden Triangle and stand at the point where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet. Venture a little further and stop by hot springs and spurting geysers.

Don’t miss seeing Chiang Rai’s town clock in action as it strikes the hour, when it lights up and plays music in a brilliant display. Children and adults alike can marvel at the gleaming White Temple (Wat Rong Khun), the Blue Temple (Wat Rong Seua Ten) and the Black House (Baan Dam). Stay in a rustic homestay or cute guesthouse to immerse your kids in the Thai way of life.

Chiang Rai's beautiful White Temple © Edgardo W. Olivera / Flickr

Kanchanaburi

A charming riverside gem in Western Thailand, Kanchanaburi has spectacular nature and interesting history to discover. While younger visitors may not be so interested in learning about the area’s past, a train ride along the scenic Death Railway is exciting for old and young alike. Snap pictures in front of the Bridge Over the River Kwai and wander through markets and museums.

Admire beautiful waterfalls like Sai Yok Noi and Erawan, explore caves filled with interesting rock formations and see the huge raintree at Dan Makham Tia District. You can trek through jungles and meet elephants at ethical camps and, while there are plentiful accommodation options, how about a few nights on a floating raft house for some really cool memories? Add fascinating temples like Wat Tham Sua, water parks and an exhilarating tree top adventure park and the whole family is sure to have a brilliant time.

Ride the train across the Bridge Over the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi © Prowpatareeya Tan / Flickr

Chonburi

Chonburi Province is located along the eastern side of the Gulf of Thailand. Although primarily associated with Pattaya (one of Thailand’s most notorious nightlife destinations), there is also a huge amount of things to see and do with children. Spend days lazing on sandy beaches, visit nearby islands and try an array of water sports. Marvel at the intricate wooden carved beauty of The Sanctuary of Truth and be mystified by the curiosities at Ripleys! Believe It Or Not.

Observe numerous creatures at Khao Kheow Open Zoo and shriek for joy on an exhilarating eco-adventure at Chonburi Flight of the Gibbon. Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden is a colourful wonderland filled with fragrant flowers, statues and water features, and the petting zoo and bird zone are sure to appeal to younger members of the family. Learn more about the ocean deep at Underwater World Pattaya and get wet and wild at a variety of water parks. A floating market, urban farms, temples and museums provide even more great outings.

Scenery at Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden © Pattaya Unlimited / Flickr

Trat

Situated along the Gulf of Thailand and close to the border with Cambodia, Trat boasts several stunning islands where families can enjoy an awesome vacation. Koh Chang is the most popular island, with sublime white-sand beaches fringing a jungle-clad mountain interior. There are animal encounters, including a snake farm, and a handful of cultural sites to explore such as the temples of Salak Kok and Bang Bao, Chao Po Shine and various fishing villages.

Neighbouring Koh Mak is much smaller and has a remote and tranquil feel. Bask on beautiful beaches, go snorkelling, take boat trips and enjoy nature. Koh Kut (Koh Kood) is a blissfully undeveloped island where you and the kids can really get back to nature. Try activities such as kayaking, snorkelling and hiking through the forests. Meet the local sea gypsy community at Ao Salat, swim in pristine waterfalls and dine on fresh seafood.

Enjoy nature an island hopping at Koh Chang © Sergey / Flickr

Nakhon Ratchasima

Thailand’s largest province of Nakhon Ratchasima, located in Isan, is famous for being home to the country’s first national park: Khao Yai National Park. Take the kids exploring in the jungle and spot a range of flora and fauna. There are trails to suit all ability levels, though many of the park’s main features can also be easily accessed by road. Thundering waterfalls and scenic lookout points add to the diversity. Have a thrill camping in the wild or check into a lovely guesthouse for more home comforts.

You’ll find attractions like the working Farm Chokchai, with its cowboy and ranch appeal, and the countryside adventure park of Thongsomboon Club close to the park’s main entrance. Feeling the heat? Check out the water park of Scenical World. Elsewhere in the province, the hilly town of Wang Nam Khiao is home to tourist-focused farms, waterfalls and quirky attractions, while Phimai offers a journey back in time at ancient ruins.

Spot nature at Khao Yai National Park © Tontan Travel / Flickr