Visiting Bangkok with Your Family

Monday, February 13, 2017ruthdsouzap

So we finally did it a few months ago. Anoushka, all of 10 years was surprised out of her wits when we told her she was going to Bangkok for her first international trip. Here was a child who had been at it consistently for close to a year on being able to "go to a foreign country" and we were adamant on finding the right time. Things aligned, plans made and then plans disclosed - suffice to say that she spent an hour and half crying tears of joy! Thankfully we didn't break it to her when we were at the airport as originally planned - authorities would have thought that we were kidnapping her.

A glimpse of the Grand Palace 

Anyways, so to kick of the Bangkok posts, let me say that a lot of people found it funny that we were doing just one city of Thailand. We, as a general rule, don't like the idea of packaged tours and hopping from one place to another on an itinerary that showcases just the tourist places. We love doing a city in-depth and at our pace, especially since we have a child with us. The other thing we heard pretty often is, what can possibly be there in Bangkok for a child? Let's get one thing straight, yes, Thailand and Bangkok has a reputation that precedes it as a tourist destination, and if you go looking only for carnal pleasures you will find a lot, BUT, as a family, there is a lot you can do there as well.

 And another view of it

So let me start thing series off by telling you how I went about planning an international trip from scratch without an agent.

Now that you have read that, let's get down to the itinerary for each day. We travelled to Bangkok from Bangalore between September 29th and October 3rd. The weather at this time is fairly hot - if you are used to the heat of the coasts in India, this should be a breeze for you. There are occasional rain showers, mostly at night and for a very short time. Flights from India always arrive very early in the morning, so here are some things to keep in mind when making your plans, especially if you have a child

1. Most hotels, homestays etc, have a 2PM check-in time and so you may want to look out for some place that allows you to come in a bit early. Alternately, you may want to book a room for a day after and let the reception know that you will be a late check in for the day.

 The Poolside at the 4th floor of Ideo Mobi

2. We flew Air Asia, the budget airlines into Bangkok and so landed not at Suvarnabhoomi Airport, but rather Don Mueng. As you step out of the arrivals terminal, post immigration and on-arrival visa, you will find a number of agents selling you local SIM cards. These travel SIM cards are a great idea simply because they activate immediately, have data and will save you in quite a few sticky spots if you are lost.

3. Don't go in for the premium taxi options that you see right outside the arrivals area and opposite the SIM card counters. Seriously expensive. Instead, ask for directions to the airport taxi stand, where for a fixed meter rate and 50 baht additional you can get to anywhere you want. You will also have to shell out for all the tolls on the way. What is good is that the Metro to the airport is currently under construction and that is going to be a life saver once its done.

 A look at the streets of Bangkok

We got the amazing Mr. Non (as he was emphatic about us addressing him) at the taxi stand. And we drove straight to the AirBnB accommodation we found for ourselves - the one bedroom studio apartment of Stefan, at Idea Mobi in On Nut,(pronounced 'On Noot') less than a stone's throw from the On Nut Metro Station. This station was quite literally our lifeline for travelling across the city.

Since we arrived at the apartment at around 7.30AM, we settled in, stepped out for some breakfast - around the apartment we had choices of the food court at Tesco, which was quite so-so in the morning. There was a 7-11 round the corner and this was a life-saver on all days. The building we stayed at also had a wonderful 24 hour departmental store where we picked up all the supplies for breakfast each evening we were there.

I had booked our first outing in Bangkok at Sealife Bangkok which is located in Paragon Mall, just a few stops away from On Nut. A 15 minute ride tops. Now you can book tickets on the website, can even buy it all at the counter but I managed to book tickets on a group buying site called hotels2thailand . The tickets are available on a sizable discount and when booking for the family it makes total sense. Additional attractions such as the Shark Feeding can be bought on the spot.

The Shark Feeding section. You actually go on a small boat ride inside the tank

What I must say here about hotels2thailand is that their customer service is spot on. I was vary about using a group booking site for our first time abroad. When we got to Sealife, we suddenly realized that I had made a mistake in the days and booked us for a Monday, when we were scheduled to visit Safari World. Since we had the local SIMs, we immediately called the representative listed on our booking and in five minutes, an altered booking for the current day was emailed to us. We spent all of just 20 minutes between discovering the mistake and getting the new ticket and printing it out. A fantastic first impression.

 When you get to watch the ocean's beauty up close

Sea Life is an experience- its hard to imagine that this place is in the basement of a mall. It takes your breath away, no matter what your age. The mesmerizing double floor aquariums, the divers and the feeding tank routines, the shark tanks, the crustaceans, the penguins... I can go on and one, but this is one place to spend at least half a day. There is a cafe inside for minor refreshments, but trust me the Paragon Mall food court is where you want to have your first meal.

The two-storied tank. I spent a good 15 minutes of peaceful staring at the seating gallery here. Of course you could march right up like Anoushka did too!

 Just some of the sights across Sea Life

The Jellyfish section actually has deep sofas for you to sit, relax and lose yourself in the meditative moves of these sea creatures. 

 Some of the breathtaking sights

 The penguins playing a synchronized game on the spur of the moment.

After nearly 3 hours of walking and a fabulous meal at the food court, Anoushka was ready to cave in.. the poor child had a late night flight and even her excitement couldn't keep her up. And so we headed back to the apartment at around 3PM. The next thing we knew it was 7.30PM!

 You don't want to miss the variety of food at the Paragon Food Hall. Make use of the prepaid cash card system to make things easier.

We didn't want to overdo our first day and had heard a lot of about the night markets in Bangkok and as luck would have it, we were staying very close to a popular one- the On Nut Night Market. Stefan, our host guided us to the place, which was less than a kilometer by foot. We got there through a light drizzle in the evening. We just missed the nightly live band which for the sake of the residents around has to wind up by 10.

 The On Nut Night Market. Those steamed cockles were to seriously the best.

But what is really cool is that the night market has two beer gardens placed right next to each other. Surrounding these are a collection of family run restaurants offering a range of Thai cuisine. You settle in front of one beer garden (which serves up more than beer), head out to any of the restaurants and place your order. The food comes straight to your table. We had our first taste of the local beer here as well as shots of Sambuca. By 10.30, we headed back to the apartment and called it a night! An awesome first day to our Bangkok trip.

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