Bangkok for Families

27 June 2014, BKK Kids

Welcome to Bangkok! Although the city size and population can seem overwhelming on first introduction, Bangkok is a dynamic city for raising children and offers a diverse range of Playgroups, Activities and Classes for English speaking children. The Health and Education services are wide-ranging and match an international quality standards.

Our guide below is a general introduction to kids in Bangkok and provides some advice from local parents raising bi-lingual, bi-cultural and third culture children in this wonderful city. If you are planning to reside in Bangkok, we encourage you to join our Facebook community.

Please be aware that the advice given here should not be taken as fact or replace medical or legal advice.

Customs & Etiquette
The ‘wai’ or pressing of palms together is the official greeting in Thailand and denotes respect and gratitude. A beaming smile, polite demeanor and general interest in the Thai language and culture will also win you the hearts of  Thai’s. They are very kind and hospitable people with a genuine love of children.

To insure you are being respectful of local customs, try to refrain from touching or patting children’s hair, as the head is considered the highest part of the body. Equally, feet are considered the lowest part of the body and shouldn’t be used to point at an object or a person. Removing your shoes when entering temples, Thai homes and some businesses is recommended.

The Kingdom of Thailand is ruled by Bhumibol Adulyadej, also known as Rama IX. The King is loved by all and is the world’s longest serving current head of state and the longest reigning monarch in Thailand. At 6.00am and 20.00pm each day, the national anthem is played throughout Thailand. When the anthem is played, everyone stops what they are doing and stands in reverence of the country and their great leader, Rama IX.

Bangkok is home to some of the world’s most spectacular temples and historical landmarks. When visiting these sites, please be respectful and aware of the dress code (for specific details, read our Tips section under each of the listed Activities).

Children
Thai people have a genuine love of children and will shower them with attention. Try to discuss this with your children so they can better understand why strangers are squeezing their legs, giving them a kiss or taking their photograph.

Getting Around
The BTS (skytrain) and MRT (subway) are the most convenient forms of public transport in Bangkok. Individual tickets or bulk discount cards can be purchased at the station. Although widespread, the BTS and MRT don’t reach all areas of Bangkok. Take care to check before leaving for your destination.

Taxis are the most common form of transport in Bangkok. You’re required to check with the driver first before they will take you to your intended location. Depending on the area, they may not accept your ride. It is important to check that the meter is turned on and is not jumping in price at an enormous rate. If this happens, kindly pay the fair and find the next available taxi. If you are travelling with children, be aware that there are no seatbelts or carseats available.

Tuk-tuk’s are a cheap and convenient way to get around busy areas. You will need to negotiate the price first, which can be amped up in tourist areas. Take extra precaution with children as the vehicle is open on all sides.

Foreigners are permitted to drive in Thailand on an International Drivers License. If you plan to reside here permanently, you can obtain a Thai license with the transportation office.

Climate & Pollution
There are generally two seasons in Thailand, wet and dry. The heat and humidity varies accordingly. The best time for children to play outside is early morning and late afternoon. Don’t be dampened by the broad cityscape, there are plenty of green spaces and parks for children to run free. Pollution in the city center is worse than the outer suburbs, and heightens around peak driving hours.

Health & Safety
Private hospitals in Thailand are state-of-the-art facilities, with an extensive range of specialised physicians. Visiting a General Practitioner in your local suburb is uncommon, hospitals cater to most needs including dental, physiotherapy and natural medicine. For current practitioner referrals, talk with our Facebook community directly.

The hospitals in Bangkok offer infant and childhood vaccinations, which vary from hospital to hospital. The recommended vaccines may differ from foreign countries, so be sure to talk with your health care provider and be informed of local health threats.

Bangkok is hot and with intense heat comes dehydration. Be sure to drink plenty of water. For safety purposes, avoid drinking tap water.

Food poisoning and food borne illness are common in Bangkok. If purchasing street food, be wary of refried foods or raw meat that has been sitting out for long periods of time. Avoid purchasing drinks with ice and use a straw when you can.

Mosquitoes are a frustrating concern for parents raising children in Bangkok. They like damp and dark places, and multiply in the rain season. While the risk of malaria is low, dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis are not uncommon. Take extra care to prevent bites. For personal advice from other parents, talk with our Facebook community.

Weaver ants are another concern around children. Small and transparent in color, they live in high leafy bushes and while they are not venomous, their bite is painful and long lasting. To learn more, see Weaver Ants.

Be sure to watch where you walk in gardened areas, as there are snakes in Bangkok and some are venomous. If your child is bitten go straight to the nearest hospital.

You will notice stray animals on the Bangkok streets. It is best to avoid these animals and make your children aware of the possible dangers. While there are few cases of rabies left in Bangkok, it is still a critical health concern and you should take care to avoid contact. If you see a particularly worrisome  animal, please contact the Pet Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

When visiting Animal attractions, we recommend that you refrain from attending performances that seem unnatural or forced, including photography with animals that you would otherwise not approach in the wild. If you see anything out-of-the-ordinary, we encourage you to contact the Thai Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TSPCA).

Education
Bangkok offers an incredible selection of schools with Thai, British, Canadian, Australian and American curriculums. When selecting a school, be sure to consider the curriculum, location, staffing, facilities and fees. Generally parents will meet with the school and tour the grounds prior to making a selection. To find a school in your local area, search our Education page. For personal recommendations, talk with our Facebook community.

Shopping
Bangkok is full of designer shops and mega malls, but most of your day-to-day baby items can be found at your local Big C, Tops, Tesco Lotus or Villa Market. This includes diapers, formula and other baby essentials. If you are looking for an imported brand, try some of the larger malls such as Siam Paragon, Emporium or Central (various locations throughout Bangkok). Keep in mind that imported goods are significantly more expensive. Your local market, Chatuchak Weekend Market or MBK will have children’s clothing and toys at a low price.

Dual Pricing System
There is an unofficial Dual Pricing System that applies to most attractions in Bangkok. Foreigners can up to 300% of the price Thai nationals are required to pay. This is the nature of the tourism industry in Thailand and in many cases supports local business and community. If you hold a Permanent Resident VISA in Thailand, have a Diplomatic Passport or Work Permit, you may be granted local prices.

Stroller Loans
Most of the major shopping malls offer strollers loans for a small fee, or in some cases free of charge.

If you have any further questions, feel free to post on our Facebook wall. If you have any advice you would like to include on this page, please email us.

Bangkok can be an overwhelming city in size and population. While the hustle can seem daunting at times, be assured that Bangkok offers all the delights and modern facilities of any other developed city in the world. It won’t be long before you’re calling this amazing city home and enjoying the plethora of Activities available at your doorstep.

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