If you have some time off this holiday season, take in some local colour and culture at these 5 great family-friendly destinations.
Set amid 320 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens in Samut Prakan (around 30 kilometers from Bangkok), Ancient City is home to 116 replicas of significant architectural buildings and monuments. These include historical temples, palaces, pavilions and stupas – some of which are full-sized models while others are scaled-down versions – but all are historically accurate. In between sights, enjoy a rest and a bite to eat at one of the various restaurants or the Floating Market. The stunning grounds are far too large to explore by foot. Instead, consider taking the tram tour in the morning, or rent out a golf cart by the hour. Much easier on little feet!
Not only is Wat Pho the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok, but it also has the largest collection of Buddha images anywhere Thailand – around 1,000 in total! But the most famous (and stunning) of these images is unquestionably the Reclining Buddha. Representing the Buddha’s passing into nirvana, this 46m long statue is coated in gold leaf and the soles of its feet are inlaid with beautiful mother-of-pearl. The kids will undoubtedly find this the most fascinating part of their visit. But they’ll also love dropping coins in the alms bowls situated by the Buddha as well as exploring the picturesque gardens within the grounds, complete with waterfalls, trees and mythical creatures carved from stone.
Known as the world’s largest teak building, Vimanmek Mansion is the principal part of the Dusit Palace Complex. The mansion was originally built by King Rama V during the beginning of the 20th century as a royal residence. The mansion fell into disrepair until the 1980s when her Majesty the Queen rediscovered Vimanmek, had it restored and made it available to the public. Today visitors can see beautiful historic artifacts, ceramics and several fully furnished rooms from the time of King Rama V. History comes to life and young visitors will have a great time peeking into the past.
Right next to Vimanmek is the beautiful Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, surrounded by its extensive grounds. Construction was started in 1907 by King Rama V and was completed in the reign of King Rama VI. With its elegant neo-classical Renaissance style and fine white marble structure, the Throne Hall is the dominating structure in the Royal Plaza. The inside is decorated with carvings of the Chakri dynasty, beautiful murals and paintings and many exquisite pieces produced by Thai artisans under the support of H.M. Queen Sirikit. If you would like to visit, be sure to check if it’s open, as the Hall is still used for official occasions and might be closed to the public. Also, there is a strict dress code all visitors should observe: no sleeveless shirts and shorts, and skirts must cover the knees.
Pak Klong Talad is one of Bangkok’s highlights and it is great fun for visitors of any age. As the biggest flower market in town, there are an endless number of stands offering anything from jasmine flowers to roses. Young visitors will have a great time seeing the colorful floral arrangements and exploring the many narrow alleys. Just be careful of vendors pushing large crates and trolleys! The market offers way more than flowers, though. If you have time to explore its other sections, you will find long isles full of vegetables and fruits, dried and fresh spices, and locally processed foods like freshly made coconut milk. Plan a full morning to explore this wonderland of sights and smells and maybe find the time to make your own flower garland.
Photo credit: Ancient City Group