Staying in Bangkok this holiday season? Below are suggestions for some (relatively) new things to see and do with the kids.
1. Play in the snow. Yes, you can now frolic in (manmade) snow at the Harbin Ice Wonderland. Here, it’s -15 degrees Celsius all the time. Highlights include an icy slide and ice carvings of world landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and Bangkok’s own Grand Palace. Bring winter coats!
2. Load up on all things kawaii. Get your cuteness fix at the Sanrio Hello Kitty House in Siam Square. Have lunch or afternoon tea, or book a spa treatment – all surrounded by vibrant colours and the image of the ubiquitous cat and her friends.
3. Learn to golf. Introduce your children, from age 4 onwards, to the game at White Ball Academy, a state-of-the-art indoor facility located in Thonglor. The school is currently hosting several sessions of a holiday junior golf camp, but lessons can be arranged throughout the year.
4. Welcome back an old favourite. Located opposite Chatuchak Weekend Market, the Children’s Discovery Museum will finally re-open on National Children’s Day (January 10, 2015), after three years of extensive renovations. Visit the museum’s two buildings for a variety of fun, hands-on exhibits and activities for both tots and older kids.
5. Discover a new world. The Siam Ocean World aquarium in the basement of Siam Paragon has been rebranded as Bangkok SEA LIFE Ocean World, featuring a number of awesome new exhibits. One highlight includes new Gentoo Penguins, the third largest species in the world.
6. Splash and slide. Spend the day at one of the city’s many water parks. Fantasia Lagoon is a favourite with the younger set. Bigger kids and teens may prefer two huge new parks: Cartoon Network Amazone themed water park on the Eastern Seaboard, with high speed slides, a wave pool and the world’s largest aqua playground; or Vana Nava, a jungle themed water park in Hua Hin.
7. Look for treasures of yesteryear. Fans of all things vintage, retro and hip will be glad to know that the Made by Legacy flea market will return to the parking lot of the State Railway of Thailand, Hua Lamphong, from 3pm until midnight on January 10 to 11, 2015. The theme is “Children”, in celebration of National Children’s Day, so stalls will feature old school toys, classic action hero figures and rare décor items, among other things.
8. Make something. Get the creative juices flowing and make something with the kids. How about a beautiful gingerbread house at the Sheraton Grande on December 21, a Christmas log cake at the Westin Grande on December 20, or a lotus leaf painting at Himapan Gallery?
9. Get a glimpse of life by the river. Hire a long-tail boat from any Chao Phraya River pier, and get a feel for life by the city’s canals. A reputable company is Small Teak Boat Canal Adventure by Pandan Tour. Arrange to explore the canals in Thonburi, or drop by the wonderful Royal Barge Museum to view Thailand’s fleet of intricate royal ceremonial boats.
10. Get off the beaten path. Explore the little known Bang Krachao, Bangkok’s “green oasis” with older kids or teens. Start from the Klongtoey Pier at Wat Klongtoey Nok Temple, and charter a boat to take you across the river. Once you are on the other side, rent bicycles to navigate the elevated pathways that snake around stilted communities, and feel like you’ve gone back several decades in time. Alternately, several bike tour companies offer bikes, a guide and a set itinerary for this ride.
BONUS: Get out of town. Take a short trip outside of Bangkok to one of Thailand’s many beautiful places, from isles and beaches to historic sites and national parks. We are definitely spoiled for choice – Hua Hin, Ko Samet, Karnchanaburi, Khao Yai or Ayutthaya? Read more here.