Visiting Thailand with Children

A child’s education should not begin and end at school time. Vacations are a wonderful opportunity to entertain and educate your children. Youngsters who have traveled abroad and experienced other cultures have a great grounding for future life. They will have seen strange animals, visited temples, eaten different food, learnt a few phrases of a different language and no doubt seen some thought-provoking poverty too.

A long-haul flight is the first hurdle in considering a trip to Thailand. Children need to be old enough to entertain themselves on a long flight and should treat it as a necessary part of the world-travel experience. It is a good idea to have a bag of treats to be opened once the novelty of flying has passed. Include a puzzle book, new pencils and pens, some small snacks and possibly a cheap hand-held game to keep them amused for a while. A lot of airlines now offer seatback on-demand entertainment including TV shows and movies as well as a plethora of video games. Checking which carriers offer these services on which flights will certainly ease the entertainment burden on the parents.

Choosing a resort that caters for children is an essential part of the experience too. Opt for a spacious family room as even the most independent of children may be nervous of strange surroundings at first. Buffet-style meals take the stress out of mealtimes in restaurants, especially as Thai food is a little hot for immature taste buds. Kids clubs and water activities are thoroughly enjoyable, especially to manage the heat, but do make the effort to take trips and really see Thailand’s wonderful culture. If you stick to Ripley’s Museum and dine in MacDonald’s you might as well save the expense and stay nearer home. Kids will remember their first experiences many years later such as feeding and patting a baby elephant, waiting in line to eat from a street vendor, riding in a ‘songthaew’ local taxi or stopping to see a porcupine at the side of the road. Often foreign travel is about the simple things, not the ambitious trips which you may prefer to take as a couple.

Religious tolerance is a necessary skill and it can begin with a guided tour to a local wat. Look around at the amazing decoration, talk about the age of the temple (it can be up to 700 years old!) and relate it to progress in terms of ‘before cars had been invented’. Respect local customs such as removing your shoes before entering a sacred place and sitting with your legs tucked under you, as in Thailand pointing with your feet is terribly rude. A trip like this will spark a thousand questions, but surely that is a good thing, even if you don’t know all the answers!

Take a trip on a long tail boat along the canals in Bangkok or elsewhere, shop in the night markets, point out the physical hard work of farmers in the paddy fields, see where rice comes from and how pineapples grow on the ground and the days will fly for all the family.

The biggest problem with children comes when they are overtired. Encourage an afternoon nap if you have had a long flight the day before, or if you plan to eat out late at night. Above all, enjoy the privilege of showing your children the many wonders of this amazing world of ours, and let them catch the travelbug too.

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