In the USA, if a child is found in a car without a car seat it could make the news. All states have laws regarding the use of child safety seats. In Thailand, seeing a child without a safety seat is standard. It is sometimes rarer to see a child in a car seat than it is to see a child without one (not to mention when babies are riding on motorbikes). A car seat is something that we just would not compromise on – sorry Thailand, but we were going to use our car seat in your taxis, like it or not.

We decided on a convertible car seat after reading some reviews on Safe Convertible Car Seats. We bought the best convertible car seat so that we could also use it on the plane. This worked out well and the seat was a comfortable fit. We were nervous at the start as it seemed as though it was not going to fit, but after removing the cup holders it squeezed in nicely.

This time we arrived into Chiang Mai. Once we landed, we got a taxi and had our first attempt at fitting our car seat into a Thai car. The taxi driver was insistent that we did not need to fit the car seat, but we refused to accept this. Luckily he was polite and allowed us to fit the car seat. Other drivers were not as polite.

With this in mind, we bought a car seat that is easy to attach. We needed one that was both lightweight for travel and was quick to install (so that it did not annoy the driver or us). The seat we bought turned out to work perfectly and I would definitely recommend a convertible car seat for your trip to Thailand.

Our older child no longer requires a car seat but still uses a booster seat. For her, we decided on an inflatable booster seat. This turned out to be a great option. It was so easy to use, worked in every car (and on the plane) and was compact when we needed to store in as luggage.

I have also been asked if you should bring a car seat with you or buy one once you’re there. Car seats can be cheap to buy in Thailand, but they are hard to find and they may not be as safe as one that is approved for use in the USA. Therefore I definitely recommend bringing it with you. Find one you can use on the plane and you will be set for your entire trip.

hotel pooljpg


It seems I start off talking about how we like staying in Bangkok in every post I write. Which is because I do. However, we do like Bangkok and so do find ourselves staying there a lot.

We have almost always done short trips of a few days and stayed in hotels. Now, though, we are considering a longer stay in Bangkok and it has had me looking over the options.


This is the most obvious choice. Bangkok has no shortage of hotels, ranging from cheap and somewhat grimy guesthouses to cheap chain hotels all the way up to super luxury hotels.

On my first trip to Thailand I stayed in a cheap backpacker place off the Khao San road. It was simple and just comfortable enough but had a great location. These days I am a bit more discerning.

That said, I am still budget conscious. I look for good value family hotel rooms from international chains. The French chain Accor, with its Ibis hotles, offers some of the best value and if you book a bit ahead has some fantastic rates.

Theres plenty of luxury hotels, too. Weve stayed at the Parthawan Princess hotel which is built over the MBK centre, our favourite place in Bangkok. Weve also had a lovely stay at The Sukosol, closer to the centre of the city. That was really nice.

One of the draw backs for a hotel is that they may not have family rooms or that those family rooms are significantly more expensive than other rooms, meaning it can be just as cheap to book two rooms which stops being that cheap even if you get a great rate.


With the rise of Air BnB getting an apartment in Bangkok has never been easier. Theres tons of options of all different types. For longer stays they can provide significant savings as they come with facilities to cook or clean your own clothes which can help save money.

Many apartments in Bangkok are built in complexes and have facilities like laundries, shops, pools and even playgrounds within them that you get access to as part of your stay. This means you dont need to go out much if you dont want to. They tend to have good security too, with secured entrances and full time security guards monitoring who comes in.

Many larger complexes have restaurants just outside the door that will deliver to your door (which not everyone can do thanks to the security).

Theres a lot of serviced apartments, too. Some of those on Air BNB have this as an option but you can go to proper, hotel like, serviced apartment complexes which have the advantages of being like a hotel with more space and a cheaper price.

Chang Mai has a lot of temples to see!

Chang Mai has a lot of temples to see!

Chang Mai is a wonderful small city in the north of Thailand. Close to the Golden Triangle it is a very different Thailand to the bustle of Bangkok or the laid back (or hedonistic, depending on your experience) beaches of Thailand. Chang Mai is a place of more traditional Thai culture and cooking and is a laid back and thoroughly enjoyable place.

What’s There

One of the main attractions to Chang Mai is the history. There are many temples and old buildings of significance to explore right in the city or a short distance away. Its a great place for day trips.

Food is another attraction as Chang Mai has its own distinct style of cooking, being so far away from the sea like many other places. The food in Chang Mai tends to be very fresh and also incredibly cheap. Indeed prices for many things like street food or massages is significantly less than elsewhere. Half hour massages can be had for 100 baht.

There is a wonderful night market in the centre of Chang Mai that is great to explore with kids. Theres lots of wonderful food and things to see. While it can be a bit touristy lots of it is still for locals, who are the majority there.

Theres also some great cooking and massage schools if youre interested in learning Thai cooking or Thai Massage. The cheaper living in Chang Mai means that you can go to a week long course if you want. Theres plenty of schools to choose from, and different course lengths.

I found Wikitravel’s Chang Maipage a really good source of information and ideas.

Where to stay

In Chiang Mai, your money can stretch pretty far, and a lot further than many of the other popular cities in Thailand like Bangkok and Phuket. Not only is it cheap, but because it is such an expat focused city, Chiang Mai has plenty of modern, clean and cheap hostels.

The best hostels in Chiang Mai are to be found in the old part of the city. There’s loads scattered around and getting around by foot isn’t difficult. You can read some Chiang Mai hostel reviews here to help you find a place to stay.

Getting There

Most people will fly into Chang Mai from Bangkok, which takes about eighty minutes. The airport at Chang Mai is small and close to the city taxis are easy and safe to use to get between them.

Theres a number of international flights from Chang Mai if youre flying into Thailand from neighbouring countries like Laos.

You can also take the train, which takes about 13 hours from Thailand. There are day and overnight trains and this option can be significantly cheaper than a flight although tickets can be hard closer to departure as travel agencies will buy large blocks of them to resell with a markup.

You can check out my getting around post for a bit more discussion on transport.


Bangkok's Main Station - a hive of activity as the train is a great way to get around Thailand.

Bangkok’s Main Station – a hive of activity as the train is a great way to get around Thailand.

As I’ve talked about before we usually fly in and out of Bangkok when travelling to Thailand. We like to have a little stopover either at the start or the end of our journey and Bangkok has a lot more options in terms of carriers flying in and out. This makes for cheaper flights, which are often the biggest single cost (or second after accommodation) for our Thailand holidays.

This means Bangkok is the start and end point. So how do we get around the other parts of the country? Heres a quick overview of the better transport options in Thailand.


No doubt the quickest way and really the easiest way is by flying. From Bangkok nowhere is more than an hour and a half away at the most. Bangkok is located in quite a central position to the rest of the country.

Theres several airlines that serve Thailand domestically. Nok Air, Thai Smiles (Thais low cost version), Bangkok Airways and Air Asia Thailand all serve the country comprehensively. Thai Airways of course covers the country but tends to be more expensive. Air fares are not very expensive if booking ahead although they can get quite expensive at the last minute as flying is a popular choice for locals and tourists.

Most cities have just one airport and these tend to be located not too far from the city they serve. In Bangkok some domestic flights go from Don Mueang, the old main airport and others go from the new Suvarnabhumi Airport.

For families it is hard to go past flights, especially for longer journeys . While there is the pain of going to and then waiting in the airport it is all relatively comfortable and most importantly quick.


I loved taking the train in Thailand before having a family. They were comfortable and a great way to see the countryside. Thailands Railways do a good job of covering the country although many destinations may be a few hours off from the nearest railway line. This is particularly the case down south where the main beach areas are some way from the railway to Malaysia which runs predominately inland.

The Man In Seat 61s Thailand Page does a much better job of covering the details than I could.

In terms of getting around its a great choice for families if youre looking at going somewhere where the airlines dont or cant go, especially to places near Bangkok. Tickets are relatively cheap and the travel is comfortable.

Longer journeys are simply too long for us to take our kids on. Its 12 or more hours north to Chang Mai or South to Hat Yai.

Road Travel

Theres hardly anywhere youd want to go that isnt achievable by road.

Buses might be a suitable choice although public buses might not be very comfortable. For major destinations there are tourist class road coaches which are better but it can be a long way in a bus, even a comfortable one.

For this reason I dont use buses much myself and so cannot recommend them. If money is a factor then they are worth investigating but we avoid them with or kids as even the better ones can feel cramped after a while.

If you can afford it a better alternative is to hire a car and driver. Although more expensive than a bus it can be good value. You can hire a car as far as you like but good value exists on heavily travelled routes like between Pattaya and Bangkok. Depending on the size of vehicle you need you can travel to places around Bangkok for around 2000 baht.

The MBK centre during the day. It's big!

The MBK centre during the day. It’s big!

There’s one place in Thailand that we keep coming back to –Bangkok. It started off because that’s where it was easiest to fly in to. And so we’d often break the journey up with a day or two in Bangkok after flying in and before flying out (which we had to often do anyway, because of the time of our flights. So we got to see Bangkok semi-regularly.

Regardless of where in Thailand we go – like down south to Krabi – we always look forward to our Bangkok stopover.

Our Favourite Thing to Do

There’s lots of things to do in and around Bangkok, and shopping is one of them. The city has some great shopping plazas. The biggest is MBK. We’d go there all the time as it had loads of cheap shops that even sold clothes big enough for us, which not all of them do. Plus there was so much else on offer – cheap but good food, entertainment, cheap electronics accessories, lots to do.

If we were flying home though Bangkok we would come here for a day before flying out and stock up on all sorts of things that were cheaper there than back home. Basic medicines, shampoos, kids clothes, phone cases and accessories -all were cheaper here than at home and we’d made sure we had a large amount of room left in our suitcases to fit it all in.

Staying There

MBK is so big it even has its own hotel! The Pathumwan Princess Hotel is built right on top of the shopping centre and you don’t even need to go outside to get between the two- there’s an entrance to the hotel from the top level. It’s a luxury hotel, so not super cheap and we have yet to try it out (rather spend all our money shopping), but if you’re keen to shop till you drop then it is well worth a look.

Getting There and Away

It is easy to get to MBK. To get their via the BTS go to the National Stadium station, it has walkways right into MBK. Every tuk-tuk and taxi driver will know where to go as well. How much that costs depends on where you’re coming in from.

There’s a taxi rank out one of the main entrances for when you want to head home. Sometimes the queues can be really (really) long so we often go to the main road and try and hail a passing empty one.

Where To Go

What are you after? If it is clothes then try level three, where there are a number of small clothes stalls set up like a street market on one half of the floor. The quality varies from stall to stall but there are some good prices. Proper clothes shops on this level tend to sell more expensive clothes but very good quality. The main issue is that they do not always have larger sizes.

For electronics, level 3 is also the place to go. There’s lots of good priced accessories here and things like USB memory sticks can be had for good prices. You can buy Android and Windows based tablets and phones but depending on the exchange rate the price might not be enough to make up for a lack of warranty and other support. Software, games, and DVDs – real copies and fakes – can be bought for cheap as well. Counterfeit software might have viruses in them, though, so be careful.

And for food, try the hawker centre at the western end of level 5. You buy coupons and then pay for food using them. Dishes are very cheap (from just 40 baht) and there is a big range of choices. For more fast and western food, head to level 7.

thaistrollerOne of the most common questions I get asked is about how the kids handle getting around. This isn’t just applicable about our travels in Thailand but of travelling with kids anywhere. That said, it’s perhaps more relevant for places like Thailand because footpaths (or sidewalks if you will) are not always as common or “user friendly” as they are at home or in other, more developed, places.

Generally, we try and get our kids to walk when we can. This is for a couple of reasons. First because it’s good for them, and second it means our kids set the pace for Amanda and I, and helps us be more in tune with how our kids are experiencing things.

But kids get tired. Or refuse to walk. Or in some places it’s not that walker friendly (like when there aren’t any footpaths). This is where travelling with kids can get tricky and where my best kid travelling advice comes into play: a high quality, lightweight, umbrella (folding) stroller.

Sure you can carry a child, if they are light enough, and you have only one (per parent anyway) and it’s safe enough but generally a good quality umbrella stroller is easier and safer, and if it is lightweight it doesn’t add too much to your luggage.

Where to look for information

There’s lots of strollers to chose from, and it can be hard finding the right one. Luckily, there is quite a good number websites out there that give some good advice on finding and selecting the best umbrella stroller, with reviews on great lightweight strollers.

I’ve been asked about and seen some speculation about renting strollers in Thailand but have yet to come across any decent information. If you have any please pass it on.

Things to consider

When looking to buy an umbrella stroller there’s a few things to keep in mind. The first is the dimensions of the stroller itself. A lighter weight makes it easier to carry around when not in use, and help with airline weight limits if you need to check it in. Some airlines will not include child equipment, but some will. And if it is small enough when folded up some airlines will let you take it to the gate or stairs, to be then checked in at the very end. This is quite useful, let me tell you.

The other things to keep in mind have to do with durability. Not everywhere in Thailand is stroller friendly. Footpaths can be in poor shape or you may need to walk on tracks or roads. Solid polyethylene wheels are much better for taking rough treatment than inflatable, pneumatic wheels. And finally, as expected, higher quality materials and construction ensure the stroller can go the difference. Sadly this tends to have a correlation to price but I’ve found spending more on a good quality stroller pays off as it goes the distance and can be used for multiple kids due to the longer lifespan.

Cheaper umbrella strollers have their pros and cons. They tend to be smaller and lighter, which makes them easier to transport when not in use. But if you’re tall then they are less comfortable to use. And they tend to lack the same quality breaks or safety harness. Unless you plan to use them only in airports or malls I’d opt to buy a better one.


Not everyone wants to take a stroller, or they are going to places – like Bangkok – where strollers are not worth the effort. It’s worth considering the alternatives. For smaller kids that do not weigh too much you can always carry them. To make the job easier (and safer) you can buy baby carriers, like the famous Baby Bjorn, or slings.

These certainly are much more portable than a stroller, and can be used in a lot more places. That said, I’ve walked along a slippery footpath after it rained and slipped while wearing a carrier. While my daughter Sarah escaped with nothing more than a scare it did teach me a lesson about the stability of a stroller.

And finally there’s some people who advocate leashes for kids when they are too old to carry. I see them every now and then (both here in England and overseas) but have never seen the appeal, as it seems a bit, I don’t know, demeaning. But to each their own…

Kid on a leash

railay beachMy review of Ao Nang ended in a bit of a downer about the boats, true, but they doesn’t mean you are stuck in Ao Nang for your entire stay. There a few beaches around that cannot be reached by road and the only way to get to them is by boat. These beaches are quite stunning, small coves lined with beautiful sand and huge white cliffs.

Getting there

The best and most popular of these is Railay (pronounced ray-lay) Beach. It is a short 10 minute boat ride from Ao Nang. Getting a boat there is very easy. We went to the main beach and at one end there was a ticket stand selling tickets at 100 baht each. There were some seats for waiting at.

Because the boats operate as a collective you get marshalled at the ticket office for the next available boat. The wait will not be too long as there are boats going all the time.

We got to Railay Beach around 10am and things were already quite busy. The beach looked nice and we managed to find a slightly shady spot to sit towards one end of the cresent shapped beach. The sand was nice but as the tide went out it looked quite grey.

One thing that really annoyed me was the boats again! They were moored in the very centre of the beach, just out of the low tide line and took the prime position. The noise was a factor, but to be expected. The sucking up of so much of the beach seemed to be a shame to me.

What’s there?

For a place cut off as it is, Railay Beach has some good facilities. There are places to stay, and really nice ones at that. I’d have loved to have stayed at one of the beachside resorts. There are shops and plenty of places to eat and drink, and a really cool ice cream store right on the beach (near the centre).

Most of the places to eat are on a path that leaves the beach in the middle of its length. This path goes all the way to the other side of the isthmus, where there is another, slightly less developed, beach. Indeed the entire path gets less developed and cruder as you go on. But go on you should, for there is some great value eating places around five minute walk from the beach where less people bother to go. We had a great value (and great tasting lunch).

After lunch we headed back to the beach for some ice cream. It was getting really hot and shade was becoming scarce. Also, with the tide going out, paddling in the water became a less attractive proposition.

Getting back

We left early in the afternoon. It was a quiet time to go back so we had to wait a while for a boatload of people ready to make the journey. This was annoying but unavoidable as the only way around it was to hire an entire boat.

That said we had a great day at Railay and went back another day to visit again. My advice would be to avoid the low tide time and go earlier in the day or in the afternoon.

Want an inland destination rather than the beach? Read our article on Chang Mai.

Ao Nang beach near out hotel

Ao Nang beach near out hotel


This year my family and I were lucky enough to take a trip to Southern Thailand. We decided to have a look around the Krabi region. There are several places to stay in Krabi but we chose to stay in the small town of Ao Nang, not far from the main Krabi city of Krabi Town.

The Krabi Region

Krabi is in Southern Thailand, on the coast of the Andaman Sea. Like other areas of Thailand, Krabi has some great natural scenery, complete with stunning limestone karsks (the cliffs and hills that jut up from the landscape). Not to mention the great beaches. Krabi is not far from Phuket, but tends to be not as busy.

The main city in the region is Krabi Town. You can stay in Krabi Town and there are plenty of places to stay there, but Krabi Town (most of it anyway) is not on the beach and so most tourists choose to stay somewhere else. There are lots and lots of resorts in the area, and many hotels and smaller resorts in the towns that are on the coast.

I found lots of good Krabi information, for the entire region, at

Getting to Ao Nang

Ao Nang is easy to get to from either Krabi Town or from the nearest international airport, Krabi Airport. A taxi or hire car from there to Ao Nang takes around 40 minutes. A taxi from Krabi Town to Ao Nang or vice versa will take 15 minutes. Getting back to the airport is easy as there are lots of travel agencies who will help you arrange a car from 600 baht or a scheduled minibus service.

However a popular way to get into Krabi Town from Ao Nang is on local buses, known as songthaew. These run frequently from many different parts of town, and usually have their route marked on them so you know where it is going. They take much longer than a taxi because of their stops and indirect route but for 30 baht it is a cheap way to get around and a great local experience.

Some people like to try and get to and from the airport using nothing but songthaew, which apparently is possible.

Where To Stay

There are a lot of places to stay in Ao Nang, for all types of budgets. Unsurprisingly, the closer it is to the beach the more expensive it tends to be. Many international chains have recently started building places in Ao Nang, like Holiday Inn or Ibis, but as they are newer they are also back from the beach.

We stayed at the Chaya Resort, which was opposite the beach towards the north-west edge of town. It was a great place to stay.

Eating (and Drinking)

There are so many places to eat that it is hard to get into specifics. Lots of different types of food, in fact I’d almost say there was not enough places serving Thai food. A lot of places were expensive, or maybe its just been too long since I’ve been to Thailand and inflation has hit…hard. There was not many places with dishes under 150 baht, but generally the quality matched the price and you got what you paid for.

Like any tourist place in Thailand there are plenty of places to drink from cheap beer shacks to fancy bars.

The Beaches

And finally, the beaches of Ao Nang. While I loved Ao Nang, I have to say I felt a bit let down by the beaches there. The beach opposite our resort was a bit pebbly, not the best sort of sand. The other beach, the main one, to the south of where we stayed had better sand and nice water. But the beaches were marred by lots of noise coming from, the long boats that take people to nearby attractions. They go and arrive constantly and tended to take up the prime beach bits, so the beachers were a bit of a let down. Had a better beach experience in Krabi? Then let me know!

kids in thailand

Thailand is a great place to go with your young family. However, there are certain things that you need to pack when going for a holiday to Thailand with kids. Failure to pack these things could lead to major inconveniences. Trust me, the last thing you want to be – on any holiday with kids – is unprepared. Without further ado, we will proceed to look at the essential things which you should pack when going for a holiday to Thailand with kids and they include:

A stroller to move the kids around

Without the help of a stroller, moving the kids around can be a major inconvenience and, as we said, the last thing you need in a holiday is inconvenience. Then again, if you are trying to avoid inconvenience, you need to go a step further and ensure that you have the right type of stroller. At the very least, that has to be a lightweight stroller. What you are looking for here is a stroller that can serve you well when visiting Thailand’s tourist attractions or when out shopping in the malls. A lightweight umbrella stroller works perfectly when visiting the tourist attraction sites and when shopping in the malls which is precisely what you need.

I’ve found if you’re using suitcases with wheels on them, then some sort of luggage strap or octopus strap to hold a folded up umbrella stroller to your case works well.

Enough clothes for the kids

You shouldn’t have to worry about the laundry on your holiday, especially if is a short holiday, as that takes the fun out of it. The only way to be sure that you won’t have such worries is by carrying enough clothes for the kids. Your allocation should be two sets of clothes for each day in the holiday. While at it, you need to ensure that you have the right clothes for the sorts of activities you will be taking part in throughout your Thailand tour.

Your kids’ favourite toys (the small ones)

These can give the kids a sense of comfort, and a sense of being at home wherever you go in the course of your Thailand tour. Don’t carry too many of these though, otherwise the kids will be distracted and not get to enjoy the holiday experiences. Also, ensure that you don’t carry the bulkier toys, as that will cause you lots of inconvenience.

A camera for capturing memorable moments

This is an obvious item, but one that you can quite easily forget in your hurry to pack things. You need a camera in order to be able to capture scenes if nothing else, for the benefit of the kids when they grow. A high quality camera that is small in size and light in weight is recommended here. A specialized camera often turns out to be better than the one in a phone.

Baby feeding utensils

Here, (and depending on the age of the kids, of course) we are looking at things like a baby’s spoon, a baby’s fork, baby’s cup and so on. If you don’t carry these things along, you may find yourself having to run around shopping for them in Thailand. This sort of a hassle would definitely inconvenience you, and take some fun out of your holiday.

Any medications

Take any necessary medications with you, although it is easy to find most things in Thailand. Check out any health advisories before you go.

With a bit of preparation, a family holiday in Thailand can be very successful. Enjoy your trip!

MNK Centre in Bangkok

MBK Centre in Bangkok

Thailand has come to be regarded as one of the best travel destinations for families. As a result of that fact, we have a situation where many of the people planning, family holiday destinations rate Thailand as their first choice. Indeed, millions of families from all over the world head to Thailand every year. We are interested in identifying the specific factors that make Thailand perfect for families. Those include the facts that:

Thailand is a safe country

For people who are travelling with their families, especially where kids are involved, security tends to be a major consideration. Thailand is well rated, in terms of safety. To put it in simple terms, the probability of one being a victim of crime while in Thailand is very low. The probability of one’s kids being harmed while on a trip to Thailand is also very low.

To be sure, Thailand has been in the news in the recent past, on account of political intrigues going on there. What we have not had, however, are reports about tourists being harmed. Thailand goes to great lengths to secure its tourists: this being a country whose economy depends a great deal on tourism. You can therefore be assured of a near-perfect degree of security while in Thailand, and this is one of the reasons behind the attractiveness of Thailand as a family destination.

See the FAQ page for more notes on the current political situation as well as links to national travel advisories such as the UK one.

Thailand has a well developed hospitality industry

People who are traveling with their families want to be assured that they will have access to comfortable accommodation and other necessary facilities. It takes a country with a very highly developed hospitality industry to guarantee access to such facilities. Thailand fits that bill perfectly: with its world class hotels and other related facilities. So well developed is the hospitality industry in Thailand that the probability of a family traveling there missing comfortable accommodation is very low. Other things like nice places to eat out and tour guides to take the family around are also easily accessible.

Thailand has a huge variety of tourist attractions

This means that a family tour to Thailand is bound to be fun-filled. This also means that a person traveling with kids to Thailand is assured that the kids won’t get bored, as there is so much variety. It helps too that with its pristine beaches, Thailand is a very beautiful place and as a result of that fact, a Thai vacation is likely to be a memorable one for the family.

Getting around Thailand is easy

Thailand has invested heavily in transport infrastructure, and getting around the country is easy. For people traveling with their families, especially where kids are involved, one of the less desirable things would be a situation where they get stuck on the road.

Read more about getting around Thailand.

Thailand is an affordable destination

The affordability of Thailand as a travel destination means that, in the final analysis, one gets great value for money. With so many airlines going to Thailand, flying there is not an expensive affair. With so many hotels competing for clients in Thailand, staying there is not expensive either. Yet for its relatively low cost, Thailand has more to offer than other much costlier destinations.

Ready to go yet?!

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