Bangkok – A Family Vacation in South East Asia
Recently on a family vacation to SE Asia we decided to use Bangkok as our port of entry and starting point to explore this part of the world. There are a multitude of ways to get to Bangkok from almost any other major metropolitan city of the world. Bangkok also is a great central hub to travel out to other smaller yet bucket list locations like, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Vietnam, Bali, or to visit Anchor Wat in Siem Reap Cambodia. Bangkok is a great starting point for a family vacation to SE Asia. We stayed in Bangkok for several days in order to allow us to get our time zones adjusted and get rid of our jet lag before heading off to other locations on our itinerary. This is also a great time to review with your kids some of the history and stories behind the sites and places you will be exploring on your family vacation. Being in Bangkok is also a great place to get use to the climate, which is usually hotter and more humid than where most tourists are from, and to go through what cloths you packed. (click here for “Packing List for Traveling South East Asia“). If you needed to buy anything different for your family travels then Bangkok with all its shopping is the place to do it!
Note: It’s a good practice on any family travel that you will have several hours of time zone change and having to deal with jetlag to stay the first couple days in a convenient location where you can relax and still take in a few sites. Just don’t start in a location that you will feel inclined to head out site seeing and filling your days with adventure until you have time to get adjusted. (see – “Travel Time – Kids and Different Time Zones”)
From the second we arrived we fell in love with Bangkok’s culture and the Thai people. The people of Thailand are extremely friendly and willing to go out of their way to help you and insure you are enjoying their country. It is important for you to honor their cultural traditions, like wearing appropriate attire and taking your shoes off when entering various building or temples. If you do and attempt to speak a few Thai words and phrases, you’ll receive the best customer service and friendliest responses ever. You’ll be so spoiled that you may have a hard time returning back home.
Bangkok, the capital of Thailand and its largest city, offers diversity while still maintaining the true Thai culture. Bangkok is the 19th largest city in the world and has consistently stayed in the top 20. Over 22% of the country of Thailand’s population lives in and around the greater Bangkok area.
The first impression you get coming into Bangkok is how large and spread out the city is. Downtown Bangkok is filled with both old and new. It has large skyscrapers as well as older historical buildings all intertwined together. A large modern skyscraper stands right next door to a historic Buddhist temple. A mega high end shopping mall loaded with all the top fashion brands represented will be right next door to a street day market filled with inexpensive goods.
Because Bangkok is so big and has grown so fast the biggest problem is the structure. Traffic is everywhere and on every street. The city has not been unable to keep up with modern public transportation and roadways to handle the amount of cars and motorcycles that reside within the city.The first impression you get coming into Bangkok is how large and spread out the city is. Click To Tweet
Bangkok, even though it’s has diversity from around the world, it still maintains its predominantly Buddhist Thai culture. Buddhist temples and schools are located everywhere and are easily seen with all their decorative and colorful architecture. It’s hard to go a few blocks without spotting one. The other thing you’ll see everywhere is the images of the Royal Family and the King of Thailand (historically known as the King of Siam). The current monarch of Thailand has reigned since June 9th, 1946, making him the world’s longest reigning current monarch and the world’s longest serving head of state. The people of Thailand love their king and it shows everywhere you go. Photos and large banners are displayed everywhere and the Thai people make it well known that their respect the Royal Family.
Staying in Bangkok there is a multitude of choices. From hostels and small boutique hotels to large five star hotels and resorts there is something for everyone. Compared to the USA and most of Europe, Bangkok is relatively cheap. Bangkok is a major economic representative in Asia yet it is inexpensive to travel to and to stay. A true value for the quality the city has to offer. Because of the great exchange rate the prices for even the high end hotels seemed relatively inexpensive, compared to the USA. We decided to stay in the heart of the city at the Centara Grand at Center World. This is a large high end hotel that resides in a skyscraper above one of Bangkok’s premier high end shopping malls and is also home to Bangkok’s convention center. Most of the high-rise hotels offer breathtaking views of the city and have rooftop pools and restaurants to take it all in.
Heading out to the countryside, jungles, and beaches of Thailand is usually where you’ll want to spend most all of your time. Even so a few days in Bangkok can be well worth it. In the city and within the greater Bangkok area there is a lot to experience and see. From the Royal palace, Buddhist temples, the famous Floating Markets, shopping that will overwhelm you, and taking longboat rides down the Mekong River where you’ll see Thai huts sitting on stilts over the water on one side and the most elaborately ornate Buddhist temples on the other.
If you really want adventure or something different try staying a night at the Thai House, a B&B or sorts, where you’ll stay in a traditional Thai residnece on a farm and learn to cook the best organic Thai food ever! They will pick you up at your hotel in Bangkok and take you down to the Mekong River where they will take you in a long boat up the river for about an hour. You’ll arrive at the Thai House where you’ll get the experience to go to a local market to shop and you’ll learn to cook you meals for lunch and dinner. It’s a great place for a couple or a family. The kids will enjoy it too!
After a few days exploring Bangkok you’ll have a great sense of the true Thailand. Its culture, economics, history, innovation, and most of all the Thai pride! Bangkok is one of those cities in the world that you must see. It truly has something for everyone, whether a single backpacker to a family with young children. Most of all don’t forget to shop and eat all you can of some of the best food in the world!