Planning for Thailand

In less than six weeks we are heading for our first family trip to Thailand (and Asia for that matter).

I’ve been to Thailand loads of times, more times than I can count without checking the stamps in my passport. It’s my “go to” destination, what I compare every other country to. I love (almost) everything about it – the delicious food, warm weather, cheap massages and friendly faces. It can be as much of an adventure or easy vacation as you want and truly has something to please everyone (except the snowboarder in the family!).

Bangkok from Above, On a Flight Back from Yangon

On my own I’ve explored a lot of Bangkok. It’s a city I really love and could spend a lot of time in. Many people have a negative reaction towards Bangkok and like to get out as quickly as possible. I don’t. I love big, frenetic cities like New York and London. Bangkok scratches a lot of my itches – tasty, cheap street food, shopping in Asian markets and mega malls, night life and excellent people watching. It’s a transportation hub for Thailand and South East Asia. I’m always happy to spend a few days in one of the inexpensive hotels of Bangkok when en route to another destination in the region. Many times it feels like coming back to civilization after some time spent in the back-blocks of it’s poorer neighbouring cousins.

Laid Out on Sairee Beach, Koh Tao – Pre-baby!

Other than a brief trip to Chiang Mai in the North and Nong Khai in the North East, most of the rest of my time in Thailand has been spent at the beach. Koh Chang, Koh Lipe, Koh Samui, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan – all great islands with gold or white sandy beaches and clear, calm, bath-tub warm waters. You’ll find food, accommodation, alcohol and treats like massages more expensive down in the islands but a little slice of paradise is definitely worth the extra baht.

Where are we going on this trip?

Our rough plan is to arrive in Bangkok, visit Kanchanaburi and Ayutthaya, then come back to Bangkok. After that we’ll head down to the Koh Samui and Phangan, explore the coast along the Southern Gulf mainland and cross down into Malaysia. We’re keeping the plan flexible but this will probably take around six weeks.

How am I planning our latest trip to Thailand?

I’m spending a lot of time on the Thailand branch of the Lonely Planet Thorntree. I try to answer heaps of questions as well as ask a few myself. Most of my questions seem to about what it’s like travelling with a toddler in X destination or how to get from A to B. Here are some of my recent posts:

I bought the Lonely Planet Thailand book for my new Kindle Fire. I’m amazed at how convenient it is to read a guidebook on a Kindle. You can click on links for maps and hotels and view them directly in the Kindle browser. You can bookmark pages and highlight text. Once you get used to where things are, it’s easy to switch chapters and find the city you’re looking for. If you click on the “On the Road” heading in the Table of Contents (which is on the second page of the book) you’ll find all the destinations listed and you can then click on them. I think that’s easier than flicking through pages of a hard copy book. The only downside is the glossy pictures are missing and the maps can be hard to read as they get split over several pages and there isn’t a way of looking at them linked together. The major upside of this guidebook is it was published last month and is only US$4!

I’m trying to find accommodation that’s toddler and budget friendly using the Lonely Planet guidebook, recommendations from the Thorntree and reviews on Tripadvisor. This is turning out to be surprisingly easy. I’m trying to spend under 1200B a night for a guesthouse or bungalow with a pool and air-con – this seems doable in most of the places we’re planning to go. I’m also looking into renting an apartment in Bangkok for two weeks. There are some great, modern apartments for short term rent on AirBnB. Some guesthouses and apartments even have play areas. I’m not booking anything in advance except maybe the first few nights in Bangkok so we can stay flexible with our itinerary.

Have you got any recommendations for child-friendly accommodation in Thailand?

Any recommendations for places to spend time in?

I’d love to hear what other travelling families have done in Thailand.

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