Getting Your Kids to Love Thai Culture

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I’m proud to say that I’ve lived in Bangkok for several years now. Unfortunately, some of my friends and relatives outside of the country are less enthusiastic about it than I am. One of the questions I find myself hearing the most is, “But are you sure that’s really a good place to raise your children?”

I don’t blame others for asking this question. Most people don’t mean anything negative or malicious about it; they simply don’t know any better. The truth is that I honestly think this city has a lot more to offer kids than we give it credit for. And no, I’m not just talking about all the fabulous shopping and food and medical care. What makes Bangkok so special is that underneath all the shiny, space-age malls and condos, there’s a very real, deep history to this place.

In my humble opinion, it’s important to give our kids a chance to appreciate that cultural richness while they’re here. As easy as it is for us expats to get caught up in the cushy, globalized comforts of this city, your kids will thank you one day if you take them further. Trust me, whether your children live here for two years, or 20 or their whole lives, they’ll thank you one day.

But that doesn’t just mean dragging your kids through the obligatory tour of the Grand Palace. Here are some fun, more active ways to dive in.

Take a khlong tour. It’s not the most glamorous backdrop, and you shouldn’t let your children splash around in the water, but Bangkok’s waterways offer a glimpse back to another era. You can, of course, cruise through the canals in tarp-covered boats for only Bt10 per person, but a safer and more enjoyable is to hire a pro. Pandan Tours (thaicanaltour.com) organizes weekday and weekend trips in private teak boats.

Bangkok Khlong Tour

Bangkok Khlong Tour

Check out a market (not a mall). Sure, you’ve probably hit Chatuchak Market on more than a few weekends, and your kids have probably already asked you repeatedly for a puppy/kitten/squirrel/monkey from there. For a more interesting experience though, take them to the Pak Khlong Talat (Jakkrapet Rd.), the city’s spectacular, 24-hour flower market. Sprawling, surreal and completely gorgeous, it’s unlike any other place in the city.

Pak Khlong Talat

Pak Khlong Talat

See a traditional Thai puppet show. If Baan Silapin (Soi Wat Thong Sala Ngarm, Phasi Charoen; 66-83/034-9858) were easier to get to, you can bet that this gem would be every bit as mobbed as Khao San Road. Also known simply as the Artist’s House, this beautiful teak building has puppet show performances daily at 2 p.m. The puppets are a real labor of love, as each one is painstakingly crafted and painted by hand. This is one of the few places left in the city where you can see this vanishing art form, and certainly one of the most interesting.

Baan Silapin Thai Puppet Show

Baan Silapin Thai Puppet Show

Go to the greener side. Yes, there still is nature in Bangkok, and it’s an integral part of the city’s character. Cross the river at the Klong Toey pier and head to Phra Pradaeng. Your kids will feel like they’re in the jungle, and you won’t believe that this land of trees and mangroves is still in the city.

Phra Pradaeng

Phra Pradaeng

Get artsy. The eclectic, constantly rotating collection of exhibits at the Bangkok Arts and Cultural Center (bacc.or.th) makes it worth regular repeat visits. Works on display range from sculpture to painting to cartoons to just about anything you can think of. As a bonus, there are plenty of small shops and restaurants inside selling kid-friendly treats.

Bangkok Arts and Cultural Center

Bangkok Arts and Cultural Center

See a different kind of museum. The impressive Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall (100 Ratcha Damnoen Klang Avenue, Bawonniwet Sub-District,
Phra Nakhon District; 66-2/621-0044; nitasrattanakosin.com) features nine distinct areas with both permanent and rotating exhibits dedicated to Siamese culture. Though the art and history on display may be ancient, the presentation methods, thankfully are not. Modern technology and interactive features make this fun for little ones.

Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall

Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall

Travel back in time. With 109 miniature replicas of famous buildings and monuments throughout Thailand, Ancient City Bangkok (296/1 Sukhumvit Road, Bangpoo; 66-2/709-1644-8; ancientcity.com) is like a child-sized tour of the whole country. Entertaining and educational, it’s perfect for a bike ride on a Saturday afternoon.

Ancient City Bangkok

Ancient City Bangkok

Photo Credit: Willy_G91 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: octal via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Swami Stream via Compfight cc

ExpectingExpats.com

Expecting Expats is the online resource for parents in and around Thailand.

We provide lifestyle and medical content to our visitors, with new content posted daily. Our lifestyle contributors are themselves expat moms who share their experiences and lessons learned through blog articles. We also provide medical content from our partner doctors at Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. Articles of interest span from before pregnancy through the toddler years and cover medical, behavioral and cognitive issues.

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