Aug 6, 2013

Bangkok With Kids: 5 Fun Things To Do On A Budget


Bangkok is an amazing, vibrant city that blends first- world cosmopolitan perks like air-conditioned shopping centres with the ancient cultures of Asia featuring centuries-old temples and monuments.  But what’s there to do with the kids and on a budget?? 

The answer is:  more than you think!

Here are our Top 5 Favourite Affordable Things To Do With Kids in Bangkok:

KidZania Bangkok opened its doors March 2013

KIDZANIA
Have you had the ‘KidZania’ experience yet?  Bangkok is it’s newest location (it’s 11th worldwide) opening just in March 2013. First conceived in Mexico in 1999, its concept is as a children’s indoor theme park/entertainment centre whose goal is to offer not only ‘a safe and unique place for children aged 4-14yrs to play’, but to make it educational as well.  To do achieve that, each centre is set up as a city (complete with enclosed fake sky), built to scale, featuring individual buildings such as hospitals, fire stations, and shops, complete with paved roads, street lighting and even the occasional vehicle such as ambulance and fire truck rolling by.   


Inside the KidZania world


While the adults must wait outside 'on the street'(or think 'in the mall as you wait for your other half who is in the shop'), the children roll-play the different activities featured in these premises.  Each activity has a specific time duration and number of children it can accommodate at one time.  For example some groups had a capacity of 15 kids while others were only 6. Typically, the activities lasted  approximately 20min, so if one group is full, you must wait this time for the next session or check out other activities that don’t have a wait.  (It's a bit like waiting for the Roller Coaster at an amusement park--each ride can accommodate 'x' number of children, then you have to wait for the coaster to return before the next group can get on.)  Each activity is structured and the children are fully guided and supervised by the staff and also must wear the corresponding uniforms such as lab coats at the vets and in the hospital and fireman coats and hats that go with each position.  Some activities are viewable from outside by the parents, but others are not.  


The hospital complex has about 4 different positions on offer; however most are not viewable to the parents who must wait outside.

Depending on the nature of the role, the children are either ‘paid’ in Kidzania currency for their job or if it’s an activity, the children have to ‘pay’ in Kidzania currency to do it.  At the end of the day, the children can spend whatever currency they have left in the special gift shop.  Interestingly many of the ‘businesses’ were sponsored and branded by large corporate companies, such as AirAsia that had a mock plane and had pilot flight simulation training, flight attendant role-playing, as well as flight navigator roles.  The number of roles and activities available were overwhelming and although we were there from 10:30am (shortly after it opened) until it closed at 5pm, we still were not able to experience all that was on offer.  Although it doesn't exactly fit into the budget category, KidZania is truly a unique experience 
that the kiddies will LOVE and it's educational too.

Receiving her pay after her job at the hospital!
KidZania Currency aka KidZos


Info:  Kidzania is located on level 5 of the Siam Paragon shopping complex; however to located it inside is a bit tricky.  Try to enter the complex via the main atrium that features the wall of living plants then make your way upwards.  Kidzania is open Mon-Friday from 10am to 5pm and weekends from 10am to 3pm then 4pm to 9pm (you can only attend 1 session on weekends).  It gets busy there—weekdays are probably better but you may encounter school groups (as we did).  I’ve been told that you would be wise to pre-book your session too as sometimes they do sell-out.  Admission fees are not cheap:  Adults (yes, they have to pay to stand around) are 400B($13.30 US) each and kids are 650B ($21.60 US) but if you spend the whole day there as we did, you get your money’s worth.  There is a special area for children aged 2-4yrs (and they are charged accordingly) but at the time of our visit, this area did not seem fully functioning. There are no in/out privileges nor is outside food permitted but there are restaurant/eateries inside for food purchase as well as a parents’ lounge and free Wi-Fi access.  Also note that not all staff could speak English so at times, especially for older children, this was a bit of a hinderance.



Sushi Making:  even though it is a job, it 'costs' KidZania currency as you get to eat the California Roll that you make afterwards!



The Building Climbing activity 'costs' KidZania currency to do.





One of the many 'services' available, which 'cost' currency.

Veterinary training in progress

At Honda, where you can design your own car.


FANTASIA LAGOON
This was the most unique water park that we had ever been to.  Why?  It was set on the rooftop of a 6-storey suburban shopping complex!  While Fantasia Lagoon didn’t feature the biggest or best assortment of waterslides that we’ve ever been to, its 2 large corkscrew slides, 2 tube slides, 1 slide ‘ride’ (extra charge, so we didn’t try), 25m swimming pool plus 3 water play areas with kiddie slides for the little ones were very sufficient for us and our 6 & 7yr olds—so much so that we spent 7hrs there!  There’s also a ‘lazy river’ that where you could drift effortlessly around through parts of the park while perched on a tube.



View of the two corkscrew slides




One of the water-play areas

Kids' slides

  

We went on a weekday and practically had the place to ourselves with no line-ups at all for the slides although we were told that it was a different story on the weekends where it was very popular with the Thai locals as well as expats living nearby.

Having been recently refurbished, the facilities were faultless:  the change rooms were large, modern and clean, with toilets, private shower cubicles, and lockers.  There were many lifeguards on hand too.  

Oh—and not only could you bring your own food inside, but you could also leave temporarily to have lunch/dinner in the food court on the bottom level of the shopping centre or even bring the food back in and eat poolside at the many shaded tables available.  

Coupled with the fact that it only cost 100B ($3.30 US) each adult to enter and kids 80B, Fantasia Lagoon is a terrific day out and a refreshing respite from the heat, and hustle and bustle of Bangkok.  Now if only they could improve their musical selection—they played the same (Thai) song over and over again!

Info:  Fantasia Lagoon is open from 10am until 8pm (?).  It’s located at ‘The Mall Bang Khae’, which is west and slightly south of central Bangkok.  To get there, we took the BTS to the end of the line (which is currently Wong Wan Yai, which is past Taksin), then hopped on a taxi for 20 min for 111B ($3.70US).  Once at the shopping complex, take the glass elevator at the centre to the 7th floor, where you will find the cinemas.  There is another ‘grand staircase’ located here that takes you to the entrance of the Lagoon.

Also note that although admission is 100B each, there is a separate charge for locker rental (40B with 50B refundable deposit), towel rental if required, tube rental (40B with 50B refundable deposit), and bathing cap rental if required (bathing caps are mandatory for everyone, even if you are bald!).

Great views--if you were actually going slow enough to see it!


The two tube slides

Tube slides with the pool in the background

Lazy River





DUSIT ZOO
Situated next to Parliament House, Dusit Zoo was once the private garden of King Rama V.  Now it’s run by the state and is home to over 1600 species of animals, including a vast assortment of monkeys, birds and reptiles.  The enclosures seem sufficient for the larger animals such as the giraffes, zebras and the hippos and the signage are particularly informative and very educational.  On our recent visit in July 2013, we also noticed the presence of some signage in braille.  The grounds are well laid out with an abundance of leafy trees to give much needed shade and respite from the heat and sun.  There’s also a lagoon in the centre where you can rent paddle boats and there’s a small children’s playground near the bird aviaries.  There is a semi-enclosed stadium where they hold seal shows (3-4 shows per day on a set schedule).  Nearby there is also a food court where you can eat Thai food very economically.   A great day out.

Info:  The Dusit Zoo is open 7 days a week, from 8am to 6pm.  Admission for foreigners is adults @ 100B ($3.30 US) and children 50B ($1.75 US)—quite a bargain!


Braille Signage

We found the bilingual signage to be very interesting, informative and educational

Unexpected opportunity:  up-close, watching a yellow python being vaccinated


There's a nice playground in Dusit Zoo too


LUMPHINI PARK
This huge (142 acres) park is set in the Silom district of Bangkok and features a large man-made lake at its centre surrounded by leafy trees, green grass and lots of walking tracks. You’ll also find picnic tables, clean toilet facilities and the occasional lizard roaming around too.  And best of all, there is a large playground area for the kiddies.  

Info:  Entrance is free and there's a MRT station across the street.

Playground at Lumphini Park

Locals practicing Yoga by the lake in Lumphini Park


WAT ARUN (THE TEMPLE OF DAWN)
Wat Arun is a Buddhist temple dating back to the 17thC situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok.  It’s a distinctive landmark, especially when seen in the early morning when it reflects the sun on its porcelain-tiled mosaic surface or at night when it is lit up.  Its central tower is in the Khmer style like some of that found at Angkor Wat so for the kids (and adults), this means fun climbing the steps on the exterior.  But remember:  while it’s fun to climb up, you must eventually come back down!  Tip:  don’t look down when doing this but just focus on placing your feet firmly on the narrow steps and you’ll be alright!

Info:  Wat Arun is open from 8am-5pm.  Entrance fee for foreigners is 80B (kids under 100cm are free, as for most things in Thailand).  Best accessed via Chao Phraya Express Boat (need to change boat to cross river).




Wat Arun
The mosaic detail that is Wat Arun
The top set of stairs is STEEP

The upper set of stairs is the worst--going down sideways is highly recommended (and don't look down!)


Waiting for the boat (Wat Arun in background)


Wat Arun glows by night
So there you have it.  We would really recommend that you allow lots of time for each of these.  With the exception of Wat Arun and Lumpini Park, we spent a full day at each of the activities.  Get there as close to opening time as you can too and try not to visit Kidzania or Fantasia Lagoon on a weekend.  Have fun!





10 comments:

  1. Hey great list. We loved Kidzania in KL so cool the one in Bangkok is finally finished. And I also loved Fantasia Lagoon.

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    1. It was thanks to your post http://travelwithbender.com/travel-blog/bangkok/fantasia-lagoon-bangkok-secret-water-park/ at Travel With Bender that we heard about Fantasia Lagoon so thank YOU! And thanks for stopping by :)

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  2. Great advice thank you. Enjoyed reading with the young folk. I vote for zoo and waterpark, but my son is liking that Kidzania. Guess I better start allocating resources!

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    1. KidZania is definitely NOT cheap, but it's a very unique experience which justifies it--I think! spend the whole day there and you'll get your money's worth, not to mention you really need the time anyway. Hint: for your son, hit the firestation and flight simulator (AirAsia plane) early as it tends to get quite a queue! and give your wife the day off to shop while you are at KidZania ;)

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  3. Newbie question:
    I wanna follow your blog but cant figure out how. Can you please help!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome! go to the top hand side, below '363 Days' and submit your email addy to receive notifications of new posts. Thanks!

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  4. Dear Jess,
    I happened to come across your blog and found your blogs very child friendly. This post is among those, with good description, what for kids to do and entrance fees and other tips. Thank you for sharing your insights. We plan to take our kids to Thailand next summer. Would you highly recommend the Dusit Zoo to our toddlers?
    Many thanks and looking forward to your posts.
    Kind regards
    Matthew

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    1. Hi Matthew
      Thank you for your comment. We love the Dusit Zoo, as do our children who visited at the ages of 3.5 to 7yr, especially because it's so affordable. There's also a good amount of shade there, although i would recommend going earlier in the day before the air temp gets too hot. And try to avoid weekends for the obvious reason of crowds.

      Have fun!
      Jess

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful place with us ..
    I am surely going to take my kids to Kidzania.
    Please can you broadly explain me about Kidzania..
    I have planned Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur trip itinerary on Triphobo trip planner site .
    I took help of Bangkok travel guide which gives us already planned trip itineraries and tourist attractions to visit for all age group people.
    I would like to ask you that as I will be coming from Pune city,India what will be the total expenditure to travel Kidzania..

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    1. thanks for your comment Geneva. Kidzania was very fun--check out their website for more info, although i've tried to explain about it in my post. i've outlined the admission charges in the Bangkok location; the only other expenses would be for food. Hope this helps.

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