Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Asia (
-   -   More Thailand and kids in June questions (

Statefan Jul 17th, 2008 06:50 PM

More Thailand and kids in June questions
It sounds like Thailand is a good destination for children. We're looking at options for a trip next June with our 5 and 8 year olds and Thailand is a strong contender. We like to stay active so lounging around a beach is not what we are interested in (but unique experiences in and around the coast would be). Elephants sound fun. Monks, cool! What would you recommend for a 2 week trip? Where would you go if you wanted to minimize the likelihood of bad weather and maximize the diversity of experiences at that time of the year?

We have found the use of a good (heavy emphasis on that word) guide greatly increases our enjoyment of touring historical/cultural sites, especially one that loves children and speaks good English. Any advice there would be greatly appreciated.

Would tacking on an additional week at Bali make any sense at all or be redundant?

Thanks in advance.

williamscb13 Jul 17th, 2008 06:57 PM

I just went to Thailand in early June this year and it was so miserably insufferably hot that it ruined the trip. My sister and I fought constantly the whole time and were extremely cranky because of the heat. I will never go back to Thailand in June. Bali on the other hand, the next week was delightful.

Please note I am not saying to not go to Thailand as I love it, but make sure you choose an appropriate time to go.

rhkkmk Jul 17th, 2008 07:07 PM

thailand is hot the year round and anyone who goes there HAS to expect that....june is hardly more hot than other times of the year...sometimes december/january can have so cooler weather but it is rare...

so don't go there expecting it not to be hot as hell...that said there are ways to deal with it....go slow....swim once or twice per day.. seek a/c frequently....stay out of the sun as much as possible...take taxis...swim!!!

don't overplan!!

picking the hotel is a key to enjoyment....while most of us spend little time in our hotels while travelling, in asia you tend to spend more time to avoid the humidity and be near a pool...

the marriott resort and spa is a good oasis for families in bkk...great pool, laid back atmosphere and moderate price...

Statefan Jul 17th, 2008 07:25 PM

I'm not worried about the heat (it's in the 90s and humid where I live), but do want to avoid significant rain. I've got a ton of Marriott points, too, but I am not going to select a particular destination just to use them.

I'm looking for ideas on where to go outside of BKK and some recommendations for guides.

shanek Jul 17th, 2008 11:02 PM

We stayed at the Marriott in Hua Hin a few years back with our 2 kids for two weeks and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. Hua Hin is coastal without being a "idyllic-tropical" type beach destination, however, it is more "real-Thailand" than many of the other beach destinations. It is a great place to go to Temples and Elephant riding. There are many great golf courses near-by as well as a driving range and Go-kart tracks.All the restaraunts we went to in Hua-Hin were very child friendly,there was even one where the kids got to fish for prawns and the ones they caught got cooked up for us. We did a few day trips and used Ken Diamond travel who provided an excellent guide and at other times hired a car and drove to some of the nearby towns as well as the National Park.
As far as the weather goes, we were there late in May and only saw rain once, I believe, statiscally it is one of the least monsoon effected areas. It has a lot less shopping and nightlife than other areas but in my opinion it is perfect for a family holiday.

Tangata Jul 17th, 2008 11:22 PM

Despite what Bob constantly says, it does get relatively cool in Thailand, even in June. We were in Phu Rua on the 19th of June and it was 14° in the morning and pleasant throughout the day. But a few kilometres and 1,500 m lower it was very hot and rather sticky.

Here in Chiang Mai we expect overnight temperatures of around 14° from November to January with maximum temperatures in the mid to high twenties, but May and June are our hottest months. If my memory serves me correctly 90°F is about 32°C, in June you must expect temperatures of 40° plus, say 104° in Fahrenheit.

In June you can expect rain and when it comes you will probably welcome it. It cools things down, lays the dust and clears the atmosphere to a certain extent. Umbrellas are what you need, not waterproofs.

The rain generally doesn’t last too long and once it is over you can get on with whatever you are doing. Bangkok can be an exception to that, Bangkok floods easily and heavy rainfall can make the traffic even worse than usual. Also it does seem to get more continuous rain.

Give yourself a couple of lazy days when you arrive to get over the jetlag and adjust to the heat and humidity. Make sure that you and particularly the children, get plenty to drink dehydration can hit children very quickly. Avoid too much man made fibre, cotton is the best and keep clothes loose. Lots of sunscreen and a hat are vital and remember what Noel Coward said, “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid day sun.” You will seldom find a Thai who will swim between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., they think that those who do are crazy.

Make a concious effort to slow down and take advantage of shade and air conditioning whenever you can.

bridey Jul 18th, 2008 12:19 AM

Like Shanek, we went to Hua Hin - arrived home yesterday. I would go back there anytime. We stayed at the Sofitel, a gorgeous old low level Raffles style hotel in a perfect location by the centre of Hua Hin but with acres of lovely grounds full of animal topiaries. There are good pool facilities for kids and a kids' club. The town felt quite untouristy. I did a THai cookery class, we saw the elephants and monkeys, wandered around and also frequented the market - I especially loved the morning food markets.
There is lots to do with kids in Bangkok. We had booked the Bangkok Marriott Resort and Spa, but didn't end up staying there diue to cancelled flights...but when we did get there stayed at the Pullman Bangkok King POwer. Wonderful pool and amazing staff - our teenagers were sorry to say goodbye to some of them after just 5 nights. Quite a new hotel so the rates are good but it was excellent.
You will ahve a wonderful time. We were glad to have 5 days in each place.

Bella_Bluebell Jul 18th, 2008 01:35 AM

If you are looking for a guide that is good with kids - I'd recommend Tong in Bangkok and Sergeant Kai in Chiang Mai. Both were lovely with our daughter. If you do a search, you will find contact details but book asap - they both get really booked up. Book them personally if you can, but they both have great guides if they are booked up already.

We went to Chiang Mai in July (which I think is wetter than June) and the rain didn't ruin the experience. From there, there are some great temples, waterfalls and you can visit the Elephant Conservation Center. Bella also really liked watching silk being made and visiting a hill tribe school in a village. (All with Kai). A great highlight was when he ate insects in the local market - still discussed and remembered two years later (she was only 2 at the time so it obviously was a big hit!). With Tong, her car to get us around sites in Bangkok was a great bonus - the car would be ready and waiting with air con and cool drinks. Bella enjoyed the boat trip, the palace (for a short time) and the floating market in Bangkok but Tong will have lots of ideas for children your age.

Coastwise - we enjoyed Ko Samui and the surrounding islands with our daughter in July/August a couple of years ago - weather in June should be good, at least it was when I visited in 2002. Not been to Hua Hin with kids so can't comment. Around Samui/Ko Pha Ngan - lots of opportunities to snorkel, go on land safari type trips etc. Bella mainly enjoyed playing with other children on the beach or by the pool.

Hope this helps - also, take a look at posts by KimJapan - she has visited Thailand many times with her daughter and you can get some great ideas for things to do. There is also a book called 52 things to do with kids in Bangkok - available from the Nancy Chandler site in case you need any more ideas :)


Gpanda Jul 18th, 2008 02:59 AM

To actually answer your post, Thailand is a wonderful place to take your kids in June. For two weeks, a typical visit is:

4 days Bangkok
4 days-Chiang Mai
4 days Beach-Hua Hin would be good

In BKK, there's lots to do and getting Tong or a team member for two days is a good idea.

In Chiang mai, elephants and outdoor activities are easily assessible. Sergeant Kai ( is helpful. We used him twice.

Hua Hin is a 2 1/2 hour drive from BKK.

Flying in Thailand is easy and relatively cheap.

Statefan Jul 18th, 2008 04:25 AM

Thanks everyone. I'm sure I will have a lot more questions as we move along with our planning.

AmyH Jul 18th, 2008 10:15 AM

Hi Statefan-
We traveled to Thailand with our kids 15 and 13 from June 1 through June 17 of this year. My trip report, which I still have not quite finished, can be found if you do a search or perhaps someone will be kind enough to link-y.
Bangkok was pretty darn hot and humid, but we went out in the morning and had some pool time and went out again in the afternoon. Tong was a great guide.
We opted to go to Chang Rai for four nights and not Chang Mai so that we could go to the Elephant Conservation Camp at the Anantara. It was a little buggy at morning and evening time, but we otherwise the temperatures were fine -- we biked, visited the Opium Museum, toured small towns, took a boat ride on the Mekong. I think you would really enjoy it. We loved the Anantara and the staff was very warm, friendly and the elephant training is something our kids will talk about I am sure for the rest of their lives.
We went to Cambodia for four days after that but I would have to say that although we loved it, I think your kids are a little too young to appreciate the temples or the markets and it was hot. Just my opinion.
We spent 6 days on Samui, but we may be the opposite of your family -- we wanted to lounge around and do nothing! Even so, our "doing nothing" included a ferry ride to Koh Tao for snorkeling/rock climbing, zip lines in the jungle, an amateur Muy Thai boxing match, hiking and lots of beach time. We were in Samui with friends that had a four year old and they took her elephant trekking and to the aquarium which for some odd reason, including a show in the parking lot compete with a tiger and exotic birds!
I say, go for it.

Statefan Jul 18th, 2008 10:51 AM

Ok, first few questions:

1) John Gray's sea canoe trips sound awesome and perfectly reflect the unique type activity I am looking for. Does anyone know if he does this trips from Phuket in June given the weather? Anyone done one of his overnights with younger kids (can you?)? We're not camping types, but the trips sound like something we would really enjoy.

2) What else could we do in the Phuket area in June? I read something about snorkeling at an island somewhere - would that be possible? Other ideas?

3) I had added ECC to my list of "must dos", but have seen reference to another place called Anantara. Are there location advantages to one versus the other? I plan to research the differences in the actual programs. I think this would be an amazing follow up to our recent safari in South Africa where we saw tons of elephants (albeit a different variety).

4) I've found one trip report from KimJapan, but have seen her mention she has done quite a few trips to Thailand with her daughter. Has she done any more trip reports?


Statefan Jul 18th, 2008 10:51 AM

I need to preview my posts. Sorry about the bad grammar!

shanek Jul 18th, 2008 01:22 PM

There would be no problem with your 8 year old on the John Gray trip but it would probably be difficult for the younger one but not impossible.You need to get in and out of the canoes directly from the back of the boat and you need to be very careful when you enter the caves as the headroom can be very tight. Each canoe is paddled by an experienced guide so you could keep hold of the kids whilst you are in some of the tighter spots. If you got out there and they found it too difficult, you could keep the kids on the boat. The staff on board would keep them entertained and you never travel too far away from the "mothership". There are plenty of things to keep kids entertained in Phuket. My kids loved the Zoo and the Gibbon rehab center and "Phuket Fantasea"...a cultural theme park of sorts that has a spectacular show as it's highlight. They also love going to some of the shopping centre entertainment area's and going bowling and using the Karaoke booths.
Generally, any decent snorkelling would require a day trip to the Islands, try to avoid the half day trips as it requires quite a bit of land transport as well as sea so it can be a bit rushed.
Phuket is a great place to visit with kids but it can be a bit "tacky" and is alot less friendly than it was a few years ago. Also, at that time of year the kids would find it too rough to swim at the beach, and that is possibly it's one major advantage over Hua-hin generally, the quality of the beaches.

Kathie Jul 18th, 2008 02:23 PM

Statefan, I couple of pieces of Info for you. The ECC is outside of Chaing Mai. If you opt to stay overnight there (doing the mahout training) the conditions are rather primitive.

The Anantara is located at the Golden Triangle (you fly to Chiang Rai). It is a five-star resort with views overlooking Burma and Lao. It has a small elephant conservation camp on site. KimJapan had a not so good experience there, but she has written the only bad review here. (Note: Kim is a reliable reporter, so I don't doubt the veracity of her report, I'm just pointing out that the lapses were a rare occurance). There is a recent report here with a title starting "Greetings from Chiang Rai... that also offers a report of the Anantara.

By the way, KimJapan has done reports on many of her trips, but it make take some sleuthing to find them.

The John Gray trips run in June when the seas aren't too rough. No way to predict whether or not they will run next June.

KimJapan Jul 18th, 2008 04:06 PM

Here's one trip report.;tid=34734627

The Anantara Golden Triangle elephants versus the TECC elephants...for us, the TECC is much better. The 3 days at the Anantara are identical ones, with mornings of practicing walking around pilons and afternoons riding through the forest ending with a bath with a 5 - 6 hour gap between sessions. There was nothing offered to us in terms of mahout life, elephant histories, care for elephants, etc. at the Anantara in spite of our asking many questions (which were answered with the shortest answer possible). The TECC program really is 3 full days, with all the time filled with a variety of activities, including elephant care, a visit to the elephant hospital, making dung paper, and a constant running commentary by the very personable Supat, who is more than happy to field all sorts of questions. If you go to the Anantara, I would advise against the 3 day program and just do one day.

Favorite activities/places for us in Thailand are the TECC in Lampang, A Lot of Thai cooking school in Chiang Mai (we did a private custom course that was excellent), John Gray Sea Canoe Hongs by Starlight trip, Peninsula Bangkok, Mae Salong (for scenery, tea, and warm people), Floating Market with Tong (we had also been before, on our own, and definitely doing it with Tong is better, much better), circus training at the JW Marriott Phuket (though I had issues with this hotel, too, I can not fault the kids programs, and my daughter LOVED it).

My daughter is now 10 and has been to Thailand 5 times (first time at age 3) and Bali once...but Bali is still our all time best experience. In Bali, we learned how to do batik, wood carving, play the gamelan, Balinese dance, cooking, painting...all with villagers who welcomed our curiosity and were happy to teach us. Our hotel arranged everything for us and we can not fault a thing. We stayed at Alam Sari for 9 nights and were very sad to leave. Many of the photos you can see on their website of the courses and kids activities are of us and the others who were staying there at the same time who joined us for the classes We had been to Bali before as a couple and did not have the same sort of experience that we had at Alam Sari. It is very easy to get a superficial observer's view of Bali by having a driver and touring around and observing. But getting more in depth was something that Alam Sari made possible for us, and we saw an entirely different Bali than what most see and that we saw before.

Overall, we have found Bali to be more of an experience in culture and learning...we were able to get hands on experiences in Bali that we have been unable to find in Thailand. 2 weeks in Thailand with a week added in Bali would be great imo. Bali is not at all the same as Thailand.

Statefan Jul 18th, 2008 06:08 PM

Kim - awesome, thanks! Could you tell me a little bit more about the accomodations and food at TECC? I think that is what we want, but we want to be comfortable and have the option to get plain food (wife and kids take picky to the extreme).

What was your issue with the JW Marriott?

In Bali, did you do everything thru Alam Sari? Do you have a trip report for it?

Probably a really dumb question, but what is the best way to get from Thailand to Bali?

KimJapan Jul 18th, 2008 06:45 PM

The accommodations at the TECC are thatched bamboo huts. The one we stayed in had 3 beds in one room and two in another (I think it was two). Each rooms has an attached bathroom with sink, toilet and shower with hot water. There are screens on the windows, but no AC. The doors are lockable with a padlock they give you. The beds are firm, but we slept like rocks.

Meals were prepared in the kitchen area in our hut, and there are two other huts nearby that also house guests. The meals were great, with the evening meals being a wide variety of Thai dishes. We helped chop veggies and could watch cooking if you like. The cooks are personable and fun. Breakfast is simple, toast, fried eggs, coffee or tea, but it is enough. Lunch was fried rice and fish and salad I think. They ask you when you arrive about the food that you can eat...spicy or not, vegetarian or one goes hungry, that's for sure.

One of the families near the huts runs a "Store" where they sell drinks and snacks for a very cheap price. The nights there are the most fun because you can hang out with the other guests and if you like, also the mahout families. Fun. The pictures here are accurate.

The JW Marriott Phuket I had issues with housekeeping basically. The minibar was not restocked for several days despite asking the housekeepers...finally a chance meeting with the F & B manager fixed that. They also use refillable shampoo and conditioner bottles and early in our stay I could not get conditioner out of the bottle though it looked full when I looked in...turns out it was so old it had solidified and I dug it out with the end of a spoon from coffee and cleaned it. From then on I used the sample sized bottles also provided though.

My other big issue at the JW Marriott Phuket was their pricing for food. The food prices are extortionate, topping the Peninsula Bangkok prices. A take away tuna sandwich with no sides or drink cost 300 baht (close to $10), breakfast buffet (included in our rate thankfully) 695 baht (Peninsula Bangkok 650 baht and better), our one splurge dinner on our last night for myself and daughter at the beachside Grill restaurant cost us 4000 baht for a glass of wine (one), a virgin pina colada, a steak, a grilled chicken, 2 sides, and a shrimp cocktail. It was good, but not that good. Cooking class is $150 per person...crazy expensive...we did a class (included in our rate again) and found it good, but not close to the level of A Lot of Thai in Chiang Mai, which was 1/3 the price, too.

Now that I think about it, I have issues I think with pricing at hotels owned by Minor International...the Anantara, Jw Marriott Phuket. They both seem to really get the guests to pay a premium for every little thing. I have stayed at other expensive hotels and not felt that the value was as poor as these two places.

In Bali, everything was arranged for us by the owners of Alam Sari, an expat couple from New Zealand living in Jakarta. The arrangements were great in that they were very batik class was schedules, and we added two more because we loved it. One dance class scheduled, but we easily added another. Everything was arranged but flexible. And the cost was very reasonable that I checked and double checked the final bill to be sure it was not a mistake. The trip report is sad, not detailed, and I can't find it... but if you have questions I'll happily answer them if I can. We went when my daughter was 7.

Bangkok to Bali on Thai Air is probably quickest. Cheaper would be low cost carriers like Tiger Air, Jet Star or Air Asia...but in each case you need to make a connection in KUL or SIN, and the low cost carriers are point to point, meaning you can't check through you or your luggage. So, you'd have a long day or maybe 2 days getting to Bali that way, depending on flight times.

Tangata Jul 18th, 2008 06:53 PM

An alternative if you are leaving from the north would be to take Silk Air from Chiang Mai to Singapore and then Singapore Airlines to Denpasar.

There is no difficult with luggage, Silkair will transfer it to SAL and you get the normal international allowances. However, Silkair do not fly Chiang Mai to Singapore every day.

Statefan Jul 18th, 2008 07:15 PM

I was sold on TECC until you said no A/C. Yikes! In looking at their website, it's not exactly cheap either. I assume they would not let us do the program, while staying elsewhere?

Outside of elephants, which is the more child-friendly place in NT?

Thanks for all of the information. The pics on your website are great. As a weekly Marriott visitor for business, your description of the JW is pretty much the standard for their properties. We usually use them for the free lodging and eat / do activities off the property.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:17 AM.