A Month in Thailand for a Family of 4 – Tips and Advice?

My friend is planning a trip to Thailand next year, and asked my my recommendations. Here’s the scenario:

We are a family of 4 (two boys 4 and under).  We are looking to spend a month in Thailand and would like recommendations on locations.  We mainly want to stay in one or two places (so the kids don’t have to switch hotels/sleeping arrangements too often).  Ideally we would spend a lot of time by a beach/pool.  We would also like to have a trip where the boys can ride elephants and see more wildlife (chiang mai?). We were thinking of renting a house so we can have friends and guests come visit and stay with us (I don’t think we necessarily need help finding the house).  So we would like to understand the best places to stay where we can do day trips and not have to travel too far very often.

My advice?

I certainly haven’t been everywhere in Thailand, but I have spent a decent chunk of time there over the course of three separate trips — Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Krabi, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, and Pai.

I would recommend spending 1 week in Chiang Mai (where I lived for 10 weeks in 2012), a few days in Bangkok, and the rest of the time exploring from Krabi. The reason I think Krabi town will be the best bet as the place to spend the most time, is there is a vibrant town atmosphere, great food (duh, it’s Thailand), and multiple great nearby beaches & islands to explore. Koh Phi Phi is the most famous island (which I love). And, while I didn’t make it to Railey (Rai Leh), I know multiple people who have raved about it. Christine is one of those people, and her thoughts can be found here.

With respect to elephants, don’t ride them at all. Instead, go to Chiang Mai and spend time at the Elephant Nature Reserve (more info – http://www.elephantnaturepark.org/tour/index.htm).

The elephants tourists ride are abused. I had no idea prior to going to Chiang Mai in early 2012, but once there all the expats told me about how the elephants are actually treated and everyone raved about their time at the nature reserve, which rescues elephants and rehabilitates them. Below is a video worth watching:

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What am I missing in the way of advice for a family? Please leave any advice or thoughts you wish to add in the comments.

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Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow.com from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and myKRO.org, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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  • Michael Huxley

    Hi, I’m Mike from Bemused Backpacker, leaving a message as requested. I have travelled extensively in Thailand and am happy to help with any itinerary advice.As well as being a travel expert I am also a qualified nurse and can offer health or vaccination advice if needed. Drop me a line through my website at http://www.bemusedbackpacker.com with your specific needs and we can work something out.

  • Drew-
    I’m not a parent, but my feeling is that Thailand is a great place to travel with kids. The Thais absolutely love kids and really treasure them. We met a Swedish family in Railay and they said it was very easy to travel as a family.

    As for destinations, I would second Krabi and Railay specifically. We’re headed there for our second trip this November. Great beaches, very tourist friendly. I didn’t get the same vibe as you from Ko Phi Phi – we were just there briefly and it seemed like too much of a frat party vibe. Maybe that’s a generational difference….

    • Yea, it’s a bit of a frat party I suppose…but worth a day trip nonetheless.