We have always wanted to treat our parents with a vacation. My sister and I are both very busy with work thus have only little time to spend with them. We believe that traveling is a way for us to be intentional in connecting with each other as we leave our day-to-day responsibilities and create beautiful memories as a family.
Dubbed as the “Sin City”, Bangkok is a great destination even for moms and dads. Bangkok has it all – hence the flock of tourists from all over the world. Whether you are a history geek, a city sweetheart, a foodie, a self-confessed shopaholic, a sightseer, or honeymooners, this city definitely has a room for you. Not to mention its famous nightlife which we’ll leave for now because.. …this is a parent-friendly guide.
Interesting – my one word description of Bangkok. I didn’t have a prior knowledge of this city when my sister said we’re going. Although I’ve heard that Thai dishes use aromatic herbs and spices, (ever heard of phak chi?) and that a big budget isn’t necessary. Along with Papa this father’s day, off we go!
Awestruck – is what I was during the whole trip. Thailand, in my eyes, is a wealthy country that has made so much effort to preserve its historical sites and at the same time modernize the city.
The royal history is well represented by impressive palaces and temples on one side of Bangkok and on the other are the skyscrapers, rooftop bars, and shopping malls. Previously Rattanakosin, Bangkok became the country’s capital during the reign on King Rama I (reigning now is King Rama X). The iconic Chao Phraya River that flows through Bangkok was then vital for defense against assault. Now, the river serves as a channel of transport and a favorite spot for cruising – an activity your parents will surely take pleasure in.
Here’s how we pulled off our 1 week holiday with our 67-year old dad.
Day 1: Temple Tour
Buddhism is largely practiced in Thailand hence the presence of over 40,000 Buddhist Temples, or Wat in Thai. The structure of these Wats is so impressive, it’s like entering a whole new world, one which surrounded by fancy walls, highly ornate roofs, and temple guardians of different kinds. Witness the splendor of Bangkok through architecture whilst discovering its rich and captivating history.
Tip: Dress code is strictly implemented in temples. Shorts, short skirts, and sleeveless shirts are not allowed, but in case you forget, sarongs, shirts, and pajama pants can be bought or rented at the gate entrance.
Wat Phra Kaew – considered the most sacred temple in Thailand where the main attraction is Emerald Buddha.
Grand Palace – king of Thailand’s official residence until 1925, now used for official events.
Entrance Fee: 500 baht [for both Wat Phra Kaew and Grand Palace] | Open Hours: 8:30 am – 3:30 pm
Wat Pho – home of the 46 meter long reclining Buddha
Entrance Fee: 100 baht (with free bottled water) | Open Hours: 8:00 am – 6:30 pm
Wat Arun – also known as “Temple of Dawn, one of the 6 highest grade first-class Royal temples in Thailand. Don’t forget to appreciate its Chinese porcelain design during your visit.
Entrance Fee: 50 baht | Open Hours: 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
Wat Suthat – houses the 8 meter tall bronze Buddha image, one of the 6 highest grade first-class Royal temples in Thailand. Also check the red giant swing outside, it was used in the past during a festival.
(pictured above isn’t the bronze Buddha, this one is in the other building in the same compound)
Entrance Fee: 20 baht | Open Hours: 8:30 am – 9:00 pm
Day 2: Rest
Remember that our parents are getting old and do not possess the same amount of strength and energy that we do. Give them a rest after a whole day of walking. If you are staying in a hotel or condominium, take advantage of the available facilities. Stay fit by working out at the gym or plunging into the pool. Doing activities together even indoor is surely a great way for family to bond.
Day 3: Chinatown
Did you know than more than half of Thai have Chinese ancestry? Chinese have long been part of Thai society, ever since the reign on King Rama I, which is some 200 years ago. Well known as the liveliest neighborhood in Bangkok and a food haven, Chinatown is not to be missed.
Wat Traimit – where the largest Golden Buddha statue in the world is seated.
Entrance Fee: 20 baht | Open Hours: 8:30 am – 9:00 pm
Holy Rosary Church – founded by Portuguese Catholic immigrants from Ayutthaya and has eventually become the center of Chinese Catholic community. It was named after the place where Jesus was crucified “Calvario”.
Siam Commercial Bank – the country’s first indigenous bank established in 1906. It is located a few steps away from the church, on the right, in the next compound.
San Chao Rong Kueak – this shrine of shoe makers is one of the few Chinese shrines in Bangkok. It also provides a great river view.
Yeowarat Road is where you can have the ultimate street food experience. Especially at night, the street is filled with street food vendors making it difficult for customers to decide where and what to eat. Too bad, we didn’t make our way there because of papa’s muscle cramps but we’ll be sure to visit it one day. On a brighter side, the tuktuk driver brought us to Thip Samai, one of the most renowned Pad Thai restaurants in Bangkok. Although busy and crowded, Thip Samai offers a great dining experience, and we were satisfied.
Rooftop bars make Bangkok extra special. Who wouldn’t want to gaze at the beautiful skyline against you while enjoying your favorite drink? With numerous bars available in the city, from posh to casual, spending a night with friends, family, or significant other in one of them should be on your list.
We spent a couple of hours in Sala Rattanakosin. With Wat Arun across and Chao Phraya River in front, its rooftop bar is one of the most photogenic.
The main reason for choosing Sala Rattanakosin was to witness the magnificent view of Wat Arun at night so we were a bit frustrated when it wasn’t lit due to being under renovation. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the breeze, tasty food, and alcohol.
Day 4: Chatuchak Weekend Market & Jim Thompson House
Chatuchak Weekend Market – with more than 8,000 stalls, this is where you can shop till you drop on weekends. There are food stalls inside the market for hungry shoppers. Local food such as tom yum goong, peking duck, and som thai are served in reasonable prices.
Tip: Weather is very hot at noon so be there as early as possible. Shops are open from 10 am – 6 pm.
Jim Thompson House – owned by an American businessman and architect who contributed to worldwide recognition of Thai silk
Day 5: Rest
Get a good sleep, exercise, and be ready for the next day’s new discoveries.
Day 6: Ayutthaya Tour
An hour away from Bangkok, Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, will give you a glimpse of the early life in Thailand. The kingdom was the capital of Siam (Thailand former name) until its fall in 1767 to Burmese. Once the center of foreign trading, it has not been rebuilt but instead preserved as ruin. The presence of countless Buddha images in the city is a clear sign that Ayutthaya Kingdom was at one time powerful and wealthy.
We hired a tuktuk that toured us to 5 temples for 500 baht per person. This trip is surely tiring yet fascinating as stories of the past unfold right in front of your eyes.
Wat Chaiwatthanaram | Entrance fee: 50 baht
Wat Thammikarat | Entrance fee: 20 baht
Wat Phukhao Tong | Entrance: free
Wat Lokayasutharam | Entrance: free
Wat Mahathat | Entrance fee: 50 baht
Day 7: Visit to Dusit Palace
Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall – said to be one of the most beautiful Italian architecture outside Italy that displays elegant Thai traditional artwork and crafts. Gold and silver nielloware, damascene inlay, woodcarving, beetle wing decoration, embroidery, and weaving among others are beautifully exhibited inside.
Entry is free for up to 7 day old ticket from Wat Phra Kaew and Grand Palace. | Open Hours: 10 am – 4pm
Dresscode: Long dress or Thai sarong and sleeved shirt for women, jeans are not allowed.
Pants/ Trousers and a shirt that fully covers the shoulder for men.
And that sums up our time off in Bangkok. We would’ve paid Damnoen Sudak Market, aka floating market, a visit, but the tour schedule was very early. Because of high temperature and humidity, just being outside is already exhausting. We had to consider papa’s health and physical strength when planning the itinerary making sure he gets enough rest and sleep. I propose you do the same.
Papa briefly worked in a foreign country but this is the first time he traveled internationally for a holiday. As we waited for our flight to Manila at Suvarnabhumi Airport, we could tell from his smiling face that he had lots of fun. I would also like to mention that papa gained weight and looked younger at the end of this trip, blame it to his happy heart! Most importantly, he committed to a healthy lifestyle, looking forward to more family travels without muscle cramps.
Happy trip from my family to yours.