When a family welcomes a new member into their lives, parents tend to become cautious to a fault, trying to ensure each and every one of the little one’s needs are met perfectly. One very valuable advice I got from my mother was to never forget that the baby is entering your lives – lives that you lived and loved pre-baby as well. So don’t stop doing the things you used to, just for fear of how-will-we-manage-baby.
7 Reasons Why Thailand is Your Best Bet for Baby’s First International Holiday
Travelling to new destinations has always been very high on our priority lists, and with encouragement from the grandparents we decided to also start the little one early. Through all the research and planning, we discovered that there’s no better place than Thailand to start your baby’s international footprint:
Short and Sweet Flights:
The thought of managing hyper-active or hyper-cranky little kids in the confined spaces of an aircraft can give even the most seasonal travellers palpitations. So on a first international trip, it makes sense to not elongate the travel time. You never know how baby is going to adjust, so it’s best to keep the journey short and sweet.
Thailand’s capital Bangkok is well connected to most major Indian cities with flight time varying being between four and a half to seven hours. Thai Airways, Jet Airways, Air India provide direct flights, and during deal season one can even try to grab some sweet discounts (or upgraded seats!)
Easy on the Pocket:
It never ceases to amaze me how economical a family trip to Thailand is. Take the flight tickets for instance; there are times of the year when it is cheaper to travel Mumbai-Bangkok than Mumbai-Delhi!
And for hotels, there are enough and more options available at each price point. Fairly decent budget hotels can be had for as low as 2000 rupees a night! Of course us indulgent parents may want to loosen the purse strings for a baby’s first holiday! But worry not, with a budget of 5000-7000 rupees a night, you’re sure to find a good family resort which will be well worth remembering.
Of course, the extravagant 30k a night resorts do exist too! But the point is that you need not splurge to have a wonderful time in Thailand.
Thai People are Amazingly Kid-Friendly:
Which brings me to my next point. The people of Thailand welcome tourists with open arms, irrespective of the hotel you chose. Their service industry is top quality.
And things get elevated more so when little munchkins come into the picture. While you’re eating at a restaurant, or exploring a street market, or relaxing by the beach, you may find someone or the other is always offering to babysit.
We once stayed at the Ritz Carlton Phulay Bay in Krabi and were blown away by the attention to detail for baby care. Not only did they provide a cot in the room, they had even catered for a small bottle steriliser, baby powder and lotions, and all meals were complimentary for our baby.
As a whole the country seems to love kids, and you have to witness their genuine warmth and friendliness to believe how perfect Thailand is for kids.
(Just know that even though the people love kids, their cities and resorts are not typically stroller friendly. Aim for baby wearing, or compact umbrella strollers to move around conveniently)
Immigration Formalities are Easy:
Thailand has a policy of visa on arrival for Indian passport holders. Yay!
But also Nay…there can be long lines on arrival to get your passport stamped with the visa. And this seems even more daunting to get through when you’ve just spend 5-7 hours with a toddler on the plane.
If you have the time, it might be better to get the visa stamped by the Thai embassy before your family trip to Thailand. It’s a small one-pager form (with no biometrics) and normally takes 5-7 days to get processed. Much easier to manage than other visas.
Of course the visa-on-arrival is always an option that allows you to plan a trip at short notice. But travel with kids is rarely a last-minute thing!
There’s Something for Everyone:
Depending on the age of your kid(s), and the kind of activities you want to do, there are multiple places to visit in Thailand with family.
From elephant tourism and adventure sports like trekking and zip-lining in Chiang Mai; to the hills of Hua Hin with its temples, picturesque secluded hotels and monkey spotting, there’s lots to choose from when deciding on the places to visit with family.
For smaller kids (like in our case), one can pick a quiet beach in the beautiful districts of Phuket, Krabi or Koh Samui where you get to have a more relaxed pace. Even the bustling capital of Bangkok has activities like kid-friendly theme parks, museums, and night markets and river cruises which can be a wonderful exploration of culture for the little ones.
Of course, some visitors to Thailand have agendas which are far from family-friendly. But those are typically focused around the party-scene of Patong. That side of Thailand is highly avoidable with kids.
Seasons Don’t Matter:
Thailand is a tropical country much like India, so the weather doesn’t come as a surprise to the kids. Even the time lag of two-and-half hours is short enough to avoid any significant jet lag.
The other advantage is that different parts of Thailand have differences in weather – like the Upper Gulf (including Hua Hin) gets too hot and humid in March-May, while the Lower Gulf and Phuket get heavy monsoon rains in May-August/September. There is no extreme winter but November to February tend to be cool and pleasant weather in most places.
So no matter which month you’re planning your Thailand family vacation, chances are high that it will be a “good-time-to-visit” in some or the other part of the country.
Food is Easy for Indians:
By any standards Thai food is known to be spicy, but lucky for us it is so close to the Indian palette! They have enough local cuisine that is child friendly so you can let the little one’s taste buds explore. So long as you avoid the spicy curries!
Sticky rice is a staple of course, and can make a perfect meal on the go for kids with some curd. The tropical weather also means that you’ll readily find refreshing fruits, juices and smoothies.
I think the Thai love mango just about as much as Indians do! Mango pudding, mango curd, mango everything…it’s a delight for little ones, and grown-ups too!
So what are you waiting for? Check out hotel reviews on a few travel portals and get packing! Baby, and parents, will have an amazing time for sure.