Travel safety tips when taking a gap year
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Looking for a family holiday with a difference? Forget the family road trip or the local camp site, and pack your bags for Thailand. Hold on, isn’t Thailand just for gap years and backpackers?
While Thailand might summon up visions of crazy nights and stunts on motorised scooters, you may be surprised to know that it’s also one of the most accommodating destinations in Asia for family travel.
With the recent passing of the King and the instigation of the national mourning period, Thailand has regained some stability with the appointment of Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn as the new King Rama X. You can rest assured that Thailand is still open for business and is ready to welcome travelling families.
There are numerous beachfront resorts with facilities for keeping little ones busy, while activities such as night-market visits and zip-lining will keep big kids more than entertained. With friendly, welcoming locals – many of whom speak English – delicious, healthy food options and plenty of family-friendly activities, Thailand is a gateway to Asia and the perfect place for a family holiday.
Here are a few reasons why.
Do your kids like animals? Thailand is a wonderful place to encounter wildlife you’d only usually see on a BBC documentary. The Patara Elephant Farm in Chang Mai is a haven for rescued elephants, where you and your family can have the unique ‘Elephant Owner for a Day’ experience.
Learn how to approach and interact with these gentle giants, as well as feeding them and washing them – bring your bathers and be prepared for a splash or two! You can also arrange for a transfer to and from your hotel for a stress-free day out.
If Thailand’s undeniably cute monkeys are more your style, you need only head to Lopburi, just two hours’ drive north from Bangkok. Affectionately known as the City of Monkeys, this is a fantastic opportunity to spot these simian friends roaming free around the temples and streets.
Thailand is jam-packed with exciting excursions to suit all ages and energy levels. Take to the trees on a zip-lining adventure at Flight of the Gibbon in Chang Mai or Pattaya, where you and the kids will learn about the native gibbon apes before exploring the forest at a flying pace.
It’s no secret that Thailand is also home to some incredible temples, which represent a wonderful cultural experience and also a great day’s adventure. Bangkok’s Golden Buddha statue at Wat Traimit is sure to hold both parents and kids alike in awe, while plenty of Thailand’s other ‘wats’ provide engaging activities for kids such as making flower offerings, as well as fortune telling.
Thailand’s beaches are not only mind-mindbogglingly beautiful – many of them provide the ideal spot for families to park their towels for the day. Ko Chang and the Eastern Seaboard are blessed with tranquil shores, where the water is shallow enough for young ones to have a paddle. Older kids can also dive into the crystalline waters at Ko Tao for some great snorkelling and encounters with marine life.
Have a picky eater or two in tow? Fear not, for even though Thailand is renowned for its spicy dishes, it still has a wide range of foods to satisfy the family. Some kid-friendly options include grilled chicken (gai yang) and sticky rice (kao niow), found at many street stalls, as well as chicken and cashew stir fry (gai pad med mamuang).
If you fancy a sweet treat (for the kids, of course), there are a rainbow of fruit smoothies to sample, plus traditional mango sticky rice (khao neeo mamuang).
Last but not least, Thailand is not only a great place for a family holiday, it’s also an economical choice. The Thai Baht has steadily decreased against the Australian dollar since 2012, hovering around 26-27 THB to AU$1. Food in Thailand is relatively cheap, with great street food from 20-50 THB. Accommodation varies, generally being less expensive toward the north. If you are looking for a family room or bungalow, expect to pay anywhere from from 600 THB up to 1,700 THB for more upmarket options in the big resorts.
And when it comes to the nitty gritty of travel insurance for Thailand, you’ll be glad to know your kids travel free under your policy with Travel Insurance Direct. What are you waiting for?