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Travelling as a family means trying to balance everyone’s interests. You want a mix of fun and culture when you visit another country. In Thailand, this is easy to achieve but it’s safe to say your teens will be craving something different long before they have seen even a handful of Bangkok’s 400 temples! So today Paula from Thailand Awaits will share some ideas of fun things to do in Bangkok that your teenagers will love and you will probably enjoy too.
Bangkok is a great spot for parents and their teenagers to discover together. This Thai city has a good mix of ancient sites and modern attractions. Taking your teenager to Bangkok is a great way for them to learn about other cultures in a city that feels different yet at the same time a lot like home in many ways. The challenge for parents is often finding activities everyone will enjoy.
Don’t worry, whether your teenager is a budding artist, a foodie wanting to try cooking Thai food, or an adventurer eager to traverse the city on a long tail boat or a bicycle tour, Bangkok offers all this and more.
Discovering Bangkok’s Vibrant Street Art
Taking a self-guided street art tour is a fun, low-cost way to discover more of Bangkok. While few teenagers like to just “go for a walk”, a walk where you hunt down cool murals is another thing altogether.
Jump on the BTS, a canal boat or order a grab and head to areas like Taled Noi, Charoen Krung or Ratchathewi, where you will find the work of local artists and also some very well-known international artists.
Early morning or late afternoon are best as the middle of the day is hot and the traffic can be bad. There are plenty of cool spots to grab a cool drink and do some people-watching.
Take a Fun Thai Cooking Classes
Cooking with Poo, one of the most popular cooking schools in Bangkok is sure to get a giggle from most tweens and teens. Not only does it offer a chance to expand culinary skills, but it also provides a perfect opportunity for immersion in Thai culture.
The interactive classes take place in a local community not too far from Phra Khanong, and encourage participation at every level. It’s therefore a brilliant way to keep your teens engaged, allow them to learn something new, and develop a new appreciation for Thai cuisine. The class also caters to all dietary requirements to ensure that everyone is accommodated.
Watch a Muay Thai Fight
If you and your teens are up for some thrilling action, watching a live Muay Thai fight in Bangkok is a must-do. This exciting Thai martial art is not only a showcase of power and skill, but also a reflection of Thai culture’s value for determination and discipline.
It’s an excellent opportunity for your teens to understand Thai traditions while being part of a buzzing crowd. But take note, this is not a spectacle for the faint-hearted!
You can watch a fight night at MBK on the first and last Wednesday of the month but if that doesn’t work for your visit you can book tickets to a big fight at the Rajadamnern Stadium.
Experience Bangkok’s Unique Floating Markets
While many people call them touristy, a visit to a floating market can still be loads of fun. There are a few smaller floating markets that are more authentic and still frequented by locals but I have to be honest, these are not all that much fun for kids so if you do want to visit a floating market I recommend you head to one of the bigger ones.
The most popular is Damnoen Saduak, which although is what I call a “Disney” style version of the old-school traditional ones, it does give you a taste of what it was like and it is fun.
Unleashing Their Creativity at Bangkok’s Artist House
Once a floating market, The Artists House has been repurposed into a vibrant arts hub. It’s a place where creative types can paint, make jewellery or just enjoy a cold drink looking out over the canal as you admire other people’s artworks.
You can buy craft kits and make your own jewellery or artwork to take home. I am sure this will be a huge hit with tweens and creative teens.
Take a Long Tail Boat Ride In Thonburi’s Klongs
Spending an afternoon on the Thonburi Khlongs is a fun experience and gives you a chance to see old Bangkok. You can ask any long tail operators to take you but for a really seamless quality experience, it’s hard to go past Hidden Bangkok. On your 2-hour tour, you travel in a beautifully restored wooden boat and can lay back and watch life along the canal. You are also welcome to bring drinks and snacks on board.
On our last trip we booked a tour with them directly via their website and had a wonderful experience. The owner set up the business to support locals living along the Klong and attract visitors to the area.
Our afternoon tour included a stop at the Artist’s House and a visit to the famous giant gold Buddha at Wat Paknam. We returned to the main Chao Praya at twilight giving us a chance to see Wat Arun all lit up from the water. One of my favourite days out of that visit.
Explore Bangkok by Bicycle
Ever thought about cruising around a lush green oasis smack dab in the middle of bustling Bangkok? Hop on a bicycle and chill out at The Green Lung.
This (almost) secret spot is a slice of greenery that’s far from the usual city madness. The locals call it Bangkok’s ‘Green Lung’. Who knew silence in the heart of Bangkok was even a thing!
Ride along shaded trails through the mangrove forests that run parallel to canals and help keep the heat down. You can make your own way over by public and rent a bike on arrival or better still book a bike tour so you can learn more about what you see.
Travel Tip: If you don’t feel like cycling explore Benchakitti Forest Park – it’s particularly lovely just before and after sunset
Do a Tuk Tuk food tour
Hopping into a tuk tuk food tour is a fun and different way to experience and enjoy Bangkok’s diverse local food. Zipping through narrow lanes and bustling markets, it’s an exciting mix of food exploration and sightseeing.
At each stop, you’ll experience new delicious flavours, from tasty street food to secret foodie spots. This isn’t just about tasting the food, it’s about feeling and understanding the lively food culture of the city. The tuk tuk food tour is a must-do activity.
Shop Til You Drop
Shopping and Bangkok go hand in hand, even if you’re not a big shopper you will probably enjoy a few hours checking out your options here. The variety of markets, impressive shiny new malls and bargaining fun of the MBK centre, a teen favourite, are very much part of life in Bangkok.
If nothing else the airconditioning and the food courts make these great places to break up your cultural explorations.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Brimming with over 8,000 stalls spread across 27 sections, finding something for everyone in your family won’t ever be an issue. Chatuchak is the biggest market in Thailand and they say the biggest is South East Asia.
The key to a successful experience here is to time your visit perfectly. Be there as early as you can because by mid-morning it can become unbearably hot, especially in the undercover areas.
Teen-Friendly Shopping at MBK Centre
Great for a midday escape or an evening activity, the MBK Shopping Centre in Bangkok, once the largest in Asia, may no longer hold that title; it’s still pretty extensive with over 2000 shops or stalls.
What makes it a great stop for teens is that there are plenty of “look-a-like” goods that will likely be on their shopping list.
The centre also houses a multi-screen cinema, karaoke and an arcade gaming zone, making it a one-stop destination. There is a large food court on level 7. Remember to hone your bargaining skills before you venture here, because haggling is part of the thrill when you hit the market stalls on level 3.
Travel Tip: You might even like to stay in the Pathumwan Princess Hotel (link) which has a direct entry to the mall.
Jodds Fair Night Market
Night markets are part of youth culture in Bangkok and Jodds Fair Night Market is an unmissable experience for teens visiting Bangkok.
What makes Jodds Fair stand out are the type of vendors who mostly sell trendy clothes and the latest accessories that will help you fit right into Bangkok’s buzzing fashion scene with lots of jewellery and bags, and accessories.
Food stands serve up everything from traditional Thai street food to ribs and burgers. While you are enjoying dinner you can listen to local musicians and street performers who entertain the crowds.
Unwinding at a Teen-Friendly Cafe
Thai’s love an Instagrammable cafe and the city has plenty of trendy spots that provide not only great food and drinks but also a fantastic atmosphere and air conditioning!
Finding Unusual Desserts at Unicorn Café
The rainbow-decorated interior of this colourful cafe is just the start, the unicorn-themed dishes, the Unicorn Café in Sathorn are also an explosion of colour, and guaranteed to provide plenty of energy!
A short walk from Chong Nonsi BTS station, this one-of-a-kind themed café offers tasty treats like unicorn ice cream, star-shaped sandwiches, and rainbow cakes, all in an enchanting, Instagram-worthy setting.
Just a short walk from Ari BTS Station Dogtown is an animal cafe for dog lovers. The dogs here are larger breeds, which I felt made them more comfortable with visitors. There were Huskies, a large poodle, Samoyeds, a gorgeous golden Retriever.
Your entry fee (350 Baht when we visited) includes a drink and an untimed visit giving you plenty of time to play or pose with the dogs.
Things to know about your visit to Bangkok
Use Public Transport
The best way to get around Bangkok is to make use of the city’s extensive public transport network. Roads are jammed with traffic from early in the day until quite late at night.
The sky train, known as the BTS, is a very handy way to get from Sukhumvit to the riverside.
The MRT is an underground service that stops near lots of the main sites tourists want to visit.
The Chao Phraya river boats will deliver you from Wat Arun to Khao San Road and also connect to the Green BTS line.
If there is no public transport near the place you are heading, get yourself as close as you can and then jump in a grab.
Don’t Overdo The Temples.
Travelling with kids I would stick to just two temples – Wat Pho with its Giant reclining Buddha and Wat Paknam or Wat Arun. All three of these only take about half an hour to visit and are outstanding.
The Grand Palace is overwhelming and busy, and I don’t think an essential stop for families, so it might be best to leave it off your Bangkok with teens experience.
Some Things Are Best Left To Other Parts Of Thailand
If you have your heart set on seeing Elephants on your trip to Thailand we recommend you save this until you visit Chiang Mai as none of the elephant parks near Bangkok are ethical operations.
Also there are no beautiful beaches near Bangkok. Save your beach time to the Islands or coast of Thailand’s southern gulf. We recommend Koh Samui for a relaxing break or Phuket if you want a little more action.
Eating In Bangkok
There is plenty of Western food if you are travelling with kids who have not developed a love of strange foods yet. We highly recommend you head to one of the shopping centre food courts where you will find local meals for $1-2 – a great way to give the kids a few different dishes to sample without worrying about them not liking it.
About the author:Paula Morgan has been travelling to Thailand for more than 20 years and spends 3 months there every year. You can find more of her writing on her website Thailandawaits.com