This Bangkok family tour gave us a 1-day, low-stress introduction to Thailand’s bustling capital
Sightseeing in a huge, traffic-packed city like Bangkok can be tricky anytime, but all the more so when traveling with kids. Our family of four wanted to find an affordable, flexible Bangkok family tour, so we could experience the major attractions of Bangkok at our own pace, according to our own interests, and for what would work not only for us parents, but our children too.
The tour we picked gave us everything we asked for, and made it so easy to enjoy a day checking out the major sights of Bangkok! Here’s what we consider the best Bangkok day tour with kids, what we experienced, and why we enjoyed this tour so much.
Our pick for the Best Bangkok day tour with kids: Hop On Hop Off Tuk Tuk Tour
The tour we picked was a hop on, hop off tour. However, instead of a bus, this tour used tuk-tuks! Plus, the tuk-tuks were all electric. This not only made for a more sustainable, environmentally friendly tour. The quieter ride made it easier to take in the sounds of the city as we rode from place to place.
- One tuk-tuk easily held our family of four (depending on the size of your family, the tour operator can let you know the best options for how many tuk-tuks you might need)
- Affordable: Prices are about US$9 per adult
- The tuk-tuk’s covered seating area gets you out of the sun for a while
- Flexible: Tell the driver where you want to go, and they take you, with no side trips or stops at seemingly random shops
- No price haggling: Pay one price, in advance, through TripAdvisor, and your family is good to go on the day
- Stay at an attraction as long as you want, and text when you’re ready for a pickup
- A fun, sit-back-and-relax way to experience one of the world’s great cities
Here’s how we reviewed this Bangkok day tour on TripAdvisor
“We had an excellent time as a family of 4! Love that the Tuk Tuks are electric and roomy. Easy to get in and out. The one thing we didn’t know the first time was that they will send a licence plate number each time you schedule a new ride. We asked a random tuk tuk if they were there for us (of course he said yes) but he wasn’t with this company at all! Make sure you wait for the licence plate number. They were so responsive over Whatsapp and gave us all the info we needed. Made sure we were picked up. We will be doing this again!”
Before you go on this Bangkok day tour with kids
Now that we’ve taken this Bangkok day tour with our kids, here are a few things we suggest you keep in mind:
In Thailand, child admission isn’t always based on age, but on height
Even though we have two kids, Connor was typically tall enough for adult admission. Aster typically was just under the height line… barely! Plus, Thailand’s subway system uses height to determine child or adult fares too.
The tour price doesn’t include admission fees to individual attractions
Since you pick the attractions you want to visit, the tour price doesn’t include admission fees to individual attractions. Typically these are cash-only. We’d suggest stocking up on baht from an ATM before going on the tour. However, if you need a cash top-up, search your bank or mapping app for a nearby ATM, and ask your driver to make a stop.
Pack some family essentials
Anthony carries a small daypack as our main family out-and-about bag. Along with the cash above, here’s what we carried on our day tour of Bangkok:
- Water (each family member has their own water bottle)
- Sunscreen (we each had a hat too)
- Hand sanitizer
- Cameras (and spare batteries)
- A small tripod
If you need something, 7-11 is your friend
As of 2021, there were about 13,000 7-11 convenience stores in Thailand, and over a third of those are in the Bangkok area alone. If you need to stock up on beverages, snacks, or just about anything else, odds are you can find a nearby 7-11 to save the day.
Bonus: 7-11’s are air-conditioned! Ducking into one can give everyone a chance to cool off.
Bonus Bonus: Onigiri, or nori-wrapped rice treats, typically with a filling, are a cheap, family friendly snack. Connor especially loved the salmon roe onigiri, which he described as, “It’s a bit spicy. It tastes good.”
Most important: Don’t get on just any tuk-tuk, look for a license plate photo in texts or WhatsApp!
For the tour we used, via WhatsApp the company texted us a photo of the tuk-tuk that would pick us up. Generally, this made our picksups very easy, especially since at any given time there will likely be drivers asking if you need a ride.
Actually, the one bit of constructive feedback we gave the company was to tell customers about the license plate photos earlier. We didn’t know about it until we were at the pickup point for our first ride. We messed up and wound up in a tuk-tuk that wasn’t part of our tour, and part of the way through the ride got a text with a license plate photo. (The driver then tried to charge us 200 baht, we countered with 30, and eventually we settled on 50 baht, by the way.)
The license plate photos make it much easier to know what’s what. Bonus: It also makes a great game for the kids, to see if they can find the right license plate.
Itinerary: Bangkok day tour options, what we chose, and why we didn’t visit all 19 stops
The Hop On Hop Off Tuk Tuk Tour lets you choose from 19 different stops. As of when we took our tour, you had between 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. to start and finish your tour whenever you wanted.
These tours are also self-guided. You’ll have a driver, but not a guide. Some attractions may have tours your can join or guides you can hire for a separate fee, but you also have the liberty to do your own research and completely self-guide you and your family (which is what we did).
Here are the 19 stops you can choose from
On the day, you’ll need to get from your accommodation to the tour area, which is typically pretty easy via a Grab car hire or Bangkok’s various local trains. Depending you where you’re staying, the tour company can also advise on where you’ll want to meet up with the tour pickup. Here are the stops you can choose to spend time at, as of January 2023 (and the tour listing will have the most current options):
- The Grand Palace (suggested time, 1 hour)
- Tha Maharaj (suggested time, 1 hour)
- Wat Phra Chetuphon (suggested time, 1 hour)
- Museum Siam (suggested time, 1 hour)
- Pak Khlong Talat Flower Market (suggested time, 20 minutes)
- Giant Swing (suggested time, 10 minutes)
- The National Museum of Bangkok (suggested time, 1 hour)
- Khaosan Road (suggested time, 1 hour)
- Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall (suggested time, 2 hours)
- Wat Saket, or, The Golden Mount (suggested time, 45 minutes)
- Wat Benchamabophit, or, The Marble Temple (suggested time, 40 minutes)
- Loha Prasat, or, Wat Ratchanatdaram Woravihara (suggested time, 40 minutes)
- China Town, or Yaowarat/ถนน เยาวราช (suggested time, 1 hour)
- Wat Traimit, or, Temple of the Golden Buddha (suggested time, 1 hour)
- Wat Intharawihan (suggested time, 40 minutes)
- Old Siam Plaza (suggested time, 30 minutes)
- Nang Loeng Market (suggested time, 30 minutes)
- Bangkok City Pillar Shrine (suggested time, 30 minutes)
- Ban Bat Community (suggested time, 40 minutes)
While it’s awesome that the tour has 19 stops, we knew we weren’t visiting most of them. Since Anthony had been to Bangkok before, our goal was to give the whole family a full introduction to the city, so we’d focus on some big highlights. Plus, we didn’t want to completely exhaust the kids—or ourselves, for that matter.
The Bangkok day tour stops we visited… plus a few misadventures
We picked a handful of stops to give us a decent taste of some of Bangkok’s variety, Thailand’s history, and Thai culture’s rich, deep, incredible vibrancy. However, we also had to make a few adjustments on the fly.
1. Wat Traimit: Golden Buddha
We always like to start a tour like this with something impressive. In Anthony’s journal later that day, he simply wrote, “Golden Buddha. Everyone amazed.”
Anthony had long told the kids the story of the Golden Buddha. The 5.5 ton statue is 3 meters tall, or about 10 feet. And yes, it’s all gold (of varying purities; based on Buddhist mythology, the higher up the body, the higher the concentration of gold in the alloy).
It was also forgotten about for centuries.
The Golden Buddha is thought to have been cast in the 13th or 14th century. However, at some point, concerns the statue would be stolen prompted officials to cover it in a layer of stucco. At some point, records were lost, or, rather, everyone did such a great job concealing the Golden Buddha, they forgot about it for the next 200 years.
In 1954 while the statue was being lifted to a new location, something happened and the statue fell. Then, under the busted stucco, people realized something shiny was underneath.
The full story now sits in a beautiful, high, light-filled chamber in Thailand’s capital.
The Golden Buddha also makes a great starting point with kids, since you can begin your touring day with a big wow factor.
2. Pak Khlong Talat (Flower Market)
Our family loves fresh flowers. And in Thailand, fresh flowers are a big deal, every day. People put arrangements in hotels, at the spirit houses on properties, and as offerings at shrines.
The Pak Khlong Talat is one of Asia’s largest flower markets. Inside massive buildings, rows and rows of flower stalls are like a miniature gridded city. The scents of cut flowers overtakes everything. At every stall, people are snipping, arranging, and setting out flowers, in vibrant purples, lush whites, and brilliant oranges.
3. Wat Arun
You know how we mentioned we had to make some changes on the fly? Wat Arun was one of them. Located on the western bank of the Chao Praya River, this storied temple is an integral part of Thai culture and is one of Bangkok’s most notable symbols.
A ferry takes visitors from the eastern bank, where we were, to the temple on the other side. Unfortunately, on the day of our tour the river was not exactly playing nice. A high tide and rough waters had the river splashing up much higher than usual, and getting to the ferry loading point was a pretty precarious setup.
For us, water and Jodie’s computerized prosthetic leg aren’t exactly on the best of terms. We decided to skip Wat Arun. While we admired the temple from the far bank, we turned this stop into a lunch break instead.
However, we very much want to see Wat Arun on our next visit to Bangkok. We just may set things up so we’re on the other side of the river first.
4. The Grand Palace
After lunch, we made our way to the biggest sight of all: The Grand Palace. At over 2.3 million square feet of area, the walled complex was completed in 1785 and today continues to serve not only for cultural tourism, but for day-to-day Thai government functions.
And, that unfortunately, left us getting only a wee taste of the Palace grounds. Fortunately, you can enter the grounds for free, and see some of the temples, landscaping, and other buildings. The ticketed area gives you the main part of the tour, and takes you through many of the key areas of the palace complex.
The day we visited, however, coincided with APEC 2022, a major multi-nation economic conference. The Palace complex was being closed to the public earlier than usual for events related to APEC. By the time we arrived, there wasn’t much time left before the Palace closed, so we skipped the main tour.
We hadn’t realized at the time this would be the case, or we might have opted to visit the Palace earlier in the day. Still, no big deal. We’ll be visiting Thailand again in 2023 and plan to do this Bangkok family tour [tk link] again. The Palace will likely be our first stop of the day, but at least we got a taste that had both parents and kids wanting more.
5. Wat Pho and the Temple of the Reclining Buddha
We started big, and we ended big too. Close to the Grand Palace, the walled complex of Wat Pho houses monastic buildings, temples, and over a thousand Buddha statues and images.
But the biggest of all, the main event we had come to see, is the Reclining Buddha. Set inside its own huge enclosure, the gilded Reclining Buddha is 15 meters high and 46 meters long. To put it another way, walking around it takes a while, and you have to remind yourself to look down now and again so you can stretch your neck.
The mother of pearl designs in the feet, by the way, are of special interest, and can give you something to tell the kids they have to look forward to.
Buddha statues are positioned based on different symbolism. Reclining Buddhas depict Buddha at the end of his life physical life. While this prompted some fascinating discussions with the kids, we especially enjoyed learning about the statue, how long it took to make it, and why it’s considered so important.
The grounds of Wat Pho themselves make for a wonderful finish to a touring day with children. It’s not uncommon for events to take place (and at one booth we refreshed ourselves with some delicious tamarind juice). Statues, other temples, and art displays can make for a family scavenger hunt, or some quiet, reflective time in serene spaces.
Also make sure you bang the gong near the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. It makes a great photo op for the kids!
If we took this tour again, what would we see?
Depending on your priorities, you may well pack in some other sights. We preferred more of a half-day tour. Then again, we also knew we’d be returning to Bangkok in 2023. If we’d been doing a fuller day’s tour, we would’ve picked a few more stops. When we go back to Bangkok and do the tuk tuk tour again, these are the stops we’ll likely pick:
- Grand Palace (we’ll probably start here early, since it’ll take a good bit of the day and deserves a lot of time)
- Wat Phra Chetuphon
- Museum Siam or National Museum of Bangkok
- Giant Swing (quirky landmark that sounds like it’s worth a visit simply for the oddity)
- Khaosan Road (an iconic backpacker street—it might give the kids a glimpse of their young adult future)
- Nang Loeng Market (may finish up with a market wonder, especially for food opportunities)
However, which stops we visit is very much a moving target. After we take the tour again, we’ll do a follow up piece on the places we visited the second time around!
What to do and where to stay in Bangkok with kids
The Bangkok day tour that won’t break the travel budget
Even with the tuk tuk taking us around, our Bangkok family tour was still an intense day. We spent the evening watching a lightning-strewn thunderstorm from our balcony. And both kids, typically night owls, were asleep much earlier than usual.
Still, our tuk tuk tour gave us exactly what we wanted. It was affordable, flexible, comfortable, and we finished up with a taste not only of how amazing Bangkok is, but Thailand on the whole.
And we can’t wait to return to Bangkok to take the tuk tuk tour again!