Thailand, including babies!
October 9, 2014 8:11 AM   Subscribe

This Christmastime, as a side excursion from another trip, my family is going to Bangkok and Hua Hin, for a few days each. "Family" here includes my infant son, who will be about seven months old, as well as my wife and in-laws. Huzzah! I now have two related questions.

First: Regarding Hua Hin, what family-friendly recommendations do people have for accommodations? Our needs are simple. (We already have accommodations for Bangkok.)

Second: I freely confess that I am ignorant of Thailand. Across Bangkok and Hua Hin, what activities, sights, etc. would people recommend for a group comprising thirtysomethings and a baby? Regarding Hua Hin, my wife and I are not big into beaches qua beaches - what else could we do? Advice (or warnings) regarding transportation? Regarding traveling with a baby, are there any quirks or potential complications that we should be aware of? (We have already gotten good and positive advice from our pediatrician, as far as general health and safety issues are concerned.)
posted by Sticherbeast to Travel & Transportation around Thailand (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Not familiar with Hua Hin, but there is a LOT to do in BKK. If you like markets, the Chatuchak weekend market is absolutely amazing and huge (maybe a bit overwhelming with a baby though). The historic area of palaces and temples on the west side of the city can take up the better part of a day. If you want to get out of the city for a day, Ayuthaya is an easy day trip - it's a city of ancient Khmer-style ruins, lovely and relatively peaceful.

Water is safe to drink in Bangkok but if you're nervous because of the baby, bottled water is cheap and sold everywhere.

Also, Thai culture is REALLY big on babies and children. You and your baby will be cooed over everywhere you go. The people I met in Thailand who were there with babies and children had a great time for this reason.
posted by lunasol at 10:08 AM on October 9, 2014

How are you planning to travel between BKK and Hua Hin? because it is connected by the main train line and Thai trains are wonderful. It's only 4 hours and the train station is right in the city vs the airports which are over an hour away or worse, depending on traffic.

2nd class aircon or fan seats are...upright, not super comfortable (they do make up into very comfy pullman berths at night) although certainly tolerable for that short time. 1st class is a great bargain compared to western train prices, with a large bench seat in a private compartment with a connecting door to the adjacent compartment, a little sink, and a nearby bathroom. Christmas will be busy though and people traveling between BKK and the south of Thailand will book it right up.

All I know about Hua Hin is that's where they filmed the The Killing Fields. Also the King is living there now, away from the pollution in BKK.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 1:50 PM on October 9, 2014

Thais love little children. I've lived in Hua Hin for 5 years. Your needs can be met because every high season we get many families with kids of all ages, including infants.

Transport warnings. From Bangkok to Hua Hin, many mini-van drivers are reckless. Most vans disable the seat belts. Taxis are much better because you'll be his last fare for the day so he's in no hurry. Around 2000 baht. Trains are slow and not on time. Bangkok to Hua Hin is 4 - 4 1/2 hours because the train first goes west before turning south. There is a bus from Bangkok's international airport to Hua Hin, which is the preferred means for many resident expats, though some don't like the fixed back seats. Two and a half hours, 305 baht.

In town transport is tuk-tuks and 'baht bus', properly known as songthaew. Tuk-tuks function like mini-taxis. No meter, all fares negotiated. Easily hold 4 adults unless one or more are too big for an airline seat. No seat belts.

The baht bus is cheap, slow, fixed route, safe. Havent heard of one being in an accident since I arrived. No taxis based here but sometimes one will cruise for fares after arriving from a distant tourist destination. No seat belts.

I can't help you on family friendly lodging advice, I'd ask on a tripadvisor forum. You could try the local expat forum, but most posters haven't dealt with infants and hotels in decades. That won't stop them from offering vaguely usefull general advice. However, there is a Nordic Section sub-forum. Many young Scandinavian families visit Hua Hin. Use Google Translate to post your message in Dansk, Svensk, Norsk og Finsk.

Are you from the U.S.? The tourist district is centered around one block that most parents from that (my) culture won't willingly expose their children to. Doesn't bother the Europeans. It's called the 'bar district' or 'Bintabat' one of the street names. It's where the working girls work. It's easily avoided by sticking to streets that parallel the block.

You didn't ask, but YES to the Hua Hin branch of the Bangkok Hospital group, and NO to Sao Paolo hospital.

As to do and see in Hua Hin, I'll post again in a couple hours because time is short now.
posted by Homer42 at 7:26 PM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

>: I freely confess that I am ignorant of Thailand.

Some tips for safer and more enjoyable travel. Smile and keep a pleasant tone while asking them to fix a customer service problem. If your request is turned down and you're sure they understand you, stop. Arguing will only make it worse.

By convention, pedestrians don't have the right of way.

To the extent that liability laws exist, the odds of a foreigner receiving compensation are lower than low. If you're male, never confront a Thai man. It's too easy for a foreigner to cross a line without knowing it, which can be followed, without warning, by the Thai man and any others nearby beating him into a hospital.

The Tourist Police are a national force, tasked with aiding tourists. If you're in a conflict, a victim of fraud, can't get a deposit back, had an accident, etc., or are involved in something where the local police have been summoned, call the Tourist Police: 1155.

Don't drink the water.

The culture does not recognize the concept of 'too loud'.

Use insect repellent. Besides the usual mosquito precautions, there are tiny things who fly only when the air is still and only at ankle height or below. Their hot, pinprick sting is hard to ignore for the first 10 minutes, then quickly fades. At usual mosquito times there are beach flyers that leave welts lasting a week or more.

If you enjoy and can handle food at home that's spicier than most people (except in Texas), ask for 'farang spicy'. Farang is the Thai term for foreigners.

Things to see and do. Many online sources, few of which ever update their listings. If visiting takes a non-trivial amount of time or money, verify the place still exists. The following are things I enjoyed or would have enjoyed.

- Elephant village.
- Fishing in a well stocked pond at Hua Hin Fishing Lodge.
- Magic Baloon Park
- Black Mountain Water Park
- ATV Park with paintball.
- Go-kart track. Warning. I think rookies and those without a 'caution first' attitude should not partake. Combine the top speed reachable on the straight, it's the rough pavement, brakes prone to lockup, and the narrow 90 degree turn at the end, a crash into the tire wall is all too likely. This is from my perspective of having raced off road motorcycles and run time trials on a race track in my sports car.

No real parks to speak of except the grounds of the 'big Buddha' statue, officially known as Huay Mongkol Temple or Wat Huay Mongkol. A delightful place to stroll.

His Majesty the King lives in Hua Hin. Ever walked on the palace grounds of a current monarch? Twice a day the public can walk, jog or run on an 800 yard paved loop around a pond at the palace. Ninety percent walk. There will few or no other foreigners. Times are early morning and late afternoon. Details here.
posted by Homer42 at 11:03 PM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

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