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Thailand Beach Umbrellas

A Month In Thailand + What It Cost Our Family of 5

Is Thailand on your bucket list? For many years we dreamed about the other side of the world. Exotic beaches, boats in Caribbean blue water, and of course the legendary street food put Thailand high on our wish list of “must see” places.

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One thing we did not fully realize is how massive and far reaching Thailand is. Here is our partial review, as several visits may be needed to cover everything we still want to experience in Thailand!

1. Bangkok Street Food

Street Food

The very first thing we did after dropping our luggage off at the hotel was venture down to sample the local street food. We were not sure where to go or how to find these authentic food vendors. Turns out they are literally everywhere. It seemed that you could not go a block without encountering 3-5 and up to 15-20 little carts with fresh cooked food. We sampled many, enjoyed most, and never got sick (yay!).

2. Bangkok State Tower

Thailand State Tower

Famous for the crown of third tallest building in Thailand, and for filming of the Hangover 2, we highly enjoyed our stay. With incredible city views day and night, and a great location, we recommend booking your accommodations here! Or, a stop in the Sky Bar at the very least. 

3. Malls, Malls and More Malls!

Thailand Malls

Go to the malls! Not for the shopping oddly, because we did not find the prices to be anything special. But walking into a Bangkok mall, is like being transported into another dimension. Prepare to be amazed, enjoy water features, delicious food, and beautiful decor. Terminal 21 has the best food, at insanely low prices! A waterpark on top of a mall? Fantasia Lagoon at The Mall Bangkapi is lush and so well landscaped, you forget you are on top of a mall in a ginormous city.

4. Markets

Thailand Markets

Thailand is full of markets. We saw them in every city we visited. Sensory overload, shock, delight, hot, bustling, questioning, calculating, negotiating and finally leaving, full and exhausted. Fresh fruit drinks, crepes filled with fruit, pad thai, doughnuts, and grilled sweet corn were our go to favorites. Most markets have fruit, veggies, meat and fish, plus clothing and other misc items. It was an education in so many ways. Truly an authentic experience that one should not miss while here.

5. Sunsets

Thailand Sunset

Don’t you just love a sunset over the water!? Sunsets on the beach sounds so cheesy and generic, but really this is such a lovely time to enjoy the beauty of the beach!  We would often avoid the hot direct sun hours and head to the beach late afternoon for swimming, dinner, and superb sunsets. Ending the day with a final walk on the beach and watching the sky change is one of those magical aspects of a vacation.

6. Beaches

Thailand Beach

Known for so many beautiful islands, areas, and beaches, Thailand is a place that can be visited again and again. We stayed in northern and southern Phuket and found these areas to be family friendly. Our kids loved alternating between pool and beach time. 

7. Penthouse Airbnb

Thailand Penthouse

Our time was split between a penthouse in the north of Phuket and a hotel in the south. We have had such good luck finding penthouses, and have thoroughly enjoyed staying in them! Especially with a family, it is nice to have the extra space, bathrooms, kitchen and decks that a penthouse (or airbnb home) affords. Located nicely between Surin beach and Bang Tao beach, with a pool, close to a convenience store and restaurants, we felt this place would meet our needs. We were blown away by the outdoor living space and the views. To say it was amazing is an understatement.

8. Bugs & Geckos

Thailand Lizard

There is a certain moment in the evening, near sunset but not quite, where all the cicadas start humming...loudly. The signal that the day is ending and night is approaching, one starts and they all chime in singing their evening song.  We had the opportunity to see a few of these close up and they are HUGE. Imagine a bug with a larger circumference than your water bottle cap and taller. It’s alarming at first, but our experience is that although large, these bugs are harmless. In addition to huge cicadas, much to the delight of our daughter, geckos are everywhere.  Every time she saw one we stopped to look. What should have taken 5 minutes to walk, now took 20. But hey, if you can’t stop and smell the roses on vacation, you can at least stop for gecko spotting, a 6 year old’s favorite sport.  

9. Kidzania

Thailand Kidzania

Often high dollar entertainment is disappointing for our family.  It doesn’t live up to its expectations, or one of the kids runs out of steam early on, or they would enjoy it but we wouldn’t, or any other of many reasons.  This was not the case at Kidzania. Our kids loved it. So did we. At Kidzania, children have the opportunity to do a job for 20-40 minute sessions. Learning about real jobs and then doing them in a simulated area, is exciting and interactive.  It was a great way to explore their interests together, and gave us ideas on how to provide more education on these interests. Our kids learned about careers in a fun way, that you cannot provide in normal life. It still comes up in our conversations months later.  This one gets our stamp of approval!

10. Kata

Thailand Kata

Between Karon and Kata beach to the south, we transitioned into a hotel stay for the second half of our time in Phuket. Continental breakfasts are the best with kids! We also enjoyed a better pool and the hotel spa. While the penthouse area was quiet and scenic, the hotel area was more commercial and hopping. They were very different neighborhoods, but both highly enjoyable in different ways.

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