exploring thailand with the family
First of all, happy new year to all of you! I hope the holidays were wonderful for you and that you're ready to start this year fresh. This year is going to include a lot of changes for my family including a possible move or two. The time and place has yet to be determined, so we're gonna try to pack as many trips as we can in while still in Asia. It's a bit nerve-wracking to have things up in the air, but at the same time it's exciting, too.
Over the holidays my family and I were able to take a couple bucket list trips. The first one was to Thailand, and that marked our very first vacation as a family of three! Now, we've gone back to the states a couple times since the little guy was born, but as an actual family vacation it was the first. It's really important to us to expose our child to different cultures and different places, so I'm very happy to be able to start stamping his passport early.
Thailand is an absolutely incredible place for a family vacation. Our stops included Chiang Mai and Bangkok which were both so interesting in their own ways. The feel of Chiang Mai was more casual and slower paced, but it still offered so much to do and see. For my son, seeing elephants (and riding them if you find a place where they're well taken care of) was a fantastic experience. We could tell that the light bulbs were going on in his head as he finally understood what an elephant was in real life. Just being able to interact with them, feed them, bathe them, and stand right up next to them was something we'll never forget.
The other thing about Chiang Mai was that it was so walkable. We would spend the days strolling down the roads to the wats (temples) and finding little places to eat along the way. The streets didn't feel dirty or crowded. The only time where we really felt that we were rubbing elbows with everyone on the street was at the night bazaar. While definitely touristy, there are still so many interesting things being sold at the market to make it a worthwhile stop.
For me, the highlight of the trip was a cooking class from Tom Yum Cooking School. The class started with a visit to the local market to get the freshest ingredients and to explore the many varieties of local fare. We cooked at a residence in Chiang Mai with a prep table and dining area inside and a cooking area outside. Several dishes were included, and each was prepared individually as a hands-on experience while the instructor went through the recipes. There was even a family with two boys all enjoying the day cooking together and learning new recipes. The food was incredible, and it was also a pleasure to talk with locals as well as tourists from other countries about how they cook.
From there, we went on to Bangkok. It was a bustling city filled with streets steaming from food vendors, bikes reeling quickly by, and wats tucked in around every corner. I have to say that I could have done without the crowds at the tourist attractions, but the busy neighborhoods were so interesting to be immersed in during the day and night. I definitely felt like I was in an Asian city that was so different compared to the West. It's another world in so many ways, yet still the same in daily life.
If you're considering visiting Thailand, I would definitely recommend exploring a bit outside the capital city to get a feel for the smaller towns. Taking the kids is a great way to give them an inside view into Asia but just be mindful that intense traffic and smoky areas are common. There's plenty of pad thai, bright colorful temples, and elephant excursions to hold their attention, though. It's truly an incredible place for a family trip.