Our baby was 8 months old when we bought our tickets to Thailand. And It wasn’t going to be a short trip. We were going to spend 2 months in Thailand and then keep traveling the world for another 4 months! We had so many questions when we were preparing for our trip and there was not a lot of good information online. So we decided to put everything we learned from this amazing trip on this blog post.
Why travel to Thailand with a baby?
Me and my wife love Thailand. The food, the people, the weather and the beaches. We have been dreaming about it through pregnancy, specially during the Swedish winter. However, when we told our friends and family about our plans of traveling through Thailand with a baby, they all freaked out and thought we were crazy.
So, if that’s you right now, don’t worry. It’ll be fine! 😉
Our first question was, of course, where to go in Thailand? We had been there before when we were single. But this time was a little different. We had to take our little human into account and chose our final destination carefully.
Where is the best place to travel with a baby in Thailand?
Yes! Having a baby does make things different. It meant we had to be a little less adventurous and perhaps not go to that remote island that we would normally choose when we were single.
So, we knew we had to pick a place with some decent basic infrastructure if we wanted to have some piece of mind.
Things to think about traveling with a baby
Of course, choosing the ideal place to visit in Thailand ultimately depends on what you want to see! However, here are a few general pointers you should consider when picking up your destination:
- Baby fun factor
I don’t need to stress that having a good and reliable insurance is more than essential when traveling with a baby to Thailand, or anywhere else for that matter. So, I won’t go into specifics here of what you should consider when choosing your travel insurance company.
But, the problem is that your great insurance deal does not mean anything if you can’t find a good hospital when you need one. Thailand has in fact some very modern and reliable hospitals up to western standards but it ultimately depends on where you are!
So, if you want to be extra safe, you should consider avoiding small remote islands with difficult access to the best hospital facilities. My wife Sofia got very bad food poisoning in Koh Samui, and we were very happy that we had a good travel insurance.
For example, when we made our itinerary we opted for cities that are a little bigger and more developed. We spent a couple of weeks in Bangkok and two months in Chiang Mai, where you will find some of the best hospitals in Thailand. After that we wanted to spend some time on the beach, so we went to Koh Samui. Yes, it is quite touristy, but it is also big and pretty developed. So in case of an emergency, it would be easy and convenient to reach a good hospital.
If you are considering spending some time on the beach, Koh Samui is indeed a good option if you are traveling with a baby in Thailand.
Another great option would be Krabi. It is another very popular destination where you will see many families and people traveling with children in general.
Other options include Phuket (not our favorite place… there is such thing as too touristy), and Koh Chang, which is not that far from Bangkok.
Dengue Fever in Thailand
If you are going to travel to Thailand during the months of May and November (rainy season), you should be careful with the Dengue Fever epidemics.
It peaks during the rainy months and the cases are more concentrated in some areas than others.
Chiang Mai and Bangkok struggle every year with thousands of cases of the fever.
Dengue fever is transmitted via the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. People who live in affected areas do learn to recognize this type of mosquito for their own safety. Luckily, the mosquito has a very distinctive appearance, as you can see from the picture bellow.
Well, I don’t know if you even heard of dengue fever, but as a Brazilian who has gotten dengue fever before, I must warn you, it is a big deal. You don’t want to get it nor have your precious baby getting dengue. However, there is no need to panic.
We spent 2 months in Chiang Mai (the heart of the dengue epidemics) and, although we did arrive in the end of the rainy season, we were still very much worried about the mosquito that transmits dengue fever. We took all the basic precautions such as to live in an apartment complex which takes preventing the spread of dengue mosquitos seriously and use mosquito repellent regularly.
Here is an important tip for you to travel to Thailand with children under the age of three. There are no mosquito repellent for baby in Thailand! Therefore, buy mosquito repellent from home.
You should do this online before traveling during the winter months as it is a seasonal product according to the pharmacy staff. Here you can buy mosquito repellent that is safe for young children.
Well, Everything went well. Nobody got dengue and our baby girl loved every minute of our trip there.
If you are going to be traveling with a baby for a while you want to make the moving around part as smooth as possible.
I know, you will most likely google “best beaches in Thailand” and will see all these gorgeous places that all the trendy bloggers and YouTubers love so much.
However, if getting to your destination involves taking Airplanes, mini vans, and a ferry boat in the end, you might want to reconsider.
It is a hassle to move around with a baby. Think about all the diaper changes, irregular feeding times and the usual tantrums! That is why we prioritized cities with good connections and direct flights.
Thailand is actually quite safe. You only need to use basic common sense and it’ll be fine. That being said, we did try to avoid places that are crowded with backpackers.
While Thailand is indeed quite safe to travel with babies and toddlers, one still needs to be careful with traffic. Yes, traffic in Thailand is crazy. If you are planing to rent a car, please have that in mind. Even as pedestrians, we were at times a bit scared of how frantic the traffic can be.
Baby Fun Factor
Now that you are traveling with a baby or a toddler the trip is not just about you. It is easy to get caught up in all those grown up activities, especially if you are an experienced traveller like us. However, you must remember that this trip is just about your baby having fun as it is for you.
So, you might want to make sure that your ultimate destination has enough to offer for your little ones.
In Chiang Mai we found a condominium with a swimming pool and an amazing outside area which was just perfect for our little princess.
On top of that, Chiang Mai has some amazing nature spots that children simply love.
So, yeah, we love Chiang Mai. But Chiang Mai makes more sense for people traveling for longer periods, like digital nomads or something like that. Heck, you can even find a great english speaking day care for expat children in the middle of the city.
But, if you are travelling for some short holidays, then I would recommend you to go straight to the beach.
So, to sum it up. Pick a place with decent infrastructure, good hospitals etc., which is easy to get to and from, and is fun for the whole family, including your baby/toddler.
That place for us was Koh Samui!
We spent two weeks there and went to the beach every single day. There was some good infrastructure on the beach in Chaweng, and we were able to spend whole days there, hide comfortably from the sun in peak hours, eat lunch and snacks, and just leave our little girl free to explore, given that the beach wasn’t too crowded or anything (beginning of November).
Babies and Thai Culture
Let me emphasize this! Thai people love babies.
Seriously, our little girl felt like she was some sort of celebrity there. She got so much attention! Both women and men, old and young, would not pass us by without a smile, a friendly hello or a smiley “goodbye”. Of course, a half Brazilian-half Swedish baby girl is “exotic” by basically all standards everywhere. But after talking with other parents, it seems to be normal in Thailand.
That being said, if you are not cool with total strangers coming up to you and patting your baby on the head, than you will get freaked out in Thailand. We had absolutely no problems with that, so it was cool.
Sometimes, when we were having a meal at a restaurant, the waitress would even take Alia (our baby girl) on her arms and show her the kitchen or to other staff. And that happened more than a couple of times.
Moving around with a baby in Thailand
We might have taken all possible means of transportation in this trip. From doing a ton of sightseeing by feet, taking cabs, vans, ferry boats, long and short flights, you name it. Here are a few tips that we wish we knew before the trip:
- It is always easier to travel while your baby is sleeping – This general rule applies for any kind of trip. You see, babies get quite restless when they have to sit down in one spot for several ours. So one small hack we learned is to try to time every trip to our baby’s nap or sleep routine.
This way, if we are going to take a short flight, or a 2 hour bus/train/car trip, we would likely pick a departure time near her nap time. If we are going to take a long flight we will choose a night flight so our little one can sleep for most of the flight. Same thing goes for long train trips.
- Make sure you pack enough distractions – Complementing the point above, this tip works as a backup for when your baby doesn’t want to sleep even when you decided to book a trip near or around her nap time. For us, a good entertainment is snacks, lots of snacks. Some babies love to have their favorite toys or even an iPad.
- Are you going to take domestic flights? Air Bangkok FTW – No. We are not getting compensated to say this! It is just that flying domestically with Air Bangkok had been such an overall great experience. They have some free “VIP” areas in most major airports where you and your baby can run around, eat free snacks including, but not limited to, pop corn, orange juice, banana chips, etc. It is just a great opportunity for your baby to spend a little extra energy before boarding the flight.
- You don’t have to wait in line in airports when you are with your baby – This is not only limited to Thailand, but we were kindly surprised to see how well they enforce this in all major airports. No matter if you are waiting to board the plane or going through security, families with small babies get to go to the front of the line.
- Airport security is quite generous with your hand luggage – Pack all the baby food you want! Even liquids over 100 ml. In our experience, airport security has been very generous and let us pass with a whole extra hand luggage just entirely filled with baby food.
- Get a light travel friendly trolley – This one is probably the most critical tip yet. Having a light and travel friendly trolley was key in this trip. Not only were we able to take it into the cabin when we needed or check it in without any problem at times, it was also crucial when walking around through the irregular sidewalks so common in the major Thai cities.
We wrote a whole blog post reviewing the Babyzen Yoyo 6+ . Make sure you check it out here.
Baby Food in Thailand
We where quite worried about this. Our little girl is not breastfeeding any longer and she is mainly eating solid food, with the exception of the couple of formula bottles she drinks right before her nap and sleep time.
So, we mostly tried to stay in apartments as opposed to hotel rooms. This way we could be more independent and cook our own baby food without a problem. However, when you are travelling as much as we did, you are going to sooner or later find yourself in a typical hotel room. So we decided to just give our baby girl whatever we were eating (minus the spicy food).
And it worked great! Our baby girl loved pad Thai, fried rice, fresh fruit juices, smoothies and whatnot. Not once had her any problem or reaction from the local food, and we weren’t particularly picky about it. We didn’t have any problems in that front, but again, our baby girl has quite a strong stomach as it turns out. Most of us will have some sort of reaction when eating around in a new country.
As for regular “western standard” baby food you can find in the supermarket, here is what we found out:
- Stuff like baby formula, food pouches, baby porridge, etc., is quite expensive in Thailand. It is common to pay about twice as much (or more) as you would pay in the US for baby food.
- Beware of some “exotic” flavours. We thought we were buying just regular baby porridge powder and it turns out, it was “fish flavour porridge”! Think of regular porridge with a very strong smell. Strangely enough though, Alia loved it and we ended up buying it several times. Well, at least she got a good dose of Omega3, I guess.
- Buy a ton of fruit. It is a tropical paradise, so don’t forget the amazing fruits. We found out that buying in local street markets is way cheaper and better quality than buying in supermarkets. And, most cities are packed with local markets day and night.
Baby diapers in Thailand
Diapers in Thailand deserve its own chapter. Yes, there are diapers to buy in the grocery stores in Thailand and even small packages for the 7-pupil. However, it is about twice as expensive as in Sweden and the quality is generally much poorer. Most diapers are imported from Japan, or at least they pretend to be. Thai children, especially outside the cities, do not wear diapers but have a hole in the clothes at the back. I would think that the Thai children who live in cities often use cloth diapers of some kind, for the gastronomic prices of diapers that are in the shops where no normal Thai family can afford.
So if you have the opportunity, bring a small stock of diapers before you go. This way you save money and get better diapers for your child. This is not something you need to do, we had an extra package with us and had to buy diapers. It works perfectly ok.
Wrapping it up
We spent two months traveling around in Thailand. What first began with quite a lot of doubts and even a bit of apprehension from our part for traveling with our daughter for the first time, ended up being an amazing experience that we will likely repeat whenever we get a chance.
To see the world through the curious eyes of our beautiful daughter is seriously better than seeing it all for the first time. I know, she won’t remember a thing of this when she grows up but all the moments that we lived will certainly have an impact in her life.
If you are on the fence about traveling with your baby, just do it! It will not only be fine, but it will most likely end up being the most amazing trip you have ever had.