I always thought family holidays with a young toddler meant beach resorts, I couldn’t have been more ignorant! In actual fact, we’ve discovered just how great active holidays are with kids.
Last year we took our family holiday to Chiang Mai, it was just so perfect for us. We had the best time, just walking around the local area is a beautiful experience in its own right. Chiang Mai has something a lot more pure about it vs some other tourist heavy regions of Thailand. During our stay, we visited the following family friendly places, I thought it would be nice to share…
1. The Elephant Nature Park
One of the most special places I’ve ever visited. Animal tourism in Thailand is unfortunately widely abused. There are too many places open for the pleasure of tourists, this comes at the detriment of wild helpless animals.
This particular park is a rescue centre and open sanctuary for abused elephants (and other animals too). The animals live in small herds across 25 acres of open land and they are all shackle free. It’s one of the few parks in Chiang Mai that will not allow you to ride the elephants, I was personally a supporter of this. Instead, you get to walk throughout the park and watch them in their open environment, feed them (boyyyy can they eat) and even bathe them if you wish.
This whole setting was so peaceful and free. I will always remember the great sense of calm I felt, just standing free amongst these wild huge animals, yet feeling so safe in their presence. I will always hold a special place in my heart for this amazing place.
Family friendly because: It was an educating experience for all ages. We were all fascinated from the moment we arrived. There are several excursion options you can pick according to your plans and you can book online. It’s an established park, so most drivers will know where to take you. The travel from the office to the park itself is only about an 1 1/2 hours, so a very manageable commute.
Tara loved it because she had an absolute blast. She was free to run around and got involved with the entire visit. To this day, elephants are still her favourite animal. We have precious videos and pictures to keep this love alive too.
2. The Night Market
Now don’t get confused by the Saturday Night Market – that’s a different site. The main night market is in the heart of Chiang Mai and in my opinion is a better option to visit with a family. There is more space and calm at the night market and I’d go as far as saying more variety of products too.
Family friendly because: It’s a leisurely outing. It’s a cultural hustle and bustle without feeling suffocated. It’s spread across a few areas which makes it easy to get in and out of incase you need to leave at any point. There is plenty of open space, making it very easy to browse with a stroller and keep an eye on your kids. It felt very safe too.
Tara loved it because of the sheer atmosphere. She delighted by everything going on around her and all the pretty things for sale across the stalls.
3. Maya Lifestyle Shopping Center
Whenever we go on holiday, we love to seek out the local shopping malls. It’s something we always love to do, plus when you live in the Middle East, the malls become a second home! Anyway, visiting this shopping mall is actually a nice outing, there are some fantastic retailers local to the region and you can pick up some amazing super chic bargains too.
Family friendly because: It’s just something ‘normal’ to do, there’s plenty of space for the kids to run around and it’s not overly big so easy to get around too.
Tara loved it because there was lots of little kiosks around the mall for her to browse.
4. Maya Fantasia
Ok ok, strictly speaking this is part of the above as it’s located inside the Maya Lifestyle Shopping Center. We stumbled upon this place and were so glad to have found it. Maya Fantasia is an indoor play area, it’s split into young kids and older children’s entertainment areas.
Family friendly because it’s an indoor play area!! Not that I need to continue on this one but I will. The kids get to have a blast, us adults get them to burn energy, the kids then want to sleep, the adults then get to kick back take a break.
Tara loved it because there were lots of different areas within the soft play, plus she got to play with some local Thai kids too.
5. Art in Paradise 3D Art Museum
This place is literally ‘what it says on the tin’, it’s a museum of 3D art. There are special points at which you get to take creative pictures. We weren’t quite at that stage with Tara…but we tried!!
Family friendly because it’s a great outing, you can get around the entire place in about an hour. It’s light-hearted and just generally great fun.
Tara loved it because it had lots of different animals that she recognised and the amazing art was super stimulating.