Saturday, June 7, 2008

Bangkok family adventure

"Bangkok family adventure"
Sun.Star Davao, June 7, 2008

“What?!! You went to Bangkok and didn’t shop to the max?”, a friend of mine surprisingly asked when I told her about our recent 3-night and 4-day trip to Thailand’s ‘City of Angels’.

Of course, any fashionista and shopaholic who has been to Bangkok could only have high praises for its wide array of shopping venues from the affordable night markets to the upscale shopping malls.

However, when planning for our family trips, my siblings, cousins and I have accepted the fact that the vacation is not for us but mainly for our kids whose ages range from 5-10 yrs. old.

So, tempting as it may seem to go astray and shop to our hearts’ content, the adults in the group stuck to the plan to follow our child-friendly itinerary. And, what fun we all had!

Here are some of the family-oriented sites we enjoyed visiting in Bangkok:

Siam Ocean World
On the afternoon that we arrived, our group immediately headed off to Siam Ocean World which is a 15-minute walking distance from our hotel (Arnoma Hotel). We used the efficient and well-ventilated overpasses in getting there to avoid the sweltering Bangkok heat (the temperature rose as high as 38 degrees Celsius during our trip!) on the street.

Located at the basement of the posh Siam Paragon Shopping Mall, Siam Ocean World prides itself in being Southeast Asia’s largest aquarium featuring 400 extraordinary species of sea animals.

The popular underwater attraction is divided into seven different zones, namely: Weird and Wonderful, Deep Reef, Living Ocean, Rainforest, Rocky Shore, Open Ocean and Sea Jellies.

The kids were delighted to see fishes and mammals of all sizes and colors such as sharks, sting rays, sea jellies, penguins, otters and many others housed in different aquariums.

Our visit was truly educational as the children could read information about the featured marine animals on various computers. There were also several small theaters for video displays and interesting trivia.

On board the Glass Bottom Boat, we had a blast watching an assortment of sea creatures swimming below us.

The Sanyo 4D Xventure, on the other hand, is a simulated 4D show which can be both enjoyable and scary (for younger children) as the seats vibrate, mist suddenly blows into your face and wind touches your feet depending on the scenes in the short film.

Samphran Elephant Ground and Zoo

For our second day, after taking a cruise along the Chao Phraya River and visiting Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) in the morning, we proceeded to the Samphran Elephant Ground and Zoo for buffet lunch.

At the zoo, we were able to take photos with Bengal tigers for only 100 baht (inclusive of souvenir photo) and baby elephants for just 20 baht. At 10 baht, you can personally feed bananas to the delightful elephants.

The Elephant Theme Show was quite entertaining as elephants gamely demonstrated how they worked, played and danced. There was likewise an action-packed reenactment of the battles in ancient Siam where elephants dressed in full battle gear were used by Siamese and Burmese armies.

The exciting Crocodile Wrestling Show was also one of the top attractions of the zoo which featured wrestling between men and crocodiles.

Rose Garden and a Royal presence

Our next stop was at the Rose Garden where we witnessed a marvelous cultural presentation which included Thai traditional dances and celebrations, Muay Thai demonstration, sword fighting, to name a few.

Afterwards, we watched an elephant show (shorter than that of Samphran’s) and had a memorable elephant ride for only 50 baht per person.

We would have wanted to explore the Rose Garden’s perfectly manicured grounds further but the rain prevented us from doing so.

Upon returning to our hotel, we were curious to learn why there were so many preparations going on at the lobby. There was even a red carpet from the entrance door to the elevator which no one was allowed to step on.

It turned out that Her Royal Highness Princess Soamsavali, former wife of Thailand’s Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, was going to the hotel for an important function.

The children excitedly waited at the lobby area to witness the arrival of a real life princess! Coincidentally, the following night, we saw Princess Soamsavali again as she graced the opening of an anti-global warming event at Central World Plaza.

Safari World
Our third day was spent at the 800,000 square-meter Safari World which is considered as one of the must-see places for kids in Bangkok.

It is made up of two parks, namely: Safari Park and Marine Park.

At Safari Park, we took an 8-kilometer drive to see lions, tigers, rhinoceros, pelicans, zebras, giraffes and a host of other exotic African and Asian animals freely roaming around in their natural habitats.

I’ve been to other safari parks in several countries before but this is the first time I’ve observed that privately-owned vehicles (our rented van, in this case) were allowed to be used to drive around the said park.

On the other hand, Marine Park has 8 different world-class shows that feature dolphins, polar bears, seal, whales and many more.

We also watched the James Bond-inspired ‘Spy War Action Stunt Spectacular’ and hilarious ‘Hollywood Cowboy Stunt’. Although both shows were in Thai, the kids in our group did not seem to mind as the actions alone were engaging enough.

In addition, Safari World showcased hundreds of exhibits like its Tropical Rain Forest Aviary, Crocodile Garden, Macaw Island, among others.

We likewise tried the Jungle River Cruise which is a fascinating water flume ride through the jungles of Africa and Asia complete with animatronics and special effects.

For only 300 baht each (inclusive of souvenir photo), you get the rare chance of cuddling and feeding a precious tiger cub, playing with funny orangutans and posing with colorful parrots perched on your shoulders and arms.

Dream World

And, finally, on our last day, we visited Dream World, a superb amusement park that exceeded our expectations.

Dream World was certainly a kids’ paradise with its different theme areas like Adventure Land, Fantasy Land, Dream Garden and Dream World Plaza.

Be sure to take an extra memory card and battery for your camera as Dream World is a perfect place to take wonderful photos of your children. You will never get tired taking captivating pictures of creatively-crafted topiaries, charming and whimsical statues, miniature versions of famous landmarks (e.g., Eiffel Tower, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Statue of Liberty, etc.) and lots more!

Dream World doesn’t only have kiddie rides but other attractions that would thrill the young at heart, too. Not to be missed are the Sky Coaster, Super Splash, Grand Canyon, Hurricane, Go Kart and Flying Carpet.

The family also loved the Giant House where everything was gargantuan. Common household items such as spoons, forks, beds, chairs shoes and brooms were 50 times bigger.

The absolute highlight of the kids’ stay in Dream World was Snow Town. Donning our boots and thick jackets, we entered this Winter Wonderland with real snow, igloos, snowman, sleighs as well as polar bear, penguin, walrus replicas. Hey, we even got the chance to visit Santa Claus’ house!

So, if you’ve already brought your family to Hong Kong or Singapore and are looking for your next Asian destination, why not try Bangkok? An amazing family adventure awaits you!

No comments: