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The lull in August between the end of summer programs and the beginning of the new school year plays out in much the same way here in Thailand as in the United States. It is an opportunity for families to take vacations before the school year begins. This year was our first pre-back-to-school vacation, as my girls started going to nursery (or pre-k as we say stateside).
However, this road- trip would be unlike any we’d ever had along the East Coast. The beach getaways in Krabi earlier in the year (and before the girls were in school full time) were wonderfully relaxing retreats from the hustle and bustle of the city, but this time we were looking to do something different and to see another part of Thailand. The weekend of Thai Mother’s Day presented the perfect opportunity. Celebrated on August 12th, it’s the birthday of the King’s mother, and a three day weekend.
There are some great options for weekend trips from Bangkok. I started using Agoda after we moved out here to find and book hotels in Asia, and it has got some great deals. You can also rent a house, a la AirBnB. If you’re planning to do any significant travel in Asia, I definitely suggest checking it out. For the purposes of this trip, I looked at Hua Hin, Kanchanaburi and Khao Yai. Hua Hin seems to be a popular destination for expats and travelers. There’s also Kanchanaburi, with a beautiful array of activities for families to enjoy in the scenic countryside, and World War II landmarks and memorials that a war buff like my husband would enjoy. Both are on the list for future weekend excursions.
The place that ultimately won out was Khao Yai – a two-hour drive northeast of Bangkok. It’s home to a National Park and many other kid-friendly places. Khao Yai is also home to wineries and some quirky themed hotels and commercial areas like Primo Piazza, Kensington English Garden Resort and Casa de Montana. I wasn’t joking about the quirkiness. We traveled with another family that also has a three-year-old so our itinerary centered around keeping them entertained. I really don’t know how teachers do it…
First on the list was a day at Farm Mor Por, a quaint farm with ponies and horses, ducks, chickens, geese, sheep, and even ostriches. The little ones spent the better part of the day feeding, riding and washing the horses, feeding the ducks, and collecting chicken eggs. Luckily the beer was flowing…
Then we shifted gears to Khao Yai Fantasy, a resort-style hotel with an amusement park. It was just the right size to spend a day, and the attractions were age appropriate for the kids. Three is a tough age in that regard. In many amusement parks, three-year-olds are still too small for most rides, meaning you pay admission to a place that you end up only enjoying a small fraction. Additionally, if your kids are anything like mine, something that was SO EXCITING moments ago they want no parts of seconds later. Go-karts, water slides, and a sky chair with a lush green view kept us all entertained. There was also a nice little playground by the hotel lobby for the kids to play – while the grown ups enjoyed a couple of beers – before dinner. Sensing a pattern here?
We were back on the road to Bangkok that Monday and arrived home before 5pm. If you’ve read what I’ve said before about traffic in Bangkok or experienced it before for yourself, you no doubt understand where I’m coming from.
Overall, as the woman who has been notorious for refusing to take my children to Disney until they are a little older, I would say this trip with three preschoolers was a success! Did you take a road trip before the start of the school year with your family? I would love to hear what destinations you chose.